During a recent visit to Ethiopia, Global Trees Campaign staff encountered many amazing trees and identified exciting opportunities for tree conservation efforts. With growing momentum in the country for botanic garden development, the Global Trees Campaign is working with partners in Ethiopia to develop projects to save the country's threatened trees from extinction.
Situated in the Horn of Africa, Ethiopia possesses one of the richest assemblages of plants in the African continent. It is the origin of many globally important crop species, most notably Coffea arabica (coffee). The country has a high diversity of tree species, many of which are endemic to Ethiopia, or restricted to Ethiopia and its bordering countries.
In 2005, the Global Trees Campaign published a preliminary Red List of Endemic Trees and Shrubs of Ethiopia and Eritrea. This publication estimated that there are 428 endemic and near endemic woody taxa in Ethiopia and Eritrea, and presented conservation assessments using IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria for 135 woody taxa. Of the taxa assessed, 46 were assessed as Critically Endangered.
Botanic gardens and arboreta can play vital roles in the conservation of threatened tree species. It is therefore very encouraging to see the development of new botanic gardens and arboreta in Ethiopia, with accession plans focusing on conservation of the country's diverse native flora. For example, a recently initiated project to restore the arboretum at Wondo Genet College of Forestry and Natural Resources aims to maintain a national collection of endemic and endangered tree species for conservation, research and education. The arboretum has great outreach potential as it is based at the national forestry college and has already established strong links with international partners and other botanic gardens and conservation organisations in Ethiopia.