Department of Natural Resources Management

Background of the Program

Natural Resources (NRs) are at the core of human civilization. They are engine for economic advancement and societal wellbeing. Everything we need and everything we use, as individual or society, in processed or unprocessed form are extracts of NRs. Indeed, they are our food, shelter, energy, medicine, raw materials, etc. The role and importance of NRs in economic development and societal wellbeing is nowhere else appreciated than in developing countries like Ethiopia whose populations are predominantly rural in structure and directly dependent on natural resources for subsistence.

Today the NR bases of the country are heavily suffering widespread improper and unwise utilization resulting in their rapid degradation. Deforestation, desertification, loss of biodiversity, soil erosion, soil fertility decline, soil acidification, salinization, environmental pollution and climate change are some of the major expressions of natural resources problems in the contemporary Ethiopia. As more users place demands on the scarce environmental resources, the need for intelligent conservation and rational management of the natural assets is ever greater, the very concept of sustainable development. The fundamental principle of sustainable development entails that the use of natural resources by a generation should not compromise (i) their roles in maintaining natural ecological balance, (ii) their position in environmental quality and integrity, and (iii) their quantity and quality such that successive generations could also satisfy their needs.

Natural resources management forms part and parcel of sustainable development and is a systems approach (integrated-holistic approach) to managing our natural resources. This program in NRM attempt to address the biological, engineering, social, economical and policy related aspects of managing natural resources as an integrated system. The Natural Resources Management program thus prepares students not only to care for the land and water resources, but also to serve the people whose well-being depends on these resources. The program also provides an opportunity for students interested in managing society's impacts on the environment and how to manage it for long lasting benefit.

The idea of this curriculum is incited following identification of the multidirectional problems encountering the sustainable management of the country’s natural resources. As past experiences witnessed, attempts to achieve sustainability on the management of several natural resources independently do not furnish successful results. The strong stewardship of the environment as a whole is characterized by a wide variety of disciplines and approaches in training, and thus demands multidisciplinary- interdisciplinary- transdisciplinary knowledge in broad areas that combines natural and social sciences. Indeed, this Natural Resources Management curriculum is designed to achieve such an approach, and by offering a properly selecting relevant supportive, basic, skill (research and management supporting tools) and diverse scientific disciplines focusing on most natural resources, and by showing the interaction among them and with their stakeholders that use and manage them. The focus of the curriculum is on integrated (nature-society) approach. The courses are further organized in well taught modules that packages inter-related courses together so as to deliver focused and comprehensive knowledge and skills to students on major focus of the curriculum. At the end of each module students will be acquainted with sufficient scientific and practical skills relevant to the aim of the module and certified for each module accordingly.

The curriculum is well structured with flow of modules beginning with supportive fundamental sciences and stepwise moving into modules packaged with more disciplinary and inter-disciplinary courses and terminating with skill offering modules in research and managerial tools. At successful completion of all the modules, a student will be qualified for a BSc degree holder in NRM, and will be certified as a competent graduate capable of working effectively in broad areas of Natural Resources Management holistically. We firmly believe that students graduating with this curriculum are able to (i) improve the situations of the resources and also that of the farm households that depend on them, and (ii) give advice and technical support for small scale natural resource based industries and for better environment as a whole.