The inspiring example of how the Menz Guassa Community Conservation Area in Ethiopia provides a model for developing regionally sustainable ecotourism

The inspiring example of how the Menz Guassa Community Conservation Area in Ethiopia provides a model for developing regionally sustainable ecotourism

Project Status: 2013-17

The Menz-Guassa Community Conservation Area (GCCA) has been set aside for the protection of the Afro-Alpine in Guassa area. The purpose of the community managed GCCA is to conserve in perpetuity the biodiversity, natural resources and water catchments of the Guassa area through a community‐based sustainable natural resource management plan which supports the local and regional economy and sustainable rural development. This conservation management system is based on a traditional Ethiopian common property resource system, the “Qero” system, which was rediscovered in 2005 and dates from over 400 years.

The GCCA has started to develop ecotourism in the area to tackle these challenges such as illegal grass cutting due to population growth and the lack of economic opportunities. The ecotourism activities include the rental of a lodge and of authorized camping sites, the organisation of several days guided tours in the area and visits to the local traditional villages. The GCCA Ecotourism Business plan is a five-year vision that combines sustainable conservation with tourism management and community development interests, led and managed by the GCCA council. Under the GCCA council, the GCCA tourism board oversees tourism operations development, and it ensures that any resulting benefits from tourism will flow to the wider community. The income expected from these ecotourism activities also helps local communities to develop their environmental knowledge and awareness, through the learning of the preservation and sustainable management of their national heritage.

  • To provide sustainable financing for community conservation management
  • To provide direct economic benefit for local communities from conservation
  • To strengthen support for GCCA in local communities

Mountain/highland tourism is a potential source of alternative income for mountain dwellers. Trained service providers such as camp keepers, guides, horse providers or assistants benefit directly from the tourists. These direct service providers, including the trekking specialist companies which hire them, pay into a community development fund, to benefit the wider community. Money from the community fund is then distributed annually to help solve community needs.

The plan empowers the indigenous communities of this vulnerable corner of Africa to develop a sustainable stream of economic benefits which protects and promotes their beautiful, special and ancient ecosystems.


Activities related to the GCCA Ecotourism development project include the opportunity for volunteers to participate in mountain tourism and conservation training. In addition, clients/volunteers can also take part in annual community development initiatives such as building local schools and the support of community elders.


Biniyam Admassu