Ethiopia’s Lake Tana reserve declared World Heritage Site by UNESCO

Published on : Friday, June 12, 2015

UnescoThe United Nations Education Science and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has inscribed the Lake Tana biosphere reserve in northwestern Ethiopia as a World Heritage Site.


The Lake Tana biosphere reserve includes Lake Tana, the source of the Blue Nile and the largest lake in Ethiopia, measuring approximately 84 kilometres long and 66 km wide.


The biosphere reserve covers a total area of 695,885 hectares and is a hotspot of biodiversity. Internationally recognized as an Important Bird Area, it is also of global importance for agricultural genetic diversity.


The main economic activities in the area are agriculture, fishing, national and international tourism and sand mining. The area has a unique cultural, historical, geological and aesthetic value with numerous monasteries and churches dating back to the 13th Century.


Church forests around Lake Tana host an outstanding diversity of tree and shrub species and medicinal plants and play an important role in the conservation of biodiversity.


The area was important in the 14th to 16th Centuries in view of its role in maintaining the Christian faith against contemporary pressures, and the rise of the Solomonic Dynasty which patronized the building of churches and monasteries.


The biosphere reserve will seek to rekindle traditional communities’ appreciation of their cultures, knowledge and skills, which reflect a sustainable lifestyle in harmony with the environment.


The Lake Tana biosphere reserve is Ethiopia’s fourth natural heritage inscribed by Unesco, after Simien National Park, Lower Valley of the Omo and Lower Valley of the Awash.


The Lake Tana biosphere reserve is among the 20 new sites added to Unesco’s World Network of Biosphere reserves bringing their total number to 651 sites, including 15 trans-boundary sites in 120 countries.


These additions were made by the International Co-ordinating Council of Unesco during a meeting taking place in Paris this week.

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