Forests for life

Biosphere reserves as tool for community-driven long-term forest landscape preservation.

International Day of Forests 2019: Spot “ON” for the last remaining afromontane cloud forests in Ethiopia’s South-West. NABU preserves these unique forest landscapes with participatory nature conservation measures.

Cloud forests in Ethiopia: rich in animal and plant species, some of them endemic – photo: Mathias Putze

21th March 2019 – Three forest biosphere reserves and almost 15 years of experience – NABU has played a key role in the protection of the south-west forests of Ethiopia. Establishing and strengthening UNESCO biosphere reserves (BR) as model-areas for sustainable coexistence of human and nature. NABU supports the three Ethiopian UNESCO biosphere reserves, namely Kafa, Yayu and Sheka. Their combined core areas amount to 111.160 hectare. An area 1.5 times as large as Singapore is thus highly protected, banning most human activities.

The success of NABU’s, more than a decade long, engagement in Kafa BR is largely based a strong engagement of the local communities, involving everybody from the spiritual leaders to primary school children. While acknowledging the value of local traditions and well-established community practices and structures, NABU promotes Participatory Forest Management (PFM) as important pillar for forest preservation. PFM provides communities that live in or close to forest areas with legal forest use rights in exchange for taking over management responsibilities and the implementation such as the supervision of rules for sharing forest resources. 20 of such user groups have been established and supported by NABU since 2009, ensuring sustainable forest management on more than 16,000 hectare.
NABU strengthens the base for sustainable coexistence of human and nature - photo: Mathias Putze

NABU strengthens the base for sustainable coexistence of human and nature – photo: Mathias Putze

Since 2015, NABU is also commissioned by GIZ to support the two forest biosphere reserves Yayu and Sheka as part of a consortium together with the consultancy UNIQUE forestry and land use.

NABU and UNIQUE support the promotion of existing and new value chains to reduce the pressure on the precious rainforests in Sheka- and Yayu Biosphere Reserves. The forests provide local communities with various goods and services, including non-timber forest products such as wild coffee, honey and spices. The protection of these natural resources is crucial to maintain the food security of the communities.

The biosphere reserve concept focuses on sustainable development and offers a great chance to combine nature conservation with improved livelihoods for the population. Following NABU’s motto “For people and nature”, we firmly believe that only via community engagement, which focuses on the local context and opportunities, a long-term nature conservation is possible.

UNESCO biosphere reserves offer the frame, in which natural resources can be protected to ensure their availability for future generations – and NABU will continue its efforts in promoting community-driven nature conservation.


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