Integrated Conservation Effort to Rescue Awash National Park

By Mebratu Hailu

Ethiopian wildlife Conservation Authority with key stakeholders prepares a national workshop to rescue Awash National Park from 24-25 August 2011at Adama Ras Hotel, Ethiopia.

Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority Director General, Dr. Kifle Argaw, on his key note speech, says that even though the office is newly re-established in 2008, in the major activities that the authority undertakes, like increasing the revenue generated from the wildlife sector, reducing illegal activities in and outside the protected areas, re-demarcation and awareness creation programs positive results have been registered. He further adds that besides the positive endeavors, the traditional management of protected areas did not completely come to an end. As a result, the protected areas are not free from anthropogenic pressure for example settlement, deforestation, farming and livestock encroachment and the authority tries to minimize these problems in the course of time, he adds.

The director general also states that, “among the old protected areas, Awash national park is the one which is exposed to high population of livestock. In connection with this, unnecessary resource conflicts were observed. To keep the security of the environment at large and the wildlife and tourists at particular, the authority prepares a national workshop containing all the stakeholders that aims at solving these problems for once and all.’’

State Minister of Culture and Tourism, Dawood Mohammed, on his opening speech, says that Ethiopia is known in its diversity. The diversity comes from historical, cultural and natural resources and this gives Ethiopia special beauty. He also mentions that conserving and properly utilizing Ethiopia’s wonderful wildlife and other natural gifts help the wildlife sector to add its significant share for the development of the country. To do this, active participation of the society is needed, he says.

The State Minister states that in some of the protected areas man made and other related problems are increasing time to time and this negatively affected the efforts done to keep the existence, development and utilization of the protected areas. “All stakeholders need to work closely to identify the root cause of the problems that hindered the development and protection activities on Awash national park. They are also expected to reach on an agreement on the decisions to be taken and working towards it,” says Dawood Mohammed.

A key note speech is also delivered by His Honorable Ambassador Xavier Marchal, delegate of the European Union to Ethiopia. He says that it is extremely important to develop conservation agenda to Ethiopia and Ethiopians also want this even though it is not easy.

During the workshop papers having the title: conservation and management issues of Awash national park, the values of Awash National park from climate change adaptation perspective and vegetation, resource use conflicts versus community views in and around Awash national park, collaborative wildlife management: lessons learned from Simien Mountains national park, and paradigm shift interventions towards Awash national park conservation are presented.

All the papers and following discussions clearly shows that Awash national park is deteriorating as a result of lack of integration and development cooperation between the Park and the surrounding local administration, the minimal managerial and institutional capacity of the park, minimal alternative livelihoods for the surrounding communities, inadequate commitment among all officials in taking the park as an issue of development agenda, absence of legal procedures and understandings on expansion of large scale farms, unplanned and non-integrated land use systems, and lack of appropriate outreach programs needed to change the attitudes of the surrounding communities.

Following a consensus among the key stakeholders that collaborative park management is needed to rescue Awash National Park, one committee having the National and Wereda level decision makers is formed. Finally a draft plan containing all the commitments required to get rid of the problems observed in Awash national park, is prepared and signed among head and representative of the two Weredas (Ato Tedecho Guto from Fentale and Ato Melese Yilma from Awash Fentale) and Ato Wondwesen Sisay from Awash national park.

The workshop is organized in collaboration with 11 government and non-government institutions. It participates 87 local communities, federal and local governments, non-government organizations, investors and potential donors.

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Conference Report on Rescuing Awash National Park Aug. 24-25, 2011.pdf296.45 KB