UNESCO biosphere reserve in Ethiopia

On 22 March 2011 NABU (the German Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union), together with Ethiopia's President Girma Wolde-Giorgis, government ministers and other high-ranking representatives from the fields of politics and business, inaugurated one of Ethiopia's first UNESCO biosphere reserves in Bonga town. In a project funded under the German Government's International Climate Initiative (ICI), NABU is involved in transforming the newly-inscribed UNESCO site into a well-functioning, vibrant biosphere reserve. Among other things, the project is helping to establish the infrastructure for nature tourism, a robust system of administration, and concepts for environmental education. Reforestation, along with efficient fuel utilisation and technology, will help to maintain the forest over the long term.

Only fragments are left of the dense forests which once covered about 40 per cent of Ethiopia. Kafa has one of the last remaining montane forest areas in the country. The Kafa Biosphere Reserve, the birthplace of Coffea arabica, accounts for an area of some 760,000 hectares - approximately a quarter the size of Belgium - which largely consists of cloud forest. Many varieties of wild coffee still grow here. In June 2010 the area became a part of UNESCO's worldwide biosphere reserve network. The protection and restoration of the forest help to sequester carbon dioxide, conserve biological diversity and safeguard the livelihoods of local people.