Wetlands are the ecosystems that are found on the interface between land and water. It is also areas of marsh, ponds and swamps, whether natural or artiﬁcial, permanent or temporary, with water, that is static or ﬂowing, fresh, brackish or salty, including areas of marine water, the depth of which at low tide, does not exceed six meters. Although, wetlands by nature are dynamic ecosystems, anthropogenic activities continuously changing the land uses in and around wetlands speed up the ecological changes in wetlands. Ethiopia exhibits a wide range of geologic formations and climatic conditions which create numerous wetland ecosystems including 12 rivers, eight major lakes and many swamps and floodplains. It is found on every agro-ecological zones from alpine (high mountains) to desert ecosystem in the low-lying regions and across all traditional climatic zones. Riverine wetlands are other common types of wetlands throughout the country. Based on scattered information, the total wetlands coverage of Ethiopia is approximately 2% (22,600 km2). This, wetlands provide natural resources and services for humanity. They are a source of food, tourism, cultural resources, flood control and improved water quality. They are also important for biodiversity and wildlife conservation. However, there are numerous threats to wetlands in developing countries including Ethiopia. Ethiopian wetlands are increasingly being lost or altered by unregulated over utilization, including water diversion for agricultural intensification, urbanization, dam construction, population pressures, food shortages, increased drainage and cultivation, collection of sedges and reeds for roofing and housing. The consequences of wetland loss and degradation in Ethiopia are enormous and directly affecting the livelihood base of rural communities. The change of wetlands has created numerous problems including decrease and extinction of wild flora and fauna, loss of natural soil nutrients, water reservoirs and of their subsequent benefits. They have affected various traditional occupations, socioeconomic conditions and cultural activities. Therefore, it needs intensive research and development works by different stakeholders and needs policy attention from the government to provide enabling environment for sustainable wetland management.
Key words: Wetland loss, drainage and cultivation, types of wetlands, threats to wetlands.
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