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Cabo Verde - Main Details

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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.

Cabo Verde is an island country located off the coast of West Africa, in the central Atlantic Ocean. Between 2009 and 2014, knowledge on biodiversity, including the description of new taxa and ecosystems, advanced significantly as a result of studies conducted by national and foreign experts. However, a significant portion of existing information has not been consolidated or scientifically validated. In spite of these shortcomings, results of surveys targeting national partners have revealed that biodiversity is best preserved where functional natural parks exist, as is the case on the islands of São Nicolau and Fogo, where conservation actions for plant biodiversity are notorious, including the gradual replacement of invasive plants by indigenous ones, monitoring of native plants by the population and inventorying of biodiversity.

To date, 3512 terrestrial species have been inventoried, of which approximately 20% are included on the Red List. Animals include the largest number of endemic and endangered species in the country. As for plant biodiversity, 10% of identified species are endemic to the archipelago and 17.5% are red-listed. The first National Forestry Inventory completed in 2013 revealed that forest coverage comprised 23% of the national territory (11% forest areas, 5% shrub areas, 3.4% agroforestry areas, 2.8% open forests). Both the legal and illegal cutting of firewood in national forests continues in various locations in the archipelago. In 2012, about 26% of the population still used firewood as the main energy source for cooking.

While knowledge on marine and coastal biodiversity has been increasing (in large part to inform national policies on marine protected area delimitation, characterization and management), scientific research in this area remains limited nevertheless. In order to prevent the loss of genetic resources and biodiversity related to fish species, and for conservation and management purposes, Cabo Verde is of the view that its spatially distinct islands should be considered discrete management units (which according to the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries represents a Preventive Approach).

In 2010, agriculture, livestock and forestry accounted for 7% of the GDP (together with fishing, these sectors employ 10.2% of the population). Between 2010 and 2013, a significant increase in investments in the farming sector translated into increased production of roots, tubers, fruits and vegetables. Coffee production in recent years has also registered significant increases. Fishing as an economic activity is supported by considerable biodiversity, with this sector ensuring an average annual catch of 10 million kg, mainly comprised of coastal pelagics, such as mackarel (Decapterus macarelus and D. punctatus), oceanic species, such as albacorae (Thunnus albacares), and sharks (over 10 species). Also of economic relevance are artisanal and industrial landings which guaranteed about 3.765 million kg in supply of raw material for the national fish canning industry in 2012 (for both domestic consumption and export), and which increased to 12 million kg and 14 million kg in 2013 and 2014, respectively.

Gross revenue from sport fishing and diving activities is estimated at around 14 million CVE annually. In 2013, 133,500 plants of 35 forest species were planted, including some of great socio-environmental, medicinal and nutritional interest, such as Jatropha curcas, Moringa oleifera and Aloe vera. Marine and coastal eco-tourism development has manifested itself as an emerging economic activity and is currently in full growth in Cabo Verde.

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.

Pressures on terrestrial biodiversity continue to derive usually from human activities, directly and indirectly, through fragmentation, destruction, and disruption of habitats and human predation. Studies focusing on the impact of anthropogenic factors on plant biodiversity identify invasive species, fragmentation of ecosystems, free grazing and harvesting of pasture, as the main causes of pressure on biodiversity, in addition to poor organizational and legislative management, insufficient knowledge and environmental awareness, and poor assimilation of climate change. As for marine biodiversity, activities associated to fisheries, tourism, water sports, recreation and leisure, naval and port activities and maritime transport are still considered the main factors of pressure.

The major changes observed in marine biodiversity status and trends in Cabo Verde, as a result of economic activities and ongoing development projects, constitute either direct or indirect threats to biodiversity loss. Among the main causes are notably (i) rural poverty (ii) coastal erosion (iii) illegal, undeclared and unregulated (IUU) fishing (iv) marine pollution (v) the import of aggregates and other construction materials (vi) climate change (vii) a low level of environmental citizenship and (viii) the cumulative, multiplicative and amplifying effects of threats.

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  • United Nations
  • United Nations Environment Programme