Ethiopia: Ecosystems

Climate change is expected to have a significant influence on the ecology and distribution of tropical ecosystems, even though the magnitude, rate and direction of these changes are uncertain [28]. Under rising temperatures, increased frequency and intensity of droughts and shorter growing periods, wetlands and riverine systems are increasingly at risk of being converted to other ecosystems with plant populations being succeeded and animals losing habitats. Increased temperatures and droughts can also influence succession in forest systems while concurrently increasing the risk of invasive species, all of which affect ecosystems. In addition to these climate drivers, reduced agricultural productivity and population growth might motivate further agricultural expansion resulting in increased deforestation, land degradation and forest fires, all of which will impact animal and plant biodiversity.

Species richness

Model projections of species richness (including amphibians, birds and mammals) and tree cover for Ethiopia are shown in Figure 15 and 16, respectively. The models applied for this analysis show particularly strong agreement on the development of animal species richness under RCP6.0: Northern Ethiopia is expected to gain up to 40 % in the number of animal species due to climate change, while eastern Ethiopia is expected to lose around 20 %.

Figure 15: Projections of the aggregate number of amphibian, bird and mammal species for Ethiopia for different GHG emissions scenarios.

Tree cover

With regard to tree cover, model results are less certain. For RCP2.6, no reliable estimates can be made. However, under RCP6.0, tree cover is projected to start changing around 2050 with more significant and certain changes towards the end of the century: Median model projections agree on an increase of tree cover by more than 10 % in the eastern part of the country (Figure 16).

Figure 16: Tree cover projections for Ethiopia for different GHG emissions scenarios.

Although these results paint an overall positive picture for climate change impacts on ecosystems and biodiversity, it is important to keep in mind that the model projections exclude any impacts on biodiversity loss from human activities such as land use, which have been responsible for significant losses of global biodiversity in the past, and which are expected to remain its main driver in the future [29].


[28] T. M. Shanahan et al., “CO2 and fire influence tropical ecosystem stability in response to climate change,” Nat. Publ. Gr., no. July, pp. 1–8, 2016.
[29] IPBES, “Report of the Plenary of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services on the work of its seventh session,” 2019.