Spatial patterns and determinants of smallholder tree planting in Northwest Highlands of Ethiopia
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Trees outside forest have immense benefits for people's welfare in rural Ethiopia. Understanding and characterizing the incentives and constraints of smallholder tree growers is essential to hasten efforts in rural transformation. This study has investigated the most important tree species grown by smallholder farmers in the highlands of northwest Ethiopia. Data was collected from 150 households that grow the trees. Survey with semi structured questionnaire interviews was used to collect information on tree species grown, tree growing niches and uses, as well as, selected socio economic characteristics. The number of trees and types of tree species grown by each household was calculated with and without adjusting to farm size. Linear regression model and other tests were employed to identify the most important determinants of tree growing behaviour of households and spatial variables affecting the abundance and frequency of tree species. About 25 tree species were found grown by farmers. The total number of trees, tree species and their spatial patterns differed markedly among farms. Multiple linear regression of tree abundance and frequency of tree species on household characteristics showed significant relationship. The number of livestock owned by the household, land holding size and age of the head of the household affect positively the number of trees and number of tree species grown by the households. Gender affected the species and spatial pattern of trees. Our result support the proposition that farmers assign their parcels of lands to land uses that increase the rent value of the land, and this rent value was affected by spatial variables. Our results suggest that future policy and extension program should target increasing the number of tree species on resource endowed households, and increasing the number of trees on younger and less resource endowed ones. Our finding that farm land and boundary planting to be important tree growing niche may indicate future intervention points.