Coffee forest vegetation

Floristic composition and affinities of the Ethiopian coffee forest vegetation


The Afromontane rainforests of Ethiopia have global importance because they are the centre of genetic diversity of Coffea arabica and still harbour wild populations of this species. Furthermore, they are part of the Eastern Afromontane Biodiversity Hotspot due to their high species diversity and the increasing threats from human land-use pressure.

The Center for Development Research (ZEF) facilitated three doctoral theses within the project “Conservation and use of wild populations of Coffea arabica in the montane rainforests of Ethiopia” (CoCE) that carried out comprehensive vegetation studies in the coffee forest regions of southwestern and southeastern Ethiopia (TADESSE WOLDEMARIAM 2003,FEYERA SENBETA 2006,SCHMITT 2006). This project could combine the vegetation data that were collected for the three doctoral theses, because the studies used similar survey methods. The aim was to gain new insights on how species diversity is related to variations in altitude and regional climate.

Ethiopian coffee ceremony (© CB Schmitt)

A new publication (Journal of Vegetation Science 24(3): 553-568) shows that the altitudinal effect on species diversity in the Ethiopian moist montane forests is strongly modified by regional differences in precipitation and temperature regimes. The predicted increase in temperature for the Ethiopian highlands due to climate change is likely to affect the distribution of the endemic Afromontane species. Furthermore, the study highlights the need for systematic on-the-ground measurements of climatic variables in tropical montane areas in order to understand the current climate regime and as a basis for modelling future changes.

Research on the Ethiopian forests is being continued under the project "Evaluation of species-climate relationships in the Ethiopian moist montane forests".








Zentrum für Entwicklungsforschung (ZEF) / Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF)


Dr. Christine Schmitt

Project partners:

Dr. Manfred Denich (ZEF), Dr. Feyera Senbeta (AAU), Dr. Tadesse Woldemariam (ECFF)



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