Population growth resulting in an increased demand for natural resource coupled with unwise consumption of natural resources whether due to lack of alternative means to meet immediate basic needs or misconception of the way the natural ecosystem operates is leading to depletion of natural resources, ecological imbalance, and global climatic changes.
When we see this in the context of Ethiopia, it is evidenced by different studies that the forested area of Ethiopia decreased from the original total area of 40% to 3% resulting in catastrophic consequences, especially on food security. The development of deforestation at an alarming rate has obviously become a real threat to the existence of the current as well as the future generation.
As a logical follow up of this alarming trend concerned individuals and civic societies along with the government are striving to curb the trend and save nature for the sake of current and future generation.
As a civic society working on environment and culture, MELCA is among those organs making efforts geared toward conservation of natural resources, in particular forests, and the protection of environment through public participation and indigenous knowledge practices.
One of the areas where MELCA is working, with the local community, to conserve forest and protect environment is the Sebeta-Suba natural forest found in Oromiya Region, Finfinne area Special Zone.
MELCA employs, among other things, advocacy and awareness raising workshops for different organs of the community with the aim of creating consensus on the importance of not only preserving the existing forest but also increasing the forest coverage by planting trees. Among organs of the community who play key role in preserving the forest are concerned executive offices, law enforcement organs and the judiciary.
As such MELCA has organized an awareness raising and inculcation workshop for judiciary, law enforcement and executive organs having role in the preservation of Suba-Sebeta forest on 7 September 2010 in Holeta town.
The objective of the workshop is to raise the awareness of these actors on the value and importance of preserving the forest, to strengthen the coordination between and among the organs to forge a concerted effort and efficient role playing in the preservation of the forest and build a consensus on the role of the community in this regard and the importance of meaningful community participation and the ways for making it so.
On the workshop an overview of the current status of the forest, the mandate of the administration of the district regarding the forest, challenges in and opportunities for preserving the forest and significance of enforcement of law pertaining to the forest were presented by Suba-Sebeta district forest manager.
There was also a presentation on the role of MELCA in environmental protection and natural resource preservation in general and its involvements so far in Sebeta-Suba area in particular by Ato Befekadu Refera, MELCA’s project coordinator.
Group and whole discussion sessions were held on the presentations as well as the purpose and importance of coordination and integration between and among the different government and non-government actors toward the preservation of the forest.
After a consensus has been reached on the role and importance of each and every organ and the need for a concerted and coordinated effort toward conservation of the forest stakeholders’ taskforce for conservation of Suba-Sebeta forest has been established. Members of the taskforce include Finfinne Area Special zone Agriculture and Rural Development Office, Finfinne Area Special zone forest and Wild life Branch Office, Finfinne Area Special zone Land use and Environmental protection Office, Finfinne Area Special zone Administration and Security Office, Finfinne Area Special zone Culture and Tourism Office, MELCA Mahiber and GTZ.
A total of 21 officials drawn from justice organs, law enforcement organs and executive organs such as agriculture office, tourism office, forest and wild life office, land use and environmental protection office and administration of the special zone have participated on the workshop.