The Impact of Resettlement on Woodland Vegetation: The Case of Chewaka Resettlement Area, Southwestern Ethiopia

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Addis Ababa University


Ethiopia has been practicing population resettlement either planned or spontaneous since the imperial period. The resettlements were and still are carried out mainly as a response to extreme land degradation in the highlands. Recurrent drought and famine also aggravated resettlement in the country. The large resettlement scheme carried out during the Derg regime has been criticized for its large social and environmental impacts. However, after suspension for some years resettlement has resumed by EPRDF government as planned and intra-regional resettlement program. This scheme, past and present, are implemented predominantly in the lowlands where population densities are low and unutilized lands are assumed to be found. The vegetation of the lowlands i.e. woodlands, play critically important role as a buffer ecosystems between the highland and arid environments and have limited capacity to endure intense human interference. Therefore, the impact of the current resettlement programs on these important ecosystems is not known despite the claim by government’s that states it is environmentally friendly. The objective of assessing the land use/land cover change due to the resettlement program, identifying the conservation measures that the resettlers are implementing, identifying the forest product utilization patterns of the resettlers and tree species composition of the area. The study employed combined methods of remotely sensed data of Landsat TEM+ and ground-based survey to detect the land use/land cover changes. Questionnaire and checklists were used to assess the conservation efforts initiated and forest product utilization patterns. The SPSS version 13 was used for data analysis. Transect lines of 500m apart were used along which 30x30m plots at 300m intervals were taken to identify tree species composition of the area. The result of the study shows file:///C|/Users/3020/Desktop/enviromental%20science/Berhanu%20Geneti%20Moroda.pdf.txt[6/1/2018 9:16:33 AM] that 42.4 percent of the woodland has been changed to farmland and settlement area contrary to the claim. The scheme resettled large number of the resettlers (60,000) in the area, which is well above the population density of the zone before the establishment of the resettlement site. This situation is compounded by few conservation efforts in the area which may jeopardizes the sustainability of the woodland and life in the area in general. About 22 species of trees with in 14 families were recorded in the area. The diameter class distribution of trees revealed that the number of seedlings and saplings on farmland and settlement areas is low contrary to the woodland and riverine areas which indicates that farmland will be devoid of vegetation unless tree planting activities are practiced. The resettlers depend on the natural vegetation for fuel wood and construction materials, calling for planting of tree seedlings to reduce the pressure on the woodland. Appropriate family planning practice to keep the population growth at optimum level and conservation measures compatible with the agro- ecological zone are also important. Continuous impact assessments in the area and through out resettlement sites in the country to take corrective measures also facilitates the achievement of the objectives of the scheme. Key words: resettlement, environmental impacts, woodland vegetation, degradation



Resettlemen;Environmental Impacts; Woodland Vegetation; Degradation