Drs. Ferehiwot Mequannit
Terrestrial Ecology Unit
Department of Biology
K.L. Ledeganckstraat 35
9000 Gent Belgium
Understanding the interrelations between bird ecology, church forests resilience and agricultural production in the lower elevation of the Eastern part of Lake Tana, Ethiopia
In the Blue Nile basin in NW Ethiopia, land degradation and associated biodiversity loss are threatening the livelihood and fundamentals of the agricultural economy. As stated in the Ethiopia’s Climate-Resilient Green Economy Strategy, the adverse effects of drought and flooding have been identified as important threats to the agricultural sector, which consist of 80% of the country’s economy. Furthermore, climate change may strongly impact the occurrence and severity of droughts and floods in the near future.
Under the overall objective of improving land resilience in the Blue Nile basin to redress the adverse effects of climate variability and climate change, I specifically aim to assess: (i) the ecological value of sacred church forests as safe heavens for avian biodiversity and associated ecosystem services such as pollination, seed dispersal and pest control; and (ii) the ecological importance of connectivity of the landscape matrix in which these forests are embedded. A better understanding of the interrelations between the ecological integrity and resilience of church forests, their associated biodiversity and agricultural production in the surrounding landscape matrix, will hopefully lead to a higher appreciation and better protection of this unique ecosystem.