How has Government policy post-Global Strategy for Plant Conservation impacted on science? The Ethiopian perspective




In this paper, existing relevant Ethiopian government biodiversity-related policies and strategies, and mandates of various institutions prior to GSPC targets, are reviewed. Response to whether or not institutions responded to GSPC targets as the result of new policies or rebranded their work to fit within the context of existing policies and adjust their outcomes to fit into the GSPC targets is provided. The Ethiopian national report of 2009 submitted to the Convention of Biological Diversity Secretariat is reviewed and gaps analysed. The policies of the Federal government (and implementing institutions) post-GSPC so far have had only a limited impact on science, but research institutions have aligned their outputs to fit with the GSPC targets. Suggestions, conclusions and recommendations are made in order to work effectively towards the realization of the GSPC targets beyond 2010 in Ethiopia. © 2011 The Linnean Society of London, Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society, 2011, 166, 310–325.


The Global Strategy for Plant Conservation (GSPC) was adopted in 2002 with the goal to halt the current and continuing loss of plant diversity. In many developed and developing countries with botanical gardens, most or at least some of the targets are being accomplished through botanical gardens facilitated by Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI) that provided the basis for networking among gardens. In Ethiopia, the Gullele Botanical Garden is in its infancy and was not involved in activities up to 2010. In the GSPC Targets National Report for 2009 (Institute of Biodiversity Conservation, 2009), there was no indication of the stakeholder/s that participated to achieve each of the targets. In such cases, it is possible to assume that all the activities to achieve the targets have been carried out by the national focal point. In reality, there are a number of other stakeholders/actors who are actively working on biodiversity-related issues at the federal level and contributing towards achieving the GSPC targets. These include the Institute of Biodiversity Conservation (IBC), the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR), Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority (EWCA), the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MoARD), the Ministry of Science and Technology (MoST) and Higher Learning Institutions (HLIs), particularly Addis Ababa University (AAU). There are also offices in various Regional States responsible for the biodiversity in their particular regions.


National Policy for Biodiversity Conservation and Research

The objectives of the National Policy for Biodiversity Conservation and Research (Institute of Biodiversity Conservation and Research, 1996) are to:

  • • ensure that the Ethiopian plant, animal and microbial genetic resources and essential ecosystems as a whole are conserved, developed, managed and sustainably utilized;
  • • asert national sovereignty over genetic resources and develop a mechanism for a fair exchange, safe movement and proper management of these resources;
  • • enrich the genetic resources of the country through introduction (from abroad and within the country), repatriation and restoration in accordance with the laws and regulations of the country and according to bilateral and/or multilateral agreements the country has made;
  • • build national scientific capacities and capabilities to explore, collect, conserve, characterize, evaluate and utilize the biodiversity of the country;
  • • integrate biodiversity conservation and development programmes into Federal and Regional agricultural, health, industrial and overall national economic development strategies and plans;
  • • recognize, foster and augment the indigenous knowledge and methods relevant to the conservation, development and sustainable use of biodiversity, and promote and encourage the development and putting into practice of new and emerging technologies such as biotechnology;
  • • encourage the participation and support of local communities in biodiversity conservation, development and utilization. Furthermore, ensure that they share the benefit accrued as a result of using indigenous knowledge and/or germplasm;
  • • create a functional and efficient organizational structure to ensure inter-institutional linkage and coordination in biodiversity conservation, development and utilization;
  • • promote regional and international cooperation in biodiversity conservation, development and sustainable use.

Policy directives

In order to realize the objectives stated above, the following policy directives were to be followed:

  • • The government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia will enact, and update as necessary, legislation to protect, conserve and sustainably utilize the biological resources in Ethiopia.
  • • The government will give due attention to the exploration, collection, conservation, characterization, evaluation and utilization, as well as to promoting research and development, of the flora, fauna and microbial genetic resources.
  • • Recognizing the fact that Ethiopia has sovereign rights over its genetic resources, any exploration, inventory, collection, movement exchange, repatriation and the use of these genetic resources will be governed by the laws and regulations of the country as well as bilateral and/or multilateral agreements.
  • • A body that enforces this policy will be established.
  • • The Federal and Regional Governments will ensure the integration of biodiversity conservation and sustainable use related education into the educational system and the creation of awareness on biodiversity issues at the individual, family and community levels.
  • • Traditional conservation and utilization systems and indigenous knowledge on biodiversity will be surveyed, assessed, documented, studied, improved and utilized.
  • • Community participatory approach in the decision-making processes and the creation of community-based systems, which recognize resource rights of the local people and enable them to get economic benefits from jointly and sustainably managed natural resources, will be ensured.
  • • The government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia will put the administration and management of in situ conservation areas (national parks and other categories of designated protected areas) under the Federal or Regional Governments.
  • • The National Policy for Biodiversity Conservation and Research will be integrated with and supported by policies and strategies on the national economy, agriculture, industry health, education, population and urbanization, energy and construction, resource management and environmental protection. The policies in these sectors shall be harmonized to enhance sustainable production systems and to encourage the development of alternative resources and sustainable management systems in order to reduce the pressure on and avoid degradation of the biological resources.
  • • In order to plan, develop and reorient the different biodiversity conservation and development-related activities in the country and create an integrated national biodiversity programme, a functional national biodiversity networking system will be created.
  • • Strong national capacities and capabilities in scientific personnel, research infrastructure, funding and facilities are essential to undertake active biodiversity conservation, research and development. Hence, the Government will give high priorities for building national capacities and capabilities in biodiversity conservation and development. As the management and sustainable use of genetic resources is a multidisciplinary field requiring an integrated effort of a range of experts, the Government will follow up the training and organization of professionals in those areas/disciplines relevant to biodiversity conservation and development.
  • • A national biodiversity information and documentation system that is capable of acquiring, documenting, processing and disseminating information relevant to the conservation and sustainable utilization of the country's biodiversity to potential users will be established.
  • • The government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia shall take the necessary steps to discharge its obligations under international treaties concerning the protection, conservation or utilization of biological resources.
  • • The federal and regional governments shall receive and distribute revenues generated from biodiversity exclusively for the benefit of communities associated with or participating in the conservation of biological resources, and the costs of administering, developing and managing biodiversity.

National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP)

As a signatory of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and in fulfilling its obligation, Ethiopia prepared a National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP) (Institute of Biodiversity Conservation, 2005) that provided a brief assessment of the status and trend of the biodiversity of the nation, outlined strategic goals and objectives and identified a plan of action that outlined coordination arrangements and implementation measures.

The Plan envisaged the establishment of a Biodiversity Secretariat within the regional bureaus of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development using existing resources to coordinate NBSAP implementation and foster linkages between, and within, different sectors affecting biodiversity. The Regional Secretariats were expected to report to a Federal Biodiversity Steering Committee and receive technical support from a broad-based Biodiversity Working Group. As most implementation measures were to take place at the regional level, the Plan also proposed Regional Steering Committees to be constituted (or merged with those created under Regional Conservation Strategies). The GSPC Targets were not reflected in the NBSAP, although it was prepared in 2002.

Other policies and programmes pertinent to the conservation of biodiversity

The policies and programmes of key Federal Ministries (Agriculture and Rural Development, Finance and Economic Development, the Ethiopian Science and Technology Commission) and Regional Bureaus addressing agriculture, livestock, forestry, wildlife and fisheries, among others, are crucial to the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity.


In this part, the main stakeholder institutions involved with biodiversity conservation at the federal level are described and their missions/duties are highlighted.

The Institute of Biodiversity Conservation (IBC)

The institute was established in 1976 as the Plant Genetic Resources Center, Ethiopia (PGRC/E) through a bilateral technical cooperation agreement between the Governments of Ethiopia and Germany. In 1998, the Institute of Biodiversity Conservation and Research (IBCR) replaced the former PGRC/E, broadening its mandate and duties (Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, 1998). The institute was given a wider mandate for conservation and sustainable utilization of all forms of biological resources, including plants, animals and microbial genetic resources. Later, in 2004 (Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, 2004), the mission and duties were amended and the name of the institute was changed to IBC. In the amendment, the view was that research on biodiversity could be carried out by other research and academic institutes in addition to IBC, not restricted to it. The IBC also serves as a Focal Point of the CBD on biodiversity issues since 2005, a position that was held by the Ethiopian Environmental Agency (previously known as Environmental Protection Authority) after the signing of the Biodiversity Protocol in 1992 in Rio de Janeiro.

Ministry of the Ethiopian Science and Technology (Mo ST)

The Ethiopian Science Technology Commission (ESTC) was the precursor to the recently promoted Ministry of Science and Technology (Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, 2008, 2010). It was established by proclamation 7/1995 (Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, 1995) with powers and duties to formulate national science and technology policy and to support and encourage research and development centres and institutions that have contribution in the promotion of science and technology. It was the ESTC that entered the bilateral agreement with the Swedish Government represented by Sida (the Swedish International Development Agency) on behalf of the Ethiopian government in support of the Ethiopian Flora Project.

Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR)

The Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research started as the Institute of Agricultural Research (IAR) in 1966, heralding the first nationally coordinated agricultural research system in Ethiopia, which later became the Ethiopian Agricultural Research Organization (EARO). In 2007–2008, it changed to the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research. EIAR is responsible for the running of Federal Research Centres. It is part of the Ethiopian Agricultural Research System (EARS), which consists of the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR), Regional Agricultural Research Institutes (RARIs) and Higher Learning Institutions (HLIs). In addition to conducting research at its federal centres, EIAR is charged with the responsibility for providing the overall coordination of agricultural research in Ethiopia and it provides an advisory function to the government on agricultural research policy formulation.

Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority (EWCA)

The Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority (EWCA), previously known as the Ethiopian Wildlife Organization (EWCO), was established in 1965 with the assistance of international conservation organizations for the purposes of establishing national parks, wildlife reserves and wildlife sanctuaries and implementing hunting and conservation policies in Ethiopia. It was accountable to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development for several decades, but it is currently under the Ministry of Culture and Culture (MoCT).

Higher Learning Institutions (HLIs)

The proclamation for higher education of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (2003) gave these, among other duties, the duty of undertaking study and research and disseminating the findings as may be necessary.

Addis Ababa University is one of the oldest higher learning institutions, established in 1950 as Haile Sellasie I University and changed to the current name during the Ethiopian revolution in 1974, when the military junta took power from the monarchy.

Among its missions, the points that are relevant to research include:

  • • developing teaching and research programmes relevant to Ethiopia's sustainable development and, when appropriate, cross disciplinary bounds in order to address the most pressing challenges of our time;
  • • disseminating knowledge and results of research so as to raise awareness about critical issues central to the lives of local, national and global communities;
  • • preserving and enriching Ethiopia's natural and cultural heritage;
  • • enriching an Ethiopian perspective in the curricula and research agenda, and enlarging an Ethiopian presence in the graduate faculty in order to make an effective contribution to national efforts to answer pressing problems and challenges facing the country and the citizenry;
  • • pursuing research and teaching programmes from distinctively African perspectives and address challenges facing Africa.

Within Addis Ababa University, in the Faculty of Biological Sciences, the National Herbarium (ETH; established in 1959) was the base for the writing of the Flora of Ethiopia and Eritrea.

Considering only the above institutions, it is clear that all are involved in one way or another in the conservation of biodiversity, often with overlapping missions. Hence, all of these will contribute towards fulfilling the GSPC targets, and there is a need for more coordination across various stakeholders in society. The Federal and Regional governments are some of the most important stakeholders, with overall responsibility for providing an adequate policy and legal framework, enforcing regulations, building capacity and providing incentives and funds for the conservation of biodiversity. Thus, Research Institutions under Federal and Regional Governments, Higher Learning Institutions and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are responsible for documenting elements of biodiversity in Ethiopia and for monitoring the health of ecosystems. As direct users and potential managers of biological diversity, local communities also have one of the most important stakeholder's roles in resource conservation and use. The active involvement of communities in the management of wild species and ecosystems, where communities become the custodians and beneficiaries of biodiversity, may be the most promising approach to halt further loss of biodiversity in Ethiopia.


The GSPC was adopted in 2002 (Secretariat of the CBD, 2002) and progress against the 16 targets of GSPC in Ethiopia is reviewed here.

In this section, the progress made under each of the GSPC targets as reported by IBC, the national focal point for Ethiopia in their Status and Trends of Biodiversity Report (Institute of Biodiversity Conservation, 2009), will be reviewed. The remark under each target will include an indication of the institution/s responsible for accomplishing the targets currently presented and ensuring that these and other relevant stakeholders participate in the future beyond 2010 to achieve the targets. The remarks may also include gaps or inconsistencies and may highlight the activities carried out by other institutions that provide the reasons needed to actively include collaborative institutions to achieve the GSPC targets beyond 2010 in Ethiopia.

Target 1: A widely accessible working list of known plant species, as a step towards a complete world flora

This target is aimed at producing a working list of known plant species at the global level, which is considered vital for plant conservation. The target is considered to be achievable by 2010, through the compilation and synthesis of existing knowledge, mainly focusing on names and synonyms, and geographical distribution.

National Report: The Flora of Ethiopia and Eritrea in eight volumes was completed in 2009. The work was based on an exhaustive assessment estimated to include approximately 6000 species of higher plants with 10–12% endemism.

Remark: Ethiopia completed the compilation of the Flora of Ethiopia in 2009 that had been started in 1980, and approximately 6000 species of vascular plants and the list could be extracted from the published volumes of the Flora of Ethiopia and Eritrea. The published volumes, in addition to having scientific names and synonyms mainly based on Ethiopian type specimens or widely used vernacular and English names, have information on distribution, ecology, use (when known) and vernacular names in various Ethiopian ethnic languages. This was a collaborative project between the Universities of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and Uppsala, Sweden, and other collaborating institutions such as the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and the Universities of Copenhagen, Denmark, and Oslo, Norway, to mention a few, but many more institutions were involved. The project was signed as a bilateral agreement between the Swedish and Ethiopian Governments in 1980. Although this activity was not carried out as a result of government policy after the identification of the GSPC targets in 2002, it contributed to the national achievement of target 1.

Target 2: A preliminary assessment of the conservation status of all known plant species, at national, regional and international levels

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) had evaluated c. 60 000 species for conservation status according to the internationally accepted criteria. Of these species c. 34 000 are classified as globally threatened with extinction (IUCN, 1997).

National Report: A list of endemic species compiled and threat status made. The distribution and status of most of the forest plant species is assessed.

Remark: A list of endemic plants could be compiled from published flora volumes. However, there is no published information on the threat status of all endemic plants. Available information so far includes that of Ensermu et al. (1992) and Vivero, Ensermu & Sebsebe (2005, 2006). This was carried out through the participation of AAU staff members. Thus, the information as given in the National Report is inaccurate.

Target 3: Development of models with protocols for plant conservation and sustainable use, based on research and practical experience

Conservation biology research and methodologies and practical techniques for conservation are fundamental to the conservation of plant diversity and the sustainable use of its components.

National Report: Established the germplasm maintenance and gene bank management system and procedures based on practical experience.

Remark: IBC played important roles in germplasm maintenance, and the development of models with protocols for plant conservation has been achieved.

Target 4: At least 10% of each of the world's ecological regions effectively conserved

Approximately 10% of the land surface is currently covered by protected areas. In general, forests and mountain areas are well represented in protected areas, but natural grasslands (such as prairies) and coastal and estuarine ecosystems, including mangroves, are poorly represented. The target would imply: (1) increasing the representation of different ecological regions in protected areas and (2) increasing the effectiveness of protected areas.

National Report: The current total coverage of protected areas is 19.05%, but these are not effectively conserved.

Remark: Ethiopia has established several protected areas, including 14 National Parks, four Sanctuaries and 18 Controlled Hunting areas, during the last 40 years. Although, as indicated in the national report, protected areas in Ethiopia are not effectively conserved and were also established mainly to protect the fauna, they serve as important shelters to threatened plants, as is the case in Semien and Bale Mountain National Parks.

In addition to the above, five new National Parks, Alatish, Denqoro–Chaka (in Amhra Regional State), Maze, Chebera–Churchura (in the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Regional State) and Kafta–Sheraro (in Tigray Regional State), have been added. These resulted from the adoption of the GSPC targets.

One of the important issues to be raised in this target is having protected areas in representative eco-regions as represented by vegetation types. An overlay of the protected areas in Ethiopia over the recently published Atlas of vegetation types in Ethiopia (Friis, Sebsebe & van Brugel, 2010) shows that there are some eco-regions (vegetation types) without any or adequate representation in protected areas (Fig. 1). The vegetation types that are not represented in protected areas are: the desert and semi-desert vegetation type and the salt-water lakes, lake shores, salt marshes and pan vegetation that also occur in the desert and semi-desert areas. Other eco-regions that are not adequately represented include: wooded grassland of the western Gambela region, Combretum–Terminalia woodland that occurs in much of western Ethiopia bordering Sudan from south to north, the Acacia–Commiphora woodland in the eastern part of Ethiopia, the moist Afro-montane forest in western and south-western Ethiopia, dry evergreen Afro-montane forest and grassland complex that occur mainly in central, north-western and northern Ethiopia and the ericaceous belt of the Afro-alpine vegetation. This has to be accomplished if the Target is to be attained. Mapping Authority, IBC, and Higher Learning Institutions (HILs) and Regional States should be involved to achieve this target.

Figure 1.

An overlay of the protected areas (marked) in Ethiopia over the recently published atlas of vegetation types in Ethiopia (Source: Friis et al., 2010).

Target 5: Protection of 50% of the most important areas for plant diversity assured

The most important areas for plant diversity would be identified according to the criteria including endemism, species richness and/or uniqueness of habitats, including relict ecosystems, also taking into account the provision of ecosystem services. They would be identified primarily at local and national levels. Protection would be assured through effective conservation measures, including protected areas.

National Report: In terms of protection of plants, the Bale Mountains National Park, which is one of the world's biodiversity hotspot areas, and the Semien Mountains National Park are relatively better protected. These may account for up to 1% of the most important areas for plant diversity in the country.

Remark: The Federal and Regional governmental offices and environmental NGOs are helping local communities to reverse the current degradation trends in protected areas. Some examples of such efforts are: revitalizing the Maze wildlife reserve (habitat of the Swayne's Harte Beast); establishing the new Chebera–Churchura wildlife reserve; and nominating the Abijate–Shalla National park as the first Ramsar site for Ethiopia. The Bale Mountain has been identified as an important biodiversity hotspot. A management plan is being developed for the Bale Mountain National Park through the Conservation and Sustainable Utilization of Medicinal Plants project and the Oromia Regional State Natural Resources Protection Sector.

Target 6: At least 30% of production lands managed consistent with the conservation of plant diversity

In this target, production lands refer to lands where the primary purpose is agriculture (including horticulture), grazing or wood production.

National report: Current expansion of the production lands has become serious threat to plant diversity. Production system in Ethiopia is not operated based on planned land use.

Remark: This target is difficult to achieve. There are two contradictory and conflicting interests taking place, on the one hand to be able to stop the expansion of productive lands and, on the other, the need to feed the over-growing human population by increasing agricultural lands. If this target is to be achieved, federal and regional governments with the appropriate line ministries such as the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MoARD) and others have to come up with a land-use policy that would help areas assigned for conservation, agriculture, forestry, etc.

Target 7: 60% of the world's threatened species conserved in situ

In this target, conserved in situ refers to the fact that populations of the species are effectively maintained in at least one protected area or through other in situ management measures. The target is seen as a step towards the effective in situ conservation of all threatened species

National Report: Prunus africana (Hook.f.) Kalkman ,which is in the IUCN Red List and Annex II of CITES, is currently being conserved in situ in association with Podocarpus falcatus (Thunb.) Mirb. The number of all the threatened plant species in Ethiopia as listed in the IUCN Red List is not well known.

Remark: The progress made to achieve the target is insignificant, as the report indicates only one threatened species (Prunus africana) out of the many threatened plant species cited in Ensermu et al. (1992) and Vivero et al. (2005, 2006). IBC, AAU and other HLIs should be able to work together to make progress on this target in the future.

Target 8: 60% of threatened plant species in accessible ex situ collections, preferably in the country of origin, and 10% of them included in recovery and restoration programmes

Currently, over 10 000 threatened species are maintained in living collections (botanic gardens, seed banks and tissue culture collections), representing some 30% of known threatened species. It is estimated that currently approximately 2% of threatened species are included in recovery and restoration programmes. Against this baseline, a target of 10% is recommended.

National Report: Ethiopia did not develop list of threatened plant species. However, seeds of approximately 125 plant species are stored in cold rooms and field gene banks.

Remark: A list of all threatened plant species has not been compiled in Ethiopia. There are only a few reports documenting the threat levels of plants (Vivero et al., 2005, 2006). There is also an attempt by IBC to grow some threatened plants at Wondogenet research site (field gene bank), but no attempt carried out yet to have threatened species in recovery and restoration programmes. IBC, AAU through the Gullele Botanic Gardens, and other HLIs together with Regional Sates should be able to work together to make progress on this target in the future.

Target 9: 70% of the genetic diversity of crops and other major socio-economically valuable plant species conserved, and associated indigenous and local knowledge maintained

With an appropriate strategy, 70% of the genetic diversity of a crop can be contained in a relatively small sample (generally, < 1000 accessions). For any one species, therefore, the target is readily attainable. Globally, it is expected that 70% of genetic diversity is already conserved ex situ in gene banks for 200–300 crops. Genetic diversity is also conserved through on-farm management. By working together with local communities, associated indigenous and local knowledge can also be maintained. Combining gene bank, on-farm and other in situ approaches, the target could be reached for all crops in production and major forage and tree species. Other major socio-economically important species, such as medicinal plants, could be selected on a case-by-case basis, according to national priorities. Through the combined actions of countries, some 2000 or 3000 species could be covered globally.

National Report: The genetic diversity was not exhaustively assessed. However, the Ethiopian Gene Bank has collected and conserved ex situ over 69 000 accessions of approximately 125 plant species and some associated indigenous knowledge.

Remark: IBC has been involved over two decades working together on farm conservation with local communities. Since 1989, Ethiopia has been supporting smallholder farmers to conserve their crop varieties on their farms. NGOs that are working actively should be involved to make further progress on this target in the future. In addition, there is a need to expand this activity to include root crops mainly found in the western and south-western parts of the country.

Target 10: Management plans in place for at least 100 major alien species that threaten plants, plant communities and associated habitats and ecosystems

On a global level, there is no agreed reliable estimate of the number of alien species that threaten indigenous plants, plant communities and associated habitats and ecosystems. It is therefore recommended that the target be established for an absolute number of such major invasive alien species. The wording ‘At least 100’ is considered appropriate. Thus, approximately 100 invasive alien species would be selected on the basis of national priorities, also taking into account their significance at regional and global levels. For many alien species, it is expected that different management plans will be required in different countries in which they threaten plants, plant communities and associated habitats and ecosystems. This target would be considered as a first step towards developing management plans for all major alien species that threaten plants, plant communities and associated habitats and ecosystems.

National Report: Management plans produced only for Prosopis juliflora DC., water hyacinth [Eichhornia crassipes (Mart.) Solms] and Parthenium hysterophorus L.

Remark: Currently, the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research is carrying out research on invasive species. IBC and AAU are also carrying out research on this target. The three institutions should work together to achieve the target in the future.

Target 11: No species of wild flora endangered by international trade

The proposed formulation of the target is more precise as it focuses on those species that are actually threatened by international trade. So formulated, the target is attainable and is complementary to target 12. Species of wild flora endangered by international trade include but are not limited to species listed on CITES Appendix 1.

National Report: Not known

Remark: All indigenous species of Aloe L., orchid and succulent Euphorbia L. are on the CITES list. It should be possible to have the list and track down if they are on the international market. For example: Euphorbia sebsebei M.G.Gilbert is available on the market.

Target 12: 30% of plant-based products derived from sources that are sustainably managed

Plant-based products include food products, timber, paper and other wood-based products, other fibre products, and ornamental, medicinal and other plants for direct use.

National Report: ‘ The Ethiopian Home Gardens: Potentiation of Practices and Produce, In Situ Conservation of Biodiversity Project’ has selected and identified 27 plant-based products.

Remark: These are good examples, but more remains to be done. The project was mainly carried out by The Environmental Protection Authority in collaboration with Addis Ababa University; EIAR, IBC and AAU will play important roles in achieving the target in the future.

Target 13: The decline of plant resources, and associated indigenous and local knowledge innovations and practices that support sustainable livelihoods, local food security and health care, halted

Plant diversity underpins livelihoods, food security and health care. This target is consistent with the widely agreed international development targets, i.e. to ensure that current trends in the loss of environmental resources are effectively reversed at both global and national levels. Relevant plant resources and methods to address their decline are largely site specific and thus implementation must be locally driven. The scope of the target is understood to encompass plant resources and associated ethnobotanical knowledge. Measures to address the decline in associated indigenous and local knowledge should be implemented consistent with the CBD's programme of work on Article 8(j) and related provisions.

National Report: There is some progress towards the achievement of the target; however, much is to be done to avert the declining trend.

Remark: The achievement of this target is inadequate so far. There is a need for more collaboration between AAU, IBC and EIAR, etc.

Target 14: The importance of plant diversity and the need for its conservation incorporated into communication, education and public awareness programmes

Communication, education and the raising of public awareness about the importance of plant diversity are crucial for the achievement of all the targets of the Strategy. This target is understood to refer to both informal and formal education at all levels, including primary, secondary and tertiary education. Given the strategic importance of education about plant conservation, this issue should be included not only in environmental curricula, but also in broader areas of mainstream education policy.

National Report: There are various awareness creation programmes, but very insignificant to meet the target .

Remark: Public engagement is taking place nationally in the media (radio, TV and newspapers) when biodiversity days are recognized nationally and internationally. There is an attempt to include environmental education in high-school curricula and some courses given at BSc and MSc levels. The Gullele and other botanic gardens will also play active roles in the future.

Target 15: The number of trained people working with appropriate facilities in plant conservation increased, according to national needs, to achieve the targets of this Strategy

The achievement of the targets included in the Strategy will require very considerable capacity building, particularly to address the need for conservation practitioners trained in a range of disciplines, with access to adequate facilities. In addition to training programmes, the achievement of this target will require long-term commitment to maintaining infrastructure.

National Report: Insufficient achievement.

Remark: Training provided at MSc levels in botany and environment with courses towards conservation. There is an urgent need to coordinate activities between IBC and HLIs to develop curricula and specific degree programmes on conservation that would contribute towards addressing the target.

Target 16: Networks for plant conservation activities established or strengthened at national, regional and international levels

Networks can enhance communication and provide a mechanism to exchange information, know-how and technology. Networks will provide an important component in the coordination of effort among many stakeholders for the achievement of all the targets of the Strategy. They will also help to avoid duplication of effort and to optimize the efficient allocation of resources. Effective networks provide a means to develop common approaches to plant conservation problems, to share policies and priorities and to help disseminate the implementation of all such policies at different levels. They can also help to strengthen links between different sectors relevant to conservation, for example the botanical, environmental, agricultural, forest and educational sectors. Networks provide an essential link between on-the-ground conservation action and coordination, monitoring and policy development at all levels. This target is understood to include the broadening of participation in existing networks, as well as the establishment, where necessary, of new networks.

National Report: Not achieved at the national level, but, regionally, the East African Plant Genetic Resources Network (EAPGREN) has a currently established network with the Ethiopian gene bank and, at the international level, the Center for Genetic Resources Netherlands (CGN) also has some link.

Remark: The NBSAP (2005) envisaged the establishment of a Biodiversity Secretariat within the regional bureaus of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and foster linkages between, and within, different sectors affecting biodiversity. It also envisaged the establishment of a Federal and Regional Biodiversity Steering Committees that receive technical support from a broad-based, Biodiversity Working Group. As also admitted in the national report, establishing a network nationally has not been achieved. This situation has to be reversed in order to achieve progress in the future.


The Ethiopian government, both during the establishment of IBCR in 1998 and during the preparation of the NBSAPs (2005), had clear policies and action plans to achieve the conservation of biological resources. Thus, there was no need to have new policies in order to achieve the GSPC targets. Research and training institutions continued to carry out their research, but more often than not the 16 targets enabled institutions and researchers to articulate their results in line with these targets and compare their results with outcomes expected to be achieved globally.

Global strategy for plant conservation post -2010

Accomplishments towards the 16 GSPC targets up to 2010 have been reviewed in a recent 14th meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA) held in May 2010 in Nairobi, and recommendations were made for the GSPC targets beyond 2010. The Conference of the Parties held in Nagoya, Japan, in connection with the 10th CBD meeting in October 2010, provided the rationale, justification for updating and suggested milestones and indicators to achieve the targets (Convention on Biological Diversity, 2010). In Table 1, the 16 GSPC targets, with the progress made globally, the milestones and the indicators suggested, the status and suggestions on what need to be done, and the participating national institutes to achieve the targets are shown.

Table 1.  GSPC targets, progress made up to 2010, milestones and indicators as documented in UNEP/CBD/COP10/19 (CBD, 2010), status of targets and suggested participating national institutions
GSPC TargetsProgress made up to 2010 globallyMilestones that could serve as steps towards the 2020 targetPossible indicatorsCurrent status and/or what needs to be done in EthiopiaSuggested participating institutions
Target 1: An online flora of all known plantsAt the global level, 85% of the global checklist should be available by the end of 2010(a) The checklist completed and made publicly accessible by 2012
(b) The checklist updated for synonymy and vernacular names, where appropriate, by 2015
(c) Geographical distribution information included in the updated checklist, maintained and made widely accessible by 2017
(i) Number of languages in which the global checklist is accessible
(ii) Number of online floras available online
Information on c. 6000 species of vascular plants known from the Flora of Ethiopia and Eritrea has been documented through the Ethiopian Flora ProjectAAU, IBC
Target 2: An assessment of the conservation status of all known plant species as far as possible to guide conservation actionThe proportion of globally assessed plants on the IUCN Red List has only reached c. 10%. Many more plant species have been assessed at national and/or regional levels using a variety of systems, but an overview of the total number of assessed species is lacking (see A working list of all available evidence-based conservation assessments for plants prepared by 2012, regularly updated and maintained as an online resource
(b) A published interim threatened species list, an output from (a) above, from which other GSPC targets can be measured developed by 2013
(c) A national and/or regional Red Lists developed or updated to assist in obtaining an overview of threat levels at a global level by 2015
(d) An assessment of the threat status of a ‘globally representative sample’ of plant species based on a multi-stakeholder effort by 2017
(i) Percentage of known plant taxa on Red List IndexRed List assessments made for endemic trees and shrubs of Ethiopia and Eritrea (Vivero et al., 2005, 2006). However, concerted efforts need to be made to make an assessment of known plantsAAU, IBC
Target 3: Information, research and associated outputs, and methods necessary to implement the Strategy developed and sharedThe Plant Conservation Report has been published and notes that it is critical that means of dissemination, including the toolkit, be developed(a) A toolkit to support implementation of the Strategy available by 2012
(b) A web-based compilation of resources developed by 2015 at national, regional and international levels
(i) The number of United Nations languages in which the toolkit is available
(ii) The number of new web-based resources available and the number of visits to these resources
There is a modest beginning of the process at the IBC, but more needs to be done to produce the toolkits and provide more information on the WebIBC, AAU, other HLIs, EIAR, Regional States
Target 4: At least 15% of each ecological region or vegetation type secured through effective management and/or restorationCurrently, there is uncertainty as to how the 10% level of this target relates to the conservation of either species-rich hotspots or areas of high threat or endemism, as these are not always correlated. The progress in achieving this target was hard to measure because of lack of clarity(a) Establish which of the existing global or regional ecological region classifications are suited for use at the national or regional scale as they may differ around the world by 2012
(b) Identify the most critical regions requiring conservation action and or restoration by 2013
(c) Identify the coincidence of protected areas and these ecological regions, and from the gap analysis prioritize actions at national and regional levels by 2014
(d) Develop guidance on the management of vegetation types within those critical ecological regions by 2015
(e) Pilot the implementation of management guidance through the ecosystem approach by 2017
(i) Per cent of ecological regions or vegetations covered within protected areas
(ii) Number of ecological regions or vegetation types with restoration projects
The current total coverage of protected areas is 19.05%. But there is a need to make an assessment of the percentage of each of the ecological regions covered in protected areas in order to make sound recommendations to include new areas into the protected areas for effective management and restorationIBC, MOARD, Regional States
Target 5: At least 75% of the most important areas for plant diversity of each ecological region protected with effective management in place for conserving plants and their genetic diversityTo date, more than 35 countries have taken steps to identify important areas for plant diversity and at least 17 have ongoing programmes that are addressing conservation issues as well as documenting sites. Some important areas for plant diversity fall within officially protected areas, although this figure varies considerably between countries. The percentage of important areas for plant diversity protected does not necessarily mean the site is maintained in good condition(a) Evaluation of protected areas against important areas for plant diversity by 2012
(b) Identify threats to plants and plant habitats, including potential impact by climate change on important areas for plant diversity and opportunities for their conservation through sustainable use by 2013
(c) Address issues raised by milestones (a) and (b) by 2014
(d) Incorporate measures specifically geared toward plant conservation into existing management plans by 2015
(e) Management plans developed through the ecosystem approach with the involvement of local stakeholders on at least five important areas for plant diversity (without existing management) per country by 2015
(i) Coverage of Important Areas for Plant Diversity in Protected Area Systems
(ii) Reports on governance and management effectiveness of protected areas
This target has not been adequately addressed, except for the Bale and the Semien Mountains National Parks with relatively better management. Attention need to be given in order to produce a strategy and action plan for effective management in other protected areasIBC, MoARD, MoCT, EWCA, AAU and other HLIs, Regional States
Target 6: At least 75% of production lands in each sector managed sustainably, consistent with the conservation of plant diversityThis target was noted to be difficult to measure effectively. There is need for clearer baselines, performance indicators and definitions for terms such as ‘consistent with’ and ‘production lands’(a) Establish links between the GSPC and the programmes of work on agricultural and forest biodiversity by 2011
(b) Develop specific targets for each sector by 2013
(c) Develop and promote guidance that shows how management systems that are consistent with the conservation of plant diversity can be achieved (for each sector) by 2014
(d) Test the guidance referred to under (c) above in at least two sites in each sector and in each region by 2016 and promote preferred options by 2018
(i) Area of forest under sustainable management involving certification
(ii) Agricultural ecosystems under sustainable management (this has to be disaggregated by sector)
The status of this target is also difficult to measure at the national level. There is no mechanism put in place nationally to link the GSPC targets with programmes of work in agriculture and forestry. Currently, there is a rapid expansion of the production lands in various parts of the country which undoubtedly threatens the conservation of the plant diversityFederal and Regional government, MoARD, EIAR, IBC
Target 7: At least 75% of threatened species conserved in situThe progress on this target has been limited by a lack of baseline information from target. It is therefore anticipated that the achievement of the new milestones in target will enhance the implementation of the current target(a) Develop the means to measure if threatened species are effectively conserved in protected area systems or managed outside the protected area network, taking into consideration the possible impact of climate change (e.g. reserves that have multiple habitat types, or altitudinal gradients) using a representative sample by 2012
(b) Establish a monitoring system that allows for a baseline to be established so that progress can be monitored (related to inventories of protected areas) by 2013
(c) Development of management plans for protected areas or for specific species of plants by 2015
(d) 100% of threatened single-country endemic species found in protected areas or covered by species management plans by 2015
(i) Change in status of threatened species
(ii) Trends in abundance and distribution of selected species
Prunus africana, which is in the IUCN Red List and Appendix II of CITES, is currently being conserved in situ in association with Podocarpus falcatus
(IBC national report, 2010).
There is a need to do more to document threatened plant species in addition to the ones cited in (Vivero et al., 2005) and determine their abundance and distribution, and develop a mechanism for their in situ conservation
IBC, AAU and other HLIs, MoARD
Target 8: At least 75% of threatened plant species in ex situ collections, preferably in the country of origin, and at least 20% available for recovery and restoration programmesWhile some significant progress has been made by some regions and countries, countries with high biodiversity still face great challenges. Progress in the development of greater capacity, resources and programmes could be built on to achieve the 2020 target. It is estimated that currently c. 5% of threatened species are included in recovery and restoration programmes(a) Compile a meta-database of ex situ plant collections by 2012 and periodically produce reports of the percentage of threatened species in accessible ex situ collections
(b) Ensure that ex situ collections of all critically endangered species are genetically representative by 2015
(c) Establish a monitoring system for species reintroduced into the wild by 2016
(i) Change in status of threatened species
(ii) Trends in numbers of ex situ collections
(iii) Number of recovery programmes for species
The remark made on Target 7 is applicable here as well. But sites for ex situ conservation need to be identified in the various Regional States in the countryIBC, AAU through Gullele Botanic Gardens, Regional States
Target 9: At least 70% of the genetic diversity of crops, including their wild relatives and other socio-economically valuable plant species conserved, and associated indigenous and local knowledge respected [preserved][protected] and maintainedThe Global Crop Diversity Trust has been established to ensure the conservation and availability of crop diversity for food security worldwide. Maintenance of associated indigenous and local knowledge presents a particularly significant challenge and, to date, there is a lack of tested methodologies and limited assessments of indigenous and local knowledge associated with plant genetic diversity(a) Develop, in consultation with Indigenous and Local Communities, priority lists of socio-economically important, underutilized species or little-known crops by 2014
(b) Strengthen the ownership of this target by relevant partners, and stakeholders such as FAO, Global Crop Diversity Trust and Biodiversity, to enhance national, regional and international implementation by 2015
(i) Genetic diversity of ex situ collections of crop wild relatives and other socio- economically important species
(ii) Trends in ex-situ collections that have associated indigenous and local knowledge respected, [preserved][protected] and maintained
The IBC has ex situ collections of over 69 000 accessions of c. 125 plant species in its gene bank, together with some associated indigenous knowledge However, this is a relatively smaller proportion of the wider plant diversity in Ethiopia. There is much still needed to realize this target nationallyIBC, EIAR, Regional States, MoARD
Target 10: Effective management plans in place to prevent new biological invasions and to manage important areas for plant diversity that are invadedThe 2010 target has already been met at global level, in that there are over 100 management plans in place, but these do not lend themselves to national or regional implementation(a) Assess important areas for plant diversity and develop priority lists of biological invasions affecting them by 2013
(b) Develop lists of potential invasive species for given ecosystems/localities as a toolkit for management plans by 2014
(c) Develop guidance for management plans that address biological invasions, and include considerations for restoration of the important areas for plant diversity by 2016
(d) Implement management plans developed in (c) for selected important areas of plant diversity threatened with biological invasion by 2018
(i) Number of management plans developed to address biological invasions and include considerations for restoration of important areas for plant diversity
(ii) Trends in biological invasions in areas important for plant diversity
Management plans have only been produced only for Prosopis juliflora, Eichhornia crassipes (Water hyacinth) and Parthenium hysterophorus.
A complete list of invasive species (Lantana camara L. and others) has to be documented, mapped and management plans developed to determine the trends in biological invasions
EIAR, IBC, AAU, Regional States
Target 11: No species of wild flora endangered by international tradeThe implementation, monitoring and review of this target is through synergy with the CITES Convention under its Plants Committee. Progress on this target has been summarized in document UNEP/CBD/LG-GSPC/3/INF/2The following milestones could serve as steps for the CBD towards the 2020 target:
(a) Collaborate with the CITES Plants Committee to ensure linkages between the two Conventions are complimentary and supportive
(b) Improve implementation through strengthening linkages between national GSPC focal points and CITES focal points
(i) Trends of plant species in trade
(ii) Change in status of threatened species
There have not been properly documented cases nationally. There is a need for more concerted efforts to document wild flora endangered by international tradeIBC, AAU, Regional States
Target 12: All wild harvested plant-based products sourced sustainablyCertified organic foods and timber currently account for c. 2% of production globally. For several product categories, examples exist of 10–20% of products meeting intermediate standards. Terms to be clarified include ‘plant-based products’ and ‘sustainable management’. There is need to develop sub-targets at the sectoral level and to strengthen linkages with the private sector and consumers(a) Collaborate with relevant partners and stakeholders to undertake a progressive inventory and assessment of plant-based products (and/or identify the species from which they are derived) by 2015
(b) Assess or certify the sustainability of a diversity of plant-based products, according to explicit criteria, in order to develop a realistic figure for this target by 2015
(i) Wild Commodities Index
(ii) Trends in implementation of international Standards
(iii) Proportion of products derived from sustainable sources
There are some wild harvested plant-based products. These include coffee beans, collected from wild sources and sold internationally using local place trade names where the coffee beans are collected from. In addition, there are products such as Piper capense L.f. (locally known as Timiz) collected from the wild and sold for local markets. More information on such products has to be documented and mechanisms for their sustainable use developedIBC, EIAR, Regional Sates, NGOs. Local communities where the identified plants are known from in the wild
Target 13: Indigenous and local knowledge innovations and practices associated with plant resources, maintained or increased, as appropriate, to support customary use, sustainable livelihoods, local food security and health careThis target was more aspirational and therefore not measurable. In 2006, a proposal was made to develop sub-targets, taking an ecosystem-by-ecosystem approach (e.g. for agriculture, forest resources and pasture resources), but there has been no progress in this respect and no milestones have been defined. Further consultation recommended that Indigenous and Local Communities be involved in the review and update of this target(a) Strengthen linkages with indigenous and local communities to assist the development of possible sub-targets by 2012
(b) Encourage Parties to incorporate this target into national sustainable development policies or sustainable livelihood initiatives, where possible taking an ecosystem approach by 2015
(i) Health and well-being of communities who depend on local ecosystem goods and services
(ii) Status and trends of linguistic diversity
There is no systematic documentation of indigenous and local knowledge innovations at the national level, except some studies here and there associated with some projects and research by postgraduate students at various HLIs.
Mechanisms need to be developed to organize such efforts for a better documentation and sustainable use
EIAR, IBC, AAU, Regional States, NGOs
Target 14: The importance of plant diversity and the need for its conservation incorporated into communication, education and public awareness programmesThe publication of the GSPC brochure and its translation into 10 languages was a key achievement with the previous Strategy, allowing easy access to the text for policymakers and other partners and stakeholders. Similar approaches and tools may be useful in relation to the updated Strategy(a) Develop key messages for a communication/marketing plan for the Strategy by 2012
(b) Parties to incorporate plant conservation into national climate change, or other relevant resource management documents or strategies
(c) Increase awareness of plant diversity and review communication Strategy as appropriate by 2016
(i) Surveys of awareness and attitudes towards plant biodiversity and the GSPC
(ii) The number of visits to protected areas, natural history museums and botanical gardens
There are attempts to increase awareness creation on the importance of plant diversity and conservation. Such attempts are associated with celebration of events such as biodiversity day nationally or internationally. But awareness-raising efforts need to be carried out on continuous bases.
There are also efforts to include biodiversity issues on high-school textbooks and in some departments in higher learning institutions.
Much is needed to accomplish the target nationally
IBC, EIAR, AAU, Regional States, NGO's
Target 15: The number of trained people working with appropriate facilities sufficient according to national needs, to achieve the targets of this StrategyThe progress made in achieving this target is elaborated in the Plant Conservation Report(a) National needs assessments undertaken by 2013 to identify key institutions relevant to the implementation of the Strategy at national and/or regional level and a database maintained in collaboration with the national CBD Clearing-House Mechanism
(b) National, regional and international training programmes relevant to the targets of the Strategy developed and/or strengthened by 2014
(c) Institutions strengthened with appropriate resources to implement the targets of the Strategy based on the findings of the Needs Assessments by 2015
(d) Secure the transfer of knowledge and skills related to plant conservation by 2018
(i) Number of national, regional and international training programmes
(ii) Trends in resourcing to support the implementation of the Strategy
Although assessments to determine the numbers of trained workforce to achieve the GSPC targets has not been documented, it is assumed that the number of trained people is insufficient to address the targets.
Sustained effort is required to increase the numbers of trained workforce in the area
Target 16: Institutions, networks and partnerships for plant conservation established or strengthened at national, regional and international levels to achieve the targets of this StrategyAt the global level, the establishment of the Global Partnership for Plant Conservation (GPPC) has made a good start at bringing together the plant conservation community. However, greater efforts are needed to engage other sectors, such as agriculture, industry, education, forestry, water management, and Indigenous and Local Communities(a) Structures and model information systems relevant to networks are made available by 2015
(b) Increased membership of the GPPC by members from other sectors, such as agriculture, industry, education, forestry, water management, marine and coastal management, Indigenous and Local Communities and communication by 2015
(c) A directory of experts, institutions and networks relevant to each target is developed as part of the toolkit
(i) Number of initiatives organized and/or supported by the Global Partnership for Plant ConservationAt the national level, the networks between the various institutions are poor. However, at the regional level, the East African Plant Genetic Resources Network (EAPGREN) has established network with the IBC and, at the international level, there are networks such as the Center for Genetic Resources, Netherlands (CGN) that has some links with IBCMoE, MoARD, HLIs, IBC, NGOs



  • • The GSPC targets were initiated in 2002. A lot has been achieved at the global and national levels since then. However, in Ethiopia, the achievements were not necessarily made through policy changes to achieve GSPC targets, but rather as part of the existing government science and research policies and institutions that were carrying out the activities as part of their research or mandate.
  • • It is important to note that the formulation of the GSPC targets have helped institutions to adjust their achievements aligned towards the targets, thereby helping them to compare themselves vis-à-vis the performances with institutions in other countries.
  • • From the Ethiopian national report, it has been clear that networking between the national focal point and the various stakeholder institutions to synchronize efforts made to achieve the GSPC targets was generally poor. If there were consultations, these were carried out on ad hoc bases.


In order to find positive outcomes on GSPC targets post-2010, the Institute of Biodiversity Conservation (IBC), the Ethiopian national focal point, needs to:

  • • improve and/or strengthen working relationships with all the relevant stakeholder institutions and create mechanisms to allow their full participation. The CBD Secretariat should also make sure that the reports to be submitted reflect consensus reached with stakeholder institutions within Ethiopia;
  • • delegate some of the GSPC targets to other appropriate stakeholder institutions based on mandates and existing expertise;
  • • engage with the newly established Gullele Botanic Garden jointly run by the Addis Ababa City Administration and Addis Ababa University to work on targets related to ex situ conservation.


The author would like to acknowledge support from the Royal Society to cover travel expenses, the Jodrell Laboratory, Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, for logistic support, Mr Eyob Teshome and Mr Fiseha Getachew for GIS support for Figure 1, Mr Rezene Fissehaye for comments on invasive species and Dr Tesfaye Awas for general comments on the manuscript.