Bahir Dar Blue Nile Millennium Park

Bahir Dar Blue Nile Millennium Park

Amhara National Regional State is one of the largest administrative regions blessed with divers Natural resources together with the amazing landscapes and cultural heritage sites. Although the region has a huge natural resource potential, there are no any recognized resource conservation activities, the region is still experiencing severe land degradation and loss in biodiversity which seeks immediate solutions and genuine participation of stakeholders. To overcome these problems and develop the mechanism for conservation and sustainable use of natural resources strategies such as the establishment of parks, protected areas, and wetland management critically important to the region. As such the regional government is developing a land use plan for the newly established Bahir Dar Blue Nile Millennium Park.

The geographic location of Bahir Dar Blue Nile Millennium Park is started at the source of Blue Nile out late from Lake Tana to the famous river fall of Tis Isat (Northeast to Southeast Part of Bahir Dar Town Assefa and Abraha, which covers about 4680ha riverine land of Abay. Bezawit forest patch is found at the south of Bezawit revegetation and the dense forest to the west of Bezawit palace extending down to Abay River.

The main attraction of the park is The Blue Nile Falls, it looks like a sluggish beast as it meanders out of Lake Tana, but not far out of Bahir Dar you’ll see the Nile in a very different mood. The river pours over the side of a sheer 42m-high chasm and explodes into a melange of mists and rainbows (best at 10am) before continuing on its tumultuous path to Khartoum, where it finally gets to kiss the White Nile.

The catch of this impressive scene is  Tis Abay, the ‘Nile that Smokes’, most its beauty stolen by the hydroelectric projects, which was built upstream of the river. Though far smaller than its natural 400m-wide flow, the three-pronged waterfall is still jaw-droppingly huge in August and September. From around January or February until March it’s now known as ‘Blue Nile Shower’. The in-between time is still beautiful enough that most people enjoy the trip (though note that one of the hydro plants only operates on standby and if it’s turned on during this time the waterfall gets turned off).

The road to the falls starts 50m west of here and it’s 1.5km to the start of a rocky footpath that leads down to a 17th-century Portuguese bridge (which was the first bridge to span the Blue Nile) along the so-called eastern route. From here the trail climbs up through a small village and a gauntlet of children selling souvenirs to reach the main viewpoints. Some people backtrack from here, but the better option is to take the suspension bridge over the narrow Alata River and walk down to the base of the falls. The falls are located 28km southeast of Bahir Dar down a bad dirt road; the first 10km were being sealed at the time of writing.

A significant amount of land in the park is used as Forest land, including eucalyptus plantation, (about 1352 ha or 28.58 %) and Grazing land (about 1238 or 26.17%). Forest land has indispensable economic value in the area. It is used for the source of fuelwood and supplementary food for the peoples in the area. It is common to see shepherds and children’s collecting the fruits of Syzygium guineense (“Dokma) and Mimusops kummel (Ishe) to supplement their food needs and even sometimes they take it to the local market to earn some amount of money. Mimusops kummel and Syzygium guineense are the common native tree species dominant in the area.

A considerable area of the park is also used by Wetland, Irrigated land and settlements and other institutions. Hence, the defined land use type and the area it covers can give valuable information for the planner to design the appropriate land use plan for the park. The major traits on the conservation and development activities of the park are the settlement, water pollution, agriculture (Both rain feed and Irrigation) and grazing.

The natural face and composition of the vegetation of Bezawit forest patch to the coast of the river are relatively intact. Other parts of this patch lack diversity (occupied by Lantana camera and Jacaranda mimosifolia only or is changed to farmland. A total of 48 species, representing 23 plant families, were recorded from Bezawit forest patch of Abay Millenium Park.

Bezawit forest possesses small number and lower diversity of germinable and nongerminal buried seeds while the number and diversity of the standing vegetation of the area are high. Relatively large numbers of viable seeds of herbs were found. Species richness and diversity of viable seeds at the lower soil cores were found very low showing that the forest lacks persistent seeds in the soil. Trees and shrub species except for Calpurnia aurea, Pteroloblum stellautm and Pittosporum viridifolium had no viable seeds in the soil. From the mentioned species only Calpurnia aurea is found to have a relatively higher density of viable seeds. This may imply that the restoration of this species may be easy. The similarity between the standing vegetation and the soil seed bank is very low indicating that the restoration of the forest flora may be difficult unless and otherwise artificial seedling plantation is employed. Generally, Bezawit forest is a diversified forest of species (standing vegetations) but most of the seeds of the species of the forest were not found in the soil and of the species that are buried in the soil few of them were found to be viable.


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