Household level tree planting and its implications for environmental management in the northwestern highlands of Ethiopia: A case study in the Chemoga watershed, Blue Nile Basin

W. Bewket

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The unsustainable exploitation and destruction of forests is a serious environmental concern in the developing countries of Africa. One of its main driving forces is the growing population causing a growing demand for fuelwood. In Ethiopia, as in many developing countries, there is a heavy dependence on and a growing demand for fuelwood. This dependence has been contributing to a widescale deforestation, as stated in various reports. Contrary to these reports, a study in the Chemoga watershed found a slightly increased forest cover during the past four decades, which was ascribed to households' tree planting practices. The objective of this study was to examine household level tree planting activities in reference to biofuel consumption patterns in four sample villages in the watershed. The results indicate that fuelwood and cattle dung accounted for nearly 100 per cent of the domestic energy consumption, with cattle dung contributing 34 per cent of the total. Fuelwood and dung combined, per capita biofuel consumption was estimated at 511 kg yr(-1), but with variations between the villages and socio-economic groups. Supply appears to have influenced the quantity of biofuels used. The scarcity of wood for fuel and other uses has forced households to plant trees. This has contributed to the increased forest cover of the watershed at the present as compared to that four decades ago. Number of trees planted showed variation between the villages and socio-economic groups, which is attributable to physical and human factors. In promoting tree planting, agroforesters and environmental management planners should therefore take into account local level biophysical and socio-economic realities. This agroforestry practice is a good short-term solution to the problem of fuelwood shortage, and also has many positive implications for environmental management and agricultural production. Thus, it has to be encouraged. Spatially aggregated, local level agroforestry practices contribute positively towards global ecosystem health.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)377-388
JournalLand Degradation and Development
Volume14
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2003

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