Forest resources are often well managed by local communities either through their own initiatives using traditional institutions or being organized with assistances from development actors such as non-governmental organization (NGOs) and governmental organizations (GOs). The study was aimed to assess forest management practices, and the contribution of forest resource for communities’ livelihoods of Arero forest of Oromia Regional State. Secondary and primary data was collected from household survey, forest management groups. The socio-economic importance of the forest resources was assessed by interviewing, 85 households randomly selected from three villages. A semi-structured questionnaire was used for the survey. To assess forest management practices, group discussion was used with selected key informants and local administrators. For socioeconomic survey households (HHs) were used. SPSS software was used for data analyses. Results showed that informal institutions of the Oromo ‘Gadaa’ systems and formal institutions like SOS Sahel Ethiopia were collaborated and played to manage the Arero forest in the region. Furthermore, the forest users’ (local communities) collect various forest based products such as honey, wild fruit and medicinal plants. The annual income derived from direct forest related activities constituted 16.5% of the total household income. This figure is not including the role that the forest plays in the form of forest grazing. The contribution from the forest ranks third in terms of relative importance in household income generation after livestock and wage labor. Forest management activities like fire protection, control expansion of settlement, controlled forest grazing and enrichment planting was practiced to improve forest conditions by traditional forest management communities in collaboration with other development institutions. The observation of the population of some dominant plant species experiences poor regeneration. This also implies that current management practices are not satisfactory to sustain the forest conditions. Unless improved management interventions are made, the sustainability of the contribution to livelihoods income from the forest will be in question in the future.
Key words: Arero, Borana, community, ‘Gadaa’ system institution, forest, livelihood, management.
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