Boswellia papyrifera pre-dominated woodlands of Ethiopia: Present roles and threats
Authors: Tatek Dejene, Omarsherif Mohamed and Haile Adamu
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The Boswellia pre-dominated woodland, belonging to the Combretum–Terminalia deciduous woodlands of the dry forests of Ethiopia, forms the largest vegetation cover and is widespread in the northern and north-western lowland part of the country. This paper has tried to review and discuss the current contribution of the Boswellia dominated woodlands and its main threats which contributed for its degradation based on different empirical studies. From the review it is understood that the Boswellia pre-dominated woodland represents important natural resources on which development could be based since it offer diverse products of commerce such as incense, wood and honey, and support to other economic activities such as fodder for livestock and soil conservation for crop farming. However, the annually cash income generated by households from the Boswellia woodland is only 1089.55 ETB, which is 18.32 fold less than that of the income from the agriculture. The low cash flow is shown to be due to policy restrictions on the engagement of the local people in producing and marketing frankincense, a principal product from the woodland. Such low cash contribution by the woodland motivated the local people to continuously clear and convert the woodland in to agricultural land. In lined with this, the structure of some of the important species in the woodland showed a hump shaped curve distribution, suggesting regeneration is severely lacking and the population is under serious threat in the long term. Therefore, the main conclusion of this study is that the Boswellia woodland, although worthy of sustainable management and utilization even on the basis of economic criteria, is continuing to suffer conversion to other land uses which offer benefits in the short term and in which farmers have more confidence in terms of economic benefits and ownership rights of the land. Therefore, to maximize the actual value of the Boswellia pre-dominated woodland, policies and institutions that govern access to and use of forest resources and their management need to be revised in such a way that the locals will have the legal right and the confidence to own or co-own the forest resources in their vicinity, and will continue to manage and utilize it.