Benin's new Wetlands of International Importance
Benin brings Ramsar's total coverage over 150 million hectares
The Ramsar Secretariat is very pleased to announce that the Agence Béninoise pour l'Environnement, on behalf of the government of Benin, has designated two new Ramsar sites, effective as of World Wetlands Day 2007. The Site Ramsar du Complexe W (895,480 hectares, 11°50'N 002°30'E) is a very large wetland complex comprising the W du Benin National Park and related protected areas along the national borders with Burkina Faso and Niger, much of which is part of the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Transboundary Biosphere Reserve called "'W' Region". The Zone humide de la rivière Pendjari (144,774 ha; 11°37'N 001°40'E), also a National Park and also a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, is one of the most important humid ecosystems in the sub-sahelian zone of West Africa, characterized by gallery forests, savannah and swampy meadows, alluvial plains, ponds, rivers, and dense dry forests within floodplains.
Ramsar's Assistant Advisor for Africa, Evelyn Parh Moloko, has prepared brief descriptions of the two new sites based on the data provided by the authorities in Benin. Benin now has four Ramsar sites covering a total of 1,179,354 hectares, and that country's two new sites have pushed the Convention's global total area covered to over 150 million hectares -- there are now 1653 Wetlands of International Importance covering 150,782,100 hectares.
Site Ramsar du Complexe W. 02/02/07; Alibori; 895,480 ha; 11°50'N 002°30'E. National Park, part of UNESCO Transboundary Biosphere Reserve. Comprises the W du Benin National Park and other protected zones, as well as the free zone between the Park and the River Niger (which is state protected and offers right of use to inhabitants). It is bordered by Burkina Faso (Arli-W-Singou complex) and Niger (W National Park). Its diversified landscape has a rugged relief and is made up of rivers, ponds, meadows and floodplains, gallery forests and savannah. The site is host to the most important savanna population of the African Elephant (Loxodonta Africana) in West Africa, populations of the Cheetah (Acinonyx jubitus) and the West African Manatee (Trichechus senegalensis). Significant numbers of waterbirds have been recorded, and the floodplains of the rivers Niger, Mékrou and Alibori offer a breeding ground and passage zone for fish species like Alestes baremoze, Distichodus rostratus, Labeo senegalensis and Citharinus citharinus. It serves as reception point for surface water runoff and is important for water infiltration, recharge of groundwater, sediment trapping, and flood control and thus contributes to improving the quality of waters in the area. The site is important for tourism, environmental education and fish production, and it holds traditionally sacred sites such as the Koudou Falls. Threats to the site include poaching, illegal farming, toxic fishing methods and bush fires. A new management law for protected areas, aiming at participative management, has been elaborated and submitted to the National Assembly for adoption. Ramsar site no. 1668. Most recent RIS information: 2007.
-- photos, Mr. Aziz Issa, Director of the W National Park
Zone humide de la rivière Pendjari. 02/02/07; Atacora; 144,774 ha; 11°37'N 001°40'E. National Park, UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Covers part of the Pendjari National Park at the Benin-Burkina Faso border, the main feature of which is the River Pendjari alluvial plains in the Volta Basin. This is one of the most important humid ecosystems in the sub-sahelian zone of West Africa and is characterized by gallery forests, savannah and swampy meadows, alluvial plains, ponds, rivers, and dense dry forests within floodplains. This combination of ecosystems makes the site a home to the lion, the African elephant, cheetah, and many of species of birds. The ponds serve as water retention points during the dry season, thus attracting animals and tourists, and the site plays an important role in sediment retention and shoreline stabilization. The main ethnic groups are the Bialbe, Gourmantchés and Wama who inhabit the buffer zone of the Pendjari Biosphere Reserve and have the right to use its natural resources; their main activities include agriculture, animal breeding, fishing and hunting. Its historic and archaeological value can be seen in archaeo-metallurgic areas found there. The transhumance nature of animal breeding presents a source for pathogen introduction in this region. There is a management plan drawn up for the Biosphere Reserve and a business plan aimed at sustainable tourism. The formation of a departmental and communal Ramsar committee is under way. Ramsar site no. 1669. Most recent RIS information: 2007.