EGU General Assembly 2023
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  Carbon Management through Participatory Forest Governance in the Bale Eco-region, Oromia, Ethiopia

Dan Collison
Dan Collison
  • Farm Africa, NGO, United Kingdom of Great Britain – England, Scotland, Wales (

Farm Africa is an international NGO working with smallholder farmers in eastern Africa to promote sustainable agriculture, improved market access, and holistic natural resource management.

Smallholder farmers and pastoralists rely on the natural environment for their livelihoods, and they are also the custodians of significant global goods – the habitats and biospheres that exist as soils, rangelands and forests. How they manage those natural resources has a significant impact on the carbon cycle.

Food production in the region is increasingly under pressure as a result of climate change, conflict, population growth and poor agriculture and land management practices. As natural habitats are exhausted, through soil health depletion, drought, deforestation, or overgrazing, so the ability of those landscapes to sequester carbon is reduced.

Integrated Landscape Management (ILM) provides a powerful nature-based solution to habitat restoration as well as improving food security, combining habitat protection with a multi-stakeholder approach to resource governance, benefit sharing and sustainable livelihoods. This has a significant impact on the carbon cycle, either through the prevention of carbon emissions from deforestation, or through the restoration of landscapes to the extent that soil health and biomass increase carbon sequestration, for example through agroforestry, rangeland restoration, and regenerative agriculture.

ILM works through a set of complementary incentives: diversified livelihoods help communities make more income through the sustainable use of the natural environment than they do from denuding it.  For example, farmers’ yields increase after adopting climate-smart agriculture practices or forest dwellers are able to harvest and sell forest-friendly produce such as wild coffee. Participatory governance arrangements for landscapes give communities a strong stake in the management of the natural resources that they rely on; and the transparent sharing of income from the sale of carbon credits further promotes the protection of the environment.

Farm Africa’s REDD+ project in the Bale Eco-region of Oromia, Ethiopia is a powerful example of nature based carbon management. Funded by the Norwegian Government, the project has resulted in more than 25,000 hectares of forest being saved, and emissions being reduced by 10.5 million tonnes of CO2e. Livelihoods have diversified away from agricultural expansion and into non-timber forest products, in particular high value forest coffee. A pioneering model of participatory forest management has seen responsibility for forest protection shared between local government and 64 forest cooperatives, who have also shared the income from the sale of carbon credits on the voluntary carbon market.

Average annual household incomes of the forest dependent communities that we worked with rose by 143% from 17,000 Ethiopia Birr in 2016 to 43,000 Birr in 2021 (excluding income from carbon sales). This provides a strong incentive for the communities to continue to protect the forest, and to keep carbon locked in the biosphere.

The evidence shows that ILM can support carbon management at scale as a nature based solution, and that if properly agreed, structured and transparently handled with local communities, carbon credits can be an important part of that solution..

How to cite: Collison, D.:   Carbon Management through Participatory Forest Governance in the Bale Eco-region, Oromia, Ethiopia, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 24–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-3161,, 2023.