Ramsar COP 13 in Dubai: PRCM set out the debate on the current status of biodiversity in West Africa coastal wetlands

Sunday 28th October. The PRCM invited stakeholders present at the 13th Conference of Parties (COP) to the Ramsar Convention to an exchange of views on the trend in bird populations and biodiversity in the Banc d’Arguin National Park in Mauritania, Bijagos Archipelago (Guinea Bissau), Senegal River Delta as well as in the Sine-Saloum region. The event was organised jointly with the Directorate of Protected Areas and the Coastline of Mauritania (DAPL), the Directorate of National Parks of Senegal (DPN) and the Institute for Biodiversity and Protected Areas of Guinea Bissau (IBAP).

After recalling the background, the Director of the PRCM, Dr. Ahmed Senhoury, reviewed those initiatives underway dealing with such issues. Examples include the Regional plan of action on wetlands and coastal birds in West Africa, funded in the tune of 6.5 million by the MAVA Foundation, the objective of which is mainly to assist a coalition of stakeholders for the conservation of wetlands and waterbirds living there. Dr. Senhoury’s intervention was followed by those of Dr. Mohamed El Hacen Khouna, Director of Protected Areas of Mauritania,

Mr. Joaozinho SA, Director of Coastal Planning in Guinea Bissau, and Mr. Ibrahima Gueye, Head of Division at the Ministry of Environment of Senegal, who all addressed the status of target sites in their respective countries, some of which are listed as “Ramsar sites”, “Biosphere reserves” or “World heritage sites”. They highlighted that these sites undergo human pressure in spite of their significance for biodiversity, and that the number of birds has been perceived to be steadily declining for decades. This trend is largely attributable to weak management and monitoring capacities as well as to the reduction of available areas and nesting sites, as a result of rising water levels. A number of solutions were proffered by participants and speakers during the discussions, among which the development of region-wide strategies to struggle against the erosion of nesting sites, joint actions to protect migration corridors or capacity development for stakeholders on warning and intervention methods in the event of accidental pollution or other disasters.