Was there ever a forest here anyway?
Take one look at the land where Eden has been planting trees and you may have to ask yourself that question. After all, the area looks so empty that it gives the impression that the land must have certainly always looked this way. Strong winds blow away the dry soil as herds of skinny cows meander through thickets and trample overgrazed grasses. Look a bit deeper though and you’ll find three good clues that these areas were in fact beautiful, healthy forests not that long ago and that they can, in fact, be restored to be that way again.
Out in these wide open areas, one will occasionally find massive trees that seem at odds with the surrounding environment. They exhibit a sort of stoic, stubborn beauty and represent the last living link to the great forests that once stood there. Exactly how and why they were spared the axe is a mystery. Perhaps the tired tree-cutters found these were the last places they could rest away from the oppressive strength of the African sun. Whatever the reason, these trees are more than a defunct and sad memory of what was once here--they still serve as crucial habitat for birdlife and valuable seed source for Eden’s tree nursery operations.
Wherever I go in Ethiopia, besides chatting about sports and the weather, one topic of conversation that always comes up is the area’s history of deforestation. Locals point out the progress of the deforestation and loss of wildlife which started on the flat plains outside the farmland and then advanced up the hills and mountains. Unsurprisingly, the reasons for the forests’ destruction is generally the same throughout the country: expanding land cultivation and fuelwood harvesting driven by rapid population growth. What is surprising, however, is that in many areas the deforestation has been so recent that even young men and women can give detailed accounts of the extent and composition of the now lost forests. These memories are a key motivating factor in engaging the community and encouraging their work.
Natural Tree Regrowth:
Despite the extent of deforestation and damage to the land, the trees are actually fighting back. Either through stumps which re-sprout or wild seeds germinating in the soil, the trees of Ethiopia are showing a resilience which, when properly managed and enhanced with tree planting, are proving to the be the base for rehabilitating the entire landscape. In all of Eden’s forests, we have witnessed the ability of indigenous trees to take advantage of our protection and grow unbelievably quickly. Incredibly, many of Eden’s village employees have reported tree species growing in our forests that they had previously thought to be extinct in the region.
The picture above is evidence of how the land is responding to our efforts in Ethiopia. We are witnessing the return of the forests and look forward to the day when the people can't remember when there ever wasn't a forest here.
These three points are not only clues which point to the history of a forest in the area, they are also tools which enable the success we are already experiencing in Ethiopia. The best tool, however, is you, our partners and supporters. Please consider making a gift to Eden that will help us to continue transforming both land and lives in Ethiopia.
Thank for your ongoing support!