Benin becomes the Convention's 119th Contracting Party
The Ramsar Bureau is pleased to announce that on 24 January 2000, Benin completed the formalities for joining the Convention on Wetlands, as amended by the Paris Protocol of 1982, and the Convention will come into force for Benin on 24 May 2000. Benin has designated two sites as its first Wetlands of International Importance.
Basse Vallée du Couffo, Lagune Côtiere, Chenal Aho, Lac Ahémé (47,500 hectares; 06°30'N 002°00'E) comprises Lac Ahémé, some 24km in a north-south direction, the Kouffo River as it enters the lake near Bopa in the north, and the marshy areas extending southward ca.10km from the lake to the Atlantic Ocean. Its main ecosystems include mangroves, swamp, flooded grassland, and artifical formations resulting from the coconut palm industry. Local fishery employs about 10,000 fisherman, and the harvesting of crabs and oysters is reserved exclusively for women. There is also significant production of palm wine and salt and culture of maize and market garden products. Ramsar site no. 1017.
Basse Vallée de l'Ouémé, Lagune de Porto-Novo, Lac Nokoué. (91,600 hectares; 06°39'N, 002°32'E) covers the coastal area between Cotonou and the capital Porto Novo at the mouth of the Ouémé River, with varied ecosystems comprising swamp forest (Mitragyna inermis, Raphia hookeri) and periodically inundated forest (Berlinia grandiflora, Dalium guineense); flooded prairies of Paspalum vaginatum and Typha australis, and floating vegetation dominated by water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes) and water lettuce (Pistia stratiotes); and mangrove plantations (Rhizophora racemosa). Some 78 species of fish have been identified, and 168 species of birds, as well as Sitatunga, several pythons, and terrestrial and marine tortoises. Human uses include fishing by 24,000 professional and 13,000 seasonal fisherpeople, bringing employment to some 200,000 people in total; agricultural production, chiefly of manioc, maize, sugar cane, sweet potatos, and market gardening. Palm trees (Raphia hookeri) are the object of strong economic activities in construction, palm wine, etc. Ramsar site no. 1018.