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Table of contents
Protected areas
Back to Ecosystems and Biodiversity

Protected areas

Both in Mali and the Guinea a network of protected areas is established, covering important areas for nature conservation The main protected areas within the Upper Niger Basin are briefly characterised in terms of habitat and outstanding biodiversity.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature listed 26.832 protected areas in the world, of which 974 are situated in Africa. Not all protected areas have the same status. IUCN distinguishes eight categories: I=nature reserve, Ia=scientific reserve, Ib=wilderness, II=national park, III=scenic reserve, IV=national reserve, V=area of outstanding beauty, VI= flora and fauna protection area. Also in Mali and Guinea a network of protected areas is established. The categories of protected areas used in Mali and Guinea are I, II, IV and VI. See the interactive viewer on protected areas for spatial details.

Protected areas signs 

Protected areas in Mali

In the past decades the system of protected areas (PA's) in Mali has developed into a network which covers most of the areas with a high biological interest or representative ecosystems. Although the biodiversity in Mali is under high pressure, the PA's still hold important populations of fauna which are representative for the region. Since 1995 the legalisation of PA’s in Mali was revised resulting in seven official categories of PA’s.

  • National Parks: There are two National Parks, Wongo and Kouroufing Wongo, which are part of the Biosphere Reserve Boucle de Baoulé. Also the former National Park of Boucle de Baoulé is part of the Biosphere Reserve;
  • Faunal Reserve: Mali recognises five Faunal Reserves : Nema Wula, Mande Wula, Niénendougou, Talikourou and Kéniébaoulé. Néma Wula and Mandé Wula are part of the proposed Biosphere Reserve of Bafing-Falémé and are situated in the Senegal Basin;
  • Partial Faunal Reserve: There are three Partial Faunal Reserves: Ansongo-Ménaka, Gourma and Siankadougou. Gourma is the Elephant Reserve.
  • Faunal Sanctuary: Mali holds one Faunal Sanctuary, namely 'Le sanctuaire des chimpanzés'. It is located within the proposed Biosphere Reserve of Bafing-Falémé and is situated in the Senegal Basin;
  • Game Hunting Reserves: Six zones have been designated as Game Hunting Reserves: Tidermène-Alata, Inekar, Nienendougou, Banzana, Flawa and Azaoud also called Salam.
  • Game Ranch

2541_107a_protected areas Mali South_web.jpg

In addition to these PA’s, a system of classified forests (forêts classées) already exists in Mali since the beginning of the 20th century. The main objective is to manage and regulate the procurement of wood resources as well as (over)grazing of the forest sites.

A cluster of existing PA’s constitutes the Biosphere reserves, extended with buffer and transition zones. These Biosphere Reserves are, along with Ramsar Site and World Heritage site, international outstanding areas based on international conventions (UNESCO, Ramsar). The international recognised categories are not part of the national legislation. However, the core areas of Biosphere areas mostly consist of National Parks or otherwise legally protected reserves or classified forests.
Designated areas of International importance:

  • Réserve de Biosphère de la Boucle de Baoulé situated in the Upper Niger Basin. The Biosphere Reserve is classified in 1982 and covers a large part of the ex-Parc National de la Boucle du Baoulé. In 2001 the delineation of the Reserve has been changed, creating three separated reserves with corridors: le bloc de Kongosambougou in the north, le bloc de Fina in the southeast and Badinko in the southwest. These reserves constitute also (parts of) former National Parks and faunal reserves.
  • Réserve de Biosphère Bafing – Falémeé – proposed. This proposed Biosphere Reserve is situated in the Senegal Basin and forms in the future a transboundary reserve, constituting of several existing National Parks (Wongo, Kouroufing), (Partial) Faunal Reserves, Game Hunting Reserves and the Faunal Sanctuary (Sanctuaire de chimpanzées).
  • Ramsar area – In 2001 the Malian government designated The Inner Niger Delta as a site of International Importance for Waterbirds under the Ramsar Convention. Three sites within the IND had this status already since May 1987. With a total surface area of 41,195 km2 it is one of the largest (6th) Ramsar Sites in the world. The designation resulted in the projects of IUCN (1980s) and Wetlands International in the years around 2000.
  • World Heritage Site - Falaises de Bandiagara (Pays Dogon). There are two more sites in Mali, but these are designated for cultural purposes only.

2541_108a_protected areas IND_web.jpg

The protection and management of National Parks and other PA’s in Mali is the responsibility of the Ministère de l’Environnement et de l’Assainissement and is executed by the Direction Nationale de la Conservation de la Nature (DNCN), recently changed in the Direction National des Eaux et Forêts (DNEF), which formalises that the activities of the DNEF primarily concentrate on the management of the national forests and wood resources. The “Division de la conservation de la faune et de ses habitats” is in charge of the management of PA’s.


Protected areas in Guinea

Based on the network of classified state forests (1885-1958), the protection of ecosystems, natural resources and biodiversity in Guinea was given a growing attention in the second half of former century. The first National Parks were created in the beginning of the 20th. In 1990 the ‘Code de la protection de la faune et réglementation de la chasse’ was adopted (from 1997 onwards embedded in the legal system). This code distinguishes five categories of PA’s in Guinea: National Park, Strict Nature Reserve, Managed Nature Reserve, Faunal Sanctuary and Game Hunting Reserve. The already existing national parks (except for Kankan) have not been included in the legal system and lack formal legal protection.

On top of the network of PA’s, Guinea has ratified international conventions and designated several areas as 'International Recognised Important Areas for Biodiversity and Ecosystems' (Biosphere Reserve, Ramsar Site, World Heritage site). In particular in the coastal zone several Ramsar Sites have been designated (initiated by the IUCN in the 1990s), followed in the 2000s by Ramsar sites along the main rivers. It is not clear how these Ramsar sites are embedded in the legal protection.

Beyond the coastal zone, the PA’s were created primarily on the bases of classified state forests. In 1997 the Parc National du Haut Niger (PNHN) has been established, with in its centre the Forêt de la Mafou and the Forêt Classée de la Kouya. In 2006 a Sanctuaire des Vautours was created in the Fouta Djallon massif, which is the latest formal protected area in Guinea (IUCN 2008). The PA network in Guinea (Réseau guinéen d’aires protégées - REGAP) is currently being formalised with all partners, as well as the Programme Cadre Décennal (2006–2015) for the sustainable management of the network. PA’s are divided in three main categories, linked to ecoregions or main habitat:

  • Catégorie A. Aires protégées des écosystèmes terrestres (Protected areas of terrestrial ecosystems)
  • Catégorie B. Aires protégées des écosystèmes côtiers, marins et insulaires (Protected areas of coastal, marine and island ecosystems)
  • Catégorie C. Aires protégées des écosystèmes d’eau douce (Protected areas of freshwater ecosystems)

2541_106a_protected areas Guinea_web.jpg

In addition to these PA’s a network of classified state forests (forêts classées) already exists since the beginning of the 20th century. The main objective is to manage and regulate the procurement of wood resources as well as (over)grazing of the forest sites.

The protection and management of PA’s in Guinea is covered by the Ministère de l’Environnement and was carried out, untill 2003, by the Direction Nationale des Eaux et Forêts (DNEF). The predecessor of this Direction dates from the 1930s and was primarily focussed on forests and wood resources (classified forests). Today, the main mission of the Direction is the sustainable management of national forest resources and fauna. In 2004 the responsibility for the protection of the PA network has been transferred to CENAGAP, the 'Centre National de Gestion des Aires Protégées’. This institute is placed under responsibility of the Ministère de l’Agriculture, d’Elevage, de l’Environnement et des Eaux et Forêts (Brugiere & Kormos 2009).

The background, organisation and system of protected areas in Guinea is described by Brugiere & Kormos (2009) and on the website (www.eaux-forest.sn) of the Direction National des Eaux et Forêts (DNEF), charged with the management of the PA network in Guinea. Additional information is available through an IUCN assessment of the effectiveness of the PA network in 2008 (IUCN 2008).