With 85% of Ethiopia’s population engaged in agriculture, the level of deforestation for crops for firewood or charcoal is extreme, causing extensive soil erosion and the formation of gullies. As little as 6% of forest in Machakel remains today. As a result, soil fertility has declined to such an extent that local people now struggle to grow crops and raise livestock. Our focus is to reverse this trend and ensure alternative sources of fuel, shelter and income.
Indigenous trees are planted on community land, gullies, river banks and farmland, and fruit and timber trees are planted on farms. Fruit and timber trees, apiculture, brick production, cooking-stove and fodder production offer additional income to diversify income streams in ways that ease pressure on the surrounding forest.
We prefer to engage women and youths throughout our project activities whenever possible, in order to ensure that the most vulnerable among the communities are benefiting directly. “Animators” are trained in a variety of project activities from seed collection to sustainable harvesting of non-timber forest products, and pass on training to others. This places leadership back into the hands of local people, encouraging communities to become more resilient and self-reliant.