Agro-Ecological Zones at the Source of the Blue Nile River


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AIZON Arboretum Project

Agro Ecological Zones

Bezawit Royal Palace Forest Protection and forested Corridor along the Blue Nile River

Protection of the “Yebelsa” Spring Water

Yebelsa Public Library Project

Ancient Books of Lake Tana Region

Promoting and testing low Cost Housing Techniques

Major Constraints in Developing AIZON Projects in Ethiopia

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Agro-Ecological Zones at the Source of the Blue Nile River

From an Agro-Ecological Zone perspective, the position of the Ethiopian Highlands is unique in the region and offers wide opportunities. The region includes lowland riverine valleys and plains as well as agriculturally productive plateaus with well-established mixed farming systems. The agro-ecological belt maps of Ethiopia shows that most of Bahar Dar area is part of the Dega Weyna belt. However, along the Blue Nile River and its affluent valleys lies the warmer Kolla belt. In the East, such as in the environs of Mont Guna, farmers also cultivate the colder Dega and High Dega belts. In terms of precipitation, the situation in Bahar Dar region also differs from place to place; while the Highlands receive sufficient rainfall for rain-fed cultivation, the Nile valley is dryer and requires irrigation to support production. In the Western slopes of the Highlands bamboo forests benefit from a higher level of rainfall. This diversity of Agro-ecological zones in the vicinity of Bahar Dar city provides opportunities for various crops and horticultural plants to find suitable growing environments.

The site for the Arboretum in Bahar Dar has the following features:
The site is at the border of two main agro-ecological regions; namely the Weyna Dega of the plateau and the Kolla belt in the Blue Nile River Valley. Therefore, from its strategic location, horticultural plants can be tested on the arboretum site, reproducing the conditions of irrigated systems that prevail along the irrigated valleys of the Kolla region and rain-fed farming conditions of the Weyna Dega belt.
Its location by the Blue Nile River provides opportunities not only for irrigation but also to insure the life of new plants in the event of failed rainfall in the first year of plantation.
Its elevated position on the top of a hill allows the planting of material which simulate the rain-fed conditions of the Weyna Dega belt.
The degraded terrain of the arboretum is a challenge but offers opportunities to test and demonstrate the benefit of soil and environmental protection measures.
The features of the terrain offer opportunities to demonstrate water micro-catchments for farm ponds adapted to farm level agro-forestry activities.
The land located by the Blue Nile offers good possibilities (soil and water availability) for the establishment of a nursery for the Arboretum.
Relevant experience exists in the area as along the Blue Nile River a royal orchard was successfully established in the past by Emperor Haile Selassie only a few kilometers from the southern part of AIZON arboretum. Unfortunately hardly any trees from that orchard have survived as they have been cut away for wood.
The location of the site is accessible from Bahar Dar city and is therefore adequate for visitors and demonstration days.
However, the degraded nature of the land at the site is a challenge for the establishment of some fruit species demanding deep and fertile soil.

View of the Blue Nile River and AIZON Arboretum site at the onset of the project implementation. Bahar Dar, March 2005

Aerial view of AIZON Arboretum site at the onset of the project implementation. Bahar Dar, March 2005

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