The Sheka Forest Biosphere Reserve (SFBR)
The Sheka Forest Biosphere Reserve Area (SFBR) is located in Western and South Western part of the region and the country, respectively, in Sheka Zone. It is situated as latitude: 706’24”N-7053’14”N and Longitude: 3505’48”E -35044’11”E /with the central point: 7033’50.11”N-35 024’12.7”E/.
The (SFBR) is part of the South west Highlands Forests of Ethiopia. It has important contribution for the conservation of Afro montane forest vegetation types, particularly the Aforomontanae Rainforest and Alpine Bamboo thickets. The Afromontane Forest Vegetation has long been considered on the most threatened eco-regions in the World.
The SFBR constitutes a total of 131, 640 hectares of land of which 4% is designated as core zone The Forest has pronounced fauna and flra diversity with over 300 higher plants, 50mammals, 200 birds, and plant,50 mammals , 200 birds, and 20 Amphibian species occurring in all habitat types within the biosphere reserve.
There are also many endemic species, at least 55 plants and 10 birds and 38 threatened species of flora and fauna.
The people of Sheka have not only strong but also intrinsic and spiritual connection with the forest. They make the livelihood majorly from the wild honey they produced in the forest. They have customary forest management associated with beekeeping which is called kobbo. It is forest management in which members of the community own part of the forest to use it only for hanging beehives and collecting of spices, which doesn’t deter the sustainable existence of the species.
The biosphere reserve provides a variety of unique tourist attractions local community’s indigenous knowledge on forest management and non-timber forest products harvesting, and it also has caves, waterfalls, mountain lakes and wetlands. One can also get eco friendly produced and organic spices and honey from the area.
Gedeo Agro Forestry
Gedeo is one of the nations found in the region. Gedio’s are known for Agro-forestry practice in which diffrent indigenous tree species, enset (False banana), coffee and other plants of spice and medicinal nature were planted, protected and conserved around the living house and in the cultivation land. Thos practice has been carried out for more than 5000 years by indigenous forest management practice called Babo.
Three things are important for the people: forest, Enset and Coffee. The Bambue culture encourages sustainable utilization of the forest by prohibiting timbet use of the forest and/or replantation of trees in place of cut trees. It also discourages deforestation by socially discrimination of individuals taking part in forest destruction. GAF is the secret in which more than 600 agriculturalist people living in a kilometer square land while keeping intact forest for thousands of years.
Ethiopia was not only origin and home land of mankind, but also home land of Arabica coffee. Around 5000 varieties of coffee is grow wild in the forests. The SNNPRS is the birth place of Arabica coffee. The name coffee is driven from Kaffa.
In Kaffa zone there is unique place called Mankira in Decha district, at Buni sub-village where Arabica coffee is originated.
In the region, coffee ceremony is an integral part of social & cultural life. The Kaffa coffee forests have been cover an area of 760,000 ha and has been certified as Biosphere Reserve In June 2010 by UNESCO.
Coffee Visiting Sites
Ethiopia is one of major coffee producer nation in Africa. Coffee is harvested in different parts of the country. Above all the Southern regional State accounts over half of the nation’s coffee harvesting areas.
The main coffee growing areas in the region include Sidama, Gedeo, Kaffa, & BenchMaji Zones. As land of discovery, Coffee harvesting & processing is an amazing part of Agro tourism. Gedeo yirgachife & Sidama coffee are well known at International market for their finest quality of production & have their own brands of selling.
It is very Pleasant enjoyable to visit coffee in its harvesting & processing period which usually annually extends from September to January. Although it is accessible to visit in most parts of these Zones, the most appreciate able areas for visiting are:-
Wottona Bultuma Coffee Cooperative site:-
- It is found 60kms from Hawassa in Aleta-wendo wereda.
- - You enjoy an easy trekking to the colorful home gardens of the plantation
- - You Visit the coffee processing station including the coffee testing machine
- - You Testing atypical local meal called ‘Bursame” followed by the famous Ethiopian Coffee ceremony
In and Around Aregash Lodge:-
- it is found 50 kms from Hawassa to Yirgalem town.
- - By staying in the lodge the tourists can visit the farmers coffee gardens around the lodge.
- - You taste a typical local meal called ‘Bursame’ followed by the famous Ethiopian Coffee ceremony
Yirga-cheife Farmers Coffee Cooperative Site:-
- This site is located around the Yirga-cheife town with a distance of 125 kms from Hawassa & 35 kms from Dilla town.
- - You can Visit farmers coffee gardens & coffee processing sites
- - You can Visit the agro forestry activities of the farmers.
There are also very large extensive coffee plantation farms:- which are found in Western part of the region. These are:-
- - Bebeka in Benchimaji Zone
- - Gemadero & Tepi coffee plantation in Sheka Zone.
As the land of coffee discovery, a pleasant coffee Museum has built in Kaffa Zone at Bonga town which lies 450kms from Addiss Ababa via Jimma town.