Ethiopia Economy

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Ethiopia: The wetlands, Riverine forests, and Halophytic vegetation

The wetlands
The wetlands consist of marshes and swamps of various types and are found only in narrow strips along parts of the lakes, the rivers and the sea.

The main area are along the Baro, Gilo, Awash and Wabi Shebele. The fresh water perhumid swamps are characterized by 2 to 4m high grass and sedge cover.

Above the permanent swamps in districts with the great change in water level are found seasonally flooded temporary marshes.

In the very dry areas salt-tolerant thicket-like marsh vegetation have developed. Along the Red Sea coast sheltered bays are occupied by 2 to 3m high mangrove thickets. The wetlands account for about 0.7% of the total area of Ethiopia.

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Ethiopia: The semi-desert region

The semi-desert region is found at elevations of less than 600m and a mean annual rainfall of less than 250mm.

It accounts for about 6.3% of the total area of the country and is confined mostly to the lower Danakil Plain, the coast, and the easternmost portions of the Ogaden.

This region in general consists of xeromorphic thorny species of shrubs and of acacia which have developed dwarf forms.

The shrubs are in patches and are often less than 1m high. Between the patches are small tufts of hardy grass.

(Source: National Atlas of Ethiopia)

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Ethiopia: The steppe region

This region occupies altitudes from 200 to 1,400m and receives a mean annual rainfall of 125 to 500mm.

It accounts for some 12.6% of the total area of the country. It is characterized by scattered deciduous thorny shrubs and acacia, with small leaves, less than 4m high and usually resin or gum-bearing and aromatic. Between the shrubs the ground is covered with tufts of grass species and other plants.

(Source: National Atlas of Ethiopia)

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Ethiopia: The grasslands region

The grasslands climax region, where the dominant vegetation is various species of grass, is found within the woodlands and savannah environment at lower elevations and in generally drier conditions.

The grasslands region accounts for about 20.4% of the total area of the country. In the southwest and west the region is characterized by 2 to 3m high grass cover often subject to fires during the dry season. In the south and southeast the grasses are often medium of short and are resistant to fires.

(Source: National Atlas of Ethiopia)

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Ethiopia: Woodland and savannah region

This region extends in elevation from as low as 400m to as high as 2,000m with mean annual rainfall varying from as low as 250mm to as high as 1,300mm.

The region accounts for some 20.2% of the total area of the country and consists of three types of woodland and savannah.

These are mixed deciduous woodland and savannah, Juniperus woodland and savannah, and various types of acacia woodland and savannah.

The mixed deciduous woodland is found in the more humid environments with over 900mm mean annual rainfall at lower elevations below 1,200m. It accounts for about 2.8% of the total area of the country.

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Ethiopia: Broadleafed forest region

This forest is found in the most humid parts of the country with mean annual rainfall exceeding 1,300mm and extending in elevation from as low as 600m to as high as 3,400m.

It is the main forest type in the southwestern highlands of Ethiopia and in some parts of central southern and southeastern highlands and covered about 20% of the country.

The region consists of at least four subregions of plant communities. At the lowest level, from about 600 to 1,100m elevation, is the semi-deciduous Baphia forest.

The top storey of this forest consists of various broad-leafs reaching a height of 30 to 40m.

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Ethiopia: Coniferous forest region

This region is dominated by 30 to 40 high Juniperus procera (tid, gatera) and Podocarpus gracilior (zigba, birbirsa) with the second storey consisting mostly of broadleafs. This covers about 14.1% of the country.

The Juniperus forest is best developed at altitudes between 2,300 and 3,100m with mean annual rainfall varying from 500 to 1,100mm.

The forest originally covered about 6.1% of the total area of the country in parts of the northern, central and southern highlands as shown on the map.

The more humid part of the Juniperus forest region is dominated by Hagenia (koso, feto) forest.

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Ethiopia: Afroalpine and sub-afroalpine region

This region mostly consists of tussock grasslands and scrub abve 4,000m altitude in the Afroalpine zone.

At these altitudes the average annual precipitation varies from 800 to 1,600mm. In the afroalpine zone the precipitation often falls in the form of snow or sleet which melts away almost immediately.

The afroalpine and the subafroalpine regions cover about 0.6% of the total area of the country.

The most extensive areas are the Simen highlands of Gonder, southwestern highlands of Welo and the highlands of northeastern Gojam in northern Ethiopia, and Bale and Arsi highlands in southeastern Ethiopia.

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Climatic climax vegetation

The climatic climax record is generalized and this description is summarized from the map and text prepared for the Ministry of Agriculture under the UNDP/FAO assistance to Landuse Planning Project in 1982.

A climatic climax vegetation is the vegetation that would develop in the absence of human influence and reflects the optimal vegetation of an area as determined by environmental conditions only.

It reflects, therefore, the vegetation that should have developed if the destruction of vegetation by man had not taken place in Ethiopia.

This map may be compared to the Landuse and Landcover map which shows the present vegetation.

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Fibre crops

Sisal, Enset, Kenaf and Dum palm are other types of fibre crops grown in the country. Though there is the potential for a large increase in production of these fibre crops development so far made is commercially very insignificant. The combined production meet only 6% of the national demand.

Sisal accounts for 54% of this production and almost all the supply comes from the Awasa State Farm. There is a sisal variety growing wild abundantly in Metekel area (western Gojam) but, owing to gathering problems, it is little exploited.

Enset, a “false banana” plant, is another important source of fibre that provides 42% of the local supply.

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