Ethiopia’s Simien Mountains National Park is off the List of World Heritage in DangerJul 17, 2017
Ethiopia’s Simien Mountain National Park, known for its rare species of animals and bio-diversity, is thriving again and it has now been removed from the List of World Heritage in danger.
The park was registered in 1978, the first natural World Heritage Site for the country, but faced various challenges in the coming years including a drop in number of its endemic animals, human encroachment, overgrazing, traffic road disturbance, and lack of proper gazetting. In 1996, UNESCO placed the Simien Mountain National Park on the endangered list.
In order to bring back the Simien Mountain National Park to its previous glory and conserve the endemic fauna and flora, United Nations Development Program (UNDP) partnered with the Global Environment Facility (GEF) to reverse the negative trends in the management and use natural resources. In 2008, UNDP and GEF launched the Sustainable Development of Protected Area project that would help Ethiopia to develop its protected area systems in a sustainable manner. Over the years, UNDP has invested USD 4 Million while GEF provided USD 8 Million for the project.
Through this intervention, Ethiopia was supported to revise the existing Wildlife policy and ensure the official re-gazetting of the Simien Mountain National Park.
The project also supported the Semien Mountain National Park to install systems to enable ecological monitoring and wildlife census, roll out radio communication system as well as enhance law enforcement through training of paramilitary, professionals and scouts. The assigned scouts were also provided with uniforms, vehicles, field materials and equipment to ensure that they can perform their duties well.
Community engagement is key to ensure the sustainable management of protected areas. Through the support of the project, a new wildlife marketing strategy was prepared to boost tourism to the parks and at the same time increase the income of the community from visitors. Using the GEF small grant fund, UNDP helped surrounding communities to engage in diversified alternative income generation activities including setting up and managing community lodges, bee keeping, weaving, traditional handicraft, bakery and highland fruit production.
UNDP’s policy advice support has also resulted in the development of regulations and revision of proclamations, sternghened the capacity of 14 and the establishment of new Protected Areas as well as helping the country to play a leading role in the establishment of the Horn of Africa Wildlife Enforcement Network.
UNDP continues to be the lead agency in providing the Government of Ethiopia with the support and management of national protected areas and is also actively lobbying for inclusion of Bale Mountains National Park on the World Heritage list.
The Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority estimates that the ecosystem services associated with the country’s protected areas are around 325 million USD annually. Protected areas have now become one of Ethiopia’s development pillars to ensure the achievement of the country’s climate resilience green economy.