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Biodiversity in Africa

United Nations Environment Programme (Content Partner); Mark McGinley (Topic Editor). 2007. "Biodiversity in Africa." In: Encyclopedia of Earth. Eds. Cutler J. Cleveland (Washington, D.C.: Environmental Information Coalition, National Council for Science and the Environment). All text is available under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike license.

Last Updated: April 13, 2007



Biodiversity offers multiple opportunities for development and improving human well-being. It is the basis for essential environmental services upon which life on Earth depends. Thus, its conservation and sustainable use are of critical importance.

The opportunities and challenges associated with biodiversity typically apply over large geographical extents, although one or two issues may be more important at any given location. To avoid repetition, particular issues are highlighted in the sub-regional sections, not because they are restricted to those areas, but because they are best illustrated there. Deforestation is discussed under Central Africa, while relations between protected areas and adjacent populations are dealt with under Eastern Africa. Riparian biodiversity is discussed in Northern Africa, climate change and invasive alien species (IAS) in Southern Africa, desertification in Western Africa, and endemism in the Western Indian Ocean (WIO) islands. Habitat degradation and resource overexploitation are discussed in this regional synthesis, because they are overwhelmingly important as drivers of biodiversity loss throughout Africa.

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