Threatened trees of Ethiopia

Posted on by Kirsty Shaw
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.

A particularly iconic genus in Ethiopia is Acacia. Dry Acacia forests cover large parts of the country. Six species were assessed as threatened in the 2005 Red List publication, including:

  • Acacia bricchettiana is assessed as Critically Endangered and reported as known from only two type collections.
  • Acacia prasinata, also assessed as Critically Endangered. Despite occurring in a National Park, the remaining populations of this species are reported to be threatened by overgrazing and cutting for firewood.

Another iconic forest type in Ethiopia is the Hagenia and Juniper forests of the Simien and Bale Mountains. This forest type has decreased rapidly in recent years. The largest remaining section of the Hagenia and Juniper forest occurs within the Bale Mountains National Park, but even within this protected area collection for firewood persists. A number of native species of fauna occur within this forest type including Mountain Nyala (Tragelaphus buxtoni), listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List.


Hagenia abyssinica and Juniperus procera

  • Hagenia abyssinica is native to the Afromontane regions of central and eastern Africa. Despite a fairly large range, deforestation is occurring across these regions and this species is becoming locally rare in some areas. This species is noted as being of serious conservation concern within Ethiopia in the 2005 Red List publication. H. abyssinica is used locally in Ethiopia for timber and as a source of medicine. There is a great need to increase conservation work of this important species to support wild populations and provide material for reintroduction and restoration projects in future.
  • Juniperus procera is assessed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List due to a current wide distribution, however the population is reported to be declining due to continuing exploitation and deforestation. The species is noted to be at particular risk in Ethiopia and Kenya, due to depletion of old growth forest groves of this species. As the only juniper species occurring in Sub-Saharan Africa, J. procera should be an important conservation priority for countries within its range.
Wondo Genet workshop and arboretum (72)

Nursery at Wondo Genet College Arboretum

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.

Following a recent visit by Global Trees Campaign staff to Ethiopia, we will be working during 2014 to establish conservation projects for the threatened and iconic tree species of Ethiopia with these institutions.

Click here to support our practical conservation work with threatened tree species.

Find out more about botanic garden development in Ethiopia here.

This post was co-authored by Dr. Peter Borchardt, Department of Geography, University of Hamburg, Germany. Peter is involved in the arboretum restoration project at Wondo Genet College of Forestry and Natural Resources.

Photo credits: Header image, Peter Borchardt. Embedded images, Kirsty Shaw.
Written by Kirsty Shaw

Kirsty is a Head of Ecological Restoration and Tree Conservation at Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI), working on the Global Trees Campaign and botanic garden led forest restoration initiatives in Africa.


  1. Pingback: Two items of news about Botanical Gardens and Arboreta in Ethiopia | ssafricacd

  2. Itambo Malombe on

    Its an excellent activity by Global Tree Campaign in partnership with Wondo Genet arboretum to conserve engendered tree species. Our natural reservoirs are disappearing at an alarming rate and, given the fact that most of the ecosystems are not under protection or if so most of them are plantations, such initiatives need all the support possible.

  3. Berhane Measho on

    Ethiopia is a country with rich plant diversity and several endemic plants and trees have been destroyed with no return. It is a new thing to hear about arboretum in Ethiopia with a country with immense resource. However, this activity is timely and very appreciable work and hopefully it might the be only effort to save the engendered plants and trees. Great job to all those who are commuted to do such job.

  4. zeynu on

    the research identify those species who are endangered now please try to conserve them, other wise the research become unimportant it should go further than report

  5. Bro. Furqaan S. Ali on

    Selam, Is the rain fall sufficient to sustain the tree project?

  6. Arun Babu Kandoor on

    This is a great article for tree conservation esp. with respect to endangered and critically endangered species. It is just an awesome work. I hope and wish sincerely state that I am not trying here only to flatter anyone. I not only would like to honestly praise, admire, appreciate but also get involved if possible in any such wonderful and noble project relating to tree conservation in Ethiopia since I am presently in Ethiopia working as a lecturer in civil engineering department of Mizan Tepi University, 565 kma SW of Addis in a region called as Bench Maji Zone having good biodiversity.

  7. Gada Gimbe on

    its great work,i’m much proud of to see such conservation project,be continue the nature is in our hand to do so

  8. Abdul Wali on

    Please How to cite this subject

  9. alganesh asgedom on

    Deforestation has badly affected existing forest cover with no effort being made to plant tree seedlings. Clearing and for settlement and charcoal making has a major role for devastation which had happened in the last 75 years. Thanks for the good job you are doing in Ethiopia.

  10. Dessalegne Gella on

    I want to get the lists of Indegenious Ethiopian Trees

    1. Kirsty Shaw Post author on

      Hi Dessalegne, The Red List of Endemic Trees & Shrubs of Ethiopia and Eritrea is available here: This is endemic trees, not all indigenous trees. Another useful reference is Professor Legesse Negash’s book: “A Selection of Ethiopia’s Indigenous Trees: Biology, Uses and Propagation Techniques”

  11. Damtew Tsegaye on

    Hi Kirsty Shaw i am damtew tsegaye from ethiopia wondogenet agricultural research center.I am the one that i made some justification about our botanic garden and plants.Do you remember botanic garden of wondogenet agricultural research center Yuo have been visited before 8 month ago.

  12. Asmare Adegeh on

    In our country natural resources are degrading at an alarming rate and, given the fact that most of the ecosystems are not under protection or even plantation carried out couldn’t sustain, hence from such type of initiatives need all support possible.
    Thank you!

  13. Yenew on

    This is a wonderful effort. In fact, it should have been done yesterday but better late than never. In a remote village i grew up, people never went to clinics when they were sick. they went to traditional healer who used trees, shrubs and herbs for curing people; they were doing an amazing job. I’m afraid some of these have disappeared for good. However, if we join hands, we can still save a lot. Thank you guys for doing such an excellent job.

  14. Solomon Estifanos Bekele on

    This is very important piece of information about the trees of Ethiopia. Kirsty Shaw, Really very nice work and I know that you are contributing a lot with this regard and I hope also that you will continue to contribute. Thank you very much!!

  15. Simon aberham on

    great work ever made

  16. pranay on

    Is there any variety of acacia catechu or Senegalia catechu or cutch tree present in Ethiopia…

  17. Getu on

    Hi dear Kirsty Shaw. i appretiate your effort. what do you know about Yayu forest or yayu biosphere in western part of Ethiopia? It is a reach biosphere registered under UNESCO. But it needs further in depth study to sustain the biosphere. Thank you.

  18. Biyansa Hirpo on

    Really good deed!Deforestation and other anthropogenic activities have already threatened biological resources at the global scale in general and indeveloping countries in particular and have put these basic life resources at the worest stage. Understanding this risk levels and reacting in such a way is what is really appreciable. Moreover to make these efforts effective and sustainable, working on the basic deriving forces of the problems should be the main strategy amoung the others; of which creating alternative means of life and mitigating the total dependence of the largest segment of the societies on these resources in resource poor coutries like Ethiopia are the main areas demanding better attentions!

  19. Biyansa Hirpo on

    Is that possible to get the list of the whole threatened plant species of Ethiopia and Eritrea please?

  20. Dereje on

    Hi Kirsty, great article.Can you please give me a list for trees good for Ethiopian climate? Thanks again

  21. redeatu assefa on

    it is good work and presentation , please add some more information on
    common Ethiopian trees their local name , biological name and their function.
    thank you
    from addis abeba

  22. Tamrat Tafari on

    With hope beyond the horizon, now that a true change seems to be in the making, Ethiopia’s flora may get a chance to survive and flourish.

  23. Reshad on

    Thank very much for your great mission. This should be stretched down to the grass root! Again,there is problem of awareness on the impacts of deforestation.Totally, most ppl including public servants and even officials at local level lacks awareness on forest resource utilization,management,benefit secrets of life or direct and indirect role of forests for this world and human beings. This type of international kindness is crucial to develop awareness via electronics means.
    Again, forest have been distributed, exploited and deforested with interactions of interest groups structurally under the umbrella of economic development and privatization. As a result, competition on the forest resource took place, no community participation, no participatory forest decision making just the game over is heard with out knowing its beginning. In this regard Jimma zone is best example.


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