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Deforestation and degradation of natural resources in Ethiopia: Forest management implications from a case study in the Belete-Gera Forest


The major causes of deforestation and degradation of natural resources in the Belete-Gera Forest of Ethiopia are coffee production activities and encroachment into forestland to expand farmland and pasture. Population growth, and the government’s land-reform and re-settlement programs have caused local residents to lose harmony with the land. Forest management in this area hasn’t yet been fully developed. The objectives of this study are to identify the extent of deforestation and natural resource degradation, in preparation for a sound management plan. Encroachment of farmland and pasture into natural forest during the past four years has been identified through interviews and aerial photo interpretation. The encroachment rate is 1.45% per year. Encroachment occurred mostly on areas with gentle slopes adjacent to populated villages and along roads and footpaths. The extent and impact of coffee production activities were examined through agency documents, forest survey data and vegetation survey. It is estimated that up to 49% of the accessible natural forest is under the influence of coffee production activities, among which collecting of naturally grown coffee beans has the least and the coffee plantations has the most impact on the natural forest. Coffee plantations in natural forest have reduced the forest density and species diversity. Age structure of the trees is limited to mature and old classes only, which eventually endangers their function as shade for coffee plantations.

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Literature cited

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Corresponding author

Correspondence to Sheauchi Cheng.

Additional information

This project was funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency.

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Cheng, S., Hiwatashi, Y., Imai, H. et al. Deforestation and degradation of natural resources in Ethiopia: Forest management implications from a case study in the Belete-Gera Forest. J For Res 3, 199–204 (1998).

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Key words

  • Africa
  • coffee
  • deforestation
  • encroachment
  • Ethiopia