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Natural Resource Management in Ethiopia

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Natural Resource Management in Ethiopia
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  1 Natural Resource Management in Ethiopia  2 1.   Introduction Land has different functions. Different people may prefer different functions and consider the role of land differently. These different functions include (FAO/UNEP 1999):    Object of agricultural and industrial use on which food, fiber, fuel and other biotic materials can be  produced and fabrics and commercial centres be constructed (production factor);    Provides space for settlements, social and technical infrastructure and recreation;    Buffer or filter for chemical pollutants and a source and a sink for greenhouse gases;    Storehouse of minerals and raw materials for human use;    Provides surface and ground water;    Provides habitats for plants, animals and micro-organisms;    Basis for livelihood and security (a place to stay);    Homeland for families/households/clans and a base of social identity;    Place of ancestry and has a spiritual/religious significance;    Storage of evidence from the historical or pre-historical record (fossils, evidence of past climate, archaeological remains, etc.);    Seen as a prerequisite to realize individual freedom;    Object of investment and speculation;    Object to be taxed; Land use planning is the perfect instrument to balance among different land uses ensuring the protection and rehabilitation of environmental resources. All human activities need a place to be realized. While the demand for land increases, supply is fixed. Land, therefore, becomes increasingly scarce. This scarce resource is increasingly affected by the competition of mutually exclusive uses. Fertile land in rural areas  becomes scarcer due to population growth, pollution, erosion and desertification, effects of climate change, urbanization etc. On the remaining land, local, national and international users with different socioeconomic status and power compete to achieve food security, economic growth, energy supply, nature conversation and other objectives. Land use planning can help to find a balance among these competing and sometimes contradictory uses. Land-use planning is the systematic assessment of land and water potential, alternatives for land use and economic and social conditions in order to select and adopt the best land-use options. Its purpose is to select and put into practice those land uses that will best meet the needs of the people while safeguarding resources for the future (FAO,1996). Land use planning   is a public policy exercise that designates and regulates the use of land in order to improve a community’s physical, economic, and social efficiency and well -being. By considering socioeconomic trends as well as physical and geographical features (such as topography and ecology),  planning helps identify the preferred land uses that will support local   development goals. The final outcome is allocation and zoning of land for specific uses, regulation of the intensity of use, and formulation of legal and administrative instruments that support the plan.(World Bank,2010) 2.   LAND USE PLANNING AND NATURAL RESOURCE MANAGEMENT The purpose of land use Plan is to promote and improve the conservation and sustainable use of the natural resources of the country to meet local and national needs through protecting, managing and restoring the resource for the benefit of present and future generations. Natural resource protection is a component of several statewide planning goals. Healthy and functioning natural processes and habitats are necessary to support human populations; therefore, their protection is in the public interest and becomes a function of government. The incorporation of natural resources in the land use program results in local governments making the decisions and implementing policies regarding resource planning. Planning helps local  3 communities to protect and enhance the economic, recreational, educational, and aesthetic values of their natural resources, and to preserve those values for future generations. It also reduces uncertainty about future development and allows cities to more accurately inventory buildable lands and direct urban development (Julie Baxter,2004). Land use plans ensure that the public lands are managed in accordance with the principles of multiple use and sustained yield. the public lands must be managed in a manner that protects the quality of scientific, scenic, historical, ecological, environmental, air and atmospheric, water resource, and archaeological values; that, where appropriate, will preserve and protect certain public lands in their natural condition; that will provide food and habitat for fish and wildlife and domestic animals; that will provide for outdoor recreation and human occupancy and use; and that recognizes the  Nation’s need for domestic sources of minerals, food, timber, and fiber from the public lands by encouraging collaboration and public  participation throughout the planning process.   3.   Merits of land planning 3.1.   For Adaptation: Adaptation consists of assessing vulnerabilities and impacts related to climate change, identifying and  prioritizing adaptation options, often from a cross-sectoral perspective, and governing the implementation of adaptation. Impacts and adaptation needs are very different from location to location; therefore, land use  planning has an important role to play in adaptation to climate change. 3.2.   For Mitigation: Land use planning can be used to reduce deforestation and forest degradation by limiting agricultural expansion, conversion of forests to pasturelands, infrastructure development, destructive logging, fires etc. Land use planning can also be used to identify areas for carbon sequestration (as an environmental service for which farmers could receive a payment), e.g. through afforestation or for the introduction of agroforestry. 3.3.   For Conflict Prevention and Resolution: Land use planning is the key instrument in reconciling competing interests in land between individuals as well as groups, between different villages and distinct users as well as  between traditional rights’ holders and state authorities or private companies etc. A participatory comprehensive land use planning which anticipates and guides future land use while respecting existing uses represents an effective tool for  preventing and solving land conflicts. 3.4.   Tool for Responsible Land Governance Responsible land governance means that decision-making over access to and use of land as well as its enforcement and the reconciliation of conflicting interests is done in a fair and transparent way, allowing everybody to equitably participate and to receive an adequate share while at the same time an economically, socially and environmentally sustainable land development is guaranteed (FAO,2007). Land use planning can help to i dentify local peoples’ use and possession rights over land and prepare for their formal recognition (legalization) and it can also help to avoid that state concessions overlap with local  peoples’ farmlands, pastures, community forests etc.    4 3.5.   Avoid land grabbing The term “land grabbing” is explicitly used for those cases where the local population is  losing access to land. While these investments can bring employment, infrastructure and modern technologies, they can also contribute to landlessness, local food insecurity, environmental damages, rural-urban migration etc. Legally binding local land use plans that have been prepared in a participatory manner as well as officially recognized local agreements on the use of land can increase the chances of the local population of being safe from “land grabbing”,  4.   LAND USE PLANNING IN THE CASE OF ETHIOPIA   Ethiopia’s complex topography is one of the major factors for the existence of a variety of   environmental features. Despite the complexity of the topography it has generally become a common practice to classify the country into lowland areas (< 1500 meters amsl) and highland areas (>1500 meters amsl). The heterogeneity of the land resource endowments has resulted in a number of diverse agroecological conditions. Issues that warrant land use, management and conservation planning and strategy for poor countries like Ethiopia are many of which increase in population, intensification of agricultural land, use of marginal lands, land degradation, encroachment of forest areas are the main ones. Above all though, lack of effective administrative and legislative framework for land use, management and conservation and institutional constraints are the critical ones. Land management and conservation decisions in Ethiopia are diverse and complex due to the varying agro-climate and agro-economics in the region. Due to this reason, farmers respond to this diversity by developing a large number of different land use strategies.Whereas government organizations use standardized programmes with uniform procedures for planning and implementation (Irwin, 1997). There are no visible land resources planning procedures at local levels of governance and those that are in place are not sufficient to function properly. Local organizations responsible for this do not yet posses the skills and capability to develop such plans and centrally organized sectoral agencies still dominate this 'bottom-up' planning process, one way or another. However, it is accepted that the experience and local knowledge of the land users and local technical staff should be used to mobilize to identify development priorities and to draw up and implement plans. Land is under public ownership in Ethiopia. This policy and the attendant land administration practices have drawn impassioned debates over the years, to the extent of holding it responsible for all failures in the overall socio-economic development of urban centers. Central governments have a key role in defining land related policies whilst most land management related operations take place at the municipal level. This has special significance in the case of Ethiopia which has a unique land management related experience and where the current Federal Constitution provides for the public ownership of both rural and urban lands and the management of urban land by municipal administrations, including Addis Ababa. Land use planning activities have been undertaken by different government agencies at national and regional level for site specific purposes. Master land use plans were prepared at national level during the  previous government; but these have not been translated into detailed plans at woreda and farm level; were not implemented; and now they have become inapplicable. The federal government has issued various policies and strategies to deal with problems of land degradation. However several problems are observed in this area.  5    The policies and strategies are too general and do not give adequate direction to those who draft  policy implementing instruments.    Lack of evidence or research to support the policies.    Even when there are laws that advance the development objectives of the policies, there are no institutions or capable institutions that implement them.    Policy implementation is highly compartmentalized and there is little cooperation and coordination among ministries. The federal government has recognized that tenure security of farmers and a good land administration and land use as necessary elements to deal with land degradation and increase agricultural productivity. It has enacted several laws on environmental (impact assessment, pollution, etc.); land administration and use; forest conservation, development, and utilization; wildlife conservation; etc. But the policies on land degradation and environmental protection are fragmented; and too general to be translated into enforceable laws and regulations in a manner that address the issues. Furthermore, most of these policies and strategies are crafted without conducting impact assessment procedures and there is no evidence showing that monitoring and evaluation is conducted to ensure implementation of the policies and laws .(  Ethiopian Civil Society Network on Climate Change (ECSNCC), 2011). Conclusion   At the core of land use planning is the joint balancing of competing land uses by all stakeholders and the  joint identification of those uses for which the highest consensus can be achieved ideally for the purpose of sustainability. This makes land use planning a central prerequisite for any (spatial) development that aims at social, ecological and economic sustainability. Land use planning can contribute to achieving important development goals such as food security, mitigating and adapting to climate change, protecting  biodiversity, initiating economic growth, protecting people from natural disasters or initiating development in a drugs environment.   A good comprehensive plan considers all planning elements and how they are related. Natural resources provide the foundation upon which communities are created and upon which all our lives depend. Survey results consistently show that people value natural resources and consider them an important part of community planning. In addition, protecting the health of our natural resources is an important part of maintaining a vital local, regional, and statewide economy. A comprehensive plan that carefully considers and integrates natural resources along with all other  planning elements can provide a community with a blueprint for its preferred future.
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