Amidst the challenges, I am still on course to finish my PhD studies


My name is Abich Amsalu. I have been studying PhD in Climate Change and Bio-energy Development since September 2018 at Wondo Genet College of Forestry and Nature Resources, Hawassa University, Ethiopia. To support my studies, I won a research grant from the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) funded by the  Social and Environmental Trade-offs in African Agriculture (SENTINEL) Project for conducting research focusing on the impact of deforestation and forest degradation on the ecosystem services, particularly plant species diversity and carbon stock changes. The information generated in this study is necessary to design biodiversity conservation strategies and national REDD+ schemes in the Combretum-Terminalia woodland ecosystem, west and northwest Ethiopia. In order to achieve this objective, I have been collecting data   since September 2019 at the three study sites including Homesha district in Benishangul-Gumuz National Regional State (BNRS) and Quara and Metema districts in Amhara National Regional State.

In Ethiopia, ethnic related conflict has been present for a long time, but the issue has received little attention. This conflict has suddenly been rising for three years in many parts of the country including BNRS. Under this condition, ground-based vegetation inventory was carried out at Homesha district in BNRS with support from well-known local people who are influential. Based on this survey, tree species selection was undertaken for measuring aboveground biomass. Unfortunately, we faced several challenges such as conflict between ethnic groups, administration issue for tree harvesting at local levels and eventually the pandemic of COVID-19 (locked down) while we were collecting data in the field. The COVID-19 Pandemic in particular has resulted to the extension of my study period. In addition to these, Ethiopia is under state of emergency, there is a civil war in the northern part of Ethiopia adjacent to my residence and study area and this made my research work challenging.

Field data collection and analysis in the three study sites in the west and northwest Ethiopia

For research entry into study sites, negotiation was made with different administration level officers through paying money to local administration for tree planting purpose and conducting   fieldwork despite the conflict, was a terrible ordeal. One time a serious gun exchange had happened but I escaped by the help of God and army. The remaining data was collected after all things had settled even though we paid unexpected cost to finish the work. My home institution, University of Gondar, paid all the balance of the logistics and field costs.

All the collected data was coded and is available for analysis. Thus, manuscript writing will be done in the first quarter of 2021 after discussion with my advisors. Further, the webinar training of GIS that I took part in and mentorship from RUFORUM will enable me complete the remaining research activities.   

Field data collection and analysis in the three study sites in the west and northwest Ethiopia

For more details, please contact Abich Amsaluvia email:  amsaluabich@gmail.com 

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