Mapping and characterizing the Jefoure roads that have cultural heritage values in the Gurage socio-ecological production landscape of Ethiopia

In Landscape and Urban Planning
Volume (Issue): 210
Peer-reviewed Article

Information about cultural landscape settings and characteristics is essential for understanding and finding solutions for their sustainable management. In the Gurage socio-ecological production landscape of Ethiopia, “Jefoure” refers to a traditional grass-covered road with households on either side. This study aims to map and characterize Jefoure roads to help manage them sustainably. Data were compiled using survey tools and recent orthophoto images and then were qualitatively and quantitatively analyzed. The results underscore Jefoure as a network of roads of variable lengths that can be as extensive as 87 m. Notably, the physical geography of the landscape has an impact on the length, shape, and directions of these roads. Jefoure roads are multifunctional roads that have been designed and managed by local people for centuries. The Gurage settlement pattern is centered on these roads, which influences their home garden functional spaces. Residents, local groups, land-use planners, and decision-makers need to manage the cultural roads sustainably. This study generates valuable empirical information regarding a Gurage landscape feature that is not common knowledge, and it can support decision-makers and other conservation initiatives aimed at the sustainable management. It may also inform and encourage other researchers in their studies on similar cultural roads. This road has a cultural value and needs to work on its heritagization, in conjunction with the community's various cultural assets.