To get a quick overview of the ecological hotspots, key habitats and important ecological indicators, go to the background information or consult the interactive viewer with ecological information on biodiversity. Within the context IWRM the focus is primarily on those ecosystems and habitats which are influenced by (changes) in water management and that are linked to the Niger river system.
The ecosystems of the Upper Niger Basin and Inner Niger Delta vary from the humid savannas and forest fragments of the Guinean Highlands to the arid Sahelian landscapes in the north. The ecology, land use and ecosystem services provided by the Niger River and its tributaries differ accordingly. Near the source of the river annual rainfall measures over 1,200 mm, which sustains ecosystems that are typical of the humid savannas of West Africa, with open grasslands interspersed by dense woodlands and gallery forests bordering the rivers. In central Mali the Niger and Bani Rivers enter the Sahel with erratic rainfall and semi-arid ecosystems. Here both rivers spread out into the Inner Niger Delta, one of the largest wetlands on the African continent.
The Inner Niger Delta (IND) is a dynamic and productive ecosystem with exceptional ecological values. People use the incoming water for agriculture and fishing, cattle graze on the floodplains and bourgou fields, and millions of birds use the delta as a wintering site or to breed. The annual flooding of the IND depends on the water inflow. The ecosystems are therefore vulnerable to droughts, climate change and a lower river discharge due to water extraction and the construction of upstream hydraulic infrastructure.
The ecosystems are a clear expression of rainfall expressed in ecoclimate zones; the health of the ecosystems as expressed by habitats and biodiversity is a reflection of the management of water resources, land use and protection. In this Section you find information on the ecological hotspots in the Upper Niger Basin and the Inner Niger Delta. The ecological hotspots are areas and regions where still a high biodiversity can be found or well developed ecosystems. The hotpots are important as target areas for IWRM.
The website presents also background information about the ecosystems which can be found in the basins, in particular on vulnerable (key) habitats. These key habitats can be considered as important ecological indicators. Although quantitative information is scarce, this accounts also for mammals, birds and other biodiversity. The most recent information on vulnerable species like mammals as hippo’s, birds and other species is summarised in two Sections.
The protection of ecosystems and biodiversity in West Africa, including Guinea and Mali, is a big challenge given other challenges laying ahead like climate change, food security and conflicts. Nevertheless, the protection of the national biodiversity and natural resources has been given attention for a long time in both countries. In the Section of Protected Areas a short overview is given on the network of protected areas in the basins.