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Wondo Genet College of Forestry and Natural Resources

Welcome to Hawassa University Wondo Genet College of Forestry and Natural Resources!

Department of Natural Resource and Environmental Studies

Natural resources are at the core human civilization. They are engine for economic advancement and societal wellbeing. Everything we need and everything we use, as individual or society, in processed or unprocessed form are extracts of natural resources. Indeed, they are our food, shelter, energy, medicine, raw materials…e.t.c. The role and importance of natural resources in economic development and societal wellbeing is no where else appreciated than in developing countries like Ethiopia whose populations are predominately rural in structure and dependent on natural resources for subsistence. Deforestation, rapid degradation, desertification, loss of biodiversity, soil erosion, soil fertility decline, soil acidification, salinazation environmental pollution and climate change are some of the major expressions of natural resources problem in the contemporary Ethiopia. As more users place demands on the scarce environmental resources, the need for intelligent conservation and rational management of the natural assets is ever greater, the very concept of sustainable development.  The fundamental principle of sustainable development entails that the use of natural resources by a generation should not compromise; their roles in maintaining natural ecological balance, their position in environmental quality and integrity, and their quantity and quality such that successive  generations also satisfy their needs. Natural resource management forms part and parcel of sustainable development and is a systems approach (integrated- holistic approach) to managing our natural resources. This department attempt to address many issues under the programs including Natural Resource Management (NaRM), Soil Resources and Watershed Management (SRWM), Geographic Information Science (GIS) and Natural Resources Economic (NRE). The department provides an opportunity for students interested in managing natural and environmental resources, geographic information system/science, soil and water conservation activities, economical and sustainable utilization of natural or environmental resources. The department significantly contributes to sustainable management of natural resources (soil, water, land, watershed areas) and thus contributes towards poverty alleviation and livelihood improvement of rural population. This is the overall situation in which the Department of Natural Resource and Environmental Studies has been found.


The mission of the Natural Resource and Environmental Studies Department is to produce qualified, skilled and multi-disciplinary manpower in the area of Natural Resource Management, Soil Resources and Watershed Management, Geographic Information Science (GIS) and Natural Resource Economics who actively can be involved in managing, planning, monitoring, and implementation of natural and environmental resources.


Natural Resource and Environmental Studies department envisions becoming a nurturing academic and research center by providing knowledgeable and skilled professionals who upon graduation can effectively and creatively work on an integrated use and management of natural and environmental resources, generating and communicating problem oriented technologies and techniques in natural resource management, provide practical and advance knowledge and skills in the area of natural resource management, environmental conservations with the help of GIS and Remote Sensing Systems, monitoring of environmental resources (land, water and air) and facilitating the awareness creation of nation and individuals about existing resources, hazards and other activities, improving the process of distribution of resources and reduce time for achieving goals of development activities through shortening the data-information processing and providing relevant, reliable and up-to-date information.


The main objectives of the department are to:

  • Produce graduates with sufficient, relevant, technical, productive and entrepreneurship skills who will be involved in development, research and entrepreneurship in the aspect of natural resource management (land, soil, water, air, e.t.c), economical  and sustainable utilization of natural resources and other environmental conservation activities,
  • Actively involve in community based development and consultancy services and contribute to the intellectual, cultural, social and economical development of the country and integrating teaching- research with extension activities so as to extend appropriate technologies and techniques generated through research,
  • Produce information managers who are multi-disciplinary in natural or environmental information management,
  • Provide students with broad knowledge of geographic information that enables them to competently enter institution having activities with spatial aspect and to run private enterprises,
  • Understand the use of different data sources, geo-information and decision support systems for mapping monitoring and assessment of natural and environmental resources and its impact studies and natural environmental resource management,
  • Provide technical advices, consultancy services and tailored short term training to interested government office and other stakeholders working in natural resources and environmental conservation areas,
  • Provide graduates with theoretical and practical background having an understanding of the scientific fundamentals and key principles of soil and water resources, who can identify and solve soil and water management related problems, working efficiently and play leading role in multi-disciplinary teams, and have an understanding of professional and ethical responsibilities.

General Information about the Undergraduate Program 

Students are directly admitted as a Natural Resource and Environmental study department by which they further join to the different programs under the department based on their choice and their GPA.

Having four different programs under the department, Soil Resources and Watershed Management, Geographic Information Sciences, Natural Resource Economics and Policy and Natural Resource Management enables the educational objectives of the degree program graduates to be much broader. After the completion of the courses under each program;

  1. Graduates from Soil Resources and Watershed Management will be able to:
    • Assess and analyze the extent and risk of soil erosion and land degradation
    • Analyze and interpret soil quality for sustainable agricultural production and environmental management
    • Formulate and implement appropriate soil and water conservation measures
    • Characterize and map soil resources
    • Prepare proper land use plans
    • Characterize watershed and identify its major socio-economic and biophysical problems
    • Plan, develop and manage water harvesting and small scale irrigation schemes
    • Monitor and evaluate different watershed based activities for sustainable land resource utilization and administration
    • Mobilize the community and work in harmony with other professionals involved in integrated watershed management projects
    • Comprehend and make use of indigenous knowledge and skills in soil and water management among local community and various stakeholders.
    • Involve  in research, project design, teaching/training, outreach and consultancy services related to soil and water resources
    • Develop attitude towards self-employment (entrepreneurship)
  1. Graduates from Geo-information Science will be able to:
    • Design and implement geographic information to meet the needs of end users/stakeholders
    • Collect spatial and non-spatial data using different techniques (Ground Surveying and Remote sensing)
    • Implement the knowledge and skills gained to establish systems to meet the need of sharing data and information for development, decision and policy making
    • Participate in establishing Spatial Data Infrastructure(SDI) at different levels (private, local, project , regional, national and global) and participate in maintaining existing SDI
    • Apply their skill to plan and monitor projects dealing with geo-information and environmental management
    • Identify and design appropriate methods for solving problems dealing with geo-information and environmental management
    • Develop self esteem and confidence to establish and run private enterprise inline with Geographic Information Science.
    • Undertake research activities on problems related Geo-information and on the possible development and uses of geo-information technologies in environmental management
    • Serve in development projects, higher learning and research institutions. And involve in environmental management policy formulation
  1. Graduates from Natural Resource Management (NaRM) will be able to:
    • Using their broad base knowledge in NRM, they will coordinate integrated NRM projects particularly at watershed level and also mediate cross-sectoral development initiatives
    • Implement development projects and programs aimed at integrated watershed management ,
    • Identify NRM and environmental problems, and design cost effective, socially acceptable and environmentally sound projects and programs for mitigation and adaptation.
    • Develop, restore and manage various resources such as forests, soil, water, wildlife, fishery, particularly in an integrated manner, using watershed as a management unit, and introduce also various PES strategies that can optimize the economic benefits from natural resources management interventions. 
    • Carryout watershed management planning using various tools such as GIS, ground surveying and RS and by applying LUP principles.
    • Provide consultancy and advisory services to local communities, investors and development actors working in the areas of integrated NRM
    • Carryout small to medium scale NRM related researches to provide solutions to locally emerging problems.
  1. Graduates from Natural Resource Economics and Policy (NREP) will be able to:
    • Identify the different natural resources and know the underlying natural processes and human actions that govern the stock of the respective natural resources across time and space.    
    • Understand relevant economic theories, principles and analysis tools which will be applied to the management of natural resources and environmental services.
    • Describe the relationship between the economic system and  natural resources and environment: the role of natural resources as an input to the economy and the impact of the economy to the environment 
    • Understand the role of the market system in resource allocation  and identify its failures   to ensure economically efficient allocation of the resources
    • Identify the role of public policy for economically efficient and equitable use of natural resources where market failure and missing markets characterize the economic system
    • Apply relevant biological and/or economic models to identify the economically efficient allocation/rate of extraction  for the different natural resources
    • Undertake environmental impact assessment for development or conservation projects and identify externalities associated with the projects
    • Undertake economic valuation of non-marketed ecosystem services or of their degradation
    • Undertake financial and/or economic analysis for development projects/policies and make recommendations about the financial and/or economic feasibility of the projects/policies
    • Identify market failure that has consequences to environmental quality and recommend appropriate economic instruments and/or policy options to mitigate the undesired impacts of economic activity to the environment.
    • Be familiar with research methodologies and take part in research activities in the area of natural resource and environmental economics.
    • Know the available policies, rules and regulation of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia regarding natural resource use and environmental management and contribute to their implementation.

Community Service and Extracurricular Activities

From its establishment till now, the department is primarily working on capacity building program and production of internationally competent, well experienced, and self esteemed professionals in the area of Natural Resources and Environmental Study program for the sustainable development and proper usage of natural resources. This is most certain for intensive practical classes are conducted through, almost, every course given and the students are exposed much to the reality on the ground. In addition to the educational goal, the department have been coordinating and working on the awareness creation and community capacity building programs through the coordination and facilitation of different researches in different areas. Nature Club is also another image of the department, working in creating awareness to different members of the college and community in a large scale. 

Future plan of the department

The future plan of the department is to promote sustainable environmental development and, thus, to provide the community with the safe and sound services of the environment. Hence, this is believed to be playing a leading role in the development and transformation of the country at this moment.  Thus, the future plans of the department in particular are:

  • Providing professional capacity building programs for the university as well as the local community.
  • Developing various demonstrational and practical field sites that will aid the teaching-learning process.
  • Working with regional as well as the national governmental and nongovernmental organizations in the process of environmental protection and natural resources development and management.