In Ethiopian district of Machakel, a mere 8.61% of the land area is covered by forest. This project aims to tackle unsustainable use of land and forest resources and make local communities more resilient to the periodic droughts that precipitate famines. Villagers are at the heart of our efforts to combat soil degradation. Our strategy involves planting indigenous trees on community land, gullies, river banks and farmlands, and planting fruit and timber trees on farms.
With 85% of the population of Ethiopia engaged in agriculture, a lot of forest land has been converted for agricultural use. Combined with timber harvesting for construction and the charcoal and fuel wood trade, this has caused widespread deforestation. Resulting soil erosion and gully formation have left soil fertility in decline. Local communities now struggle to grow crops and raise livestock.
In collaboration with villagers of Machakel, we establish community-based tree nurseries. We plant mainly indigenous tree species that have the potential to naturally regenerate forest cover with limited assistance. In addition to planting new trees, we address the major drivers of deforestation by distributing more efficient cooking stoves that do not require charcoal and by promoting brick production to reduce the use of timber for construction.
The project provides local communities opportunities to diversify their income streams in favor of sustainable livelihood elements, reducing pressure on forests. Forest landscape restoration reverses environmental degradation, prevents droughts and increases land productivity. Trees planted on farmlands also increase food security and diversity.