Status and Trends of Biodiversity
Niger is an overall arid country, with 75% of its territory covered by desert ecosystems, including the terrifying Ténéré desert, particularly famous for its aridity. Despite its aridity, this ecosystem is home to Niger’s largest protected area, refuge for many threatened species, which covers an area of approximately 7.7 million hectares. Protected areas cover 6.6% of the national territory and include the W National Park, home to 70% of Niger’s biodiversity. Also, “L’Aïr Ténéré” has been added to the List of World Heritage in Danger in 1998. From the 2124 plant species known to exist in the country, 210 are considered very important for their nutritive components, especially in times of famine. 3200 animal species, including 2021 insects, have been identified. This country is home to rare species such as the addax and the oryx. Increase of population and soil degradation constitute two of the threats facing Niger’s biodiversity. 85% of the population lives in rural environment and works mostly in agriculture.
Number and Extent of Protected Areas
Protected areas in Niger cover approximately 8.5 million hectare, equivalent to 6.6% of the national territory. The five existing protected areas are the W National Parc (220,000 ha), the Gadabegi total reserve (76,000 ha), the Dosso partial faunal reserve (306,000 ha), the Tamou total faunal reserve (75,000 ha), and the “Aïr Ténéré” National Nature Reserve (7,736,000 ha), which includes the Addax Sanctuary (1,280,500 ha). Niger is also about to create a protected area in the Termit desert zone to protect threatened migratory sahelo-saharan species such as the Addax, dama gazelle and ostriches. With the establishment of this protected area, Niger will near the 11% norm as recommended by UNESCO. Niger also foresees the creation of several fishing reserves to ensure a rational management of aquatic resources.
Percentage of Forest Cover
In 2005, forest cover, including managed and degraded forests, was estimated at 11.2 million ha, of which 0.6 million ha was classified forests. This represents 8% of the national territory.