The Majang zone of Gambella Peoples’ National Regional State endowed with natural resources. Most of its landscape covered with natural forests with diverse species of plants. It also endowed with water resources, having several perennial rivers and over 2000 mm annual rainfall. Majang is also rich in biodiversity at all levels of biological diversity: ecosystem, species and genetics. It has at least four (4) different ecosystems or habitat types. Over 550 higher plants, 33 mammals, 130 birds, and 20 amphibian species recorded in the area. It is also the center of origin and diversity for many crop genetic resources.
Its richness in natural resources makes the area attractive for agricultural development. Hence, there is a growing demand for agricultural land expansion by smallholder farmers as well as large-scale agricultural investment. Deforestation for agriculture, coupled with current trend of climate change, considered as threats to biodiversity and the traditional livelihoods of the local community.
The Majang zone administration and the Gambella regional state joined hands with MELCA Ethiopian in 2012 to explore and adopt sustainable development options. After conducting baseline studies and evaluation of different development approaches, it adopted the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve approach.
This project; Growth for Future (G4F) Program II: Natural Resource Management for Resilience and Economic development for rural Ethiopia, Majang Project funded by Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) came on board to be implemented in the zone as well as adjacent zone to Majang Forest Biosphere Reserve by consortium members of Farm Africa, TechnoServe and MELCA-Ethiopia. One can understand from the name of the project that the project focuses on conservation of forest by participating communities; establishing PFM on one side and improving the livelihood of rural communities on the other side.
The program’s methodology for the strengthening of PFM in the BSR is based on the principle that “conservation stays if it pays”. That means poverty, market failure and weak institutions are major contributors of unsustainable use and management of natural resources, and conservation can be successful if it contributes to sustainable livelihoods development. Achieving this requires both local institutions building and realization of maximum benefit from conservation through enterprise development, facilitating aggregation, improving production, market linkage and improving the capacity of farmers, local institutions and that of government that supports them in the delivery of forest management. Furthermore, G4F II will build on success of the these core community-level interventions to enhance the function of the Majang forest landscape as a site of significant scientific relevance and a site of NRM and enterprise development learning more broadly.
The Majang G4F II Natural Resource Management for Resilience and Economic Development Program is conservation-based sustainable rural development in Majang forest ecosystem and surrounding landscape, an area of high ecological and socio-economic importance facing a severe threat of deforestation and degradation where conservation efforts are highly relevant to Ethiopia’s CRGE goal to contribute to reducing emission from the forest sector. Implementation of the program components will apply a shared methodology that demonstrates integrated and multi-stakeholder landscape management; testing the implementation of a standard set of crosscutting technical approaches, and synthesizing best practice, learning, and policy dialogue.