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Forests for sustainable development

The problem

The world is facing the pressing challenge of reconciling the need to produce more food for a growing population, alongside the urgent need to protect natural forests for biodiversity conservation and climate change mitigation.

As the demand for agricultural production increases, smallholder farmers and forest communities frequently respond by clearing additional land to meet the food demand and benefit from virgin soils that have not been exhausted.

This land clearance results in increased deforestation, higher carbon emissions, loss of biodiversity, threats to water sources and rapid decline in agricultural productivity as soils are mined.

What have we achieved so far?

As longstanding partner organisations to the people and Government of Ethiopia, Farm Africa and SOS Sahel Ethiopia have worked together for more than 20 years to champion the participatory forest management (PFM) approach in the Bale Eco-region.

PFM is a framework in which local communities and government are empowered to manage the benefits and responsibilities of the forest together.

The Bale Eco-region Sustainable Management project (BERSMP), funded by the European Union and Jersey Overseas Aid, and Reduction of Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+) phase I and II projects, funded by the Royal Norwegian Embassy to Ethiopia, have enhanced conservation and forest protection by forest-dependent local communities in the entire Bale Eco-region and laid robust foundations for the sustainable management of forest resources through Participatory Forest Management Cooperatives (PFMCs).

The REDD+ project supported forest communities to develop sustainable livelihoods and reduce carbon emissions from deforestation by 10.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide between 2012 and 2019.

What are we doing?

Farm Africa is implementing Forests for Sustainable Development, a four-year programme in the Oromia Regional State of Ethiopia to build on the success of previous programmes in reducing deforestation, cutting carbon emissions, increasing the incomes of forest-dependent communities, and addressing sustainability limitations.

The project will work to benefit both people and planet by developing sustainable livelihoods that reduce communities’ need to fell trees and deplete other natural resources. The project aims to reduce biodiversity loss, while also improving the resilience of the local community, and improving governance for integrated landscape management.

The project will reach a total of 55,677 forest-dependent households in 20 woredas, working with communities to sustainably conserve the natural forest, biodiversity and ecosystem in the Bale Eco-region and associated landscapes in Guji and Borena zones of Oromia regional state.

It will develop economic opportunities for women, young people and forest enterprises to earn a living from activities such as the production and marketing of forest products such as wild coffee, without negatively affecting resource conservation.

The project will establish viable green business partnerships and diversify non-agricultural livelihood options, creating jobs and employment opportunities and developing longstanding sustainable commercial relationships in green value chains.

Furthermore, the project will ensure knowledge management and coordination systems are operational across the governance levels from the kebeles upwards to regional and federal levels, so that sustainable forestry practices can be rolled out at a wider scale for environmental, social and economic sustainability.

Who are we working with?

Farm Africa is carrying out this project in partnership with local NGO SOS Sahel and in collaboration with the regional government to align with the Oromia Forested Landscape Programme (OFLP). The project is funded by the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

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