Burkina Faso: Ecosystems

Climate change is expected to have a significant influence on the ecology and distribution of tropical ecosystems, though the magnitude, rate and direction of these changes are uncertain [27]. With rising temperatures and increased frequency and intensity of droughts, wetlands and riverine systems are increasingly at risk of being converted to other ecosystems, with plants being succeeded and animals losing habitats. Increased temperatures and droughts can also influence succession in forest systems while concurrently increasing the risk of invasive species, all of which affect ecosystems.

Species richness

Figure 15: Projections of the aggregate number of amphibian, bird and mammal species for Burkina Faso for different GHG emissions scenarios.

Model projections of species richness (including amphibians, birds and mammals) and tree cover for Burkina Faso are shown in Figure 15 and 16, respectively. The models applied for this analysis show clear patterns of change in species richness across both RCPs: In most regions, the number of species is projected to decrease in response to climate change (Figure 15). In 2080, under RCP6.0, this decrease will reach almost 10 % compared to the year 2000. An increase of species richness is only projected for the south-west of Burkina Faso.

Tree cover

Figure 16: Tree cover projections for Burkina Faso for different GHG emissions scenarios.

The opposite gradient is found in tree cover projections, with increases projected for the north-east and decreases projected for the south-west (Figure 16). Under RCP6.0, the increase in tree cover in the northeast amounts to about 5 % compared to the year 2000. This can be explained by the increasing precipitation levels in this region.

Although these results paint an overall positive picture for climate change impacts on tree cover, it is important to keep in mind that the model projections exclude any impacts on biodiversity loss from human activities such as land use, which have been responsible for significant losses of global biodiversity in the past, and are expected to remain its main driver in the future [28]. In Burkina Faso, the need for new settlements, land for cultivation and for fuel wood threatens tree cover and biodiversity [29]. Fuel wood covers 85 % of household energy needs in Burkina Faso, resulting in ongoing deforestation [30]. These pressures are likely to intensify due to low agricultural production and population growth, resulting in even higher rates of deforestation, land degradation and forest fires, all of which will impact animal and plant biodiversity.


[27] T. M. Shanahan et al., “CO2 and Fire Influence Tropical Ecosystem Stability in Response to Climate Change,” Nat. Publ. Gr., no. July, pp. 1–8, 2016.
[28] IPBES, “Report of the Plenary of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services on the Work of Its Seventh Session,” n.p., 2019.
[29] K. Dimobe, A. Ouédraogo, S. Soma, D. Goetze, S. Porembski, and A. Thiombiano, “Identification of Driving Factors of Land Degradation and Deforestation in the Wildlife Reserve of Bontioli (Burkina Faso, West Africa),” Glob. Ecol. Conserv., vol. 4, pp. 559–571, 2015.
[30] A. Russell et al., “Using Forests to Enhance Resilience to Climate Change: The Case of the Wood-Energy Sector in Burkina Faso,” n.p., 2013.