Ethiopia has a very diverse set of ecosystems ranging from humid forests and extensive wetlands to deserts. The country is biologically rich, with more than 6500 vascular plant species of which 12% are endemic mainly due to geographical isolation and unique climatic conditions . The country has 284 species of wild mammals and 861 species of birds. Though data on other wild animals are scanty, the number of reptiles, fish, amphibian and arthropod species identified so far are 201, 200, 63 and 1,225, respectively. Of these faunal resources, 29 wild mammal, 18 bird, 10 reptile, 40 fish, 25 amphibian and seven arthropod species are endemic to Ethiopia.
Ethiopia is a center of origin for cultivated crops such as coffee, teff, enset, and a center of diversity for many crop species such as durum wheat, barley and sorghum. The country has rich resource of indigenous farm animals, which are comprised of 28 cattle, 9 sheep, 8 goat, 7 camel, 6 donkey, 8 horse, 2 mule and 7 chicken breeds . Despite the rich biodiversity in the country, threats to biodiversity and endemism are among the critical environmental issues in the country .
The main drivers of threats to biodiversity and endemism in Ethiopia can be classified as direct and indirect drivers. The main direct threats to biodiversity and endemism in Ethiopia include habitat conversion, unsustainable utilization of biodiversity resources, invasive species, replacement of local varieties and breeds, climate change and pollution. Indirect causes of biodiversity loss in the country are demographic change, poverty, and lack of awareness and coordination . In addition, pollution threatens the aquatic ecosystems, as well as the wetland ecosystem, while climate change poses a threat to the desert and demi-deserts scrubland ecosystem in Ethiopia .
In the country, local communities and decision makers have limited knowledge on biodiversity and ecosystems related issues. Issues such as poverty reduction and development of the country are a major priority for Ethiopians and could be linked to decisions which might have short term gains but that could negatively influence on biodiversity in the long term .
KEY POLICIES AND GOVERNANCE APPROACH
Ethiopia has taken a number of measures on biodiversity conservation and promotion of sustainable utilization of its components. This includes putting in place domestic legislation and upgrading of the former Plant Genetic Resource Center of Ethiopia to the Ethiopian Biodiversity Institute so that it can deal with plant, animal, and microbial biodiversity and their respective ecosystems as well as associated community knowledge.
Furthermore, Ethiopia has been working towards the integrated implementation of National Biodiversity Strategy Action Plan (NBSAP) since 2005, which includes the revised action plan for the time frame of 2015-2020. The vision of the action plan sets that by 2050, Ethiopia’s biodiversity and ecosystems are conserved and sustainably utilized by all sectors providing food security and contributing to poverty eradication and improved quality of life of the Ethiopian people.
Ethiopia has set a number of institutional and policy frameworks that govern the conservation, sustainable use and access and sharing of benefits arising from the use of the country’s biodiversity and related community knowledge  .
The key institutional and policy and regulatory frameworks include  : The Constitution of the FDRE has integrated environmental laws that directly address conservation and sustainable development, Environmental Policy (1997), Proclamation on Environmental Impact Assessment (No. 299/2002), Proclamation on Environmental Pollution Control (No. 300/2002), Industrial Pollution Regulation (No. 159/2008), Rural Land Administration and Use Proclamation No. 456/2005), Development Conservation and Utilization of Wildlife (Proclamation No. 541/2007), Access to Genetic Resources and Community Knowledge, and Community Rights Proclamation (No. 482/2006) and Regulation (169/2009) and the Plant Breeders Right (Proclamation No. 481/2006).
SUCCESSES AND REMAINING CHALLENGES
Ethiopia has been conducting conservation and sustainable utilization related activities vigorously. As a result of the interventions related particularly to conservation and sustainable utilization of resources, improvements in the status of some biodiversity resources have been achieved.  For example:
- Sustainable management of natural resources have, for example, resulted in increased forest cover from less than 5% in 2000 to about 11% in 2015 and enhancement of the associated biodiversity .
- A number of different types of protected areas (PAs) have been established to conserve and sustainably utilize the country’s biodiversity. The size of the PAs dedicated for protection of wildlife is estimated at 14% of the country’s area. The PAs include 21 national parks, 3 wildlife sanctuaries, 20 controlled hunting areas, 6 community conservation areas, 4 biosphere reserves, 80 national priority forest areas and other protected area systems .
- Rehabilitation and restoration of degraded areas, assessment of resource base and development of management plans for protected areas, forest management and proper land use practices, creating public awareness on biodiversity issues, and ex situ and in situ conservation have been conducted.
Ethiopia has shown great progress in the implementation of the Strategic Plan 2011-2020 and especially in regards to Aichi Targets of the Convention on Biological Diversity on mainstreaming biodiversity across government and society, sustainable agriculture and respecting traditional knowledge among others  . However, the country has constraints of financial resources and human capital which are important in the successful achievement of the objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity .
INITIATIVES AND DEVELOPMENT PLANS
Ethiopia has been implementing a number of initiatives and successful development plans which take into account and/or complement issues of biodiversity. These include:
- The Ethiopian Climate Resilient Green Economy Strategy (2011) 
- Growth and Transformation Plan I (2010-2015) and II (2016-2020) [8, 9]
- Ethiopia 2030: The Pathway to Prosperity, Ten Years Perspective Development Plan (2021 – 2030) 
- Green Legacy Initiative (2019-2024) 
In addition, a recent project, titled “Conservation and Sustainable Use of Natural Resources in Ethiopia: Biodiversity (2021-2024)” has been commissioned by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). The project aims at supporting the relevant institutions in managing nature conservation areas and forests sustainably in cooperation with actors from other sectors and taking the interests of local communities into consideration .
GOALS AND AMBITIONS
In its National Biodiversity Strategy Action Plan, Ethiopia is focused on achieving the following strategic goals: i) address the underlying causes of biodiversity loss by mainstreaming biodiversity across government and society, ii) reduce the direct pressures on biodiversity and promote sustainable use, iii) improve the status of biodiversity by safeguarding ecosystems, species and genetic diversity, iv) enhance the benefits to all from biodiversity and ecosystem services, and v) enhance implementation through participatory planning, knowledge management and capacity building .
- The country has been working towards integrated implementation of National Biodiversity Strategy Action Plan with a vision that Ethiopia’s biodiversity and ecosystems are conserved and sustainably utilized by all sectors providing food security and contributing to poverty eradication and improved quality of life of the Ethiopian people.
- Ethiopia has set a number of institutional and policy frameworks that govern the conservation, sustainable use and access and sharing of benefits arising from the use of the country’s biodiversity and related community knowledge.
- Ethiopia has been conducting conservation and sustainable utilization related activities vigorously and a number of results have been achieved which need to be strengthened and to which the country has to further invest. These include:
- rehabilitation and restoration of degraded areas, afforestation and practices of sustainable management of natural resources;
- insuring the sustainable management of the country’s protected areas;
- assessment of resource base and development of management plans for protected areas, forest management and proper land use practices;
- and creating public awareness on biodiversity issues.
 Asefa, M., Cao, M., He, Y., Mekonnen, E., Song, X., Yang, J. (2020). Ethiopian vegetation types, climate and topography. Plant Diversity 42(4), 302-311. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pld.2020.04.004