Africa's rich biodiversity provides critical ecosystem services. It contributes substantially to the continent’s economy and serves as a buffer to climate change. However, the continent is experiencing a dramatic loss of biodiversity even before we have been able to fully identify, document and enjoy the benefits of these natural resources.
Biodiversity loss affects livelihoods and lessens resilience to extreme events, particularly for people in rural areas who are often the poorest. Integrating biodiversity into decision-making is a key strategy for mitigating these losses, and availability of relevant data is critical for informed decision-making.
Focusing on birds, which are excellent indicators of general environmental health, the African Bird Atlas Project (ABAP)—a well-established citizen science project—is designed to capture bird distributional data across wide spatial scales. It is exceptional in its ability to report biodiversity changes in real time and thus provide decision-makers with current information.
Country-level projects have been running successfully in southern Africa since 2007, and there has been a concerted effort to expand coverage to East and West Africa in the last 5 years. The proposed project seeks to mobilize and strengthen collaborative data management among ongoing national projects across the continent to establish an up-to-date distributional database for Africa's birds under the ABAP.
The project will also develop institutional capacity of partners for managing and using this data to improve environmental management decisions, while also connecting more people to nature.
Success will be measured via sustained growth of data coverage, establishment of new country-level atlases under ABAP framework and the development of user-friendly tools to summarize, visualize and analyze the data. Impact will be measured through the inclusion of this data in key conservation-management decisions throughout the continent.
A centralized database for the African Bird Atlas Project has been put in place, capacity building workshops for training in use and extraction of data from the database by sub-regional data managers is ongoing. Data managers are building web tools for better data visualization and easier access to species information e.g. APLORI. Data mobilization efforts is resulting in increased occurrence records and wider bird atlas coverage across all the ABAP countries.
More than 18 million occurrence records have already been mobilized and published through the project. The records encompass three major bird atlas projects under the African Bird Atlas Project, which include Kenya Bird Map (98029), Nigeria Bird Atlas (238677), and Southern African Bird Atlas Project 2 (1432794) including countries like Botswana (13328), eSwatini (4438) Lesotho (749), Malawi (992), Mozambique (6642), Namibia (66039), South Africa (1278954), Zambia (14207), and Zimbabwe (47445).
All key project partners have dedicated websites for the display of mobilized occurrence records. This data is displayed in coverage maps and can be found at:
A central website currently hosts and displays in real time all data currently mobilized and recorded across all of Africa under the African Bird Atlas project. All published articles making use of the data are as well listed on the website.
To increase awareness about the project, build capacity, and thereby increase the citizen science community, the Nigerian Bird Atlas Project (NiBAP) held a two-day seminar with officers of the Nigerian National Park Service (NNPS) including the Conservator-General, Alhaji Ibrahim Goni. The NNPS is a parastatal under the Federal Ministry of the Environment of Nigeria responsible for the protection and conservation of wildlife in National Parks.
Participants/stakeholders were presented with a bird checklist obtained from the ABAP database for each of the National Parks and they were briefed on how they can include bird data in their conservation efforts and for continued update of the ABAP database and monitoring of the National Parks.