Watch this fascinating panel discussion: Hierotopia: Spirituality and Ecology of Ethiopian Church Forests, with Kieran Dodds, Dr. Margaret Lowman, and Dr. Alemayehu Wassie Eshete.

Recorded: November 10, 2022 / courtesy

From Bridgeport Projects: In the last 100 years, over 90% of Ethiopia’s forests have been lost to drought and deforestation. Yet in the area east of Lake Tana, the shady canopies of the Ethiopian Orthodox church are scattered like arbors across the arid landscape. Prayerful posture and social imagination meet in this sacralizing space that, for Ethiopian Christians, evokes a future hope: a new Eden where all relationships—natural, human, and divine—will be restored.

The religious significance of these forests is equalled by their ecological function, nourishing environments far beyond their walled boundaries. These oases raise water tables, cool temperatures, block destructive winds, and are home to yield-boosting pollinators which are critical to the region’s agricultural sustainability.