Borena-Sayint National Park (formerly known as denkoro Chaka state reserve) is found in the central Amhara development corridor of Ethiopia, which is about 600km from Addis Ababa through Debre Birhan, 300km from Bahir-Dar through Merto Lemariam and 200km south-west of Dessie. Borena-Saynt NationalPark is sharing a boundary with Borena, Mehal Saynt, and Saynt woredas. Most part of the park is found in Borena wereda. It is bordered by Nine kebeles in the side of Borenawereda namely, Miskabie, Fati-Janeberu, Abu-Aderie, Jelisa-Jibanos, Anferfra, Chero-Cherkos, Chiro-Kadis, Dega-Dibi, and Hawey-Betaso. It also shares a common boundary with three Kebeles(namely Kotet, Wejed, and Samayie) from Mehal Sayntwereda and one kebele (namely Beja-Chilaga)in the side of Saynt wereda.
Borena-Sayint National Park has an exaggerated length and narrow width and of rectangular shape. It has been surrounded by traditional agricultural practice. As such environmental degradation is a common phenomenon in the highland. Although it is found in a highly degraded, eroded and isolated ecosystem; The park can be said an “island” within a highly modified environment. The park total area covered 15262 hectares of land, harbors a significant number of large and small mammals, birds, amphibians, and plant. The landscape of the park is composed of rough topography, deeply incised valleys, escarpments, plateau, cone-shaped peaks and fascinating cliffs. It has different topographical features ranging from low land to highland mountains. The altitude ranges between 1900 to 4280m above sea level. The topography of Borena wereda is dominated by mountains (10%), plain (20%), valley (30%) and ups and downs (40%).
There are around six caves along the cliff, which separate the Afromontane forest from the upper part of the park. The park has some amazing peaks such as Kabu Kora, Mossebit, Galokab, Shiftoch Kora, Gulas, Kerkeha Ras; which is covered by trees peaks also serve as a natural watching tower for tourists. Due to high variation of altitude, agro-climatically the park is classified within three belts of weather, Woina Dega (temperate), Dega (cool zone) and Wurch (alpine). Being dominated by typical Sub-afro-alpine areas vegetation, the park is a natural habitat for large mammals and endemic birds. Sedentary agriculture, where crop cultivation complemented by a strong livestock rearing, which is the primary occupation of the community. Moreover, the area is characterized by a minimum of socio-economic infrastructure and administrative institutions.
The afro-alpine strip of forest encompasses Afromontane forest in its lower part of sub-afro-alpine and afro-alpine vegetation types in its upper part. The Afromontane one is a narrow of forest and its occurrence is largely restricted to Borena wereda. It is dominated by big trees and different types of shrubs. The afro-alpine and sub-afro alpine part are dominated by species of Erica trees and shrubs, interspersed with tussock grass or Guassa (Festuca spp.) and Lobelia rhynchopetalum populations. The incredible vegetation resources of the park are the main ecotourism resources. According to ANRSP, there are around 66 families vegetation species, consisting of 174 species of plants which are higher species diversity in comparison to other Afromontane forests of the country. Gaint lobelia (Jibera), Bidens pachyloma (Adey-Abeba), Plectocephalus, Euphorbia dumalis, Acanthus sennii (Shekori), Solanaceous gigas (Yeshikoko Gomen), Echinops longisetus and Echinops kebericho are endemic to the park. Both the Afromontane forest and the upper part of the park have a very attractive view for the tourists.
The high land parts of the park are dominated by Festuca gilbertiana (commonly called Guassa) and Giant lobelia. Festuca gilbertiana is a thin-leaved species, which has high demand by the local communities because of its multipurpose. At most, the very tall Festuca is not a suitable habitat for the Ethiopian wolf. It sounds logical because rodents are the primary source of food for the Ethiopian wolf and the very tall Festuca hinders the easy access to it. A recent study by Abebaw (2012) reported that a very tall and outdated Festuca is creating a problem on the wildlife resources of the park. The study indicates the Ethiopian wolf is emigrating from the old portion of the park and went to the surrounding communal lands around the park and to the newly demarcated area of the park. As the study confirms the Festuca grass in the surrounding of the park and in the newly incorporated part of the park is managed traditionally by the local kebele administrator (extracted every two years) and become a suitable habitat for Ethiopian wolf to capture its prey. Therefore, the locals’ complaint sounds right, because they should not be deprived of the resources unless they are beneficiary in terms of tourism. People living in and around protected areas need to be compensated for the limitations on their use of natural resources. So for the effective implementation of community-based ecotourism development approaches (CBET), Festuca of the park need to be systematically extracted. If the locals are the active beneficiary of their traditional Festuca utilization, the locals’ resentment or complaint toward the park will be solved; and at large they will have a sense of ownership.
ThePark, apart from its marvelous scenery and diversified flora, it is the home of different mammals, amphibians, and birds. More than 23 mammals and over 77 different birds have been identified. Four large mammals, namely Ethiopian wolf or keyie Kebero (Canissimensis), Gelada baboon (Theropithecus gelada), Stark’s Hare (Lepus starckii) and Menelik’s bushbuck (Tragelaphus Scriptus Menelik) are found in the park.
In addition to the natural resources, there are distinctive local cultures that are practiced by people living in Borena-Saynt National Park. Even though it needs further and detailed investigation, the cultural activities and cultural products like the wedding ceremony, honeymoon ceremony after marriage, local music, dances, locally produced artifacts, house construction style, local conflict resolution mechanisms by elders, and community’s traditional lifestyle can be good tourist attraction resources. Local communities can earn income by demonstrating cultural activities or by selling locally produced artifacts to the tourists
Ecotourism has emerged as part of the new global environmental movement and it is the fastest growing sectors of the tourism market, primarily influenced by public demand for more environmentally responsible tourism. If it planned properly, it has been asserted that ecotourism can integrate conservation of biodiversity with the socio-economic development of local communities. In this regard, developing ecotourism in the park seems appealing and significant. It can be a potential strategy to support conservation of biodiversity and natural ecosystem, while promoting locals for sustainable development.