English  |  Español  |  Français

Ethiopia - Main Details

Show map

Status and Trends of Biodiversity


Ethiopia has nine vegetation-based major ecosystems. The country contains outstanding physical features, including the lava lake of Erta`le and the sulphur deposits of Dallol. Most recent studies indicate that: there are more than 6500 species of higher plants (10-12% endemic). About 887 plant species are used for medicinal purposes, constituting over 10% of the vascular species existing in Ethiopia. Ethiopia has 862 species of birds (16 endemic), 277 species of mammals (35 endemic), 201 species of reptiles (10 endemic) and 63 amphibian species (34 endemic). Seven mammal and two bird species have been listed by IUCN as critically endangered. According to the CITES list, 1 reptile, 4 birds and 8 mammals are in danger of extinction. Threats to biodiversity include: undervaluation of environmental resources; deforestation (due to agricultural expansion and settlement, habitat fragmentation, and subsequent decline in regeneration, and forest fire); lack of adequate knowledge of biological resources; and overexploitation.

Number and Extent of Protected Areas

The protected areas of Ethiopia constitute 14% of the total land area, but the montane forest ecosystems are not represented.

Percentage of Forest Cover

According to the most recent study, Ethiopian forest cover has declined to 3.56% of the total. The annual loss of the highland montane forest areas of Ethiopia has been estimated at between 150,000 and 200,000 ha.

Implementation of the Convention

Measures Taken to Achieve the 2010 Target

The 2010 target has been addressed in the National Capacity Needs Self-Assessment Program whose main goals are the rehabilitation of affected ecosystems and their sustainable use. Sub targets include: biodiversity hotspots rehabilitated and sustainably used; forest cover increased to fulfill demands for fuel wood, fodder and construction; and sites identified, rehabilitated and managed as protected areas. The 2010 target was also incorporated into the Millennium Development Goals Needs Assessment document of Ethiopia. The Ethiopian in situ crop conservation programme is serving as a source of genetic diversity for restoration and re-introduction of landraces/farmers’ varieties into farming communities, which had lost them. The Forest Genetic Resources Conservation Department of the Institute of Biodiversity Conservation, in collaboration with GTZ, has started reintroducing the seven most threatened woody species into their natural habitats. A private investment enterprise, African Parks Ethiopia Ltd, is also working on the re-introduction of the rhinoceros and elephant into the Nech Saar National Park, from which these species had disappeared.

Initiatives in Protected Areas

The Federal and Regional governmental offices and environmental NGOs are helping local communities to reverse the current degradation trends in protected areas. Some examples of such efforts are: revitalizing the Maze wildlife reserve (habitat of the Swayne's Harte Beast); establishing the new Chebera Chorchora wildlife reserve; and nominating the Abijate-Shalla National park as the first Ramsar site for Ethiopia. The Bale Mountain has been identified as an important biodiversity hotspot. A management plan is being developed for the Bale Mountain National Park through the Conservation and Sustainable Utilization of Medicinal Plants project and the Oromia Regional State Natural Resources Protection Sector. The plan will promote and strengthen wildlife based tourism or ecotourism/nature tourism at ten sites within the Park, establish two transboundary protected areas, develop protected area management plans for five sites, and develop infrastructure for the existing protected areas at eleven sites

Initiatives in Access and Benefit Sharing

The Institute of Biodiversity Conservation was established in 1998 with the mandate, inter alia, to give permit for those who need to access the genetic resources in the country, and to issue regulation in accordance to which permit for access to genetic resources shall be granted. Accordingly, the Institute is receiving access application and granting access permits based on mutually agreed access and benefit-sharing agreements. Legislation on access to genetic resources and associated community knowledge has been developed and issued as proclamation No. 482/ 2006. The legislation elaborates the conditions and the procedure for granting access permits to genetic resources and associated community knowledge. An access and benefit sharing model agreement has also been developed and put to use with a view to facilitating mutually agreed terms of access and benefit sharing. Some access and benefit-sharing agreements have been negotiated and signed based on this model.

Initiatives for Article 8(j)

The Ethiopian Constitution recognizes the need to devolve state authority to local communities. The devolution process, including that of budgetary allocation and fiscal responsibility, has now been implemented at the district level. Ethiopia has taken all the measures it can to enhance the capacity of its local indigenous communities. The country has passed a law recognizing the rights of local communities to their innovations and practices. The Ethiopian National Traditional Healers Association has been one of the major stakeholders of the ‘Conservation and Sustainable Use of Medicinal Plants project in Ethiopia’. To broaden their experience and vision, members of the Association were provided with opportunities of visiting other countries such as India.

Rate this page - 69 people have rated this page 
  • United Nations
  • United Nations Environment Programme