Overall assessment of the implications
4.1 Social and economic implications
Irrespective of its potential to contribute to the national economy, the performance of the sector remain negligible over the years. Mechanisms should be developed to properly account for the contribution of forestry to the national economy and the environment. The Government and the public should become increasingly aware of the fundamental role forestry can play in the national economy, its role in providing productive employment, stabilizing the environment and thereby enhancing agricultural production and productivity, and alleviating shortages in the supply of essential forest products. Forest management should take account of the diversified functions of forests.
The social aspects of forestry development is better understood and has received more attention from the professionals in the field of forestry. There is a general recognition of the roles of forests in local peoples livelihoods and the importance of involving local people in developing successful forest management strategies.
New management modalities have been developed to ensure the needs of the rural poor who place intense pressure on forest lands. The future management practices of forests will take into account the social implication of the distribution of benefits from forests. There is an increasing concern as how to meet the needs and respect the rights of indigenous people who are forest dependent.
NGOs, both local and international are advocating different participatory forest management strategies. Access rights have been recognized for the local communities and is supported by the current draft forest policy.
In the future, demand for social equity will continue and increase and new roles for the private sector to develop forests will increase. Balance between economic, social and environmental benefits will be maintained.
The prospects for agro-forestry on farmers plots are promising and it is likely that perennial species will feature in the farming system. This system combines farming with tree planting without disrupting the main functions of the forest. This will help to promote the role of forestry in land use and land husbandry.
The employment effects of forest based activities such as, fuelwood and charcoal production, plantation establishment and management, harvesting and the use and collection of non-wood forest products will continue to persist. This will increase the relative contribution of the forestry sector to GDP in comparison with other sectors.
Out of the total 58 important forest areas, 13 of them are accessible for commercial exploitation while the remaining forests covering 60% of the total area proposed are to be managed for rehabilitation, protection and genetic conservation. Since none of these forests are gazetted, it is assumed that a substantial portion of these forests will continue to be deforested or degraded until proper protection can be afforded to them.
National forest proclamations and the environmental policy of Ethiopia reflects the environmental importance of forests and local non-governmental organizations are emerging with concern about carbon sink, soil conservation, watershed protection, and overall reduction of land degradation. Despite this, forests are not protected and the environmental functions are not realized. In the management plans which have been prepared, environmental issues are addressed but no management plans have been effectively implemented.
The Forest Plant Genetic Resources Conservation Project will have several projects of various kinds and is anticipated to yield the following major results:
To establish a data base containing the distribution and conservation status of the forest plant genetic resources
To establish Ex-situ conservation stands in representative ecological zones
To increase the number of protected forest areas through the demarcation and protection of in-situ conservation sites.
The future activities will focus on inventory and collection, characterization, evaluation and research and conservation activities. In the long term until year 2020, it is expected to enhance the sustainable utilization of forest plant genetic resources at national level and promote the contribution of forest plant genetic resources to the national economy.
Institutional Framework for Forestry
Changes in national economic policies have direct impacts on the management and administration of forests. Currently, all forests are managed and administered by regions and the federal MoA is responsible for policy and strategy development. Forestry research has been organized under the Ethiopian Agricultural Research Organization and forestry training is organized under the Ministry of Education where as Forest Genetic Resources Conservation is the mandate of Institute of Bio-diversity Conservation and Research.
The organization responsible for the forestry sector is known to have existed within the Ministry of Agriculture, since about the mid 1940s under various capacities, as a Section; an Agency; a Department and an Authority. Currently, the responsibility for the conservation, development, management and rational utilization of the forest resources rests within the Ministry of Agriculture. In reference to the mandate given to the regional administration, responsibilities for forest management and conservation have been transferred to the Regional Bureau of Agriculture. There are two main departments with extension and regulatory functions. The forest conservation aspect is treated by the regulatory section of the Bureau and the development aspect is addressed by the extension wing of the same.
The government of Ethiopia has found it essential to undertake research in a systematic and coordinated manner. The duties of forestry research and wood utilization research centres which were used to be administered by MoA had been transferred to EURO and forestry research is organized as one of the directorates in EURO.
AFREA which is the Association for Forestry Research Institutions in Eastern Africa has been established. In the future forestry research shall be strengthened so that it will have a greater impact on management and conservation of forests and tree resources. The capacity is envisaged to be strengthened. Exchange of technical forest related information will be practical and collaborative forestry research will be possible. Networking efforts have been initiated with a view towards improving the efficiency and Impact of research.