Preserving the cloud forest through Ethiopian-German partnership
A multifaceted project to preserve one of the last of Ethiopia's native forests has been underway for the past four years with the support of Germany's International Climate Initiative and NABU, the Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union. The project focuses on reforestation, job creation in the region and the introduction of sustainable forest management practices. The area was officially named a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve earlier this year.
Ethiopia, in addition to other challenges, faces rampant deforestation. Just decades ago, 40 percent of the country was covered by forest, today there is less than three percent. UN predictions are that by 2020 Ethiopia could lose all of its remaining forests.
Germany's International Climate Initiative (ICI) and its Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union (NABU) have partnered with the government of Ethiopia to prevent this eventuality. Together, a project has been identified, designed and begun in the southwest Kafa region to preserve one of the last remaining afromontane cloud forests. It attempts not only to reforest, but address the root causes of deforestation in this area by introducing sustainable practices for the communities surrounding the forest and job creation through developing a related ecotourism infrastructure.
Relying on the local expertise and support of Ethiopian NGOS, government and the immediate community, NABU's offices on the ground developed a project that takes an integrative approach against forest destruction and climate change. The three-pronged approach conserves the forest, addresses the needs of the local population and enhances the livelihoods of the nearby communities.
The four-year project (2009-2013) will involve reforesting, surveying and analysing the state of the forest and utilization vis á vis firewood, introduction of energy-saving stoves, the selection of suitable sites for community plantations, the training of rangers to contribute to forest monitoring, offer guided tours, and inform local communities and visitors about nature conservation, and developing a concept for ecotourism.
In regards to its tourism potential, this last afromontane cloud forest and home of the Arabica-coffee received a much needed boost in March of this year when it was inaugurated as one of UNESCO's Biosphere Reserves. As such it is including in the network of 580 sites in 114 countries that are recognized as dynamic and interactive sites of excellence. The goal of these reserves is to foster the harmonious integration of people and nature for sustainable development.
Support for the project comes from the ICI which supplements German development cooperation with a clear focus on climate protection. In its third year of existence, the ICI has 181 projects in 61 partner countries with financial commitments amounting to 357 million Euro. Currently, 10 percent of its projects are committed to dealing with measures for climate adaptation. They hope to increase this to 35 percent by 2012.
For more detailed information about the NABU Kafa Zone project