The Federal Government in Ethiopia has adopted several policies and strategies for biodiversity conservation. These include the Environmental Policy, the Conservation Strategy, the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan, the Wildlife Policy and Strategy, the Forest Policy and Strategy and the Tourism Development Policy.
The Environmental Policy was adopted in 1997 and is Ethiopia’s umbrella policy on environmental management. Its overall objective is to improve the health and quality of life and promote sustainable socio-economic development through sound management and use of resources and the environment. Some of the specific objectives of the Policy include sustainable utilization of non-renewable resources, identifying and developing natural resources that are currently underutilized, accounting for the full costs and benefits of natural resource development and empowering and encouraging public participation in environmental management issues. The Conservation Strategy was also adopted in 1997 and its main objective is to preserve, develop, manage and sustainably use the diversity of gene pools in Ethiopia’s species both wild and domesticated. This Strategy closely links the degree and effectiveness of conservation measures with benefits to local communities and present living standards.
The National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan was issued in 2005 to implement Article 6 of the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD). Like the Convention, the Strategy defines biodiversity broadly so as to include genetic, species and ecosystem diversity. The Forest Policy and Strategy on the other hand was adopted in 2006 to conserve and develop forests and meet the public demand for forest products. The Tourism Development Policy was adopted in 2009 to help in the growth and development of the tourism industry.
The main strategy and policy that addresses wildlife conservation is the Wildlife Policy and Strategy of 2005 (WPS). This policy emphasizes development-oriented conservation. The main objective of the WPS is to create a conducive environment whereby the country’s wildlife and their habitats are protected and developed in a sustainable manner, and to enable the sector to play an important role in the economic development of the country.
The WPS aims to protect wildlife through proper administration of wildlife protected areas, conservation of endemic and threatened species, prevention of disasters and promotion of wildlife health services. The WPS also seeks to establish proper systems to control trafficking in wildlife and wildlife products. Some of the strategies to stop trafficking include establishing check points at entry and exit points and regulation of national and international trade in wildlife and wildlife products in accordance with national and international conventions.
The WPS also seeks to promote sustainable wildlife utilization. The Policy states that the wildlife resources of the country will be properly utilized for sustainable tourism, hunting, trade, ranching and food. Eco-tourism will also be promoted in protected areas and international conventions regarding wildlife and wildlife trade will be implemented. The income secured from wildlife resources will be used to benefit local people and will be reinvested in wildlife conservation endeavours. The income from wildlife will also be used to enhance the overall growth of the national economy.
The WPS further anticipates to expand the wildlife sector by encouraging investors to participate in the conservation of wildlife. It hopes to strengthen research in wildlife in order to protect and develop wildlife and their habitats. Efforts will be made to develop and implement indigenous wildlife conservation experiences and knowledge in a bid to expand the wildlife sector.
The WPS is to be implemented both at the Federal and Regional levels. The Policy provides that Regional states can prepare their own wildlife policies and strategies using the WPS as the basis. Further, the relevant line ministry will put in place the necessary infrastructure to ensure implementation of the wildlife conservation policy and strategy and it will formulate programs and projects, issue proclamations, rules and regulations and ensure their implementation.