The picture to the left shows the mountain stream with native Juniper trees just a few steps above Bees' Cliff (14) -
 located in the opposite direction to the image's visual field.

Foreign trees often have difficulties adjusting to their new environment. The Eucalyptus is growing apparently without trouble, but it is not capable of sexually reproducing itself, i.e. the seeds do not germinate in the Ethiopian soils. Therefore the standard procedure of introduction is the planting of seedlings.

The young trees soon start to compete very efficiently with other vegetation. It is a fast grower, quickly reaching above other trees and suppressing them. At the same time, a chemical component in the leaves and roots prevents the growth of other trees and herbs. This leads to a monoculture with Eucalyptus as the only tree species and eventually no ground cover.

The Ancient Creation Of The Ground's Biodiversity

With the Important Legacy of Native Trees

The Foundation of Natur's Symbiosis.
The symbiotic synergy within the biodiversity of the native
 plants' roots thereby counter-acted the water resistance of
 the dense-packed ground and opened the soil's ability to
 stabilize porous permeability. This basic phenomenon
 between plants and soils allowed the water to pass
 through deeper soil layers and to reach aquifers.
The Complex Sciences of Nature
Thanks to complex symbiotic biodiversity development in a remote geological time of the evolution of plants and ground-living organisms, they obtained the symbiosis to open the Earth's surface layers' permeability. Thus, these ancient organisms with the native original plants liberated the otherwise water-repellent surface of the soil and gave the ground its water-absorbing properties. Hence, the indigenous forest elucidates as the main factor for its ability to saturate the aquifers, with the potent water accumulation effect within the actual depth of the mountain massif's total configuration. 

The Armoured Biodiversity from the Past
With the intricate guardian biology from the primaeval forest's armoured and water-assisting lushness, the native roots, together with microorganisms in symbiosis, interfered with the complex work of cultivating the otherwise prevailing brittle and fragile soils. Hence, with their intricately stabilizing fibrous roots, these plants in ancient times made a symbiosis with the surrounding Earth's organisms and initiated at the beginning of time the path for the water through the soil and towards the Earth's groundwater reservoirs. 

The Eucalyptus Tree

An Intruder from a Time of Imprudence for Nature

The Eucalyptus demands large quantities of water, regrettably due to its destructive ability to reject deluges into torrential flash floods. Areas that were periodically wet and with a flora adjusted to such conditions get drained by planted Eucalyptus. Because of the poor flora and the lack of plants needed by specialized insects and birds, the biodiversity of a eucalyptus plantation is extremely low. Also, when timber is continuously being taken out of the area without any fertilizer input, the soil quality gradually decreases, reducing the possibility of reintroducing indigenous species.

The Devastating Threat from a Foreign Toxicity

Therefore, it is crucial to prioritize scientific research and practical measures to combat erosion because torrential floods caused by erosive forces can be a significant threat. The harmful impact of foreign trees on Ethiopia's natural environment, such as the toxicity of artificially implanted Australian eucalyptus trees, highlights the need for careful investigation into the detrimental effects of incompatible substances and organisms that lead to soil degradation and erosion. Therefore, understanding natural sciences is crucial before introducing foreign species into a potentially vulnerable habitat.

The Ecological Background of the Native Forest

Direction Map to the Alluring Past
The Native Trees and Their Capacity to Distribute Purified Ground-Water.

Due to the ancient native trees' evolutionary optimized ecology, the plants have genetically evolved into formidable distributors of the superficial rainwater, allowing this water to penetrate the soil's otherwise porous resistive structure. Thus the native, ancient plants loosened up the soil's otherwise dense fabrics through these intricate fibrous networks of plant roots.

The Original Properties of Trees & Soils.
The Earth's surface layer's permeability resistance opened its porous permeability and allowed the water to pass to the deeper regions of the soil layers and aquifers. Hence, the intricate biology within the ancient life forms optimized their DNA to distribute this water into the deeper layers of natural mountain areas. These native trees gave the ground with its soils and deeper rocks a significantly increased and specified deposit in quantity and quality of purified water.

The Wild and Fertile Forest from the Ancient Era

This original forest (40) just to the right of point (16) is captivatingly wild and consists of these more than 50 years old indigenous Juniperus procera trees. This native woodland (40) provides a unique contact with Nature with somewhat exotic primaeval lushness and a great surprise. This native Juniper woodland (40) is massive in its appearance and stunning in vitality, with a perfect, lush and dense undergrowth. This native forest's vibrancy and lushness are beyond what a visitor would usually expect in proximity to the Capital.

The healing capacity of a native forest

The natural health and fertile beauty in this indigenous Juniper forest (40) illuminates with precision the healing ability of a native forest and the severe Nature and habitat destruction that occurred at the introduction of the Eucalyptus tree. The importance of careful research regarding knowledge in natural sciences is given a rigorous and evident example before any foreign species is regarded as possible for an introduction into an unfamiliar and vulnerable habitat.

The Precious Cultural Legacy 

Traditions and Environment

The Environment, Culture & Prosperity
Requirements of Native Seedlings.
However, much work has been done to re-form an upper soil layer with a protective undergrowth. It would, therefore, be very pleasing to information about a new generation of this highly-blessed historic tree, which, however, still grows in the magical graceful and appealing landscape of Entoto Natural Park.

Environment and Prosperity.
The indigenous Podocarpus falcatus (P. gracilior) tree is scarce at Entoto with a few mature trees and does not appear to produce seedlings with the Eucalyptus planted surroundings. It seems that it is no longer possible to give surviving progeny in the barren, eroded, exposed lands that have been formed since the introduction of the alien eucalyptus tree over a hundred years ago.

The Original Nature for Water Health -

Indigenous Variation of Habitat Creation

Indigenous Trees
When designing with Nature, due care prevails in creating habitats (biotopes) suitable for the area's physical conditions is essential. Juniperus procera is the natural species of Entoto, and it should dominate the future Natural Park. However, to withhold the natural health with the diversity of plants, a specific variation in species prevails as outermost crucial to the Park's restoration, thus requiring a wide variety of species within the indigenous forest.

The 17km² of the Park's mountainous terrain provides excellent variations in topography, humidity, climate, and soil. Given due care for the unique conditions specified for each spot when planting and managing, these considerations are crucial for the indigenous vegetation's health. These analyses of topography's essential impact on the ground's and plant's stability and health constitute the primary source when estimating the restoration of the Park's ground and natural habitat. (Hรฅkan Blanck and Pia Englund, Entoto Natural Park 1995).

Entoto's High Plateau and its Amazing Nature

Image: Juniperus procera trees,
Bees' Cliff, the High Plateau.

Juniperus procera

Ecology: A valuable timber tree indigenous to Ethiopia and eastern Africa highland forests 1,500-3,000 m. It is the largest Juniper in the world. It does best in high rainfall but can survive quite dry conditions once established. It performs well in Moist and Wet Weyna Dega and Dega agroclimatic zones (Azene Bekele-Tesemma 1993).

A Great Wildlife View with the Meandering Streams.
This plateau just above Bees' Cliff is a magnificent place with a great panorama view over the stream and many characters in the landscape. When the scene turns south, the abyss Bees' Cliff (14), the ravine, is very close, where the river's further gorge meandering (35) becomes intuitively felt through the profound cooling airflow rising from the unknown abyss below the field of view.

A Time of Fragrance, Harmony and Beauty.

At the end of the rainy season in September - October, the high plateau becomes a deep attraction where streams and waterfalls stabilize. A gentle, romantic flow of ideal conditions becomes evident in October- November. 

A purging fresh stream runs by leaps and joy beyond the secret path of Kidane Mehret's sacred stone walls. Beauty shines beyond hidden depths and abyss to be seen at the Bees' Cliff (14).

Podocarpus falcatus (P. gracilior)

Podocarpus falcatus  (P. gracilior)

This tree is scarce at Entoto and does not appear to compete with the Eucalyptus planted surroundings. It seems that it is no longer possible to give surviving progeny in the barren, eroded, exposed lands that have been formed since the introduction of the alien eucalyptus tree over a hundred years ago. (Podocarpus Tree with Plants Map)

However, much work has been done to re-form an upper soil layer with a protective undergrowth. It would be a very significant surprise to receive information about a new and naturally germinated generation of this highly-blessed historic tree, which still grows in a magical, graceful, and appealing landscape.

The fact that this tree is related to Juniper appears with clarity; in this context, difficulties arise with the seed's vulnerability. The Podocarpus tree seed and its stem are considerably longer than the corresponding comparison with the Juniper tree seed and hence higher and more vulnerable to climates and grazing animals.

An unprecedented vulnerability arises because the two related species have the same peculiarity in lifting their seeds up from the ground to the height of their crisp stalk. This vulnerability with an exposed uplifted grain applies to the Podocarpus tree. This species makes this seed presented with utmost sensibility and thus becomes an immediate victim on a hard and away offensive clay-soil crust or herbivorous.  

This peculiarity in seed design of setting kernels to sprout with the high lift was developed at the beginning of these trees' era (evolution) and in epochs long before any human culture or species. Through this evolutionary prehistory, these seed stalks and kernels were naturally received with a moist, typically loose and absorbing soil (humus) and a surrounding of dense protective undergrowth that could hide and shield these so tender exposed vertically raised kernel stalks.

An evolutionary legacy from a time of natural wealth

Podocarpus falcatus
A beautiful memory that attracts modern science and art.
With glowing passion and warmth, it is still spoken among the residents of Entoto about when the water level a reasonable time after the rainy season still stood one metre higher in Entoto's deep streams and its enchanting nature rock baths. It is thus quite close to the time when Entoto's mountain massif and its canyons could carry significantly higher water quantity and therefore supply the population in the Capital with fresh water to a much greater extent.

Conclusion and Wonderful Solution
This small Podocarpus tree carries a unique heritage that can be very important for the Park's legacy. This tree's seed was picked from the mother tree in the circle (B), west of the path, left of the area (39) and clearly above (38). The stalk to the seed of this tree is considerably more significant in height than the equivalent of the Juniper tree seed. With this uniqueness of raising their brittle stems, an excellent and traditional solution arises where Rosa abyssinica guards the seedlings thanks to the sharpness of its defending thorns.

Plant defence against herbivory

The World's Heritage:

A Delicate and Precious Legacy of Symbiosis

Hence, Nature's organic protective and shielding mechanism of the native plants executed at the old-time its natural character to protect and save this precious water for spare time in a still unknown dry season in the coming years. 


Useful trees and shrubs for Ethiopia:

Identification, Propagation and

 Management for 17 Agroclimatic Zones

Azene Bekele-Tesemma

Edited by
Bo Tengnรคs, Ensermu Kelbesa, Sebsibe Demissew and Patrick Maundu

The contents of this handbook may be reproduced without special permission. However, acknowledgement of the source is requested. The photographers and artists concerned must be contacted for reproduction of illustrations. The views expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of World Agroforestry Centre.


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