ARBONETH - Church Forests


As part of a dynamic international and interdisciplinary team of young researchers I was fortunate to participate in the integrated church forest management project since its pilot phase in 2016. During my first stay in Ethiopia I developed a socioeconomic survey for the baseline study of the project and together with our colleagues from EOC-DICAC I conducted several key informant interviews, focus group discussions and participatory mappings with local stakeholders at different target sites to integrate local interests and tacit knowledge into the multidimensional approach of the programme. During my second stay in 2017 I conceptualized a sustainable value chain framework as well as a detailed business plan for one of the church forest tree nurseries which should serve as a future role model for all other nursery sites of the project.


  Lively discussion with local partners in Mek’ele (Tigray)

Participatory mapping within a local community nearby Tara Gedam church forest (Amhara).

Field visit of the church forest tree nursery of Bole Bulbula (Addis Ababa). 


ARBONETH gave me the opportunity to immerse into the highly diverse environmental and sociocultural setting of Ethiopia, to apply and to enrich my scientific capacities, while gaining valuable experience in the world of international development co-operation. Moreover, due to its multidimensional and integrative approach of biodiversity conservation/forest restoration on the one hand and livelihood diversification/capacity building one the other hand, the church forest management project under the umbrella of ARBONETH represents an outstanding example of an effective holistic and sustainable development co-operation strategy.


Simon Strobelt (  


My name is Andrea Wiltschek. For the data collection of my bachelor thesis, which I wrote in the 6th semester of my geography studies at the University of Hamburg, I worked in the Menagesha Ledeta Maryiam Church Forest in Central Ethiopia in July 2017. The Church Forest is located about 30km west of the capital Addis Ababa. 

My bachelor thesis is titled "The natural regeneration of tree species in the Menagesha Ledeta Mariyam Church Forest, Central Ethiopia." The focus of my work was to analyse the natural regeneration of trees with regard to the protection of indigenous species in the Church Forest. I studied twelve examination areas in the forest for their species inventory and calculated the regeneration index of juvenile plants.

The figure shows an aerial view of the Church Forest and the location of the twelve examination areas. Depending on which tree species dominated an area, a certain area type was attributed to it.





this pie chart shows the percentage of trees recorded on all twelve areas (598 individuals)





and this pie chart shows the percentage of seedlings (1,260 individuals) recorded on all twelve areas


The aim of the study was to assess the regeneration status of the Church Forest. I came to the conclusion that the Church Forest has a good rejuvenation, especially of indigenous tree species. 

Tree nurseries are becoming increasingly important to prevent the anthropogenic loss of forests in Ethiopia. The results of my study can be used by the planned nursery at Menagesha Ledeta Mariyam Church Forest. The information on the species inventory of the forest can form the basis for deciding which species should be planted for optimal protection of indigenous tree species.