Lack of long-term hydrological monitoring makes it difficult to determine impacts of changing land use on the water dynamics for many catchments in Africa.
Here we use local ecological knowledge (LEK) to explore the impacts of rapid expansion of eucalyptus agroforestry on water security in the Ethiopian highlands. Local knowledge about the impacts of changes in tree cover was collected from farmers (n = 30), extension staff (n = 2) and timber merchants (n = 2) in five kebeles within the Jeldu woreda.
Jeldu has undergone significant land use change over the last forty years. The area was heavily deforested 20 years ago and farmers associate this time with a major change in the water dynamics. Recently the development of a new road to Goja, the main town, opened up the area as a source of timber for Addis Ababa. This has resulted in a substantial expansion of eucalyptus plots adjacent to roads on the upper plateau and in riparian areas where growth is accelerated. Poorer farmers have been displaced on to the sloping land (which used to be woodland) where there is now evidence of rapid soil degradation.