Wetlands are ecosystems in which water covers the land. They provide economical, ecological, societal and recreational benefits to humans. Although complete documentation is lacking, wetlands make a significant part of Ethiopia covering an area of 13,700 km2. Wetlands with a great potential for ecotourism development in the country include the rift valley lakes, the floodplains in Gambella, the Awash River Gorge with spectacular waterfalls, the Lake Tana and the Lake Ashenge, the Wenchi Crater Lake and the Wetlands in Sheko district are among others. Similarly, the Wetlands of Ethiopia are home to various aquatic biodiversity. Some of the biodiversity potential areas are the Cheffa Wetland and Lake Tana basin in the North, the rift valley lakes namely, Lake Zeway, Abaya and Chamo, and the Baro River and the Dabus Wetland in the Western Ethiopia. However, the wetlands in the country are impacted by a combination of social, economic, development related and climatic factors that lead to their destruction. Correspondingly, the wetlands holding a considerable biodiversity potential in the country lack adequate management. To address the challenges and enhance the wetland’s role in ecotourism and biodiversity, a sustainable form of wetland resource use should be developed. As a result, integrating wetlands with ecotourism and developing as livelihood option for local communities is important for sustainable conservation of wetlands. Awareness rising, empowering stakeholders involved in wetland resource conservation, enhancing stakeholders’ participation, undertaking the restoration of degraded wetlands and promoting scientific studies on wetlands of the country are crucial to conserve wetlands and at the same time promote their ecotourism and biodiversity importance. Moreover, implementing the integrated wetland resource management approach and addressing policy, management and coordination issues that arise on wetland resource conservation aids to promote the significance of wetlands in ecotourism and biodiversity conservation in Ethiopia.
Key words: Wetlands, ecotourism, biodiversity conservation, implication, Ethiopia.
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