Commissioner, Expert Stress Need for Kebelle Level Structure to Realize Nat’l Forest Plan

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Addis Ababa, March  20/2020 ( ENA) Absence of the lowest level administrative structure (kebelle) dealing with forest development works and separate structures similar to the federal commission in all the regions could hamper the government from achieving the 10-year-plan to cover 1 billion hectares of land with trees per year, Ethiopian Environment and Forest Research Institute (EEFRI) Ecosystem Management Research Director Abeje Eshete said.

Environment, Forest and Climate Change Commissioner Fekadu Beyene conceded that the absence of kebelle level structure is the gap.

However, not having separate bodies at regional levels does not certainly affect the implementation of forest tasks, he stressed.

Yet, EEFRI Ecosystem Management Research Director Abeje insisted that regions must have separate federal like structures and strong capacity similar to the Environment, Forest and Climate Change Commission to effectively implement laws and undertake forest and environment development tasks.

According to him, “there is a structural problem and resource limitation in the regions and all the regions, except SNNPR, do not have separate body and sufficient capacity of resources similar to the federal commission. So, it is difficult to implement plans and execute tasks from the commission with such dependent structures.” 

The country, which approved a National Forest Proclamation in 2018, still needs regulations and guidelines to enact it, he emphasized.

The director further stated that law enforcement to curb the increasing deforestation due to a paralleled increase in population in the agrarian economy is also limited.

The existing 15.5 percent forest coverage in the country needs to be demarcated and certified, whether for government or community, so that owners could take responsibility and claim legal rights, Abeje argued.

Identifying ecological zones for timber, conservation, fertility or increased forest coverage purposes is crucial, he added.

The forest coverage in Ethiopia was about 40 percent 50 years ago but declined to 4 percent some time. However, the forest coverage has improved since 2010/11 due to consecutive tree planting campaigns and initiatives in the country, although the major increase from 4 to 15.5 in forest coverage came after the inclusion of dense lowland forests rather than plantings in high lands.

The researcher pointed out that most of the dense lowland forests are not demarcated and certified. The big problem related to deforestation is forest fragmentation and needs corridor development and rehabilitation to protect and reconnect wildlife habitats.

In Ethiopia, there are over 6,000 plant species and about 1,300 native woody plants.