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Hindawi International Journal of Forestry Research Volume 2023, Article ID 7927301, 14 pages https://doi.org/10.1155/2023/7927301 Review Article Review on Selected Church Forests of Ethiopia: Implication for Plant Species Conservation and Climate Change Mitigation Addisu Wolde College of Agriculture and Natural Resource Debre Markos University, P. O. Box 269, Debre Markos, Ethiopia Correspondence should be addressed to Addisu Wolde; firstname.lastname@example.org Received 30 December 2022; Revised 26 May 2023; Accepted 27 May 2023; Published 5 June 2023 Academic Editor: Anna Zro´bek-Sokolnik Copyright © 2023 Addisu Wolde. Tis is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Forests are known toplayanimportant role inthe conservationof biodiversity and regulationof global climate.Global climate is regulatedthroughsequesteringandstoringmuchmorecarbonfromtheatmosphereduetothepresenceofforests.However,loss of forest coverand biodiversity duetoanthropogenic activitiesare agrowing concerninmanypartsof theworld.Te problemof deforestation and loss of biodiversity is more pronounced in developing countries like Ethiopia. Because of deforestation, the speciesdiversityandclimatemitigationpotentialofnaturalforestsaregoingtobereduced.Tus,patchesofChurchforestsareleft and found throughout the degradedlandscapes. Because of their religious signifcance, theseforests have been conserved bylocal communities. Tey are the only refuge for diferent plant species and store high amounts of atmospheric carbon. Tis is due to local communities do have higher respect and trust in them than other local institutions, which has made the Church the central institution and platform for socio-economic issues of the people. As stated by diferent scholars, around the Church areas, numerous indigenous and International Union for Conservation of Nature red list species existed. In terms of the diversity of species, the forest around the Church has compared to that of a natural forest. Next to the conservation role, the conserved plant specieshaveasignifcantcontributiontoclimatechangemitigationthroughcarbonstockinbiomassandsoil.TreesintheChurch areashavelonglifehistoryandarehigherinstandstructureparameterssuchasheight,diameteratbreastheight,crowndiameter, and their carbon storage potential has been maximum. Overall, Church forests are serving as hot spot sites for biodiversity conservation and have a signifcant role in mitigating climate change by limiting greenhouse gas emissions and increasing the amount of carbon stored in forests. condition has created diverse and conducive environments 1. Introduction for the development of various forms of life of fora. Tus, Forests provide essential roles in the life support systems on the country is one of the most biodiversity-rich countries in our planet for both mankind and other living organisms theworld.ShredsofevidenceshowedthatEthiopiaowns [1–5]. Tey are the most productive ecosystems and im- the ffth-largest foral composition in tropical Africa . portant features in the landscape that provide critical and Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) reported diverse ecosystem services and values to human society . that Ethiopia has heterogeneous fora that is estimated to Teseecosystemservicesincludetheprovisionoffood,clean contain around 6,027 vascular plant species of which 10% water, natural fbres and forest products, pollination, the are endemic . Te country is the ffth-largest foral regulation of climate, pests and diseases, and recreational diversity in tropical Africa . Knowing the species’ opportunities. Furthermore, forests have roles as a home of diversity and distribution patterns is crucial to assessing severaldiversifed plant species in additionto ecological and the complexity of biological resources . Ethiopia is economical values . Ethiopia, located in the tropics, has facing major problems including conservation and sus- a wide range of ecological settings; this wide ecological tainable utilization of the remaining natural forests, 2 International Journal of Forestry Research expansion of plantation forests, and restoration of de- 2. Methodology gradedlands.TenaturalvegetationtypesofEthiopia Tis review article is based on document analysis through are under harsh threats, and the coverage of forest eco- a depth review of related literature from diferent sources. systems has been fragmented into small patches, and as Data were obtained from the review of related literature on a result, the structure of the forest and species compo- the Web of Published articles, researches, books, and re- sition has been degraded [13, 14]. Tus, biodiversity has ports. A total of 322 papers are searched from Scopus, Web been exposed to a high level of degradation in Ethiopia of Science, and other indexed journals using keyword se- [4, 15]. Not only Ethiopia and also all types of the world’s lections (Ethiopian Church forests, diversity, and carbon natural forests are degraded for searching forest products stock potential of Church forests) that have linkage with and agricultural expansion and settlement [16, 17]. Ethiopian Church forests. However, from the total searched All over the world, the rate of deforestation is ag- documents, thirty-eight publications focusing on plant gravated at very high rates in the last decades, with species conservation and mitigation of climate change were negative efects on ecosystems . In Ethiopia, de- chosenforadetailedreviewoftheirinfuenceonbiodiversity forestation has a long history, especially in the Northern conservation and climate change mitigation potential of parts of the country where this activity is accelerated. Te EthiopianChurchforests.Tablesandfguresarepreparedby increasing population has resulted in extensive forest summarizing the outputs of selected publications. clearingforagriculturaluse,overgrazing,andexploitation of existing forests for fuel wood, fodder, and construction materials. Due to these activities, the forest cover of the 3. Role of Church Forests country was about 16% of the land area in the early 1950s andrapidlydeclinedto3.6%intheearly1980sand2.7%in Tere are numerous sacred areas or forest patches in the 1989 . Diferent scholars reported deforestation status world . However, some of the remaining forest patches of per year; as reported by [19–21], they estimated the rate of Ethiopiaarelocatedintheareasofchurchesandmonasteries −1 deforestation in Ethiopia as 141,000ha·yr , and a sig- under the protection of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido nifcant increase in the annual average deforestation rate Church [3, 25]. In Ethiopia, numerous sacred churches was shown in 2015 as 210,000ha per year. Te high rate of (more than 35,000) persist in a degraded landscape and natural forest degradation led to undesirable and negative might contribute to the restoration and biodiversity con- efects on species richness and diversity. Due to de- servation and provide many other economic and social forestation and degradation of forest ecosystems espe- benefts [1, 22]. Sacred forests in Ethiopia are greater than cially in the northern and central highlands of Ethiopia sacred areas in Ghana (2,000 sacred forests) but lower have been preserved in ancient Church and monastery compared to India, which is nearly 100,000 sacred forests grounds [1, 3]. Te only areas where one can observe trees . In Ethiopia, most sacred areas are located near to in Central Ethiopia are in the surroundings of churches churches and monasteries . Ethiopia has more than [1, 22]. 35,000Churchcommunities,andmostofthechurchesfrom Sacred forests have been recognized for their major the total are located Northern and Central Highlands of efect on the conservation of natural resources, ecology, Ethiopia [1, 22, 28]. Most part from the Church area is and climate mitigation in many parts of the world . covered by diferent vegetation having a growth habit of Sacred areas especially Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido trees, shrubs, and herbs . In other directions, especially Churches (EOTC) serve as a means of preservation and in the southwest of the country, Ethiopia the role of natural management of biodiversity [1, 3, 4, 24]. Abundant plant forests is replaced by shade cofee cultivation and home and animal species used sacred areas as a habitat [1, 25]. garden agroforestry systems . Diverse plant species Furthermore, religious areas are serving as conservation aroundtheyardoftheChurchareahaveprovidedservicesto sites and hot spots area for biodiversity conservation, the communities as spiritual and medicinal values, and it mostly indigenoustrees and shrubsof Ethiopia . Since ofers economic and ecological benefts to the local com- trees and shrubs around the Church have a spiritual value munity (Figure 1) [1, 3, 22]. attached to the churches, monasteries, and their sacred lands, the biodiversity islands of Church forests have well survived. Besides habitat for diversifed plant species, the 3.1. Biodiversity Conservation Role of Some Church Forests in conserved plant species are used for the reduction of Ethiopia. Te EOTC has a long history of planting, pro- atmospheric CO concentration through both above- and tecting, and conserving trees [1, 3–5]. Tus, churches and below-ground biomass, soil, and litter falls [3, 4, 7, 22]. monasteries are not only considered religious spots but also Concerning the conservation and mitigation role of biodiversityhotspotareas.ChurchesandMonasteriesin Ethiopian Church forests, numerous research studies and Ethiopia are often surrounded by patches of natural forest reports were done, and however, the outputs of those which are characterized by a high foral and faunal diversity studies were scattered and do not provide comprehensive with many indigenous andrare species [30, 31]. Asstated by information. Tus, this review article tried to provide full Wassie , the main theological bases and religious per- and detailed evidence about the Ethiopian Church forests spectives in conserving forest resources were stated as the and their contribution to plant species conservation and Church on the earth signifes and symbolizes the new mitigation of climate change. heaven, the holy city, New Jerusalem coming down from International Journal of Forestry Research 3 Household Uses Biodiversity Conservation (Medicine, fuel wood, (Habitat for diverse plant honey production and and animal species and act building materials) Climate Change Mitigation as in-situ conservation hot) (Storing atmospheric CO and limiting greenhouse gas emission) Benefits of Church Forests Cultural and Spiritual values Climate Change Adaptation (Provide spiritual renewal and (Building public perception and experience transcendence for altitude on causes and worshipers) consequences of climate change and implementation of climate change adaptation strategies) Figure 1: Benefts of Church forests (source: own synthesis from works of literature). God out of heaven, prepared as a bride, adorned for her Te life form of vegetation in the Church forest consists husband. Te Church of Eden was so beautiful, and many not only of trees but also shrubs and herbs . Moreover, plants, animals, and other organisms and the holy water/ Wassie and his groups  reported that a total of 168 streamsinfnitelyhadbeensurpassingfromtheseforeststhat woody species (100 trees, 51 shrubs, and 17 liana species) were believed as proceeding out of the throne of God. Te representing69 familieswererecordedin28 Churchforests. habit of ETOC in conserving plant species is coming from Te contributions of Church forests to the conservation of diverse plant species in Ethiopia are summarized in that history . Even though the primary purpose of the EOTC is for (Table 1). worship, burials, and meditative religious festival, they also provide good and secure habitats for diverse plant and 3.1.1. Dominate Family Categorization and Plant Species of animal species  (Table 1). EOTC has a long history of Some Church Forests in Ethiopia. Comparatively, as shown planting, protecting, and preserving old-aged trees in in Table 2, Fabaceae is the most conspicuous and abundant churches and monasteries [20, 21, 43]. Tese tree species family categorization of Church forests in Ethiopia surroundingreligious siteshavea relationshipwiththe term [34, 35, 37]. Terefore, this family categorization has high sacred groves and their combinations with Church forests relative importance related to the degree of infuence on . Tus, forest resources around churches are important ecosystemcomponentssuchassoils,plants,andanimalsand for biodiversity conservation and mitigating climate change competitionforresources(light,water,nutrients,andspace) . Tree species richness, tree density, seedling species to adopt the area. Church forests in Ethiopia support the richness, and seedling density are signifcantly higher in highest richnessoftrees andanimalspeciesthathavealmost Church forests with a wall than without a wall . disappeared in most parts of Ethiopia [1, 2]. Juniperus Church forests are serving as in-situ conservation of procera Hochst. ex Endl., Podocarpus falcatus T., Olea manyindigenous speciesandexotic species(Table 1)[1, 32]. europaea L., Croton macrostachyus Hochst. ex Delile., However, the frequency and dominance of indigenous Calpurnia aurea Benth., Olea europaea subsp. cuspidata, species are signifcantly higher than exotic species [3, 4, 22]. Ziziphus mucronata Willd., and Hagenia abyssinica (Bruce) A study in 78 selected Church forests reported that from the J.F.Gmel.arecommonnativetreesgrowninChurchforests recorded 148 plant species, all species were indigenous to (Table 3). Ethiopian Scholars also proved that Juniperus Ethiopia , and another study in Church forests in the procera Hochst. ex Endl. and Olea africana Mill. were the Highland landscape of Ethiopian also reported 160 plant mostfrequentandcommonspeciesinthemonasteriesGoba specieswereindigenous,andtherest8specieswereexoticto District, Southeastern Ethiopia , Lasta Woreda, North Ethiopia from the recorded168 plant species. Testudy Wollo Zone, Amhara Region, Ethiopia , and six selected byWassieshowedthatoutof125woodyspeciesthathave Church forests in North Shewa Zone of Amhara Region, been registered for the South Gondar natural forests, 81 Ethiopia . Summarized studies on dominant family species occurred in eight Church forests in South Gondar, categorization and dominant woody species of the studied Ethiopia. Church forests in Ethiopia are presented in Tables 2 and 3. 4 International Journal of Forestry Research Table 1: Summarized studies on the role of Church forests in the conservation of plant species in Ethiopia. Sample Diversity Church Number Forest forest indices Total site No. No of sites area area no. Source geographic of families studied (ha) taken of species H″ E location (ha) 1 Yemrehane Kirstos Church Forest, North Ethiopia 1 200 1.36 2.88 0.79 39 29  2 Gatira George’s Forest, Northeastern Ethiopia 1 2.4 0.36 2.78 0.88 34 34  3 Mahbere Sellassie Monastery Forest, Northwestern Ethiopia 1 12.7 5.4 3.27 0.855 119 42  4 Aba Asrat Monastery Forest, Northwestern Ethiopia 1 0.62 3.608 0.932 120 53  5 Tara Gedam Monastery Forest, Northwestern Ethiopia 1 625 0.16 3.26 0.87 120 57  6 Sesa Mariam Monastery Forest, Northwestern Ethiopia 1 2.04 3.81 0.85 113 54  7 Assela Teklehymanot Church Forest, Central Ethiopia 1 25 0.44 1.76 0.72 34 27 8 Etisa Teklehymanot Church Forest, Central Ethiopia 1 23 0.28 1.19 0.81 17 15  9 Saramba Kidanemhret Church Forest, Central Ethiopia 1 22 0.24 1.63 0.71 27 20 10 Abbo Sacred Forest, Southern Ethiopia 1 92.33 2.4 2.99 0.75 63 56  11 Debre Libanos Monastery Forest, Central Ethiopia 1 85 1.8 3.35 0.45 119 39  12 Mantogera Estifanos Church Forest, Northern Ethiopia 1 5 0.6 2.15 38 21 Wolayta Debere Menekerat Abune Tekele Haymanot Church Forest, Southern 13 1 25 0.6 0.52 16 10 Ethiopia  14 Bole Bulbula Tekle Haymanot Church Forest, Central Ethiopia 1 21 1.2 1.25 32 11 15 Emba Kidist Arsema Church Forest, Northern Ethiopia 1 41 0.68 1.8 18 7 16 Wonjeta St Micheal Church Forest, Southern Ethiopia 1 5 2 2.8 0.68 65 33  17 Rama Kidanemhret Monastery Forest, North, Ethiopia 1 72 2.8 2.34 0.904 69 43  18 St. Geberial and Medhaniakea Church Forest, Southern Ethiopia 2 0.6 1.73 0.81 58 28  19 Zijje Maryam Church Frest, Northern Ethiopia 5.28 0.2 3.29 0.85 48 35  20 Church Forests, Northern Ethiopia 28 17.9 0.289 — — 168  21 Church Forests North Shewa Zone, Northern Ethiopia 6 1.6–100 — — — 17–60  Note. H″: Shannon-Wiener diversity index; E: evenness index. International Journal of Forestry Research 5 Table 2: Summarized studies on the dominant family categorization of the studied Church forests in Ethiopia. No Family name Church forest locations Source Yemrehane Kirstos Church Forest, North Ethiopia; Sesa Mariaym Monastery Northwestern Ethiopia, Debre Libanos Monastery Forest, Mahbere Sellassie 1 Fabaceae Monastery Forest, Northwestern Ethiopia; Gatira George’s Forest, Northern [33–36, 38, 45, 46] Ethiopia;SelectedChurchForestsinCentralEthiopia,AbaAsratMonasteryForest, Northwestern Ethiopia Mahbere Sellassie Monastery Forest, Northwestern Ethiopia, Aba Asrat Monastery, 2 Lamiaceae [34, 36] Northwestern Ethiopia 3 Asteraceae Aba Asrat Monastery, Northwestern Ethiopia  Sesa Mariam Monastery, Northwestern Ethiopia; Selected Churches in Addis 4 Myrtaceae, [38, 47] Ababa, Central Ethiopia Yemrehane Kirstos Church Forest, North Ethiopia; Selected Churches in Addis 5 Cupressaceae Ababa, Central Ethiopia, Selected Church Forests in Central Ethiopia, Church [33, 38, 48, 49] Forests along Church age gradient in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Gatira George’s Forest, Northern Ethiopia; Church Forests along Church age 6 Oleaceae gradient in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; selected Churches in Addis Ababa, Central [34, 38, 48] Ethiopia SesaMariaymMonastery,NorthwesternEthiopia;GatiraGeorge’sForest,Northern 7 Euphorbiaceae [34, 38, 46] Ethiopia; selected Church Forests in Central Ethiopia Gatira George’s Forest, Northern Ethiopia; selected Church forests in Central 8 Boraginaceae  Ethiopia Selected Church forests in Central Ethiopia; Aba Asrat Monastery, Northwestern 9 Myrsinaceae [36, 37] Ethiopia 3.1.2. Church Forests for the Conservation of Treatened Climate change mitigation is a human intervention to Plant Species. Church and monastery forests provide eco- reduce the sources or enhance the sinks of greenhouse gases system services through the critical conservation of plant [61, 62]. Forest has a role in climate change mitigation species . Around the churchyard comprise many through carbon sequestration in both above and below- threatened and unique species that make the preservation of ground biomass and soil carbon stocks [63, 64]. Com- these forests crucially important  (Table 4). Since the pared with terrestrial ecosystems, forests have a high po- distribution and coverage of natural forests are reduced tential for sequestering carbon, through the process of tree through diferent natural and human-induced factors, the growth and resultant biological carbon sequestration. However, forest coverage in Ethiopia is highly degraded due distribution of a variety of plant species diversity also de- clines and goes to threatened. In such conditions, Church to diferent factors, simultaneously emission of CO to the compounds are serving as in-situ conservation and hot spot atmosphere also increased [65–67]. sites for biodiversity resources including many endangered, Forest coverage has a direct relationship with the amount threatened, and IUCN red lists plant species [1, 22, 32, 57]. of carbon stored but indirect relation with the amount of CO Juniperus proceraL.and Prunus africana (Hook.f.)Kalkman. concentration in the atmosphere. Now day’s forest patches are which are listed in the IUCN red list are mostly found in highlyconcentratedaroundchurchyards,especiallyinEthiopia Church forests of Ethiopia . Terefore, protecting the . Tose forest patches which exist near and around remaining forests, aforestation and wise use of exciting Churches are very important in carbon sequestration and forest resources should be given attention . Te roles of climate regulation (Tables 5 and 6) [32, 49]. Since trees and Ethiopia Church forests in the conservation of threatened shrubs around the Church area are well protected from dif- plant species are presented in (Table 4). ferent disturbances like illegal cutting, its carbon-storing po- tential through above- and below-ground biomass is signifcantly higher [49, 68]. In addition due to the presence of 3.2. Climate Change Mitigation Role of Some Church Forests in vegetation cover, soil erosion is reduced and soil and water are Ethiopia. Climate is rapidly changing and global warming well conserved, as a result, soil organic carbon stock is well also increased due to increases in the concentrations of enhanced [22, 30]. Te contribution of Church forests to se- greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the atmosphere mainly caused questering atmospheric CO can be estimated by conducting by human activities, particularly the burning of fossil fuels, studies in selected Church forests in diferent geographical expansion of agriculture, and deforestation. Comparatively locationsinEthiopia.TepotentialofChurchforestsinstoring concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is one of CO in above- and below-ground biomass, litter-fall, and soil the primary causes of climate change. Tis led to extreme carbon stock are summarized in Table 5. hazards to animal and plant species diversity, human life, environmental health, agricultural productivity water, and air quality. For combatting the efect of climate change 3.2.1. Plant Species Having High Carbon Stock Potential in forests have a signifcant contribution to reducing atmo- Some Church Forests of Ethiopia. Te performances of trees spheric carbon dioxide through carbon sinks . also afect the amount of carbon stored means that healthy 6 International Journal of Forestry Research Table 3: Summarized studies on dominant woody plant species around Church area. No Scientifc name Family name Local name Origin Habitat Source 1 Olea europaea ssp. cuspidate Oleaceae Weira Indigenous Tree [22, 33, 36–38, 48, 50] 2 Juniperus procera Cupressaceae Yehabesha tsid Exotic Tree [22, 33, 36, 38, 48, 50, 51] 3 Croton macrostachyus Euphorbiaceae Bisana Indigenous Tree [22, 37, 49, 50, 52] 4 Calpurnia aurea Fabaceae Ginda Indigenous Shrub [22, 33, 34, 46, 52] 5 Olea africana Oleaceae Olea Indigenous Tree [28, 33, 35, 36, 51] 6 Ziziphus mucronata Rhamnaceae Geba/qurqura Indigenous Shrub or small tree [25, 29, 53] 7 Terminalia brownii Combretaceae Abalo/weyba Indigenous Shrub or small tree  8 Ziziphus abyssinica Rhamnaceae Abetere Indigenous Tree  9 Dichrostachys cinerea Fabaceae Ader Indigenous Shrub [2, 33, 37] 10 Carissa spinarum Apocynaceae Agam Indigenous Shrub or climber [46, 50, 54] 11 Maytenus arbutifolia (A. Rich.) Wilczek Celastraceae Atatt Endemic Shrub [27, 33, 38] 12 Allophylus abyssinicus Sapindaceae Embis Indigenous Tree [33, 37, 48, 49, 51] 13 Acacia abyssinica Fabaceae Bazera gerar Indigenous Tree [33, 36, 37, 48, 50] 14 Eucalyptus globulus Myrtaceae Nech bahir zaf Exotic Tree [37, 38, 48, 50] 15 Albizia gummifera Fabaceae Sesa Indigenous Tree [33, 46, 48, 50] 16 Podocarpus falcatus Podocarpaceae Zigba Indigenous Tree [33, 34, 38, 50, 51] 17 Celtis africana Ulmaceae Qawt Indigenous Tree [38, 45] 18 Cupressus lusitanica Cupressaceae Tisd Exotic Tree [36, 49, 51] 19 Pinus radiata Pinaceae Pinus Indigenous Tree [49, 51] 20 Albizia schimperiana Fabaceae Shimoro Indigenous Tree [36, 37, 46] 21 Acacia melanoxylon Fabaceae Omedla Exotic Tree  22 Cordia africana Boraginaceae Wanza Indigenous Tree  23 Carissa spinarum Apocynaceae Agam Indigenous Shrub  International Journal of Forestry Research 7 Table 4: Summarized studies on the conservation role of threatened plant species in some Church forests in Ethiopia. No Scientifc name Family name Local name Location Source Yemrehane Kirstos Church Forest, North Ethiopia, Sesa Mariam Monastery, 1 Juniperus procera Cupressaceae Yehabesha tsid [22, 46] Northwestern Ethiopia 2 Hagenea abyssinica Rosaceae Kosso Yemrehane Kirstos Church Forest, North Ethiopia [22, 37, 51] Yemrehane Kirstos Church forest, North Ethiopia; Sesa Mariam Monastery, 3 Podocarpus falcatus Podocarpaceae Zigba [22, 46] Northwestern Ethiopia 4 Prunus Africana Rosaceae Tiqur inchet Sesa MariamMonastery,Northwestern Ethiopia;ShelloGiorgis,NorthernEthiopia [46, 52] Yemrehane Kirstos Church Forest, North Ethiopia; Church Forests along Church 5 Olea europaea. ssp. cuspidate Oleaceae Weira age gradient in Addis Ababa Ethiopia; Debra-Libanos Monastery Forest patch of [22, 50, 54] North Oromia Region, Central Ethiopia 6 Celtis Africana Ulmaceae Qawt Sesa Mariam Monastery, Northwestern Ethiopia  7 Pinus radiata Pinaceae Pinus Selected Church Forests in Central Ethiopia  8 Cupressus lusitanica Cupressaceae Yeferige tsid Selected Church Forests in Central Ethiopia  9 Millettia ferruginea Fabaceae Birbira Aba Asrat Monastery, Northwestern Ethiopia  8 International Journal of Forestry Research Table 5: Summarized studies on the role of some Church forests for climate change mitigation in Ethiopia. −1 Mean carbon stock (t ha ) Location of Number of Average forest No Source Total carbon Church Forest sites studied area (ha) AGBC BGBC SOC LC stock 1 Teklehaymanot Monastery Forest, Southeastern Ethiopia 1 36.3 159±30 42±7.78 127.9 — 328.9  2 South Gondar, Amhara National Regional State, Northern Ethiopia 28 — 168 — — — 168  3 Church Forests in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 1 3.714 129.85 25.97 135.94 17.83 309.59  4 Woji Abune Aregawi Debere Bereket Church Forest, Northern Ethiopia 1 21.8 33.46 8.70 86.33 2.16 130.65  5 Montogera Estifanos Church Forest, Northern Ethiopia 1 7.5 58.76 15.28 76.52 2.37 152.93  6 Mai-Anbesa Kidane Miheret Monastery Forest, Northern Ethiopia 1 33 6.00 1.47 121.90 1.33 130.7  7 Emba Kidest Arsema Mekane Andinet Monastery Forest, Northern Ethiopia 1 16.9 0.71 0.18 116.01 1.33 118.23  8 Zequala Monastery Forest, Western Ethiopia 1 197 237.20 47.60 57.62 6.99 342.47  9 Tara Gedam Forest, Northern Ethiopia 1 875 306.37 61.52 274.32 0.90 642.21  10 Meskel Gedam Forest, Northern Ethiopia 1 146.34 29.27 131.79 3.03 310.43  11 Kotebe St. Gabriel Church, Central Ethiopia 1 4.02 155.47 31.09 0.89 117.1 308.57  12 AbunAregawi Church Forest, Central Ethiopia 1 7.4 183.20 26.24 0.82 120.3 337.96  13 St.Urael church forest, Central Ethiopia 1 0.34 112.87 20.14 0.98 131.1 265.43  14 Taeka Negest Bata Mariem Monastery forest, Central Ethiopia 1 2.26 103.06 20.61 1.1 99.9 226.93  15 St. Eyakem Wehana Church, Central Ethiopia 1 1.29 105.31 21.84 0.88 112.1 241.42  16 St. Estifanos Church Forest, Central Ethiopia 1 1.39 76.32 15.26 0.83 125.9 219.7  159.36  17 Saelite Meheretst Marry Church Forest, Central Ethiopia 1 2.72 55.21 11.04 0.79 89.6 18 CMC St. Michael Church, Central Ethiopia 1 1.16 43.20 8.64 0.83 118.2 172.03  19 Lamberet St. Kidanemiheret Church Forest, Central Ethiopia 1 1.56 59.97 11.99 0.98 87.2 161.7  161.686 20 Lamberet St. Medhanialem Church Forest, Central Ethiopia 1 1.35 56.58 11.316 0.84 91.6  21 Birhanate Alem Petros wo Pawulos Church Forest, Central Ethiopia 1 0.126 30.94 6.19 3.54 99.77 140.566  22 Genete Tsige Kidus Giyorgis church Forest, Central Ethiopia 1 0.765 187.04 37.41 7.36 131.58 364.155  23 Debre Keraniyo Madihanalem Church Forest, Central Ethiopia 1 0.209 51.25 10.25 4.59 158.06 224.359  24 Re’ese Adbarat Entoto Kidist Mariam Church Forest, Central Ethiopia 1 0.082 20.03 4.01 6.59 162.27 192.982  25 Menbere Tsebaot Kidist Silasse Church Forest, Central Ethiopia 1 1.815 444.15 88.83 3.52 144.23 682.545  26 Yeka Debre Sahil Kidus Michael Church Forest, Central Ethiopia 1 0.086 21.13 4.23 3.5 128.37 157.316  27 St. Geberial and Medhaniakea Church Forest, Southern Ethiopia 2 — 61.4 12.7 48.65 122.75  Note. AGBC: above-ground biomass carbon; BGBC: below-ground biomass carbon; SOC: soil organic carbon; LC: litter carbon. International Journal of Forestry Research 9 Table 6: Summarized studies on plant species having high potential in storing carbon around Church yards in Ethiopia. No Scientifc name Family name Local name Location Source Yemrehane Kirstos Church Forest, North Ethiopia; selected Churches in Addis 1 Juniperus procera Cupressaceae Yehabesha tsid [33, 46, 48, 49] Ababa, Central Ethiopia; Sesa Mariam Monastery, Northwestern Ethiopia 2 Eucalyptus globulus Myrtaceae Nech bahr zaf Selected Churches in Addis Ababa, Central Ethiopia  Sesa Mariam Monastery, Northwestern Ethiopia, selected Churches in Addis 3 Albizia gummifera Fabaceae Sesa [46, 48] Ababa, Central Ethiopia, Sesa Mariam Monastery, Northwestern Ethiopia; Yemrehane Kirstos Church 4 Olea europaea ssp. cuspidate Oleaceae Weira [33, 46, 49, 51] Forest, North Ethiopia; selected Churches in Addis Ababa, Central Ethiopia; 5 Acacia abyssinica Fabaceae Bazera gerar Selected Churches in Addis Ababa, Central Ethiopia,  Selected Churches in Addis Ababa, Central Ethiopia; Addis Ababa city selected 6 Cupressus lusitanica Cupressaceae Tsid [48, 51] Church Forests Church Forests in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; St. Geberial and Medhaniakea Church 7 Grevillea robusta Proteaceae Grevillea [41, 49] Forests, Southern Ethiopia 8 Cordia africana Boraginaceae Wanza Church Forests in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia  9 Acacia abyssinica Fabaceae Bazera gerar Church Forests in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia  10 Jacaranda mimosifolia Bignoniaceae Ytemnja zaf St. Geberial and Medhaniakea Church Forests, Southern Ethiopia  10 International Journal of Forestry Research Table 7: List of challenges that Ethiopian Church forests faced in selected geographical areas in Ethiopia. Location of the No Challenges Church Forest that Source faced diferent disturbances Church Forests in Highland Landscape of Ethiopian; North Shewa zone of AmharaRegion,Ethiopia;Tekle-HaymanotMonasteryForest,Southeastern 1 Livestock grazing [22, 27, 42, 48, 51, 54, 64] Ethiopia; South Gondar Administrative Zone, Northwestern Ethiopia; Shello Giorgis Church Forest, Northern Ethiopia Yemrehane Kirstos Church Forest, North Ethiopia; Church Forests, Anthropogenic disturbances (for wood products and expansion of Northern Ethiopia; Tekle-Haymanot Monastery Forest, Southeastern 2 [28, 51, 64] agricultural land) Ethiopia; South Gondar Administrative Zone, Northwestern Ethiopia, Shello Giorgis Church Forest, Northern Ethiopia Church Forests in Highland Landscape of Ethiopian, Church Forests, 3 Replacement of indigenous trees by fast-growing exotic species NorthernEthiopiaandChurchForests,SouthGondarAdministrativeZone, [1, 22, 28] Northwestern Ethiopia 4 Site cleaning for Church building 46 Sacred Groves, Northwestern Ethiopia [1, 64] Church Forests, Northwestern Ethiopia and Church Forests, Northern 5 Expansion of invasive species [28, 64] Ethiopia 6 Soil and water erosion Debre-Lebanos Church Forest, Central Ethiopia  7 Low awareness of the use of forest Church Forests, North Shewa Zone of Amhara Region, Ethiopia  Aba Asrat Monastery Forest, Northern Ethiopia, Sesa Mariam Monastery, 8 Expansion of farmlands [42, 68] Northwestern Ethiopia 9 Drought, wind, and aging Sesa Mariam Monastery, Northwestern Ethiopia  International Journal of Forestry Research 11 recorded as challenges that faced forests in Church areas and larger-diameter trees have good potential in seques- teringcarbon. Tus, trees aroundthe Churchhave longages [1, 2, 22, 31]. Te other big challenge is the replacement of indigenousherbsandshrubspecieswithinvasivespecieslike and have a high diameter class so their ability in absorbing carbon dioxide is higher [33, 46, 48]. Due to the presence of lantana camera, and this led extinction of species . thosebest-performedtreespecies,soilorganiccarbon(SOC) Te study by Cardelu’s and his friends  found that in Church forests is higher due to the addition of diferent human disturbance was high in more than half of the 44 organicmaterialsintothesoil,andthishelpsasagreenhouse studied Church forests in northwest Ethiopia, resulting in gasmitigationactivityundertheKyotoProtocol[64,72,73]. reduced tree species richness, biomass, and density. Fur- Lists of plant species having high potential in terms of thermore, Church forests degradation is ongoing, as logging carbon sequestration are presented in Table 6. and tree dieback of species such as Juniperus procera L. and Olea europaea spp. cuspidataleadto communityshifts, from dryAfromontaneforesttowardsshrubland[78,79].Overall, 4. Challenges to the Church Forests of Ethiopia the protection of Church forests from diferent disturbances is important for the conservation of biodiversity in areas Ethiopia faced diferent challenges in the development and conservation of forests [22, 27, 42, 74, 75]. Tus, habitat and threatened by deforestation and fragmentation [78–82]. species are being lost rapidly as a result of the combined Summarized studies on challenges to Ethiopian Church efects of environmental degradation, agricultural expan- forests in diferent geographical locations in Ethiopia are sion, deforestation, and over-harvesting of species [3, 4, 30]. presented in Table 7. Te loss of plant species is aggravated by human and live- stock population increase thus hastening the overall rural 5. Conclusion livelihood impoverishment and loss of the biological di- versity in Ethiopia [3, 22, 30]. Population increment led to Tecomprehensivereviewofpublishedworksindicatedthat a decrement in economic opportunities, and this puts churches and monasteries of the EOTC are often sur- positive energy for land conversion of forest to agriculture rounded by small natural forests characterized by a high and grazing, and timber exploitation for frewood and foral and faunal diversity with many indigenous, endemic, construction . and threatened species. Te conservation roles of Church Even though Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Churches forests are the substantial contribution of EOTC, and this is are considered sanctuaries for diferent plant and animal due to religious thought and local people’s willingness to species, evidence revealed that over time decreasing both in protect and conserve them. In addition to their biodiversity size and density, with visible losses in biodiversity [2, 43]. conservation benefts of Church forests, they have a signif- Te most commonly listed challenge by scholars is the icant contribution to mitigating atmospheric CO . Tis is grazing of seedlings and saplings [22, 29]. Ethiopia has the due to the presence of diverse plant species around yards of largest livestock population in Africa ; however, the the Church areas also having a major role in the remarkable livestock nutrition and the population’s livestock are im- carbon stock potential to sequester atmospheric carbon balanced. 75% of Ethiopian livestock is depending on free dioxide. Te nature of Church forests in terms of woody grazing as a feed source . In addition, poor management speciescompositionisdiverse,andstandparametersarealso of livestock in the feld led to the disturbance of the Church well-kept so they have high biomass carbon sequestration area by livestock searching for feed. Livestock grazing has potentials. Even though Church forests have an important a direct and indirect efect on the conservation of plant role in conservation and climate change mitigation, their species [22, 29, 42, 55]. potential is highly disturbed by diferent natural factors and Mainly challenges on Church forests have direct and anthropogenic encroachment. Grazing of Church areas is indirect efects; the direct disturbance of Church forests a frequently existing challenge listed in Ethiopia. Local through livestock grazing is the most critical challenge that people must work integrally with Church administrative signifcantly reduced plant species diversity. Tis is through workers for efective conservation and management of browsing and trampling of small understory vegetation, so Church forests. Free grazing must be replaced by a cut-and- this signifcantly reduced plant species diversity around the carry system to enhance the regeneration status of Church Church areas. Indirectly, livestock has an indirect efect forests healthy. Apart from this, the boundary Church area through the distraction of physical structures like soil must be demarcated and fenced for reducing diferent degradationwhenthestricterdetachedsoiliswashedby disturbances. runof and its nutrient availability is also reduced as a result of the suitability of the site for germination and initiation of Abbreviations seedling highly decline . Ten, the diversity of plant speciesalso reduced simultaneously overtime. According to AGBC: Above-ground biomass carbon studies by Wassie and his Colleagues , Ethiopia Church BGBC: Below-ground biomass carbon forest reported that grazing had a strong negative efect on CDD: Convention on biological diversity germination, seedling survival, and growth. 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