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A paper presented at the National Workshop on Ramsar Convention and Ethiopia March 18-19, 2004
Yilma Dellelegn Abebe Ethiopian Wildlife and Natural History Society P. O. Box 13303 Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Objectives of Paper
To give a general picture of water and wetlands in Ethiopia. To impart a general overview of what Ramsar sites are and their need. To appreciate the fact that Ethiopia has potential Ramsar sites at present. Recommendations on way forward
Ethiopia: A dryland or a wetland?
Known for recurring droughts and drylands Present the notion of having no water resources Eleven of Ethiopia¶s rivers flow into neighboring countries Rich in wetlands: alpine tarns, highland springs, marshes, swamps, lakes and rivers. Surface water resources are estimated to be more than 120 million m3 from 12 river basins (EPA). An estimated 9% of this discharge remains in the country.
Ethiopia: A dryland or wetland?
Only 18, 587 km2 of land area in Ethiopia is covered by wetlands This comes up to 1.5 of the total land area of the country
Why is there so little water in Ethiopia?
Mismanagement ± Destruction of vegetation cover on catchments ± Improper land use patterns and tenure ± Destructive agriculture Lack of Awareness on value of wetlands Natural distribution of water is irregular
A Convention for an important Ecosystem
The plight of wetlands and the role they play in everyday life has initiated the Ramsar Convention. The only environmental treaty that handles one kind of ecosystem. Has legal bindings for those who accede the Convention. One of the commitments of contracting parties is to designate and protect one site at accession
Site Designation: Preparation
Ethiopia is not a contracting party Need to premeditate future action including preparation of a country list
Ramsar Sites: an overview and need
Sites of global importance found in all contracting parties "develop and maintain and international network of wetlands which are important for the conservation of global biological diversity and for sustaining human life through the ecological and hydrological functions they perform"
Global Overview of Ramsar Sites
Current number of Contracting Parties is 138 Total number of sites designated are 1,368 Total area covered by these sites is 119,611,621 ha. Sites are selected using hydrological, limnological, zoological, ecological, botanical and/or IKS values
Ramsar Sites: A Committment
Compulsory that a contracting country at signing come up with a site for designation. Subsequent additions are necessary but not obligatory. A designated site requires a filled out form and a map showing its boundaries. Conservation action is another side of the commitment. The Government decides on the legal measures at each site.
Ramsar Sites: A Commitment
Need to apply the wise use concept by developing management plans for sites. Management planning is required for all wetlands regardless their status.
Selection Criteria for Ramsar Sites
Representative or uniqueness Plant and Animal significance Specific criteria on waterfowl Specific criteria on fish
Potential Ramsar Sites in Ethiopia
Specific work on candidate Ramsar sites not carried out. Previous work on IBAs and link with Possible Ramsar sites can act as a first reference. Would need to include information on other groups to be more objective. According to this document Ethiopia has 31 potential Ramsar sites.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Afar Oromiya Oromiya Oromiya Tigray SNNP Amhara Amhara Oromiya Gambella Oromiya
Abijatta-Shalla Park 2,4,5,6 Akaki-AbaSamuel 2,4,5,6 Alemaya-Adele Lake Ashenge Lake Awassa Awi zone 4,6 2,4,6 4,5,6 2
BahirDar-Lake Tana 2,4,5 Bale Mts Nat Park 2 2,4,5,6 2,4,6
10 Baro River 11 Berga
2 2,4,5 2,4,5,6 2,4,5,6 2 2 2 2 2,4,6 2,4,5,6 2
Oromiya SNNP Oromiya SNNP Tigray Oromiya Amhara Gambella 14 Oromiya Amhara
12 Bishoftu 13 Boyo wetland 14 Chelekleka 15 Chew Bahir 16 Dessa¶a Forest 17 Finchaa/Chomen 18 Fogera Plains 19 Gambella Park 20 Gefersa Reservoir 21 Green Lake 22 Guassa (Menz)
2 2 2,4,5,6 2 2 2 2,4,6 2,4,5,6 4,5
Oromiya Oromiya Oromiya Oromiya Oromiya SNNP Oromiya SNNP Oromiya
23 Gudo 24 Jibat Forest 25 Koka Dam Gelila 26 Lake Langano 27 Metu-Gore-Tepi 28 Nechisar Park 29 Sululta 30 Turkana/Omo Delta 31 Zway Total sites = 31
Summary of Ethiopian Ramsar Sites
Oromiya = 16 sites (51%) SNNP = 5 sites ( 16%) Amhara = 4 sites (12.9%) Tigray = 2 sites (6.4%) Gambella = 2 sites (6.4%) Afar = 1 site (3.2%) Addis Ababa = 1 site (3.2%)
Becoming a Contracting Party: Implications
A Ramsar site becomes one of several global systems and therefore a member of a network Designation does not mean wise use Ramsar has three pillars:
± Designation of sites ± Wise use of all wetlands ± International cooperation of shared aquatic systems
Designation should follow with the other pillars to be effective. Government and local administration have the responsibility of protecting the site from deleterious actions. Ramsar sites need our time, energy and financial resources.
Ramsar sites are not traditional protected areas and give due consideration to traditional resource use. Considering the benefits from these kinds of systems, Governments should appreciate that they are doing their people a favor in conserving them.
Ramsar listing is an important step in the accession of the Convention. Becoming a contracting party is meaningless without proper education and awareness of basic facts that underlie the reason for conserving these ecosystems. Ethiopia should take the necessary measures to show responsible behavior and commitment.
Put in place a strong national programme that promotes the values and conservation of wetland ecosystems. This includes placing a responsible organ to handle wetland conservation work. As an important ecosystem to which all our water needs are associated to, the Government should also think about formulating a policy and guidelines for the protection and proper use of these systems.