The Bale project office is the eldest branch office for MELCA. It was opened in 2005, just a few months after the establishment of MELCA and the opening of its head office in Addis Ababa.
Bale was chosen to be MELCA’s project area firstly because of its rich biodiversity and indigenous culture as well as its endemicity. The area is not only rich in biodiversity, but is also known for its variety of representative ecosystems starting from grassland through alpine climate to cloud forest.
Although the zone has a long history of an area designated as protected area since the reign of Emperor Hailesillasie, there has been an increasing pressure on the conservation of the area and its biodiversity due to expansion of agriculture, towns and pastoralists.
Hence MELCA was interested in opening its first branch office in Bale with the aim of contributing to the effort by different stakeholders to conserve the biodiversity and culture of the people from being eroded by the factors mentioned as threats.
To that end MELCA is currently undertaking different programs in the zone including Environmental Education (SEGNI), which mainly involves school children, Environmental Advocacy, which focuses on different stakeholders including government organs, soil and water conservation activities, and integration of Population, Health and Environment (PHE). Moreover, Participatory Forest Management (PFM) is also implemented around Bale project area. The first Participatory 3 Dimensional Modeling (P3DM), which is part of MELCA’s participatory mapping program, has also been done in Bale.