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Sheka Biosphare Resererv

The Sheka Biosphere Reserve

Sheka Forest, the second project site is recently certified as a Biosphere Reserve, and is located in the Sheka Zone of the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples (SNNP) Regional State. It covers a total area of 238,750 ha of forest, bamboo thickets, wetlands, agricultural land, rural settlements and towns. The whole area is very diverse, with contrasting landscape elements, habitats and cultural practices.

The area is rich in plant and animal species. There are over 300 higher plants, 50 mammals, 200 birds, and 20 amphibian species, occurring in all habitat types within the proposed biosphere reserve. There also many endemic species, at least 55 plants, and 10 birds. There are also over 38 threatened species (IUCN Red list) in the area, which include 5 bird, 3 mammals and 30 plant species.

The people of Sheka have a deep-rooted culture of conserving species, ecosystems and pristine natural habitats. In a recent eco-mapping exercise by the community and MELCA-Ethiopia, around 209 sacred sites, 67 waterfalls, 74 mineral water springs, 13 historical sites, 17 cultural huts, 37 historical caves, 417 community Kobo forests and 8 burial places were recorded. All these are considered as community conserved areas. Ecologically fragile areas like wetlands, lakes, rivers and steep slope areas are culturally protected from human disturbance. Forests and other natural landscapes have special cultural values among the people.

Touristic Potential

Sheka is rich and unique in its Biodiversity with a great variety on birds, other wildlife animals like monkeys and also in its flora. It is hence a hotspot of cultures and habitats in our country. It possesses many archaeological sites, ritual sites, caves and waterfalls. The experiences taken from this journey through the ancient culture of Ethiopia and their living in harmony with the nature will leave a positive vestige in their lives.


Gambella (Ecopia future Biosphare Rereve)

The Gambela National Park

The Gambella Region lays in the South-West of Ethiopia near to the boarder to South Sudan. During the civil war in Sudan many refugees found their way to Ethiopia through this boarder. So this region has a moved history. It’s one off the hottest regions in the country and full of natural resources and rich in cultural diversity. Manly five ethnic groups are living together in the Gambella Region: Nuer, Anuak, Opo and Kumo. All with their one way of living, traditions and languages.

Touristic Potential

There are Rivers and Lakes, Mountains and Lowlands, Towns and small villages in the middle of the forest. Different types of animals like apes, birds and amphibians likewise types of insects which are unique in its type. When it comes to the touristic sector the Gambella Region is like a “Sleeping Beauty” only waiting for being waken up and being discovered. The forests are full of very old and rare trees like the Shea Trees which need to be protected. Besides the Shea Nut, fruits like Mangos and Papayas or Moringa and Neem, likewise other endemic plants can be found there. All these factors make the Gambella Region interesting for economic investment, touristic activities and over all important to be a protected in its biodiversity.

Canoeing and Boat Tours

As there is the great Baro River floating through the whole area there is an old tradition in boat and canoe construction. Therefore it’s possible to discover the landscape by canoeing or boat tours. This canoes could be traditional or modern likewise the boats. There are canoes from one person up to eight persons which makes it interesting for groups and single adventurer. Everybody who likes to know how these traditional canoes are build can join a workshop within the community and instructed by a professional person or simply observe the workers. This workshop is sessional maybe twice a year depending on demand, weather conditions and material supply.


The Baro River housed more than 120 different types of fish, around five species are only find in Gambella Region. Fishing has a huge tradition there started by young age boys are going into the river with self-made spears and trying to catch the fish near the coast with it or just by their hands. The other possibility is to go by canoe in places where the water is deeper and fish there with rod and line.

Wildlife, Hiking, Trekking and Kite- flying

The forests, lowlands and mountains in this area offer different possibilities to discover them and their wildlife. People who just like to see the nature and enjoy seeing animals on their way they could just walk through lowlands, people who like to have more action and challenges they could do a trek to the top of the mountains and if this is not enough adventure they can do kite-flying from there. Flying along the beautiful nature and have an overview of the whole region.

Mountain Biking and Bicycle Tours

The infrastructure in the Gambella Region is from area to area different. So it’s conceivable to go by bicycle along the asphalt streets through the mountains down to Gambella City by enjoying the great view and the nature on the way. Otherwise tourists can go off-road with a mountain bike and have an unforgettable adventure. For short breaks there are small fruit stands and little villages on the paths.

Cultural Life

There is a lot what guests can learn from the communities with their different ethnic background. The principal is learning by experiencing. This involves for example taking part in the everyday life of a farmer and also sleeping like them for a night in one of our traditional accommodations. According to the season there are different activities which the tourist can take part in like in the harvesting or drying period.

The Gambella Region as a very hot place the people are using the so called “Wash-and-Wear-Method” for their cloths. That means they are washing their cloths in the river hang them for drying and while they are taking a shower they get dried and are afterwards ready to wear.

Wellness Ointment for the Soul in Gambella City

The capital of the region Gambella City can be reached with plain from Addis Abeba or by car, which takes two days. The city is crossed by the River Baro which leads to the boarder to South Sudan. It’s a vibrant town with markets, hotels, restaurants and bars. In Gambella City Ecopia’s Shea products are final processed, packed and labelled. So get relaxed and be cosseted by using our Natural Cosmetics- a fest for your skin-, taste our organic foods or when the sun is high in the mid of the day just hang out in a hammock or lay down on a straw mat in the shade while drinking a homemade Papaya Juice with Lemon fresh from the trees around.

Interesting Places

As Ecopia has different sites in the whole area where Shea is harvested and semi-processed it would be interesting to visit them. This are all beautiful places which have a lot to experience there. Here are two examples of them.


Pudgnido City is located in South-Eastern Part of Gambella Region and belongs to the National Park. The way from Gambella City to Pugnido is about 120km and the street is not very good. But this makes it even more interesting to go there. It’s a challenge and the forest along the road with colourful birds and small apes are making it easy to forget the time the ride takes. When half of the journey is past there is the fisherman-village called Abobo where you can take a lunch break. They have tasty fish and other food you can’t find somewhere else in the country. The village is mainly living from the fish they got from the lake on the dam nearby. It’s a beautiful lake, looking calm from the outside, but there a crocodiles inside, which can be seen. All embedded in the surrounding of the evergreen forest which looks like the wild jungle around the Amazonas.


This small village is lovely and not as far as Pugnido from Gambella City. The street to reach there is good and possible to go by Mountain Bike there. On the way you could gaze the green nature with its wildlife. Etang has a lot to show especially the old Shea Trees around and the tiny houses close together to each other round and made of dried grass and other natural material from the forest. When guests take part in the life of the community they can e.g observe the traditional gathering of Shea Nuts within the woman’s group or going fishing with the men along the Baro River. Besides the farming the people enjoy the traditional Shisha or a special self-made beer.

Yayu Biosphare reserve

The Yayu Biosphere Reserve

Yayu inhabits one of the most important forest areas in Ethiopia. It hosts a high number of plant and animal species. Over 450 higher plants, 50 mammal, 200 bird, and 20 amphibian species have been recorded in the area. The forest is also one of the few remnant habitats for wild coffee (Coffea arabica). Ethiopia is the only centre of origin and diversity for C. arabica and hence is important for the in situ conservation of the natural coffee-genetic diversity. On top of this, the forest area is vital for its ecosystem services such as carbon sequestration and watershed protection for hydropower generation. As part of the Eastern Afromontane biodiversity hot spot area, the forest is important for conservation of biodiversity at regional and global level.

The Yayu coffee forest is also an important means of living for the local households and stakeholders at different levels. It is a source of cash income and also plays a risk-buffering role in bad years and seasons (providing famine food, amongst others). The forest is a major source of Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFPs) and other products of local use like construction material, fuel wood, and farm implements. The most common NTFPs include coffee, honey, medicinal plants, spices and game. Coffee contributes about 70% of households’ cash income in the area.

Even though the forest is important for both conservation and the livelihood of local people, it faces severe threats of deforestation. Over the past 30 years alone, more than 60% of the forest in the region has been converted to other land uses. With the high rates of deforestation and degradation, several species unique to the forest habitat are lost. Particularly, the loss of the genetically highly diverse wild populations of coffee might have far-reaching economic consequences. The wild coffee populations are an irrecoverable genetic resource for coffee breeding nationally and internationally.

Touristic Potential

The Yayu Wild Coffee Forest opens wide spread opportunities for tourism besides rivers for water sports, there is the forest with its huge biodiversity in plants, wildlife and birds. Ecotourism will be an umbrella concept for this venture of Ecopia PLC, where the regional branch will act as a coordination unit and incubation centre for the cooperatives, in the Oromo Regional State administrative zone, working with Ecopia. Cooperatives/plants will specialize on specific products on the basis of natural resource endowment of the locality.