29 March 2013: The International Day of Forests (IDF) was celebrated in Oromiya Regional State, Bale Goba with different events such as songs, cultural dances, paper presentations, documentary film, and tree planting. Paper presentations focused on the Forest Ecosystem Services, State of Ethiopia’s Forest Genetic Resources, Forestry Research in Ethiopia and Medicinal Plants Conservation and utilization; while the documentary film summarized the objective of the IDF, Ethiopia’s forests, conservation status, threats and conservation measures. Various messages about conservation and sustainable use of forests were included in the Documentary Film.
Dr. Gemedo Dalle, Director General of the Institute of Biodiversity Conservation, welcomed participants and stated that “Ethiopia, being signatory to the Convention on Biological Diversity, is honored to celebrate the first International Day of Forests in one of the richest forest biodiversity regions, Bale Goba. The Day is commemorated with the objective of raising awareness on conservation and sustainable utilization of our forests.”
The Forests of Ethiopia have diminished from 40% in the 1940’s to below 3% in the 1980’s. The country has prioritized soil and water conservation as well as tree planting with the overall objective of increasing land productivity and conserving the country’s natural resources. Water shade management is being implemented in order to save our hydroelectric dams and conserving soil and water. This has increased the vegetation cover to 11% according to reports by the Ministry of Agriculture.
Forests have been utilized extensively for firewood, construction, non-timber forest products (spices, honey, root crops,etc.), timber, production of agricultural utensils, etc. in Ethiopia. This has resulted in over-utilization of natural resources and the forest biodiversity has been diminishing alarmingly. To reverse the situation, mass awareness campaigns have been carried out by different concerned governmental and non governmental institutions.
The International Day of Forests is key event in order to create awareness among the society and institutions. To facilitate easy communication of the day, electronic and print media journalists from four media institutions were invited and gave full coverage of the event in different local languages.
Tree planting was one of the most entertaining events. Members of the House of Peoples Representatives started the event by planting two of the threatened indigenous trees, Juniperus procera and Olea europae subsp. cuspidata, and all participants planted a tree on the Medicinal Plants Field Genebank, Bale Goba.
Participants from different institutions, zonal administrators, indigenous peoples, elementary school students, Parliament members, NGOs and Universities were present on the event.