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The potential of forests and trees in addressing climate change: Policy recommendations for the Ethiopian context


Tomalka,  Julia
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;

Bereswill,  Sara
External Organizations;


Murken,  Lisa
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;


Thonicke,  Kirsten
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;


Gornott,  Christoph
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;

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Tomalka, J., Bereswill, S., Murken, L., Thonicke, K., Gornott, C. (2024): The potential of forests and trees in addressing climate change: Policy recommendations for the Ethiopian context, Potsdam : Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, 10 p.

Cite as: https://publications.pik-potsdam.de/pubman/item/item_29590
Ethiopia is highly vulnerable to climate change, the impacts of which can be felt across different sectors. In particular forests are threatened by rising temperatures, shifting precipitation patterns and extreme weather events. Human activities like deforestation and land-use change further exacerbate climate impacts, increasing the risk of wildfires and reducing the potential of forests for carbon sequestration. However, forests and trees are of major importance for ecosystems and local communities, providing plant and animal habitat, protection against soil erosion, provision of sufficient water resources, wood for fuel and construction, and various non-timber products. In addition, climate change is increasingly impacting water resources through prolonged and more frequent droughts, leading to water scarcity, crop failures and food insecurity for millions of people in Ethiopia. At the same time, erratic and heavy precipitation events lead to increased instances of flooding and soil erosion, further compromising water availability and quality. In a similar way, soils are impacted by climate change, with temperature increases and shifting precipitation patterns leading to soil degradation and reduced soil fertility, making it harder for smallholder farmers to pursue agriculture as a livelihood. Forests and trees are particularly threatened by climate change. At the same time, they are key in both climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts. Against this background, this policy brief discusses the potential of forests and trees in addressing climate change, specifically looking at natural forest regeneration as a mitigation strategy and at agroforestry as an adaptation strategy, highlighting the unique potential of forests and trees to achieve a dual benefit for climate action. Although these strategies are considered in greater detail, it should be noted that there is no single best mitigation or adaptation strategy, but rather different mutually complementing strategies. Mitigation describes efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as well as measures to enhance greenhouse gas sinks. Forest and tree-based mitigation options can be classified as efforts to maintain the remaining forest cover (reduce deforestation and degradation), and measures to increase forest cover (natural regeneration and reforestation) (Nabuurs et al., 2007). We briefly describe each strategy but focus on natural regeneration later on.