Agroforestry in the Humbo Region of Ethiopia

Case Summary: 

In 2009 it was estimated that only 3% of Ethiopia’s native forests remained, which were largely lost due to crop farming, livestock grazing, and charcoal production. Economic losses from soil degradation were estimated to be US$ 1–2 billion annually. To address these challenges, the Government of Ethiopia and key partners implemented agroforestry practices and, particularly, an approach called “farmer-managed natural regeneration” (FMNR). Using FMNR native trees and shrubs are allowed to regrow from residual underground roots or through new planting alongside farmed crops. Farmer-managed natural regeneration practices resulted in concrete positive impacts including: reduced flooding, erosion and siltation; increased availability of firewood; increased presence of wildlife; and reduced landscape degradation as a result of complementary sustainable livestock management practices.The following actions and good practices highlighted in this case study supported successful outcomes under the FMNG approach in the Humbo region of Ethiopia:

  • Institutional coordination across national, state and local authorities resulted in clearly defined responsibilities to enable restoration actions.
  • Enabling policy changes shifted land ownership from state to local people, thus strengthening land use rights and empowering farmers to make beneficial natural resource management decisions.
  • Leadership by the Government of Ethiopia and international funding agencies enabled effective coordination, project management and training of local communities on FMNG practices.
  • Capacity building at the local level via Community Cooperative Societies enabled training of local communities and sustainable implementation of projects.
  • Alternative livelihood options were discussed at community meetings, enabling traditional land users to find income via occupations that do not contribute to deforestation. For example, it was essential for charcoal makers and fuelwood collectors to be offered alternative livelihoods as they were no longer permitted to use the communal lands for these purposes. Other options included being employed as guards of the communal lands, managing honey-bee hives and poultry farms.
  • International funding agencies provided financial incentives in the form of payments for carbon sequestration to support successful outcomes.
Sub-Saharan Africa
Action Area 
Planning and Implementation Activity 
Developing and Implementing Policies and Measures, Governance and Stakeholder Engagement
Sectors and Themes 
Agriculture, Education
World Resources Institute (WRI)
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