National context of the Forest Sector in Ethiopia

National context of the Forest Sector in Ethiopia

History of Forest Management in Ethiopia: Evolution of governance and Institutions under three administrative regimes

  • Pre- Derge regime
  • During the Derge Regime
  • Forestry at the present

Pre- Derge regime

Modern type of sectoral polices had no long stories. Historical records show that Italians issued various forest laws and regulations but not implemented. Tree planting has long history. Afforestation started in the early 1400s by the order of King Zara- Yakob (1434-1468). Perhaps the first tree planting was conducted at Menagesha Suba Park. Juniperus seedlings brought from Wofwasha.

The first comprehensive and modern forest legislative is enacted during Emperor Haile Selassie I in 1965. It was mainly focused at determining the forest ownership rights. It recognized state, private (the ruling group) and protected forest types. Regulations were issued regarding forest management, protection and utilization of state forests, private forests, protection forests, establishment of community forests and also some rules to regulate forest products processing and manufacturing enterprises.

There were only little attempt to plantation. An extensive deforestation took place all large forests under state ownership, and put severe restrictions to the public on the use and management of forests.

During the Derge Regime

In 1980, Derge proclaimed a new law called forest and wildlife conservation and development proclamation. Forest and Wildlife Conservation Authority    (FAWCDA) was recognized as the strongest forestry institution in the history of the country. By the forest ownership were recognized by state, peasant associations and urban dwellers associations

The area covered by planted trees increased from 42,300 ha in 1973 to 250,000 ha in 1985 within 10 years. Significant increase in the number of staff (10 folds) as well as the budget (7 folds) allocated for the forest sector. Natural forests were used as spring boards for plantations and expanded at the expense of peasant holdings.

Derge applied mass mobilization and forced labor campaigns to rehabilitate degraded lands. The program of mass resettlement and villagization following the 1984/5 famine.

Perhaps as much as 60% of the conservation assets created during the military dictatorship may have been destroyed during the transition.

Forestry at the present

Proclamation was issued by the transitional government “forest conservation, development and utilization” proclamation no. 94/1994. In 2007, the council of ministers adopted a forest policy. The objective was:

  • To conserve and develop forest resources properly so that there could be sustainable supply of forest products to the society and contribute to the development of the national economy.

The forest Development Conservation and Utilization proclamation number 542/ 2007 is the latest forest law. The proclamation recognizes two types of forest ownerships i.e state and private.

Challenges with 542/2007

  • Lacks regulation and directives
  • Unable to enforce the policy as expected
  • Emerging issues

Now the forest law is revised with major stakeholders at regional and federal level.

The Climate Resilient Green Economy (CRGE) of Ethiopia. The CRGE recognizes that Ethiopian forests are threatened. The CRGE document predicts 9 million ha deforestation and huge rise in fuelwood consumption between 2010-2030. The strategy aims at reversing land degradation, protecting existing forests and increasing forest cover.


3 million ha of eucalyptus at age 5 gives 116 mill m3  and 4 million ha gives 142 mill m3

Utility pole consumption projection 2033

The imported wood is three fold of the export wood which is 3.12 billion Birr in 2012.

Non-timber products of Ethiopia

Non-timber forest products (NTFPs) play an important role in Ethiopian rural livelihoods. Several NTFPs have stable international markets. The main commercial NTFPs in Ethiopia are honey, spices, forest coffee, bamboo, gums and resins.

Gum and Resin resources

Product Estimated area (ha) Estimated annual production (ton)
Gum Olibanum 2.284.000 (80%) 57
Gum Arabic 400(14%) 4.996
Gum commiphora 171(6%) 8.565
Total 2.855.000 70.661

Ethiopia has Gum and resin potential of 70,500 tons. Average export 3584 tons 0.54-0.73 % export revenue – 1% of world 28% of Africa.

Major challenges in Gum and resin sector

Several gum resin bearing species are endangered. Competing interest for the land use

  • Unsustainable management
  • Human induced fire
  • Illegal trading
  • Less success in value addition

It is crucial to ensure sustainable utilization of the resource and optimal land use.


Earlier estimates report 1 million ha (85% is lowland bamboo). Bamboo covers 67% in Africa and 7% in the world. Naturally grow in six regional states.

Recent estimates deforestation rate of bamboo 52% (Semeneh Bessie, et al., 2015), MEFCC and FAO, 2015- 519,124.65.

Challenges of bamboo sector

  • Inadequate Knowledge on the management
  • Deforestation and lack of sustainable management
  • Inadequately linked to industry and manufacturing


Challenges of the Forest sector

  • Less engagement of the private sector
  • Institutional Instability weak coordination
    • Loss of memory and poor database
    • Loss of attention and support
    • Absence of regional institutional alignment
  • Absence of land use-
    • horizontal expansion of agriculture and
    • free grazing
  • Limited success in forest industry (market calls for the production!)

In conclusion,

  • Forests crucial roles to sustainable economic development should be enhanced
  • Modern forestry has to be in place
    • Demarcated Forest Land is imperative!!
    • The strategic roles to other sectors (Water, energy, food production etc ) should be recognized
  • Structural alignment to the lowest administration level is essential to capitalize on mass mobilization
  • The capacity of the ministry in mobilizing resources should be strengthened
  • Productive human resource with positive attitude has to be ensured

Source: Presentation document (Presented for Parliamentarians of FDRE Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Yigremachew Seyoum (PhD), Hawassa, January 2016)