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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.

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.

Cabo Verde’s first NBSAP (1999) addressed seven themes: agricultural sustainability; livestock sustainability; forest sustainability; sustainable fisheries; in situ and ex situ conservation; vulgarization, information and training; and research and training. Over the years, significant progress has been achieved with respect to legislation, in situ conservation, instruments and activities for the conservation of endangered species, participation of local communities in conservation, pilot projects on biodiversity valuation, scientific research, among other issues. In general, implementation of the focal areas of the 2010 Biodiversity Target was poor.

Cabo Verde’s second NBSAP was drafted in the second quarter of 2014 for implementation in the 2014-2030 period. The document identifies seven national priorities: (i) civil society involvement (population, public and private organizations, NGOs and associations) in biodiversity conservation (ii) mainstreaming biodiversity into strategies, policies, plans and programs of action (iii) reducing pressures and threats on biodiversity (iv) conservation of priority habitats and the sustainable management of natural resources (v) recovery and increased resilience of ecosystems (vi) increased knowledge, monitoring and evaluation of biodiversity and (vii) the mobilization of funds. These priorities are associated to national targets (totaling 15) that have been set in line with the goals of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and its Aichi Targets.

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.

Since the establishment of the National Protected Areas Network by Decree-Law in 2003, many actions have been developed with notorious capital gains. In 2009, only 3 operational terrestrial PAs existed in Cabo Verde, totaling about 2.5% of the national territory (no operational marine protected areas existed at this time). Between 2009 and 2014, the number of operational PAs increased from 3 to 26 (9 terrestrial PAs and 17 marine and coastal PAs) exceeding 10% of national protected area. All of these units have their limits and management plans approved or awaiting approval, and are managed by their respective teams. A national target contained in the second NBSAP states that, “By 2025, at least 20% of terrestrial PAs and 5% of coastal and marine areas, ecologically representative and important, will be preserved through a coherent PA system managed efficiently and equitably through the implementation of Special Protected Areas Management Plans (SPAMP)”.

A number of new species have been described since 2005, including, among others, a new endemic species of Crustacean cirripedia (Pollicipes caboverdensis), two new species of dragonflies, six new species of bivalve molluscs, three new species and subspecies of terrestrial reptiles, and forty new species of fungi associated to banana trees on Santiago Island under the control of agricultural pests.

As a result of implementation of the Naturalia Project, marine biodiversity has been enhanced through ecotourism associated to the observation of turtles, birds and corals.

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.

As previously mentioned, the National Protected Areas Network was established by Decree-Law in 2003. A current proposal seeks to create an autonomous PAs management body for ensuring the operations of the network.

The Government Program of the VIII Legislature (2011-2016) established guidance for activities on the environment and natural resources with a view to creating a cross-cutting green agenda based on innovation and the establishment of a more respectful attitude toward nature and the environment. Efforts to establish and manage PAs, combat desertification, protect forests, improve wastewater treatment and introduce clean energy have been integrated as part of this agenda.

The third Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategic Paper (PRSP III) was prepared based on the above guidance of the VIII Legislature and is being implemented by public services, both at central and municipal levels, with the involvement of the private sector through public-private partnerships. The PRSP III also serves as a framework for development policies and strategies, based on the Government Program and the MDGs, and is integrated into various national plans, including, among others, the National Action Program to Combat Desertification, National Strategy and Action Plan on Climate Change, National Forestry Action Program, Fishery Resources Management Plan (2004-2014), the Integrated Water Resources Management Action Plan and the Strategic Plan for Tourism Development.

Biodiversity is continuously being mainstreamed in economic activities through the requirement to properly treat issues related to the conservation of fauna, flora and ecosystems, through employing processes and tools such as Environmental Impact Study and Environmental Impact Assessment.

State and civil society organizations, international research institutions and partners have been implementing an important series of conservation initiatives for endangered species. For example, Biosphere I is an NGO implementing a Cagarra conservation program in the islets of Ilhéus Raso and Branco; the Cape Verdean Sea Turtle Conservation Network (“TAOLA”) has done a remarkable job towards the conservation of sea turtles in spawning grounds during the reproduction period.

In 1999, Cabo Verde initiated a process to recognize Maio Island as the first Biosphere Reserve in the country, within UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Program and through cooperation with the Canary Islands. This application was followed up with UNESCO in 2005.

Cabo Verde has positioned itself as a natural laboratory, open to the international scientific community engaged in undertaking major international programs to study and understand climate change.

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.

A national biodiversity monitoring centre does not exist. In addition, indicators that allow for regular and systematic monitoring of biodiversity have not yet been developed.

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  • United Nations
  • United Nations Environment Programme