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SOIL CONSERVATION AND ECOSYSTEM SERVICES IN THE ETHIOPIAN HIGHLANDS [Abstract ID: 0609-06]
Human pressure on land, high rainfall intensity, and the hilly landscape of the Ethiopian Highlands have led to serious soil erosion and deterioration of land resources. To reverse this erosion and maintain agricultural production, the Ethiopian government and non-governmental organizations have implemented various Soil and Water Conservation (SWC) technologies in different areas of the Ethiopian Highlands for three decades. In the mid-1980s Minchet Catchment was conserved with technical support of the Soil Conservation Research Programme (SCRP), which was established by the Swiss Development and Cooperation Agency and the Ethiopian Ministry of Agriculture. The farmers have maintained these SWCs with some modification. Therefore, this area can show the potential effects of soil conservation on ecosystem services in terms of regulating soil erosion, maintain soil quality, crop and grass production and the social values. In addition to the 30 years SCRP available data in the study area, recent data has been collected through field measurements and social survey. The study result shows that after the implementation of soil conservation technologies, soil erosion reduced substantially. A significant amount of eroded soil and dislocated soil by tillage deposited above the bunds over years developed into terraces. The yield of teff and wheat shows an increasing trend over years. The terraces, which developed over 30 years following construction of fanya juu bunds on cropland results in significant amount of grass biomass, which is used for feed. The social survey shows farmers benefit from maintaining soil conservation technologies including tree plantation and that they are essential for livelihood.