Gamba Complex Programme | WWF

Gamba Complex Programme

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The Southern Programme’s main intervention zone is the Gamba-Complex Landscape, a priority landscape for WWF’s Green Heart of Africa Initiative (GHoA) and the Congo Basin Forest Partnership (CBFP).

The Gamba-Complex Landscape is situated in southwest Gabon and covers 53,290km²  (roughly 1.5 times the size of Yellowstone National Park). WWF works mainly in the northern part, within the 11,000km² Gamba Complex of Protected Areas.

The conservation value of the Gamba Complex has been recognized for over 50 years, when the first eight protected areas were created. Parts of these areas are now covered by two of the 13 national parks created in Gabon in 2002: Loango National Park (1,500km²) in the northwest, and Moukalaba-Doudou National Park (5,000km²) in the east.

In between the two national parks and other protected areas, there is a sustainably managed forestry concession of 5,685km², which is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).
 
	© WWF / Bas Huijbregts
Forest Elephant on the beach in Loango National Park
© WWF / Bas Huijbregts

BIODIVERSITY & LANDSCAPE

The Gamba Complex’s uniqueness lies in its mosaic of diverse habitats: from seashores and mangroves, through swamp and rainforest, to semi-montane forest, savannahs, lagoons and intact rivers. Elevation ranges from sea level along the 200km pristine coastline to 700m altitude in the Doudou mountains within Moukalaba-Doudou National Park. This diverse habitat favours an enormous variety of fauna and flora, with numerous endangered species.

The area harbours astonishing wildlife, including elephants, gorillas, chimpanzees, four species of marine turtle, manatees, buffaloes and hippos. Just offshore, endangered humpback dolphins and their cousins, the bottlenose dolphins, can be seen swimming in the surf. Between the months of July and October, humpback whales can be observed from shore or from sea as they perform their annual migration to breeding grounds just off the coasts of Gabon. The Gamba Complex also provides world-class sport-fishing opportunities for massive barracuda, tarpon and rouge.

WWF IN GAMBA


WWF started a field programme in the Gamba Complex in 1991, constructing a wildlife brigade and office in the village of Sette Cama. The main field activities consisted of biodiversity inventories and socio-economic studies throughout the Complex, serving as the foundation for conservation management. Throughout the years, we have been working with wildlife authorities, local populations, research institutes and the private sector, especially on:
  • Continuous improvement of the effectiveness of management of national parks;
  • Strengthening of the government agencies responsible for park, wildlife and fisheries management through technical and logistic support;
  • Strengthening the monitoring of ecological and sociological impacts and mitigation measures of oil-related activities, agro-industries and mining in development;
  • Strengthening technical and operational capacities of local NGOs involved in tourist development and awareness raising;
  • Understanding of the structure and the ecological functioning of the coastal Ndougou lagoon basin for restructuring the Ramsar site (a designated wetland of international importance), establishing sustainable fisheries and monitoring ecological change; Environmental monitoring (turtles, cetaceans, large mammals in parks).
  • Development of the Marine and Coastal Programme;
  • Supporting the development of management plans for national parks and supporting park management;
  • Proposing re-zoning scenarios for protected areas;
  • Supporting the recognition and mapping of village lands and establishing a platform for discussion;
  • Supporting wildlife management in the periphery of national parks and forest concessions;
  • Supporting the development of local NGOs;
  • Supporting sustainable forest management in forest concessions;
  • Monitoring the impacts of oil-related activities;
  • Supporting tourism development;
  • Environmental monitoring (turtles, cetaceans, large mammals inventories).


OUR WORK

  • Development of the Marine and Coastal Programme;
  • Supporting the development of management plans for national parks and supporting park management; 3. Proposing re-zoning scenarios for protected areas;
  • Supporting the recognition and mapping of village lands and establishing a platform for discussion; Supporting wildlife management in the periphery of national parks and forest concessions;
  • Supporting the development of local NGOs; Supporting sustainable forest management in forest concessions;
  • Monitoring the impacts of oil-related activities;
  • Supporting tourism development;
  • Environmental monitoring (turtles, cetaceans, large mammals inventories).
 
	© Sinziana Demian / WWF GHoa
Gabon
© Sinziana Demian / WWF GHoa

THREATS

Gamba Complex lies the heart of Gabon's main economy – oil. Many oil exploitation and exploration permits cover the area, leaving WWF with the challenge to marry natural resource exploitation with nature conservation. And while oil production declines, pressures on natural resources through logging, hunting and fishing increase.

The area was originally a network of small fishing, farming and hunting communities dotted around the Ndougou Lagoon and surrounding areas. Due to oil exploration, the population has grown to over 9,000, of whom about 7,500 are concentrated in the town of Gamba and 2,000 are distributed over 30 small villages. WWF has worked with the population to map and formalize the village territories and community lands used for agriculture, hunting and fishing.
Petit Loango National Park Sunset with silhouette of palm trees near Setté Cama, Gabon. 
	© WWF / Olivier LANGRAND
Petit Loango National Park Sunset with silhouette of palm trees near Setté Cama, Gabon.
© WWF / Olivier LANGRAND
 
	© WWF Gabon / Fons Langenkamp
Young western lowland gorilla walking with a stick, Gamba, Gabon
© WWF Gabon / Fons Langenkamp
 
	© WWF Gabon
Loango National Park. Sunset over the beach, Gamba, Gabon
© WWF Gabon