Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Science (MS)

Degree Name

Resource Conservation (International Conservation and Development)

Department or School/College

College of Forestry and Conservation

Committee Chair

Stephen Siebert

Commitee Members

Jill Belsky, Peter Koehn


African highland bamboo, rural household livelihoods, Bale Mountains, Yushania alpina, Shedem


University of Montana

Subject Categories

African Studies | International and Area Studies | Other Forestry and Forest Sciences | Place and Environment | Rural Sociology


Bamboo is a renewable resource that has been advocated as a means to alleviate poverty and foster rural development throughout the world. Ethiopia holds 67% of continental Africa’s bamboo coverage and is gaining interest by international markets. Despite great speculation about Ethiopia’s bamboo market potential, foundational information regarding household utilization and income reliance is lacking. To understand how bamboo contributes to rural Ethiopian households, a quantitative household assessment was undertaken in this study. A questionnaire census collected data from 371 households. A quantitative assessment of household incomes and assets evaluated what factors influence bamboo harvesting.

The contribution of bamboo to household income was most influenced by size of leased land area, number of household members and livestock ownership. Wealthier households had greater bamboo harvesting capacity, and harvested and profited more than poorer households. Income generated from bamboo harvesting was more important to low-income household livelihoods even though they harvested much less bamboo and earned less income overall. This study highlights the importance of wild NTFP resources to economic well-being, and the heterogeneity of bamboo harvesting and income among rural households. The census also found that bamboo harvesting exacerbates income inequality among households in the community. Households with more leased land area harvested more bamboo and had larger agricultural income profits, while poorer households relied greatly upon income from bamboo harvesting. Additional research should focus on the capacity of rural bamboo harvesters to improve their management, harvesting techniques and better integrate them with outside production and trade. Tenure security, by issued land leases for forest access, could incentivize local residents to sustainably utilize bamboo. If bamboo commercialization progresses in Ethiopia, native bamboo species should be prioritized to maintain the value and existence of current bamboo resources and to support the communities who rely upon them.



© Copyright 2015 Bridget L. Tinsley