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.