Ethiopia counts on forest resources to boost economy

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Ethiopia says it is counting on its forest resources to boost the country’s US $55 billion economy.

At the presentation of the country’s UN-Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (UN-REDD) programme at COP21 in Paris on December 3, Government officials said it is expected to indicate the real value of forests in Ethiopia’s economy.

REDD+ goes beyond deforestation and forest degradation, and includes the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks.

“The REDD+ programme phase one is expected to make a significant contribution of forest to the Ethiopian economy and improve the living conditions of the people,” said Tsagaye Tadesse of the Ministry of Environment and Forest.

He said Ethiopia was keen to consider long-term planning with a low carbon future.

The hope is that after implementing the Oromia Forest readiness project by 2016, the densely forested regions of Benishangul Gumz in Western Ethiopia, will also be included in the programme, he said.

For Tefera Mengistu, Advisor to the Minister of Forestry in the Ministry of Environment and Forest in Ethiopia, the long-term forest management plan of the country will yield the necessary success if resources are well managed.

“We value our forest resources because it is our hope for the future. But for us to get the expected results and the required bargaining power to attract domestic and international financing through the REDD process, we have to ensure sustainable management of the forest, Mengistu said.

Deforestation and forest degradation – through agricultural expansion, conversion to pastureland, infrastructure development, destructive logging and fires – account for nearly 20 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, more than the entire global transportation sector and second only to the energy sector, experts at COP21 have disclosed.

The REDD+ programme, among others, therefore aims to compensate developing countries for their efforts to reduce carbon emissions through various projects and by pursuing green economic growth.

Since the December 2013 UN climate change negotiations, the REDD+ international mechanism was completed and agreed by the international community.

Now countries have a framework and procedures to implement REDD+ activities to measure impacts of carbon under a national forest monitoring system. Through this framework, they can also receive international payments based on the result.

Ethiopia is a participatory country in the FCPF REDD+ initiative and has expressed the determination to mobilize resources from donor institutions to achieve the forest management programme.

“We are interested in mobilizing resources from donor countries to succeed in this programme,” said Mengistu.

He said 50% of the country’s greening economy programme comes from the forestry sector.

Ethiopia currently claims that 15 per cent of its total area is forested, with 17 million hectares of forest restoration.

The UN-REDD programme is helping some 56 countries, 24 of them in Africa, to get ready for REDD+, Joseph Armarthe Amougou a REDD+ expert from Cameroon.

Ethiopia’s total carbon emissions are estimated to be around 150 metric tons, representing less than 0.3 per cent of global output.