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Biodiversity Facts

Status and trends of biodiversity, including benefits from biodiversity and ecosystem services

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

The Guinean forests of West Africa are considered one of the world’s 25 biodiversity hotspots. The status of biodiversity in the region is however severely threatened. The exploitation of wildlife and birds greatly exceeds the rate of natural increase, leading to the disappearance of certain species. Rainforests, dry forests, sudano-guinean savannahs and mountain ecosystems have sharply deteriorated in recent years and are in a very fragmented state at present. Few relics of primary forest exist today. Protection measures carried out are very random and barely 7% of the country’s territory is under protection.

Rainforest formerly comprised 14 million ha, yet only 700,000 ha of this coverage remains today. Despite reforestation campaigns carried out in 1963 and 2005, the situation remains alarming primarily due to a lack of effective monitoring and policy implementation. Notably, 99% of households use firewood for fuel and, in large cities, such as Conakry, the situation is critical with the destruction of woody vegetation occurring within an increasingly distant radius from the city centre. Estimates indicate that the Ziama and Diécké forests are experiencing a loss of 1,111 ha annually (these estimates however do not consider the impacts of the massive influx of refugees and logging companies on forests which implies an even higher level of deforestation). It is also estimated that the extent of dry forests (800,000 ha) is declining by 17% every 15 years or 1.4% (9120 ha) annually. Rich and diversified fauna, especially rich in mammal species, is threatened as a result of habitat destruction. Natural vegetation cover has also decreased as a result of shifting cultivation (land clearing, slash and burn practices) carried out on sloping land and bushfires which consume thousands of cubic meters per year. A 1995 report reveals that 3,094,400 ha of savannah were burned in the northeastern part of the country between November and May alone. Soil fertility of the potential cultivable land, estimated at 6.2 million ha, is being constantly degraded.

Mangrove ecosystem surface coverage was estimated at 350,000 ha in 1965 and presently covers 250,000 ha. In 1993, the volume of tree species used for wood fuel and other services was estimated at 45,000 tons per year (in Sangaréah Bay alone). Logging activities are conducted without a management plan in place and there is a real mismatch between the level of timber extraction and the potential of each logging site. Tons of mangrove wood are also used to smoke fish (45,784 tons in 2004) and in salt extraction processes (93,000 tons annually). Consequently, mangrove forest regeneration is compromised today, with tree flora gradually being replaced by an herbaceous layer.

Guinea is considered the "Water Tower of West Africa", with many watercourses of the subregion having their sources in Guinea. However, declining rainfall levels, following episodes of drought, have strongly influenced watercourse behaviour. Flow rates have decreased and several rivers that were once perennial in the upper and middle parts of the country are now drying up during the dry season. Freshwater resources are also undergoing significant degradation due to anthropogenic activity (pollution, inappropriate fishing methods, etc.). In some areas, the rate of wildlife exploitation greatly exceeds the rate of natural increase thereby threatening many species with extinction. Further, Guinean wildlife is severely threatened by commercial hunting encouraged by an increasing demand for bushmeat and an international demand for live animals (e.g. parrots, weavers) and hunting trophies. This type of poaching does not spare pregnant females or small animals and has resulted in the disappearance of wildlife in most ecosystems. The situation is worsened by additional stress placed on natural resources by groups of refugees.

Resources from biological diversity are essential to the country’s socioeconomic development. Apart from being the primary source of energy for the country, wood also provides construction material, food sources, medicinal products (1200 plants have been used traditionally), fiber for clothing, timber for exportation, among other services. Resources also provide substantial incomes for artisans involved in sculpture, shoemaking, tanning and carpentry activities. Further, a large potential source of hydroelectric power could be provided by the hydrographical system. Guinea’s ecosystems also offer great potential for tourism which could contribute to local economy diversification.

The Guinean coastal area is known to be among the most dynamic in the sub-region. It is characterized by the presence of sandy beaches, vast plains, and lush mangrove forests constituting great spawning grounds, hatcheries and niches for a variety of species of fish and shellfish, etc., generating nearly a third of all marine biological production. Artisanal fishery produced respectively 91,439 tons in 2003 and 57,230 tons in 2004 while industrial fishery produced 142,620 tons in 2003 and 93,195 in 2004. This zone also plays an important economic role in the development of rice fields and fuel energy supplies.

Main pressures on and drivers of change to biodiversity (direct and indirect)

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

The underlying causes of changes to biodiversity are related to economic and political circumstances; rapidly changing demographics; unsustainable exploitation of agriculture, flora and fauna; poverty; lack of economic alternatives; mismanagement; illiteracy; non-compliance with traditions and customs. Pressures are exerted through unsustainable agricultural exploitation (shifting cultivation, land clearing, etc.), extensive farming, overfishing, hunting for bushmeat, trade and trophies. Deforestation is exacerbated by various factors, such as the population’s strong dependence on wood fuel for energy, not to mention the oversampling of forest products (flora and fauna) leading to the fragmentation of natural habitats, overexploitation of species, climate change, land degradation and ultimately to biodiversity loss. Spontaneous bushfires are also of great concern, consuming thousands of cubic meters of wood per year, preventing natural revegetation processes from occurring and leading to topsoil sterilization and the destruction of species of high calorific value. Current threats to water resources are also numerous and linked to climatic and anthropogenic factors, resulting in recurrent drought, sedimentation, erosion, silting of rivers, etc.

Measures to Enhance Implementation of the Convention

Implementation of the NBSAP

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

Guinea’s NBSAP, adopted in 2001, contains a strategic vision for a fifteen-year period (2001-2016) and four main objectives, namely: conservation of biological diversity; sustainable use of biological diversity; general measures for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity; international cooperation. The Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development oversees the implementation of the majority of conventions, protocols and agreements related to biodiversity which assists in identifying synergies in actions among responsible structures. Sixty-eight projects have been developed on various themes: terrestrial ecosystems (33 projects), inland water ecosystems (10 projects), coastal and marine ecosystems (7 projects), valuation of biological diversity (13 projects), institutional and legal framework (5 projects). Prioritized issues are: management of agricultural biodiversity pressures, strengthening of in situ conservation of agricultural biodiversity; capacity-building for national ex situ conservation.

Actions taken to achieve the 2020 Aichi Biodiversity Targets

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

Despite socioeconomic difficulties, NBSAP implementation has been reasonably efficient as a result of national efforts, external funding and technical and scientific support provided through subregional, regional and international cooperation. This has enabled the conduct of many activities in the fields of agriculture, livestock farming, fisheries, environment, agroforesty, natural resource and ecosystem management, as well as contributed to numerous workshops and information seminars, public awareness activities and educational programs on key biodiversity issues, improvements in legislation, protected areas management. Guinea also participates in various programs on shared ecosystem management (e.g. regional ecosystem management of the Niger, Senegal, Gambia and Mano rivers; ODINAFRICA project on marine protected areas) facilitating experience-sharing and capacity-building at the local, national and regional levels. Many projects and programs promote the participation of local communities (e.g. Integrated Ecosystem Management Project (PGIE); Regional Program for Sustainable Livelihoods Fisheries (PMEDP); zoning of pastoral perimeters for the sustainable use of habitat and animal resources; Integrated Fouta Djallon Massif Development Program; development of lowlands for the development of agricultural activities; Programme for the Conservation of the Biodiversity of the Nimba Mountains through Integrated and Participatory Management, Village Community Support Program (PACV)).

National or international access to resources remains open in the absence of legislation and mechanisms to regulate the equitable sharing of benefits arising from the development and exploitation of ecosystems. Also, in spite of the creation of a marine protected area, 16 Ramsar sites and 186 community forests, only 7% of the country’s territory is integrated in the protected areas network. However, a national strategy for the sustainable management of the Guinean network of protected areas for the 2008-2017 period is being finalized.

Support mechanisms for national implementation (legislation, funding, capacity-building, coordination, mainstreaming, etc.)

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

At the institutional level, the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development has been created and, within it, the National Directorate for Biological Diversity and Protected Areas. The adoption of legislation (e.g. Forest Code, Wildlife Protection Code) and sectoral policies focused on environment issues are contributing to the expansion of a national framework for CBD implementation. Further, as a result of the implementation of the National Environment Action Plan (1994), sectoral strategies and plans for natural resource management (e.g. National Forestry Action Plan (NFAP), Mangrove Development Scheme (SDAM), Energy Sector Study Program (PESE), Policy Letter for Agricultural Development (LPDA)) have been produced. Biodiversity issues have also been integrated in many sectoral and cross-sectoral strategies and action plans for forestry, animal husbandry, protected areas, agriculture, mining.

The Regional Program to Support the Integrated Management of Natural Resources in the Gambia and Niger River Basins (AGIR) was carried out between 2001 and 2005, with the objective to conserve and restore natural ecosystems in the region. Participants comprised community members, state services and private operators. The program resulted in 300 forest community groups being established to support the management of forest resources in these localities.

Mechanisms for monitoring and reviewing implementation

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

A formal monitoring system for protected areas does not yet exist although indicators and the Centre for Observation and Environmental Monitoring (COSE) have been established for this purpose, however the lack of material and financial resources to operate the structure remains a limiting factor. Within the framework of the Sustainable Fisheries Livelihoods Programme, a national fisheries monitoring centre and monitoring program for participatory artisanal fisheries have been initiated. A set of indicators to measure progress towards the 2010 targets was also developed.

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  • United Nations
  • United Nations Environment Programme