Status and Trends of Biodiversity
Benin estimates its number of vascular plant species at 3000 which are spread out into several vegetation zones: the semi-deciduous forests, the dense, dry forests and the clear forests, the savannahs, the meadow altimontaine, vegetation of the humid regions and littoral zones, and the mangroves. The water system includes some 3048km of waterways and more than 333km2 of lakes and lagoons localized at the south of the country. There are 449 marine species and 180 freshwater fish species. Inventories of the avian fauna have confirmed the presence of 371 species. There has been no exhaustive inventory of mammals in Benin. To date, 47 species of mammals (weighing more than 5kg) have been identified. Several species identified as being at high risk include: the red-bellied monkey (Cercopithecus erythrogaster), the cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus), the African wild dog (Lycaon pictus), and the African manatee (Trichechus senegalensis). Some of the major problems leading to these losses in biodiversity are: a loss of fertility and the erosion of soils; the withdrawal of forest cover and the impoverishment of consumable natural resources, especially the fauna and fish resources. More specific problems include: climate change, migration and expansion of the cotton industry, and no protected areas. Study of the different vegetation zones shows that in the last 20 years forested areas have been largely degraded, with a loss of 987,607 ha, and savannahs have shown the largest degradation, losing about 1,945,137 ha.
Number and Extent of Protected Areas
Benin has classified several protected areas into various categories that, in total, comprise about 12% of national land, mostly in the northern part of the country. In the southern part of the country, there are a few small, isolated islands of dense, semi-deciduous forest that have been protected by law. There are four main types of classified protected areas: 1) 2 National Parks situated in the departments of Atacora and Borgou, 2) 3 game reserves adjoining the National Parks, 3) 38 forests, and 4) the Biosphere Reserve, which constitutes the National park of Pendjari and game reserves.
Percentage of Forest Cover
Recent figures show that forest and wooded areas occupy 6,186,000ha; protected areas (national parks and game reserves) occupy 2,664,000ha; and, in regard to the agricultural sector, teak plantations occupy 20,000ha while coconut plantations and palm groves occupy 400,000ha of land.