This is the third occasion on which We celebrate Arbour Day. As We have stated on previous occasions, the main objective of the development programme which We have adopted for the welfare of Our people is to preserve and augment the wealth derived from our land, and, agriculture being the basis of our economy, to increase the yield of Our soil through maximum utilization. The forest resources of Our Empire constitute one of the most important elements of the wealth of Our land.
When Our forests are properly conserved, they protect the fertile soil of Ethiopia from erosion; they render the landscape green and beautiful. But when forests are neglected and gradually destroyed, the wealth of Our land is progressively reduced and the country slowly becomes bare and barren.
Wood-cutting is an important source of income for our rural population. But the needlessness of their tree-cutting and their thoughtless misuse of Our timber stands demonstrate clearly that they do not understand the great and far-reaching importance of preserving Our forests.
The uses of trees are many and varied. Groves of trees protect our fields and plantations from being desiccated by the desert winds that blow from neighbouring regions. During the summer months, they provide moisture and shade. If trees are not presently planted to replace those being cut down from time to time, Our constant efforts to conserve and develop the wealth of Our country for the welfare of present and future generations will be rendered ineffective and futile. We are greatly grieved to observe the many thousands of gashas of rich forest land being destroyed every year by reckless timber-cutting, thoughtless forest burning, unregulated forest grazing, and other misuses of Our forest wealth, due to popular ignorance and desire for temporary advantage on the part of Our people.
It is a matter of great concern for Us that the forest wealth which God in His mercy has bestowed upon Our country is thus being continually reduced and wasted. Hence it becomes the duty and obligation of every single Ethiopian to become aware of the tremendous industrial and agricultural advantages to be derived from Our forest resources, and to practise tree-planting, in order that Our hills and planes which have been stripped of their wooded cover may once again be clothed in their green mantle.
The existence or non-existence of forest wealth in a country is one of the most important factors influencing its development and progress. The increasing pace of deforestation and the growing dearth of timber in Ethiopia, caused by unregulated tree-cutting and the failure to replace these by new plantings, give Us occasion for anxiety that a severe economic problem will confront the coming generation. It is essential that steps be taken here and now to stop this wastage and to check this destruction.
In these days when all nations of the world, in recognition of the tremendous importance of forest wealth, have launched intensive programmes for forest conservation and re-forestation, it behooves Our country also to take the appropriate measures to solve this problem.
It is Our wish and Our desire that each and every citizen of Our country follow the example We set on this Arbour Day in planting this tree, and himself plant as many trees as he can, for his own benefit as well as for the benefit of future generations.