Conserving our planet's botanical resources and ecosystems

Google Maps, Canopy Climber Save Dry Ethiopia’s Church Forests

Conservation biologist Margaret D. Lowman in Ethiopia, home to unusual Coptic churches surrounded by forests. Source: California Academy of Sciences via Bloomberg

Conservation biologist Margaret D. Lowman in Ethiopia, home to unusual Coptic churches surrounded by forests. Source: California Academy of Sciences via Bloomberg

Bloomberg Businessweek interview with Dr. Meg Lowman regarding the church forests in Ethiopia. Article written by Manuela Hoelterhoff in Bloomberg News:

Conservation biologist Margaret D. Lowman spends a lot of time balancing at the top of trees. To get there, she’s designed hot air balloons and travels the world with her climbing rigs.

Recently Lowman, 60, returned from Ethiopia, a country ravaged by droughts, yet also home to unusual Coptic churches surrounded by forests.

For centuries, priests have tended these oases which provide their people with medicines, fresh water and spiritual sustenance.

Lowman went there to raise awareness and document what’s left with the help of a National Geographic biodiversity survey grant.

We spoke at Bloomberg world headquarters in New York a few hours before she flew to her new post as chief of science and sustainability at the California Academy of Sciences (0700397D:US).

Hoelterhoff: Forests in Ethiopia! Who knew?

Lowman: I didn’t. A student alerted me to their existence and the fact that he seemed to be the only one devoting his life to them. I couldn’t but go. They’re anything from five acres to about 1,500.

Hoelterhoff: What makes them unique?

Lowman: These forest patches are the last native seed banks for northern Ethiopia; think of it as a genetic library for the future of that landscape.

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