Location

Parker-Reed, SSWAC

Start Date

1-5-2014 10:00 AM

End Date

1-5-2014 2:00 PM

Project Type

Poster

Description

Studies conducted in Northern Ethiopia to date have found that a majority of Ethiopian Tewahido Orthodox Church followers believe in the importance of protecting forests. Indeed, many of the forest fragments still in existence in Ethiopia today have survived only due to conservation efforts by priests and followers of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, which has a tradition of retaining patches of native trees around churches. Access to church forests by outsiders (including scientists) has been limited in the past which in part explains how these stands of native trees have survived in spite of widespread deforestation. Today however there is growing concern among church leaders and scientists that church forests are disappearing, shrinking in size under pressures from livestock grazing and agricultural expansion and also losing their biodiversity in part due to conversion of indigenous church forests to more economically rewarding forest types such as coffee or eucalyptus plantations. In this study we report the preliminary results of ongoing ecological surveys and institutional research, including primary data on land uses, forest composition, and institutions for forest management in 15 church forests across the Amhara Region. Findings suggest church forest composition, vegetation density and spatial characteristics vary widely across elevation and latitudinal gradients, as well as across church forest size and management regimes. Interviews with Orthodox priests, church community members, and other key informants shed further light on these findings. In particular, while some priests and communities retain strongly preservationist attitudes towards their church forests, many others have more utilitarian perspectives, seeing the forests as sources of raw materials and income for the chur

Sponsoring Department

Colby College. Environmental Studies Program

CLAS Field of Study

Interdisciplinary Studies

Event Website

http://www.colby.edu/clas

ID

213

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May 1st, 10:00 AM May 1st, 2:00 PM

Spatial Variation, Institutional Structures and Forest Composition in Northern Ethiopian Church Forests

Parker-Reed, SSWAC

Studies conducted in Northern Ethiopia to date have found that a majority of Ethiopian Tewahido Orthodox Church followers believe in the importance of protecting forests. Indeed, many of the forest fragments still in existence in Ethiopia today have survived only due to conservation efforts by priests and followers of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, which has a tradition of retaining patches of native trees around churches. Access to church forests by outsiders (including scientists) has been limited in the past which in part explains how these stands of native trees have survived in spite of widespread deforestation. Today however there is growing concern among church leaders and scientists that church forests are disappearing, shrinking in size under pressures from livestock grazing and agricultural expansion and also losing their biodiversity in part due to conversion of indigenous church forests to more economically rewarding forest types such as coffee or eucalyptus plantations. In this study we report the preliminary results of ongoing ecological surveys and institutional research, including primary data on land uses, forest composition, and institutions for forest management in 15 church forests across the Amhara Region. Findings suggest church forest composition, vegetation density and spatial characteristics vary widely across elevation and latitudinal gradients, as well as across church forest size and management regimes. Interviews with Orthodox priests, church community members, and other key informants shed further light on these findings. In particular, while some priests and communities retain strongly preservationist attitudes towards their church forests, many others have more utilitarian perspectives, seeing the forests as sources of raw materials and income for the chur

http://digitalcommons.colby.edu/clas/2014/program/133