Smallholder silvopastoral systems in Africa provide multipurpose benefits including animal fodder, soil and water conservation, non-timber products, and services. Northern Ethiopia has historically been affected by recurrent drought, soil erosion, and concomitant poverty and malnutrition. Farmers in northern Ethiopia have, for decades, used Ficus thonningii in smallholder silvopasture. A decade-long study on the uses, characteristics and impacts of a traditional F. thonningii silvopasture and its role in adapting and coping to drought and climate variability revealed that this unique silvopastoral system helps drought-prone communities adapt to drought in many different ways. The foliage improves livestock productivity and can replace commercial concentrates up to 50%. Moreover, while being easy to propagate, drought-tolerant, and multipurpose, the species produces about 500% fodder biomass per ha year-round compared to other mainstream fodder trees and shrubs. The foliage on farmlands improves soil fertility while increasing the water holding capacity of the soil. A steady increase in F. thinning silvopastoral plantations has resulted in the improved ability of local farmers to escape the ills of recurrent drought (climate change) and also resulted in observable changes in environmental resilience, such as the re-emergence of locally extinct wildlife (e.g., the endangered White-billed starling). Ficus thonningii can be propagated to similar drylands for enhancement of local capacity to adapt and cope with climate-related disasters. Results from the study have been synthesized into a protocol for the establishment of Ficus thonningii silvopasture. The application of these protocols has enabled the adoption of Ficus thonningii silvopasture by tens of thousands of farmers in northern Ethiopia


Ficus thonningii, Northern Ethiopia, Silvopasture, Climate change adaptation and mitigation

Mulubrhan Balehegn Gebremikael

Presentation within symposium:

S-21 The socio-ecological dynamics of tropical silvopastoral systems

Ficus thonningii silvopastures for reducing drought related risks disasters in the drylands of northern Ethiopia