Since 2009 ITF have been working with SUNARMA (Sustainable Natural Resource Management Association) to deliver the Wof Washa Natural Resources and Land Use Management Project and we are pleased to announce that the project is progressing very well with some major breakthroughs occurring during the past year of the project.
Aims and objectives
The main aim of the Wof Washa project is to demonstrate sustainable land use practice whilst encouraging sustainable livelihoods. The Wof Washa forest is one of the few remaining natural forests on the African continent and with Ethiopia providing 80% of the Nile’s water, it is important to maintain these natural ‘sponges’ for the future.
The aim of this particular part of the project has been to establish demonstration and community nurseries, train nursery staff and local farmers to work within a framework of production and planting of seedlings into the surrounding forest, thereby reducing soil erosion and providing farmers with a sustainable commodity they can then sell for a variety of purposes.
Two demonstration nurseries and other community nurseries have been established; tree seeds and planting materials have been procured and seedlings planted by the community. Farmers are now equipped with the capacity to raise seedlings and through this are able to decrease soil erosion and sustain livelihoods by income generated from the sale of trees for a variety of purposes.
Around 645,500 seedlings were produced (514,640 of multipurpose species and 130,860 of indigenous species) and 574,000 tree seedlings were outplanted. The importance of planting seedlings for different purposes is now gaining acceptance not only by local farmers, but also in nearby kebele (similar to local wards).
Two Forest User Groups (FUGs) in two kebele have been strengthened and preparation to establish new FUGs has being undertaken. In addition to out-planting of seedlings, preparation of seed beds, pot filling, sowing seeds of both indigenous and exotic trees, basic nursery operations (watering, weeding, shading and cleaning), transplanting of indigenous tree seedlings from germination bed to plastic bags in both sites have also been undertaken.
A major breakthrough this year has been the realisation by the farmers that it is down to them to sustain their environment in order for them to sustain their livelihoods. The mindset of centuries has been that, as the government own the resource, they should manage it, which has not been the case. The demand for more FUGs by other kebele outside the project area has demonstrated that this realisation by the local communities is being translated into concrete action to sustain the forest for future generations.
Farmers, who used to get tree seedlings from Keyit nursery are now able to withstand soil loses, conserve moisture of the soil and start harvesting the wood, enabling them to derive an income to support their livelihood. This demonstrates initial steps towards economic and natural resources management sustainability.
Skills have been enhanced on how to raise seedlings within private and group nurseries which are being practiced by the local community. Tree planting on degraded lands is becoming common within the project area that has increased tree coverage of the area. In addition, farmers are requesting the local management to fully involve them in the management of the forest which will ensure sustainability