Socio-economic importance of forest resources and their conservation measures in Ethiopia: the case of area closure in South Gonder of Ethiopia.
© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019. Publisher’s version of record: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10661-019-7569-y
Area closures that set aside to degraded lands for rehabilitation purposes are a popular forest conservation measure in various parts of the world. However, their use can be controversial because, if poorly designed, they can accelerate the degradation of neighboring unprotected lands and deny local residents' access to important ecosystem services. This paper reports the results of a study on the area closure approach used in south Gonder within the Lake Tana watershed of Ethiopia to stem the rapid decline of vegetation cover that has occurred there over the last four decades. We used a mixed-methods approach that combined data from a household survey, focus group discussions, key informant interviews, and official documents. We found that support for the area closures was high. We also found that area closures have had a mixed effect on access to key ecosystem services while a number of important concerns about the negative impacts to surrounding unprotected forests were also expressed. We conclude that area closures have garnered broad public support within our study region but this support appears to be mostly contingent on management successes within protected forests and does not necessarily capture the unintended negative consequences to surrounding unprotected forests.