The wetlands areas of Benin, like those of many other countries in Africa, Asia and South and Central America harbour natural resources that remain unknown until now. Wetlands have long been considered of little value and source of disasters and diseases. With increasing scientific and technical knowledge, these zones have become appreciated as sources of high economical and socio-economical value.
In the context of the bilateral agreement between Benin (and other countries) and The Netherlands, aiming at the prevention of a further decrease of the biodiversity in these countries, a sustainable development plan for the wetlands of Benin will be worked out. In line with this initiative an ornithological survey was organised in the wetlands of South Benin, as a part of "la Formulation du Programme d'Aménagement des Zones Humides". This management plan envisages to help the local population to control the exploitation of their natural resources and to protect their environment in order to achieve a sustainable development.
Bird study has a good track of history in The Netherlands and birds are commonly believed to be good indicators for environmental quality of the wider countryside in general and certain habitat types (including wetlands) in particular. Setting up bird census work and bird studies in Benin is therefore seen as an important part of the efforts in the framework of the bilateral agreement between Benin and The Netherlands.
This first survey took place in February and the first decade of March 1996 (04-02 until 14-03). It was organised and lead by SOVON Birdcensus Work The Netherlands. As a consequence of this work an NGO was set up to facilitate the follow up of ornithological work in Benin. This NGO is called 'Centre de Recherche Ornithologique et de l'environnement' (CEROE).
The survey in 1996 was followed up by a survey in March 1997, again organised and lead by Sovon, now in cooperation with CEROE.
The goals of the survey were:
- prospection of the ecosystems in South-Benin, as defined in the framework of the management plan.
- identification of the sites with the highest interest for birds, both local/resident African- and migratory species.
- identification of the threats posed to (the birds in) these ecosystems.
- identification of possible projects of conservation and further study for the near future.
Many waterbirds breed in northern countries and stage the non-breeding season in Africa. Their migration routes to Africa can be divided into more or less clearly distinguishable 'flyways'. Benin is located in the "catchment area" of the Mediterranean flyway but overlap with the East Atlantic flyway is most probable. The East Atlantic and Mediterranean flyways are used by c. eight million waders in total. It is not likely that birds using the East African flyway winter in Benin (Smit & Piersma 1989, Scott & Rose 1996, Rose & Scott 1997).
Hagemeijer, E. J. M. , Poot, M. J. M. , Adjakpa, J. B. & Coubeou, P. T.
Jaar van uitgave:
Sovon Vogelonderzoek Nederland, Beek-Ubbergen