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An exciting time for botanic garden development in Ethiopia

12 March 2014
This is an exciting time for botanic garden development in Ethiopia. With fast infrastructure development in the country, forests being lost at a rapid rate and evidence of invasive species impact, such as Prosopis juliflora, these institutions can play a vital role in conservation of the diverse flora of Ethiopia.
BGCI was recently invited to participate in a workshop run by ARBOPRO, a project to restore the arboretum at Wondo Genet College of Forestry and Natural Resources in Ethiopia. This was an excellent opportunity for BGCI staff to see the restoration work being undertaken at Wondo Genet, as well as visit two newly established botanic gardens in Ethiopia; Gullele Botanic Garden in Addis Ababa, and Shashemene Botanic Garden, South of Addis Ababa. In addition to this, the Ethiopian Biodiversity Institute, that has the official mandate for supporting botanic gardens in Ethiopia, is in the process of establishing a new botanic garden in Jimma, West of Addis Ababa, and has plans to restore the botanic garden at Alemaya, East of Addis Ababa. 
BGCI is in discussions with the Ethiopian Biodiversity Institute and the botanic gardens to develop a training and capacity building programme for Ethiopia’s new and restored botanic gardens, drawing on the expertise of our member gardens from around the world. To find out more, or if your institution would like to be involved, please get in touch:
Scroll down to find out more and see photo highlights from Wondo Genet College Arboretum, Gullele Botanic Garden, Shashemene Botanic Garden and the flora of Ethiopia.

Wondo Genet College Arboretum – ARBOPRO restoration project

Established in 1978 at the Wondo Genet College of Forestry and Natural Resources this arboretum of 4 hectares was planted in 10m x 10m single species plots for research purposes. There are around 95 tree and shrub species represented in the arboretum, mainly consisting of exotic species. The last plots were planted in 2000 and since then planting and associated activities at the arboretum stopped.

In 2012, a restoration project was initiated at the arboretum entitled 'ARBOPRO'. This project is a joint initiative between Wondo Genet College, the University of Hamburg and the University of Oxford Harcourt Arboretum. Funding was successfully sourced for three start-up workshops to guide restoration of the arboretum, construction of an entrance gate and fence to keep out cattle and baboons, and salaries for two staff positions; a Site Manager and Arboretum Curator. The restoration project aims to rejuvenate the arboretum, provide training to staff and students at Wondo Genet College and build the collections of the arboretum to establish a national collection of endemic and endangered tree and shrub species of Ethiopia.

For more information about Wondo Genet College Arboretum please contact Sintayehu Tamene

Entrance to Wondo Genet College Arboretum Workshop participants at Arboretum entrance
 Wondo Genet College Arboretum nursery Laying outline foundations of the visitor centre


Gullele Botanic Garden

Located on the edge of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital city, Gullele Botanic Garden is established on a previous Eucalyptus plantation and occupies an area of 705 hectares. The botanic garden is jointly managed by the Government of Addis Ababa and Addis Ababa University and will become an important green space for city dwellers as Addis Ababa expands. The altitudinal variation within the garden site has informed garden design, with planting planned to mirror the five altitudinal agro-ecological zones of Ethiopia.

Planting has commenced in thematic display zones including an endemic plant garden, ornamental plant garden and medicinal plant garden. A nursery site has also been established and glass house construction is nearing completion. The garden will have two main buildings; Agora I and Agora II which will incorporate offices, a herbarium, library, laboratories and a gene bank. Construction of Agora II is nearly complete and Agora I construction is planned to commence in 2015. The garden will also incorporate two dams, one of which is nearly finished, providing irrigation to the plant collections.

For more information about Gullele Botanic Garden please contact Birhanu Belay: 

Entrance to Gullele Botanic Garden Gullele Botanic Garden nursery
Dam construction in Gullele Botanic Garden Staff from Gullele Botanic Garden


Shashemene Botanic Garden

Located 240km South of Addis Ababa and 15km North of Wondo Genet College but at a much lower altitude, this recently established botanic garden occupies a site of 15 hectares. A river runs through the centre of the garden which attracts multiple bird species. The current land use is predominantly Eucalyptus and Grevillea plantations, but as the garden develops much of this land will be replanted with native and threatened plants, including a succulent plant area and arboretum.

A small nursery has been established at the garden, currently focused on propagating native tree species for use in local planting schemes. Funding has been allocated for administration buildings and construction will commence later this year. Future plans also include a cultural centre and lecture theatre.

Shashemene Botanic Garden, showing future arboretum site and river Cordia africana seeds collected for propagation and distribution to local communities


The Flora of Ethiopia

Ethiopia has a very diverse native flora, encompassing dry Acacia forests which are the dominant flora in lowland areas, highland forests including the Hagenia and Juniper forests of the Simien and Bale Mountains, iconic endemic species such as the giant lobelia, Lobelia rhyncopetalum, and multiple native crop species with significant economic importance, including Coffee, Coffea arabica, Teff, Eragrostis tef, and Niger seed, Guizotia abyssinica. Below are a couple of highlights from the trip!

Find out more about the threatened trees of Ethiopia on the Global Trees Campaign website.

Aloe sinana (Endangered) native to Ethiopia, in the succulent thematic zone of Gullele BG Native Ficus vasta in the grounds of Wondo Genet College Arboretum
Hagenia abyssinica and Juniperus procera. Lobelia rhynocopetalum


BGCI would like to thank Peter Borchardt from the Institute of Geography, University of Hamburg and Ben Jones from the University of Oxford Harcourt Arboretum, involved in ARBOPRO at Wondo Genet, for hosting the BGCI visit. BGCI would also like to thank the German Ministry for Education and Research – BMBF, for supporting the BGCI visit and ARBOPRO workshop. Finally, thanks to the staff at Wondo Genet College Arboretum, Gullele Botanic Garden and Shashemene Botanic Garden for hosting visits and tours of the gardens.

Photo credit: Kirsty Shaw, BGCI

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