Mauritania is party to several international agreements including conventions on Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species and Wetlands.
There are a large number of environmental issues such as overgrazing, deforestation and soil erosion which aggravated by drought contribute to desertification; fresh water is very limited away from the Senegal, the only perennial river.
The Banc d’Arguin National Park has a committed staff, and there are plans underway to develop and implement an ornithological ecotourism strategy, which will offer enhanced opportunities for birdwatching and also bird conservation in this park. The coastal flats regularly support around 2 million migratory waders. Although there appear to have been some fluctuations in numbers of waders present, the site remains of prime importance for several species of wader. There are specific laws that aim to protect the park and its natural resources.
Lac d'Aleg is a semi-permanent wetland 250 km south-east of Nouakchott, 70 km from the Senegal River which has 4,300 ha of wetland - see section on IBAs. The area is now over-grazed and the water level is to be managed for cultivation. The fear is this will go as did Lac Rkîz which is now a tiny area of uninteresting swamp.
Mauritania plays an internationally important role in the productivity of marine fish, and thus in the economy of several West African countries. However, several fish species have been over-exploited, including sharks, rays and sawfish, and the whole ecology of the coastal area is threatened by industrial offshore fishing and the development of petrochemical exploration.