Protecting Nature's Hotspots for people and prosperity

Eastern Afromontane

Tab 1


Volcanoes National Park
Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda. © CI/John Martin

CEPF is active in this region.​

The Eastern Afromontane biodiversity hotspot was first recognized as globally important for species conservation by Mittermeier et al. (2004) when the global hotspot total was raised from 25 to 34, following a reappraisal in light of additional data. One of the results of this reappraisal was to divide the original Eastern Arc Mountains and Coastal Forests of Tanzania and Kenya (EACF) Hotspot between two newly defined hotspots—the Eastern Afromontane and the Coastal Forests of Eastern Africa. The Eastern Arc Mountains were thus absorbed into a much larger hotspot, while the Coastal Forests Hotspot was expanded to Somalia and Mozambique.

The hotspot comprises a discontinuous and divided chain of roughly four ranges of mountains. These ranges start in the north with the Asir Mountains of Saudi Arabia and the highlands of Yemen. Below these, the Ethiopian and Arabian Peninsula highlands and mountains, which split approximately 13 million years ago into three parts to produce the Great Rift Valley through a rifting process as the African continental crust pulled apart. Southeast of the ancient Ethiopian and Albertine massifs, more recent volcanic activity has produced the mountains of the Kenyan and Tanzanian highlands (Mounts Kilimanjaro, Meru, Kenya and Elgon, and the Aberdare range). Farther south, the Eastern Arc and Southern Rift mountains form another ancient massif, running from the Taita Hills in Kenya through the Eastern Arc in Tanzania to Mounts Ntchisi and Mulanje in Malawi. Farther outliers of the Eastern Afromontane, known here as the Southern Montane Islands, are found in the Chimanimani highlands of eastern Zimbabwe, Mounts Gorongosa, Namuli, Mabu and Chiperone in Mozambique, and the Mafinga Mountains that straddle the Malawi-Zambia border.

Of the 10,856 species identified in the Eastern Afromontane Hotspot, almost a third (30.8 percent) are endemic. The following table shows species diversity and endemism in the hotspot: 

Taxonomic Group

Number of Species

Number of Endemic Species







Freshwater Fishes












All Taxa



The profiling exercise made it clear that development was a key issue for long term, sustainable protection of biodiversity in the Eastern Afromontane Hotspot. This is due to the main causes of biodiversity degradation being directly linked to inappropriate development projects for local communities, and because the future of conservation lies in the decisions that are going to be made in the coming years in terms of development policies by the national governments, regional entities and to a certain extent by external agents such as donors (whose large investments still influence development directions), international foundations and organizations, or private investors from developed and emergent countries. At the same time, the profiling exercise highlighted a lack of understanding of the importance of biodiversity on the part of decision makers, and also a lack of dialogue and coordination between stakeholders that have an obvious interest in enhanced coordination, including NGOs from both the conservation and the development worlds.

CEPF's niche in the Eastern Afromontane Hotspot will be to enable civil society to have a more prominent role into driving development in a more biodiversity-friendly direction.​​​​​​​​​​​​​

Tab 2


Senetti Plateau, Bale Mountains, Ethiopia
Senetti Plateau, Bale Mountains, Ethiopia. © Robin Moore​

The Eastern Afromontane Hotspot stretches over a curving arc of more than 7,000 kilometers from Saudi Arabia to Mozambique. The KBAs cover an area of more than 50 million hectares, of which only 38 percent have full legal protection and variable amounts of government funding. 

In the past five years, almost $1 billion dollars (at least $946 million) has been invested to support environmental and related issues within the hotspot, and yet its biodiversity remains seriously threatened. The priority KBAs identified for CEPF investment represent approximately 5.5 million hectares, so the CEPF contribution would equate to roughly $2 per hectare over five years for all the KBAs, on average, with the goal of supporting paths leading to longterm sustainability.

Ensuring the sustainability of CEPF interventions in this hotspot is a significant challenge, and an awareness of the magnitude of the challenge has been built into the strategy. One of its major intentions is to leverage financial support from other donors and investors, which is acutely needed in the Eastern Afromontane Hotspot.

The combination of partnerships, leveraging financial and technical support, engagement in planning initiatives from local to landscape scale, tapping into increasing awareness of the economic values of ecosystem services, and support of and building the capacity within civil society offers the best hope for a sustainable conservation strategy for the hotspot.

Four strategic directions will guide the CEPF investment. These strategic directions and their associated investment priorities were determined through an intensive consultative process with stakeholders and reflect the views of civil society in the hotspot.

1. Mainstream biodiversity into wider development policies, plans and projects to deliver the cobenefits of biodiversity conservation, improved local livelihoods and economic
development in priority corridors.

2. Improve the protection and management of the KBA network throughout the hotspot.

3. Initiate and support sustainable financing and related actions for the conservation of priority KBAs and corridors.

4. Provide strategic leadership and effective coordination of CEPF investment through a regional implementation team.

Tab 3


Elephant in Malawi
Elephant in Malawi. © Roderic B. Mast​


1. Mainstream biodiversity into wider development policies, plans and projects to deliver the co-benefits of biodiversity conservation, improved local livelihoods and economic development in priority corridors.

1.1 Enhance civil society efforts to develop and implement local government and community-level planning processes to mainstream biodiversity conservation, and leverage donor and project funding for livelihood activities that explicitly address causes of environmental degradation in and around priority KBAs in priority corridors.
1.2 Promote civil society efforts and mechanisms to mainstream biodiversity conservation into national development policies and plans, and into territorial planning in priority corridors and countries.
1.3 Support civil society to build positive relationships with the private sector to develop sustainable, long-term economic activities that will benefit biodiversity and reduce poverty in priority corridors.
2. Improve the protection and management of the KBA network throughout the hotspot. 2.1 Increase the protection status (via creation or expansion of protected areas) and/or develop, update and implement management plans for
terrestrial priority KBAs.
2.2 Support the role of civil society organizations in the application of site safeguard policies and procedures, including the strengthening of
environmental impact assessment implementation in order to address ongoing and emerging threats to all KBAs, including priority freshwater KBAs​.
2.3 Advance the identification and prioritization of KBAs in Africa and the Arabian Peninsula.
3. Initiate and support sustainable financing and related actions for
the conservation of priority KBAs and corridors.
3.1 Support civil society organizations to develop forest carbon partnerships
and projects that advance biodiversity conservation in priority KBAs in Africa.
3.2 Support civil society organizations to develop partnerships and projects for non-carbon payment for ecosystem services schemes and other market mechanisms in priority KBAs in Africa, particularly priority freshwater KBAs that influence freshwater biodiversity, livelihoods and health.
3.3 Support training for civil society organizations in fund-raising and project management, especially training such organizations at all levels with respect to emerging opportunities for sustainable financing for KBAs in Africa.
3.4 Support the institutional development of civil society organizations in Eritrea, South Sudan and Yemen, and their role in the conservation of KBAs
in their respective countries.
4. Provide strategic leadership and effective coordination of CEPF
investment through a regional implementation team.
4.1 Operationalize and coordinate CEPF’s grant-making processes and procedures to ensure effective implementation of CEPF’s strategy throughout the hotspot.
4.2 Build a broad constituency of civil society groups working across institutional and political boundaries toward achieving the shared
conservation goals described in the ecosystem profile.




Tab 4

Eastern Afromontane Region Biodiversity Hotspot


Conservation Outcomes, Eastern Afromontane,
Map (PDF 3.8 MB)

Eastern Afromontane Conservation Outcomes map

Tab 5

Core Documents

Monitoring and Evaluation

  • Mid-Term Assessment, September 2012 – February 2015​
    - English​ (PDF - 1.4 MB)

  • Annual Portfolio Overview, 2014
    English​ (PDF - 588 KB)​

  • Report: Baseline Management Effectiveness in the CEPF Eastern Afromontane Hotspot Region
    Hi res (PDF - 2.9) / Lo res (PDF - 1.6 MB)


Manda Newsletter, Manda Wilderness Community Trust​


The Silverback Standard, IGCP

PHE Ethiopia Consortium Newsletter

News from African Protected Areas

SASA Bulletin

Manda WilderNEWS, Manda Wilderness Community Trust​

Ethiopian Wolf Conservation Programme E-bulletin

  • April 2014​
    English (PDF - 1.1 MB)

Other Publications

  • 2014 FFSG Annual Report, Freshwater Fish Specialist Group, 2014
    English​ (PDF - 2.22 MB)

  • Institutional Fundraising for Conservation Projects, BirdLife International
    English​ (PDF - 7.9 MB)
    Arabic​​ (PDF - 2.1 MB)

  • Project Brief: Network Creation and Capacity Building in Yayu Biosphere Reserve (July 2014 - December 2015)
    English​ (PDF - 199 KB)

Tab 6

Fast Facts

​​Status: Active

Initial investment: 
  • $9.8 million 
  • 2012-2017 ​
Regional Implementation Team:
BirdLife International, Africa Partnership Secretariat

Maaike Manten, RIT Manager

Address: CEPF Eastern Afromontane Regional Implementation Team (EAM-RIT), BirdLife International, Africa Partnership Secretariat - off Rhapta Road, Volker’s Garden, Westlands, Nairobi, Kenya

Address: PO BOX 3502, 00100 GPO Nairobi, Kenya

Tel: +254 (0)20 247 3259
Recent Newsletters

Manda Newsletter, Manda Wilderness Community Trust​

Regional Resources
​​Ecosystem Profile, January 2012
English (PDF - 4 MB)​
Appendix 1: Species Outcomes
(PDF - 102 KB)
Appendix 3: Species per KBAs​
(XLSX - 135 KB)

Ecosystem Profile Summary Brochure
English (PDF - 2.5 MB)
French (PDF - 2.6 MB)
Arabic (PDF - 1.1 MB)

RIT Website: BirdLife​

CEPF Investment Strategy and Programmatic Focus
English (PDF - 1.7 MB)
French (PDF - 1.5 MB)