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Simien National Park, Ethiopia

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    Simien Mountains National Park

    The Simien Mountains National Park covers one of the highest and the most dramatic mountain ranges in the continent of Africa. Found on the northern part of Ethiopia, the mountain range with its high altitude and isolation is home to the rarest flora and fauna in the globe (UNESCO, SMNP, 2014). The park holds a significant position in the world in terms of biodiversity conservation as being the only habitat for globally threatened species like; the walia ibex(a rare wild mountain goat),the Ethiopian wolf and the Gelada baboon (UNESCO,2014). The spectacular landscape of Simien Mountains was created over the processes of volcanic activity and erosion over the period of million years, creating extraordinarily deep cliffs, canyons and a gorge dropping some 1500m (ANH, UNESCO, 2014). The national park covering the northern part of the Ethiopian highlands is also home to 'Mount Ras Dejen'  (4,533m) the highest point in Ethiopia (SMNP, 2014). 

    Figure 1, Map of Simien Mountains National Park                                                                         Figure 2, Areal view of the mountain range 


    Managerial Challenges

    Simien Mountains National Park was among the first four natural heritages sights to be inscribed by UNESCO in 1978. However, since 1996, the park has been on the list of endangered world heritages due to the excessive human settlement creating environmental degradation resulting a decline in the number of endemic animal and plant spices (ANH, UNESCO, 2014). At the time of inscription to the world heritage list, 80% of the total area of the park was inhabited by humans making the managements of the park challenging. The depletion of natural resources by agricultural activities and livestock overgrazing resulted destruction of the critical natural habitats for the walia ibex and the Ethiopian wolf (SMNP, 2014). UNESCO has put benchmarks initiatives to remove the park from endangered list by creating close collaboration between the local stakeholders on the process of conservation and protection of the park (UNESCO, 2014). The initiatives also focused on the development of tourism as the main income generator for the local economy as well as by educating  the local community on the  importance of preserving the heritage site. Human resource developments and training where also conducted to engage the local community on preservation process and developing tourism as an alternative likelihood (Aas, Ladkin, Fletcher, 2005, UNESCO, 2014). In 2003 with collaboration with the local stakeholders and the regional government the total area of the park was increased from 136km2 to 412km2, also some areas used for agriculture where excluded from the park. Additionally, in 2007 further expansion of the park was agreed to include Mesarerya and Lemalimo Wildlife Reserves to be part of the park (SMNP, 2014).  



    Aas, C., Ladkin, A., Fletcher, J. (2005) Stakeholder Collaboration and Heritage Management. Annals of Tourism Research, 32 (1), pp. 28-48.

    Centre, U. (2014). Simien National Park - UNESCO World Heritage Centre. [online] Available at: [Accessed 12 Nov. 2014].

    Howard, P. (2014). Simien Mountains - Ethiopia | African Natural Heritage. [online] Available at: http://www.africannaturalheritage.or...ains-ethiopia/ [Accessed 16 Nov. 2014].

    User, S. (2014). Simien Mountains | Home. [online] Available at: [Accessed 12 Nov. 2014].


    Figure 1,, (2014). [online] Available at: [Accessed 13 Nov. 2014].

    Figure 2, Howard, P. (2014). Simien Mountains - Ethiopia | African Natural Heritage. [online] Available at: http://www.africannaturalheritage.or...ains-ethiopia/ [Accessed 13 Nov. 2014].


    Written by Yonas Mamo

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    Comments (3)

    Viewing 3 of 3 comments: view all
    I think you are Jonas, I think your text is very interesting, especially the second part where you put the forcus on the managerial development of the park. I think this makes clear how to achieve new goals, by engaging the local community and mobilization of local stakeholders. Thank you!
    Posted 17:30, 17 Nov 2014
    Thank you for your time reading my text and for the feedback.
    Best Regards,
    Posted 02:02, 20 Nov 2014
    I agree that participation from the local stakeholders is necessary in order to keep going forward with the needs of the nature protection, otherwise the top-down approach would result in the destruction of the heritage rather in its conservation. Well written and referenced text! Albina
    Posted 22:05, 21 Nov 2014
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