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Red List of Ecosystems - Advances in Africa

23 / Feb / 2022Risk Assessments

Red List of Ecosystems - Advances in Africa

The IUCN Red List of Ecosystems in Africa – rapid progress and strong links to national conservation strategies.

Preliminary desktop assessments in Uganda, Malawi, Ethiopia, Ghana, Rwanda and Botswana have been conducted for terrestrial and some freshwater ecosystems. The goal of these assessments is to inform land use decision making and assist in spatial biodiversity assessment and planning as part of broader biodiversity planning efforts. The underlying ecosystem maps are desktop products relying on globally and locally available data, and these generally lack detailed descriptions and functional models. These rapid assessments, and the pathway by which they can influence land use decision-making and conservation action, are described in guidance linked to the Mapping Biodiversity Priorities Project (made possible with support from WCMC, and SANBI).

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Figure. Recent Red List of Ecosystem efforts in Africa.

South Africa, Mozambique and Madagascar have completed systematic and comprehensive assessments of terrestrial ecosystems. Full ecosystem descriptions are available and multiple criteria were applied in these assessments, which could be added to the RLE Database. Mozambique also closely aligned the ecosystem types within the IUCN Global Ecosystem Typology. The potential utility of these assessments is illustrated well in South Africa, where the RLE has been adopted as a statutory tool for land use decision-making and planning.

Strategic assessments have also emerged in Egypt, Madagascar and South Africa, as well as, one for an ecosystem in the Senegal river basin; these have focussed on terrestrial, marine (inshore and offshore) and freshwater ecosystem types. Though they lack the broad spatial scope of the systematic approaches, the power of these assessments is that they typically include more detailed information for managers and an in-depth assessment of ecosystem risk of collapse.

Falling between systematic and strategic assessments there are also comprehensive regional assessments of ecosystems within particular biomes. The forest ecosystems of Congo Basin were recently assessed – the study considered 64 forest types and covered parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Gabon and Angola. Similarly, a thematic assessment of the Western Indian Ocean coral reefs was completed and published, covering Madagascar, Mozambique, Tanzania, Kenya, South Africa, Mauritius, the Seychelles, Comoros and French Territories.


Written by: Andrew Skowno, Stephen Holness, Matthew Child, Hedley Grantham, David Obura, Mishal Gudka, Simmy Bezeng, and Maphale Matlala

Style & format: Lila García




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