Tree Seedling Planting Campaigns Have Not Brought Desired Results: Forestry Experts

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Addis Ababa June 22/2011 Though Ethiopia is carrying out national tree seedling planting campaigns since its millennium and planted billion of trees, the campaigns have not brought about the desired outcome, forestry experts argue.

The Government of Ethiopia envisions covering 22 million hectares of degraded lands with forest by 2030 by significantly enhancing the contribution of forestry to agriculture, water and energy.

Experts, however, told ENA that even if the country has been working to rehabilitate degraded lands and restore forests through national tree seedling planting campaigns since 2000, only about 40 percent on average of the planted trees survived.

Ethiopian Forestry Society President, Tatek Dejene said 4.5 billion tree seedlings have been planted every rain season since 2015, but 20 to 30 percent of the seedlings survived and grew.

The president blamed the low survival rate to poor follow up after planting and shortage of quality tree seedlings.

“We should, of course, be proud of the campaign, which is the best developmental movement even at global level. We are mobilizing millions of Ethiopians to realize this green economy ambition. However, as a nation we have to sustain the lives of the seedlings to continue as trees,” he underscored.

According to Tatek, the government should establish a body that will only manages the flourishing of the tree seedlings planted.

He further suggested the need for supply of quality seeds, seedling of endemic plants and establishment of nurseries that will help the country in achieving its reforestation activities.

Ethiopian Environment and Forest Research Institute Senior Researcher, Wubalem Tadesse said on his part the country is still paying a price in spite of its tree seedling plantation campaigns. Though forest coverage increased from 3 to 15.5 percent within the last two decades this is not adequate, he argued.

“We have been paying dearly due to deforestation and degraded lands. Our lakes are drying and hydro-electric dams are being filled with silt,” the researcher stressed.

Wubalem agrees that the national tree seedling campaigns have positive role, but the government and other stakeholders should focus on tangible results rather than on the number of tree seedlings planted.

Environment, Forest and Climate Change Commissioner, Professor Fikadu Beyene said the campaigns have brought encouraging results towards ecosystem restoration. Yet lots of works remain as deforestation has continued unabated.

Acknowledging Ethiopia has been planting billions of trees every year, the commissioner noted that the percentage of surviving tree seedlings is very low.

The government has, therefore, allocated 102 million birr to rehabilitate degraded lands and restore forests for the coming fiscal year.