Mangrove Habitats in São Tomé and Príncipe (Gulf of Guinea, Africa): Conservation and Management Status

  • R. HarounEmail author
  • A. Herrero Barrencua
  • A. D. Abreu
Part of the Coastal Research Library book series (COASTALRL, volume 25)


São Tomé and Príncipe is a small island state located in the Gulf of Guinea (West Equatorial Africa) with fragile mangrove habitats along its coastlines. These habitats are threatened by historical conversion to land for agriculture uses, overharvesting for firewood and charcoal, changing hydrology and coastal erosion; the last impacts increasing their vulnerability to sea-level rise. In the case of São Tomé mangroves, road construction (sometimes very close or even crossing through the habitat itself) is considered as a major factor leading to its transformation.

In this contribution, we identified the major botanical and faunal (vertebrate and invertebrates) species encountered in this unique forest ecosystems. We also described some ecosystem services such as food supply and nursery habitat for diverse fish and invertebrates, with a short mention of its carbon sequestration role.

Most of the mangrove hábitats in São Tomé are located inside the Parque Natural Obô of São Tomé, thus, they are under some degree of protection. In the case of Príncipe Island, there are three main remnants of mangrove forests: Praia Salgada, Praia Caixão and Praia Grande, all of them outside the Parque Natural Obô of Principe.

The potential development of ecotourism activities (such as birdwatching, trails, etc.) similar to those already in place at Malanza mangrove (São Tomé) and the restoration of the remnants of mangrove habitats combined with capacity building actions could support community development and job opportunities, especially for women and young people, with high relevance at local level.


  1. Afonso P, Porteiro FM, Santos RS, Barreiros JP, Worms J, Wirtz P (1999) Coastal marine fishes of São Tomé Island (Gulf of Guinea). Arquipelago Life Mar Sci 17A:65–92Google Scholar
  2. Ajonina G, Kairo GG, Sembres T, Chuyong G, Mibog D, Nyambane A, FitzGerald C (2014) Carbon pools and multiple benefits of mangroves in Central Africa: Assessment for REDD+. 72pp. Available online at:
  3. BirdLife International (2017) Country profile: São Tomé e Príncipe. Available online at: Checked: 2017-06-12
  4. Blasco F, Aizpuru M, Besnehard J (2005) Mangroves, ecology. Encyclopedia of Earth Science Series, pp 606–611Google Scholar
  5. Brown DS (1991) Freshwater snails of São Tomé, with special reference to Bulinus forskalii (Ehrenberg), host of Schistosoma intercalatum. Hydrobiologia 209:141–153CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Christy P (2001) São Tomé and Príncipe. In: Fishpool LDC, Evans MI (eds) Important bird areas in Africa and associated islands: priority sites for conservation. Birdlife Conservation Series No. 11. Pisces Publications and BirdLife International, Newbury and Cambridge, UK, pp 727–731Google Scholar
  7. Corcoran E, Ravilious C, Skuja M (2007) Mangrove of Western and Central Africa. UNEP – Regional Seas Program, UNEP/WCMC. 92 pp. Available online at:
  8. Cumberlidge N (1999) The freshwater crabs of West Africa: family Potamonautidae. IRD, ParisGoogle Scholar
  9. Dutton J (1994) Introduction of mammals in São Tomé and Príncipe: possible threats to biodiversity. Biodivers Conserv 3:927–938CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. FAO (2007) The world’s mangroves 1980–2005. FAO Forestry Paper 153. Rome, Italy. 89 pp. ISBN 978-92-5-105856-5. Available online at:
  11. Faustino de Lima R, Dallimer M, Atkinson PW, Barlow J (2012) Biodiversity and land-use change: understanding the complex responses of an endemic-rich bird assemblage. Divers Distrib 19(4):411–422CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Faustino de Lima R, Viegas L, Solé N, Soares E, Dallimer M, Atkinson PW, Barlow J (2014) Can management improve the value of shade plantations for the endemic species of São Tomé Island? Biotropica 46(2):238–247CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Félix PM, Chainho P, Lima GRF, Costa JL, Almeida AJ, Domingos I, Brito AC (2016) Mangrove fish of São Tomé Island (Gulf of Guinea): new occurrences and habitat usage. Mar Freshw Res 68:123–130. Scholar
  14. Gillespie RG, Clague DA (2009) Encyclopedia of Islands. University of California Press, Berkeley/Los Angeles, 1110 ppGoogle Scholar
  15. Herr D, Pidgeon E, Laffoley D (2012) Blue Carbon Policy Framework: based on the discussion of the International Blue Carbon Policy Working Group. Gland, Switzerland: IUCN and Arlington, USA: CI. vi+39ppGoogle Scholar
  16. Lévêque C, Paugy D, Teugels GG (1990) The fresh and brackish water fishes of West Africa. Institut Françiais de recherche scientifíque pour le Developpement en cooperation. Paris, FranceGoogle Scholar
  17. Nagelkerken I, Blaberb SJM, Boullon S, Green P, Haywood M, Kirton LG, Meynecke J-O, Pawlik J, Penrose HM, Sasekumar A, Somerfield PJ (2008) The habitat function of mangroves for terrestrial and marine fauna: a review. Aquat Bot 89(2):155–185CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Nelson JS (ed) (2006) Fishes of the world, 4th edn. Wiley, HobokenGoogle Scholar
  19. Pisoni T, De Lima RF, Brito AC, Chainho P, Félix PM, Caçador I, Cavalho A (2015) Planos de gestão participativa para dois sítios de mangal na Ilha de S. Tomé: Praia das Conchas e Malanza. Relatório Final. Caracterização biofísica e socioeconómica. ALISEI, São Tomé. 79 ppGoogle Scholar
  20. Quéro, J-C, Hureau J-C, Karrer C, Post A, Saldanha L (1990) Checklist of the fishes of the eastern tropical Atlantic (CLOFETA), vol 2. Lisbon (JNICT; UNESCO). 1492 ppGoogle Scholar
  21. Rönnbäck P, Troell M, Kautsky N, Primavera JH (1999) Distribution pattern of shrimps and fish among Avicennia and Rhizophora microhabitats in the Pagbilao Mangroves, Philippines. Estuar Coast Shelf Sci 48(2):223–234CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Rossignon O (1999) Contribution à l’ecologie des crevettes dulcaquicoles de São Tomé: du cadre limnologique à l’elevage. Faculté Universitaire des Sciences Agronomiques de Gembloux, FranceGoogle Scholar
  23. Schneider W (1990) FAO species identification sheets for fishery purposes. Field guide to the commercial marine resources of the Gulf of Guinea. FAO, RomeGoogle Scholar
  24. Spalding, M., Kainuma, M., Collins, N. 2010. World atlas of mangroves. Earthscan, London/Washington, DC. ISBN: 978-1-84407-657-4Google Scholar
  25. Stiassny M, Teugels GG, Hopkins CD (2007) The fresh and brackish water fishes of lower Guinea, West-Central Africa. Vols I and II. IRD, Publications scientifiques du Muséum MRAC. Paris, FranceGoogle Scholar
  26. UNEP (2016) GEO-6 regional assessment for Africa. United Nations Environment Programme, Nairobi, 215 ppGoogle Scholar
  27. UNEP (2016a) Blue carbon financing of mangrove conservation in the Abidjan Convention Region: a feasibility study. United Nations Environment Programme, Abidjan Convention Secretariat and GRID-Arendal, Nairobi, Abidjan and Arendal. ISBN: 978-82-7701-163-9Google Scholar
  28. UNEP and CIFOR (2014) Guiding principles for delivering coastal wetland carbon projects. United Nations Environment Programme, Nairobi, Kenya and Center for International Forestry Research, Bogor, p 57Google Scholar
  29. Vasconcelos MJ, Cabral AI, Melo JB, Pearson TR, Pereira HdA, Cassamá V, Yudelman T (2015) Can blue carbon contribute to clean development in West-Africa? The case of Guinea-Bissau. Mitig Adapt Strateg Glob Chang 20(8):1361–1383. Scholar
  30. Vasco-Rodriguez N, Fontes J, Andrade BA (2016) Ten new records of marine fishes for São Tomé, West Africa. Acta Ichthyol Piscat 46(2):123–129Google Scholar
  31. Wirtz P, Ferreira CEL, Floeter SR, Fricke R, Gasparini JL, Iwamoto T, Rocha LA, Sampaio CLS, Schliewen UK (2007) Coastal fishes of São Tomé and Príncipe islands, Gulf of Guinea (Eastern Atlantic Ocean) – an update. Zootaxa 1523:1–48Google Scholar
  32. World Bank (2013) Turn down the heat: climate extremes, regional impacts, and the case for resilience, A report for the World Bank by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Climate Analytics. World Bank, Washington, DC. 252 pp. License: Creative Commons Attribution—Non Commercial–No Derivatives 3.0 Unported license (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Biodiversity and Conservation Research GroupInstitute ECOAQUA, University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Scientific and Technological Marine ParkTeldeSpain
  2. 2.Príncipe Island UNESCO Biosphere ReserveCidade de Santo António do Príncipe, Região Autónoma do PríncipeSanto AntónioSao Tome and Principe

Personalised recommendations