South Saharan desert, steppe and woodlands

Algeria, Chad, Egypt, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Sudan

A very large ecoregion stretching across northern Africa. This ecoregions presents some of the harshest conditions for life on our planet and is a land of extreme heat and drought.

South Saharan steppe and woodlands - CC Share Alike 3.0 Unported - Terpsichores, 2013


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472,273 km²

UNESCO World Heritage Sites​



Background – CC Attribution 2.0 Generic – Jeanne Menjoulet, 1997 / Map – CC Attribution Share Alike 3.0 Unported – Terpsichores, 2013

Help your Ecoregion
So what can you do to help your ecoregion? Below is a list to help you support your ecoregion, while also achieving life's everyday tasks. Don’t underestimate your power in doing good for nature!


Food and Homeware: The Brew


Holidays: Crossroads EcoMotel

At Home
Below is a list of actions you can easily take at home to minimise your impact on the ecoregion in which you live, and the rest of the planet too!
In your Garden
Below is a list of native plants and habitat creation tips you can use in your garden or on your property to give your ecoregion and its species a boost!


Plant native shade-providing trees like Umbrella Thorn (Vachellia tortilis) and the intriguing Maerua crassifolia. To create habitat, consider installation of nestboxes for native birds and creating hollows in old, dead tree limbs.


Plant native sub-canopy trees like the famous Date Palm (Phoenix dactylifera) which provides copious fruits for birds. To create habitat, consider installation of nestboxes for native birds and creating tree hollows in old, dead tree limbs.


Plant hardy shrubs like Ephedra alata. These plants create dense shrubby refugia for birds and mammals. To create habitat, consider installing insect hotels, compost-heaps and bird-baths in this layer.


Plant swathes of native grasses that help keep soil moisture in the ground and create micro-habitats, like Desert Bunchgrass (Panicum turgidum). To create habitat, consider installing a pond or bog-garden with native aquatic and riparian plants, log-piles for sheltering amphibians and reptiles and leave areas of leaf-litter for important insects.


The Malian portion of the South Sahara desert is a large ecoregion taking up most of the north of the country where it borders Algeria and Mauritania. The ecoregion comprises both the Sahara’s very arid central zones where little to no vegetation exists, south through to the transitional region of open steppe and sparse woodlands. The vegetation, where it can get a foothold, is comprised mainly of halophytes (salt-tolerant plants), grasses and spiny, shrubby plants or trees. However, where some of the Sahara’s vast underground aquifers flow closer to the surface of the land here, waddis and oases can form providing the conditions for larger plants to grow. Date Palms and other more notable species get a foothold and create habitat for nomadic animals like vultures, overwintering migrant birds and resilient gazelles. Almost none of the ecoregion in Mali is protected.

Ecoregion Structure
The structure of the ecoregion is defined as the key living and non-living features characterising its ecosystems, and the differences between how these ecosystems are arranged. For example, layers of vegetation, geology, habitat features and landscapes.


A large expanse of Cenozoic depositional sands, dunes and seasonally-inundated basins



Iconic Landscapes

Native plant communities

Scenes by @blueringmedia
Ecoregion Composition
The composition of the ecoregion is defined as the biodiversity that inhabits its ecosystems, and the differences between this biodiversity. For example, communities, populations, species, subspecies and genetic traits.
Keystone Species​
Keystone species are those that have a disproportionately large effect on the ecosystems in which they live, relative to their natural abundance there. In other words, species with a really important role in the health of ecosystems.
Flagship Species
Flagship species are those that are chosen by people to represent a wider conservation message, usually for a given place or social context, and as such often carry conservation messages for wider biodiversity.
Recently Extinct Species
All around the world, biodiversity is declining at a concerning rate. For some species it's already too late, and they have disappeared from the ecoregions they once called home. These are some examples of those lost species.

Southern Pig-footed Bandicoot
(Chaeropus ecaudatus)

Lake Mackay Hare-wallaby
(Lagorchestes asomatus)

Lesser Bilby
(Macrotis leucura)

Ecoregion Function
The function of the ecoregion is defined as how its structural and compositional components all work together to form ecological relationships and processes which change over time through geological shifts and evolution by natural selection.

Keystone Relationships

Fennec Foxes are masters of engineering. Their underground dense can reach 120 square-metres with over 10 entrances. This provides habitat for many other desert species to escape the heat of the sun, including reptiles and insects.

Life-support Systems​

Biodiversity is fundamental to a healthy planet and thriving communities, but the world's species are under tremendous threat.