Green World Ethiopia
Indigenous Seed Harvesting and Reforestaion.
These trees increase soil fertility, prevent erosion, have leaves that feed livestock, and turn unproductive land into agricultural fields. Best of all, honeybees forage the trees’ flowers, pollinating wild plants and coffee crops, and increasing yields in village honey cooperatives. (Gravillia is also good for timber.)
MELCA is a principal GWC partner in Ethiopia. It grew out of the African Biodiversity Network (ABN) in 2004, led by a group of environmental practitioners and lawyers. The organization arose out of their shared concern about the destruction of fragile forests, watershed ecosystems, and biodiversity (Ethiopia is is one of the 12 so-called Vavilov centers for crop genetics and biodiversity on the planet). It works by empowering local communities, elders, schools and youth in the Sheka Forest region in southeast Ethiopia, the Bale Mountains National Park, and Menagesha Suba forest near to Addis Ababa. The word melca means ‘ford’ in the Amharic and Oromo languages. It is a crossing point on a river, and is used symbolically to indicate the need to take people to a greater understanding and appreciation of traditional ecological knowledge along with the most up-to-date scientific data.
The organization is a regional hub of the African Biodiversity Network, and is influential in Ethiopia and neighboring countries. It is anticipated MELCA will assist the GWC to expand throughout the region.
MELCA works for the revival and enhancement of traditional ecological knowledge and protections of the rights of indigenous Ethiopian communities. This involves research on policies, legislation, and initiatives that affect culture and ecology; advocacy and campaigning on community rights and the safeguarding of traditional ecological knowledge; capacity building and in-depth training through experiential learning to educate youth and other change agents; and raising public awareness on culture, biodiversity and development issues, including public cultural celebrations.
In the Sheka Forest , MELCA works with the Sheko people, who have a millennia-old system of sustainable wild honey and coffee gathering. The people are the natural stewards of this territory, which MELCA has mapped using GPS to document sacred sites, traditional agroforestry areas, and wildlife habitat. It also runs programs in which elders take young people on forest retreats and teach them ancient knowledge. The young people then work within their schools to further cultural and ecological goals, including growing seedlings and distributing them to villages (the program is now in 30 schools in Southern Ethiopia).