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      Biosphere Reserve Information

Benin / Burkina Faso / Niger


© Photo: François Busson
  General Description   ‘W’ Region Biosphere Reserve is the first transboundary biosphere reserve in Africa. The Niger component of the complex of ‘W’ was designated as biosphere reserve already in 1996. After a long process of study and consultation and a strong support from the concerned national authorities, this area could be extended to Burkina Faso and Benin in 2002. The ‘W’ Region Transboundary Biosphere Reserve takes its name from the double bend of the Niger River and now covers more than one million hectares.
The biosphere reserve straddles the borders of the Soudano-Guinean, Sudanese and Sahel biogeographic regions and thus has a rich biodiversity. W’ Region is a ‘stronghold’ against the advance of desertification from the north. The area hosts one of the largest populations of ungulates in West Africa and also comprises wetlands of international importance, recognized under the Ramsar Convention. People have occupied the area since the Neolithic period, contributing to the development of the current landscape. Wild plant species continue to play an important role in traditional land use and agriculture. For these reasons, parts of the biosphere reserve are also inscribed on the World Heritage list.
Main management problems in the area include poaching for subsistence and commercial purposes, illegal transhumance practices and fishing and land conversion for agriculture and cotton fields. This transboundary biosphere reserve will serve as a model to experiment with different strategies for sustainable development, involving the participation of local communities. The countries are currently designing a coordination structure for the joint management of the area. Support comes from the European Union under the ECOPAS (Protected Areas of Sahelian Africa) project. The creation of this transboundary biosphere reserve will mark the first concrete action by the Environment Initiative launched by the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg in 2002.
  Major ecosystem type   Tropical dry or deciduous forests (incl. monsoon forests) or woodlands
  Major habitats & land cover types   Burkina Faso: Wetlands (marshes, rivers) with seagrass beds including species such as Polygonum spp., Trapa natans, Pistia stratiotes etc.; gallery forests with Anogeissus leiocarpus, Pterocarpus erinaceus, Diospyros mespiliformis etc.; dry forests and woodlands with Combretum nigricans, C. glutinosum, C. hypopilinum etc.; shrublands characterized by Combretum micranthum, C. nigricans, Dichrostachys glomerata etc.; anthropogenic areas with Adansonia digitata and Balanites aegyptiaca
Niger: Gallery forests with Butyrospermum sp., Tamarindus indicus and Cola laurifolia; woodlands; scrublands; grasslands; human modified zones, agroecosystems with sorghum (Digitaria sp., Eleusine sp.) and millet (Pennisetum sp.)
  Location   Benin: 11°53'34.8''N; 02°42'32''E
Burkina Faso: 11°29'15'' to 12°21'00''N; 2°00'45'' to 2°24'10''E
Niger: 11°55' to 13°20'N; 02°04' to 03°20'E
  Area (hectares)    
  Total   3,122,313
  Core area(s)   1,018,280 (Benin: 563,280; B.Faso: 235,000; Niger: 220,000)
  Buffer zone(s)   513,033 (Benin: 325,033; B.Faso: 111,000; Niger: 77,000)
  Transition area(s) when given   ~1,591,000 (Benin: 1,160,000; B.Faso: Not defined; Niger: 431,000)
  Altitude (metres above sea level)   +200 to +420
  Year designated   2002
  Administrative authorities   Benin: Directeur du Parc National du W reporting to Centre National de Gestion des Réserves de Faune (CENAGREF); Burkina Faso: Direction de la Faune et des Chasses (DFC), Direction Régionale de l'Environnement et des Eaux et Forêts de l'Est (DREEF-E); Niger: Ministère des Eaux et de l’Environnement
  Brief description   Benin:
Elephant populations
Burkina Faso:
Estimation of populations of big mammals and population dynamics
Estimation of populations of migrating birds and population dynamics
Inventory of flora (aquatic, in gallery forest, medicinal plants)
Niger: Climatic data collection since 1960
Fauna inventories by aerial techniques in 1972, 1977 and 1992
Study on the human geography
  Specific variables...    
  Abiotic   Climate.
  Biodiversity   Arid/Semi-arid, fauna, genetic resources.
  Socio-economic   n.a.
  Integrated monitoring   n.a.
  Contact address   Seyni Seydou
Direction de la Faune, de la Pêche et de la Pisciculture (DFPP)
Ministère de l’Hydraulique, de l’Environnement et de la Lutte Contre la Désertification
  Telephone   (227) 73 40 69
(227) 73 33 29
  Fax   (227) 73 27 84
(227) 73 80 26
  Contact address    
Coordination Nationale du Projet parc W
BP 1607
Burkina Faso
  Telephone   (226) 35 78 79
(226) 79 11 12 / 21 29 63
  Fax   (226) 31 68 76
(226) 79 11 13
  Contact address    
Centre National de Gestion des Réserves de Faune (CENAGREF)
08 BP 0227
  Telephone   (229) 30 72 82
(229) 30 90 71
  Fax   (229) 30 90 72
  Contact address    
Direction du Complexe du W du Fleuve Niger
BP 75, Kandi
  Telephone   (229) 63 00 80
  Fax   (229) 63 00 80

Last updated: 14/03/2005

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