18 April 2017

Ethiopia: Resilient Efforts to Preserve Forest Resources

Climate variability in Ethiopia is not new - its agro-ecological zones have brought a dazzling variety of climates. Corresponding weather patterns, people have developed ways to respond successfully to these challenges. Once in ten years, Ethiopians are suffering due to the effect of climate change - both more variable climates and more extreme weather events.

People around the world usually speak about how to struggle against such new climate patterns, and establish what resources they need to be able to move beyond reacting and coping to adapt to the new realities.

Policy makers also face intimidating challenges of how to refine policies, especially in agricultural investments, and providing prime attention on reducing poverty and vulnerability due to the new realities of climate change.

Indeed, climate change is considered as the final result of the increasing number of population and the frequent occurrence of the various socio- economic problems. For instance, in both urban and rural areas, the need to housing is increasing from time to time. Hence, people are urged to degrade forests for the construction oftheir shelters and for other farming purposes.

The main challenge is how to fairly distribute the nation's wealth to the increasing number of population at large. As it has direct or indirect relation with people, forest is considered to be a resource with multi purposes. It is also impossible to maintain the natural stability without forest resources. If natural instability is existed, drought and famine will inevitably rise at higher level.

Countries, which are at risk due to carbon emission and severe drought, need to aggressively pursue green development strategy. Recognizing the fact that Ethiopia is striving to protect and preserve its forest and biodiversity resources. Evidences showed that Ethiopia is ranked fifth in forest resource from Africa. It becomes exemplary for other courtiers in the world and plays the leading role in the sector.

According to the study conducted by United Nations Development Programme, Ethiopia is categorized under the ten world countries which have been vulnerable due to climate related catastrophes. It is also vulnerable due to the impact of the increasing temperature and uneven rainfall distribution.

As agriculture is the major driving force for the economy of Ethiopia and accounts 40 per cent of GDP, it is worse to see the sector becomes susceptible due to the impact of climate change.

As evidences indicated, over 13 million hectares of forest lands around the world are damaged due to different reasons. In our country, over one thousand hectares of forest lands are degraded annually. Over 140 thousand meter cube forest resources have been used for industry consumption between 1981 and 1999. But a lot remains to reverse the degraded forests.

On the other hand, the cost spent for imported forest resources for industrial purpose has been reached 80 million in 2007 and 182.5 million USD in 2015. If the situation is further exacerbated in this tendency, the nation will be urged to spend 1.877 billion USD after 20 years.

Thus, the commitment of the government and the support of the international community are crucial to end such state of affairs. Every individual must consider the significance of forest as a serious issue.

According to the Forest Researcher Dr. Adeferis Worku, the occurrence of climate change in relation to forest degradation was happened once in thirty years, while currently it happens once in 10 or 5 years. The bad news is climatic hazards were previously attacking a single area for a year long, whereas the occurrence is increasingly widening in recent times.

Due to high population growth, industrial expansion led to the occurrence of highest temperature. Dr. Adefiris also explained that if the temperature is rapidly increasing on wards, plants would not exist in the future.

"Researches indicated that coffee growing areas will fully be dried after 50 years. So, it is very crucial to prepare other coffee growing farm lands. Thus, climate change is as such a pressing issue, not only in Africa, but also all over the world."

Dr. Adeferis also explained the solution for this problem. The issue of climate change is not a dead-end. It is possible to rehabilitate forestry using advanced technology to develop forest areas. If people use forests for cooking food, the negative impact of climate change will highly be prevailing. Though 20 percent ofcarbon produced from forest resources, its impact is worse more than the emission from fuel used for vehicles. That is why the international community requests developing countries to reduce deforestation.

The main thing to be mentioned is the agreement made in Paris Climate Change Conference, whereby some industrialized countries agreed to provide financial support amounted 50 million USD for vulnerable and developing countries, in which Ethiopia is one of the beneficiary. An agreement was also made that to ensure transparency in the provision of global climate fund, and to urge developed countries give immediate response for the questions raised by countries.

As revealed in the 22th United Nation Climate Change Conference, the Global Climate Fund provides 3 million USD for African countries that will help them to prepare Climate Change Rehabilitation Action Plan. Likewise, African Development Bank also provides 5 billion USD for this purpose. It is expected that the fund will surely assist Ethiopia to achieve its Green Development Strategy.

Over 100 years ago, Ethiopia's forest coverage was about 30 to 40 per cent. Due to high population growth and less awareness for afforestation, the coverage becomes lower than 16 percent in 1950. The number was also reached m2.5 per cent during the eve of the fall of the Derg regime. Creating awareness in the people, the incumbent could rehabilitate the coverage to 15.5 per cent. Despite a lot remains to be done to attain the expected outcome, encouraging activities have been currently made regarding forest conservation. The Ministry of Environment and Climate Change planned to plant 4.3 billion seedlings in the previous year alone. If every seedlings costs about 3 Birr, it is unmistakable to say over 13 billion Birr was invested for forestry in the same fiscal year. Apart from its future significance, it ensures the country's safety measures against climate related hazards.

When climate irregular variability is existed, the nation cannot get proper rainy season. This leads countries to vulnerability and poverty. Resilience is about being able to bounce back from a shock. It's about having the opportunities to shift strategies quickly as the need arises.

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