This project aims to restore dry afromontane forests in Seret, in the Tigray region in northern Ethiopia, combat adverse climate change effects and build community resilience. The project will restore areas of degraded land in exclosure zones, identified and designated by the community. These areas are protected from agricultural practices and grazing and directly planted with a preference for native tree species so that these degraded areas can be allowed to flourish. Surrounding villages will be empowered to engage in community-based nurseries and forestry activities. A rich biodiverse ecosystem will deliver a large amount of non-timber forest products. The project is improving the supply chains of aromatic oils from Ethiopia, and honey from Tigray. A rising water table in the flat valley bottom provides clear opportunities for drought-resilient agriculture and access to drinking water. This forms the best incentive for local populations to manage their natural resources well.
EthioTrees; Trees for Farmers; Mekelle University Ethiopia.
Restore native forest
Restore degraded lands
Promote economic development
Promote non-timber forest production
Boost groundwater recharge
Promote food security
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Why is intervention needed?
Large swathes of Tigray’s dry Afromontane forests and hillsides have been cleared primarily for cattle grazing, agriculture and wood extraction, in addition to illegal charcoal production, leaving less than 1% of Tigray forested. Tigray’s rural people rely heavily on these activities for their income, but livelihoods are becoming increasingly vulnerable in the face of severe drought, soil erosion, deforestation and El Niño. Tigray’s forests can provide much needed opportunities for communities to become more resilient through their natural capital. They also play a key role in regulating atmospheric temperatures and are rich in biodiversity.
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After the harsh 1980 droughts, local communities decided to tackle the issue of vicious land degradation. Degraded land on steep slopes is set aside as exclosure zones, or no-go zones, for land rehabilitation and reforestation. Carefully selected seedlings and saplings are nurtured at community-based nurseries and planted alongside direct seed sowing based on the successional model to promote the natural succession of the forest. Given the frequent drought, poor soil conditions and livestock grazing pressure, the project employs strong tree after-care and implements soil and water conservation measures to rehabilitate the land. The intervention areas are located on community land and are designated exclosure, which means they are closed from livestock grazing, aside from a cut and carry system.
Community members are engaged in a variety of project activities for income generation purposes. They are trained to nurture the seedlings at community-nurseries and then plant and protect the saplings. Alongside this, the project targets women and young adults for training in additional livelihood initiatives to satisfy their nutritional, financial and energy needs in ways that ease pressure on and actively restore the forest. These initiatives include apiculture, agroforestry and fodder production. Locals will be trained to harvest grasses sustainably through a cut and carry system, which will then be divided amongst community members to feed livestock in place of open grazing.
* Carbon calculation methodology
The total above-ground biomass is estimated to average 32.66 tons of CO2 per hectare over a period of 20 years.
FAO (2010) Global forest resources assessment 2010: Main report. FAO Forestry Paper No. 163. FAO, Rome, Italy. p. 340