The Annotated Ramsar List: Gabon

02/02/2009

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The Annotated Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance

GABON

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The Convention on Wetlands came into force for Gabon on 30 April 1987. Gabon presently has 9 sites designated as Wetlands of International Importance, with a surface area of 2,818,469 hectares.

site; date of designation; region, province, state; surface area; coordinates
site; date de désignation; région, province, état; superficie; coordonnées
sitios; fecha de designación; región, provincia, estado; área; coordenadas

Parc National Akanda.02/02/07; Province de l'Estuaire; 54,000 ha; 00°37'N 009°33'E . National Park. Located about 15 km from Libreville, the capital city, this low-altitude zone is dominated by 35,000 ha of relatively undisturbed marine mangroves - it also contains swampy forests and grassy savannah that are home to several plant and animal species as well as a nesting zone for migratory birds, such as the 35 000 to 40 000 Palearctic Waders. It is an important feeding area for endangered marine turtles (Lepidochelys olivacea and Dermochelys coriacea), provides refuge for birds such as Calidris minuta, Pluvialis squatarola, the endemic Apalis flavida and Laniarius bicolor, and is a major habitat and breeding ground for fishes and crustaceans (Ethmalosa fimbriata and Mugil cephalus). Inputs from the Corisco and Mondah bays and significant annual rainfall of up to 3300 mm/yr leave the region constantly submerged and the resulting vegetation regulates the flow of rivers, important for the overall stability of the site. A variety of rites and dances are practiced due to the remarkable ethnic diversity present (Fang, Benga, Sékiani). Inhabitants benefit from fishing, agriculture, hunting, tourism and other recreational activities. Chief threats come from over-exploitation of mangrove plants (especially wood), over-fishing, disorganised tourism within the site, and increasing urbanization in the area. The on-going elaboration of a management plan for the National Park may provide solutions to these threats. Ramsar site no. 1652. Most recent RIS information: 2006.

Parc National Pongara.02/02/07; Province de l'Estuaire; 92,969 ha; 00°12'N 009°37'E. National Park. Located east of the Congo Basin forest, on the southern shores of the Gabon estuary, the site includes a wide range of mangroves and forest types (riverine, swampy, littoral and flooded), grassy savannas and several rivers, notably Remboué, Igombiné and Gomgoué. It is an important breeding ground for the critically endangered Lea Thery Turtle (Dermochelys coriacea), provides shelter for the critically endangered Hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata), endangered Green turtle (Chelonia mydas), and Olive Ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea), as well as gorilla (Gorilla gorilla), vulnerable elephants (Loxodonta africana), an important population of migratory birds and up to 10,000 hibernating Palearctic waders. Plant species such as the mangrove trees (Avicennia sp, Rhizophora sp) and the herbaceous Acrostichum aureum help to regulate and stabilize the water flow. The inhabitants of this site exploit forest wood, practice hunting, agriculture (banana, cassava and pepper) and especially fishing - the site is referred to as one of the centers of nourishment for the whole region. However, non-selective fishing, hunting and forest exploitation both within and around the site pose a threat to the equilibrium of the ecosystem. In addition to the awareness-raising activities carried out by the National Commission for National Parks, a management plan is being developed. Ramsar site no. 1653. Most recent RIS information: 2006.

Petit Loango.30/12/86; 480,000 ha; 02º18'S 009º37'E; Wildlife Reserve. A slightly undulating coastal plain with several lakes, dissected by small rivers and temporary and permanent swamps, set in a savanna, mangrove and rainforest environment. The site supports rare and vulnerable species like the hippo, gorilla and elephant, and provides a nesting site for the three threatened turtle species Dermochelys coriacea, Chelonia mydas and Eretmochelys imbricata. Birds, mainly of the Sterna genus, use the sandbanks for breeding. The site plays an important role for flood control, sediment capture and bank stabilization through riverside vegetation. Given the very low population density and the area's classification as a wildlife reserve, the site is very scarcely used. The surroundings are used for tourism and for oil exploitation, which could constitute a threat in the future, especially if expanded. The Loango National Park is currently being created, but it is still to become operational. Ramsar site no. 352. Most recent RIS information: 2006.

Rapides de Mboungou Badouma et de Doumé.02/02/09; Haut Ogooué, l’Ogooué Lolo; 59,500 ha; 01°04’S 013°10’E. A system of permanent and intermittent rivers and permanent marshes from the confluence of the Mpassa and Léyou Rivers, with 140km of rapids that form part of a large hydrographical network, acting as a spillway for several rivers. This site is rich in biological diversity, supporting a vast array of fauna and flora. The existence of certain vegetation at the site is linked to the presence of certain animals, i.e., as a source of food, refuge, and habitat – it has been found, however, that these same species, elephants, monkeys, tilapia, and carps, are severely challenged by the threats facing the site from over-exploitation of forest resources, pollution of the waters by effluents from the surrounding towns, and mining activities for manganese and uranium. While there is currently no management plan specific to the site, it is protected by a number of national environmental laws and regulations. Ramsar site no. 1853. Most recent RIS information: 2009.

Setté Cama.30/12/86; 220,000 ha; 02º43'S 010º05'E. Wildlife Reserve. Located a few kilometers south of Petit Loango, the site comprises a wildlife reserve and a hunting concession. The landscape consists of a slightly undulating sand plain with several lakes, marshes and swamps, interspersed with patches of savanna. The area hosts significant biodiversity, with 15 species of bats, approximately 80 of amphibians and reptiles, and more than 450 of birds. It is also important for several endangered mammals, including elephant, duikers and hippopotamus. Several fish species use the wetland as spawning, feeding and breeding grounds, while turtles nest along the coast. The site is used by the local population for agriculture and fishing at a low scale, while water is pumped from the lagoon for the supply of the town of Gamba. Oil exploitation has been taking place at the Ndougou lagoon for the past 50 years, with the company putting in place regulatory measures against hunting, as well as other environmental regulations. The area is also used for tourism and for scientific research on mammals, whales and turtles. Ramsar site no. 353. Most recent RIS information: 2006.

Site Ramsar Bas Ogooué.02/02/09; Moyen Ogooué, l’Ogooué Maritime; 862,700 ha; 00°39’S 010°01’E. Comprises a vast alluvial plain (over 70km), marshes, lakes and rivers in the west of the country. Luxuriant vegetation covers half of the site in dense forest, riparian marshes, savanna, etc. It supports several threatened species such as gorilla, chimpanzee, elephant, buffalo, mandrills, the African manatee and the hippopotamus. Other noteworthy species include various waterbirds such as Herons, the African cormorant, and falcons, as well as various fish populations like sharks, tilapia, carp, and introduced species such as Heterotis niloticus. As the site is rich in natural resources, it is commonly used by those who inhabit it as well as populations from the surrounding areas and large towns for various purposes, some of which are uncontrolled and lead to detrimental effects on the ecosystem – these range from exploitation of the forest for timber and other forest products, agriculture, hunting, fishing, tourism, livestock rearing, transport of people and goods. There is no specific management plan but there are regulations at the local level that aim to protect and maintain the natural resources and ecosystems. Research activities as well as education and awareness raising projects are carried out by the Ministries of Water and Forests and of Fisheries in collaboration with the WWF. Ramsar Site no. 1851. Most recent RIS information: 2009.

Site Ramsar des Monts Birougou.02/02/07; Ngounié, Ogooué-lolo; 536,800 ha; 001°58'S 012°17'E. National Park. Comprising forests, swamps, savannah, falls, caves, valleys, and mountainous zones between 800 and 900m, which are the source of the Nyanga and Ngounié rivers and their main tributaries. The woody and non-woody products of the forest provide resources for feeding, building, clothing and construction of artistic objects. The diversity of this ecosystem gives it a rich flora as well as one of the most remarkable faunas in Africa. Primates are dominant, with about 20 different species found in the Birougou Mountains. The endangered Gorilla (Gorilla g. gorilla), chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes), the vulnerable sun-tailed monkey (Cercopithecus solatus), mandril (Mandrillus sphinx), the West African dwarf crocodile (Osteolaemus tetraspis), the forest elephant (Loxodonta africana cyclotis) and the savanna elephant (Loxodonta africana africana), amongst others, are found here. The area is noted for its cultural and religious value in the country. Fishing with chemical products, over-exploitation of forest and mining practiced on the outskirts pose a threat. In the absence of a management plan, the Advisory Council for National Parks in Gabon is making plans for putting in place certain management activities such as evaluation of land use zones by the population and sensitization of local administrative authorities and the population on national parks. Ramsar site no. 1654. Most recent RIS information: 2006.

Site Ramsar Chutes et Rapides sur Ivindo.02/02/09; Ogooué Ivindo; 132,500 ha; 00°13’N 012°24’E. Within National Park. A vast peneplain with valleys in the centre that maintain a dense hydrographic network, with representative example of the waterfalls and rapids of Gabon, rivers (permanent and irregular), and marshes. Three out of five endemic waterbirds found in Cameroon and Gabon have been recorded in the site (e.g., Batis minima). A wide variety of flora is also sustained here, such as Velvet Tamarind, African Satinwood, and African Greenheart. Several populations of fish found at the site have adapted to the specific environmental conditions that occur as a result of the heavy currents e.g. Nannocharax sp., Labeo spp., Atopochilus savorgnani, Doumea typica. The site is utilized by local communities as well as the inhabitants of the urban centres of Makokou, Booué and Ovan; this leads to overexploitation of the forest resources, over-fishing and detrimental effects from pollution from the towns as well as through iron mining activities occurring at Belinga. There is currently a management plan in preparation for Ivindo National Park, which will cover the surrounding areas and include this site. Ramsar Site no: 1852. Most recent RIS information: 2009.

Wongha-Wonghé [also known as Wonga wongué]. 30/12/86; 380,000 ha; 00º34'S 009º32'E. Presidential Reserve. An extensive coastal region composed of plains, rolling hills and plateaus dissected by numerous small coastal rivers, swamps and marshes, the site comprises a wildlife reserve and two hunting concessions. Vegetation varies from humid tropical forest to stunted woodland, savannah and thickets. The site supports notable African mammals including chimpanzees, elephants, buffalos, hippos and gorillas, as well as important numbers of waterbirds, with Pelecanus onocrotalus dominating. Any type of land utilization is forbidden due to the site's status as presidential reserve, giving it a very important conservation potential. In the surroundings logging occurs, but this does not constitute a threat to the site as yet. Tourism also occurs in the surroundings, with the main activities consisting of wildlife viewing and beach walks/ swims. Impressive erosional amphitheaters and cliffs occur in the area, too. Ramsar site no. 351. Most recent RIS information: 2006.

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