Ethiopia Invests in Protection of its National Parks
Ethiopia’s prime minister has signed a regulation that now legally places seven national parks as protected areas, including the Simien National Park, which is on UNESCO’s world heritage site.
The Simien National Park, with outstanding landscape created millions of years ago, is home to a number of threatened species such as the Ethiopian wolf, Walia ibex, and Gelada baboon. Also on the list is the Alitash National Park, which borders Dinder National Park in neighboring South Sudan.
Protected Areas Highlights
- The seven protected areas are the Gambella National Park; the Bale Mountains National Park; the Quafta Shiraro National Park; the Senekele Swayne’s National Park; the Awash National Park; the Alitash National Park; and the Simien National Park.
- Sustainable Development of Protected Areas project is implemented during 2008-2016.
- The Ethiopian Wildlife Development and Conservation Authority was established in 2008.
The official gazzeting of the seven protected areas follows intensive consultation with local communities as well as key stakeholders. The legal move is seen as a success for the policy and technical support provided by an US$11 million Sustainable Development of Protected Areas project implemented by UNDP and the Global Environment Facility (GEF) since 2008.
“The successful regulation of these national parks will set the way for the legalization of the remaining national protected areas in the country” Wubua Mekonnen, GEF Programme Analyst at UNDP Ethiopia.
Ten percent of Ethiopia’s total land mass is estimated to fall under protected area category. This includes 14 at national federal level and 26 regional protected areas, sanctuaries and hunting areas. Most of Ethiopia’s wildlife parks were established over 40 years ago, however declining management of the areas has meant that many animal and plant species have unfortunately made it on the endangered list, as has happened in the case of the Semien Mountain National Park . The Council of Ministers endorsed draft bills in late 2014 to counter this decline and protect Ethiopia’s wildlife resources as well as boost the economic benefits the country receives from these sites.
Following the clear boundaries and legal enforcement now in place in the seven national parks, the surrounding community is expected to have better understanding of the domino effect of human intervention that leads to negative impact on the eco-system and ultimately lead to macro-climate changes. This includes the consequences of over utilization of the natural resources such as in the case of over-grazing and cultivation. The community’s raised awareness is predicted to lead to the rehabilitation of natural resources such as water and fertility of the soil outside the park.
The surrounding community is expected to also benefit from increased tourism income as a result of improved management of the parks. Community members will now have a stronger role in the management of the parks, particularly representatives of women and youth groups who will sit on the park’s advisory committee.