Africa > East Africa > Burundi > Burundi Environment Profile

Burundi: Burundi Environment Profile

2012/02/27

There were few significant developments in terms of the management of natural resources in 2009. The issue of wastewater and household waste being discharged into Lake Tanganyika has still not been resolved and the development of rainwater drainage is not co-ordinated at Bujumbura. There is no clear land management policy that addresses nature conservation. The reforesting and environmental education programmes were continued, however.

Burundi is a party to the following international agreements that relate to the environment: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes and Ozone Layer Protection. The following have been signed but not from presently on ratified by Burundi: Law of the Sea and Nuclear Test Ban.

The wildlife in the small, landlocked country of Burundi is composed of its flora and fauna. The country is home to 2,950 species of plants, 596 birds, 163 species of vertebrates, 52 species of reptiles, 56 species of amphibians, and 215 fish species.

The wildlife has been drastically reduced in recent years, mainly on account of intense people pressure, conversion of large areas of forest into agricultural land, and extensive livestock farming. The protected area encompasses little additional than 5% of the total area of the country.

With one exception, there were no national laws on conservation of wildlife during the colonial policy of Belgium nor any national parks established. The exception was a forest reserve, established in 1933. Before 1980, little action was taken to protect wildlife. The initial Act issued was Decree No. 1/6, dated 3 March 1980, under which national parks (parc nationaux) and reserves were proposed to preserve and conserve wildlife. Under this decree, forest boundaries were to be defined. The Forest Code of 25 March 1985 was an enabling law under which protected forests areas were decreed, and reserve areas were specified. A national institute for conservation was established, the National Institute for the Conservation of Nature, under the decree of March 1980; presently renamed as the National Institute for Environment and Conservation of Nature. It has the responsibility to establish national parks and reserves. It as well undertakes scientific research in flora and fauna inclunding promoting ecotourism.

The wildlife habitat of Burundi, spread over its 15 provinces, is effected by the moderate tropical climate, dominated by altitudinal difference. An average annual temperature of 20 °C (68 °F) is recorded in the plateau region while the Rift Valley records a temperature of 23 °C (73 °F). Dry season lasts from June to August and again from December to January.[4] The rainy season is from October to December with annual rainfall varying from 500–2,000 millimetres (20–79 in); Bujumbura, the capital city, has an average rainfall of 960 millimetres (38 in). The western mountain region receives an average rainfall of 1,375 millimetres (54.1 in); the eastern plateaus, however, receive an annual rainfall in the range of 1,100–1,250 millimetres (43–49 in).[5] The country is dominated by hilly plateaus.[4] The elevation in the plateau varies from 1,400–1,800 metres (4,600–5,900 ft) with the decreasing trend recorded towards the east and southeast of the country. Its biodiversity is broadly categorized under the terrestrial ecosystems, and the aquatic and semi-aquatic ecosystems.

The western area of the country is narrow and borders Lake Tanganyika, formed by the trough of the Rift Valley and the Rusizi River (formed by the border with DR Congo). The western region of the country is formed by the hilly terrain of the Congo-Nile Divide, with a lot of hills lying above 2,500 metres (8,200 ft) elevation; the highest mountains are Mount Teza at 2,665 metres (8,743 ft) and Mount Heha at 2,670 metres (8,760 ft).

The central plateau (about 2,100 metres (6,900 ft) in elevation) forms the middle part of the country. In the southeast, the Malagarasi River flows through the Kumoso depression and borders Tanzania. The northern part of the country is formed of lowland in the Bweru Bugesera region and has two lakes, Cohoha and Rweru; this region is distinct for its Cyperus papyrus vegetation.[6] The forest area is limited to 127,662 hectares (315,460 acres), and the wetlands account for 120,000 hectares (300,000 acres) (about 5% of the total area of the country).

The montane forest, which occupied nearly 33 to 50% of the country in the completed, is mostly denuded and only a patch of 800 hectares (2,000 acres) of closed forest is recorded on the banks of Lake Tanganyika. Lake Tanganyika, the second-deepest lake in the world, has a water spread of only 8% in Burundi.[5] Other rivers are the Malagarisi and the Ruvuvu. Ruviyaronza, an upper branch of the Kagera River, is the chief stream of the Nile which rises in Burundi.The river systems of the country fall under the two major hydrographical basins of the Nile and the Congo basin.The dominant vegetation that encompasses most of the habitats is of savanna. Acacia, eucalyptus, and oil palm trees are common.

Flora

The vegetation in the widely varying topography (1,000–2,670 metres (3,300–8,760 ft)), differing soil conditions and temperate climatic conditions has caused a multi-vegetational type of flora. The East African evergreen bushland and secondary grassland with Acacia trees are the vegetation types in the eastern and south-eastern part while the Afromontane vegetation inclunding transitional type of rainforests dominates the western mountain region. Hyphaene–Acacia and Brachystegia trees are noted in the lake shores.

The Brachystegia–Julbernardia (miombo) trees are the vegetation types seen in country\'s south-eastern border. The Bugesera region in the north and the Kumoso depression on the east have profuse vegetation of Acacia–Combretum trees, and Brachystegia trees.

The vascular flora reported is of 2,950 species under 195 families. In the high altitude in particular a lot of species of wild flora are reported to be endemic; 70 species of plants are reported in this category.