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Angola - Country Profile

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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.

Angola’s biological diversity is one of the richest in Africa. The escarpa zone of Angola is particularly rich in endemic species. The climatic diversity, combined with the ecological variability and that of soils, contribute to the formation of bioclimatic zones that entail from dense tropical forests to the absence of vegetation in the desert. These different habitats provide room for a high level of biological diversity. Loss and degradation of habitats are some of the major problems facing the Angolan biodiversity. Although there is no accurate data as to the extent of the phenomenon, experts agree that this problem tends to worsen for several reasons, amongst which human pressure is regarded as the main cause. According to IUCN (2002), about 75% of animals and plants are listed in the Red List as being vulnerable, endangered, critically endangered or of which there are no available data.

The guinea-congolese biome covers 10.7% of the national territory and is constantly losing its habitat. Loss of habitat in Mayombe forest is also due to the fragmentation of the forest as a result of road construction and urbanization of the area. This caused the degradation of mangroves at the mouth of the Chiloango River. The opening of the road accelerated the fragmentation of the marshy zone formerly linking Chiloango River with the sea. Once fragmented, the mangroves on the seaside suffered disequilibrium in the salinity rate, which increased at levels above the tolerated level for their survival, thus leading to their death. Illegal forestry activities also plague the other four provinces covered by the guinea-congolese. Dense undeciduous forests (2%), concentrated mainly in Cabinda Provinces, are the most threatened by timber exploitation, as they host tree species of commercial interest. The volume of harvesting allowed in Angola is estimated at 326,000m3/year, while the deforestation rate is estimated at 0.4% per year. The excessive and growing demand for this raw material has a strong negative impact on biodiversity. Charcoal and firewood consumption is likely to increase over time. In 2005, licensed entities reported a total production of 360,000 tons of charcoal and 58,208 tons of firewood, which represents an increase of 595% over 2004 charcoal production. Taking into account that in order to produce one ton of charcoal, one needs seven tons of wood, charcoal production per year requires approximately 130,000 hectares of forest. Soil leaching is also a consequence of deforestation, since the local populations regularly clear out various hectares to practice subsistence agriculture.

The huge pressure on wetland areas, homes of migratory birds and several other species of the animal kingdom, is putting at risk the survival of the species associated with this particular type of habitat. The disappearance of mangroves from the Lobito Bay due to the degradation of the environment, as a result of the city’s expansion, led to the disappearance of flamingos using that bay as maternity. In Luanda, the disappearance of mangroves, is putting at risk the fish banks reproduction site and birds’ shelters.

The disturbance experienced by Angolan ecosystems over the last thirty years has a huge burden on fauna (Fig.4). Big herds of buffalos that used to live in the Region of Kissama National Park, for instance, no longer exist. The population of Palanca negra gigante (Hhypotragus níger variani) has decreased in Cangandala National Park and the Integral Natural Reserve of Luando. In the colonial period, this population was estimated at 250 individuals, today 8 females and no male have been found. The lack of male lead the females to intercourse with red Palanca (Hypotragus equinus), producing thus hybrid infertile animals.

Conservation Areas (13 in total) represent 6.6% of the country’s surface area. All national parks have been successive victims of the war, decreasing largely the capacity of protection and conservation of the ecosystems. During this period, the national parks have almost been abandoned and their infrastructures destroyed. The war now over, the Government of Angola is making efforts to recover the national parks, both through infrastructure renovation, resettlement of animals and the training of managers and guards. In 2008 and 2009, eight national parks managers and 100 forest guards were trained. The population growth now observed in Cangandala National Park can be noted in other national parks, such as Bicuar and Iona and Chimavela Regional Park in Benguela Province. A resurgence and growth of the Angolan springbok population (Antidorcas marsupialis angolensis), and other various primate species has been noted. Also, the African elephant (Loxodonta africana) resumed its routes of migration in Angola, after having forsaken them during the war time. Currently, a great presence of big elephant herds is noted both in the north and the south of the country.

Nearly 80% of the Angolan population depends on tree biomass to meet their energy needs. The shifting agriculture and fishing are also the main source of food and income for rural communities. Hunting was also meant mainly for subsistence; however, over the last years, hunting has become a commercial activity. Aquaculture is also developed in some areas. The most cultivated species and that of major trade value in Angola are the various species of Mekerel (Cichlidae family), Bagre (Bagridae family) Cabuenha (Cyprinidae family). Biodiversity also offers great touristic potential. Mossulo Bay hosts a great variety of aquatic, migratory and seasonal fowls in the form of Pink Flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus). Many tourists use this bay as a bird-watching space.

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.

Direct and indirect pressures are numerous, and primarily anthropogenic in nature. Fishing practices and methods used have contributed to the decline of the populations of exploited species. Other major threats to marine and coastal biodiversity include: unplanned fast urbanization of the coast; offshore oil production; extinction of mangroves; industrial pollution; absence of marine conservation areas; development of tourism; and introduction of alien species. Threats to the forest ecosystems are also various. Timber harvesting and trading and the use of firewood and charcoal are the main activities of forest exploitation. Deforestation, war, extensive hunting and inappropriate farming methods (slash and burn, lack of crop rotation, etc.) had a significant impact on biodiversity. In the mining areas, opening of quarries or open-cast mines leads to the loss of some forest or farming areas and is a potential source of accidents for animals. The land and various watercourses are contaminated by heavy metals resulting from mineral washing and are disseminated into the environment through water and air. This pollution has adverse effects on several animal and plant species.

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.

In Angola, the Ministry of Environment is the executive body dealing with issues related to biodiversity through the National Directorate. The National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP) has enabled the identification of key sectors for the knowledge and conservation of Angolan biodiversity. Eight strategic areas have been identified to be implemented between 2007 and 2012, each one with various objectives and actions. Though the implementation is not effective (only 5% of the foreseen action has been realized), some outcomes have been achieved which helped in deepening the knowledge on the country’s biodiversity, and attain some Millennium Development Goals. The strategic areas are: information research and publication; education for sustainable development; management of biodiversity in environment conservation areas; sustainable use of biodiversity components; role of communities in the management of biodiversity; institutional strengthening; legislation and its enforcement.

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.

The implementation of the actions provided in the NBSAP has not yet produced the expected outcomes because there were various actions of extreme importance that were undertaken due to the lack of funding and technical resources. Nevertheless, various conservation and restoration actions were implemented in Angola over the past years. In 2004, with the assistance of the local population and border guard police in Cabinda, a mobilization campaign against the hunting of gorilla and chimpanzees was conducted, which resulted in the increase of these primates’ population. Also, in order to save the population of Palanca negra gigante, a male was transferred from the Natural Reserve of Luando to Cangandala National Park where the last 9 females are located. In the two zones which are the natural habitat of the Palanca negra gigante, special protection measures are on the verge of being implemented. Also, in order to enhance the country’s biodiversity protection and conservation capacity, new conservation areas are to be established based on new criteria, such as floristic and faunistic wealth, while conservation areas that do not meet internationally-established current criteria will be restructured. At the biogenetic level, 33,000 varieties cultivated locally were collected from 65% of the country’s municipalities, and kept ex-situ.

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.

The Government of Angola, through the Ministry of Environment, is well integrated at sub-regional and regional levels in respect to environment and biodiversity issues: accession and ratification to various sub-regional, regional and international conventions and agreements (Bonn, POPs, CITES, etc.); active participation in the SADC Regional Network for the Conservation of Phytogenetic Resources (SADC Plant Genetic Resources Network, SPGRN), etc. Measures undertaken in order to protect biodiversity include: the baseline environmental law, adopted in 1998, the creation of a network of conservation areas, the implementation of an agriculture mechanisation program, an awareness-raising program to sensitize rural communities on the danger of forest fires and its consequences (destruction of vegetation, progressive decline in soil nutrients, animal habitat degradation), a decree prohibiting the import, entrance, use, and eventual production of genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) in order to protect agricultural species varieties. Enhancing the intervention capacity of the institution charged with the control and supervision of forestry activities, adopting a stricter legislation, and establishing a supervisory career are measures adopted to minimise the negative impact of forest exploitation on the country’s biodiversity.

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.

Angola has not yet established a system to review and monitor biodiversity or a set of indicators for this purpose.

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  • United Nations
  • United Nations Environment Programme