I’ve been trawling through Google search results since I came across a link to the article, Saving Ethiopia’s “Church Forests”. A brief quote:
There are some 35,000 church forests in Ethiopia, ranging in size from a few acres to 300 hectares. Some churches and their forests may date back to the fourth century, and all are remnants of Ethiopia’s historic Afromontane forests. To their followers, they are a sacred symbol of the garden of Eden — to be loved and cared for, but not worshipped.
Fascinating stuff. Be sure to check out the outgoing links, especially the powerpoint presentation by Alemayehu Wassie Eshete (whose 2007 dissertation, Ethiopian Church Forests: opportunities and challenges for restoration, is on the same subject, and may be available online).