Ethiopia has a critical role to play in the conservation of biodiversity in Africa. Our central highlands provide habitats for a unique assemblage of Afromontane species, many of which are both endemic and endangered. At the heart of this highland plateau lies one of the jewels of Ethiopia’s protected area network, a globally recognized biodiversity hotspot and home to an array of unique and charismatic plants and animals: the Bale Mountains National Park (BMNP), a haven for wildlife in Ethiopia.
The BMNP’s wide expanse of Afroalpine habitat is the largest on the continent, and its moist tropical forest is the second largest in Ethiopia. It harbours more endemic mammals than any other similar sized area on this planet, and the largest populations of two of Ethiopia’s flagship species – the Ethiopian wolf, and the mountain nyala. However, it is not only for its unique biodiversity, alpine and forest ecosystems and cultural history that the Bale Mountains are important. The water that flows from these mountains supports the livelihoods and is the lifeblood of 10-12 million people and provides hydroelectric power to the region.
Major features of BMNP:
- Largest piece of Afroalpine habitat in the world
- Second largest stand of moist tropical forest in Ethiopia and only cloud forest in the country
- Part of Conservation International’s Eastern Afro-Montane Biodiversity Hotspot
- Over half the global population of endangered and endemic Ethiopian wolves – the rarest canid in the world
- The largest population of endangered and endemic mountain nyala and the only population found within a National Park
- The most important bird area (IBA) in Ethiopia with over 310 bird species recorded
- Rare and locally endemic amphibian and reptile species
- Wetlands and rivers sustaining 12 million downstream users in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia
- Wild stocks of coffee (Coffea arabica) indigenous to Ethiopia – ‘the birthplace of coffee’
- An estimated 40% of Ethiopia’s medicinal plant species of enormous socio-economic value
- Important carbon sink nationally and potential global climate change monitoring site