Even though Agro-Plantation-Site is mainly an environmental project it has been extended into other complementary aspects such as:

Emphasis on Eco-tourism

A better kind of footprint
In the past, tourism has, very often, had a negative impact on the environment. However, the example of Agro-Plantation-Site shows that there is also another way. Better to leave a tree than a carbon footprint!
Mutual benefit
The cooperation between environment protection and international tourism can be seen as being of mutual benefit to both tourists and the local inhabitants.
  • Eco-tourism provides positive experiences and education for both visitors and local people.
  • Tourists can still enjoy the stunning landscape and rich culture of Ethiopia while at the same time they contribute to nature conservation and provide funds for ecological regeneration.
Benefits for the host land
  • Environmental protection:
    Nature conservation is fostered by tourists´ financial support. The nursery site needs tourists´ support to purchase seedlings and pay for nursery maintenance in order to be run in a self-sustainable way and not merely be dependent on charity organizations.
  • Social prospects for local people:
    Tourists help sustain the well-being of the local people because new small-income jobs are generated through their financial contributions.

Benefits for tourists
  • Tourists are offered insights into the impact of human beings on the environment, and
  • a greater appreciation of natural habitats is fostered.

Environmental improvement

Stop soil erosion
Falling leaves produce nutrients and the tree roots anchor them in the soil.
Clean the air
Trees soak up pollution and dust from the air. They remove air pollution by lowering air temperature, through transpiration, and by retaining particulates.
Rebuild the facility for water storage
Trees reduce runoff by breaking rainfall thus allowing the water to flow down the trunk and into the earth below the tree. Hence it refills underground aquifers, cools and cleanses water, slows storm runoff, and sustains watershed stability and resilience.
Provide habitat for wildlife
Trees help restore endangered species from extinction by giving them their natural habitat back again.
Combat climate change
Trees have a major impact on the global carbon cycle.
They help to decrease the overall amount of carbon dioxide that is found in the atmosphere. Through the process of photosynthesis, they help to "filter out" the carbon pollution in the air by absorbing carbon dioxide from the air and releasing oxygen back into the air.

Economic perspectives

Generate new, low-income jobs
One of the key aspects is to create some modest income for local people thus reducing expenditure and improving their quality of life.
  • Earning a little money is enabled by the harvest of fruit from the newly-mature trees which can either be retained to improve the nutritional balance of the local diet or, more profitably, by selling the harvest on the open market.
  • A further objective is to preserve the fruit as jam or to dry the fruit to sell to nearby hotels and stores.
  • At present farmers are getting job opportunities when the soil conservation work on-site is being performed or when pits are being prepared.
Produce organic compost
Another way is to teach women how to produce compost. By doing this they are not forced to buy chemical fertilizer anymore. Furthermore they can sell compost surpluses or exchange them for fruits or other products.

Seed distribution
Finally self-cultivated seeds from the nursery will be distributed among local people to grow their own (fruit)trees, thus making them more independent from commercial products.
Achieved economic value
More than 300 people have been involved in the project so far. Some of them have even been able to generate a small income. In one year, the project has achieved an overall economic value of 70,000 Birr (= ca. € 3,000).

Building awareness

Explain to people why reforestation matters
It is important to let people generally know about this issue.
Many people are not aware of the causes and environmental consequences of deforestation (see background> ). This is why one of the main objectives of the project is to let people know about the vital role of forests in their region.
Members of Agro-plantation-site do this by:
  • teaching in schools,
  • organizing workshops for farmers,
  • giving speeches during community events
  • inviting students to the nursery on-site to share practical experiences.
Get farmers involved
  • It is crucial to get local people on board for the project itself as their support is vital to run the reforestation in a successful way.
  • Farmers must be given some incentives to support the project.
    For instance there was a conflict because some farmers cattle were grazing on the Agro-Plantation land just as they used to do before the tree nursery was built. In this case the farmers were offered supplies of hay as an incentive to encourage them to reroute their cattle to another pasture.
Get local authorities involved
Another major success factor is to get the official support of local authorities. This has already been achieved. The town administration does not only patronize the project but provides land for the nursery and facilitates the water supply.
One of the most important issues is to share the practical experience of how to plant and grow trees in a proper and ecologically sustainable way. That is why members of Agro-Plantation-Site are constantly giving trainig to either community members or students. Of course the organization is also providing training for their own members to enable them to further improve their own qualifications..
Role model
Agro-Plantation-Site acts as a kind of role model for other initiatives. By demonstrating clearly the advantages of reforestation in combination with useful water systems other people should be encouraged to copy this project.