Carbon Offset Project Exclosure - North Gondar

 Key words

  • CO2 binding through reforestation, 6,000 tons of CO2 in 30 years
  • Transformation of fallow land into forest
  • Introduction and establishment of participatory processed on-site
  • Use of local knowledge
  • Concurrent rejuvination of locally available trees and covering of local needs
  • Increasing biodiversity
  • Water and soil protection


Project Description

The low level of institutionalized property rights combined with rapid population growth (humans and livestock) has led to a change in (intensified) land use, soil degradation and deforestation in Ethiopia. The consequences are soil erosion, long-term loss of vegetation and deterioration of chemical and biological soil composition.

An important counter-strategy is reforestation and natural regeneration supported through natural exclosure. These natural barriers are made up of biomass and prevent the access of humans and livestock allowing reforestation and the regeneration of vegetation.
However, exclosures are often characterized through a lack of acceptance from the local land users, as they are associated with land loss and in many cases the local population has not profited from the projects. In several Ethiopian reforestation projects, eucalyptus trees were planted as they have fast growth rates and are not eaten by livestock. The fact that they could not satisfy local needs (feedstuff), means that they were often badly accepted.


To confront these problems, the project has started a permanent participatory process with local land users on site. Together with the local population, appropriate areas for reforestation were selected. Fitting tree species were chosen and planted. The exclosures are characterized as a common resource and methods for common sustainable use are developed, implemented and monitored. The use-plan is developed collectively to ensure broad acceptance and secure the long-term nature of the reforestation. The project subsists without any physical barriers – the borders are established with the local population. The project area is not grazed, so as to allow the growth of the trees planted and the natural regeneration. Compliance is controlled by the local population.

The transformation to sustainable grazing however requires initial financing. During the first years of the exclosure of livestock the area which was previously used as grazing land needs to be substituted. The longer routes to and from the new grazing areas also cause a greater energy loss within livestock. Foodstuff is substituted through intensified cultivation, local and the purchase of alternatives. These compensation payments which are required particularly during the first years of the project, constitute the bulk of the project costs. In addition the participatory process prior to the reforestation is overseen by local scientists and other agricultural advisory staff, the costs of which also need to be carried.

After approx. 3 years, the first grass and leaves can be harvested and a part of the livestock can be brought back to the project area. In the first few years the grass grows particularly well due to the comparatively small number of trunks and crown density. As the trees grow, the canopy becomes denser and the livestock can increasingly be fed with leaves and twigs.


When the exclosure area has reached a sufficient level of stability a certain level of biomass removal is provided for within the usage plan. The removal of biomass must not exceed natural growth levels. As such a sustainable usage level can be established and the previously fallow land is converted into scrubland and forest. This leads to a system of sustainable agro-forestry. From this point in time – after approx. 30years – no more additional carbon is stored in the biomass and the system has reached a state of balance. Up to this point in time the 30 ha forest will have stored at least 6,000 tons of CO2.

Over the course of several years this usage should become increasingly stable. This allows for a substitution of dung (currently the primary source of heat) with firewood, which in turn increases can be used in cultivation and increase agricultural productivity. Heating with wood is also preferential for health reasons and may save costs of medical treatment. To complete this 30 year project, total costs of 133,000 € have been calculated. 

The climate protection project will be implemented in different phases. The first phase (start of the participatory process and the reforestation of 5-10 ha) will begin as soon as the necessary funding is available. The start is planned for the middle of 2012 (currently April/May 2012 is being aimed for). A precise list of project costs and the implementation plan will be published here very soon.

This climate protection project is based upon existing BOKU research project - Role of exclosures for increased productivity and diversity of rural landscapes in North Gondar, Ethiopia – at the Institute of Forest Ecology under the coordination of Prof. Georg Gratzer, which has implemented a 2 ha participatory community reforestation pilot project. With your support this existing 2 ha pilot project can be expanded to 30 ha.

Further reading
Controlled reforestation and natural regeneration binds CO2 in biomass and soil. To calculate the storage of CO2 of such projects, the CDM methodology AR-AM0003 was developed within the framework of the UNFCCC. The calculation of the CO2 storage of this project was strongly aligned with this CDM methodology. The methodology, similar standards and the so-called project design documents of similar reforestation projects in Ethiopia can be downloaded here:

CDM Methodology AR-AM0003
Download pdf here
Available online:

Climate, Community & Biodiversity Alliance (CCBA) Standard
Download pdf here
Available online:

CDM Projekt 2712: Humbo Ethiopia Assisted Natural Regeneration Project (projekt design document)
Download pdf here
Available online:

CCBA Projekt: Abote Community-Managed Reforestation Project (projekt design document)
Download pdf here
Available online: