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Khat expansion and forest decline in Wondo Genet, Ethiopia
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Physical Geography and Quaternary Geology.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Human Geography.
2008 (English)In: Geografiska Annaler. Series B, Human Geography, ISSN 0435-3684, E-ISSN 1468-0467, Vol. 90, no 2, 187-203 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This study analyses the expansion of khat productionin relation to forest decline in the Wondo Genet area in southcentralEthiopia. By assessing spatial variables and social factors,and using remote sensing and social survey techniques, the extentto which this new cash crop contributes to deforestation is explored.The results indicate that khat has expanded rapidly in terms ofland area used for its production at forest frontiers, in isolated forestpatches and within farmland since the mid-1980s. This ismainly due to high economic advantage, high market demand andfavourable means of transport as well as the existence of a cohesivetrade network. Moreover, the properties of the crop also facilitateexpansion. The increased production of khat appears to bea result of conscious choice and rational decisions made by malefarmers, regardless of religious, cultural and policy discouragementand despite khat’s possible negative impact on livelihood security.Although it is found that khat expansion does not explain forestdecline in the study area per se, it plays an important role in enhancingmultifaceted interaction between people and forest. Theexpansion influences forest decline directly by conversion, andindirectly through increased human activity in proximity to forests.The conversion has resulted in a reduction of forest area, resilienceand regeneration. Khat production has changed humansettlement patterns, suppressed production of other crops and influencedwomen’s income negatively. These aspects increase thedemand for wood and it renders the forest an important source ofsupplementary incomes. Khat production may create tension, resultingfrom a conflict in interest between sustaining the nativeforests, with subsequent environmental benefits for the larger socialgroup, and the economically driven choice land use made bykhat farmers.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2008. Vol. 90, no 2, 187-203 p.
Keyword [en]
khat, Ethiopia, Wondo Genet, deforestation, cash crop, human–environment interaction.
National Category
Earth and Related Environmental Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-24296DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-0467.2008.00286.xISI: 000256492800007OAI: diva2:197175
Part of urn:nbn:se:su:diva-6840Available from: 2007-05-24 Created: 2007-05-03 Last updated: 2012-03-27Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Forest decline in South Central Ethiopia: Extent, history and process
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Forest decline in South Central Ethiopia: Extent, history and process
2007 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This study presents the extent, history and process of forest decline in Awassa watershed, south central Ethiopia. By combining different data sources such as satellite images, social surveys and historical documents, forest decline is described quantitatively and qualitatively and the main causes behind this process are identified. Forest decline in the study area is interpreted as the result of a combination of socio-political changes, economic activities, population growth, cultural patterns and agricultural developments while local conflicts over resources also play an important role. The findings of this study reveal forest decline to be a continuous process associated with spatial fragmentation and location specific losses. The recent increase in production of the cash crop khat has made a significant impact on the forest through several mechanisms: it relocates the agricultural/forest frontier; it causes intrusion and permanent settlement within forests; and fragments remaining forest. The analysis of human-spatial boundaries indicates unsystematic management of the natural forests by several administrative units. As a result, multiple claims have been made on the forests simultaneously as weak control and accountability conditions have negatively affected forest management. The main conclusions are as follows: Forest decline in the study area has a long history, spanning at least one century. The causes are identifiable as both temporally spaced individual events as well as chains of events. These interact with each other at different levels and scales as well as with the geographical properties of the study area. Land users’ rationale in weighing the advantages between keeping and replacing the forest is affected by economic gain, market conditions and transport facilities. Multiple claims to the forest land and weak accountability contribute to inefficient management, which accelerates forest decline.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Institutionen för naturgeografi och kvartärgeologi, 2007. 90 p.
Dissertations from the Department of Physical Geography and Quaternary Geology, ISSN 1653-7211 ; 8
Forest decline, people-forest interaction, boundaries, khat expansion, remote sensing, social survey, south central Ethiopia, Awassa watershed, Wondo Genet
National Category
Physical Geography
Research subject
Physical Geography
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-6840 (URN)978-91-7155-454-3 (ISBN)
Public defence
2007-06-14, Ahlmansalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 8, Stockholm, 10:00
Available from: 2007-05-24 Created: 2007-05-03Bibliographically approved

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Kinlund, Peter
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