Thursday, June 12, 2008

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Ouemé Flood Plain

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Benin's capital city, Porto Novo, and its largest city, Cotonou, lie within the floodplain and watershed of the Ouemé River. They share this important water system with Lake Nokoué and Porto Novo lagoon. The Ouemé River is home to over 120 species of fish; the greatest concentration of the occurring in the lower reaches of the river basin. Almost all of them are used for human consumption. The wetlands in the system serve as important nursery and feeding grounds for many of these species. They are also important habitat for many of the 233 bird species found in Benin.

In addition to its biodiversity, the coastal zone plays a key role in the economy of Benin. Fishing, agriculture, and other economic activities within the coastal zone provide 70 per cent of the country's total GDP and livelihoods for much of Benin's population. Population pressure and the drive to boost the gross production from the coastal zone without proper environmental management threaten the integrity of the productive resource base and biodiversity resources. Illegal logging is a serious problem throughout the whole catchment. Between 1986 and 2000, dense forest in this area was reduced by more that 40 per cent. The 1986 image shows forested areas at the north-western edge of Lake Nokoué and north- eastern sections of the wetland system of Porto Novo lagoon. By 2000, some of the northern reserves had been decimated (yellow arrow).
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