Q: What are your strategies for rebuilding forest resources?
A: To reforest the region, conserve and enhance forest biodiversity, improve soil quality and satisfy the demand for wood, ORDA works in partnership with the Forest Resource Development Program (FRDP) to achieve three main strategies:
Community or social forestry involves local farmers directly in all aspects of forest management. This includes investigation, planning, decision making, implementation and income generation.
This type of forest management enables the people of Amhara to meet their own needs at the household or community level. Benefits to this strategy are increasing the supply of wood for food and construction material and fodder, as well as improving the land’s overall fertility.
The role of ORDA is to provide technical and material support to the communities,
training them on how to raise and tend seedlings and how to make fuel-saving stoves.
Environmental forestry focuses on controlling runoff (water that doesn’t get absorbed into the ground) improving water quality and quantity, stabilizing soils and preventing erosion and conserving and increasing the biodiversity of the region.
The primary technique ORDA uses in this type of forest management is area closure. This means the area is off-limits to humans and livestock so the forest can naturally regenerate. (A forest can begin to regenerate itself if it’s left alone for two to three years.)
In forest sites that have been too degraded and fragmented to regenerate naturally, ORDA does enrichment planting (planting cultivated seedlings).
Plantation forests are especially important in Amhara because a great deal of the land has limited natural agricultural potential. A plantation is a forest crop (or stand) that’s been raised artificially, either by planting or sowing. The main purpose of plantation forestry is to increase the supply of forest products, particularly for construction, fuel and industrial functions.
Our tree plantations are created from monoculture exotic species such as Eucalyptus, Cupressus, and Pinus. These species improve agricultural production and productivity by reducing soil erosion, rehabilitating the environment, renewing wood resource supplies and mitigating CO2 emissions.
Q: What are your solutions?
A: ORDA focuses on seven aspects of forest resource development:
Seedling Production and Nursery Management
As a result of the world energy crises, forest tree seedling production in Ethiopia has grown exponentially since the 1970s. Seedlings of indigenous, naturalized and exotic trees are produced to serve a wide range of products, services, aesthetic, cultural and religious values.
Types of Tree Seedlings
The three methods that ORDA uses to produce seedlings are:
- Bare root (seedlings grown directly on a seedbed)
- Containerized (seedlings grown in polythene bags, clay pots or paper pots)
- Cuttings (seedlings grown from pieces of parent trees, used for Jatropha Curcas and Arundinaria Alpina)
Types of Nurseries
Seedlings are grown in nurseries because the survival rate is much higher than seeds planted directly in deforested areas. Specifically, nursery seedlings achieve very successful field establishment, strong growth performance and high yield. ORDA currently operates more than 470 tree nurseries that provide seedlings for private, communal and public lands.
ORDA provides all the tools (seeds, polythene tubes, etc.) to individuals who then grow ten thousand seedlings at a time. The type and number of seedlings produced is limited, focusing on species that need little technical knowledge.
Community nurseries, as the name indicates, are owned by the community. Capacity and diversity of seedlings raised are higher than in private nurseries.
Model or Central Nurseries
These nurseries are owned by ORDA, and have the most diversity and capacity of all the nursery types (about one to six million seedlings per year). Seedlings produced by this type of nursery serve a variety of functions such as timber stands, wildlife habitats, stream bank stabilization, urban forests, agro forestry, biodiversity and improvement of watersheds. These nurseries are also used to educate development agents and the public on nursery management and seedling production
Moisture Conservation Structure Development
ORDA focuses on providing education and training to communities to maintain planted forests. This type of development begins from the initial care of cultivated seedlings to preventative precautions once the forests are in place.
For example, people of the communities are trained how to weed and cultivate seedlings that have just been planted, as well as to repopulate areas where seedlings have died. Other examples include plans to control possible wildfires and other natural disasters. ORDA also educates communities on how to keep a forest developing in a healthy way, using practices like tree thinning and keeping domestic animals away from developing seedlings.
In order to spread knowledge about environmental degradation, ORDA works to provide knowledge to the rural communities of Amhara about its causes and consequences, as well as preventative measures that can be taken. We provide education on a variety of topics, including deforestation, land degradation, environmental pollution and global warming. Our program materials include educational pamphlets, audiovisual materials and field trips.
All of our environmental education activities are in partnership with environmental groups such as environmental clubs, businesses and government agencies.
Promotion of Alternative Energy Sources
Dependence on foreign oil, declining forest resources and global warming has caused an increase in the demand for alternative, environmentally acceptable sources of energy. In efforts to protect the environment, part of our forestry development program focuses on increasing energy production from renewable sources.
Three of our major activities are:
- Introducing and popularizing of solar energy plants.
- Promoting and producing biofuel-producing foliage such as Jatropha Curcas.
- Promoting and popularizing fuel-saving stoves.
Capacity Building and Women Empowerment
ORDA and the Forest Resources Development Program staff provide training in forest management, aforestation, soil and water conservation, agro forestry and infrastructure development. Training is provided to experts, development agents and farmers through formal training, on-the-job training and experience-sharing tours.
Training manuals and additional tools are provided to school clubs, individuals and communities so they can produce their own seedlings, implement soil and water conservation and hillside aforestation activities.
Traditionally, collecting fuel wood is a woman’s role. As forests become depleted, women have to walk further and further each day for this task. Besides being an exhausting task, the long and unaccompanied journeys make women and girls vulnerable to abduction and rape. This means it’s the women of a community who directly benefit from the development and regeneration of forests. For this reason, and because women have the most familiarity with forested land, ORDA takes extra steps to tap into their insight during community planning meetings.
Women also directly benefit from fuel-saving stoves. These stoves use less wood for cooking, and since these stoves have more than one burner, it reduces the amount of time it takes to prepare meals.