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Making forestry sustainable

Photo by Lisa Murray Photo by Lisa Murray

The problem

Ethiopia’s Bale Eco-region has experienced serious levels of deforestation with large swathes of forest territories being axed for firewood or converted into agricultural land.

The consequences of sustained deforestation in Bale could be devastating. The ecological hotspot is not only home to over a million farmers who rely on forest resources to make a living but the area’s significant water resources underpin the livelihoods of millions of people living beyond Bale’s borders.

What have we achieved?

Since 2006, Farm Africa and a consortium of partners have been working in Bale on a participatory forest management scheme, which supports local forests users and the government to manage the responsibilities and benefits of the region’s forests together.

We’ve helped farmers earn an income from various forest-friendly businesses, such as beekeeping and wild coffee harvesting enterprises. However, the income that these businesses generate tends to be small compared to what could be earnt by converting forests into croplands.

In 2012, Farm Africa helped the local community establish a REDD+ scheme to enable them to earn additional income from the sale of carbon credits for avoided deforestation.

Over the period 2012-2019, deforestation in the Bale Eco-region was 58% lower than it was projected to be in the absence of the project. This avoided deforestation resulted in more than 25,000 hectares of forest being saved and emissions being reduced by 10.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide. This achievement was externally verified, generating carbon credits that were sold on the voluntary carbon market. 

More than 25,000 hectares of forest were saved

The average annual household incomes of forest-dependent communities in the Bale Eco-region rose by 143% from an average 17,000 Ethiopian Birr per household per year at the start of the second phase project in 2016 to 43,000 Birr per household per year at the end of 2020. 

Income from the sale of REDD+ carbon credits, which is additional to the average increases in household income mentioned above, is enabling forest management cooperatives to invest in new community development initiatives.

What are we doing?

Farm Africa is working with a consortium of partners to strengthen the organisational and management capacity of forest organisations and businesses. We are increasing local communities’ ability to earn money from the forest while protecting its resources for future generations. Project activities include:

  • Piloting sustainable timber production and marketing.
  • Improving the inclusivity of forest management organisations to ensure that women and other under-represented groups participate in and benefit from project activities.
  • Helping local communities reinvest the capital they receive from the sale of carbon credits in local eco-friendly businesses.

Impressive climate achievements have made Bale a global example in combating deforestation and reducing emissions. To sustain the gains made so far and share important lessons in participatory forest management, we will integrate the project and approach into national-level forestry and REDD+ programmes and policies. This project will continue to act as a knowledge hub for local communities, policymakers and forestry professionals.

Who are we helping?

This project aims to improve the livelihoods of over 350,000 people living in Bale and protect the delivery of ecosystem services to 12 million people living beyond Bale’s borders. We are also helping the government to find long-term ways to preserve Ethiopia’s forests.

Stories from the project

Who are we working with?

We are carrying out this work in partnership with local NGO SOS Sahel and government agencies The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change of Ethiopia, The Oromia Forest and Wildlife Enterprise and The Oromia Forest, Environment and Climate Change Authority. This project is funded by the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Addis Ababa.

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