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22 year footprints of ORDA in Environment & Forest Development

By:-Degarege Asefa

                         22 year footprints of ORDA

Conservation of nature is basically the conservation of resources such as air, water, sunlight, land, vegetation, animal life and minerals. All these resources are obtained from nature without any interference from the mankind. These resources are further employed to produce various things that make the lives of human beings as well as other living beings comfortable, and one could not forget is there are an intense competitions.

Charles Darwins, known nature theorist, survival of the fittest arena is the ecosystem and humans, via their gifted intellectual consciousness, are the main actors. In Darwinian terms the phrase is best understood as "Survival of the form that will leave the most copies of itself in successive generations." Both development & distraction of the ecosystem reside under the hand of Humans in context of the winner to continue. Now we are in the age of modernization that totally depends on environment and its resource. Especially Ethiopias, which is highly dependent on raw material, forest cover has been reduced from 40% in the turn of 20th century to 15% now & about 1 billion tons of its top soil is also believed to be eroded annually from Ethiopia.

For that matter ORDA Cares about Environment & Forest Developments by compromising with economic aspects also. In its Environment and Forest Development program, ORDA has been engaging in forest development, integrated watershed development, biodiversity conservation and introduction and promotion of renewable energy technology. The Program, accounts 22 years duty, has an aim to contribute to the reduction of environmental degradation and natural resource conservation and development efforts of the region so as to improve livelihood of the community and for the growth and development of the regional economy. Its work on forest development, Biodiversity Conservation & Integrated Watershed Development works are most outshined ones and we will glance its work.

In developing the forest cover of Amhara region, the program has played a pivotal role in coordination with regional people and NGOs. ORDA has produced more than 758,997,427 seedlings (722,582,672 are exotics and 36,414,755 are indigenous species) for plantation purpose from 1997-2018. As a result, it has planted 704,842,129 seedlings (640,842,129 exotics and 64,000,000 indigenous) in different areas of the region degraded lands that had lost their forest cover. The total forest Plantation for the community and Government is about 15,582 hectare (ha) of land and Ex-closure degraded land management for the last 22 years period is estimated to be 153,025 ha of land. In addition in its Greening program 54,380,000 seedlings were planted on 18,674 ha of land. Based on this data ORDA has contributed 4% of the Regional forest cover, and it has brought a solution for global warming worry by sequestrating 646,623 tons of Carbon per annum which is equivalent to 56.9 million Birr by only plantations of 1997-2013 fiscal year.

The forest development activity was done in line with biodiversity conservation to assure the crop productivity, livestock productivity and sustainability of plated seedlings, and it mainly gave focus on vicinities that lose their forest cover. Hence, Participatory forest management (PFM) was run by Biodiversity Program with financial support of EU/GAA in Amhara region lowland woredas of Metema and Quara, and in the highland woredas of Estie, Lay Gayint and Farta. The program had come to an end in July 2014 after achieving astonishing results. Since the work result was modeled, it has been scaled up and implemented in the title of Protection and Sustainable Management of Combretum Terminalia forest project in Jawi, Quara and Alefa woredas since July 2014. A total of 151,221.6 ha of forest land were demarcated, forest resources assessed and forest management plan prepared.

The afforestation program has been involved by communities in plantation and caring of Participatory forest management. Participatory Forest Management is a new practice that is effective in Asian countries like India. Its effectiveness emanates from active participation of the community who are organized in committee to take care of a plantation. Similarly ORDA in its intervention areas of 42 kebeles 58 participatory forest management cooperatives have been established & the cooperatives managed 151,221.6 ha natural forest. The forest has contributed an estimated 490,308.4 tons of carbon sequestration per annum. The income generated is 17 million Birr per year for the local communities and the government.

Focus for Nonrenewable energy is part of Environment & forest development activity to reduce biomass dependency and to create synergy for communal development via applying economy of scale. In this regard ORDA has achieved a result on Renewable Energy technologies. Researches shows that 94 % of Ethiopian energy consumption depends on Biomass which results drought, high carbon emission, global warming and in general imbalance of ecosystem. Hence, to avert such calamities ORDA has been familiarizing Fuel saving stoves (FSS) in Amhara region for the last 22 years. It provided 25,267 Fuel Saving Stoves to target beneficiaries, & due to these, it is estimated 75,801 tons of fuel wood had been saved and 12,633.5 tons of carbon emission was reduced per annum. 

In addition, in rural villages, 150 solar home systems have been installed and used for lightening and charging that saved kerosene. Around 12,265 solar lanterns which are critical important on off grid areas and are used for lighting and mobile charging were distributed.

Promotion and Construction of Bio-gas Plant is part of the program which creates alternative energy and helps to save forest destruction. In the past years, 913 Biogas plants (6m3) were constructed and installed, and an estimated of 328.68 hectares of forest saved due to using biogas technologies per annum. And then 5,569.3 tons of carbon emission reduced per annum. To sustainably assure the community benefit, Renewable Energy technology Centers have been built. One solar energy technology production center was constructed at Awura-Amba and three other alternative energy technology centers were constructed in Bati woreda for Small and Micro Enterprises.

In Integrated Watershed Development 1,077 integrated community watersheds (332,250 ha) were managed, out of which 13 model watersheds were developed in the new approach of comprehensive land husbandry technology. In this regard, 1,077 community watershed committees were established to take care of watersheds before and after development. Now, 887 watersheds were handing over to the communities with the aim to be used for generating income. Farmers crop productivity has been increased and enabled to be food secured.

In the Rehabilitated watersheds, 322 watershed user groups has been engaging in different income generating activities in off-farm work like bee keeping, fattening, irrigation work & crop cultivation. 
Over all the program has accomplished the aim to improve the environment wellbeing and forest status that leads to social and economic growth of households, and ORDA understand that the ultimate goal of environmental protection is to improve human livelihoods, not just only restore vegetation, and it has accomplished. Over all, it has been working to extend such success in collaboration with donors, stake holders & beneficiaries.

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