Overgrazing, deforestation, and poor agricultural practices have contributed to soil erosion so severe, particularly in the Tigray and Eritrea regions, that substantial areas of farmland have been lost to cultivation. As of 1994, 600,000 acres of arable land were washed away each year. The combined effects of severe drought and a 17-year civil war have also added to Ethiopia's environmental problems. Ethiopia's forests are also endangered. Each year, the nation loses 340 square miles of forest land. Its forests and woodland decreased by 3.4% between 1983 and 1993. The government did not begin afforestation and soil conservation programs until the early 1970s. Agencies responsible for environmental matters include the Ministry of Agriculture, the Forestry and Wildlife Development Authority, and the Ministry of National Water Resources. The nation's water supply is also at risk. Access to safe drinking water is available to 12% of the rural population and 81% of city dwellers. Ethiopia has 110 cubic kilometers of renewable water resources with 86% used in agriculture. The nation's cities produce 1.3 million tons of solid waste per year.
About 5% of Ethiopia's total land area is protected. In 2001, 35 of Ethiopia's 255 mammal species were threatened. Of 626 bird species, 20 were endangered. One type of reptile in a total of 188 species and 125 plants in a total of 6,500 were also threatened with extinction. Endangered species in Ethiopia include the simian fox, African wild ass, Tora hartebeest, Swayne's hartebeest, Waliaibex (found only in Ethiopia), waldrapp, green sea turtle, and hawksbill turtle.