Lake Tana is the largest fresh water lake in Ethiopia, and one important source of the Blue Nile river. It is also of immense ecological and economic value to millions of people in Ethiopia. Due to a growing population and increased agricultural activity, the lake and rivers have seen an increase in soil erosion, sediment and siltation.
Bamboo’s ability to restore degraded soils and watersheds is well known. With its extensive rooting network and rhizome system, which binds soil, as well as its ability to grow in degraded lands and its potential to create thousands of value-added products, bamboo is gaining increasing attention as a high-priority species for landscape restoration and watershed protection.
In June, INBAR co-organised a bamboo planting campaign with the Amhara Bureau of Agriculture and Natural Resources (BoANR). The planting took place along the Lake Tana watersheds, and was aimed at creating awareness among policy makers, line department officials and local communities. INBAR provided over 2000 bamboo plants for the ceremony and in total 5000 bamboo plants will be planted in Koreta Kabale, Dera Woreda, South Gonder Zone, Amhara region. Over 700 people took part in the exercise, including participants from the Amhara state council, Bureas of Agriculture and Environment, and some 250 farmers and local residents.
Mr. Fiseha, the Head of BoANR, addressed the gathering and emphasised that “planting trees and bamboo is important to avoid threats to Lake Tana.” He also mentioned bamboo’s possible role in reforestation, mentioning “the need to reforest and afforest over 2 million hectares of land in Amhara Region”. He thanked INBAR for its support in organizing the program, providing bamboo plants and technical support.
Ms. Semuwork Mandefro, Speaker of the Amhara regional parliament, formally opened the tree planting session. She reminded participants that as well as providing environmental protection, bamboo plants can bring benefits to local communities.
Mr. Marcos Wondie, Programme Manager of the Community-based Integrated Natural Resources Management Project, which works in the region, mentioned that “previously only two tree species [Acacia Spp, and Grevillea Spp] were given importance; now the direction is move to more useful species which target [both] livelihood development and environmental protection. Bamboo can be used for everything – it grows faster to provide green cover and hold soil tightly; it is known for improving watershed functions; it can be used as a food, fodder and fuelwood; it can provide enormous livelihood benefits in addition to critical ecological benefits.”
The Dutch-Sino-East Africa Programme is an INBAR-led project which applies experiences from the hugely successful transformation of Asia and Europe’s bamboo market to Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda. For more news about the latest Dutch-Sino-East Africa Programme training, read here.
To find out more about bamboo’s potential for land restoration, please read here.