Forest landscape restoration (FLR) initiatives underway in Ethiopia focus on rehabilitating degraded communal lands, planting tree seedlings and engaging communities in natural forest management. Most are initiated and coordinated by the state and suffer from limited cross-sectoral coordination.
Since the 1970s, ownership and management of most forests has been vested in the state. Tenure insecurity resulting from absence of state-recognized community and individual rights to forests, along with limited state capacity to enforce forest regulations, have been identified as disincentives to forestry sector investments.
In 2018, Ethiopia enacted a national forest law establishing that communities and associations can have forest ownership rights. Ethiopia will need to enact and implement corresponding forest regulations and guidelines to expedite implementation of the 2018 Forest Law (FDRE 2018).
Careful revision of the federal 2005 rural land law (FDRE 2005) and regional states’ land proclamations is needed to facilitate implementation of the Forest Law. Other measures needed include establishing and supporting dedicated forestry institutions at all levels of government, strengthening community forest management institutions, and developing procedures for regional state land administration and forestry institutions to work together to demarcate, certify, and classify forests and forested land in a coordinated manner.
Development partners need to support efforts to build the capacity of state institutions charged with implementing the forest law and provide assistance to communities so they can organize themselves to actualize their rights enacted in the forest law. Support is needed to raise awareness among key actors about the 2018 Forest Proclamation, increase the forest management capacity of community and governmental institutions, and enhance the technical skills of forest planners, managers and researchers.