The CAR has a great biological diversity and is made up of five major phytogeographic zones, each characterized by a specific fauna: the Guinean forest zone of dense humid forests in the south; the Sudano-oubangaise zone, sheltering dense semi-humid forests, as well as open and dry forests; the Sudano-Guinean and Sudano-Sahelian zones, made up of various types of savannah; and the Sahelian zone, made up of steppes to the north [1].

The country lies largely in the savanna zone of Africa. The northern part is treeless, while the southern part of the country contains dense tropical rainforests. A wide range of vegetation can be found in the savannahs, from bushy, drought-tolerant and fire-tolerant trees and shrubs to more lush gallery forests near rivers and streams. Many species of antelopes, as well as baboons, buffaloes and elephants, are found in the savannas. In the tropical rainforests, there is an even greater diversity of wildlife, including gorillas, chimpanzees and other primates, leopards and the endangered bongo antelope [2].

There are several national parks and wildlife reserves, including Bamingui-Bangoran National Park in the north, Manovo – Gounda – St. Floris National Park (a World Heritage Site since 1988) to the northeast, Zemongo Wildlife Reserve to the east, and Dzanga-Ndoki National Park and Dzanga-Sangha Dense Forest Special Reserve, both to the southwest [2].

The loss of biodiversity in CAR includes a significant reduction in flagship species such as elephant, giraffe, ostrich, lion, hippo and damaliscus, as well as the decrease of populations of certain noble species such as Entandrophragma cylindricum (Sapeli) [3]. According to IUCN Red List (2019), Near Threatened species in Central African Republic are the Ja River Scrub Warbler, the Mawa Clawed Frog, the Eru and the Miillettia Macrophylla [4]


The main threats to biodiversity in the CAR are linked to human activities which are at the origin of the continuous reduction of biological resources. Those are deforestation and forest degradation, poaching, uncontrolled exploitation of biological resources, the lack of a national inventory of biological resources, the lack of a taxonomic reference center, the uncontrolled introduction of species, invasive alien species, and the lack of an early warning system for climate change [3].  Many of these threats are due to the generalized poverty throughout the Central African territory and to the politico-military conflicts, which weaken the existing management systems. For example, the André Félix National Park and the Yata Ngaya Fauna Reserve have progressively emptied of their fauna by extensive poaching and Sudanese transhumance [3] .


Key policies and governance approach

The CAR has been a party to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) since June 15th 1995. The country developed its national biodiversity strategy and action plan in 2000 and submitted its 5th national report on the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in March 2017. The National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan in CAR have defined strategic orientations for the conservation of flora, fauna, fisheries and agriculture.

In the context of national actions in accordance with the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, the CAR has developed two policy documents that incorporate the CBD targets.

Forest management standards have been implemented which call for the creation of a genetic conservation area. A management strategy for protected areas is being developed under the Central African Forest Ecosystem (ECOFAC) program [3]. 

The country has made some mainstreaming progress through the creation of the Forestry Code (2008) which aims to improve the sustainable use of biodiversity and the fair sharing of benefits arising from its use through participatory management and community forestry initiatives.

Biodiversity issues are almost exclusively dealt with by the Ministry of the Environment, Nature Conservation and Tourism. Most of the sectoral and intersectoral plans, programs and policies in the CAR do not explicitly integrate biodiversity issues [3]. However, the country has made some progress in terms of integration through the creation of the Forest Code (2008), which aims to improve the sustainable use of forests and related biodiversity and the sharing of benefits arising from its use through participatory management and community forestry initiatives, including the National Environmental Action Plan and the National Strategy for the Conservation of Biodiversity. Positive measures taken in CAR to conserve biodiversity  include strengthening anti-poaching and hunting police activities in protecting areas.


Successes and remaining challenges

The management of biodiversity in the CAR has been weakened by the politico-military. In addition, the implementation of biodiversity strategies in the CAR is weak due to inadequate or non-existent financial and institution capacities including: non-integration of biodiversity issues into sectoral policies; lack of monitoring mechanism and indicators; and non-internalization of emerging issues related to biodiversity [3] . For example, the country does not have an institutional framework to monitor invasive alien species[3] .

Thus, support mechanisms for the national implementation of legislation, financing, capacity building, coordination, and integration of biodiversity management into the country's development strategies and plans are essential.

However, even though the country has 18 protected areas representing 11% of the country's surface area, progress related to institutional and jurisdictional issues of protected areas remains limited [3]. knowledge and technologies concerning plant genetic diversity and animal species are still very scarce in CAR. Although some lists of plants exist, they need to be updated, synthesized and supplemented [3].


Initiatives and Development Plans

Despite difficulties and continued conflict, CAR is making advances towards protecting its rich biodiversity: In May 2013, in collaboration with the Wildlife Conservation Society, World

Wildlife Fund, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), CAR entered into a bilateral agreement with Gabon to improve management of CAR’s wildlife and biodiversity.  This agreement was a response to 26 elephants being poached at the Dzanga Sangha Protected Area in southern CAR in early May 2013. Currently, CAR has designated five national parks which have valuable species of concern, including the forest elephant, bongo antelope, western lowland gorilla, and central and eastern chimpanzee. Dense forests cover approximately 36% of CAR and its wildlife is facing increasing threats from logging, small-scale agriculture and unsustainable bushmeat hunting [5].

In addition, the European Union delegation works in CAR through several projects in support of priority sectors such as biodiversity. In the field of biological diversity, support is provided within the framework of the European Development Fund (EDF). At the end of 2021, four (4) major sub-regional projects are underway: the Forest Ecosystem of Central Africa program (ECOFAC), Development of alternatives to poaching in Central Africa (DABAC), the Pan-African Epizootics Program (PACE) and the strengthening program of the African Research Center on bananas and plantains [6].


Goals and Ambitions

The CAR aims to conserve its biodiversity and recognizes the important and central role that biodiversity and natural resources play in supporting the country's economic growth, livelihoods as well as the provision of essential ecosystem services.

  • Establish proper forest and land governance and clarify land tenure and forest rights for Indigenous Peoples and local communities. Integrate local knowledge into biodiversity conservation policies and plans.
  • Diversify the economy beyond agriculture and reduce the dependence on the exploitation of natural resources.
  • Strengthen the capacities of institutions in the planning and implementation of biodiversity and ecosystem management
  • Improve regulation and enforcement to protect protected areas.
  • Take action to reduce forest crime and forest fires.