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In 2010, MELCA together with the Sheka community and the local government launched a process to get the forest of Sheka registered as one of the world’s biosphere reserve areas by the United Nations Education, Science and Culture Organization (UNESCO). To this end, MELCA coordinated numerous consultative and training workshops in Sheka and the participatory writing of Sheka biosphere reserve’s nomination form to apply for being a biosphere reserve in UNESCO’s Man and Biosphere (MAB) program, responsible for their nomination. On july 2012, Sheka forest was officially accredited as a MAB biosphere reserve by the International Coordination Council of UNESCO-MAB. This registration was welcomed as a tremendous success for us as well as for the community and officials in Sheka, and an official and festive inauguration took place on the 28th of January 2013 to collectively celebrate this event.

MELCA is now supporting the biosphere reserve structure, and aims to fully contribute in the future to all of Sheka biosphere reserve’s functions (research and monitoring, local sustainable development, conservation, communication, management and coordination).

  • Located in Sheka Zone, SNNPR
  • Designation date: 2012
  • Surface area:  238,750 ha
  • Core area(s): 55,255 ha
  • Buffer zone(s): 76,395 ha
  • Transition area(s): 107,100 ha

Covers two ecosystems: Afromontane ecosystem- forest, alpine bamboo thickets, wetlands

  • 300 higher plant species,
  • 50 mammals, 200 birds, and 20 amphibian species
  • Endemicity: 55 plants and 10 birds species,
  • 38 threatened species of flora and fauna.

Challenges: Forest dependency, no responsible body, investment