The result of the study revealed that the studied wetlands are important for livestock grazing, irrigation, recreation, grass/forage harvesting, the water source for domestic use and livestock, fish harvesting, and firewood collection. Wetlands support the production of fisheries and sources of medicinal plants and they are also ecologically important in the storage, filtration, and supply of water (Abebe and Geheb, 2003; Wood et al., 2002). Another study showed that wetlands provide goods and services to livestock and household water sources, grazing for livestock, firewood, reeds, building materials, recreation, and flood mitigation (MEA, 2005; Schuyt, 2005; Junk et al., 2013; Amsalu and Addisu, 2014).
The survey inquiry revealed that the community at Chonkie-Shinkie wetlands, Chega-Gawussi wetlands, and Lake Dembi had harvested reeds from the wetlands for roofing houses cultural, ceremonial, and thatching purposes. Other harvesting purpose includes; grass for animal forage, medicinal use source of water for agriculture. According to (Gordon et al., 2007) and (Houghton et al., 2001), wetlands in Ethiopia are of historical, cultural, and ceremonial importance. (Dixon, 2008) confirmed dense reed vegetation is used for ceremonies and festivities in Ethiopia in addition to roofing, craft materials, and cattle forage.
Coffee plantation and small-scale irrigation activities were observed on the fringes of Lake Dembi. Fish harvesting and recreational activities are also recorded in Lake Dembi. Gemechu (2010) estimated that more than 83% of people around Lake Abijata rely on wetlands for various types of subsistence. Besides, Lake Abijata and other wetlands around this wetland provide services for the development of ecotourism, which is a great prospect for the job opportunities and economic base of local communities. Chonkie-Shinkie wetlands used wetlands for livestock grazing and irrigation and water sources. During the dry season, in order to search for grass and water, the farmers from surrounding communities bring their cattle to this wetland. Wetland resources are used for grazing in the dry season. Some of them are used for water sources and irrigation and for domestic water supply (Gemechu, 2010). Like the respondents from Lake Dembi, a few respondents were engaged in irrigation activities adjacent to Chonkie-Shinkie wetland. The finding of Afework (2005) indicated that the communities around Lake Tana have benefited a lot from fishing and irrigation activities.
Pece wetland in Uganda accounts for more than 50% of the monthly income of the rural community living around this wetland (Opio et al., 2011). Bosma et al. (2012) estimated that 40% of Mahakam Delta households' livelihood depends on mangrove wetland ecosystem resources. Wetlands are considered to be a vital resource on which many rural economies and whole communities depend (RCS, 2006). Silvius et al. (2000) and Maclean et al. (2011) suggested that the poorest, land-dependent communities are the most directly dependent on wetland services and function as an income source and livelihood diversification.
Unlike of attitudes of respondents in Masha, the attitudes of respondents in Lake Dembi and Conkie-Shinkies on wetland benefits and conservation were remarkably similar. There are traditional taboos associated with the wetland conservation practices in Sheka Zone. The culture of Shakicho people protects wetlands and waterfalls and they consider wetlands as sources of water for rivers and forests that keep them from drying up and believe that there is a connection between wetlands, rivers, forests, and human health. The thought of Shakicho people regarding nature as an asset is mainly manifested in sustainable natural resource management. Shakichos believe that people will die or face evil things if they abuse these taboos. Traditional Shekacho culture does not encourage direct wetland grazing of livestock to avoid compaction (Tadesse and Fite, 2011).
In different parts of Ethiopia, instead of sustaining wetlands, most households have given priority to achieving their basic needs (Beyene et al., 2012). Lamsal et al. (2015) suggested that the participation of the community in conservation activities was poor, although they maintained a positive attitude to the conservation of wetlands in Nepal and households did not engage in the conservation of wetlands. Even the poverty reduction strategy for food security improvements in Ethiopia did not give due attention to natural resources, particularly wetland resources (Awulachew et al. 2007). Ethiopia did not properly implement Rasmar Convention for wetland conservation (Deribe 2007) and no wetland policy has been established (Hailu 2007). Therefore, for the management and use of wetlands at local, regional, and national levels, the principles of sustainable development set out in the Ramsar Convention (Bamba, 2004) should be followed. In southwest Ethiopia, proper and sustainable conservation measures of wetlands resources were not made and they are more likely to degrade further unless appropriate measures are taken to tackle this problem.