Country Profiles

Burundi - Country Profile

Biodiversity Facts

Status and trends of biodiversity, including benefits from biodiversity and ecosystem services

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

Burundi’s economy is based on agriculture; 90% of the population works in this sector which contributes 50% to the Gross Domestic Product, with coffee, tea and cotton comprising 70-85% of the country’s exports. Most of the cultivated plants have been introduced (only 4 local species, which are on the decline, are cultivated on a very small scale). Sixty percent of the population lives below the poverty line, with the caloric needs of 75% of the population unmet. Basic energy needs are unmet as well. For instance, in 2001, the forest sector was able to produce 1.1 million cubic meters of firewood and 233,000 cubic meters of timber but it was estimated that local needs were 7.76 million cubic meters of firewood and 367,000 cubic meters of timber. Biodiversity degradation in Burundi is intense. Rapid demographic growth of the country’s essentially rural population is exacerbating the socioeconomic impacts associated with a decline in biodiversity. Deforestation has increased over the last 10 years (total deforestation in 2003 was at 9% with current deforestation occurring at a rate of 2% per year).

Burundi’s ecosystems cover a total area of 27,834 km2 and encompass more than 4,555 known species. They can be split into 3 main groups: natural (forests, savannas, steppes, wetlands), afforested (4.6% of the country’s area) and agricultural lands (50% of the country’s area). Cultivated marshes cover 2.9%, with this area continuously increasing at the expense of humid ecosystems which are among the country’s most vulnerable ecosystems. Burundi has 14 protected areas which cover 5.6% of the total national territory and 31% of the area comprised of natural ecosystems. The country also has several community and private protected areas as well as a sacred forest and two arboretums. In general, ecosystems which are not included in protected areas networks are highly threatened, particularly aquatic ecosystems (only 10% of them are protected). Notably, Lake Tanganyika, an ecosystem of global interest, is not protected. The vegetation in the country’s protected areas contains 55% of the species naturally found in the country.

The vascular flora comprises 2,909 species with a high endemism rate for species found at higher altitudes. Burundi’s fauna includes 716 bird, 215 fish, 163 mammal, 56 amphibian and 52 reptile species. There are currently 4 rare, 21 vulnerable and 22 endangered species, in Burundi’s flora. Similarly, there are 101 species of mammals, birds and reptiles which are threatened with extinction, 45 endangered species and 56 vulnerable species.

Main pressures on and drivers of change to biodiversity (direct and indirect)

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

Deforestation, bushfires, water pollution, poaching, the introduction of invasive alien species and climate change are the main threats to biodiversity in Burundi. Moreover, the negative effects of climate change are increasingly jeopardizing water, agriculture, livestock, energy, forest and human health. The decline of agricultural ecosystems is mainly driven by soil degradation (due to overpopulation), unsustainable practices and poor land, and the loss of crops and cultivated plants. The latter is due largely to plant diseases and the use of chemical fertilizers.

Population growth has resulted in limited land availability, poor ecological conditions, spread of termites, drought and bushfires which have all contributed to limiting the expansion of forest areas. Forest expansion has also been limited due to reforestation being less profitable than other activities, which makes it difficult to secure the participation of the local communities in related activities.

Measures to Enhance Implementation of the Convention

Implementation of the NBSAP

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

Burundi completed its NBSAP in 2000. However, the country has encountered challenges in implementation as a result of limited financial resources and integration of biodiversity issues into political sectors besides those traditionally dealing with the environment. Burundi intends to revise and adopt a new NBSAP by 2013. Also, national targets will be formulated on the basis of established plans for biodiversity. The Aichi Biodiversity Targets will be referred to in setting national objectives.

Actions taken to achieve the 2020 Aichi Biodiversity Targets

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

A national action plan has been established to conserve priority sites, a result of which has been the protection of lakes comprising 30,000 hectares in the northern part of the country. In spite of this progress, protected areas do not yet have management plans.

Since colonial times, reforestation efforts have allowed Burundi to increase its forest cover. However, the country did not reach its target of increasing forest cover to 20% by 2000. From both an economic and planning perspective, better forest management is required to meet the needs of the population and country. Little progress has been made to promote the sustainable use of natural resources. Positive advancements that can be reported include the addition in 2007 of a biodiversity component to the module on environmental education used in primary and secondary schools by the Ministry of Education and Scientific Research. While biodiversity issues are not addressed by the Ministry of Health, the ministry has developed a draft strategy on traditional medicine which is dedicated in part to the conservation of medicinal plants. Also, biodiversity has been integrated into several strategies, including the country’s Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper, National Adaptation Programme of Action for Climate Change, National Action Plan to Combat Desertification, and other sectoral documents not directly linked to the environment. Information related to national biodiversity is now also presented in the national language (Kirundi). Finally, investments in environment increased from 2,169 to 7,700 million Burundi francs between 2006 and 2009.

Extensive farming methods are the main methods used in Burundi. Overall, little progress has been made in regard to agrobiodiversity. Germplasm conservation for some food crop species has progressed, although conservation of local species is still poor. The loosening of controls regarding the introduction of alien species for crops and livestock has contributed to the loss of local species adapted to the local climate. Genetically modified organisms are not yet controlled in Burundi.

While Burundi has taken a variety of actions towards implementing the Convention, limited progress has been made due because of various factors, such as a lack of financial and human resources, lack of indicators, lack of application of the Ecosystem Approach and aspects related to access and benefit-sharing (ABS), inadequate means to involve the public in protected areas management, among others.

Support mechanisms for national implementation (legislation, funding, capacity-building, coordination, mainstreaming, etc.)

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

Burundi is involved in several cooperation projects with neighboring countries and regional organizations. Cooperation to develop research and training is taking place, an example being university cooperation with Belgium aimed at developing a doctoral-level training programme. In addition, the National Institute for the Environment and Nature Conservation and the University of Burundi are cooperating with the Royal Museum for Central Africa (Tervuren, Belgium) and the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences on activities linked to the African Biodiversity Information Centre and the Global Taxonomy Initiative. Several national frameworks have been formed in Belgium in this context however a lack of horizontal coordination mechanisms exists.

Management structures are lacking as is integration of biodiversity issues into other sectors. There is also a lack of human capacity, stakeholder involvement, policies to accompany protected areas conservation, policies related to demographic change, tools to properly value and protect traditional knowledge related to biodiversity, among other limitations.

To guarantee the supply of sufficient resources, it is noteworthy to mention that Burundi provides funding for projects related to the environment overall, however they are not specifically aimed at the Convention’s goals and targets.

Mechanisms for monitoring and reviewing implementation

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

There are programmes for the systematic monitoring of activities representing main threats to biological diversity, such as the guidelines for the management of marshes and monitoring of plant and animal health (Schéma Directeur d’Aménagement des Marais et de l’Action de Surveillance Zoosanitaire et Phytosanitaire). Also, impact studies are required for all development projects in Burundi.