Challenges and Prospects of Medicinal Plant Sustainability in Ethiopia
Author(s): Helmut Kloos
The use of plants, mostly wild plants, for medicinal purposes in Ethiopia, a practice relied upon by an estimated 80% of the population, may not be sustainable. The decline in the supply of indigenous medicinal plants, both in Ethiopia and world-wide, has prompted research into the threats to their sustainability and measures that might reverse this trend. This review of literature from 2000 to 2023 identifies threats to medicinal plants in Ethiopia. Overharvesting of medicinal plants around population centers and habitat destruction are the major threats to medicinal plant sustainability. These threats are exacerbated by the country’s large human and livestock populations, which are causing land degradation and habitat destruction through deforestation, and intensive cultivation and grazing of the erosion prone mountainous landscape. This study also assesses interventions at the household, community, and government levels aimed at conservation, habitat maintenance and restoration, and biotechnology applications. These interventions need to be strengthened through greater awareness of the threats to medicinal plants, longitudinal studies that include pre- and post-intervention assessments, and enforcement of environmental and conservation policies. The most promising interventions are plant cultivation in home gardens and the conservation of natural vegetation in biospheres, coffee forests, and church forests.