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Eritrea - Main Details

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Status and Trends of Biodiversity


Eritrea lies in the northeastern corner of the Horn of Africa. Examples of habitats and ecosystems found in Eritrea include: Juniperus forest, riverine forest, coral reefs and traditional farming systems. A total of 126 mammal species, including 9 marine mammals have been identified in Eritrea. A number of mammals, notably the elephant, wild ass, greater kudu and civet, are in danger of national extinction. A total of 557 birds, 90 reptiles, 19 amphibians and 700 plants have been recorded for Eritrea. The Eritrean marine and coastal zone is situated in the southern sector of the Red Sea, and harbors 500 fish species, 5 marine turtles, 8 or more cetaceans and the dugong. Eritrea is recognized as a centre of origin and centre of diversity for a number of crops, notably the cereals: sorghum, wheat and barley. A century ago Eritrea was endowed with many natural resources, which included fertile land, enough water resources, dense forests and various wild animals. Thirty years of armed struggle, combined with persistent drought and neglect, have impacted the resources of the country. The country’s rich natural resources have been denuded and are currently left with fragile ecosystems.

Number and Extent of Protected Areas

Currently, Eritrea has no formally protected areas, which are legally gazetted, although a number of potential locations have been identified and partially surveyed. The absence of formal protected areas does not mean that land is not conserved. As of 1999, around 192,734 sq. ha of land had been placed under partial or complete closure (i.e. protection from human utilization for fuel wood/grazing).

National Biodiversity Strategy Action Plan

Major features of National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan

The overall goal of the Eritrean NBSAP is as follows: “The overall biodiversity of Eritrea restored, conserved and managed so that it provides environmental services and natural resources that contribute to sustainable and socially-fair national economic development.” Three core areas were identified, namely terrestrial biodiversity, marine biodiversity and agricultural biodiversity, each with a major objective. The strategic elements of the NBSAP form the linkage between the major objective for each core area and the activities that will be undertaken in order to fulfill the objectives. For convenience and clarity, the strategic elements have been reduced to 10 themes which are: integrated management; sustainable use of natural resources; alien invasive species; pollution management; in situ conservation (protected areas); ex situ conservation; taxonomic knowledge; information acquisition and storage; public awareness and education; and legal and institutional structure (capacity building). Examples of some implementation activities include: establishment of new plantations and the reforestation of existing forest areas; survey of distribution and spread of selected alien invasive species and their economic/social benefits; monitoring of critical pollutants which impact on marine and coastal system and increase honey and wax production by establishing queen bee rearing centers and expansion of bee colonies.

Implementation of the Convention

Measures Taken to Achieve the 2010 Target

There are several measures and initiatives that have been implemented in order to attain the 2010 target. In situ conservation of crop and livestock is being done to avoid the replacement of native species by introduced ones. Several projects have been implemented to improve the status of the following species; wild ass, gazelle, ostrich, green turtle, Juniperus procera, Doum palm tree and Boswellia species. To improve the country’s forest cover several conservation and tree-planting projects have begun, as well as prohibition of logging activities and encouragement of natural regeneration. Several assessments looking at the interlinkages of climate change and biodiversity, especially in the agricultural sector, have been conducted.

Initiatives in Protected Areas

A total of 27 areas are proposed for protection all over the country. However, priority is given to three areas, namely Semienawi Bahri, Buri Peninsula and Gash-Setit Elephant Sanctuary.

Initiatives for Article 8(j)

Eritrea has included in it’s Environmental Impact Assessment guidelines a stipulation that addresses the issue of sacred areas and areas of traditional values. There are several mangrove restoration and conservation projects that are being done through community participation.

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  • United Nations
  • United Nations Environment Programme