Lake Tana: A haven for culture and nature
A project supporting the establishment of a UNESCO biosphere reserve at Lake Tana, Ethiopia
The fertile shores of Lake Tana, Ethiopia's largest lake and the source of the Blue Nile, are home to an ancient cultural heritage and unique biodiversity. Lake Tana has thirty-seven islands, twenty of which host Ethiopian Orthodox churches and monasteries that lie hidden in the remaining native forests. These religious sites are considered sacred and provide refuge and shelter for many rare plant and animal species of local and international significance.
Lake Tana and its adjacent wetlands are of immense ecological value and provide the basis for the means of existence for millions of people. The region has a high productivity and has been cultivated and fished intensively for thousands of years. At the same time, the lake and its wetlands are an important habitat for both endemic and migratory birds, as well as several endemic fish species. However, the ever-increasing pressure on these ecosystems has resulted in land degradation, erosion and the eutrophication of the lake with considerable effects on the floral and faunal resources.
Together with the Government of Ethiopia, in particular with the Amhara Regional Government, and the Michael Succow Foundation, NABU is implementing the project 'For People and Nature: Establishment of a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve at Lake Tana in Ethiopia', to establish a biosphere reserve that will safeguard the long-term conservation of these valuable ecosystems and at the same time improve the livelihoods of the local communities.
The main goal of the project was achieved with the official recognition of the biosphere reserve by UNESCO in June 2015. Lake Tana Biosphere Reserve is now the fourth biosphere reserve in Ethiopia and is now part of the worldwide network of biosphere reserves, currently counting 651 areas in 120 countries.
The project is funded by Germany's Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development and runs from January 2012 to end of December 2015.