Our expedition of 13 arrived in Ethiopia, missing one suitcase and one participant — not a bad track record for travel into these remote places. Matt caught up 2 days later, as did Andrew’s luggage. We are now a team, and were joined by Rolex laureate Brukty Tigabu and her new TV show called Young Investigators who climbed and filmed our Zhara church forest work.

On day 1, we headed out to Zhara outside of Bahir Dar. it was an extraordinary feeling to be greeting by many villagers, and to see our TREE-foundation-funded wall encircling this special forest. The gates are in the right places, the locals used their own stone to build the walls and thus “own” it, and the new latrines have actually reduced the populations of dung beetles (or so we think!). I met with the priest who was terribly grateful that their Coptic church will now be steward of nature for generations to come.

Ethiopia Stone WallThis is our first full-completed conservation wall, and even better, they have become meeting places and conversation sites — with lots of kids and adults like sitting and relaxing on the wall itself. Best of all, the cows linger on the OUTSIDE of the forest, grazing on grass instead of on tree seedlings. And another wonderful observation was that the priests designated the perimeter construction to be at least 50 feet from the existing forest boundary, meaning that they have space to restore forest that had been destroyed due to overgrazing and pressures of clearing over the past decades.

One by one, Ethiopia’s forests and their treasure of fresh water, biodiversity, pollinators, soil conservation, spiritual heritage, and shade will be conserved for future generations. Thank you to everyone who has helped with this amazing success — it took a global village for this day to actually happen!