Ayele is a friendly and enthusiastic expert in managing projects on natural resource conservation. His professional career started some 22 years ago as a biology instructor at a rural high school in Gambella, Ethiopia, where he mobilized the youth in his community through a very dynamic and successful environmental club. When he became Deputy Director in January 2004 at the Forum for Environment (FfE), an environmental advocacy and communication organization, his passion for educating both himself and the community pushed him to attend and organize awareness-raising skill trainings and initiatives. He also took the lead in the establishment and consolidation of regional environmental activist groups to create a nationwide green movement. His nominator, Negusu Aklilu, underlines Ayele’s determined commitment and passion to make a difference: “he actively collaborates with sister organizations above and beyond his responsibilities”.
Ayele’s leadership capabilities have inspired many, and he procured a scholarship to study a MSc. in Management of Protected Areas at the University of Klagenfurt, Austria, along with the help of the JWH initiative grant and the Ethiopian Wildlife and Natural History Society. His thesis was about Forest Coffee Conservation in the Kafa Coffee Biosphere Reserve, set in his native Ethiopia. He feels that “Honestly speaking, the program was the foundation for me to the build confidence and passion to apply the acquired theoretical and practical knowledge with the aid of specific planning and management tasks in the real world […] I now have the courage to say I found my niche in protected area management”.
Immediately after graduation, Ayele became a Program Coordinator for Ecology and Climate Change at the Heinrich Boell Foundation in Ethiopia, where he continues to educate at all levels about the complex factors involved in sustainable resource management. There is a strong focus on strengthening local voices to shape policy-making, reflecting Ayele’s firm belief that “the protection of environmental resources is not an obstacle to, but a prerequisite for, sustained economic and social development”.
“Certainly, we, the grantees, are the fruits of the spirit of the dedicated lady Joke Waller Hunter. We have to consider ourselves as fruits hung on the branched tree symbol of the initiative. Hence we are messengers to spread this noble idea for the betterment of our commons.”