Cara Steger & Admassu Getaneh, Ethiopia
Using Collaborative Modeling to Understand and Manage Shrub Encroachment in the Ethiopian Highlands
Cara Steger is a PhD candidate in the Graduate Degree Program in Ecology and an Assistant Peace Corps Strategic Recruiter at Colorado State University. She is a human-environment geographer with a regional specialization in Sub-Saharan Africa. Her research engages at the intersection of natural and social science, focusing on the production and integration of knowledge in models for conservation planning and decision-making. In addition to speaking three languages, Cara has been a Matthews Fellow and African Studies Center Fellow at the University of Michigan, where she completed her Master’s in the School of Natural Resources and Environment and Graduate Certificate in African Studies.
Admassu is the Director of the Guassa Conservation Office where he works closely with community members, scouts, local administration, researchers, and NGOs to improve the ecology and livelihood outcomes of Guassa. One of the most critical programs is the conservation of the Ethiopian wolf which is a highly endangered and endemic species. They are also working to conserve the guassa grasses that are highly valued by the local people. Admassu has also worked closely with Dr. Peter Fashing and his students on the Guassa Gelada Research Project, which has a long term base camp inside the Guassa area. Dr. Fashing’s group has worked on understanding gelada monkey ecology in our area for the past 12 years, and their work was featured by National Geographic Magazine in April 2017.
This project will improve understanding of shrub encroachment in the Guassa Community Conservation Area of Ethiopia, which locals identified as their most critical sustainability concern. This project will clarify the social and ecological drivers of shrub encroachment and work with managers to design improved monitoring programs and targeted intervention strategies. Two workshops will enhance participants’ ability to visualize and anticipate potential future changes in the Guassa area, and improve their ability to respond to changes by strengthening relationships between managers, resource users, and local administrators.