Protected areas are designated areas that are protected due to their ecological, cultural, or other values. Currently, there are over 147,000 protected areas in the world, covering 13 % of Earth’s total land area. In Ethiopia, protected areas covers 16-17% of total areas of the country. Protected areas are considered the cornerstones of conservation strategies. It plays a vital role in protection of biological and cultural diversity; help to improve the livelihoods of local communities. It maintaining ecological and evolutionary processes that sustain biodiversity maintaining viable population of species. Protected areas add importance as safe havens for biodiversity by offering good-quality habitats less vulnerable to climate extremes, by providing refuges for threatened species and conserving important gene pools. It also supplies numerous goods such as food, medicinal plants, building materials and services, like soil stabilization, provision of clean water and mitigating climate change; an estimated 15% of the carbon stock is currently held in protected areas. However, most of Ethiopian protected areas face serious threat from illegal poaching, farming, deforestation and conflicts on competing protected area resources. Now a days protected areas are degrading and facing different challenges due to growth of population and settlement, illegal agricultural expansion, habitat destruction, grazing, deforestation, soil degradation and misuse of natural resource in the country. On other hand lack of comprehensible national and international policies, less commitment from government organs, and shortage of finances are also the other challenges of protected areas in Ethiopia.
Key Word: Biodiversity, Challenge, Ethiopia, Protected Area, Role.