Awassa — The transplantation of over 109 million tree seedlings has reportedly underway in the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples State (SNNPS) with a view to rehabilitating the dwindling forest in the state.
Forestry and mixed agriculture senior expert with the Agriculture Development and Environment Protection Bureau, Zewde Afework told WIC recently that transplantation has been carried out in 13 zones and eight special woredas of the state since the beginning of this month.
Zewde further said that students and teachers of various higher learning institutions and residents have been participating in the transplantation activities organized by the agriculture and environment protection offices of woredas.
In the just beginning rainy season, the expert said, over 2,000 hectares would be covered with seedlings by involving more than three million people. Stating that over 27,000 hectares of forest in the state have been cleared every year for farming and fuel, Zewde pointed out that the 40 per cent forest coverage of the state's land mass 20 years ago has now dwindled to only 19 per cent.
Zewde also said farming in sloppy and highland areas have caused soil erosion, which in turn has degraded the environment, adding that awareness raising activities are therefore underway among the public in order to reduce the recurrent drought in the state caused by deforestation and neglect of the environment.
The same activity is reportedly underway in urban areas to encourage tree plantation.