Protecting and developing the Lake Tana region - completed project
Lake Tana is the largest lake in Ethiopia and the source of the Blue Nile River. This fertile region in the north-west of the country has a cultural history going back thousands of years and blends natural and cultural heritage in a unique way. Ancient churches and monasteries have grown around Lake Tana, and many rare animal and plant species use the lake and the surrounding wetlands as a habitat. Unfortunately, the area is threatened by intense resource use, pollution and urbanisation.
NABU, the Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union, working in close cooperation with the Ethiopian government, the Michael Succow Foundation, many other local partners and organisations as well as with local communities, is supporting the protection of the unique environment around Lake Tana and promoting sustainable development in the region. The project which is called “For People and Nature: Establishment of a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve at Lake Tana in Ethiopia” will run for a total of four years until 2015. The project is funded by Germany's Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development and anchored in a project agreement between NABU and Ethiopia's Amhara National Regional State.
The project’s main aim was to establish a UNESCO biosphere reserve in the Lake Tana region to protect its biodiversity, landscape and cultural heritage which are of international importance, which was accomplished with the recognition by UNSECO in 2015. Ensuring the sustainable use of the areas' natural resources is essential to its protection. Working together with the local communities, the project is creating conservation and land-use plans for wetlands and church forests and planting 200 hectares of forest to act as corridors connecting the remaining areas of forest. Soil-friendly agricultural methods and energy-saving stoves are being introduced to reduce the communities' impact on the environment while ensuring yields and household energy supply.
Sustainably promoting the area's economic development and creating new environmentally-friendly sources of income are also amongst the project's activities. These include the production and marketing of natural products through the establishment of micro-enterprises with local communities. Also community based ecotourism is being developed in the Lake Tana region in order to direct the current cultural tourism to one that focusses on nature and to benefit local communities caring for their environment.
The project is implementing a number of activities to achieve its targets and objectives. These will contribute to the establishment of a UNESCO biosphere reserve which will protect the region's habitats and biodiversity, while at the same time improving the living standard of local communities.
NABU supports the creation, establishment and effective management of protected areas as part of our international activities, not exclusively but with special emphasis to UNESCO biosphere reserves, which are characterised by integrative and segregative approaches.
UNESCO biosphere reserves are natural or cultural landscapes serving as model regions for sustainable development. Biosphere reserves are particularly well suited to balancing exploitation by humans and nature conservation efforts on a sustainable basis.