The government of Eritrea has been encouraging the establishment of permanent enclosures as one way of insuring food security. In the high land part of Eritrea land use practices has been used for long centuries. However in the lowland part of Eritrea such practices has not been in to effect. But in the due time the continuous pressure on natural resources (forest resources) has been a treat to the indigenous tree species and wild animals. To conserve the remaining forests there was an initiative that every village to reserve certain part of its land for permanent enclosure.
Gash Barka Region which lies in the south western part of Eritrea is rich in diversity of natural resources and potential for vast agricultural development.
Molki sub zone is one of the 14 sub zones of the Gash Barka Region. The inhabitants are mostly agro pastoralists, who depend for their livelihood on farming and livestock. Due to clustering of villages an effective land use system need to be adapted. As a result of this classification the Debeno permanent Enclosure was established in 2012 with the initiative of the local inhabitants. The area is dominated with range of large mountains.
As establishment and sustainable use of natural resources is one way of food security, the priority of the government, the initiative of the community is fully supported by the authorities and the ministry of agriculture in the sub zone. Technical and management support has been provided in the establishment of the Debeno enclosure.
The aims of the enclosure establishment was to preserve the remaining local ancient tree species, decrease land degradation due to water erosion, fodder supply for livestock, wild animals conservation. To do this the community has recruited 10 guards established management committee to follow up the status of the enclosure. Besides every individual villager has the responsibility to look after the running of the enclosure.
The area is fully dominated with indigenous tree species such as Acacia senegal, Acacia mellifera, Acacia oerfota, Adansonia Digitata, Boswellia papyrifera, Tamarindus indica Diospyros mespilifoemis, Ficus glumosa, Albizia amara and Dichrostachys cinerea. Some of the tree species now available in the enclosure are in danger of extinction in other areas. Due to subsistence agriculture these forest area has been under serious pressure from the surrounding inhabitants for agricultural expansion and cutting of trees for different uses, as the livelihood of the inhabitants fully depends on forest resources.
As the topography of the land is dominated with large mountains, most of it is not suitable for crop cultivation activities, so the village administrations set aside the land with an area of around 12,500 hectares as a permanent enclosure. In a permanent enclosure livestock grazing, cutting of trees, agricultural practices and hunting of wildlife are seriously prohibited.
What is unique about the Debeno enclosure is that, the area includes an area with of altitude range from 900 m up to 2200 m above sea level. As a result the land is home for diverse tree species and wild animals.
History shows that the land was full of wild animals like Antelope, Lion, Leopard, Guzzle, Rhino, Giraffe, Zebra, Oryx, lion, Tora Hartebeest, African buffalo, klipspringer
Etc. Due to war, hunting, drought and habitat destruction almost all of these wild animals are extinct from Eritrea. At the moment few Antelope, Leopard, klipspringer, hyenas, and baboons are remaining. Before the establishment of the enclosure the status of their existence was endanger. As a result of the enclosure establishment now their existence is secured, even though a ground survey has not been done it is estimated that their number is increasing.
Every year more than 500 quintals of gum Arabic and incense is extracted from the Acacia senegal and Boswellia papyrifera which is source of foreign currency. The grasses available are harvested once a year and the dry wood once in three months with the permit from the local administration. With the assessment done by the local community and the government authorities, the inhabitants are fully satisfied with the benefit they are getting from the enclosure.
One inhabitant commented that”as we all know the long dry season have been a great problem for everyone of us with lack of feed for our livestock and our animals have been dying of starvation, but after the establishment of the enclosure we have experienced the cut and carry system of grass harvesting and thanks God our livestock have passed the dry season without a problem of feed.”
The enclosure is model to its environs on how conservation of forests and wildlife resources could be compatible with sustainable economic development