Feasibility study for a biosphere reserve “Dessa’a Forest”, Tigray region | Ethiopia

The Dessa forest is one of the last forest stands in the semi-arid zone of Ethiopia and is therefore of enormous importance for the landscape water balance and the preservation of biodiversity. It secures the livelihoods of more than 250,000 people and is located in the area where the Tigray and Afar regions overlap, resulting in very complex interrelationships between forms of use and stakeholders. Illegal logging and expansion of agricultural land have reduced the forest area of the Dessa’a Forest by about 40% between 1972 and 2018. To avoid further degradation and forest destruction, the implementation of sustainable land and forest management strategies involving the local population is urgently needed.

The Succow Foundation is therefore working together with the University of Hamburg (UHH) on a feasibility study for a UNESCO biosphere reserve in Dessa’a Forest.

Further partners in this project are WeForest, Bread for the World, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Mekelle University, the regional government of Tigray and the Ministries of Environment and Agriculture of Ethiopia. Part of the project is, among other things, the establishment of a competence network for the establishment of the biosphere reserve and the preparation of the nomination dossier for the application for UNESCO biosphere reserve.

Project Lead: Michael Succow Foundation, Contact: kirsten.meuer[at]succow-stiftung.de

Partners: University of Hamburg, WeForest, Bread for the World, Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Mekelle University, Tigray Regional Government, Ethiopian Ministry of Environment and Agriculture

Project duration: 2020 – 2021

Funded by: German Federal Environmental Foundation (DBU)