ADDIS ABABA – Ethiopia’s Bale Mountains National Park and the Gedeo Cultural landscape have been inscribed on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites.
The inscriptions were announced during the ongoing 45th session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Gedeo Cultural Landscape was listed on Sunday, making it the 100th inscription of a World Heritage site in the Africa region. Today, the Committee has also decided to add the Bale Mountains National Park to the world heritage.
Their inscriptions have brought the total number of Ethiopian heritage sites inscribed in the UNESCO list to eleven.
UNESCO began subscribing to the World Heritages after adopting its WH Convention in1972,
Ethiopia’s Lalibela Rock-Hewn Churches and Simien National Park were the first dozen sites inscribed on the prestigious World Heritage List in 1978.
The country is now home to 9 cultural heritage sites and two natural heritage sites – Semaine Mountain and Bale Mountains National Parks.
The World Heritage Convention strives to safeguard such exceptional places for future generations, recognizing their universal value and the need for global cooperation in their protection.
Unesco’s take on the two newly inscribed sites
Gedeo Cultural Landscape
The property lies along the eastern edge of the Main Ethiopian Rift, on the steep escarpments of the Ethiopian highlands. An area of agroforestry, it utilizes multilayer cultivation with large trees sheltering indigenous Wnset, the main food crop, under which grow coffee and other shrubs.
The area is densely populated by the Gedeo people whose traditional knowledge support local forest management.
Within the cultivated mountain slopes are sacred forests traditionally used by local communities for rituals associated with the Gedeo religion, and along the mountain ridges are dense clusters of megalithic monuments, which came to be revered by the Gedeo and cared for by their elders.
Bale Mountains National Park
This property protects a landscape mosaic of extraordinary beauty that is shaped by the combined forces of ancient lava outpourings, glaciation, and the dissection by the Great Rift Valley.
It features volcanic peaks and ridges, dramatic escarpments, sweeping valleys, glacial lakes, lush forests, deep gorges and numerous waterfalls, creating exceptional natural beauty.
The property harbours diverse and unique biodiversity at ecosystem, species and genetic levels, and five major rivers originate within the Park, estimated to supply water and support the livelihoods of millions of people in and beyond Ethiopia.