Ethiopia is one of the eight fundamental and independent centers of origin for cultivated plants in the world. However, deforestation is a major concern for Ethiopia as studies suggest loss of forest contributes to soil erosion, loss of nutrients in the soil, loss of animal habitats, and reduction in biodiversity. At the beginning of the 20th century, around 420,000 km2 (or 35%) of Ethiopia’s land was covered by trees, but recent research indicates that forest cover is now approximately 11.9% of the area.
Ethiopia loses an estimated 1,410 km2 of natural forests each year. Between 1990 and 2005 the country lost approximately 21,000 km2 of forests. Current government programs to control deforestation consist of education, promoting reforestation programs, and providing raw materials which are alternatives to timber. In rural areas the government also provides non-timber fuel sources and access to non-forested land to promote agriculture without destroying forest habitat.
Organizations such as SOS and Farm Africa are working with the federal government and local governments to create a system of forest management. Working with a grant of approximately 2.3 million Euros, the Ethiopian government recently began training people on reducing erosion and using proper irrigation techniques that do not contribute to deforestation. This project is assisting more than 80 communities.