Vegetation of Ethiopia

Ethiopia Island of geographical contrasts with elevations that range from 125 m below sea level in the Danakil Depression to 4533 m above sea level in the Semien Mountains, in northern Ethiopia, northeast of Gondar in the Amhara region, is part of the Ethiopian Highlands. They are a World Heritage Site and include the Simien Mountains National Park. The mountains consist of plateaus separated by valleys and rising to pinnacles, a world heritage site. The diverse climate of various ecological regions of the country has driven the establishment of diverse vegetation, which range from Afro-alpine vegetation in the mountains to the arid and semi-arid vegetation type in the lowlands. The formation of Ethiopian vegetation is highly connected to the climate and geological history of the country. Highland uplift and rift formation due to volcanic forces formed novel habitats with different topography and climatic conditions that have ultimately become drivers for vegetation diversification. Due to Ethiopia’s connection with the temperate biome in the north and the Arabian Peninsula during the dry glacial period, the biotic assemblage of Ethiopian highlands consists of both Afro tropical and Palearctic biota. In general, eight distinct vegetation types have been identified in Ethiopia, based mainly on elevation and climate gradients. These vegetation types host their own unique species, but also share several common species. Some of the vegetation types are identified as centers of endemic and have subsequently been identified globally as the East African Afromontane hot spot. Ethiopia is biologically rich, with more than 6500 vascular plant species. Of these species, 12% are endemic mainly due to geographical isolation and unique climatic conditions. However, researchers have yet to extensively investigate the ecology, phenology, as well as the evolutionary, genetics, and conservation status of Ethiopian vegetation’s at community and species level over space and time. This lack of research is a barrier to achieving the goal of zero global plant extinctions. Taxa extinction risk assessment has not been extensively carried out for the majority of Ethiopian species.

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