- Category: CFNR
- Published on Saturday, 05 November 2011 04:29
- Written by HU WebAdmin
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Wondo Genet College of Forestry and Natural Resources (WGCF-NR), which is one of the four campuses of Hawassa University (HU), is situated in southern Ethiopia ca. 264 km from the capital, Addis Ababa, and 14 km from the nearest town, Shashemene. The main campus of Hawassa University is in Awassa, ca. 30 km from the WGCF-NR campus. School of Forestry is one of the academic units of WGCF-NR, which runs three important academic programs, namely Agroforestry (AF), General Forestry (GF) and Forest Products Management and Utilization (FpMU).
Since in 1978, WGCF-NR has been made an indispensable contribution to the country’s natural resource conservation and development by producing forestry professionals at different levels- Diploma, BSc. and MSc. The college under the HU structure, since 1998, has been revising and improving its forestry curricula in light of stakeholders’ demands and emerging realities. Through the years, the college’s curricula has evolved from one with due focus on traditional forestry in the early days to one with a good focus on social environment and rural development. This shift in paradigm is also being reflected in the research activities of the college. In today’s fast-changing world, however, the demand of farmers, employers, and the nation also changes. More importantly, the country’s compelling urge to extricate itself out of poverty requires fundamental changes in the existing curriculum. Hence, the former department of Farm Forestry established a task force (TF) in charge of the existing curriculum. The TF conducted a thorough needs assessment, and evaluation of similar programs that could be used as benchmarks, and found that an overhaul in the Farm Forestry Program was necessary in-light of feedbacks from stakeholders; prevailing regional, national, international demands and national policy directions, although the demand for Farm Forestry graduates was still fairly good. Consequently, a need arose to have a training area that deals with making more efficient use of agroforestry. This requires professionals who have good understanding, knowledge and skills of social, plant and animal husbandry, forestry and soil and water resources in applying to agroforestry technologies development and management for social, economic and environmental benefit and promote climate change adaptation. Based on this, TF prepared the graduate profile, in accordance to which courses were designed and the new curriculum developed. Although Farm Forestry and agroforestry are similar profession but named differently in different country, the college wanted to use the later as it is so popular in Ethiopia and evidenced by feedback of need assessment. Hence the curriculum prepared for agroforestry B.Sc. program.
In the other hand, forestry is an activity that peoples establish, manage and harvest forests and forest products so as to satisfy their need for goods and services. Forests are directly and indirectly related to the life of many of Ethiopians population. Forests provide both wood and non wood products to the people. Almost all the rural community (85%) of the total population of the country depends on biomass energy for cooking and heating their homes. The construction of cultural houses in many parts of the country require split wood, poles and posts, bamboo, green climbers, and other forest resources. The country is also earning some amount of foreign currency from the production of non timber forest products like gum, incense and resin, spices, and bamboo. The local community is also highly benefited from the harvesting of non timber forest products. The role of forests in providing soil and water conservations as well as protection of wild life and other biodiversity is tremendous. Nevertheless, the state of the forest in the country is dwindling from time to time. At the moment, the forest cover of the country is estimated to be 2.9% which is far below the estimated amount of forests 40 years before. Agricultural expansion, over harvesting, urbanization and settlement, overgrazing, climate change, and many other factors involved for the deterioration of the forest. The expansion of plantation forests can play a great role in fulfilling the wood demand of the community and reducing the pressure exerted on the natural forest. However, the rate of expansion of plantation forests lagging behind the problem. Because of the growing demand for forests and forest resources in one hand and the continuing degradation of forest resources on the other hand required the training of skilled man power in higher learning institutions. In order to improve the productivity of the different types of forested land use training of general foresters at B.Sc. level is indispensable. Thus, General Forestry Program intends to produce trained personnel that have a technical capacity to protect, utilize, afforest and reforest woody vegetation in suitable sites all over the country.
As it is mentioned above, the indiscriminate deforestation has to be reversed. In order to alleviate deforestation, training geared towards the proper management and utilization of the country’s forest and forest resources is among the essential quest for sustainable development of renewable resources in the country. In this regard, professionals for forest products management and utilization play a vital role in developing and utilizing forests on sustainable basis. Therefore forest products management should address the following problems: the need to develop multiple products from forest resources; the need to adopt different management schemes for different forest production objectives; the need to introduce different production and processing methods of forest products in efficient way; the need to assess the value of forests in ecosystem conservation and environmental services; and the need to improve the livelihood of the people as well as the national economy by promoting forest industries. In developing countries like Ethiopia, the training of manpower in forest products management and utilization such as wood processing in private and public sectors/industries will support the growing economy in many aspects. The wood processing industry can be a source of investment and employment in the Ethiopian economy and should contribute to value added benefits accrued from the sector. Among others, however, historically log production has been focused upon a few very high valued species. This dependence on a limited range of species (and harvesting above the sustainable yield in recent years) has probably affected the sustainability of forest management. The wood industry will need to be rebuilt and it is expected that the majority of new investment will be as expected with the current fast economic growth rate. Activities aimed at promoting value added in the wood industry, increasing the utilization of lesser-used and lesser-known timber species and ensuring improvements in efficiency in the forestry enterprises/organizations should be at the heart of any forestry training program such as the ‘‘Forest Products Management and Utilization’’ study program. Although the country has a huge potential for non-timber forest products they were not well recognized and developed. Identification, domestication (management and protection), harvesting, and processing of non-timber forest products has got due attention in the programme. Linking the traditional use of non-timber forest products with modern and scientific production and utilization of these products will be a stepping stone to be an input for the growing pharmaceutical, cosmetic, food and beverage, and many other industries. In light of the aforementioned reasons, comments collected from stakeholders and alumni, polices cited at local, regional, national levels and consultation of similar forestry and related institution’s via literatures from abroad, it turned out that including the ‘‘Forest Economics & Business’’, ‘‘Wood Utilization and Processing’’ in the former Production Forestry BSc. training has been stressed. Consequently, to encompass the new curriculum change, the ‘’ Forest Products Management and Utilization’’ academic program has been adopted.
Missions, vision and objectives of each and every academic programs are the following:
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