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International efforts to conserve natural habitats have been very successful in Western Africa, mainly as a result of ratification of the Ramsar Convention, and the Convention on Biological Diversity. There are 15 Biosphere Reserves in the sub-region, 10 World Heritage Sites, and 37 Ramsar sites (see Table 2b.17).
|Table 2b.17 Internationally protected areas in Western Africa|
Data not available for Cape Verde. *Some Biosphere Reserves are also World Heritage Sites or Ramsar sites.
Source: Ramsar 2002, UNDP and others 2000,UNESCO 2002
Nearly all countries within the sub-region are signatories to the Convention on Biological Diversity, and the Ramsar Convention, and many have drawn up programmes and projects under these agreements. Capacity development activities are also underway, under the aegis of new institutions created to coordinate and implement them. Most notable in this area has been GEF support for biodiversity programmes and projects in the sub-region. Western Africa was the principal African recipient of GEF biodiversity funding by mid-1998, with emphasis on coastal, marine and fresh water ecosystems.
In the arid and semi-arid areas of the sub-region, emphasis is on plant genetic resources, protected area management and capacity building. At the country level, relevant legal instruments have been enacted to protect and conserve biological diversity, especially forests, fauna and wetlands. However, these are largely out of date and too under-resourced to be implemented satisfactorily. More recently, National Action Plans and Conservation Strategies for the environment in general, and for forests, wildlife and biodiversity in particular, have been formulated and implemented with external funding. For example, Sierra Leone began implementation of its Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan in December 2001, and its government has embarked on a joint programme with an NGO, the Conservation Society of Sierra Leone, as a partnership for sustainable Biodiversity Management.
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