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Preserving the ecosystem in and around the Bale National Park

Ethiopia's Bale Eco-Region is just one of 34 biodiversity hotspots under threat from human activity Ethiopia's Bale Eco-Region is just one of 34 biodiversity hotspots under threat from human activity

The Problem

Ethiopia’s Bale Eco-region is home to 1.6 million people and is a biodiversity hotspot with 29% of species unique to the country. Currently, over a million people rely on Bale’s forests to earn a living.

As the population in the region grows, demand for natural resources is putting the region’s wildlife, forests and water supplies at risk, creating a cycle of poverty and food insecurity. This, coupled with the impact of climate change, is increasing the vulnerability of the communities that depend on the land and rivers for their livelihoods. This includes 12 million people who rely on the region’s rivers for their water supply.

What are we doing?

Using an eco-regional approach, Farm Africa is addressing the interconnection between different agro-ecological zones: highland, mid-altitude and lowland, in order to understand how activities in these areas impact one another.

For example, deforestation in the highlands of the Bale Eco-region is currently threatening water supplies in the lowlands, forcing pastoralists living in the lowlands to migrate temporarily during the dry season in search of water, shelter and forage. As pastoralists move their cattle to highland forest during dry season, the cattle damage the forest regeneration.

Farm Africa is leading a consortium of NGOs and working closely with communities and the Ethiopian government in a coordinated effort to sustainably manage the Bale Eco-Region and enhance the livelihoods of local people, helping to reduce poverty and the current reliance on unsustainable practices. 

Livelihoods development

Farm Africa is working with NGO partners, authorities and communities to increase forest-friendly businesses:

  • In the Bale Mountains National Park, Farm Africa is working with the Frankfurt Zoological Society to strengthen eco-tourism by training tourism service providers.
  • Farm Africa is supporting communities to sustainably manage livestock and rangelands, and increasing access to improved breeds, animal health services, water and markets.
  • Farm Africa is enhancing sustainable timber harvesting and strengthening value chains of non-timber forest products, including forest coffee, honey, gum and resin.
  • Farm Africa is working with women and young people to increase their incomes by developing businesses in rearing goats and producing milk, energy-efficient cook stoves and eco-charcoal. 

Protected area management and natural resource management

Together with our NGO partners the Frankfurt Zoological Society and the Population, Health and Environment Consortium, Farm Africa is working with law enforcement, ranger patrols and Bale Mountains National Park management to develop policies and management strategies to protect the ecosystem. This includes:

  • Strengthening Participatory Forest Management and Participatory Rangeland Management committees to manage forests and rangelands
  • Supporting community controlled hunting areas
  • Increasing awareness in the community on the relationships between population, health and the environment, providing greater access to family planning services to address population pressures on natural resources.

This short video explores how the project is helping lowland pastoralists to better manage the rangeland their livestock survive on:

Who are we working for?

Preserving the Bale Eco-Region will benefit an estimated 1.6 million people living locally as well as up to 12 million people further downstream. The global community will also benefit from climate change mitigation and the conservation of biodiversity.

Who are we working with?

The project has been funded through the European Union’s Supporting Horn of Africa Resilience (SHARE) initiative and co-funded by the Jersey Overseas Aid Commission. To find out more about EuropeAid, click here