Promotion of sustainable forest products from biosphere reserves in Ethiopia – a unique case for business partnerships

GIZ Ethiopia
Publicado: 26 Febrero 2019
Última edición: 06 Febrero 2023
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The majority of Ethiopia’s population depends on agriculture to sustain their livelihoods. Pressure on land is high and income from forests can often not compete, leading to deforestation and land degradation. The last mountain forests – home of wild coffee trees - are threatened. Exporting high value forest products provides incentives for effective forest protection and management.


This solution describes a business case relevant for forest landscape restoration (FLR). A public-private partnership between local producers, farmer’s organizations, German companies and NGOs and GIZ provided the framework conditions to develop wild coffee and honey value chains in Kafa and Sheka.


Efforts led to the recognition of Kafa region as UNESCO biosphere reserve, a unique example where small-scale farmers and grass roots organizations have become global business partners. Forests are valued and preserved as they provide a substantial and regular income to farmers by selling forest products.



África Oriente y África del Sur
Scale of implementation
Bosques tropicales de hoja perenne
Ecosistemas forestales
Actores locales
Diversidad genetica
Financiación sostenible
Fragmentación del hábitat y degradación
Manejo de bosques
Medios de vida sostenibles
World Heritage
Degradación de tierras y bosques
Contaminación (incluida la eutrofización y la basura)
Falta de acceso a financiación a largo plazo
Falta de oportunidades de ingresos alternativos
Sustainable development goals
ODS 1 - Fin de la pobreza
ODS 8 - Trabajo decente y crecimiento económico
ODS 12 - Producción y consumo responsables
ODS 15 - Vida de ecosistemas terrestres
ODS 17 - Alianzas para lograr los objetivos
Aichi targets
Meta 1: Aumento de la sensibilization sobre la biodiversidad
Meta 4: Producción y consumo sostenibles
Meta 7: Agricultura, acuicultura y silvicultura
Meta 11: Áreas protegidas y conservadas
Meta 12: Reducir el riesgo de extinción
Meta 13: Protección de la diversidad genética
Meta 15: Restauración de ecosistemas y resiliencia
Other targets
Direct contribution to the AFR100 (the African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative) on enabling conditions such as incentives and value chains


Tepi, Southern Nations, Ethiopia | Kafa and Sheka Biosphere Reserves, Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Region, Ethiopia



  • Pressure on land is high due to high population growth and inappropriate farming methods and overgrazing leading to decreasing soil fertility, and erosion
  • More than 30,000 ha of soil are lost to erosion every year in Ethiopia. Arable and grazing land is becoming unproductive, resulting in declining agricultural productivity. The situation is exacerbated by climate change impacts such as droughts

Social & economic:

  • Public finance available is not sufficient; private investment is essential but still lacking
  • Investments of private sector in land- & forest use focuses on short-term gains
  • There was no access to international markets & buyers willing to pay higher prices for good quality products
  • Investors promote cultivated coffee from gardens and plantations, threatening to displace the wild coffee and harm the ecosystem


  • Wild coffee farmers (cooperatives) in southwest Ethiopia: Sheka and Kafa
  • 32 farmer cooperatives in Kafa and 30 in Sheka (honey production)
  • Participatory Forest Management (PFM) user groups

¿ Cómo interactúan los building blocks en la solución?

The setup of a cooperation structure between partners (BB1) provided the foundation for the development of sustainable wild coffee (BB2) and honey value chains (BB3). Current and potential revenues obtained from the sale of these forest products provide additional incentives for sustainable management of the forests in the biosphere reserves (BB4). Participatory Forest Management User Groups were involved in the trade and the system proofed to be a helpful tool in protecting the natural resources required for setting up sustainable value chains.



  • 57,164 ha natural montane forestland managed sustainably
  • >= 300 Participatory Forest Management user groups are active
  • Kafa has been recognized as 1st Biosphere reserve in Ethiopia; Sheka also received BR status 

Social & economic:

  • Cooperative structures for direct export by farmers were established  
  • Capacities on administration, bookkeeping, harvest & post-harvest handling were strengthened
  • Wild, Organic and Fairtrade certification was introduced to secure quality, fair payments & sustainable use of resources  
  • 15,000 farmers are involved in the international wild coffee trade. High amounts of certified wild coffee have been exported to the EU (first export in 2003)
  • Over the past 15 years =< 130,000 people directly benefitted from wild coffee trade
  • 1,367 people have been trained in the production of quality honey, allowing them to double their income and to diversify their products (e.g. sale of bee wax). Average honey production per cooperative member was 121 kg, sold at 9,438 ETB (~286 EUR)
  • 42 Mt of honey from 14 cooperatives have been exported into the EU; the first export of Ethiopian honey by smallholder organizations to the EU
  • Youth clubs have been established, family planning activities & HIV prevention sessions held
  • Since 04/2018, this solution is scaled up in Ethiopia by the UK-Aid funded Partnerships for Forests Programme


GIZ Ethiopia

‘With our innovative approach we aim to help preserve Ethiopia’s forests while creating economic opportunities for the local population’.

Florian Hammerstein, Managing Director of Original Food GmbH.


[the full story will be added later]

Contribuido por

Imagen de forestlandscaper_36115

Karin Christina Allgoewer

Other contributors

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)
Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)
Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)
Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)