Wogdi | EthiopiaTogether against deforestation and biodiversity loss
Ethiopia has an abundance of animal and plant species and is considered one of the world’s eight centres of diversity. Preserving this genetic diversity is very important, especially in the face of advancing climate change, so that its natural habitats may adapt to the changing local factors. Ethiopia is particularly rich in birds; it has more than 830 species, 30 of which are endemic, i.e. exclusively found in Ethiopia. Bird species native to Germany such as the white stork, the red-backed shrike and the endangered lesser spotted eagle also seek refuge here during the long European winter.
But Ethiopia's natural landscapes have suffered dramatic losses in recent decades. For example, only 12% of Ethiopia is still covered in forest. This substantial loss of natural habitat has grave implications for the native animal and plant species, as well as for winter visitors. Ultimately, it is the population of Ethiopia that is forced to battle progressive deforestation. This process is accompanied by a severe erosion of fertile soils, which reduces the region’s ability to withstand extreme weather events such as drought and heavy rains. Crop failures and food insecurity are chronic risks in a country whose primary industry is agriculture, accounting for 34% of gross domestic product and 66% of the workforce.
To counteract this trend and help to reverse it, the Heinz Sielmann Stiftung works together with the Menschen für Menschen Foundation and communities in Ethiopia. In the South Wollo Zone in the state of Amhara, for example, the foundation has been supporting a joint reforestation project since 2017. As part of wider development efforts, the project involves partially terracing and planting trees on severely degraded slopes to restore their valuable forest landscapes. The surrounding communities benefit from these reforestation and resource protection measures and oversee the measures to ensure that they remain sustainable.