Roundup: Ethiopia strives to accelerate biodiversity conservation

ADDIS ABABA, May 22 (Xinhua) -- As the global community mark the International Day for Biological Diversity on Sunday, Ethiopia is seeking to accelerate its sustainable biodiversity conservation endeavor.

The theme for this year's International Day for Biological Diversity is "Building a Shared Future for All Life."

Melese Mario, director general of the Ethiopian Biodiversity Institute (EBI), said concerted efforts are needed to intensify sustainable biodiversity conservation in the east African country, which has one of the longest biodiversity conservation experiences in Africa.


In an interview earlier with Xinhua, Mario said that Ethiopia, one of the earliest signatories to the Convention on Biological Diversity, has worked hard to put biodiversity conservation high on its domestic policy agenda, amid efforts to achieve harmony between many and nature toward sustainable growth.

Ethiopia possesses an estimated number of 6,000 species of higher plants, of which 10 percent are endemic. The country has 284 species of wild mammals and 861 species of birds, according to figures from the Convention on Biological Diversity.

"Ethiopia has been working on conservation activity. Among others, the most important and significant one is the conservation of crops and horticulture," Mario said.

Ethiopia, Africa's second populous nation, has been the pioneer for the establishment of plant genetic resource centers for biodiversity conservation.

"We have a long experience and well-conserved crop and horticultural species," Mario said, adding that Ethiopia has taken conservation measures related a gene bank.

"We have some unique and very shiny and attractive (initiatives) that can be a lesson for others... Ethiopia is among the pioneers in Africa to establish community seed banks," he said.

Noting Ethiopia's rich livestock population, which is considered the largest in Africa, Mario said efforts are underway to protect the country's rich livestock resources.

"They are highly diversified" he said, noting that for domesticated cattle, Ethiopia has about 28 different breeds of cattle, some resistant to diseases and drought.


According to experts, a number of challenges are facing Ethiopia's efforts in protecting and preserving the wealth and variety of its species, habitats, ecosystems, and genetic diversity.

Climate change, lack of awareness about the protection of biodiversity resources, limited financial resources as well as the expansion of invasive species are among the most pressing challenges, they said.

Tesfaye Awas, director of research, dissemination and projects at EBI, said events such as the International Day for Biological Diversity help to inform the general public to join in the sustainable conservation of biodiversity.

The lack of sound data organization on biodiversity information is another bottleneck hindering biodiversity conservation in Ethiopia.

"The data is dispersed here and there. Biodiversity data should be compiled in one database," said Mario, the EBI director general.


China, a country with some of the richest biological resources in the world and with continuous and increasingly systematic biodiversity conservation efforts to foster green, eco-friendly and sustainable growth, has been cooperating with Ethiopia in the global biodiversity protection drive.

"China, through the Chinese Academy of Sciences, has already provided support to the Ethiopian Biodiversity Institute across various areas," said Awas, the EBI director of research, dissemination and projects.

"Our botanic garden representatives were able to learn from the Chinese experience in the sector under the Belt and Road Initiative in partnership with the Wuhan Botanic Garden," he said.

"Working in collaboration in biodiversity conservation would be a win-win approach for both Ethiopia and China going forward," Awas said.

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