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Sudan - Main Details

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Status and Trends of Biodiversity


Sudan is divided into 5 distinct ecological zones: the desert, semi-desert, woodland savanna, flood region and montane vegetation. Even though Sudan is rich in its diversity of ecosystems, habitats, species and genetic resources, no coordinated comprehensive surveys have been carried out. However, indicators and observations show that there is a declining trend and diversity loss in many components. Many plant species are grown to meet the demands for food, shelter, clothing, medicine and fodder. The most important crop species, especially during times of drought are the indigenous fruits and vegetables known as kursan and okra. It is estimated that there are about 533 tree species in Sudan, 25 of which are exotic. Some forest formations are unique in Sudan e.g. relics of Rain Forests termed “Bowl Forests” in Equatoria. Estimates show that annual wood consumption removes an area of some 1,260,000ha of standing forest. Nearly 1/3 of the land area between latitude 10-18oN is affected by desertification ranging from slight to severe. In terms of species diversity and richness there are: 206 mammalian species, 900 species of resident and migratory birds and approximately 80 reptiles. A total of 115 species of fish have been identified in the Nile and other freshwater tributaries. The number of species has declined noticeably and many species disappeared from many of their former habitats. The populations of some species like the oryx, Sommering’s gazelle, elephant, white rhinoceros and lion have declined to critical levels. The number of endangered animals is estimated at 17. Some of the threats to Sudan’s biodiversity include, among others: civil war, drought, fire, over-grazing, imprudent use of natural resources, socio-economic factors, expansion of mono-crop agriculture at the expense of natural resource areas, poaching and smuggling.

Number and Extent of Protected Areas

Eight National Parks exist with a total area of about 8.5 million ha, representing 3.2% of the country’s area. Two national parks are declared “biosphere reserves” and one is a marine park in the Red Sea Coast. There are also 11 game reserves with a total of 3.3 million ha constituting 1.3% of Sudan’s total area, and 3 game sanctuaries with a total area of 95,000ha. The total area of protected land is about 11.9million ha, or 5.4% of the country’s total surface area. Conservation status of all protected areas is rated as unsatisfactory.

Percentage of Forest Cover

The estimated tree cover for Sudan is between 36-43%. The desert zone occupies 29% of the total land area of the country. The semi-desert occupies 13% and is confined to the western parts of Sudan.

National Biodiversity Strategy Action Plan

Major features of National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan

The final goal of the action plan is the conservation of the components of Sudan biological diversity, whether plant, animal or microorganism, to enhance the opportunities for their utilization. The intermediate goals are broken down into the following example categories and have several measures/incentives for each one: filling the gaps in scientific knowledge; agricultural biodiversity; forestry provenance research; documentation; property rights; organizational structures; requirements for start-up; Nile water development projects; Sudan environment debt and economic valuation.

Implementation of the Convention

Measures Taken to Achieve the 2010 Target

Awareness raising is the area that has seen most progress in regard to biodiversity related issues. Many sectors have recognized the concept of biodiversity and the approach has changed to that of a more holistic one. Plans and schemes to combat desertification and deal with climate change matters started considering synergies with biodiversity. In the agro-biodiversity area, efforts for collection and conservation of germplasm has been boosted significantly since 2003 through support from the Eastern Africa Plant Genetic Resources Network (EAPGREN) of which Sudan is one of the founding members. Ten collection trips were organized and executed between 2003 and 2005 by the PGR Unit/ARC. A total of 2484 accessions from more than 36 crops were collected during these missions. In addition, initiatives taken by the PGR Unit/ARC have enabled the establishment of two PGR facilities in the eastern and western regions of Sudan in 2003 and 2005 respectively. Two range improvement projects are now launched in the Butana area in eastern Sudan and the Kordofan state. A campaign has been launched to control, if not eradicate the mesquite (Prosopsis spp.), as this plant is contributing to biodiversity loss especially in less arid areas.

Initiatives for Article 8(j)

The Third National Report mentions that the examination of the cognitive foundations of indigenous knowledge, traditional ecological knowledge, ethnoecology and ethnobotany constitutes an activity of interest. Rural areas of Sudan are rich in biodiversity and rural people represent the real custodians of biodiversity. These rural areas are replete with traditional knowledge that is contributing to biodiversity conservation and sustainable use. However, there is no clear effort being made in classifying and /or documenting this precious information and knowledge. It is evident that this issue is gaining more importance with the advent of property rights and benefit sharing aspects.

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  • United Nations
  • United Nations Environment Programme