Programme Forêts et eau

Building Forest-Water Monitoring Capacity for FLR in Ethiopia


From June 18th-24th, WeForest, FAO’s Forest and Water Programme, and GIZ organized a capacity-building workshop entitled ‘Building forest-water knowledge and capacity for Forest and Landscape Restoration’ in Mekelle, Ethiopia, with the goal of building forest-water monitoring capacity in the Tigray and Afar regions and beyond.

Desa’a Forest, a national forest priority area of 154,000 hectares, is the last forest ecosystem of its kind in Northern Ethiopia, consisting of dry afromontane secondary forest dominated by Juniperus procera and Olea europaea. This area lies between the Tigrarian plateau and the Afar lowlands, ranging between 3100 and 900 meters above sea level. During the last 30 years, about 40 percent of the closed forest cover within the Desa’a Forest has been lost, with many other areas heavily degraded. 

Over half a million people in Tigray and Afar regions depend on this ecosystem for their livelihoods, food and water security. “After two and a half years of pre-implementation work, WeForest will begin to conserve and restore core forest areas in Desa'a, working hand-in-hand with local communities. A multi-strategy approach that integrates forest-water interactions is a vital aspect of the WeForest Forest and Landscape Restoration approach,” explained Victoria Gutierrez, WeForest’s Chief Science Officer.

Aimed at individuals and organisations wishing to build capacity in the integration of forest-water monitoring in their forest and landscape restoration and watershed management initiatives, the workshop trained a total of 16 participants from NGOs and research institutions at local, regional and national levels. Through a train-the-trainer approach, the workshop participants were able to expand their knowledge and gain practical skills during the field-based exercises. “It was important for us to build on the existing knowledge and expertise of the participants, and it was interesting to see the progression of discussions during the week. Capacity building is a process, so we look forward to following-up with participants and supporting them as they transfer knowledge within their organizations and projects,” said Elaine Springgay, Forestry Officer.

Given existing concerns over water scarcity, deforestation and degradation, there is a clear need for countries like Ethiopia to integrate water considerations in forest and landscape management and restoration practices, not only to support their achievement of SDGs 6 and 15, but to ensure resilient communities and environments. One key result of the workshop was a draft forest-water monitoring plan for WeForest’s Desa’a Forest and Landscape Restoration (FLR) project in Tigray and Afar regions which will become part of the project’s management plan. The participants also formed the Ethiopia ForWater Interest Group which will focus on strengthening this new network of forest-water stakeholders to facilitate and scale-up forests and water interventions in FLR and Integrated Watershed Management (IWM).