Re-Greening Ethiopia: History, Challenges and Lessons
2. Drivers, Agents and Objectives of Re-Greening Practices
3. Major Types of Re-Greening Practices
4. Attributes, Challenges and Achievements of the Major Re-Greening Practices
4.1. Area Exclosures
4.2. Governance of Area Exclosures
- Policy makers and practitioners need to move from a purely environmental orientation towards also ensuring socio-economic benefits, since unmet community expectations are likely to be major challenges for sustaining area exclosures [24,25]. In some areas, communities complain that closing off area exclosures for many years is affecting their livelihoods negatively .
- All exclosures need to have negotiated and clearly defined objectives, as well as agreed-upon management plans. Currently, neither communities nor the government agencies know for how long the areas will remain closed, how they will be managed for better economic and ecological outcomes, and what indicators should be used to measure socio-economic and environmental gains.
- Devolving responsibilities to lower levels of community organizations are likely to result in better area exclosure management. Area exclosures are managed at various levels of community organization, ranging from individuals, to village, kebelle or district levels. These different levels vary in their degree of effectiveness to facilitate collective action. Gebremedhin et al.  reported that collective action was stronger and socio-economic benefits greater, among smaller groups such as villages than among higher-level ones such as districts. Consequently, most communities prefer to divide communal lands into smaller individual plots for better management, including tree planting [25,26]. This indicates that cooperation for re-greening practices is likely to be more effective among small groups as the members tend to be more homogenous.
- The management and user rights aspects of area exclosures need to be defined better and formal agreements made between government agencies and communities regarding their respective rights and responsibilities. Increased conflicts are reported between members of communities regarding access to and use of area exclosures and in recognizing and protecting their boundaries . Recently, some regional states began allocating area exclosures to landless youth. This is likely to cause disappointment among communities that established and managed these area exclosures. This will also discourage communities from participating in such re-greening practices in the future.
- Dependency on external support needs to be reduced. The activities of external organizations assisting the establishment and management of area exclosures may, under certain circumstances, reduce local effort to engage in re-greening activities as communities may expect external support to initiate and sustain collective actions in establishing and managing area exclosures.
4.3. Afforestation and Reforestation
|Regional State||Industrial Plantations||Non-industrial Small-scale Private Plantations||Peri-urban Energy Plantations||Total|
|Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples||27,300||64,000||91,300|
5. Conclusions and Implications
- Ensuring that re-greening practices generate sufficient economic incentives for communities is key to their sustainability. If re-greening is only for environmental goals, it is less likely to encourage the participation of communities, especially the poor. Poor households can hardly afford to lose short-term economic gains for long-term environmental benefits unless they are properly compensated for that loss. When individuals are likely to generate direct and tangible benefits, they will be motivated to participate in re-greening initiatives, be it individually or collectively. Also, community participation needs to be inclusive and equitable.
- Getting the policy environment right is crucial. The commitment of the Government of Ethiopia to rehabilitate degraded lands is indicated in recent documents such as the Climate-Resilient Green Economy Strategy, the Rural Land Administration Proclamation and the current five-year development plan. Policies like land certification are having a strong positive effect on re-greening practices. Better tenure security, clear user rights, and devolution of responsibilities to lower levels of organization (individual household or smaller community) help facilitate collective action for better re-greening initiatives in communal systems.
- Market signals play important roles. Markets have been the major driving force behind the expansion of small-scale plantations across the highlands of Ethiopia. High return on investment in plantations is driving the conversions of even farm and grazing lands to woodlots in some areas in the central and western highlands. In some cases, however, markets—especially the labor market—may negatively influence plantations by increasing the opportunity cost of labor.
- The role of non-state actors was important in re-greening Ethiopia. The non-state actors, notably NGOs, played a key role in initiating and supporting re-greening practices, notably area exclosures. NGOs also advocated for policy reforms. However, since they were hardly learning from each other, some contradictory messages were given to communities and policy makers (e.g., on harvesting wood from natural forests). This undermined their capacity to help policy makers make informed decisions.
5.2. Implications for Policy and Practice
- Policy makers need to consider the likely impacts of allocating communally-managed area exclosures to individuals. Recently, some regional governments have started to allocate to landless youths area exclosures that have been rehabilitated and managed by local communities. This could erode the trust of the community in the government in terms of ownership arrangement of area exclosures, and may affect their willingness to be engaged in re-greening communally-owned but degraded forest lands in the future. Thus, we recommend closer examination of the impacts of such exercises.
- The influence of the current policy and the prevailing market signals on re-greening practices and on the sustainability of impacts needs to be investigated further. Policies that encourage farmers to plant indigenous tree species and enable them to sell native woods from sustainably managed plantations or restored forests are needed, along with a mechanism of control so that such policies do not aggravate degradation and deforestation of natural forests.
- More incentives should be put in place, especially in terms of access to land and credit, to encourage private sector engagement in re-greening practices. Value-added processing options to increase returns from re-greening practices need to be explored and supported.
- Linking research to policy should be given special attention and knowledge needs to be translated into practice to enhance effectiveness, efficiency and equity aspects of re-greening practices.
- Re-greening practices in Ethiopia lack coordination, both technically and managerially. Capacity building on restoration research in general, and on nationally important re-greening practices in particular, is critically needed. This would enable measures to enhance economic returns to communities and help identify, test and promote options to better achieve restoration objectives. Studies so far are exploratory and simply describe current vegetation succession, and how to speed it up. Also clearly lacking are indicators of success, and key silvicultural practices for management plans. Such practices could guide operations to enhance succession of vegetation types, as well as ensure benefits to local people and the environment. Re-greening practices must provide optimum ecological and socio-economic benefits. Achieving these objectives by managing trade-offs requires concerted efforts of researchers, development practitioners and policy makers.
Conflicts of Interest
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Lemenih, M.; Kassa, H. Re-Greening Ethiopia: History, Challenges and Lessons. Forests 2014, 5, 1896-1909. https://doi.org/10.3390/f5081896
Lemenih M, Kassa H. Re-Greening Ethiopia: History, Challenges and Lessons. Forests. 2014; 5(8):1896-1909. https://doi.org/10.3390/f5081896Chicago/Turabian Style
Lemenih, Mulugeta, and Habtemariam Kassa. 2014. "Re-Greening Ethiopia: History, Challenges and Lessons" Forests 5, no. 8: 1896-1909. https://doi.org/10.3390/f5081896