Current Happenings

Master's Defense

Derek Lowstutuer
Fiddlers on the Roof of Africa: A Management Case Study of the Simien Mountains National Park, Ethiopia 

May 1, 2:00 pm
Natural Resources room 100

Advisor: Dr. Tony Cheng 

ABSTRACT: The Simien Mountains National Park in the Amhara Region of northern Ethiopia is home to numerous threatened, endemic plant and animal species. In addition to providing livelihoods for thousands of people living inside and around the park, the Simien Mountains National Park is one of the most visited natural areas in Ethiopia and contributes to the country’s small, but expanding ecotourism sector. Despite the economic and ecological importance of the park, it has been plagued by mismanagement and apathy. The author spent two years living inside and near the National Park and worked with local resource managers and government officials on local conservation projects. The research and findings being presented were compiled for partial completion of the Peace Corps Masters International Program, in conjunction with two years of service as a Conservation and Natural Resource Management Volunteer with the U.S. Peace Corps.
 Following a brief introduction to Peace Corps, the Simien Mountains National Park and Debark Town, the main body of the presentation will begin with the ecological significance of SMNP and then continue with the importance of the park for Ethiopia’s tourism industry. Then a discussion on the challenges for the effective management of SMNP will lead into a discussion on the role of participatory research in dealing with socio-ecological problems. Examples of participatory research used to record stakeholder perceptions of natural resource management problems will be given. A summary of the previous sections and a final look at the SMNP’s prospects for sustainable management will conclude the report.