Twelve new Ramsar sites in Burkina Faso

01/10/2009

The government of Burkina Faso has completed the process for designating twelve new Ramsar sites of extraordinary interest. In varied locations, from the Sahel region in the north to the Cascades region in the southwest, to the central and eastern regions, these new areas of natural as well as artificial lakes and both permanent and seasonal rivers present a wide array of ecosystem types and are of great importance to the wildlife of the region, the livelihoods of the human population in these areas, and the hydrological and climatic stability of many parts of the country. The 12 new sites join the famous Mare aux hippopotames, Mare d’Oursi, and Parc National du W, which were designated for the Ramsar List back in 1990, to bring Burkina Faso’s Ramsar-listed total to 15 sites covering 652,502 hectares. Technical preparations for these designations were assisted by Ramsar's Swiss Grant for Africa, generously provided by the government of Switzerland.

Ramsar’s Assistant Advisor for Africa, Cynthia Kibata, has prepared brief site descriptions based on the information supplied in the Ramsar Information Sheets.

Barrage de Bagre. 07/10/09; Centre-Est, Centre-Sud; 36,793 ha; 11°33’N 000°40’W. The dam is located in the southeastern region of Burkina Faso, on the Nakambé River. The most important functions of the site are its role in maintenance of biodiversity, the struggle against erosion, retention of nutrients, protection against storms, and recharging of groundwater. The site comprises the dam’s permanent, artificial lake; endangered species found include hippopotamus, crocodiles and various vegetal species, all of which contribute to the outstanding biological diversity of the area. There is also a large proportion of indigenous fish species, amphibians, phytoplankton and zooplankton, though only a few mammal and bird species are present. The presence of the wooded savanna is largely due to the disease of onchocerciasis, which had caused the migration of populations. The main land uses are fishing, wood and water collection, riziculture, electricity production, and livestock farming. The main concerns are the increasing demographic pressures on resources, diseases related to water, and a lack of management actions. Ramsar site no. 1874. Most recent RIS information: 2009.

Barrage de la Kompienga. 07/10/09; Est, Centre-Est; 16,916 ha; 11°08’N 000°40’E. Situated in the east of the country, the site comprises a permanent freshwater lake as well as human-made features including a dam principally used for the production of hydroelectricity, as well as several irrigated land areas. The presence of the dam has not only allowed for diversification of income generating activities, i.e., fishing, agriculture, animal rearing, etc., but is now also widely recognized for the resources it is providing in support of a variety of flora and fauna species. Fauna of global conservation concern include the Nile crocodile, hippopotamus, lion, and the Black Crowned Crane, amongst others. Also of note are the threatened flora species Khaya senegalensi and Damaliscus lunatus. The site is also known to support over 20,000 water birds; at least 7,000 waders and 15,000 from the Anatidae family have been recorded. Various threats affect the site including high rates of erosion, declining fish yields, and increasing levels of eutrophication due to pollution from animal rearing and cotton cultivation. A management plan for the site was elaborated in 2005, but is not yet being implemented. Ramsar site no. 1875. Most recent RIS information: 2009.

Barrage de la Tapoa.07/10/09; Région de l’Est; 3,419 ha; 12°07’N 001°43’W. The Tapoa dam, built in 1961 on the temporary Tapoa River, is the principal water reservoir in the region and is responsible for the support of the various flora and fauna found in the region as well as for the income-generating activities of the local communities. The site is noted for its importance as a breeding area for numerous fish species, e.g., Oreochromis niloticus, Sarotherodon galilaeus, Lates niloticus and Hyperopisus bebe. The main livelihood activities practiced in the area are agriculture, fishing, animal rearing, market gardening and fruit plantations. As a result of its large water storage capacity, the dam is important for the recharge of groundwater and control of floods. Numerous threats are facing thesite, however, including siltation of the reservoir, overexploitation of the fisheries resources, overgrazing, and bushfires amongst others. While there exists no management plan, other conservation measures are in place that regulate the exploitation of fish and forest resources including wildlife on the site. Ramsar site no. 1876. Most recent RIS information: 2009.

Cône d’épandage de Banh. 07/10/09; Région du Nord; 10,003 ha; 14°10’N 002°33’ W. At the edge of the border with Mali, the site has mostly seasonal rivers or lakes, but includes artificial wetlands such as seasonally flooded agricultural land and water storage areas. The cone represents a temporary body of water in winter that infiltrates in the soil when the dry season starts. Migratory birds take refuge in the site, and there is a large bird diversity, though the birds are being endangered by the modification of the ecosystem due to climate change and anthropo-zoogenic pressure. The groundwater is less profound than in the past due to the shifting of the cone to the west, which enabled the development of market gardening (tomatoes, onions); farmlands represent 30% of the site area. Although the soils are rich, they are also fragile and have low water-holding capacity. Other land uses are traditional fishing and livestock farming. Threats mainly come from climate change, which significantly reduces the amount of natural resources and increases the number of floods, thus reducing the general biodiversity. Population growth also has a great impact on the environment (extensive agriculture, over-grazing, wood production). Ramsar site no. 1877. Most recent RIS information: 2009.

Forêt Galerie de Léra (Nan, Tchèfoun).07/10/09; Cascades; 451 ha; 10°36’N 005°18’W. Consists of a seasonal river as well as a gallery forest comprising semi-deciduous and deciduous species that form corridors that are periodically flooded. Of the numerous species found here, also present are Cola cordifolia and Berlinia grandiflora; the Nervilia umbrosa orchid, known to be endemic to this forest, is also noteworthy. Fauna of global conservation concern include the Nile Crocodile and the Kob antelope amongst others. Apart from the maintenance of biological diversity, the site is also responsible for the recharge of groundwater, control of flooding, stabilization of the micro climate, and protection against storms. Through these services, the local populations are able to farm cashews amongst other crops; the practices of hunting and grazing have been banned, however, by the local communities. Threats such as siltation due to activities being carried out upstream on the Leraba tributary, increasing population pressure, poaching, etc., still affect the site. While there exists no management plan for this site, it is considered a forest village by the local communities and is therefore subject to other conservation measures. Ramsar site no. 1879. Most recent RIS information: 2009.

La Forêt Classée et Réserve Partielle de Faune Comoé-Léraba. 07/10/09; Cascades; 124,500 ha; 09°52’N 004°40’W. Réserve partielle de la faune. The forest represents the natural border with Côte d’Ivoire and is a transition zone between the savannah and rainforest, made up of permanent rivers and seasonal freshwater marshes. The site is known to support endangered species such as cheetah, elephant, lion, etc., and various flora species at critical stages of their life, including challenges faced due to the Ivorian crisis and the presence of military. The vegetation is of good quality in relation to soil coverage but is of a lower quality in terms of potential pasture. The site has dry dense forests, savannah shrub and grassland. The main hydrological values are recharging of groundwater, flood regulation, micro-climate stabilization, nutrients retention, and protection against storms. The site is used for hunting, tourism and fishing. While there exists a management plan, several challenges continue to face the site, including the illegal exploitation of protected areas, the over-collection of wood, poaching, over-harvesting, water pollution and attacks by domestic animals. Ramsar site no. 1878. Most recent RIS information: 2009.

La Vallée du Sourou. 07/10/09; Boucle du Mouhoun; 20,926 ha; 13°00’N 003°28’W. Important Bird Area.  The Sourou is a tributary of the largest river in Burkina Faso, the Black Volta, and is found in the sudano-guinean region where water is often scarce. As a result it is important for its support of threatened species such as the hippopotamus, the Vervet Monkey, and the African mahogany. Despite scarcity of information, the site was also designated a BirdLife Important Bird Area as it is known to support the largest concentration of wild birds (Anatidae) in Burkina Faso. As the only large reservoir in the region, it is responsible for the recharge of the groundwater and stabilizes the temperature, allowing for cultivation of maize, rice, onions, etc. With continual growth in the human population, the pressure on available resources is also increasing, leading to excessive cutting of wood, water pollution due to overuse of fertilizers and over-irrigation. In 1986 the Autorité de Mise en Valeur de la Vallée du Sourou (AMVS) was established as the authority responsible for management of the site in collaboration with the Ministry of Water. Ramsar site no. 1885. Most recent RIS information: 2009.

Lac Bam.07/10/09; Centre-Nord; 2,693 ha; 13°24’N 001°31’W. Managed Resource Protected Area. As one of the principal freshwater sources in the region, this lake is particularly important, including for the Nile Crocodile, hares and jack rabbits as it provides refuge from the semi-desert climate found within the province. It is also home to various species of fish, such as Schilbe mystus, that are endangered due to the effects of siltation and over-fishing practices. The presence of the permanent freshwater lake, irregular streams and creeks, and irrigated land allow for the land to be used for various activities: fisheries, livestock rearing, subsistence and cultivation for export (green beans). They also play an important role in the area’s hydrological cycle, i.e., creating and maintaining the microclimate (particularly as they are within the Sahel environment), recharge of the groundwater, prevention/control of floods, stabilisation of the banks, and sediment capture. The main threat facing the site is the increased levels of siltation occuring – to address this threat, a local water committee was established to monitor the removal of water from the lake as well as siltation levels. At present no management plan exists. Ramsar site no. 1880. Most recent RIS information: 2009.

Lac de Tingrela.07/10/09; Cascades; 494 ha; 10°38’N 004°50’W. A permanent freshwater lake in the west of Burkina Faso which serves as an important refuge for a variety of fauna and flora, including hundreds of hippopotami as well as aquatic flora such as Andropogon Africana and Vetiveria senegalensis during the dry periods. It is also noted as a site for reproduction for various species of fish, including Clarias gariepinus, Lates niloticus and Heterotis niloticus. The lake plays an important role in the region’s hydrological cycle through replenishment of groundwaters, control of flood waters, and nutrient retention. Through the stabilization of the microclimate it allows for the maintenance of the region’s biodiversity and support of income-generating activities such as tourism, farming of maize, rice and fruits including guava and mango. Desertification is an ever-present threat facing the lake, as are pollution from chemical fertilizers and increasing levels of siltation. Ramsar site no. 1881. Most recent RIS information: 2009.

Lac Dem.07/10/09; Centre-Nord; 1,354 ha; 13°12’N 001°10’W. The site is mostly occupied by permanent freshwater lakes and seasonal rivers. Increasing human pressure and effects of climate change have caused the extinction of the big game, and fish species such as catfish, carp and sardines are threatened by over-fishing. The site serves as a refuge for numerous species during periods of drought, especially for migrating birds on the lake’s shores. The site is also responsible for the maintenance of the microclimate, recharging of the groundwater, flood regulation, bank stabilization, sediment capture, and protection against storms. The land uses are mainly market gardening, cereal, vegetable, wood, tuber and oilseeds production (sesame, cowpea, groundnut). Threats are mainly due to the competition among market gardeners and farmers, e.g., overgrazing of pasture. Moreover, the use of pesticides, erosion due to livestock trampling, construction of dams leading to siltation, and finally the extraction of water reducing the water volume, are further threats to the site. A management plan was elaborated in 2007 and is being implemented, and there is a local custom of sacrificing to the ancestral deities of the lake in order to take advantage of its resources. Ramsar site no. 1882. Most recent RIS information: 2009.

Lac Higa.07/10/09; Sahel; 1,514 ha; 13°36’N 000°44’E. Situated on the river Yali in the northeast of the country, the site is composed of permanent freshwater lakes, some seasonal rivers, and water storage areas. It represents an economic asset for local people, who practice ranching, farming, market gardening, and fishing resulting in a favorable ecosystem for the development of several plant and animal species. Of the 121 known fish species in Burkina Faso, 27 are found within this site; 133 bird species are also found here, of which 3 are classified as endangered. The site is also important for waterbirds that utilize it to nest, e.g.,  pelicans, ducks, cranes, etc. The lake is responsible for recharge of aquifers, flood prevention, protection against storms, sediment and nutrient retention, and stabilization of the microclimate. Threats concerning the sustainability of the lake are related to increased agriculture and livestock rearing leading to accentuated erosion and siltation of the lake. Ramsar site no. 1883. Most recent RIS information: 2009.

Réserve Totale de Faune d’Arly (Parc National d’Arly). 07/10/09; Région de l’Est; 134,239 ha; 11°35'N 001°27' E. Réserves de faune.The site is crossborder with the Park Pendjari in Benin and was ranked as the largest wildlife reserve in Burkina Faso as a result of the number of animals seen and the beauty of the scenery. The site has many mammalian endangered species including the cheetah, elephant, lion, etc. Also present are reptilian (crocodile) and floral endangered species. It has a large species diversity, incuding 21 waterbird species found on the site (herons, storks, ducks etc.), of which 32 are restricted to the Guinea-Sudanean Savannah. This site is also important for reproduction of various species; however, numerous threats exist due to anthropogenic factors such as poaching and tourism. This is especially a challenge for the unique breeding colony of vultures found within the site. The principal land uses are tourism, fishing and as a migration corridor for farmers crossing to Benin. Threats concerns the illegal exploitation of the protected area, over-grazing, poaching, water pollution (pesticides, fertilizers), and demographic pressures. The park is an attraction for tourists, sport fishing, and scientific research. Ramsar site no. 1884. Most recent RIS information: 2009.

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