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Ethiopia - Country Profile

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Biodiversity Facts

Status and trends of biodiversity, including benefits from biodiversity and ecosystem services

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

Ethiopia possesses an estimated number of 6,000 species of higher plants of which 10% are endemic. The country has 284 species of wild mammals and 861 species of birds. Data on other wild animals are scanty; and the number of reptile, fish, amphibian and arthropod species identified so far are 201, 200, 63 and 1,225, respectively. Of these faunal resources, 29 wild mammal, 18 bird, 10 reptile, 40 fish, 25 amphibian and seven arthropod species are endemic to Ethiopia.

Ethiopia is a centre of origin for cultivated crops such as coffee, tef, enset, and a centre of diversity for many crop species such as durum wheat, barley and sorghum. In addition, the country has a rich resource of indigenous farm animals comprised of 28 cattle, 9 sheep, 8 goat, 7 camel, 6 donkey, 8 horse, 2 mule and 7 chicken breeds. As the dominant economic sector, agriculture provides employment for about 83% of the population. It contributes 90% to the country’s export value and 45% to the GDP. Earnings from coffee alone contribute 4 to 5% to the GDP, about 20% to government revenue and 60% to the total foreign exchange. The livestock sector is a source of livelihoods and income for the rural and peri-urban communities mainly, contributing about 25% to the country’s GDP.

Forests play vital roles in ensuring food security and sustainable livelihoods for millions of households throughout Ethiopia. Forest biodiversity provides ecosystem services including provisioning, regulating, supporting and cultural services and contributes an estimated 4% to the GDP through the production of honey, forest coffee, natural gums and timber. Recent estimates indicate that about 26-30% of the total coffee production of the country originates from wild and semimanaged coffee forests, with the value of wild coffee estimated at 130 million USD/annum. Protected areas cover 14% of the country and play significant roles in conservation, recreation, eco-tourism and employment. Direct and indirect annual economic values of some protected areas are estimated at 1.5 billion USD.

A number of wild plants and animals, including endemic species and farmers’ varieties and indigenous animal breeds, are declining. In consequence, 103 tree and shrub species, 31 bird, one reptile, nine amphibian, two fish and 14 other invertebrate species are threatened. However, as a result of the vigorous implementation of activities related to the conservation and sustainable utilization of resources, significant improvements in the status of some biodiversity resources have been achieved. Rehabilitation and restoration of degraded areas, afforestation and practices of sustainable management of natural resources have, for example, resulted in increased forest cover and enhancement of the associated biodiversity. For instance, about seven million hectares of degraded area has been rehabilitated using area closure.

Main pressures on and drivers of change to biodiversity (direct and indirect)

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

The main direct threats to Ethiopia’s biodiversity are habitat conversion, unsustainable utilization of biodiversity resources, invasive species, replacement of local varieties and breeds, climate change and pollution. Indirect causes of biodiversity loss in the country are demographic change, poverty, and lack of awareness and coordination.

Of the country’s 10 ecosystems, the Afroalpine and Subafroalpine Ecosystem is particularly negatively affected by activities related to habitat conversion. The unsustainable use of resources threatens Ethiopia’s 9 other ecosystems, while invasive species threaten the Acacia-Commiphora Woodland Ecosystem, Desert and Semi-desert Scrubland Ecosystem and Aquatic Ecosystem in particular. Pollution also poses a threat to the Aquatic Ecosystem, as well as to the Wetland Ecosystem, while climate change also threatens the Desert and Semi-desert Scrubland Ecosystem.

Measures to Enhance Implementation of the Convention

Implementation of the NBSAP

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

The main activities conducted from 2009 to 2014 are associated with the establishment and re-demarcation of protected areas, control of invasive species, rehabilitation and restoration of degraded areas, sustainable biodiversity management, awareness raising, ex situ and in situ conservation, equitable sharing of benefits accrued from the use of accessed genetic resources and changes/rearrangements in legal and institutional set-ups.

Activities on the revision of the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan 2011-2020 began in 2012 and were finalized in June 2014. The revised NBSAP contains 18 biodiversity targets, 41 indicators and 59 actions.

Actions taken to achieve the 2020 Aichi Biodiversity Targets

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

Ethiopia has shown substantial progress in the implementation of the Strategic Plan 2011-2020. Of the 20 Aichi Biodiversity Targets, Ethiopia has registered very good achievements in regard to Aichi Targets 1, 2, 7, 10, 11, 13, 14, 15 and 18, good achievements in regard to Aichi Targets 3, 4, 12, 16, 17 and 19 and fair achievements in regard to Aichi Targets 5, 6, 8 and 9, in the first half of the Plan’s period. However, implementation of Aichi Target 20 has been poor.

Support mechanisms for national implementation (legislation, funding, capacity-building, coordination, mainstreaming, etc.)

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

The Government has devised a Climate Resilient Green Economy (CRGE) Strategy to build a climate resilient green economy. The development of a green economy will be based on four pillars, namely: agriculture, forestry, power and transport, including industrial sectors and buildings. As part of the CRGE Strategy, REDD+ is a policy incentive aimed at promoting forest and biodiversity conservation and enhancing carbon stocks.

The Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP) is a successor of a Plan for Accelerated and Sustainable Development to End Poverty (PASDEP). The GTP (2011-2015) mainstreams issues of biodiversity mainly through the agriculture and tourism sectors.

In 2013, the Environmental Protection Agency was upgraded to the Ministry of Environment and Forest. In addition, Ethiopia has re-established and restructured the Ethiopian Biodiversity Institute, established Regional Biodiversity Units and Biodiversity Centres.

Land use certification and guidelines, legislations and regulations on regional forest development and use, policy, regulation and strategies on forest development and conservation were prepared/devised and implemented within the past few years that contribute to the sustainable use of the country’s biodiversity.

Domestic legislation has been put in place to facilitate access to the country’s genetic resources and ensure fair and equitable benefit-sharing. Furthermore, the country acceded to the Nagoya Protocol in 2014 and has also developed a Code of Conduct to administer ABS issues. The recently signed agreement between the Ethiopian Biodiversity Institute (EBI) and a private USA-based company on access and benefit sharing from the use of Dichrostachys cinerea, Osyris quadripartitum and Withania somnifera species, for the purpose of producing essential oils, cosmetics and herbal medicine, is a notable example of this. From the agreement, Ethiopia earned an upfront payment and the agreement stipulates that the benefits accrued from the access of the above genetic resources will be shared equitably between the company and the local communities/the government of Ethiopia. The benefits are incentives to the local communities/government to conserve and sustainably utilize biodiversity.

Mechanisms for monitoring and reviewing implementation

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

There is a lack of a comprehensive biodiversity monitoring system in the country.

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  • United Nations
  • United Nations Environment Programme