Ethiopia currently has less than 2.7% of its original high forest, with about 40,000 hectares or 0.8% of total forest cover lost between 1995 and 2000. The loss of forest cover has had an adverse effect on both the livelihoods of local communities and biodiversity. The country has over 100 species on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of threatened species, eight of which are considered critically endangered.
The Humbo Ethiopia Assisted Natural Regeneration project is restoring approximately 2,728 ha of a biodiverse native forest, while supporting local income and employment generation. Through assisted natural regeneration, the project is restoring indigenous tree species to the Humbo area, a mountainous region of Southwestern Ethiopia. The local community is actively engaged, with seven community cooperative societies managing the regeneration areas and a system in place to monitor the project’s environmental and social issues. The project is the first of its kind in Ethiopia in that it has employed farmer-managed natural regeneration (FMNR) techniques. The FMNR technique enables rural communities to assist re-sprouting of native species by identifying, selecting, and pruning existing tree and shrub root stocks in the soil. This technique has been developed in Niger for over 20 years and is now implemented in over 2 million hectares in Niger, Chad and Burkina Faso. The project compliments the natural resource management goals of the Ethiopian Agricultural Rural Development and Forestry Coordination Office (ARDFCO), and social development goals of the Ethiopian government, and World Vision Ethiopia, the humanitarian organization implementing the project.
The project is providing environmental services, including sequestration of greenhouse gas emissions and the promotion of native vegetation. The biodiversity and the connectivity of fragmented forest resources in the project area are improving, providing a refuge for local and migratory species. In addition, the fragile water catchment area is being protected, and the project is preventing water and soil erosion and flooding. In particular, sediment runoff currently threatening the fragile ecosystem of Lake Abaya - located 30 km downstream from the project site – is being reduced. This is helping to maintain the supply of springs and subterranean streams that support the region’s water supply.
The project is providing a direct income stream for communities through sustainable harvesting of forest resources. The communities are gaining more robust land-use and land-access rights, turning their lands into important and valuable assets that are now legally recognized. Moreover, carbon revenues from the project are being invested in local infrastructure and food security activities determined through a participatory approach as per the needs of entire community.