“Watchtowers enabled us to stay longer time in the forest”: Story from Ranger
Shibru Tolla is a clan leader and ranger in Sheka Zone, Masha Woreda, and one of the volunteers who dedicated their time and energy to guarding part of the rainforest situated in Keja Kebele. “Ever since the registration of the Sheka forest as a bio reserve, I’ve been serving as a guard. I educate folks on the importance of the reserve and the need for safeguarding it.”
MELCA-Ethiopia is implementing a project entitled “Enhancing Resilience of Sheka Community to Climate Change through Strengthening Conservation of UNESCO Sheka Forest, Sheka project”, since 2021, and the project is financed by SOS Faim Luxemburg.
As part of the Environmental governance program of MELCA-Ethiopia, one of the key aspects of biosphere management includes the protection and safeguarding of the forest from illegal users and sound monitoring and prevention of wildfires that may erupt to inflict unexpected damages.
MELCA-Ethiopia working on supporting rangers in Sheka Zone Masha and Anderacha Woreda by providing training on forest fire protection, descent working material like raincoats, and waterproof boots, building watchtowers and providing mobile phones with air time. And this enables rangers to report if there is any deforestation or other threats to the forest.
Volunteer community members that have lived protecting the forest with a feeling of responsibility were trained and equipped with essential protective gear. Thirty-three such rangers monitor the Sheka Forest Biosphere Reserves round the clock and 15 watch towers have been built in core areas of Sheka FBR Masha and Anderacha Woreda.
The watchtower “is a friend indeed,” says Shibru, adding, “it helped us stay longer in the forest shelter. Heavy rains used to force us to stay away. But now, as shelters are made available, we’ve no problem coming at whatever time we like and staying in deep inside the jungle as much as we want.”
Watchtowers are erected at strategic locations for rangers to watch possible intrusions. “Manned or empty, they serve as a warning against trespassing. Intruders avoid entering the forest as they feel insecure thinking there may possibly be an onlooker nearby,” said says Shibru Tolla, a ranger and clan leader in Sheka Zone, Masha Woreda who knows the forestland from childhood times.