Autochthonous and Introduced Stores of Biomass Value: Measuring Resilience Outcomes of Enset and Eucalyptus as Green Assets in Three Representative Smallholder Farm Systems of Ethiopia

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Fundamental shifts in the ability to observe our world with synoptic satellite remote sensing and the profusion of trend tracking longitudinal data sources not only better inform us of the mounting trouble our planet is in but also provide completely new perspectives on basic shared understandings, such as how many trees grow on Earth and where they take root. Observing the dispersed pattern of increasing tree cover across a multidecadal satellite mosaic, developed by Matt Hansen and colleagues at University of Maryland at College Park, sparked an interest in the ramifications of this unanticipated change, marked clearly upon the landscape in Ethiopia. The following chapters explore the relation of changing amounts of autochthonous treelike perrenial enset and introduced eucylyptus trees, commonly found on Ethiopian farms, to smallholder resilience, food security, and well-being. Spatially informed longitudinal models for three representative subnational data sets are used to investigate the central thesis of this dissertation—trees and treelike perennials on farms in rural Ethiopia indicate a fundamental store of value in living biomass, building a household’s assets over time through improved biomass management, for resilient small farm livelihoods that ensure food security and related well-being. Green assets acting as biomass stores indicate natural “value,” representing transformed and stored energy of the sun, that Blaikie and Brookfield (1987) considered inadequately captured as a no-cost contribution to the “use value” concept in development economics, economic geography production, and income-focused research, as well as in Marx’s (1887/2013) labor-focused value constructs that only briefly acknowledge workers are helped by the transformative “natural forces” at work on the land. Model results presented in Chapters 3, 4, and 5 reveal a lack of on-farm trees and treelike perennials often indicates biomass poverty and energy insecurity. Chronic biomass poverty, measured with spatially aware hierarchal models, is related to an inability to maintain a sufficient level of essential green assets, thereby contributing to poor resilience and well-being outcomes on small farms. On the other hand, medium and longer term asset accumulation supports improved well-being when livelihood strategies make use of farm forests, other on-farm trees, and treelike perennials.