Guillaumet, J.L. et Adjanohoun 1967 “Notice explicative de la carte de végétation au 1/500 000” - Orstom - Paris
Clément, J. 1968 “Contribution à l'étude des peuplements équiennes de teck de la région de la région de Bouaké” - Abidjan
CTFT 1968 “Inventaire zone d'approvionnement en bois usine de pâte de Yaou (51 000 ha)” - 2 fascicules - Nogent-sur-Marne (France)
CTFT 1968 “Ressources forestières en Côte-d'Ivoire” - note (non publiée) de synthèse des inventaires CTFT et DRC avec actualisation en 1968 - Nogent-sur-Marne (France)
Clément, J. 1969 “Inventaire à but d'aménagement en forêt d'Oumé (2 500 ha)” - CTFT -Nogent-sur-Marne (France)
CTFT 1969 “Délimitation et sondages préliminaires du périmètre papetier de San Pedro”-Nogent-sur-Marne (France)
Lanly, J.P. 1969 “Régression de la forêt en Côte-d'Ivoire”-Bois et Forêts des Tropiques No 127 - Nogent-sur-Marne (France)
Orstom 1971 “Le milieu naturel de la Côte-d'Ivoire” - mémoire No. 50 - Paris
CTFT 1972 “Inventaire du périmètre industriel No XV/région Soubré (450 000 ha)” -2 fascicules - Nogent -sur-Marne (France)
CTFT 1972 “Inventaire du périmètre papetier de San Pedro (200 000 ha)” - 4 fascicules -Nogent-sur-Marne (France)
Schmithüsen, F. 1972 “Rapport sur la politique forestière de la Côte-d'Ivoire” - Banque Mondiale - Washington
Clement, J. 1973 “Note de présentation des résultats de l'inventaire du périmètre industriel XV” - Abidjan
CICE 1973 “Promotion des essences forestières tropicales peu ou pas exploitées” -Abidjan
FAO 1973 “Etude sur le développement national - Secteur alimentaire et agriculture” -DDA/CDB - Document de travail - Rome
Clement, J. 1974 “Approche d'une actualisation des résultats des inventaires de 1966” -Sodefor - Abidjan
CTFT 1974 “Inventaire des chantiers d'exploitation de la SEPC (50 000 ha)” -2 fascicules - Nogent-sur-Marne (France)
Arnaud, J.C. 1975 “Les activités forestières en Côte-d'Ivoire” - Université d'Abidjan
Mielot, J. 1975 “Analyse et commentaires des résultats de l'inventaire forestier de la région nord-ouest” - Sodefor - Abidjan
Ministère des Eaus et Forêts 1975 “Rapport général sur l'économie forestière” - Abidjan
Sodefor 1975 “La forêt dense humide en Côte-d'Ivoire” - Abidjan
Sodefor 1975 “Inventaire forestier national - Résultats région nord-ouest” -Abidjan
Attobra, K. 1976 “Communication en conseil des ministres concernant la protection et l' l'utilisation rationelle du patrimoine forestier” - Ministère des Eaux et Forêts - Abidjan
CTFT 1976 “Les problèmes du reboisement dans les zones de savane du nord de la Côted'Ivoire” - Nogent-sur-Marne (France)
Dereix, C. et Amani N'Guessan 1976 “Les parcelles feux deKonkodekro - Octobre 1976, bilan après 40 ans” - Abidjan
Ministère du plan 1976 “Extrait de la loi plan 1976–1980” - Abidjan
Sodefor 1976 “Inventaire forestier de l'extension du périmètre papetier de San Pedro” -Abidjan
Sodefor 1976 “Inventaire forestier national - Résultats région centre-sud” - Abidjan
Sodefor 1976 “Note relative à l'exécution des plantations papetières semi-industrielles dans la région de San Pedro” - Abidjan
Bourgeois, J. 1977 “Compétition agriculture-forêt en Côte-d'Ivoire” - (note non publiée) -Sodefor, Abidjan
Bulletin Afrique Noire 1977 “Plan quinquennal (1960–1980) de la Côte-d'Ivoire - Exploitation forestière, industries du bois” - Bulletin No. 900
Maitre, H.F. 1977 “Prévisions de rendement des plantations d'essences de bois d'oeuvre à croissance rapide” - CTFT, Nogent-sur-Marne (France)
Sodefor 1977 “La situation forestière en Côte-d'Ivoire - Analyse et propositions d'action” - Abidjan
Sodefor 1977 “Direction de gestion de plantation” - Rapports 1976–1977 - Abidjan
Sodefor 1977 “Programme reboisement” - Rapports 1976–1977 - Abidjan
Sodefor 1977 “Inventaire forestier national” - Résultats région centre-est - Abidjan
Clément, J. 1978 “Un exemple d'évolution régressive des surfaces forestières sous l'action des défrichements agricoles: la Côte-d'Ivoire” - (note non publiée)-FAO -Rome
Gaossou Toure 1978 “Impact de l'instabilité des communautés villageoises sur la foresterie en zone tropicale (cas de la Côte-d'Ivoire)” - Abidjan
Jeune Afrique 1978 “Atlas de la Côte-d'Ivoire”
Ministère des Eaux et Forets 1978 “Rapport de la Côte-d'Ivoire à la 5ème session de la Commission pour l'Afrique” - Abidjan
Sodefor 1978 “Inventaire forestier national” - Résultats région centre-ouest - Abidjan
Sodefor 1978 “Direction de gestion de plantation” - Rapports 1977–1978 - Abidjan
Sodefor 1978 “Programme reboisement” - Rapports 1977–1978 - Abidjan
Bourgeois, J. 1979 “Les reboisements d'Etat en Côte-d'Ivoire” - Sodefor - Abidjan
CCCE 1979 “La politique forestière de la Côte-d'Ivoire” - Abidjan
Maitre, H.F. 1979 “Possibilité d'interprétation des données d'aménagement en forêt naturelle” - Abidjan
Sodefor 1979 “Recueil des notes explicatives des opérations proposées en mai/juin 1979 au titre de la loi programme 1979–1981” - Abidjan
Cailliez F. et Clement J. 1980 “Proposition méthodologique pour l'étude de la valeur des plantations forestières réalisées par la Sodefor” - CTFT - Nogent-sur-Marne (France)
Mielot J. 1980 “L'aménagement de la forêt en Côte-d'Ivoire” - Sodefor - Abidjan
Ministère des Eaux et Forêts 1980 “Rapport du groupe de travail reboisement pour la préparation du 7ème congrès PDCI/RDA” - Abidjan
Ethiopia covers a total area of 1 221 895 km2 between latitudes 3°30'N and 18°N and longitudes 33°E and 48°E in the north-eastern horn of Africa. The heart of the country is formed by a vast mountain mass between 2 100 and 2 500 m altitude with some peaks rising to 4 500 m. The massif is divided into two deeply carved out plateaus (Central Ethiopian and Galla-Somali) by the Rift Valley, in which lie several lakes in the south and the Awash River in the north, a river vital for the irrigation of the extensive plains leading to the Red Sea and Somalia (1).
Although the entire country lies within the tropics, only the lowlands have a hot climate: dry and semi-desertic in the plains, humid and tropical in the deep valleys. On the highlands of the plateaus, however, the nearness of the equator is counterbalanced by the elevation of the land, resulting in temperate conditions. The high mountains are characterised by a cold, alpine climate. Average temperatures in the hot lowlands vary between 20°C and 29°C, in the temperate highlands between 16°C and 20°C and in the mountains between 10°C and 16°C. The relative humidity, which is very low on the eastern and western plains, increases on the plateaus from 20% in the north up to 80% in the south. The precipitation increases con-currently from 200 mm in the north and on the eastern plains to 1 600 mm in the south-west (4).
The population is estimated at 31 520 000 inhabitants (UN/ESA “World Population Prospects”-Population Studies no. 60), with an expected growing rate of 2.5% a year. Roughly 80% of the economically active population works in the agricultural sector. The main export crops are coffee, hides skins, pulses, vegetables and oil seeds.
The scarcity of relevant information, the obsoleteness and the approximative character of the available data on forest resources have not permitted a precise assessment and in many cases the estimates provided below are based mostly on similar situations in neighbouring countries.
1. Present situation
1.1 Natural woody vegetation
The principal, physiognomical and habit -forms of the natural vegetation are in close correlation with the altitude and/or temperature belts: the lowlands are characterised by steppes, savannas and woodlands, while the highlands carry forests which dissolve into woodlands, savannas and steppes in the higher mountains. The distribution pattern relates to the climax vegetation types. However, man has had a considerable influence on the vegetation as is shown clearly in the following descriptions of the remaining woody vegetation types, and in the area figures given in section 1.1.2.
1.1.1 Description of the vegetation types
(4) classifies the land area of Ethiopia in the following broad climax vegetation types:
|(in million ha)|
(4) further describes more than 50 different plant communities, especially from the botanical point of view. For the sake of clarity and simplicity, the latter have been grouped under common denominations, based on additional information found in (1), (2), (3), (6), (7) and (9), and presented within the standard descriptive framework used in this study.
Closed broadleaved forests (NHC)
The broadleaved moist forests of the south-west correspond to the “humid lower highland forests” and the “humid upper highland forests” mentioned in (4). They are found only in the most humid parts of the south-west of the Central Ethiopian Plateau, where the annual rainfall is more than 1 400 mm and sometimes exceeds 2 000 mm, with a fairly uniform distribution throughout the whole year and one or two dry months only. The temperature is relatively warm, since altitude rarely surpasses 2 500 m. Some smaller blocks of this type occur also in the southern Rift Valley.
The broadleaved moist forests are characterized by their high density and their great variety of species. The dominant storey is rather open, the large trees being mostly scattered, growing to heights of 40–45 m, with branchy canopies often standing out in isolation. The most frequent and characteristic species are: Syzygium guineense, Cordia africana, Olea welwitschii, Mimusops kummel, Ficus spp., Manilkara butugi, Aningeria spp., Pouteria ferruginea, Albizia schimperiana, Morus mesozygia, Bosqueia phoberos and Clausenopsis angolensis. Beneath is a much denser middle storey with a closed canopy 15 to 25 m high. The prominent species are: Eckebergia rueppelliana, Bersama abyssinica, Apodytes acutifolia, Croton macrostachys, Schefflera abyssinica, Polyscias ferruginea, Erythrina abyssinica and Pygeum africanum. The understorey composed of shrubby trees and bush is relatively dense, comprising Galiniera coffecides, Cyathea manniana, Coffea arabica and Randia malleifera. The herbaceous ground cover is rich in ferns. The trees of the middle storey carry numerous lianes, such as Landolphia sp. Epiphytes, principally mosses and ferns, are very abundant and sometimes cover their entire trunks. Some boles have a magnificent shape and size, but many are twisted, with buttresses high up on the trunk or with large, low branches. Big trees are very scattered, and considerable areas are stocked with specimens of small diameter and poor growth, which can be explained without doubt by earlier forest clearings.
The broadleaved semi-humid highland forests are well represented in semi-humid regions, in altitudes from 1 700 m to 2 500 m, forming the lower and upper portions of the coniferous forests they enclose. While the upper-storey reaches heights of 25–35 m in the lower parts, frequent devastation and climatological/edaphic factors limit its height in the upper highlands to 10–20 m. Cold northern and eastern exposures are characterized by Celtis kraussiana, Sideroxylon oxyacantha, Pygeum africanum and Olea spp. in the dominant canopy, while intermediate and lower storeys are occupied by Trema guineensis, Bersama abyssinica, Catha edulis and Vernonia amygdalina. Prominent members of the upper storey in warm, southern and western exposures, are Polyscias ferruginea, Galliniera coffeoides, Pygeum africanum and Croton macrostachys. Only the lower highland type possesses an intermediate storey, composed of Albizia isenbergiana, Ficus spp., Euphorbia candelabrum and many others. The relatively dense under storey consists mainly of shrubs and small trees (Maesea lanceolata, Lobelia giberroa etc.). In the transition zone with the coniferous forests, occasional Podocarpus gracilior or Juniperus procera can be found emerging above the broadleaved upper canopy.
The dense Acacia forests are the sole forest type of the semi-arid highlands between 1 800 and 2 500 m and are located prevalently in southern and western exposures. The comparatively poor habit is produced by the absence of an upper storey of big trees and by the only 15–25 m high (10–20 m in the upper parts) more sparse, broken canopy formed by the spreading flat crowns of the dominant Acacia xiphocarpa. Under this latter a lower storey of small trees and big shrubs develops with species such as Cassia didymobotrya, Dombeya multiflora, Maytenus senegalensis, Osyris abyssinica, Harrisonia abyssinica, Olea africana, Schrebera alata and Vernonia amygdalina. The forest floor is scarcely covered. Trunks and branches of the higher trees are densely clothed with lichens, ferns and climbers.
Mangrove vegetation is found only on the muddy shores of the Red Sea. It is mainly composed of shrubby tree forms of Avicennia marina and Rizophora mucronata. Its area is nowadays very restricted and its quality very poor.
Open broadleaved forests (NHc/NHO)
- The lowland woodlands occupy the more elevated plains and plateau-escarpments between altitudes of 500 m and 1 900 m, and correspond to a wide range of ecological conditions ranging from semi-arid to humid. The woodlands are characterized by an upper storey of 5 to 12 m with high trees forming a more or less closed canopy, however sparse enough to let sufficient light penetrate to a dense, thicket-like lower storey of 1 to 3 m high shrubs.
In the semi-arid zone, the Acacia thicket is composed of different shrubs and trees, many of them thorny: Acacia mellifera, A. seyal, A. tortilis, Cassia singueana, Albizia amara, etc., while the Euphorbia thicket comprises large and dense stands of 8–12 m high trees of Euphorbia abyssinica, accompanied by a sub-and lower storey of Cassia didymobotrya, Acacia sieberiana, Diospyros mespiliformis etc. Abundant parasites and climbers are living in the crowns of the trees.
The plant community in the semi-humid zone, as opposed to the former one, is dominated by ‘unarmed’ broadleaved species, and can be divided in two types: a deciduous one, the Combretum thicket, grows as climax in altitudes from 700 to 1 600 m and is composed of such species as Annona senegalensis, Combretum aculeatum, Combretum spp., Celtis integrifolia, Maerua aethiopica and Trichilia roka. The second type, characterized by a pronounced evergreen sub- and lower-storey and developing in higher altitudes from 1 200 to 1 500 m, is the Croton thicket, the main constituents of which are species like Croton macrostachys, C. schimperianum, Terminalia brownii, Rhamnus prinoides, etc.
In the humid lowlands, the Albizia thicket occupies altitudes from 1 200 to 1 700 m in zones of higher precipitation. Albizia isenbergiana, Butyrosperum niloticum, Carissa edulis and Vitex doniana are common. The Balanites thicket is an edaphic climax of flood plains and other localities where the water-table is near the surface. Mainly found in altitudes from 700 to 1 600 m, it is composed of Balanites aegyptiaca, Acacia nilotica, Tamarindus indica, Erythrina abyssinica, Phoenix reclinata etc. The Tamarindus thicket, lining the riverbanks in altitudes from 500 to 1 200 m, is chiefly constituted by Tamarindus indica, Salix subserrata and Acacia nilotica, while the Faidherbia albida thicket occupies the riversides and humid valleys in altitudes from 1 000 to 1 700 m, with such other species as Acacia etbaica, Celtis integrifolia, Kigelia aethiopium and other deciduous trees and shrubs.
- The mountain woodlands extend from 2 400 to 3 400 m in altitude. Their physiognomy is very similar to the one of the lowland woodlands: an upper canopy formed by 5–12 m high trees, above a thicket of 1.5 m high shrubs. Poor specimens of Juniperus procera occur on all sites.
On dry, stony and rocky mountain slopes Protea gaguedi is characteristic, accompanied by small and medium-sized trees and shrubs of Acacia abyssinica, Erica arborea, Rhus vulgaris and Pitt osporum abyssinicum. Semi-humid southern and western exposures show a relatively high frequency of the already mentioned Juniperus procera mixed with Cussonia holstii, Maytenus ovata, Heeria insignis and many more tall shrubs and medium-sized trees. The same conditions on eastern and northern exposures lead sometimes to almost pure stands of Hagenia abyssinica, the latter accompanied by Olinia usambarensis, Dombeya spp., Ilex mitis and the bamboo Arundinaria alpina.
- The lowland savannas extend from arid zones on higher (i.e. less hot) elevations to more humid and lower but very hot regions, and occupy vast areas in the Rift Valley, on the plain surrounding Lake Tana, on the Sudan plain, on the lower plateau escarpments and on the lowlands of the southern part of the Kaffa, Gamu-Gofa, Borana and Wallaga provinces. A series of rather different savanna types corresponds to this wide range of ecological conditions, which have only in common a more or less dense groundcover of perennial grasses and the stunted form of many of the scattered, and mostly deciduous trees.
An arid type, called shrub savanna, occurs between 800 and 1 500 m. Tall shrubs and small trees, such as Cassia arereh, Acacia seyal, Ficus glumosa and Gardenia lutea, are dispersed in the open grassland with their crowns higher than the grass and their stems hidden.
Under semi-arid conditions, the shrubs and short-stemmed trees are forming a denser, larger layer with their stems well visible above the lower grass. Delonix elata, Acacia spp., Ficus spp., Crataeva religiosa, Combretum spp. etc., are found at altitudes below 700 m. Above the former, and up to an altitude of 1 300 m, particularly on the western escarpments of the plateau, on the lower terraces of the valleys of the Blue Nile and Takarre and in the southern part of Borana and Gamu-Gofa provinces, Boswellia papyrifera assembles sometimes in almost pure stands, dominating scattered shrubs and small trees of Burkea africana, Lonchocarpus laxiflorus, Sterculia setigera and Commiphora spp.
The semi-humid lowland savannas are formed by more or less dense thickets scattered in the lower, grassy vegetation and constituted by trees, shrubs and climbers. The climax vegetation at the lowest elevations of the hot coastal plains of Eritrea from sea level up to 700 m, is the coastal plain thicket, formed by groups of Hyphaena thebaica trees amidst a rather scarce, shrubby and herbaceous storey of Tamarix manmifera, Lycium sp. and Juncus sp., and a series of Cyperaceae and Gramineae. The typical form, developing under less extreme temperature conditions from sea level up to 800 m, is represented by the thicket savanna, constituted of a continuous grassy ground cover and scattered thickets of shrubs and trees, such as Acacia eggelengii, Dalbergia melanoxylon, Ficus spp., Diospyros mespiliformis and Ochna spp.
- The mountain savannas lie at very high altitudes, above the zone of the mountain woodlands. While their upper limits are, in drier regions, situated around 3 500 m, they are able, in more humid regions, to ascend up to 4 000 m. Their lower limits are blurred on account of the extensive land clearing and grazing in the area of the mountain woodlands and upper highland forests where, on abandoned cultivations and pastures, they spread as a secondary vegetation. Thus, this formation, originally confined to comparatively small surfaces at very high altitudes, occupies now the major part of the Ethiopian Plateau. Its secondary character, however, is easily recognizable by remnants of the former forest or woodland, such as Acacia xiphocarpa, Juniperus procera, Hagenia abyssinica, Olea africana, Apodytes dimidiata etc.
These vast savannas are covered by a blanket of tufted Cyperaceae and Gramineae, interrupted and dotted with spots of isolated specimens or scattered groups of shrubs and small trees. The so called semi-arid shrub savanna has large but broken thickets of Erica arborea, accompanied by some crooked Protea gaguedi, Hypericum lanceolatum, Rhus vulgaris, Acacia abyssinica and Rosa abyssinica. Of less arid aspect, the shrub-savanna is characterised by isolated, or small groups of small trees and tall shrubs of Erica arborea, Acacia abyssinica, Hypericum lanceolatum, Echinops steudneri and Hypericum spp., while the more humid tree-savanna is usually marked by trees and shrubs of Olinia usambarensis, Argauria salicifolia, Philippia trimera, Cassipourea malosana and Maytenus undatus. Towards the upper limits of the mountain savanna, in alpine plateaus, stands of more or less scattered tall specimens of Lobelia rhynchopetalum can be found.
Bamboo forests (NHB)
Arundinaria alpina stands take the form of scattered but large and compact concentrations at very high elevations, above the Juniperus forests (2 500–3 400 m). They are mixed with single trees or groups of trees, such as Hagenia abyssinica, Juniperus procera, Pygeum africanum, Milletia ferruginea and Schefflera polysciada. Typical representatives of the lower shrub-storey are Rubus erlangeri and other Rubus spp. At high altitudes in the broadleaved moist forest, occasional stands are found, sometimes reaching a height of 18 m with some diameters reaching 12 cm. The main bamboo areas in the highlands, however, occur where ecologically the humid montane woodland would find its habitat.
Extensive stands of Oxytenanthera abyssinica occur at lower elevations, particularly on the western and southwestern escarpments of the Plateau and in the valleys of the Blue Nile and Takazze (500–1 300 m). Accompanying species are Anogeissus leiocarpus, Combretum collinium, Terminalia brownii, Boswellia papyrifera, Lannea schimperi and Gardenia lutea. The main locations are Wellega province and the western part of Gojjam province. The physiognomy is mostly that of a dense thicket. In Erytrea, Oxytenanthera boczii replaces O. abyssincay. The lowland bamboos always assemble in clumps of considerable size.
Coniferous forests (NS)
- The Juniperus forests formerly covered wide areas of the high plateaus of Ethiopia. Cultivation, grazing and fires, as well as excessive exploitation, have progressively taken their toll, and today only remnants exist, for the most part localized in Central Ethiopia, on the eastern escarpments of the Plateau and on the upper slopes of the northwestern side of the Galla-Somali plateau. They generally grow at high elevations (2 500–3 200 m) in areas where the climate is relatively cold and sometimes very dry. Some blocks are found at lower altitudes, between 1 800 m and 2 000 m, on cold northern exposures of the southwestern parts of the Galla-Somali plateau.
The upper storey of Juniperus forests is formed by large, up to 30–45 m high trees of Juniperus procera. A middle storey of an average height of 20 m comprises in general the following species: Pygeum africanum, Olea chrysophylla, Hagenia abyssinica, Cussonia spp. Apodytes acutifolia, Eckebergia rueppeliana, Milletia ferruginea and Pittosporum abyssinicum. The undergrowth is poorly developed. Almost pure Juniperus stands are often found. The trees and bushes generally have a rather coriaceous foliage, which is fine and shiny. In some less favourable places, Juniperus trees are much shorter and have thicker boles, and the undergrowth becomes dense, forming an impenetrable thicket. In the most humid regions and at the lowest altitudes the vegetation changes towards a semi-humid highland forest: the juniper might then be mixed with Podocarpus gracilior. At the highest altitudes the evolution is very often towards a park-like formation, where the trees are confined to isolated clumps appearing in the grassland (mountain savanna). Characteristic of the juniper forests are the lichens, hanging everywhere from the branches of the trees.
- Podocarpus forests have not a well defined geographical distribution. They are found in relatively humid climate, where rain is well distributed throughout the year but is less abundant than in the zone of the broadleaved rainforests. They are mostly located in the west of Ethiopia and on the western slopes of the Galla-Somali plateau, between 2 000 m and 2 400 m altitude.
The large trees normally form a continuous and closed canopy. They reach a height of 40–45 m, and even more, on the most favourable sites. The upper storey contains the following species: Podocarpus gracilior (dominating), Pygeum africanum, Eckebergia rueppeliana, Celtis kraussiana, Olea hochstetteri, Polyscias ferruginea and Apodytes acutifolia. The large Podocarpus can grow in a closed mix with broadleaved trees, but more often they form small, almost pure stands, and may even occupy exclusively the upper storey, suppressing their companions into the relatively open middle and lower storeys. Where the forest has been left untouched, the undergrowth is very open. There are some dominated trees, few shrubs, except in the clearings, and the ground is fairly clean. Epiphytes (ferns) are abundant, but creepers are few. These forests are less heterogeneous than the broadleaved moist forests and the semi-humid highland forests. Although great variations occur from one place to another, under the best conditions the volume of the almost pure stands can reach 500–600 m3 per ha. However, these forests have too often been subjected to thoughtless clearance, which has reduced greatly their area and created in the remaining stands numerous and sometimes large openings covered with herbs and grasses.
Scrub formations (nH)
The scrub steppe is situated in the Awash basin, the eastern and southern parts of the Hararghe province, the western plains of Illubabor and Wallaga provinces and the Eritrean lowlands. This climax vegetation consists of a broken, but sometimes thicket forming storey of 3 to 5 m high, short-stemmed, multi-branched, obconical shrubs and scattered umbrellashaped trees of a height up to 8 m. Acacia spp., Adansonia digitata, Euphorbia spp. and Combretum collinum are characteristic species. The open areas between the shrubs and trees are dotted with tufts of perennial grasses, leaving spots of bare soil covered with annual grasses and herbs only after the rains
The succulent scrub is an edaphic type of vegetation found on stony and rocky hills in coastal districts as well as along the eastern escarpments of the western plateau and the Danakil range. It consists of well-spaced undershrubs, shrubs and scattered small trees of some deciduous species, such as Acacia seyal, Boswellia papyrifera, Sterculia africana and Masrua angolensis. A rich variety of cactus-shaped, thick-leaved or swollen-stemmed succulents such as Euphorbia thi, Dracaena ombet, Adenium honghel are present.
The subdesert a crub is a pioneering plant community on the lower foothills of the eastern escarpments of the western plateau. It is the only vegetation type which can survive on these permanently eroded slopes. It is constituted of a ground cover of annual and perennial grasses, tuberous and bulbous herbs, small subshrubs and a 3 to 4 m high storey of much spaced shrubs and small trees, among which Acacia seyal, Commiphora boiviniana, Ziziphus mauritania, Maerua spp. and Boscia spp. are prevailing.
The scrub steppe represents the highest developed type of arid lowland vegetation and is mainly located on the Eritrean lowlands and in the western part of Danakil province. This steppe consists of a ground blanket of annual and perennial grasses, herbs and subshrubs, and a very wide-spaced storey of hemispherically shaped, up to 2–3 m high shrubs, chiefly species of Acacia spp., Cadaba spp., Euphorbia spp., Commiphora spp., Grewia spp., Ipomoea spp. and Indigofera spp.
The mountain scrub steppe is found on lower mountain sites and also on wind-protected locations at altitudes from 3 500 to 4 500 m; this shrub steppe is formed by a continuous grass blanket and scattered shrubs of Erica arborea and Lobelia rhynchopetalum, pioneering species under less extreme montane conditions.
The riparian scrub lines up the banks of seasonal and permanent water courses in altitudes below 700 m. It is a shrubby species association of Acacia nilotica, Ficus capraefolia, Tamarix aphylla, Phyllanthus guineensis, Ziziphus mucronata and Hyphaene thebaica.
1.1.2 Present situation of the woody vegetation
In the absence of a nation-wide forest inventory or land use study, estimates of the present areas covered by woody vegetation in Ethiopia vary widely. Data gathered from (1), (2), (8) and (9), together with information retrieved from the latest Unesco Vegetation Map of Africa and the deforestation and degradation rates as described in 2.1 have led to the following tentative estimates.
Areas of natural woody vegetation estimated at end 1980
(in thousand ha)
|450||100||550||2 200||2 750||300|
|2 800||20 000||22 800||10 000||25 000|
|650||1 000||1 650||2 700||4 350||300|
The 650 000 ha of virgin closed forest (N.f1uv) have remained untouched largely because of their remoteness from populated areas.
(6) states that, in 1968, 260 000 ha of closed high forest and 600 000 ha of woodlands were under exploitation. Apart from the fact that the extraction of non-industrial wood products nowadays is certainly much more important than commercial exploitation, the situation is thought to be quite similar in 1980, which is reflected in the figures mentioned under N.f1uc and NHc/NHO1.
All lowland bamboo forests are assumed to be productive and, to some extent, exploited. The topographical location of the Arundinaria stands renders them de facto unproductive (NHBf2i).
2 700 000 ha of closed high forest are found on unaccessible terrain (NHCf2i and NSf2i). Up until now, no legal restrictions on exploitation exist in the state-owned forests (NHCf2r = NSf2r = 0).
The category of broadleaved forests (NHCf) includes also some minor areas under mixed broadleaved-coniferous vegetation, the latter appearing rather scarcely in the upper storey, or as a low bush (Juniperus procera) at higher altitudes.
Where there is a quest for arable land, population pressure generally leads to a total and permanent denudation of the soil. Thus the areas under fallow forest (NHCa) or woodland fallow (NHc/NHOa) are rather limited, especially the former one.
Open savanna woodland (NHc/NHO2) with Acacia is said to cover approximately 20 million ha (14).
Productive woodlands (NHc/NHO1) have been the object of extensive degradation in this country, their actual area being estimated at 2.8 million ha.
Scrub formations (nH) include many savanna subtypes and fallow lands. (6) states that bush and thornbush cover approximately 22 million ha, so a global figures of about 25 million ha can safely be assumed.
Prior to 1975, all private forests were supervised by the Ministry of Agriculture and all state forests by the State Forest Development Agency. In March 1975, a Land Reform Proclamation came in vigour, nationalizing all rural land, including forests, and bringing to an end feudal relations in Ethiopia. All private ownership of land was abolished and a system of use rights introduced. Forests now belong to either the State or the local communities (16).
Legal status and management
About half of the closed high forest area was believed to be “State Forest” before the revolution. According to the available data till 1978, about 400 000 ha of the nationalized forest land had been designated State Forest by the authorities. 31 500 ha of those State Forests had been surveyed but had not been yet physically demarcated by a visible boundary (13). In practice, forest areas larger than 800 ha are considered State Forests, and those smaller, Peasant Forests controlled by the local Peasant Associations (14).
No forest reserves are known to exist. Two national parks, Awash National Park and Semien National Park, have been legally established in the sixties and two others, Abyatta-Shalla Lakes National Park and Nechisar National Park, designated. However, lack of trained field personnel and of appropriate legislation do not allow presently for an adequate protection and management of these parks, which is illustrated for example by the transgression of pastoralist tribesmen into the Awash National Park (16).
Up to 1978, no management plans had been drawn for the natural forests and no silvicultural treatments had been applied in such a way that it can be concluded that there is no area of intensively managed forests in the meaning adopted in this study (N.f1m = 0) (13).
The main challenge of ethiopian forestry today is to cater for the needs of the 7 million rural families for fuelwood and building material and at the same time securing soil protection. The present forestry policy attaches therefore only secondary importance to the commercial exploitation of the forest estate. Most trees felled in Ethiopia are either cut for fuelwood or burnt on the spot to clear the forest area for agriculture.
Logging rights in the natural forests are vested with the government. About half of the exploitation is carried out directly by the forestry administration, while the rest is covered by logging rights granted to companies or individuals. Total log production for the season 1978/79 was 110 000 m3 (18), waste in the forest being estimated at one third to one half (13). Few power saws and tractors for loghauling are used. It is standard practice to maintain manual methods of felling and cross-cutting and to manhandle logs to the nearest extraction route accessible by truck. More feeder roads are being constructed but transport arrangements in terms of vehicles are presently inadequate (13).
The efficiency of the timber harvesting itself is generally low. At present, about 50 m3 of sawlogs are obtained in average by the exploitation of one hectare of high forest. The rest of the wood, often 190 m3 or more, is left behind in the forest. About 10 species are used of which the most important are: Podocarpus gracilior, Juniperus procera and Pouteria ferruginea. The others are all broadleaved: Pygeum africanum, Cordia africana, Olea africana, Olea hochstetteri, Hagenia abyssinica, Croton macrostachys and Polyscias ferruginea (10).
Most of private logging is carried out by sawmilling enterprises (41 in operation in 1978) or other industries. A certain number of them have been nationalized between 1974 and 1978, but according to the latest production data (1978), 75% of all sawn lumber still originated from the private mills (9) (16).
Two plywood and veneer mills, two particle board mills, one integrated fibreboard and parquet flooring plant, one match factory, different furniture manufacturing industries and many small wood workshops are operating in the country, generally below their installed capacity and often with a high degree of imported components and a rather low recovery rate (13).
Other forest products
The main source of energy and building material (poles) in Ethiopia is wood. The annual consumption of fuelwood per capita is estimated at 0.7 m3 of solid wood, which leads to an overall annual need of 22 million m3. The requirement for building material can be calculated at 3 million m3, since one ‘Tukul’ house, constructed with 3 m3 of solid wood, lasts for 7 years and the rural population totals 7 million households (14).
Presently, these needs are mainly satisfied by (illegal) cutting in State Forests, collection and burning of shrubs, bushes and other ground cover, conversion of Acacia wood of the Rift Valley into charcoal and plantations around cities.
The vegetation of the lowlands and of the southern highlands still provides an adequate supply of fuelwood and poles, but rural populations elsewhere in the country have to burn cattle dung or agricultural waste as cooking fuel, using thus a valuable nutrient for the soils (11).
In forested areas and where population pressure is not too high, there is an equally noteworthy existence of extracted secondary forest products which have, in some cases, an important value. These include varieties of latex, especially from the creeper Landolphia, gums, tanning bark, incense and spices, medicinal extracts, dying extracts, ropes, fodder, beeswax and honey (1) (14).
1.1.3 Present situation of the growing stock
In the absence of global forest inventory data, the growing stock in Ethiopia has been estimated as follows:
Growing stock estimated at end 1980
(totals in million m3)
Standing stock volumes of the forests in the southwest are given in (17) for all trees with DBH over 30 cm. It has been assumed that the trees with DBH between 10 and 30 cm represent 30% of the total volume with DBH >10 cm. In (9) the merchantable volumes (VAC) in coniferous and broadleaved forests are defined by the respective intervals 40–100 m3 and 20–40 m3. On a 4-year rotation, the bamboo stands are estimated to yield 4.80 to 12.6 metric tons/ha. No information about their standing stock has been found. (6) also reports the standing stock (VOB) for ‘closed forests’ as 200 m3/ha and for woodlands at 50 m3/ha, coniferous forests bearing a slightly higher total volume (17). In exploited blocks (NHCf1uc), it is estimated that the left-over volume equals the original stock (NHCf1uv) minus twice the logged VAC volume. These observations have been summarized in the table, which represents only a very rough and tentative overview of the actual situation of the growing stock.
Forest plantations are confined to montane and sub-montane regions and consist mainly of Eucalyptus spp.
Around 1895, the species was first introduced in Ethiopia. Its extraordinarily quick growth in a country not much endowed with trees, where the indigenous specimens take more than a hundred years to reach maturity, caught the attention of the authorities, who encouraged its distribution. Given such an impetus, the Eucalyptus globulus spread over a large area through private initiative. At first, the plantations were limited to the surroundings of the towns. Addis-Ababa developed at the same time as the man-made forest which encircles it and penetrates it everywhere, growing on even the smallest patches of available ground. Various large towns followed the example. Eucalypts than extended over the countryside, and are now part of the village landscape. Single trees or small groups can be seen on many places growing around the farms, supplying poles and fuelwood. Eucalyptus globulus is the principal species at elevations above 1 800 m and E. camaldulensis at lower altitudes.
Before 1974, government assistance was limited to the raising of seedlings and their distribution to farmers, schools, municipalities, etc., free of charge or at a very low cost (1).
From 1971 on, afforestation and soil conservation efforts were initiated in the Tigrai and Eritrea regions with external assistance and this on community lands belonging to the local villagers. The main species used in all sites was Eucalyptus camaldulensis, making up 90–95% of all trees planted. Besides this species, Eucalyptus globulus, E. cladocalix, E. amygdalina and Acacia saligna were also planted. A UNDP/FAO project started in november 1975 to fill up the gaps in the afforestation programme by providing knowledge on suitable species and appropriate silvicultural practices, especially in the main drought-affected areas (15).
Surveys now indicate that everywhere in the country peasants plant trees for such purposes as production of wood for building and fencing.
All the afforested areas are public property since the Land Reform Proclamation of 1975.
1.2.2 Areas of established plantations
Available figures on forest plantations do not seem to be based upon definite surveys, and therefore the following estimates can only be tentative.
About 1 200 ha of afforestation in the highlands, aiming eventually at the production of wood for industry are said to exist (11). They are mostly based on coniferous species, such as Pinus patula, Cupressus lusitanica, Pinus radiata and Juniperus procera. Their extent is very limited and the stands are still too young to be a source of yield data.
Areas of established industrial plantations estimated at end 1980
(in thousand ha)
|P..l = PS.1||Pinus patula, P. radiata,|
It is estimated that those plantation activities have ceased since the revolution in 1974, because of the shift of emphasis in forestry policy.
Eucalypt plantations around Addis-Ababa are estimated to amount to 15 000 ha. These forests are intensively utilized for fuelwood, building material (poles), transmission poles and to a lesser degree also as raw material for particle board and fibreboard. As it has been impossible to determine precisely to what extent these plantations are used for production of wood for industry, they have all been classified as ‘other plantations’. Another estimated 35 000 ha are planted elsewhere in Ethiopia, mainly around towns, since rural fuel plantations cover only 13 000 ha (11) (15). All these man-made forests, of which 5% consists of other broadleaved species, such as Acacia decurrens, were private property before the Land Reform Proclamation.
Apart from these traditional plantations, the USAID/WFP project afforestated about 3 500 ha between 1971 and 1975 and 5 500 ha between 1976 and 1978 (12). Other public plantation activities are assumed to have successfully covered annually about 2 000 ha between 1971 and 1975 (including private initiatives) and 6 000 ha between 1976 and 1980. A summary is shown in the following table.
Areas of established non-industrial plantations estimated at end 1980
(in thousand ha)
|Age class||0–5||6–10||11–15||16–20||21–30||31–40||> 40|
Other fast-growing hardwoods
|P..2=PHH2||Total non-industrial plantations||30.0||15.0||16.0||19.5||16.2||0.3||ε||97.0|
Few of the seedlings so far planted in many of the areas in the last years are expected to grow to the desired standard of maturity, due to unhealthy stock, unsuitable methods of establishment, lack of maintenance and the overwhelming competion from other vegetation forms besides diseases and pests, etc. Survival rates in the terracing and reforestation schemes, and in areas where the natural ecological balance has been disturbed to a large extent, are low. The species selected for planting often prove to be non-adaptable in such problem areas (15) (16). Survival rates have been finally estimated at half of the planting rates, and taken into account for the calculation of the final area figures. It must be stressed that all figures are purely indicative, since no up to date quantitative information is available.
The following table is a compilation of all plantation results up to the end of 1980.
Areas of established plantations estimated at end 1980
(in thousand ha)
|Age class||0–5||6–10||11–15||16–20||21–30||31–40||> 40|
|PH (=PHH2)||Subtotal hardwood species||30.00||15.00||16.00||19.50||16.20||0.30||ε||97.00|
|PS (=PS.1)||Subtotal softwood species||0.45||0.75||1.20|
|P||Total all plantations||30.00||15.45||16.75||19.50||16.20||0.30||ε||98.20|
1.2.3 Plantation characteristics
The most frequently planted tree species is Eucalyptus globulus. Planting of seedlings raised in nurseries is the only known establishment technique. Six months old seedlings are used and they are planted usually very dense (more than 10 000 seedlings/ha without regular spacing). After the first three years, an average height of 4.6 m is attained. At the age of 10, trees are about 10 to 15 m high, but the average DBH is not more than 15–18 cm, due to the very dense stocking. Some of the plantations are subject to periodical thinnings (after 4–5 years of age), resulting at 40 years of age in about 800 trees per ha, representing more than 1 000 m3 of wood. The majority, however, are treated as coppice and cut approximately every 10 years. On 10 to 15-year cycles yield is about 20 m3/ha/year. Many of the stands are, however, operated on much shorter cycles, and the yield is lower (11).
2. Present trends
2.1 Natural woody vegetation
After having been a heavily forested country with originally some 40% of the area under high forest, Ethiopia is left now with less than 4% of closed forest cover, mostly located in the southwestern and the south-central parts. As the capital of the former Abyssinia moved from Aksum in the north towards Addis-Ababa in the south via Gondar, the deforestation activities followed the same path, due to the increasing demand for arable land, fuelwood and building material in and around the growing human settlements. The feudal system which emerged during the end of the last century further accelerated the process. Indeed, tenants, having to pay up to one half of their crop to the owners, the latter only seeing the land as capital to be used for profit, were forced to squeeze the most out of the soil within reach in order to survive and were led to destroy forests, to practise over-grazing and cultivate land too intensively. The mechanization of the large land holdings in the sixties made matters worse, both for the peasants, who were evicted from their plots, and for the forests, which came to provide the farmer with virgin land to turn into agricultural fields or pasture (14) (16).
During centuries, shifting cultivation and grazing practices have thus been destroying the majority of the country's forest wealth. Millions of trees were left with no vegetation or covered only by grass and bushes, and heavy erosion processes were set in march. It has been estimated that 52% of the country area lose annually an estimated amount of more than 2 000 tons of topsoil per km2 (12). The consequences are most conspicuous in the northern and eastern provinces, now exposed to erosion by water and wind, with disturbed water regimes and drought. This destruction is still going on at a high pace and, under the prevailing ecological conditions, the natural vegetation cover is generally not able to reestablish itself, even when human interference ceases totally. Fire also is a major hazard, particularly in the vulnerable coniferous forests of the highland areas (8).
It is difficult to assess in which proportion deforestation affects closed forests on one hand and woodlands and shrubland on the other. Areas affected in this second group are believed to be much larger. Annual loss of land under woody vegetation is estimated at 200 000 ha. This figure is assumed to decrease somewhat since the land reform because the Peasant Associations are now responsible for and distribute agricultural land and because the rural population now plants trees for its own consumption. Deforestation rates in the high forest zone are believed to be rather small, due to the remoteness and inaccessibility of the remaining forests, especially the virgin ones. However, the construction of feeder roads and the subsequent exploitation do attract settlers in search for arable land. These tend to clear areas where the forest cover is not dense enough to warrant the exploitation of the remnant trees (NHCf1uc), but can be easily converted to pasture or cultivated land.
The following figures are tentative estimates of annual rates of destruction of the natural high forest.
Average annual deforestation
(in thousand ha)
A slight decrease of the deforestation rate is expected in the coming years, because of improving social conditions and internal control through the Peasant Associations.
Bamboo forests, although exploited for many local uses, are not thought to be alienated to other uses to a significant extent.
Very little effort has been made to replenish logged-over areas. When it has been done, planting under the remaining canopy with Juniperus, Podocarpus, Cupressus, Pinus and Eucalyptus has been carried out without prior study. The result is at best a patchy and suppressed understorey with little or no possibility to form a forest stand. In most cases, only scattered trees have survived (13).
The major part of the ‘forest’ destruction occurs in the savanna woodlands and in the areas covered by scrub formations. Most of the reduction in area comes as a result of clearing for pastureland and for agriculture. Careless wood cutting for commercial purposes (e.g. fuelwood commerce and charcoal production) contributes also to deforestation. The Rift Valley Acacia forest is converted into a semi-desert at a pace of 60 000 ha annually by the local charcoal burners (14).
During the last years before the Revolution (1974), an accelerated clearing of the savanna and scrub vegetation occurred because of the agricultural expansion associated with the increasing movement of highland farmers to lower elevations and, to a lesser extent, with the adoption of a more settled mode of existence by certain of the nomade herdsmen in lowland areas. There was an increasing tendency for semi-permanent agriculture to expand in sub-montane and lowland areas, although the latter were traditionally characterised by settled farming communities (8).
Every year, thousands of hectares are becoming unproductive by soil erosion and deposition of sand. Many perennial streams and springs are drying up due to the lack of infiltration of rainwater into the soil. The excess run-off water gathers momentum as it flows down the hills and considerable damage is done by flooding. The following annual deforestation estimates have been accepted for the open formations: 20 000 ha in productive types (NHc/NHO1), 60 000 ha in unproductive ones (NHc/NHO2) and 100 000 ha in scrub formations (nH). Only 20 000 ha are assumed to retain a certain woody vegetation cover (NHc/NHOa), the other 160 000 ha becoming totally devoid of any tree vegetation.
There are indications that the savanna area degraded annually through indiscriminate burning is diminishing. This most probably has come as a result of the changes in land tenure and of the organisation of the peasants in Peasant Associations. Farmers are also getting more and more aware of the benefits to be obtained from the woodlands, which can be a continuous source of fuel and household timber if properly maintained.
2.1.3 Trends in forest utilisation
No major changes are expected. Efforts will be made to log a larger and increasing share of the standing timber. Since the availability of sawnwood will have to be increased rapidly, particularly in the rural areas and in small villages and towns, sawmills will be relocated all over the country and hand-sawing of timber will be promoted (16).
2.1.4 Areas and growing stock at end 1985
The following tables are obtained from the application of the deforestation rates given above to the areas and growing stock estimates at end 1980 as indicated in sections 1.1.2 and 1.1.3. In addition, it is assumed that 5 000 ha of coniferous forest (NS) and 5 000 ha of broadleaved forest (NHC) will have been logged over by 1985.
Areas of natural woody vegetation estimated at end 1985
(in thousand ha)
|440||80||520||2 200||2 720||320|
|2 700||19 700||22 400||10 100||24 500|
|645||965||1 610||2 700||4 310||320|
Growing stock estimated at end 1985
(totals in million m3)
Plantation activities carried out by the Peasant Associations are expected to continue to grow to attain an annual establishment rate of about 10 000 ha, with Eucalyptus spp. mostly.
A reactivation of the programme of industrial plantations is not considered likely.
Areas of established industrial plantations estimated at end 1985
(in thousand ha)
|Age class||0–5||5–10||11–15||16–20||21–30||31–40||> 40|
|P..1 = PS.1||Pinus spp., Cupressus lusitanica, Juniperus procera||0.45||0.75||1.20|
Areas of established non-industrial plantations estimated and end 1985
(in thousand ha)
|Age class||0–5||5–10||11–15||16–20||21–30||31–40||> 40|
Other fast-growing hardwoods
|P..2 = PHH2||Total non-industrial plantations||50.0||30.0||15.0||16.0||27.2||8.8||147.0|
Areas of established plantations estimated at end 1985
(in thousand ha)
|Age class||0–5||5–10||11–15||16–20||21–30||31–40||> 40|
|PH = PHH2||Subtotal hardwood species||50.00||30.00||15.00||16.00||27.20||8.80||147.00|
|PS.=PS1||Subtotal softwood species||0.45||0.75||1.20|
|P||Total all plantations||50.00||30.00||15.45||16.75||27.20||8.80||148.20|
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