June 2010: Kafa Wild Forests recognized as UNESCO Biosphere Reserve

It is a groundbreaking success for nature conservation in Africa: As one of the first two Biosphere Reserves in Ethiopia the Wild Coffee Forests in the former kingdom of Kafa have been recognized as UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in the beginning of June 2010. NABU is campaigning since 2006 for the integration of the region into UNESCO’s World network of Biosphere Reserves. “As the concept of Biosphere Reserves had been widely unknown in Ethiopia before, this objective did require a lot of commitment over the years”, said NABU Vice President and Head of International Department Thomas Tennhardt. 

Many high level meetings, workshops and delegation visits to Ethiopia and Germany led to a successful partnership of NABU and the on-site administration. Scientific data collection, sedulous work by the Ethiopian colleges and the exchange with experts from other African countries now led to the desired achievement. “The regional as well as the local government supported the nomination and the residents helped planning the Biosphere Reserve”, said Svane Bender-Kaphengst, Head of Africa Program. “The support by the local community will decide whether the Biosphere Reserve is going to be successful in the long-term.” The successful cooperation with the zonal administration in Kafa induced a trilateral agreement between NABU, UNESCO and the Ethiopian Ministry of Science and Technology in March 2009. In the context of this agreement NABU is working in close cooperation with the Ethiopian government with regards to the designation of further Biosphere Reserves.  

A big part of the 760.000 hectare in the Kafa Biosphere Reserve is covered by Afromontane Cloud Forest, home to many rare animal and plant species. The forests are famous for being the origin of wild Coffea Arabica and one of the last large areas of occurrence. A mosaic of wetlands, hot springs and forests as well as the eventful history of the Kafa kingdom has the potential to attract a lot of tourists. In November 2009 NABU started a project for climate protection and forest conservation within the frame of the International Climate Initiative, funded by the German Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU). This project also supports sustainable development and environmental education in the Kafa Biosphere Reserve until the year 2013.


Marcel Kruse, NABU Officer for Africa, phone +49 30-284984-1711