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Tested by COVID and war, an Indigenous conservation system in Ethiopia prevails

Updated: Mar 8



  • For more than 400 years, communities in the Guassa grasslands of Ethiopia’s central highlands have practiced a sustainable system for managing the area’s natural resources.

  • The system’s robustness was severely tested from 2020 with the one-two punch of COVID-19 and the Tigray war, but held strong.

  • Threats to the grassland persist, however, from a growing population and road projects, which the community hopes to address through ecotourism initiatives as an alternative source of income.

  • The Guassa Community Conservation Area is home to rare plant and wildlife species such as gelada baboons, Ethiopian wolves, and the versatile guassa grass that’s a central part of community life.

GUASSA COMMUNITY CONSERVATION AREA, Ethiopia — On an early misty morning in July, Worku Mekonen, 39, one of the scouts at the Guassa Community Conservation Area in Ethiopia’s central highlands, arrives at his duty site and starts patrolling.

Walking deep into the shrubland covered in lush green grass, everywhere he turns, Mekonen happily recounts the positive impacts of the community’s conservation efforts. While shrubs and flowers add bursts of lively colors to the landscape, almost every other vegetation has turned green after a bout of rain, giving the area a refreshing and rejuvenating aura.

From a distance, a herd of gelada monkeys (Theropithecus gelada) enjoy the morning sun as they graze on the fresh grass that’s grown back. See full article at Mongabay


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