Ethiopia has some of the world’s rarest animals and plants but these are now in danger of disappearing forever due to overuse and loss of natural habitat. While people are without doubt a most valuable resource in Ethiopia, uncontrolled population growth puts ever-increasing pressures on the country’s natural resource base. Inadequate economic policies have deepened poverty/widened inequalities and forced rural people and others to exploit biodiversity at rates that are no longer sustainable. As a result, processes such as deforestation, overgrazing, soil erosion, and desertification have become major threats to the remaining biodiversity in Ethiopia. Ethiopia is believed to have had extensive vegetation/forest cover; that has dwindled to less than 3% at the present time.

The continuing loss of this forest habitat with its associated fauna and flora will have serious implications for the nation’s other natural and agro-ecosystems. Just as more and more people may be part of the problem, they must also be part of the solutions. The key to protecting the biological heritage of Ethiopia lies in the involvement of local people and in the support provided by competent institutions for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. The Government of Ethiopia recognised the importance of these measures in the preparation of the Conservation Strategy of Ethiopia (1997) and in becoming a signatory to in 1992, and ratifying the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in 1994.

The current Ethiopian Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (EBSAP) will address interlinked issues comprising biodiversity protection and management for food security (poverty reduction), health and livelihood improvement of the Ethiopian population especially the rural communities (farmers and pastoralists) whose survival depends on the use of natural resources. In parallel it is the first attempt to meet the planning requirements of the Convention as well as the national biodiversity conservation needs.

It tries to roll into one of the three sequential processes called for under the Convention (the country study, national strategy, and action plan). As such it provides a brief assessment of the status and trend of the nation’s biodiversity (Chapter 2), outlines strategic goals and objectives (Chapter 3), and identifies a plan of action that outlines co-ordination arrangements and implementation measures (Chapters 4, 5, and 6). Preparation of the NBSAP has been carried out under an agreement between the Government of Ethiopia and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) under the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Trust Fund.

The process leading up to preparation of the NBSAP has involved broad participation from governments, local communities, academia and civil society through national and regional-level consultative workshops to develop and review the draft document.

Background information required for the formulation of the present Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan has been compiled by national experts on sectoral and cross-cutting issues on the following topics: Ecosystems of Ethiopia; Forest Biodiversity; Medicinal Plants; Biodiversity in Essential Oil Bearing Plants; Field Crops Biodiversity; Pasture and Forage Biodiversity; Horticultural Crop Biodiversity; Terrestrial Wild Animals and Protected Areas; Aquatic Animals Diversity; Domestic Animal Biodiversity; Microbial Biodiversity; Information, Traditional Knowlegde and Socioeconomics; GIS and Remote Sensing; Policy, Legal and Institutional Issues, and Biotechnology and Biosafety issues; Root Cause Analysis for Biodiversity loss and Option Analysis.

The goal of the Ethiopian Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan has been formulated as “Effective systems are established that ensure the conservation and sustainable use of Ethiopia’s biodiversity, that provide for the equitable sharing of the costs and benefits arising therefrom, and that contribute to the well-being and security of the nation.”

Ethiopia’s biodiversity conservation priorities are found in the four Strategic Objectives:

  1.  Representative examples of Ethiopia’s remaining ecosystems are conserved through a network of effectively managed protected areas.
  2. By 2020, all remaining natural ecosystems outside of the protected areas are under sustainable use management.
  3. The costs and benefits on biodiversity conservation are equitably shared through a range of public, private, community/CBO and NGO partnerships for PA management and for sustainable use and marketing of biodiversity.
  4.    The rich agro-biodiversity of Ethiopia is effectively conserved through a mix of in-situ and ex-situ programs.

The Strategic Objectives are then followed by a much longer list of Specific Objectives. Each Specific Objective will be achieved through a set of individual Actions. A timeframe and performance indicator is defined for each Action and institutional responsibilities are proposed.

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