Plantation Forests in Amhara Region: Challenges and Best Measures for Future Improvements

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The total area of plantation forests in Ethiopia is estimated at 972,000 ha. Species wise, eucalyptus dominates the current plantation forests, covering more than 90%. The total area of plantation forests in Amhara region is estimated at 684,000 ha, of which Industrial Plantations are 44, 600 ha and Non-industrial Small-scale Private Plantations are 639,400 ha. The application of appropriate silvicultural practice during and after planting of different plantation species is not well developed in Ethiopia. Therefore, the objective of this paper was to identify effective plantation practices in the Amhara National Regional State that can be scaled out in other similar agro ecological areas of the country. The study was conducted between September 2013 and October 2015 in ANRS in Fagta Lekoma District of Awi zone and Lay Gayent District of South Gonder Zone. Multistage sampling technique was used to select sample households. The best example of smallholder plantation practices are Acacia decurrens based smallholder plantations in Fagita Lekoma District and E. globulus and E. camaldulensis based plantation in Lay Gayent District and Mecha District, respectively. Adaptability, growth rate, compatibility to the other land uses and suitability to the objective of tree planting were considered in selecting the tree species for planting. Silvicultural management of the plantation especially those of spacing, planting techniques and tending operations were considered in identifying the best plantation practices. In regard to ecological impacts of plantation 135 respondents (75.4%) agreed that plantation of E. camaldulensis have adverse effect on the soil, crop productivity of the adjacent farm land and water resources. Among recognized silvicultural management gaps, narrow spacing has been evaluated as the major constraint by regional experts and farmers. Economic issues like lack of adequate value addition, lack of assortment and product diversification has been identified as significantly important challenges. Proper implementation of best plantation management practices in Ethiopian plantation programs will significantly improve the forest cover of the country and increase the contribution of the forestry sector to the local and national economies.

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