Long-term changes in soil-based ecological services at three sites in Ethiopia
Ethiopia faces land degradation as one of its major environmental problems. In response to the degradation, massive land rehabilitation and conservation activities have been undertaken since the mid-1970s. In spite of these efforts, the impacts of long-term land management have not been examined from soil-based ecological services perspective. This study assesses soil-based ecological services over the past 30 years at three sites (Gununo, Anjeni and Maybar) in the Ethiopian Highlands. The study used key informants, household questionnaires, group discussions, rankings and indicator- based assessments. Ecosystem assessment frameworks and past research documents were also reviewed. In all three sites, since the 1980s, despite some reduction in tree plant bio-diversity, soil- based ecological services have increased, while disservices decreased. Assessment showed increased services and reduced disserves more in the better-managed watersheds than in the less-managed watersheds. Increased soil-based ecosystem services were reflected in increased crop yield, plant cover, conserved area and reduced flood risk, vulnerability to drought and eroded area in all three sites. The descending rank order in achieving benefits from long-term land management is: Gununo > Maybar > Anjeni. The study recommends further assessment at larger scales and with a focus on soil nutrients in the areas.
Abebe Shiferaw, Hans Hurni and Gete Zeleke4
Journal of Ecology and The Natural Environment