The PAs that are well-managed are an important tool for preserving biodiversity, maintaining ecosystem balance, protecting important habitats, and increasing climate change resilience. Presently over 147,000 PAs worldwide, covering 15.3 % of the world’s land area. However, these ecologically vital resources face significant degradation as a result of the ever-increasing demand for energy, food, fiber, shelter, and so on. Preserving PA is one of the most effective ways to reduce deforestation and contribute to the maintenance of carbon stocks and carbon capture, as well as climate equilibrium. Thus, PAs have received special attention in a number of international environmental agreements, as in the Convention on Biological Diversity’s Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020.

Africa’s unique biodiversity and ecosystem services, as well as its abundance of indigenous and local knowledge, are crucial assets for the region’s long-term development. It is home to the world’s last considerable concentration of huge mammals. Africa’s diversified ecosystems provide flows of products and services that are critical for meeting the continent’s food, water, energy, health, and secure livelihood needs. Similarly, Ethiopia is a mega-diverse country having substantial origin, diversity, and endemism for a number of species. Ethiopia has a long history of traditional conservation efforts and now it has 127 Terrestrial PAs, including inland waters, 121 of which are national designations and six of which are international designations. The PAs cover 130,542 km2, National Forest Priority Areas account for the most PAs (44,35%), followed by National Park (29, 23%).

In general, Ethiopia’s PAs play an important role in the country’s economic development by providing ecosystem goods and services such as a) provisioning services (food, water, minerals, pharmaceuticals, energy); b) regulation services (carbon sequestration and climate regulation, waste decomposition, water, and air purification, crop pollination, pest and disease control); c) supporting services (nutrient dispersal and cycling, seed dispersal, primary production); and d) cultural services (cultural and spiritual inspiration, recreation, scientific discovery). As a result, the benefits provided by PAs extend far beyond their borders, which is one of the primary foci of this review. Their importance in mitigating and adapting to climate change, and offsetting biodiversity crises, is becoming more widely recognized.

Source: Extracted from a review article by Befikadu Esayas (PhD), Senior Program Officer, Hailemariam & Roman Foundation, entitled “The Role of Ethiopia’s PAs in addressing the local, national and global climate and biodiversity crises, and the urgency of doing now”

Hailemariam & Roman Foundation
May 2022, Addis Ababa