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Nature-based Solutions in Action: Lessons from the Frontline

27 July 2021

Farm Africa’s work to preserve the ecosystem in and around the Bale National Park in south-eastern Ethiopia is featured in a new report developed by members of the CAN-UK Nature-based Solutions Working Group that highlights successful Nature-based Solutions across a wide range of contexts.

The report, Nature-based Solutions in Action: Lessons from the Frontline, focuses on evidence-based examples from around the world to highlight how harnessing nature can address the triple emergency of poverty, climate change and biodiversity loss.

Nature-based Solutions (NbS) have the power to tackle biodiversity loss, climate change and poverty in an integrated way, so their appeal to governments, businesses and civil society groups is promising in the context of the urgent need for climate action and to halt biodiversity loss worldwide.

If done well, Nature-based Solutions can provide cost-effective ways of protecting, sustainably managing, and restoring ecosystems, while at the same time addressing societal challenges such as climate change, biodiversity loss, and poverty and inequality.

In addition to Farm Africa's case study from the Bale Eco-region (BER), the report includes case studies from Care International, Excellent Development, IBIS Rice Conservation Co., the International Institute for Environment and Development, Plan International, Practical Action, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, Tree Aid, World Vision UK, and WWF.

Farm Africa in Bale Eco-region

The Farm Africa case study focuses on our work between 2014 and 2018 in Bale Eco-region - funded via both the European Union’s Supporting Horn of Africa Resilience (SHARE) initiative and the Jersey Overseas Aid Commission.

Farm Africa led a consortium of NGOs and worked closely with communities and the Ethiopian government in a coordinated effort to sustainably manage natural resources in and around the Bale Eco-Region and enhance the livelihoods of local communities that depend on the forests and rangeland grazing areas.

The Bale Eco-region (BER), and the south-eastern part of the pastoral and agro-pastoral setting in particular, are susceptible to frequent droughts and erratic and unpredictable rainfall.

Forest and rangeland communities’ resilience to these climatic changes is limited. Climate-related events also contribute to significant soil and water erosion. Deforestation and degradation of land are increasing carbon emissions, and the alteration of hydrological cycles due to land degradation further increases vulnerability.

The upland catchments of the region are under strong anthropogenic pressure with high rates of degradation and deforestation. Highland grazing areas were being rapidly converted to agricultural use, putting pressure on traditional grazing practices and transhumance. Unregulated use of grassland and forest resources and land conversion have resulted in soil erosion, flooding, drought and a negative impact on water table levels.

These challenges resulted in communities being chronically food insecure, vulnerable to climate change impacts and exposed to disruption of their means of production.

Farm Africa and partners worked to enhance drought resilience and the food and nutrition security of vulnerable populations, protect biodiversity, ecosystem functions and services and to increase the resilience and well-being of highland /lowland communities.

Nature-based activities implemented include:

• Diversifying crops and enhancing productivity of existing agricultural land through agroforestry and climate-smart agricultural techniques (including diversified farming, row planting, mulching, terracing and improved seeds) to improve resilience and nutrition without the need to expand farmland.

• Conservation and sustainable use of forests through training local communities to better produce non-timber forests products like honey, bamboo, forest coffee and natural oils in order to diversify livelihoods away from agriculture and livestock-keeping, which are key drivers of deforestation.

For further details, read the Farm Africa case study on page 32 of the report Nature-based Solutions in Action: Lessons from the Frontline.

Photo: Lisa Murray