Senegal has a wide variety of ecosystems, including steppes, savannas, forests, agroforestry ecosystems, inland wetlands (lakes, rivers etc.), and coastal and marine ecosystems, with a coastline of more than 700km [1].

In Senegal, due to a lack of updates on the state of biodiversity at national level, it is relatively difficult to make an objective assessment of the conservation status of ecosystems and species. Nevertheless, based on current knowledge, it is known that most ecosystems in Senegal are facing degradation [1]. This trend is particularly well illustrated with respect to Senegal’s forest ecosystems, where between 2005 and 2010, 40,000 hectares of forest were lost annually [2]. The exploitation of wood fuel products alone accounts for a loss of 4 million cubic metres each year.

Habitat degradation poses a serious threat to the survival of several animal species in Senegal. This includes the Western Red Colobus (a species of Old-World monkey), the elephant, the lion, and the Giant Eland, among other species [2]. In addition, certain animal and plant species, very threatened today in Senegal, are only partially protected - or not at all - by the existing codes (Code forestry, Hunting Code, Fishing Code) [1].

Aquatic ecosystems, including Senegal’s biologically important wetlands [3], are not spared from degradation. The mangrove ecosystem of the Saloum Delta is the most extensive and abounds in a rather remarkable diversity of aquatic and avian fauna, which is of great ecological and socio-economic importance. However, with drought, the area has experienced a continuous deterioration of its climatic conditions, thus leading to an increase in salinity [1].

Overfishing which leads to depletion of marine ecosystems is a threat to, not only biodiversity, but also to Senegalese people who depend on these ecosystems for nature’s contributions to people, including for their livelihoods [4]. In Senegal, fish is the main source of protein; consumption is by both the rural and urban populations as fish is affordable in comparison to other protein sources. Illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing is currently destroying fish stocks both coastal and offshore. Poorly supervised trawling, non-compliance with meshes and the use of monofilaments are all practices that lead to loss of fish and destroy their habitats [1]. Overfishing has led to a food crisis in Senegal, which has been exacerbated by Asian and European fleets prowling the seas off West Africa. 80% of fish exports that originate from Africa are supplied to the European market, and 66% of the total exports from Senegal are supplied to Europe [4].


The main drivers of biodiversity loss in Senegal are identified as the overexploitation of biological resources, overgrazing, farmland expansion, bush fires, salinization/acidification, pollution and invasive species. Their impacts are accentuated by factors such as unfavourable climatic conditions, socio-economic, legal, institutional and scientific constraints, mining exploitation and urbanization [2].

Overfishing and climate change threatens the integrity of coastal and marine ecosystems and marine protected areas in Senegal. This phenomenon is accentuated by the uncontrolled cutting of wood in marine areas, contributing to the imbalance of these already fragile environments.


Key policies and governance approach

The conservation of biodiversity is the responsibility of the Ministry of the Environment and sustainable development. However, due to the transversal nature of biodiversity, several ministries’ sectors intervene in its management. The coordination between different sectoral entities is facilitated by the National Committee on biodiversity whose main tool is the Information Clearinghouse [1].

As for the legislative and regulatory framework, the provisions that apply to the biodiversity in Senegal are distributed mainly between the different codes governing the management of natural resources (such as the Forest Code, Code of Hunting and wildlife protection, Maritime Fisheries Code, etc.), certain laws (agro-sylvo-pastoral orientation law, law on biosafety, orientation law for the biofuels sector, law on bioethics, etc.) and accompanying application decrees [1]. A National Policy on Wetlands and a National Strategy for Marine Protected Areas and on Plant Genetic Resources have been developed, as have national strategies to conserve the lion and Giant eland [3].

Senegal developed its first National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP) in 1998 and revised its NBSAP in 2015. The revised NBSAP vision to 2030 considers the global biodiversity agenda and the country’s new socioeconomic development plan to 2035, “Plan Sénégal Emergent” (PSE), among other plans. Four strategic directions aim to: (i) improve biodiversity knowledge and strengthen institutional and technical capacity; (ii) reduce pressures and restore and conserve biodiversity; (iii) promote biodiversity accounting in socioeconomic development policies; and (iv) promote the sustainable use of biodiversity and mechanisms for accessing biological resources and equitably sharing the benefits derived from them. The NBSAP also proposed the establishment, by decree, of a new National Biodiversity Committee supported by a permanent secretariat, as well as the establishment of a National Biodiversity Information System and National Biodiversity Observatory [5].


Successes and Remaining Challenges

The implementation of Senegal’s first NBSAP (1998) was regularly assessed through five national reports [1]. It succeeded in achieving a new generation of protected areas and increasing awareness and capacity-building for protected areas in general [5].

In terrestrial environments, according to the NBSAP (2015), the establishment of a network of protected areas makes up 6 national parks, 4 wildlife reserves and 3 special reserves, 7 marine protected areas, 213 classified forests, 22 community nature reserves, 27 pastoral units and several community forests. In addition, several protected areas have at least the status of Biosphere Reserve, World Heritage site or Ramsar site. Considerable efforts have also been made at the transboundary level (transboundary biosphere reserve of the delta of the Senegal river, Niokolo Badiar, transboundary Ramsar site Niumi-Delta), in the increase in numbers (Eland de Derby), in the reintroduction of extinct species (Gazelle Dama Mhorr, Scimitar-horned Oryx, Gazelle dorcas) and in the conservation of threatened plants in botanical gardens [1].

In addition, in 2020, Senegal added three new addresses to its Community Marine Protected Areas map. New sites in biodiversity areas have been created in Somone in the Mbour division, Kaalolaal Blouf in the Bignoma and Gorée divisions, an island in the bay of Dakar. The country now has a total of 14 community marine protected areas [6].

However, despite these achievements, evaluations of the NBSAP (1998) also highlighted a number of limitations including a weak integration of biodiversity in national planning, the lack of synergy in activities of conservation of biodiversity, and poor support for the fight against poverty in biodiversity conservation. There were also gaps in the legal plan relating to the inconsistency and insufficiency of certain legislative texts, the poor popularization of legal instruments (codes) and sometimes lacking application of the texts in force [1].

From a scientific standpoint, the main limitations are related to information on the biodiversity which is disparate. The other difficulties concern access to information and the lack of updating of the data. There is also a gap in terms of knowledge of certain biological resources, especially marine resources which are less well known, where the expertise is relatively low. Finally, the absence of a plan to mobilize financial resources and of mechanisms sustainable financing as well as the difficulties of access to available financing limited the implementation of the 1998 Strategy and its action plan [1].


Initiatives and Development Plans

Contributing to the implementation of the NBSAP, Senegal has established the Senegalese National Information System on Biodiversity - SENBIO-INFOS to enable access to data related to species in the country. SENBIO acts as a coordinating node, with the National Biodiversity Committee serving as advisory committee and facilitating scientific and technical collaboration. It is linked to national clearing house mechanisms which provide information towards the CBD [7].

The French Development Agency (AFD) supports Senegalese policies in favour of agro-ecology and the protection of marine biodiversity. In June 2021, the French bank signed two financing agreements for a total of 55 million euros. The first agreement consists of a €40 million loan and a €10 million grant. It is intended for the implementation of the programme for economic and local development and agro-ecological transition in the Senegal River Valley/Delta.  Senegal also subscribed to the “FAIR Sahel” project. An initiative launched in June 2021 by AFD and the European Commission for the agroecological intensification of agriculture in the Sahel region [8].

The second part of AFD’s 5-million-euro financing is earmarked for the implementation of the second phase of the project to extend and support the protection of four marine areas in Casamance and Sine-Saloum in southern Senegal. AFD’s approach is to pursue the principles of community-based management to reduce pressure on natural resources through the creation of income-generating activities for women [8].

In addition, the Ministry of the Environment and Sustainable Development has four new motorised boats to ensure the preservation of biodiversity in MPAs. This equipment was acquired thanks to funding of 66 million CFA francs (over 100 600 euros) from AFD [6].

Senegal is particularly fascinating as it contains around 500 Ecovillages [9] - the fruit of long-term work which began in 2008 with the creation of a ministerial department in charge of ecovillages and of the National Ecovillages Agency (ANEV), a world first [10]. The “Ecovillages” Program tests innovative participatory methods of management of natural resources, conservation of biodiversity and development of renewable energies, associated with a reduction in carbon emissions and an increase in carbon sequestration.  ANEV benefits from the support of development partners in particular, the UNDP, the Global Environment Facility and JICA [10].

  • 70% of the population is still reliant on biomass and charcoal for cooking. There is an opportunity to accelerate the shift to cleaner cooking fuels to ensure not only a reduced pressure on forests, but also better household air quality and other socio-economic development impacts on women and children [11].
  • At the moment, and because neither the African Union nor countries along the West African coast keep detailed records, an unknown number of foreign vessels are emptying West Africa’s waters. To remedy the problem of overfishing, a regional and sub-regional list of vessels authorized to fish in the area need to be maintained as well as reliable data on stock status and transparency on issuing licenses to foreign vessels [12].
  • At the multilateral level, Senegal may mobilise support at the WTO to come to an agreement on putting an end to harmful fish subsidies by large countries [12].
  • Restore mangrove forests for better fisheries.

[1] République du Sénégal, Ministère de l’Environnement et du Développement Durable (2015). STRATEGIE NATIONALE & PLAN NATIONALE D’ACTIONS POUR LA BIODIVERSITE.

[2] CBD. Senegal- Main Details. [Online]. Available: [Accessed 26 November 2021].

[3] UNEP (2008). Africa : Atlas of Our Changing Environment. [Online]. Available:

[4] IPBES (2018): The IPBES regional assessment report on biodiversity and ecosystem services for Africa. Archer, E. Dziba, L., Mulongoy, K. J., Maoela, M. A., and Walters, M. (eds.). Secretariat of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversit

[5] [Online]. Available:

[6] I. Magoum (2021). SENEGAL: The government to preserve marine protected areas. [Online]. Available:

[7] GBIF (2020). Senegalese National Information System on Biodiversity. [Online]. Available:

[8] [Online]. Available:

[9] Troy Olivier (2015). The Senegalese Ecovillage Network: The Past, Present and Future.

[10] République du Sénégal (2018). REVUE NATIONALE VOLONTAIRE Rapport final.

[11] IEA (2020). Senegal fuels and technologies used for cooking by scenario, 2018- 2030. [Online]. Available: technologies-used-for-cooking-by-scenario-2018-2030.

[12]  [Online]. Available: