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