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Protecting Lake Tana

January 21, 2014

The population of northern Ethiopia is using sustainable fishing practices and eco-tourism to protect precious Lake Tana and at the same time eke a living from it.

Lake Tana, Ethiopia
Image: picture alliance/Peter Groenendijk/Robert Harding

Protecting Ethiopia's Lake Tana

Project goal: The Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union (NABU) wants to set up a biosphere reserve at Lake Tana in northern Ethiopia
Project size: Three million people live on and off Lake Tana
Biodiversity: Over 15 different fish species, more than 100 tree species, wintering grounds for migratory birds from Europe such as the crane

Lake Tana in northern Ethiopia is Africa's highest altitude lake. With a surface area of over 3,000 square kilometers, it's home to rare bird and plant species. But the region is increasingly threatened by overfishing, intensive farming and deforestation in some places. The Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union (NABU) wants to set up protective corridors with the help of local authorities in order to preserve the unique ecosystem. Together with fishermen and farmers, the environmental NGO is seeking alternatives for local families living on the shores of the lake to secure a livelihood. One approach involves promoting eco-tourism. New rules are meant to govern where and when fishing can take place. One bright spot on the lake are the so-called "church forests." On 37 islands in the lake, local parishes ensure that centuries-old trees aren't chopped. The forests here are sacred to the communities and are home to rare birds and monkeys.

A film by Julia Henrichmann

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