Human-environment interactions in the Ethiopian Highlands:
The Ethiopian Highlands are the largest continuous mountain range on the African continent and have always been the socio-economic backbone of the Ethiopian society due to their fertile soils, abundant resources and numerous ecosystem services. In contrast to many mountain regions of the Global North, the Ethiopian Highlands are not affected by gradual emigration, but rather suffer from the increasing socio-economic pressure of a steadily growing population using ineffective land use strategies with far-reaching negative consequences for the human sphere and the sensitive ecosystems of the country. In particular, the continuous reduction of the natural forest cover, caused by uncontrolled agricultural expansion, severe overgrazing and the increasing demand for building material and fuel, promotes soil degradation, threatens the traditional subsistence-based livelihood security of the rural population, has negative impacts on biodiversity and increases vulnerability to natural disasters, droughts and the multifaceted effects of climate change. With regard to these complex challenges, there is an urgent need for effective, sustainable and regionally tailored land management strategies with strong participation of the local population in order to reconcile social, economic and ecological development needs.