Analysis of potential for further UNESCO Biosphere Reserves

High ecological and cultural diversity characterise Ethiopia. The country is rich in types of ecosystems and regions with hotspots of biodiversity. However, due to high population growth there is an increased pressure on using natural resources. The needs of local people and ethnic groups for natural resources, e.g. fire wood, pastures and arable land, result in a high strain of land use also in protected areas. That leads to high deforestation rates, soil degradation, overgrazing and conversion to agricultural land in the protected areas.


UNESCO Biosphere Reserves are a promising approach in order to protect endangered ecosystems, cultural landscapes and the livelihood of ethnic minorities. Biosphere reserves are model regions promoting a sustainable social-economic development and integrating the needs of local people, while they mitigate the loss of biodiversity.


Three biosphere reserves (Kafa, Yayu, Sheka) are already existent in Ethiopia. At the moment Lake Tana Biosphere Reserve is in the implementation phase with assistance of Michael Succow Foundation.


The current analysis shall identify further potential biosphere reserve areas in Ethiopia and investigate these according to urgency and prioritization. The focus lies on areas with national parks in order to improve their legal protection by establishing biosphere reserves as buffer zones around the national parks.


The collected data in the analysis will provide a basis for detailed feasibility studies of the prioritized areas. Also, there shall be recommendations for further protected area development under consolidation of the Man and the Biosphere (MaB)-approach in Ethiopia.


The project is financed by German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ) from the Studies and Expert Fund.




Project coordination:

Renée Moreaux, email: renee.moreaux(at)