UNEP/GRID-Sioux Falls

Environmental Aspects of the African Great Lakes Region

Map of the African Lakes


The African Great Lakes region is composed of a variety of ecosystems with significant biodiversity. Click on the map to take a closer look at the area.

The region's relief is moderate and influenced by tectonic and volcanic activity. The highlands are relatively cool with abundant rainfall. Major drainage basins include those of the Congo-Zaire, Nile and Zambezi rivers which drain into the Atlantic Ocean, Mediterranean Sea and Indian Ocean, respectively. Forests are also dominant in the lowlands of the Congo-Zaire Basin, while grasslands and savannahs are most common in the southern and eastern highlands.

The climate and rich volcanic soils in the highlands sustain intensely cultivated croplands, encouraging the growth of human population. This increased population is competing for habitat used by many endangered species, including the mountain gorilla and the forest elephant. Governments in the region are attempting to lessen the impact through integrated conservation and development projects.

Land Cover Characterization

Landsat Images of Lac Kivu

Drainage Basins


Human Population Growth

Monthly Changes in Vegetation

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