A field trip to the southwest forest block was made from February 17-21, 2020. It was attended by a high level delegation from Norway including the Deputy Ambassador of Norwegian Embassy in Addis Ababa. The Director General of Oromia Environment, Forest and Climate Change Authority, the National REDD+ Coordinator and Senior forest experts also have joined the trip. Also regional the Coordinators and senior experts from SNNP and Oromia REDD+ coordination units as well as the Coordinator and senior experts from the Oromia Forested Landscape program (OFLP) were among the participants.
The objective of the field visit was to observe and check the progress on the implementation of Participatory Forest Management (PFM) program in the southwest forest block that is funded by the Royal Norwegian Government. PFM is being implemented in 59 Woredas across the Oromia (24), SNNP (29) and Gambella (6) regions targeting in total 660,000 ha. As of the third week of February about half of the forest 310,000 ha- has been demarcated in Oromia and SNNPR.
The field delegation visited one PFM site in Keneni Kebele (Tiro-Afata Woreda) in Jima zone and another PFM site in Decha Woreda in Kaffa zone (SNNPR). The delegation talked to communities about the PFM implementation and their livelihoods options in the program, and the challenges faced. Besides, the mission also made a forest walk in the virgin forest of Kaffa along the road between Bonga and Mizan-Teferi that has given an impression of how magnificent and truly natural the forests in the southwest are. The guests from Oslo (i.e. colleagues from NORAD and Norwegian Climate and Environment Ministry) and participants from Norway Embassy in Addis Ababa expressed that the visit was an extraordinary experience also said the ongoing activities to conserve forests should further be strengthened.
The Norwegian colleagues in particular expressed their satisfaction on the progress to date and are willing to further discuss with the government of Ethiopia to expand interventions in the forest conservation program, with additional resources if needed, in our future bilateral cooperation beyond 2020.