Challenges and Prospects for Sustainable Forest Management in Wondo Genet Area, Southern Ethiopia
Natural resources degradation, a major form of which is deforestation and de-vegetation, has become a serious problem in Ethiopia. At present, natural forests cover a tiny fraction of the country’s total area and these are found in small patches mainly in the southern and southwestern parts. Such a patch of forest is found in Wondo Genet area, and it is owned and managed by four major organizations. The forests of these organizations are, however, disappearing at a fast rate which indicates existence of problems in the management approaches of the Organizations. The general objective of this study was to understand existing forest management approaches of the four organizations and indicate some directions towards a sustainable management of the forests. Data were generated through structured questionnaire survey, semi- structured interview, focus group discussion and field observation methods. Various documents from the organizations were also consulted. The results of the study revealed that the four organizations in the area have generally been following a coercive approach, and none of them has, as a result, been successful in protecting the forests from destruction. Lack of a participatory and well-defined management system, increasing scarcity of agricultural land and forest products, inadequacy of benefits to local people from the organizations and ineffectiveness of local administration system in dealing with illegal forest users were the major reasons for the failure. The study concludes by underscoring the need to devise a participatory forest management approach which aims at the co-existence of local people, forest resources and the organizations in the area.
Keywords: forest management, rural livelihoods, participation, sustainability, Wondo Genet