African Parks | 03 July 2020

Benin Government Commits to Long-term Protection of W National Park in Benin

The Benin Government furthers commitment to their natural resources and their protected areas, partnering with African Parks for the management of its W National Park in the W-Arly-Pendjari Complex World Heritage Site

Cotonou, Benin: On Thursday June 25th, the Benin Government made a significant, long-term commitment in securing W National Park in Benin in partnership with African Parks, to ensure the protection of biodiversity and the sustainability of the ecosystem for the benefit of the country’s people and wildlife. W National Park is contiguous to Pendjari National Park, also managed by African Parks since 2017 through a partnership with the Ministry of the Living Environment and Sustainable Development, the National Agency for Heritage Promotion and Tourism Development (ANPT), and the National Centre for the Management of Wildlife Reserves (CENAGREF). Combined, the parks in Benin form half of the W-Arly-Pendjari (WAP) Complex, a transboundary landscape representing the largest intact wild ecosystem in West Africa.  

The Benin Government prioritised the revitalization and conservation of its globally significant protected areas as a core project of its progressive national investment programme, “Revealing Benin”, which it launched in 2016. 

“W and Pendjari National Parks are crucial to the sustainability of the entire WAP landscape, and are among the most important conservation projects in the West African region” said His Excellency the Minister of the Living Environment and Sustainable Development, Mr. José Tonato. “Their contribution of biodiversity and natural resources is important both within and beyond Benin, for those who depend on the parks and for those travelling to experience them. We see the potential to create stability, improve livelihoods, and increase social and economic development through effective management of our country’s protected areas”.    

The Benin component of the W Biosphere Reserve is an 8,022 km2 area that is geographically linked with Pendjari in the north-west of Benin. An anchoring component of the WAP Complex, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the two parks are connected to a network of protected areas which straddle Benin, Burkina Faso and Niger. Across the three countries, these areas conserve a total 26,500 km2 of savannah, gallery forest and undulating plateau. The landscape has a significant freshwater river system, and is refuge to the only viable populations of West African lion, cheetah and Korrigum antelope remaining in West Africa, in addition to many other species.

“The Government has shown significant foresight in positioning conservation as a catalyst for sustainable development with the integration of protected areas in their Revealing Benin investment programme, first with Pendjari and then with W” said African Parks’ CEO Peter Fearnhead. “Managed effectively, protected areas deliver the natural goods and services that are foundational to human prosperity”. 

The Ministry of the Living Environment and Sustainable Development, CENAGREF, ANPT and African Parks have worked together since 2017 to revitalise Pendjari. The collaboration was fortified in 2018 by a groundbreaking partnership with The Wyss Foundation and National Geographic Society. In recognition of the significance of the wider ecosystem and the prevailing threats, the Government and La Fondation des Savanes Ouest-Africaines (FSOA) committed to implement a Priority Intervention Plan with African Parks to secure W National Park, which evolved into a full management mandate this year. By building community engagement, enhancing law enforcement and initiating conservation and development programmes, the partnership aims to restore these vital connected national parks through good governance, creating positive social, environmental and economic impacts to benefit the entire region.

W National Park is the eighteenth park to join African Parks’ management portfolio. This is possible thanks to the support of the Government of Benin, the Wyss Foundation, KfW through the Fondation des Savanes Ouest-Africaines (FSOA) and PATRIP Foundations, and the Sahara and Sahel Observatory,

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About Revealing Benin: In December 2016, the Government of the Republic of Benin launched “Revealing Benin”, a development and investment programme of unprecedented scale in the country’s history. With a budget of 9.039 trillion FCFA (€13.78 billion) it will raise investment to 34% of GDP (compared to 18.8% currently) through a collaboration with private sector partners, who will provide 61% of the programme’s total planned investment. Based on 45 major projects across nine key sectors, the programme will sustainably revitalise the country’s economy. Discover more on RevealingBenin.com and @RevealingBenin.  

About W National Park, Benin: W National Park in Benin, contiguous with Pendjari National Park, forms a major part of the transboundary W-Arly-Pendjari (WAP) Complex, the largest intact wild ecosystem in West Africa and also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In partnership with the Benin Government, African Parks assumed management of this 8,000 km2 site in partnership with the Ministry of the Living Environment and Sustainable Development and the National Centre for the Management of Wildlife Reserves (CENAGREF) in 2020, after a Priority Intervention Plan was initiated in the park from 2019. Efforts are underway to secure the park, building stability and opportunities for sustainable social and economic development for the benefit of Benin’s people and wildlife. To find out more visit www.africanparks.org

Contact:

Fran Read, African Parks

franr@africanparks.org, +27 (82) 3837558

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