A meeting to shape research to support increased forest cover in Ethiopia was held on 24 March 2008 at the Ethiopian Development Research Institute in Addis Ababa.
This was a follow-up meeting to a workshop on forest policy to increase forest cover in Ethiopia that was held in Addis Ababa in September 2007. Both the recent meeting and the workshop of last year were organized by the EfD Center in Ethiopia, Environmental Economics Policy Forum for Ethiopia, EEPFE, at the Ethiopian Development Research Institute, EDRI, and sponsored by the EfD initiative.
The recent meeting assembled Ethiopian government representatives, donor representatives, and environmental economics researchers from Ethiopia, Sweden and the US.
The aim of the meeting was to identify how environmental economists can support the planned government interventions to halt deforestation and increase afforestation in Ethiopia. This will be used to shape a socio-economic forestry research program for Ethiopia.
An update on the current initiatives related to the Ethiopian forest sector – such as forest policy, legislation, programs and projects – was given by representatives from Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, and Federal Environmental Protection Authotity, as well as by practitioners e.g. from the Sida Amhara Rural Development Programme.
Ongoing and planned forestry research was presented by representatives from institutions like Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research, Wondo Genet College of Natural Resources and Forestry, Centre For International Forestry Research (CIFOR), and Environmental Economics Policy Forum for Ethiopia (EEPFE).
– The meeting gave a very interesting and important update of the status of forest management in Ethiopia. At the federal level, the management of natural resources has changed and the major paradigm is now catchment treatment. This gives an opportunity to include forestry in the planned sector interventions regarding sustainable land management. However, the capacity to manage industrial plantations and natural forests for productive forestry is very limited. A very important conclusion of the meeting was the need to monetize the potential productive value of forests in Ethiopia in order to attract sufficient resources for its management. This is a direct challenge to environmental economists and it will be addressed by the forestry research sponsored by the EfD, says Gunnar Köhlin, director of the EfD initiative and chair of the meeting.
The workshop of last year, “Policies to increase forest cover in Ethiopia”, had three objectives. One was to identify knowledge gaps that could be filled to increase forest cover in Ethiopia. Another was to inform about national and international efforts to improve forest management and increase forest cover. The third objective was to ensure that the research at EEPFE/EDRI will support ongoing domestic policy processes and contribute to an increased forest cover in the country.
– That workshop showed how relevant many international experiences are for Ethiopian forestry and how acute the situation is for Ethiopian forest. Within the EfD initiative we are now increasing our efforts to analyze how policies can support sustainable rural energy supplies, household tree plantation, and management of community plantations. Given the critical situation for these resources in Ethiopia, we believe that the application of applied environmental economics research can have make an important contribution to the direction of future interventions in this area, says Gunnar Köhlin.