Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) Biodiversity and the Built Environment

todayMarch 7, 2024


Did you know that Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) has experienced a loss of approximately 25% of terrestrial ecosystems due to other land uses such as industrial timber plantations, sugarcane plantations, and urban areas? This has resulted in a decline in wild animal species, indigenous plant species, and overall biodiversity in the country.

Key Takeaways:

  • Eswatini faces a significant decline in biodiversity due to land conversion and other land uses.
  • Wildlife, indigenous plant species, and terrestrial ecosystems have been greatly affected by industrial timber plantations, sugarcane plantations, and urban areas.
  • The loss of biodiversity poses challenges for sustainable development and conservation efforts in Eswatini.
  • Efforts are being made to protect and conserve biodiversity through various initiatives and policies.
  • Collaboration and ongoing monitoring are essential for maintaining and restoring the rich biodiversity of Eswatini.

Biodiversity Facts

Swaziland’s biodiversity is facing significant challenges with the decline of wild animal species, indigenous plant species, and terrestrial ecosystems. The country’s economy heavily relies on the sugar sector and agriculture, which unfortunately contribute to the pressure on biodiversity. The consumption of freshwater and the conversion of land for these industries further exacerbate the issue. Moreover, Swaziland’s traditional medicine and cultural practices are intricately linked to biodiversity.

Despite efforts to conserve and protect biodiversity, the loss of wildlife, plant species, and ecosystems remains a pressing concern in Eswatini. It is crucial to prioritize sustainable practices and find a balance between economic development and the preservation of the country’s cultural and natural heritage.

“Biodiversity is the foundation of life and ensures the continuity and resilience of ecosystems. We must strive to protect and restore biodiversity for the well-being of future generations.” – [Real Name]

Biodiversity at a Glance

  • Eswatini is home to a wide variety of wildlife, including endangered species such as elephants, rhinos, and lions.
  • The country boasts diverse plant species, with unique flora found in national parks and protected areas.
  • Swaziland’s traditional medicine relies on the rich biodiversity, utilizing plants and natural resources for healing and spiritual practices.
  • The cultural biodiversity of Eswatini is celebrated through traditional ceremonies, music, dance, and storytelling.

Preserving the country’s biodiversity is not only essential for ecological balance but also for sustaining cultural traditions and promoting the well-being of local communities.

Importance of Biodiversity in Swaziland

Biodiversity plays a critical role in supporting ecosystem services that are vital for human survival and sustainable development. It provides essential resources such as food, clean water, and medicines, while also contributing to climate regulation and soil fertility.

Furthermore, biodiversity is a source of inspiration, enjoyment, and education for residents and visitors alike. The diverse wildlife, plant species, and cultural traditions foster a sense of pride and contribute to the country’s identity.

Impacts of Biodiversity Loss Importance of Biodiversity Preservation
– Disruption of ecological processes – Conservation of unique wildlife species
– Decrease in ecosystem resilience – Promotion of sustainable tourism
– Loss of genetic diversity – Preservation of traditional medicine practices
– Compromised ecosystem services – Protection of cultural heritage

It is essential that we recognize the value of biodiversity and work towards its conservation through sustainable practices, protected areas, and community involvement. Together, we can ensure the long-term well-being of Eswatini’s rich natural and cultural heritage.

Main Pressures on Biodiversity

Swaziland’s biodiversity is under significant pressure due to various factors that contribute to the decline in species and ecosystems. These pressures have far-reaching consequences and require urgent attention to mitigate their impact on the environment.

Land Conversion

One of the main pressures on biodiversity in Eswatini is the conversion of natural habitats to other land uses. The expansion of agricultural activities, industrial development, and urbanization has resulted in the loss of precious habitats, displacing and endangering many plant and animal species.

Invasion of Alien Species

The invasion of non-native species poses a serious threat to Swaziland’s biodiversity. These alien species often outcompete native species for resources and disrupt the delicate balance of ecosystems. The introduction of invasive plants, animals, and insects can have devastating effects on the local flora and fauna.

Rapid Expansion of Settlements and Urbanization

The rapid growth of settlements and urbanization in Eswatini puts tremendous pressure on biodiversity. As cities expand, natural habitats are destroyed or fragmented, displacing wildlife and disturbing the delicate ecological balance. Urban areas also contribute to increased pollution and habitat degradation.


Wildfires are a major threat to Swaziland’s biodiversity, particularly in dry and drought-prone areas. Uncontrolled fires can destroy vast areas of vegetation, leading to the loss of habitat for many species. The increased frequency and intensity of wildfires exacerbate the challenges faced by ecosystems.

Climate Change

Climate change poses a significant threat to biodiversity in Eswatini. Rising temperatures, changing rainfall patterns, and extreme weather events can have profound impacts on ecosystems and species’ survival. These changes disrupt the delicate balance of ecosystems and further exacerbate the vulnerability of already endangered species.


Overgrazing, mainly driven by livestock farming, is a major pressure on biodiversity in Swaziland. Excessive grazing can lead to the degradation of grasslands, soil erosion, and a loss of native plant species. This has cascading effects on the entire ecosystem, impacting both plant and animal communities.

Illegal Hunting

Illegal hunting poses a significant threat to Swaziland’s biodiversity. Wildlife poaching not only contributes to the decline of already endangered species but also disrupts the delicate ecological balance. The loss of key species can have ripple effects throughout the ecosystem, affecting other species and the overall functioning of the ecosystem.

These main pressures on biodiversity in Eswatini necessitate immediate action and sustainable solutions to mitigate their impact. Safeguarding the country’s natural heritage is crucial for the well-being of both the environment and local communities.

Eswatini biodiversity loss

Measures to Enhance Implementation of the Convention

In an effort to conserve biodiversity and sustainably utilize biological resources, Swaziland has implemented the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP), also known as the Eswatini NBSAP. This comprehensive plan outlines key actions and initiatives to protect and preserve the country’s rich biodiversity. The Eswatini NBSAP has achieved significant milestones, including the preparation of red data lists and the development of policies and regulations on biotechnology and biosafety.

The red data lists provide valuable information on the conservation status and threat level of species in Swaziland, assisting in prioritizing conservation efforts. With the aim of promoting responsible biotechnology and biosafety practices, the country has formulated policies and regulations to address potential risks and ensure the safe use of biotechnology in various sectors.

Furthermore, environmental impact assessments are conducted to assess the potential effects of development projects on biodiversity. These assessments play a crucial role in identifying and mitigating any adverse impacts on the environment, ensuring that biodiversity is taken into consideration during the decision-making process.

Eswatini NBSAP Image

This image highlights the importance of the Eswatini NBSAP in safeguarding biodiversity and promoting sustainable development in the country.

Eswatini NBSAP Milestones

Milestones Details
Preparation of red data lists Identification and assessment of species conservation status and threat levels
Policies and regulations on biotechnology and biosafety Ensuring responsible and safe use of biotechnology in various sectors
Environmental impact assessments Evaluating potential effects of development projects on biodiversity

The table summarizes the milestones achieved through the Eswatini NBSAP, highlighting the importance of these measures in fostering biodiversity conservation and sustainable development in Swaziland.

Actions Taken to Achieve the 2020 Aichi Biodiversity Targets

Swaziland, now known as Eswatini, has been actively working towards achieving the 2020 Aichi Biodiversity Targets. One of the key focus areas has been the improvement of protected areas and biodiversity corridors.

Currently, only 3.9% of the country is formally protected as reserves, but strategic efforts are underway to expand and effectively manage these protected areas. Enhancing the management effectiveness of these protected areas is crucial to safeguarding Eswatini’s diverse ecosystems and the species they support.

Protected Areas

Actions Progress
Expansion of existing protected areas Ongoing
Establishment of new protected areas Ongoing
Improved management and enforcement Ongoing

Eswatini is working towards expanding the size of existing protected areas and establishing new ones to increase the overall coverage. This expansion will help create larger and more robust habitats for wildlife and protect critical ecosystems.

Additionally, efforts to improve management and enforcement within these protected areas aim to ensure effective biodiversity conservation. This involves implementing measures to prevent illegal activities such as poaching and habitat destruction.

Biodiversity Corridors

In addition to protected areas, Eswatini recognizes the importance of biodiversity corridors to facilitate the movement of species and ensure ecological connectivity. These corridors help link different ecosystems, providing pathways for wildlife to move between fragmented habitats.

Two noteworthy biodiversity corridors in Eswatini are the Eastern Biodiversity and Tourism Corridor and the Northern Biodiversity and Tourism Corridor. These corridors serve as vital ecological networks, enabling the sustainable management of ecosystems and promoting biodiversity conservation.

Eswatini Protected Areas

By establishing and maintaining these biodiversity corridors, Eswatini aims to enhance habitat connectivity and support the long-term survival of numerous plant and animal species.

Through the actions taken to achieve the 2020 Aichi Biodiversity Targets, Eswatini is making significant strides towards preserving its natural heritage and promoting the sustainable management of its biodiversity-rich landscapes.

Support Mechanisms for National Implementation

In order to ensure effective biodiversity conservation and environmental protection in Eswatini, the country has implemented a range of support mechanisms to support national implementation. These mechanisms are designed to address key concerns such as environmental legislation, forest management, strategic environmental assessment, and mining and biodiversity guidelines.

Environmental Legislation

One crucial support mechanism is the implementation of comprehensive environmental legislation. This legislation serves as a legal framework to regulate and govern environmental practices, ensuring that activities have minimal impact on biodiversity and ecosystems. It covers areas such as pollution control, waste management, natural resource utilization, and protected areas management.

Forest Management

Recognizing the importance of forests in biodiversity conservation, Eswatini has implemented policies and practices for forest management. These measures aim to safeguard forest ecosystems, prevent deforestation, and promote sustainable forestry practices. Efforts are made to balance the socio-economic benefits derived from forests with the need to preserve their rich biodiversity.

Strategic Environmental Assessment

Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) is an essential tool used in Eswatini to assess the potential environmental impacts of policies, plans, and programs. SEA ensures that biodiversity considerations are incorporated into decision-making processes, promoting sustainable development and minimizing negative impacts on natural resources. This mechanism allows for the identification of potential conflicts between development activities and biodiversity conservation.

Mining and Biodiversity Guidelines

Eswatini has also developed comprehensive guidelines for the mining sector to promote responsible mining practices and minimize the impact on biodiversity. These guidelines outline best practices for mining operations, including measures to mitigate environmental degradation, protect sensitive ecosystems, and promote rehabilitation and restoration post-mining.

By mainstreaming biodiversity into sectoral and cross-sectoral policies and programs, Eswatini is taking significant steps towards the effective implementation of biodiversity conservation and environmental protection. These support mechanisms provide a solid foundation for sustainable development while ensuring the preservation of Eswatini’s unique biodiversity.

Swaziland forest management

Mechanisms for Monitoring and Reviewing Implementation

Eswatini understands the importance of monitoring and reviewing the implementation of biodiversity conservation measures. To ensure the effective execution of policies and actions, the revised National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP) incorporates a comprehensive monitoring and evaluation framework. This framework enables the assessment of progress in implementing conservation strategies and identifies areas where interventions are needed.

Monitoring mechanisms have been established in Eswatini to track key aspects of biodiversity degradation and changes. These include:

  • Land degradation monitoring: By closely monitoring land degradation, Eswatini can identify areas that require immediate attention and implement appropriate measures to mitigate further damage. This monitoring helps preserve the country’s valuable ecosystems and prevent irreversible land degradation.
  • Livestock population monitoring: Eswatini recognizes the significance of managing livestock populations sustainably. Through monitoring, the country can assess the impact of livestock on biodiversity, identify areas of concern, and implement measures to protect both livestock and biodiversity.
  • Ecosystem monitoring: Monitoring the health and dynamics of ecosystems provides critical insights into the state of biodiversity. Eswatini actively monitors ecosystems to detect any changes or threats that could compromise biodiversity conservation efforts. This allows for timely interventions to safeguard ecosystems and their inhabitants.

These monitoring efforts play a crucial role in tracking the effectiveness of biodiversity conservation measures and evaluating the progress made towards sustainable development goals. By continually reviewing and adapting strategies, Eswatini can ensure the long-term preservation of its rich biodiversity.

Eswatini NBSAP monitoring

Monitoring mechanisms are necessary to assess the progress of biodiversity conservation measures and identify areas that require intervention.

Geography of Eswatini and its Impact on Biodiversity

Eswatini, a landlocked country in Southeastern Africa, is characterized by its diverse geography and unique physiographic regions. These geographic features have a significant impact on the country’s biodiversity and land management.

The climate of Eswatini is subtropical, with variations in temperature and rainfall across different regions. The country experiences hot summers and mild winters, with the eastern region receiving higher levels of precipitation compared to the western region. These climatic conditions influence the distribution and composition of plant and animal species in Eswatini.

The land-use patterns in Eswatini further shape its biodiversity. The country engages in various land-use activities, including mining, forestry, agriculture, and manufacturing. Each of these activities has implications for biodiversity conservation and land management. For example, mining operations can disrupt natural habitats and lead to the loss of wildlife habitats. Agriculture, on the other hand, can result in the conversion of natural landscapes into farmland, impacting native plant and animal species.

Additionally, the soil characteristics of Eswatini play a vital role in supporting biodiversity. The soil composition and fertility determine the types of vegetation that can thrive in different regions. Soil erosion, often caused by unsustainable land-use practices, can degrade the quality of soil and negatively impact biodiversity in Eswatini.

“The geography of Eswatini, including its climate, land-use patterns, and soil characteristics, contributes to the rich biodiversity found in the country. However, it also poses challenges for sustainable land management and conservation efforts.”

Understanding the geographic features of Eswatini is crucial for implementing effective biodiversity conservation strategies and sustainable land-use practices. By considering the climate, land-use patterns, and soil characteristics, policymakers and stakeholders can develop initiatives that mitigate the impact on biodiversity while promoting sustainable development.

Furthermore, awareness of the geographical context helps in identifying areas of high conservation value, such as ecologically sensitive regions and critical habitats, which require special protection measures.

Eswatini Geographic Features

By embracing an integrated approach that recognizes the interplay between geography and biodiversity, Eswatini can strive towards a harmonious balance between economic development and environmental preservation.

Land Degradation in Eswatini

Land degradation poses a significant threat to the environment in Eswatini, particularly on grazing lands. This issue is exacerbated by soil erosion and reduced soil fertility, which lead to the degradation of the land. Overgrazing and high stocking rates further contribute to land degradation, jeopardizing the sustainability of the ecosystem.

The majority of land in Eswatini is communal grazing land, which is highly susceptible to degradation due to its extensive use. As a result, the country is facing a pressing challenge in preserving the quality and productivity of these grazing lands.

Efforts to combat land degradation in Eswatini are being undertaken through initiatives such as the Rural Development Area Programme. This program aims to promote sustainable land management practices, including improved grazing management techniques and the implementation of erosion control measures. By adopting these measures, Eswatini aims to mitigate the negative impacts of land degradation and ensure the long-term health of its grazing lands.

Eswatini land degradation Swaziland grazing lands Eswatini erosion Swaziland stocking rates
Definition The deterioration of land quality, including soil erosion and reduced soil fertility, due to human activities and natural processes. Areas of land predominantly used for livestock grazing purposes. The process by which soil particles are detached, transported, and deposited by wind, water, or other forces. The number of animals allowed per unit of land area for grazing.
Causes Overgrazing, high stocking rates, soil erosion, deforestation, unsustainable land management practices. Intensive livestock farming, inadequate grazing management, land use changes. Unprotected soil from vegetation, water and wind erosion, agricultural practices. Insufficient management and control of livestock populations, inadequate grazing rotation.
Impacts Loss of soil fertility, reduced agricultural productivity, ecosystem degradation, decreased biodiversity. Reduced forage availability, soil compaction, erosion, land degradation, loss of biodiversity. Loss of topsoil, reduced water quality, decreased agricultural productivity, sedimentation of water bodies. Overgrazing, soil erosion, degradation of grazing lands, decreased livestock productivity, loss of biodiversity.

It is crucial for Eswatini to address land degradation and implement sustainable land management practices to safeguard the country’s environmental resources and promote long-term sustainability.

Eswatini land degradation


Eswatini, formerly known as Swaziland, faces a significant challenge in finding the right balance between biodiversity conservation and economic development. Despite these challenges, the country has taken positive steps to protect its rich biodiversity and promote sustainable development.

Eswatini has implemented various measures to safeguard biodiversity, such as the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP). This plan aims to conserve biodiversity and promote the sustainable use of biological resources. By doing so, Eswatini contributes to the broader objective of the Convention on Biological Diversity and the achievement of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets.

Furthermore, ongoing monitoring mechanisms play a crucial role in tracking the progress of biodiversity conservation efforts in Eswatini. These mechanisms allow for regular reviews and the identification of areas that require improvement. By continuously assessing the effectiveness of biodiversity initiatives, Eswatini can make informed decisions and adapt its strategies accordingly.

However, it is essential that Eswatini continues to collaborate with various stakeholders, both domestically and internationally, to ensure the success of sustainable development initiatives. By working together, we can preserve the natural heritage of Eswatini for future generations while simultaneously supporting economic growth and social well-being.


What is the current state of biodiversity in Eswatini?

Eswatini is facing a decline in and extinction of wild animal species and populations as well as indigenous plant species. Approximately 25% of each of the terrestrial ecosystems has been lost to other land uses, such as industrial timber plantations, sugarcane plantations, and urban areas. Aquatic water systems, especially wetlands, are under threat from agricultural development. Overexploitation of plant genetic resources also poses a challenge. Agriculture, particularly the sugar sector, is a major contributor to the economy and consumes a significant amount of freshwater. Tourism, traditional medicine, and traditional ceremonies are also dependent on biodiversity.

What are the main pressures on biodiversity in Eswatini?

The main pressures on Eswatini’s biodiversity include the conversion of natural habitats to other land uses, invasion of habitats by alien species, rapid expansion of settlements and urbanization, wildfires, climate change, overgrazing, and illegal hunting. These factors contribute to the decline in biodiversity and the degradation of ecosystems.

What measures are being taken to enhance the implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity in Eswatini?

Eswatini has implemented various support mechanisms for national implementation of biodiversity conservation and environmental protection. This includes environmental legislation, policies on forest management, strategic environmental assessments, and guidelines for mining and biodiversity. The country is making progress in mainstreaming biodiversity into sectoral and cross-sectoral policies and programs.

What actions are being taken to achieve the 2020 Aichi Biodiversity Targets in Eswatini?

Eswatini has made progress in achieving the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, particularly in increasing awareness and improving protected areas. Currently, only 3.9% of the country is formally protected as reserves, but efforts are being made to expand and manage protected areas. The establishment of biodiversity corridors, such as the Eastern and Northern Biodiversity and Tourism Corridors, aims to connect different ecosystems and promote sustainable management.

How is the implementation of biodiversity conservation in Eswatini monitored and reviewed?

The revised National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP) in Eswatini includes a monitoring and evaluation framework to assess the progress of implementation. Monitoring mechanisms are also in place to track land degradation, livestock population, and ecosystem changes. These monitoring efforts help identify areas where interventions are needed and track the effectiveness of biodiversity conservation measures.

How does the geography of Eswatini impact biodiversity?

Eswatini is a landlocked country in South Eastern Africa with a diverse geography, including different physiographic regions. The country has a subtropical climate with variations in temperature and rainfall across different regions. The different land-use patterns in Eswatini, including mining, forestry, agriculture, and manufacturing, have implications for biodiversity and land management. The soil characteristics and associated natural resources are influenced by the geographic features of the country.

What is the extent of land degradation in Eswatini?

Land degradation is a major issue in Eswatini, particularly on grazing lands. Soil erosion and reduced soil fertility are common problems, and overgrazing and high stocking rates contribute to land degradation. The majority of land in Eswatini is communal grazing land, which is highly susceptible to degradation. Efforts are being made to address land degradation through initiatives like the Rural Development Area Programme.

What is being done to balance biodiversity conservation with economic development in Eswatini?

Eswatini faces significant challenges in balancing biodiversity conservation with economic development. The country has implemented various measures to protect biodiversity, enhance the implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity, and achieve the Aichi Biodiversity Targets. Ongoing monitoring and review mechanisms help track progress and identify areas for improvement. Continued efforts and collaboration are needed to ensure sustainable development while preserving Eswatini’s rich biodiversity.

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Written by: Jackie De Burca

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