Ethiopia has set clear objectives in its Climate Resilient Green Economy (CRGE) vision launched in 2011: to realize an average economic growth rate of 11% per annum and attain middle income status by 2025 with zero net increase in carbon emissions. With an estimated emissions reduction or carbon removal potential of 130 million tCO2e in 2030 (around 50% of the total domestic abatement potential), the forest sector through REDD+ program will play a leading role in achieving the ambitious goals of Ethiopia’s green growth goals. In line with this, Ethiopia has been engaged in a national REDD+ readiness process since October 2012 with the support of the FCPF of the World Bank with the aim of identifying the drivers of deforestation and forest degradation and strategic options to address those; analyzing the legal and institutional framework for REDD+ implementation; setting the national forest reference level; prepare REDD+ safeguards instruments; establishing an MRV system and preparation of a national REDD+ strategy. For this, a regional REDD+ program was initiated in the Oromia regional state in May 2013, the design of which is completed in December 2015 and its implementation is expected to begin sometime at the beginning of 2017. Following suit, additional regional REDD+ programs have been initiated in three regional states namely, Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples, Amhara and Tigray. Owing to limited financial and human capacity and institutional setup, Ethiopia’s REDD+ program aims at up-scaling REDD+ to national level through a gradual/step-wise inclusion of regional states in the REDD+ implementation following a prioritization procedure. Prioritization of regional REDD+ initiatives is basically anchored on the national REDD+ scope as stipulated in the national REDD+ strategy and in line with the vision of the national forest and climate policies of the country. Conservation of forests and Restoration of lost forest areas are major focus in REDD+ program.
Accordingly, in the short term, emphasis is given for the sustainable management of existing natural forests (reduced deforestation and forest degradation) and increasing forest cover through afforestation/ reforestation and rehabilitation of degraded forests. Addressing both elements of the national REDD+ scope (management of existing forests and increasing forest cover) was found to be a realistic approach in achieving national REDD+ objectives and contributing to the overstretched GTP goals of the forest sector. To this end, a criteria for selection of the regional states for early REDD+ interventions include: High forest area but with high risk of deforestation, high level of land degradation and climate potential for reforestation (highland states), relative institutional capacity and forest development implementation experience (past experience for successful forest rehabilitation).The three regional REDD+ programs selected based on these criteria are envisaged to address the national REDD+ objectives, as outlined in the national REDD+ strategy, through which the programs will contribute to the country’s CRGE and GTP goals.