‘If the forest disappears, no one can live here... the most important thing is to protect the forest’
- Abebaw Hassen
So said Abebaw Hassen, farmer and member of his local Forest Management Group (FMG). But it was not always like this. When he came to the area in 1996 “the forest was suffering an invasion. Farmers were stealing it and clearing the land.” Since then, with the support of the WCC-PFM project, responsibility for managing and protecting the forest lies with the local FMG. Abebaw says “The forest [now] belongs to the community... It is after that happened, after the community took ownership that they gained the awareness.... After the handing over, the forest is in much better condition than before. It is being monitored. Villages organize security patrols every fortnight”.
The community is working hard to protect the wild coffee, ensuring wild coffee seedlings are left to sprout and canopy trees given space to grow and provide shade for the coffee. Abebaw puts this change down to raised awareness amongst farmers of the need to protect the forest and wild coffee: “inside the forest there are some locations that are open, exposed. In those places, because of the awareness that has been raised, you find that the farmers have planted different types of trees, and they are growing now, indigenous trees that will grow large... it is very good”.