Ethiopia has been practicing population resettlement programmes since 1960s mainly as a response to extreme land degradation in the highlands. The programmes were carried out mainly in the lowlands of western, southwestern and southern Ethiopia. Accordingly, 12,305 households (56,715 people) from Eastern and Western Hararghe zones were formally resettled in Chamen-Didhessa forest in Chewaka district. The major aim of this study was to assess the impacts of resettlement on the forest cover between 2004 and 2016. Data about the size of farmland held by the respondents and other issues related to the forest were randomly collected from 360 households from four sites through semi-structured questionnaires. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics. Of the 54,200 ha of the natural forest, 38,906 ha (72%) was cleared by the government during the preparation for the resettlement programme in 2004. About 58% of the remaining forest land was deforested by the resettlers between 2004 and 2016. The average of farmland possessed by each household was 1.74 ha at the beginning of settlement in 2004 and it increased to 2.1 ha in 2016. The major causes for the forest cover reduction after the settlement were clearing of forest for farmland expansion, forest burning, cutting of trees for firewood, charcoal production and construction wood and logging. The human population increased from 12,305 households (56,715 people) in 2004 to 19,415 households (71,809 people) in 2016. The government has to take measure to rehabilitate the forest and conserve the remaining one.
Key words: Chewaka district, deforestation, forest, forest resource, population pressure, resettlement.
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