The Role of Community on Forest Management in Ethiopia: The case of Yotyet/Yewezera Community Forest

The Role of Community on Forest Management in Ethiopia: The case of Yotyet/Yewezera Community Forest

*Belay Zerga1,2, Bikila Workineh1, 3, Demel Teketay4, Muluneh Woldetsadik5

1. Center for Environmental Science, College of Natural and Computational Sciences, Addis Ababa University; 2. Department of Natural Resources Management, College of Agriculture and Natural Resource, Wolkite University;3. Department of Plant Ecology and Biodiversity Management, College of Natural and Computational Sciences, Addis;Ababa University; 4. Department of Crop Science and Production, Botswana University of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Ethiopia; 5. Department of Geography and Environmental Studies, College of Social Sciences, Addis Ababa University

This independent study assessed how forest management is a matter of local community governance and management by showing best cultural management practices in Ethiopia with special reference to Yotyet/Yewezera Community forest which is located in Eza Wereda, Gurage Zone, Ethiopia. Forests are essential for human survival and well-being. They harbor two thirds of all terrestrial animal and plant species. They provide us with food, oxygen, shelter, recreation, and spiritual sustenance, and they are the source for over 5,000 commercially-traded products, ranging from pharmaceuticals to timber and clothing. Due to lack of evidence in Ethiopia and more broadly in Africa, Community Based Forest Management approaches have been underestimated. The study area, Yotyet/Yewezera natural forest has four adjacent villages with 3421 population number. These four villages were purposefully selected. In-depth semi-structured interviews, focus group discussions (FGDs), direct field observations and questionnaires were the main sources of the primary data in this research. In all the four villages eight community elders whose age are above 70 years were selected purposefully. After giving enough awareness about the research objective and they were interviewed separately and finally they involved in to Focus Group Discussion. Qualitative historical analysis is employed to understand and interpret the forest governance and management. Three time periods were considered. The forests’ protection status was assessed during the feudal period (before 1974), during the Derg regime (1974–1991) and after 1991. The three time periods were characterized by major changes that affected the management role of the local community. From the beginning the forest was protected/governed/managed by representatives of the surrounding community which were known as local chiefs. These local chiefs were well respected by the community and their order towards forest management issue had been accepted and practiced accordingly. Apart from local chiefs there was also one strong traditional belief that was responsible for the wise management of the forest. This traditional belief was known locally as “Buezhe”. Buezhe was a thunder god and if there was violations against the rules and believes, it was believed that, it brings fire during rainy seasons and destroys the houses which are made of grass and wooden materials and properties like cattle and enset farms. When the illegal cutters watched the signs of Buezhe named as shine in the forest they stop cutting and return to their home due to the fear of punishment by Buezhe born fire. In addition to local chiefs and traditional belief (Buezhe), the role of the church which is found in the southern part of the forest named Atirfo Debrework Kidus Giyorgis is very substantial towards Yotyet/Yewezera forest governance. When there is some information about the threat on the forest the church condemn the thieves in Sunday Prayer. The district and zonal officials have to consider and give due attention in giving recognitions to the community for their effective protection and management role.

Keywords: Forest management, The role of community, Local chiefs, Traditional belief, The church, Yotyet/Yewezera Forest, Eza Wereda

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Belay Zerga, Bikila Workineh, Demel Teketay, Muluneh Woldetsadik. The Role of Community on Forest Management in Ethiopia: The case of Yotyet/Yewezera Community Forest. International Journal of Communications and Networks, 2019, 2:10


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