There is a plan to restore forest on 15 mln hectares and increase coverage by 7 mln hectares by 2030, says government
By Abebech Tamene
ADDIS ABABA – As the world marks Forest Day on Monday, Ethiopia, which has increased its forest coverage to 15.5 percent, is struggling to cope with deforestation, said an Ethiopian official.
Debasu Bayleyegn, public relations director with the Ethiopian Environment and Forest Ministry, told Anadolu Agency today, “Ethiopia is working to increase its forest coverage from the current 15.5 percent to 20 percent by 2020.”
He added, “The coverage has now reached 15.5 percent from only 3 percent 25 years ago.”
“There is a plan to restore forest on 15 million hectares of land and increase the coverage by 7 million hectares by 2030 so that it will reduce 130 million metric tons of carbon emissions,” Debasu said.
More than 3-4 billion tree seedlings are transplanted every year in the country, he said.
Most of the forests are located in the southwestern part of the country, he said.
The area called Humbo mountains, located in the southern part of the country, has so far managed to restore forest and earn up to $148,000 from carbon trade, Debasu added.
-The culprits –
Bushfire, charcoal production, and cutting trees for construction and farming purposes, among others, are the main causes of the depletion of Ethiopia’s forests, Debasu added.
Currently, many women and girls lead their lives collecting firewood and logs from forests located in the surroundings and selling them to city dwellers.
One of them, Etetu Kebede, told Anadolu Agency that she and her three children collect firewood and logs from three forests in the area surrounding Addis Ababa and sell it to city residents.
“Sometimes the guards take the firewood and the logs we collect and even beat us,” Etetu said.
“But we have no choice – there is no way to make ends meet,” she said.
Worke Abebe, another woman engaged in a similar activity, also said, “I remember a young girl called Shewaye who was killed some years ago when a giant tree fell onto her while she was collecting firewood for sale – sometimes we face such dangers.”
– No end in sight –
Hiwot Abraha, environment development and natural resource conservation expert with the city administration, told Anadolu Agency, “There are forests in the surroundings of the capital Addis Ababa that are guarded 24 hours a day. Despite the protection, people are destroying the forests for fuel and construction purposes.”
She added, “Unfortunately we have not yet managed to gauge the magnitude of the damage.”
Debasu said power-saving stoves are being distributed among farmers and city residents with a view to minimizing the damage. In addition, improved agricultural technology is being introduced to help farmers produce more on a small area of land to prevent forest depletion.