Ethiopia's Nationwide Project To Fight Deforestation

Ethiopia is Africa’s second most populous nation. It is being celebrated as one of the world’s fastest-growing economies. Unfortunately, the effects of the rapid expansion of its agriculture, construction and service sectors — as well as its ballooning population, now at 105 million — are taking their toll on the country’s natural environment. The pressure on land and forests is only set to increase with 70 million grazing animals and almost nine households in 10 still relying on wood for fuel.

As a result, Ethiopia now faces grave problems brought upon by deforestation. With tree cover vanishing daily, the land is drying out and becoming less fertile. The more dry and infertile the land becomes, the higher the risk of there being another one of Ethiopia’s periodic famines – like in 2017 when two million animals died as a result of drought.

Tree cover has fallen from 35% in the early 20th century to 13% today, leaving the country with barren rural landscapes and leafless cities. So to rectify the situation, 4 billion trees will be planted, which is equivalent to 40 per person. This ambitious campaign has been launched to improve Ethiopia’s suffering environment.

Apart from creating forests and tree-lined streets, the authorities also plan to replace foreign species such as eucalyptus, which has been imported from Australia since the 1890s because it is a fast-growing material for fuel and building. Unfortunately, it has wreaked havoc on the environment, sucking up so much water that it is sometimes planted to drain swamps.

he reality is, Ethiopia is not the only country with this problem. Africa loses forest cover equivalent to an area the size of Switzerland every single year. Every country has to act now before it is too late, and the damage, to both the land and to the animals, is irreversible.