Sure, ‘plant our future today’ pays off!

It is an undeniable fact that trees, plants and other biodiversity accumulation at and in the surrounding of forestlands, roadsides, riversides, farms and grazing lands as well as residential areas and parks which grow naturally or developed in some other ways are immensely contributing to the perpetuation of life on earth.

As part of, and even located at the heart of the tropical East African strategic site, Ethiopia has been well entertaining the golden axiom ‘Plant our future today,’ to make the nation green through formulating the green legacy initiative as not only does this initiative contribute to curbing the consequences of climate change but it is also an opportunity for intensifying job creation scheme across the nation and beyond especially in urban areas.

It is also recurrently stated that when all Ethiopians are to decorate Ethiopia, a national call has been amplified to cover the nation in green setting the minor dividing lines citing regional, ethnic, religious and so forth factors, aside, as nurturing nature and greening plots of land would be of significantly useful in breathing clean air and feeding painstaking production on the land.

Not only does the green legacy initiative in Ethiopia aim at covering the nation with forests but it also changes the way people think about their environment and surrounding localities. Such a positive and remarkable move helps the nation to make the nation green and come up with a greener future would definitely be a viable, achievable reality. Ethiopia’s green legacy initiative is of paramount importance in creating sustainable and resilience economy, indeed! That is why Ethiopia adopted the climate resilience green legacy strategy in 2011. This gutsy initiative has positive effects on a variety of interconnected goals including environmental protection, restoration of overused and damaged natural resources such as soil, and water as well as discontinuing desertification.

The initiative would also help all Africans see the continent they want and meet the Agenda 2063 for Sustainable Development. Yes, Ethiopia’s long term dedication to a multifarious response to the effects of climate change and environmental degradation is demonstrated by the initiative that includes agro-forestry, development of the forest sector, greening and renewal of urban areas as well as integrated soil resource management.

It is clear that natural forests can sequester huge amount of carbon thereby contributing towards climate change mitigation efforts. Dependence on sectors that are climate change sensitive such as rain-fed agriculture, water, tourism, and forestry as well as a high level of poverty are the main factors that exacerbate Ethiopia’s vulnerability to the impacts of climate change. Needless to state, environmental protection is a global issue beyond geographic or politically limited areas of sovereign states’ jurisdiction.

The nation has embarked on an ambitious endeavor to combat climate change and deforestation. As widely attested so far, forests play a significant role in the livelihood of the people, serve as a buffer in maintaining livelihoods, provide environmental services such as carbon sequestration and provide social or cultural benefits to the local people in Ethiopia. However, the contribution of forests to the overall economy of the country is still very low as public awareness about forest management and nurturing is minimal, too. As a result, there has not been significant progress in reversing the situation though several direct and indirect drivers of deforestation and forest degradation have been identified. Moreover, forests provide social or cultural benefits to the local people.

Forest products play a significant role in the livelihood of rural communities in Ethiopia. Households use forest products such as firewood, fodder, honey, wild coffee, mushroom, spices, medicinal plants etc. The demand for wood products is increasing in the country due to rapid population growth and urbanization. Fuel wood extraction for fire wood and charcoal production is also another significant driver of deforestation in the country.

The country to depend heavily on imported wood products for its wood-based industries. It has direct impact on the forest cover as expansion for more land usually takes place in the forested regions. In addition, large farms displace farmers and push them to the remaining forest areas in search of farm land, which could result in successive deforestation of the natural forest lands.

Local values, institutions and knowledge have enabled people to understand the happenings and changes in their environment. Local perceptions and knowledge provide a crucial foundation for community-based climate change adaptation measures and natural resource conservation.

The Green Legacy is the silver bullet for soil conservation, forestation, reforestation and large-scale land reclamation projects are the way forward for a sustainable and economic management of siltation. As the seedlings mature, they will take root and grow into trees to effectively trap soil on site. Linking tree planting to increased stream flow is not trivial because of the scale of climate and hydrology like representing the mass balance and physics at a local catchment scale representing stream flow, as they tend to operate differently.

Soil conservation, a forestation and reforestation practices obviously take a long time to be effective across the nation. Ideally, such environmental protection practices, especially in relation to dams and siltation, should be implemented proactively, well ahead of the actual projects.

Looking at the green legacy as a cost-effective measure than a volunteer activity could go a long way. For this to happen, dedicated funding will need to be in place for enhancing afforestation which helps the percolation of underground water the source of rivers. During drought, the inflow of rain water to rivers will decline consequently dams power generation capacity will also be severely affected followed by loss of manufacturing production and economic impact which Ethiopia cannot afford to lose. While it is the government leadership that is the driving force of this environmental project, its success ultimately is up to every individual to be part of this environmental protection and reclamation project. Such mutual measures in environmental resource conservation like forest are said to be critical to benefit from their services. However, diverse views, laws, and practices related to human actions have been challenging such aspirations. The variations begin with diversified definitions given to the term forest, which stems from the diversity of the forest itself and forest ecosystem at international, national, and community levels. But cooperation needs contextualized the concepts to protect, maintain, and restore forest resources for the intended purposes.

The forest ecosystem gives many services to humans and nature, including but not limited to fuel, non-wood forest products; soil and water protection; protection of fragile ecosystem, biodiversity conservation; climate change mitigation/ carbon sequestration; other economic and socio-cultural values and services.

Forests maintain the quantity, quality, and regular water flow; store carbon in their organs and soils, including absorbing atmospheric carbon dioxide to keep climatic balances and prevent atmospheric disruption. As they usually grow on mountains and elevated areas, forests also prevent soil erosion. Economic-wise, a forest accelerates the economic development of a state in general and hosts wildlife in particular. Forests are sources of medicine, food, dwelling place for humans and wildlife for a long, and mainly, indigenous people and other rural communities’ livelihood, social-cultural, and spiritual manifestations are based on forest products.

The imbalance between the replaced and lost forests coupled with the global nature of forest loss impacts, the need to enhance forest services, and the complexity of scientific and technological knowledge on forest conservation impelled regulations of deforestation/degradation and forestation measures in cooperation.

Advancement of technology and knowledge revealed invaluable ecosystem services and functions, which have trans-boundary impacts, and necessitated legally binding international norms to avail such benefits to all worldwide at later times.

The essence of global forest governance depends upon the scope and purposes of the conservation and rehabilitation/ restoration provisions provided under these treaties and practical implementation by the state parties at the domestic level. Failure to succeed in increasing amounts of the forest also stems from gaps of domestic laws to include historical and customary attachments of indigenous people to their forests.

Ethiopia has taken early initiatives to reduce carbon emissions from various sectors and build a green economy that can withstand climate change. Besides, the country is now taking various measures such as implementing the green legacy. True, Ethiopia is rich in great biodiversity as it has improperly used this biodiversity for many years; the trend has to be deterred in whichever way, in fact.

Ethiopia’s natural resources, the arable and pasture land, and other related untapped precious assets have to be well taken care of. As some of the prevailing problems in the country are land degradation, deforestation, forest loss, and air pollution, the colossal effects of these elements have to be properly addressed so as to help the nation keep environments safeguarded. Interestingly, following the remarkable outcomes of the green legacy, the deforested and degraded lands have been restored to normal conditions. Besides, the country’s forest area is now increasing due to the green legacy. The trees planted based on the green legacy now save water as the leaves and roots of the trees absorb the rain, which has a positive effect on the accumulation of crust water; that is why it is repeatedly heralded that ‘plant our future today’ pays off! Unequivocally, the green legacy initiative mobilizes people not only to plant trees but also to stop them from cutting down, and the initiative has made an important contribution to the fight against deforestation and degradation.

Generally, since the implementation of the Green Legacy Initiative will help protect climate change and biodiversity, prevent desertification, and develop a green economy and food security, Ethiopia has to work on it from dawn to dusk via propagating the saying ‘We are better today than in the past, and we will be more prosperous tomorrow.”Hence, all citizens of the nation, with a particular reference to environmental scientists, line ministries working on the area, are expected to coach the general public about the irreplaceable role of perpetuating the essence of the green legacy via working collaboratively and developing love, empathy, compassion and unity among the general public. Yes, the campaign ‘plant our future today’ pays off!

Editor’s Note: The views entertained in this article do not necessarily reflect the stance of The Ethiopian Herald



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