Every twelve seconds the Ethiopian population increases by one person, according to the UN. This means that the pressure on forests, biodiversity and water is enormous. Nonetheless, Ethiopia has ambitious plans to transform from a low to a middle-income country, without depleting its natural resources and while keeping climate gas emissions stable.

Why are the Forests Destroyed?

A hundred years ago, about 1/3 of Ethiopia was covered with forests. Today forests cover only about 15%, or 170.000 km2, of Ethiopia’s total land area. The remaining forest is under immense pressure, and urgent action is needed to save what is left.

Small-scale farmers in Ethiopia have been clearing forest for decades in order to grow food for their households. They have collected firewood, burned charcoal and felled trees to construct their houses. The country’s massive cattle population, fifth biggest in the world, mainly graze freely, and so also disturb the forest and hinder regrowth.

But even construction of roads, railroads and dams have gradually chopped away at Ethiopian forests.

Planting Trees for the Future

In 2011, Ethiopia decided on ambitious government policies to reduce the impacts of climate change. And they promised to protecting another 40.000 km2 of forest.

The Climate Resilience Green Economy Strategy  – CRGE – includes a plan to reduce climate emissions by 64% compared to business as usual. Over half of the emission reductions are expected to come from the forest sector.

Ethiopia plans to double its forest cover by 2030, from approximately 15% to 30%. This means planting about 150 000 km2 of forest, or the size of Nepal. Ethiopia also plans to protect all its remaining natural forest.