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Benin - 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.

Benin is located in West Africa, on the northern coast of the Gulf of Guinea. Agriculture is the primary form of economic activity, contributing 33.2% to the GDP in 2009 and occupying about 70% of the workforce; it is however the main factor in the degradation of plant cover. Cotton is the country’s largest export commodity, with the cultivation of heliophilous species increasingly encouraged to augment the country’s export earnings. Consequently, several acres are cleared by farmers each year, especially in the north. In addition, the use of large doses of pesticides for growing cotton is a disruptive factor in the food chain; furthermore, insect fauna is highly threatened by these pollutants. As for agro-biodiversity, Benin has 245 traditional vegetable species belonging to 62 families; 80% of these species are wild and 24 species threatened.

A study conducted in 2009 estimated that the forestry sector contributed 6.64% to Benin’s GDP. Forests cover 47% of the country’s territory and host 2,807 species of flora, 14% of which are found in inselberg landscapes. Between 1990 and 2010, the annual rate of decline in flora indicated a slight improvement, nevertheless 3.77% of Benin’s flora is threatened nowadays. Among the endangered species, phanerophytes and more particularly mesophanerophytes are the most highly represented with at least 50% in each threat category. Two plant species are extinct in the wild (Caesalpinia bonduc and Garcinia kola). Formations of woody and shrub savannah comprise more than 50% of the forest cover, while forest galleries represent just 4% (however notably hold more than one-third of the total plant diversity) and dense forests two times less than this. Predictive vegetation modeling, conducted in 2012, based on the assumption that current exploitation practices will be maintained, suggests that in 2020 the mosaic of fields and fallow land will occupy about 60% of the territorial collectivities (communes), followed by woody and shrub savannah at 30%. Gallery forests, open woods and forest savannah will be represented in the form of small islets and occupy less than 3% of the communes.

Classified forests and other protected areas represent approximately 20% of the country’s territory. This success rate is attributed to participatory management plans implemented by specific management units. Yet there is a lack of appropriate indicators and benchmarks to evaluate the evolution of protected areas and project trends. Ramsar sites cover a surface area of 1,974,005 ha. In addition, there are over 3,000 sacred (relic) forests concentrated in the south, covering 18,360 hectares (0.16% of the country). These forests perform a variety of functions, primarily religious, followed by sociocultural and ecological functions, and are under traditional forms of protection. Activities are currently underway to create a marine protected area for the long-term conservation of marine turtle species.

Vertebrate species include up to 51 amphibians, 93 reptiles (including marine species), 160 mammals (excluding marine mammals), 221 fish and 570 birds. Notably, a new species of wild antelope was discovered in 2011. Benin's amphibians remain relatively poorly studied. Investigations carried out in some humid zones reveal the presence of only a single species of the African manatee and hippopotamus. As for invertebrates, it is estimated that more than 5,500 species of insects exist although a comprehensive taxonomic inventory has not yet been undertaken in this regard. The new Red List of Benin (2011) counts 2 species of amphibians, 15 species of reptiles, 45 species of birds and 49 species of mammals as threatened with extinction. In terms of insect fauna, 7 species are classified as critically endangered, 5 species as endangered, 18 species as vulnerable, 1 species as near threatened, and for 3 species there is inadequate data for their assessment.

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.

Drivers of change have been identified as habitat loss, climate change, poaching, agricultural expansion, the use of prohibited fishing gear, overexploitation of terrestrial and aquatic resources, destruction of mangroves, extraction of lagoon sands, transhumance (climate change and changes in land use cover are causing herders to move increasingly towards the coast which has resulted in the overexploitation of pastoral resources in the course of their movements). Other drivers are population growth, the arrival of migrants, non-compliance with forestry laws, ineffective agricultural policies, land tenure, urbanization, and pollution. While a comprehensive inventory on invasive alien species has not been carried out to date, Chromolaena odorata and Eichhornia crassipes (water hyacinth) are considered the most problematic at present.

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.

Benin adopted its first NBSAP in 2002 with the specific objectives to: (i) restore natural biological resources and their components to a level that exceeds the needs of the population and that can contribute significantly to economic development (ii) modernize agriculture in an ecologically sustainable manner by 2015 (iii) consider biodiversity in all actions related to socioeconomic development and education (iv) value biodiversity and its genetic resources with consideration given to opportunities for fair and equitable sharing of benefits derived from the use of genetic resources, and (v) create a viable framework for consultation, monitoring, coordination and guidance in relation to national actions for managing biodiversity.

An assessment of the first NBSAP has revealed that, while there have been successes, much remains to be done for achieving the expected level of performance. Positive outcomes include: the development of the Atlas on National Biodiversity (2010) and the Red List of Threatened Species (2011). Since the fourth national report was prepared in 2009, several projects have been implemented or are being implemented or are in preparation, with most projects focused on forest resources and large animals, while very few have considered wetlands. Additionally, some taxonomic groups, including insects, were weakly considered or not at all. Certainly reforestation efforts have helped slow the rate of degradation of plant cover however forest resources are still threatened by agriculture, illegal resource exploitation and lack of effective policy implementation. Actions linked to the objective to modernize agriculture in an ecologically sustainable manner by 2015 have not been carried out.

Benin has completed a draft revised and updated NBSAP for the 2011-2020 period, containing 5 strategic directions, 20 strategic objectives and 73 envisioned outcomes.

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.

Examples of actions taken are highlighted throughout this text.

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.

In 2014, Benin became a Party to the Nagoya Protocol on ABS.

In 2012, Benin adopted its new Forest Policy to 2025 which has been aligned with other national development strategies. Also, a law was adopted in 2011 to deal with the collection and exploitation of forest and fauna resources however, in reality, there is a significant lack of effective enforcement of this legislation.

Although the concept of the ‘Green Economy’ has not yet been adequately mainstreamed in sustainable development policy, the Ministry of Finance has considered the pillars of sustainable development, including how sectors can contribute to this process, in the development of Benin’s Strategy for Growth and Poverty Reduction. Benin has also adopted a National Programme of Action (CPAP 2009-2013) focused on two strategic components, namely, poverty reduction and sustainable development, and the promotion of good governance and participatory development. These two components are cross cut by environment, human rights, gender and the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Following reforms in 2003 to decentralize the management of natural resources, through shared responsibilities between the State and the communes, an increase in the level of participation of civil society, NGOs, farmers' organizations and local authorities has occurred.

In 2009, an inter-ministerial decree was adopted for the creation of sustainable rural fuel wood markets, involving local communities in the participatory management of forest ecosystems while providing income to them.

Certain NGOs (rather than the private sector) are performing a significant role in developing eco-tourism and raising awareness in regard to biodiversity conservation. Such is the case of “EcoBénin”, an NGO that coordinates a network of community-run ecotourism sites across the country, using ecotourism as a vehicle for the economic development of these communities.

Several actions for implementing the UNFCCC National Adaptation Programme of Action (NAPA) have been carried out since 2010. Moreover, Benin became a UN-REDD Programme partner country in 2011.

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.

The specific objective contained in the first NBSAP (2002) to “create a viable framework for consultation, monitoring, coordination and guidance in relation to national actions for managing biodiversity” has not been achieved. However, Benin’s new NBSAP 2011-2020 does contain a target to establish, by 2015, an effective system for monitoring NBSAP implementation and assessing the impacts stemming from implementation.

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  • United Nations
  • United Nations Environment Programme