Church Forest Status and Carbon Sequestration in Northern Ethiopia

  • Catherine L. Cardelús
  • M. Baimas-George
  • Margaret Lowman
  • Alemayu Wassie Eshete


Ethiopia boasts one of tropical Africa’s richest biodiversity, predominantly in her forest fragments (Tolera et al. 2008). However, forests in northern Ethiopia have undergone severe deforestation, with an estimated 4% remaining (Gatzweiler 2007; Wassie et al. 2009). Human activities ranging from subsistence agriculture to collecting firewood are causal factors in a country where population has nearly doubled in 20 years from 43 million in 1984 to almost 80 million by 2000 (Feoli et al. 2002). The last remaining forest fragments in northern highlands of Ethiopian (called the Amhara Region) are housed in some 35,000 forest fragments called “church forests” that range from 3 to 300ha in size and date back 1500 years. Protected by the Orthodox Tewahido Church (EOTC, Wassie 2002), these fragments represent spiritual as well as biodiversity sanctuaries of both flora (Bongers et al. 2006; Wassie and Teketay 2006) and fauna (Lowman 2010a). For example, some plants species are found only within a few fragments (Wassie 2002). The church leadership view biodiversity conservation as one of its primary stewardships, but the lack of perimeter delineation of these forest fragments threatens their future.


Sacred grove Forest fragment Soil status Ethiopia Dry montane forest 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Catherine L. Cardelús
    • 1
  • M. Baimas-George
    • 1
  • Margaret Lowman
    • 2
  • Alemayu Wassie Eshete
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of BiologyColgate UniversityHamiltonUSA
  2. 2.North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, North Carolina State UniversityRaleighUSA
  3. 3.Department of ForestryBahir Dar UniversityBahir DarEthiopia

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