Lake Tanganyika Regional Biodiversity Project

In recognition of Lake Tanganyika’s extraordinary biodiversity and the burgeoning threats against it, scientists from the four riparian states and other countries, attended the First International Conference on the Conservation of the Biodiversity of Lake Tanganyika, held in Bujumbura in 1991, to draw international attention to these issues. Subsequently, steps were taken to attract the interest of international funding agencies to support a regional project to address the identified problems. 

Funding was secured through the UNDP/ Global Environmental Facility (GEF) which was endorsed at the 1992 Rio Environmental Summit meeting as a mechanism for financing activities with global environmental benefits. As a result, a project was developed – “Pollution Control and Other Measures to Protect Biodiversity in Lake Tanganyika”. The project became effective in 1995 following the signing of the Project Document. The project related to GEF interests in both biodiversity and international waters, giving greater emphasis to management objectives for sustainable development.

Release date 31/03/2006
Contributor Nkula Mwanza
Geographical coverage Congo, The Democratic Republic Of, Burundi, Tanzania, United Republic Of, Zambia
Keywords Tanganyika Lake, Biodiversity, Conservation,



The aim of the Lake Tanganyika Biodiversity Project was to help the riparian states produce an effective and sustainable system for managing and conserving the biodiversity of Lake Tanganyika into the foreseeable future. This five-year project was being implemented by institutions from BurundiD.R.CongoTanzania, and Zambia with advice from international agencies. By involving local communities in its design, the strategy embraced the dual needs of development and conservation, and aimed at protecting livelihoods of local people into the future.

The Biodiversity Special Study (BIOSS) provided the foundation for the other technical studies, which were designed to assess how particular threats affect the lake's biodiversity.

In this capacity, BIOSS objectives were to:

  • review current levels of biodiversity in the lake
  • identify the distribution of major habitat types, with particular focus on existing and suggested protected areas
  • suggest priority areas for conservation, based on existing knowledge and recommendations from the other specail studies and supported by additional survey work
  • develop a sustainable monitoring program

BIOSS has established a literature database which currently contains more than 4,000 entries in it from the existing literature on Lake Tanganyika (Fig. 1). It is intended that data entry should continue beyond the life of the project. Scientists and resource managers can query this database to determine the known distributions and habitats of particular species. This database also interacts with the LTBP Geographic Information System (TanGIS) so that species distributions can be mapped.

Description of the Project and Status

The Lake Tanganyika Management Planning Project originally known as La