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How hundreds of small ‘Gardens of Eden’ guard against total deforestation in Ethiopia

‘The church is within the forest, the forest is inside the church.’

Ethiopia’s northern highlands were once covered by trees. But over the past century, development and exponential population growth have all but wiped out the region’s forests, transforming the landscape into an expanse of brown fields, given over to cattle grazing and agriculture. However, an aerial view of the region reveals small pockets of green with round buildings in the middle, dotting the barren expanses. Born of the centuries-old belief of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church that churches should be surrounded by forests so as to resemble the Garden of Eden, these sites have become valuable sanctuaries of biodiversity amid the extreme pressures of population growth. The Church Forests of Ethiopia explores how the Ethiopian ecologist Alemayehu Wassie is partnering with church leaders in a last stand against deforestation – an inspiring and uncommon partnership between science and religion. You can read more about the project at Emergence Magazine.

Director: Jeremy Seifert

Producer: Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee

Websites: Emergence Magazine, GO Project Films

4 March 2020