My PhD research to tackle trade-offs in woodlot management in North-Western Ethiopia

My name is Solomon Mulu studying PhD in Forestry and Livelihood at the University of Gondar, Ethiopia.I am pleased to share my PhD research journey so far. When the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) announced a call for Doctorial Research Grants in February 2019, I immediately applied for the grant and was successful.  The funding for this grant is provided through the Social and Environmental Trade-offs in African Agriculture (SENTINEL) Project.    

My PhD Research topic is entitled “Woodlot management by smallholder farmers in the Highlands of North-western Ethiopia:  trade-offs and synergies in socio-economic and environmental benefits”. The overall objective of the study is to contribute to our understanding on knowledge, skill and strategy of smallholder farmers to manage woodlots and the impact of woodlot expansion on trade-offs and synergies on selected socio-economic and environmental benefits. The present study helps to understand the impacts, risks, and trade-offs, and synergies in land use management.

Solomon (1st on the Right) during the reconnaissance survey of farmers’ woodlots

 After getting approval of the research proposal from my supervisors and the Department, I was ready to go to field for data collection. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 outbreak in Ethiopia resulted into a lockdown that went on for six (6) consecutive months. This delayed me from accomplishing my fieldwork on time. During the lock down time, I tried to be engaged in literature review and learning statistical soft wares such as SPSS, STATA, and GIS, Remote sensing and attending the online trainings delivered by RUFORUM.

I have since re-started my fieldwork after the Government of Ethiopia lifted lockdown restrictions. I am using both Qualitative and Quantitative research methods for my socio-economic research objectives. I have carried out qualitative data collection using Key Informant Interviews and quantitative data collection through a household survey questionnaire.

I am also conducting land use classificationusing satellite image analysis. Under this approach, I collected waypoints for accuracy assessment, downloaded time series Landsat images and started image analysis. I will further conduct inventory of plantation forest resources as part of my research.  After finishing the above mentioned data collection, I will be preparing manuscripts and articles for publication in International reputable Journals. After publishing articles I will compile my PhD thesis and then disseminate my findings through publications and presenting results in different research conferences.

The SENTINEL Grant has provided me with more opportunities for networking and mentorship. For instance, I attended the Fifteenth RUFORUM Annual General Meeting held on 2-6 December 2019, Cape Coast, Ghana. I have also received mentorship trainings from RUFORUM, which have been relevant for my research work, particularly the qualitative and quantitative research methods; the image analysis and land use classification trainings.

For more details, please contact Mr. Solomon Mulu via email:

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