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Tropentag 2008, October 7 - 9, Hohenheim, Germany

"Competition for Resources in a Changing World - New Drive for Rural Development"


Plant Diversity Hot Spots along the Eastern Escarpment of the Rift Valley of Northern Ethiopia: Key to Conservation Priority

Ermias Aynekulu1, Manfred Denich2, Paul L. G. Vlek2

1Mekelle University, Faculty of Dryland Agriculture and Natural Resources, Ethiopia
2University of Bonn, Center for Development Research (ZEF), Germany


Abstract


Northern Ethiopia characterised by rugged and mountainous landscapes. It was once was covered with dense forest. Considring current land use conflicts, it is not feasible to implement broad range conservation strategies at the landscape level.
The aim of this study was to identify the diversity rich zone in a landscape for biodiversity conservation make take priority. We measured the plant diversity in two sites using twenty eight quadrats (50 m*50 m). Quadrats were located along altitudinal gradients ranging from 1000 to 2700 m a.s.l. Both transects were selected to pass through Dessea forest which is one of the national forest conservation priorities habitat types. For both transdects vascular plant species richness increased steadily with increasing altitude up to 2000 m and declined thereafter. The minimum species richness found was 4 species per plot at the lower altitude, the maximum was 45 species per plot obtained between 1900 and 2100 m a.s.l. Hence, the altitudinal zones in the range of 1900-2100 m can be considered as biodiversity hot spot corridor that requires biodiversity conservation priority. Conserving such species rich zones in the landscape may serve as an important habitat and corridor for birds and wild life. Being a source of seed, conserving such diverse corridors will also facilitate the vegetation restoration activities that are widely undertaken in the degraded areas of northern Ethiopia. The diversity of vascular plants along altitudinal gradients, the different plant communities and their structural composition, including of some key stone species, were analysed and will be further discussed.


Keywords: Altitudinal gradient, dessea forest, Ethiopia, plant diversity, species richness


Contact Address: Ermias Aynekulu, Mekelle University, Faculty of Dryland Agriculture and Natural Resources, Mekelle, Ethiopia, e-mail: ermias8@yahoo.com


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