As part of the 2nd WoodCluster Field School in Ethiopia, the Woodlot inventory group set out to do inventories for Eucalyptus plantations from Chefasine Kebele (village) and to capture the variations in the wood from the different woodlots owned by local farmers. The group comprised of the students Elice (Sokoine University of Agriculture in Tanzania), Nixon (Makerere University in Uganda), Yewbdar, Zelalem (Hawassa University in Ethiopia), and the supervisor Manuel (TU Dresden in Germany).
Inventory at the woodlots
The major aim of the group was to evaluate the performance of woodlots at farms in Chefasine Kebele. We visited three farms of eucalyptus growers under different management and rotations. Woodlots were measured to inform about size and shape. Moreover we consulted the owners to find out the correct tree ages. We also analyzed the different site characteristics that can affect the growth and performance of the Eucalyptus trees. The group concentrated on finding out how the tree patterns growing and see how the wood cluster can guide the farmers of improving their yields.
Sampling techniques and sample size
This study was designed in a purpose survey sampling where farmers with eucalyptus woodlots, agricultural crops and settlements were selected for the study. Simple random sampling was used to identify the farmers with the desirable features for the study. According to the time period (two days) prescribed by Wondo Genet College of Forestry and Natural Resources WGCFNR for data collection during the summer school, we only managed to work on three farms. Every eucalyptus woodlot on the selected farm was visited and assessed for the growth performance. Each woodlot was first measured to know the area and shape to make it easier to generate plots for tree measurements.
Method of data collection
Circular plots were used in two woodlots. The radius of the plots varied according to woodlot sizes. For the third woodlot, we used rectangular plots since the woodlot was a boundary crop planted in proper spacing and lines. The distance left between the sample plots also varied according to the woodlot size but it was kept constant for each specific woodlot. In each plot every tree was measured for diameter at breast height (DBH) and some of the trees (approximately 30 %) were measured for heights. The height measurements were used to extrapolate heights for the other trees of the same diameter class in the respective sample plots. For DBH measurements Vanier calipers were used, all tree heights were measured under use of a digital hypsometer. After measuring the DBH and heights for the plots, the site characteristics were analyzed to assess their effects to the growth performance of the woodlots.
The outcomes of the Woodlot Inventory
Subsequent to sampling and measurements done in the woodlots, we went on with data analysis of the DBH and tree height values. The data we analyzed provided extended information of the Volume of a single tree, Basal area of a single tree, Basal area of the woodlot and Standing stock of the woodlot. Whereas, the major objective of the collected information was to identify the extent of production and the market prices of each woodlot farm measured in Chefasine Kebele.
Further to the analysis we identified links between various factors observed in the woodlot farms having a connection to extent of production and the marketing price. Among the links are the DBH, Wood volume and Farmers’ market price. We used the DBH information of the wood stems to obtain the wood volume. As we observed that 65% of the wood stems’ in the woodlots had a DBH of 1cm to 3cm per hectare; and the remaining 35% were stems with more than 3 cm to 13cm’s per hectare. It was definite that, most of the harvested stems in the woodlots had a lower wood volume. The identified wood volume was used to determine the woodlots total market price. As a result of the connection, the lower the DBH of the stems the lower wood volume and hence, a lower price of the farmer’s wood products at the market. Above and beyond the idea that, woodlots produced were to be utilized for subsistence and income generation of the households engaged. We also discovered an interesting influence of diameter classes to the production targets. Since we observed in all woodlots a relative higher production consistency of the lower diameter classes ranging from 1cm to 3 cm this resulted in the production target to be firewood. The remaining few higher diameter classes of more than 3cm to more than 13cm were produced to be used as poles for construction.
We worked cordially with the market and value chain analysis group in establishing prices for the woodlots. Which, they established the farm prices of the farmers’ woodlots and we determined the farmers’ woodlot market prices. It came to our attention that, the number of rotation of the Eucalyptus tree species was inversely related to the production of these trees in the woodlots. In sense that the higher the number of rotations of the Eucalyptus tree species, the lower the tree production was in the Woodlot and vice versa. Ms. Adenach’s Eucalyptus woodlot was in its 5th Rotation and the woodlot had a 5,778 Birr market price. Whereas, Mr. Berhanu’s Eucalyptus woodlot was in its 4th Rotation and the market price of his woodlot was 6,948 Birr. And Mr. Kassa’s Eucalyptus woodlot was in its 2nd Rotation with a market price of 24,545Birr. Cooperatively with the market and value chain analysis group, we structured after that a creative demonstration on a flip chart, which is summarizing the price changes from the farm to the market, according to the market value chain analysis.
The following day was the last day of our field school. We presented our findings to the farmers that had been mapped on the flip chart. We also recommended the farmers’ with potential silvicultural information. Whereas we suggested improving their planting rotations, specifically after their 3rd or 2nd rotations on the same space of land. Trees should not be replanted on the similar area. We also recommended that planting should be done in lines (multi-line) with enough space to improve the Eucalyptus tree productions. It is making them thicker, hence increasing their sale prices.
This additional knowledge aimed at expanding the farmers marketing and production perspectives, enabling increased profit of the Eucalyptus tree products produced.
This was an interesting and eye-opening experience for all group participants. It was also a privilege networking with people from different backgrounds, with various levels of understanding in finding solutions to the wood supply gap in Hawassa, Ethiopia.
By Elice Griffin Zakayo and Nixon Kamanyire