Journal of
Ecology and The Natural Environment

  • Abbreviation: J. Ecol. Nat. Environ.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2006-9847
  • DOI: 10.5897/JENE
  • Start Year: 2009
  • Published Articles: 385

Full Length Research Paper

Long-term changes in soil-based ecological services at three sites in Ethiopia

Abebe Shiferaw1,2*, Hans Hurni3 and Gete Zeleke4
1International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), Ethiopia, 2Ethiopian Agricultural  Transformation Agency (ATA), Ethiopia. 3Centre for Development and Environment (CDE), National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) North-South Programme, University of Bern, Switzerland. 4Water and Land Resource Centre, North-South Programme, University of Bern, Switzerland.  
Email: [email protected]

  •  Accepted: 18 July 2013
  •  Published: 31 August 2013


Ethiopia faces land degradation as one of its major environmental problems. In response to the degradation, massive land rehabilitation and conservation activities have been undertaken since the mid-1970s. In spite of these efforts, the impacts of long-term land management have not been examined from soil-based ecological services perspective. This study assesses soil-based ecological services over the past 30 years at three sites (Gununo, Anjeni and Maybar) in the Ethiopian Highlands. The study used key informants, household questionnaires, group discussions, rankings and indicator-based assessments. Ecosystem assessment frameworks and past research documents were also reviewed. In all three sites, since the 1980s, despite some reduction in tree plant bio-diversity, soil-based ecological services have increased, while disservices decreased. Assessment showed increased services and reduced disserves more in the better-managed watersheds than in the less-managed watersheds. Increased soil-based ecosystem services were reflected in increased crop yield, plant cover, conserved area and reduced flood risk, vulnerability to drought and eroded area in all three sites. The descending rank order in achieving benefits from long-term land management is: Gununo > Maybar > Anjeni. The study recommends further assessment at larger scales and with a focus on soil nutrients in the areas.


Key words: Assessment, ecological service, soil, land management, Ethiopia