New climate and biodiversity conservation project in Ethiopia

Man with a coffee plant

Coffee plant in the Kafa Biosphere Reserve. Picture: Bruno D'Amicis.

A new project is supporting efforts to conserve the last remaining wild coffee forests in Ethiopia's Kafa Biosphere Reserve - the birthplace of Arabica coffee. The project couples climate change mitigation with the conservation of biological diversity in one of the world's most biodiverse countries. Through the International Climate Initiative (IKI), the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB) is supporting the project with around EUR 5.7 million.

Ethiopia is considered to be one of the most biologically diverse countries in the world, although the country's once extensive forest areas have been severely depleted. Of the original 40 per cent of natural forest cover, only 2.7 per cent remains today. The upland forest areas are classified as particularly valuable. Kafa is home to one of the last remaining natural forest areas in the country and is also notable for its extensive wetlands and marshlands. The area was designated as a UNESCO biosphere reserve in 2010 and is the point of origin of Arabica coffee, making it a globally important natural gene bank.

The three-year project being undertaken by the German Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union (NABU) is building on the previous project's successful activities, including reforestation, sustainable forest use and the production of energy-efficient cooking stoves. At the same time, new measures are being introduced, aimed at protecting the unique biodiversity, strengthening participatory community management and regional development. Development programmes for handcrafts, ecotourism and regional products will promote the sustainable use of biological diversity in the region. Educational programmes for children and adolescents will raise awareness of the importance of forests. The project is therefore helping local people to conserve their natural livelihoods over the long term and adapt to the impacts of climate change.

Through IKI, 17 projects aimed at conserving biological diversity in Africa have been promoted by BMUB.