Me, Merlin Ferber, I have been in Ethiopia for 4 months supported by the Arboneth project. I was looking into the multidimensional topic of church forests. Those ancient sanctuaries of endemic flora and fauna mainly became a subject of my interest from a geo-spatial framework and a political ecology perspective. Employing geographic information systems (GIS) to create and analyzing remote sensing satellite data, helped to answer important questions about the spatial and ecological proportions of those forests. While questions of land and access rights where discussed and assessed together with the communities from around those forests.

Participatory mapping in action: together with a resident of the local community we figure out the extend of the church forest in Tara Gedam (Amhara Region)

Me hiking through the mountainsides of the church forest Mahiberu Bokeru, collecting GPS-Data (Tigray Region)

The result of Participatory mapping with the aim to figure out the extend of the church forest in Tara Gedam (Amhara Region).


All in all, it is rewarding to join with ARBONETH into the highly dynamic and fascinating world of development co-operation. To experience on the one hand all the aspirations and possibilities and on the other the difficulties and challenges, opens for me a huge field for my interests in GIS and political ecology: spacial analysis to uncover the state and changes around forests are needed just as much as sustainable solutions for conflicting land rights and resource utilization. Therefore it remains exiting to see how ARBONETH will achieve its goals to make the forests of Ethiopia grow again, while providing at the same time community driven livelihood improvements.