By Mezgebu Senbeto Duguma, IUCN CEM Young Professional.
Land degradation is a pervasive and systemic phenomenon. It is a global problem, adversely affecting the livelihoods and food security of billions of people. Combating land degradation and restoring degraded land is an urgent and a priority to protect the biodiversity and ecosystem services vital to all life on Earth. Restoration and rehabilitation of degraded lands need integration of different techniques and also commitment and involvement of different disciplines.
Recently we have initiated a programme to assess the potential of different management technologies on restoration and rehabilitation of degraded land and termite management in Western Oromia, Ethiopia. The technologies we have been implemented in order to restore the ecosystem and the ways we follow to understand how it worked before it was modified or degraded, and then the procedures we use to realize our understanding to reassemble it and reinstate the degraded area were tremendous and challenging. However, we have realized and achieved, first, how to enhance the translation of recent advances in our understanding of ecosystem and landscape dynamics into the conceptual and practical frameworks for restoration. Second, how to promote the development of an ability to diagnose ecosystem damage correctly, identify restoration thresholds, and develop corrective methodologies that aim to overcome such thresholds. The third key achievement was that we could determine that the results were the realistic goals for restoration which are based on the ecological realities of today and how these will change in the future, given on-going changes in climate and land-use systems. Finally, we realized how successful synthetic approaches draw together the ecological and social aspects of the issues surrounding restoration and the setting of restoration goals. Besides this all, termite damage to the plants and top soils is being reduced through time, and its clue indicates that our challenging procedures were successful. Preventing further land degradation was of high priority if we are to make a transition to more sustainable development and community’s livelihood, which is strongly reflected in Sustainable Development Goal 15 —“Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss”.
From this achievement, we urge to eradicate extreme poverty or to generate additional income and employment, we must have healthy and productive land. Since land is a very vital source for every livelihood, we should firstly conserve land and reverse its productivity. The land-use sectors in general and of the Diga district in specific, with its high concentration of poor people will offer some of the most significant opportunities for green growth and prosperity if and only if efforts for conservation are made.
In general, planting of 7 termite tolerant tree/shrub species (including Chomo grass) was made, and on average, about 90% survived to date. Initial and intermediate soil sample analysis and biodiversity data were collected and analysed. Prior to the implementation of this programme, in the initial biodiversity analysis, species richness for plants were only 7, while for birds and other wildlife was zero . The intermediate biodiversity assessment data show that species richness of vegetation (grass and plants) becomes 70, of which 85.7% are naturally regenerated. About 7 bird species and 6 other wildlife species have also been restored into the area. The project is still ongoing and we expect further improvement in these figures.
Mr Mezgebu Senbeto Duguma is Associate Researcher in Forestry, Bako Agricultural Research Centre, Oromia Agricultural Research Institute.