The love for the forest connects us – from Paraguay to Ethiopia

Enjoying the time with the kids.

I am Isabel from Paraguay, I came to study in Germany, and I ended up doing my fieldwork in Ethiopia.  For us who love forestry the world is small, we are all connected somehow.

What is your MSc thesis research about?

My research is about the agroforestry system, and the role of trees in farms. Evaluation of the farms that applied agroforestry practices in the Sidama Zone, Southern Region of Ethiopia.

Measuring Cordia Africana.

Why did you choose this topic and research area?

When I started my master degree, I had to choose between the subjects of native forests and conservation or forest plantation and agroforestry. I chose forest plantations, not because I do not like conservation, but because I think forest plantations are alternatives way to conserve native forest, and at the same time planting crops and trees for their self-consumption, as consequences people can increases their income and reduce the use of the native forest.

When I decided the topic of my research I was very lucky that Prof. Kapp agreed to be my adviser as he is an expert on agroforestry. We settled on Ethiopia after some meetings, especially because of the opportunity of been part of the WoodCluster project

Which challenges but also good experiences did you encounter during your fieldwork?

The language was one of the biggest difficulties, Amharic is the official language of Ethiopia, but there are more than 70 different languages in the country. The people I interviewed for my study group spoke ​​ Sidaama.

After an interview.

Finding a translator to work with was another difficulty, my Co-advisor Dr. Zebene from the Wondo Genet College of Forestry and Natural Resources in Ethiopia, helped a lot to find the right person. I also had the help of a guide – a local farmer, who contacted the households and settled up the interviews ahead of time and helped us get to the destinations.

Ethiopia is a country with a culture very different from mine, (but in someway a lot reminded me of Latin-America). Especially the kindness and friendliness of the people in the country side, for example an older lady hugged me with great affection and gave me her blessing – that was a very unique experienced.

With interviewees in the village.

I am grateful that Shibire Bekele, my classmate was there to help me, she made my stay in her beautiful country very pleasant. With her help I was able to collect all the data I needed in time and come back to Germany with beautiful memories.

Galfato, the translator knew the area of study, and had experience collecting data in the same area, so we were always welcomed because the farmer we visited trusted him. The people I interviewed were very nice to me and they were very happy when I said some words in their language, as thanks “Galantemo”.

What are your personal conclusions and things to remember?

When I was collecting data for my research I learned a lot about the environmental and forest issues of the country side of Ethiopia, but I also learned about the life style and values of the Ethiopian and their culture, I learned to enjoy and share their food.

Things to remember:

I arrived in Ethiopia during the “fasting”, the majority of Ethiopian are Orthodox. Coming from Paraguay, a meat lover country, it was challenging to eat as a vegetarian for three weeks,nevertheless an interesting experience. I also spent my 30ths birthday in Ethiopia and my friends surprised me with a party that felt very special to me.

The people that I met in Ethiopia were very friendly and kind. I would like to thank DAAD, the WoodCluster project, my supervisor Prof. Dr. Gerald Kapp, my Co-Supervisor Prof. Dr. Zebene Asfaw Nigussie for all their help. The data collection for my research was only possible through their support. Thank you very much.

I also like to thank my boyfriend, family and friends who supported me from the distance, with their demonstration of love that encouraged and empowered me to achieve my goals while in the field

Ameseginalew (Thank you)

Ysabel Perdomo

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