Afternoon Session, 25 November 2003
Chairperson: Dr Kidane Giorgis,
Ethiopian Agricultural Research Organization, Addis Ababa
THE CHAIRPERSON INVITED PARTICIPANTS FOR DISCUSSION BY WAY OF QUESTIONS, REMARKS AND CLARIFICATIONS ON THE PAPERS PRESENTED IN THE AFTERNOON SESSION AND WELCOMED ANY COMMENTS PERTINENT TO PROJECT IDENTIFICATION AND FORMULATION. Most questions asked were on the Simen Mountains National Park (SMNP) and on issues of tree planting and conservation activities in the Amhara Region. Some of the major issues addressed including the following:
On revenue generating and revenue sharing of the SMNP, it is reported that there is now serious consideration given community involvement more attention in this process. Both the regional and local authorities accept in principle a revenue-sharing arrangement with local people and promotion of ecotourism and income generating activities in the park and buffer areas. However, mechanisms for such ecotourism and revenue sharing as seen in southern and eastern African countries are still in its infancy.
Some participants underscored increased tree planting by individual farmers and private sector involvement in tree planting and nursery management. Land tenure insecurity is reported to be a hindrance to investing in tree planting and there is a need for supporting policies so that farmers can take it up as an income generating venture. On the market side, Dr Amare indicated that he has not met any tree farmer in the area who has any problems in selling his/her trees. In fact, it brings much more benefit than crop cultivation.
Wetland management is a very crucial issue and simply draining the wetland is not a viable or environmental sound solution. The use of trees for drainage management is a good option. Drainage improvement on the Fogera plains and Dembia (largely wetland areas) has been very problematic since ground water level is very high and difficult to lower through drainage. EARO has tried to introduce rice cultivation in these wetland areas rather than the proposed drainage, which is expensive and harmful to the ecosystem. Tree planting was also recommended in the Fogera plains for drainage purposes.
Policies at national level such as land tenure, the forestry action plan, conservation strategies, land use and administration, etc. directly affects activities on the ground. Since the Workshop is trying to come up with project ideas, the upcoming discussion should consider these links with policy issues.
Community participation in NRM is central and it is vital to involve them right from the beginning. Experience shows a technical approach in conservation has not been effective.
Population growth and population pressure is a significant factor in natural resources degradation and family planning will be important in this regard.
Improved livestock and pasture management is equally important in arresting natural resources degradation and past effort has focused on cropland.
When talking about the highlands it is difficulty to separate them in some cases from the adjacent lowland areas surrounding them and these linkages must be considered.