Gabon

Environment:

Gabon has a narrow coastal plain, and hilly interior, with savanna in the east and south. The highest point was thought to be Mont Iboundji at 1,575 meters, but may actually be Mont Bengoué. The climate of Gabon is tropical, always hot and humid. 

A small population and oil and mineral reserves have helped Gabon become one of Africa’s wealthier countries; in general, these circumstances have allowed the country to maintain and conserve its pristine rainforest and rich biodiversity. However, deforestation remains the major environmental issue. Forests that cover three-quarters of the country are threatened by excessive logging. Despite the relatively small population, it is still growing, exacerbating solid waste disposal. And, the down side of oil industry affluence is water pollution. As elsewhere in Africa, wildlife poaching in Gabon is a problem.

Gabon is a member of the Congo Basin Forest Partnership, a non-profit initiative to promote the conservation and responsible management of the Congo Basin‘s tropical forests. The government of Gabon announced at the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development that it would set aside 10 percent of its land for a system of national parks. Since 2015, Gabon has been a member of the Central African Forest Initiative, dedicated to “accelerating reforms in Central Africa”. Brainforest is a well known, independent NGO, founded by prominent Gabonaise environmentalist Marc OnaZita Wilks, daughter of botanist Chris Wilks, operates the Gabon Ecotour website.

Biosphere Reserves:

National Parks:

IUCN Members:

Culture:

The largest urban center is the capital, Libreville, located in the northwest of Gabon on the Atlantic coast. Since independence from France in 1960, one family has held on to power in Gabon. Contested re-election of the president, Ali Bongo, in 2016 sparked unprecedented opposition protests that resulted in burning the parliament building.

There are a number of interesting tribal groups in Gabon, including the Baka people of northern Gabon, historically called “pygmies”. Bwiti is a religion practised by a number of different tribal groups in Gabon, characterised by use of the psychedelic root bark of the iboga plant. Ceremonial use of iboga in Gabon has been popularised by a number of authors, including Daniel Pinchbeck in his 2002 book, Breaking Open the Head. Under the ministry of sport, tourism and recreation (Ministere des Sports, du Tourisme et des Loisirs), AGATOUR (Agence Gabonaise de Développement et de Promotion de l’Hôtellerie) operates the official tourism website for Gabon at tourisme-gabon.org.

Mixed (Natural & Cultural) World Heritage:

Tentative World Heritage:

References:

  • Human-wildlife Conflict and Ecotourism: Comparing Pongara and Ivindo National Parks in Gabon – A Ndong, S Steven – 2018
  • The tourism impacts of the 2012 Confederation of African Football (Caf) Nations Cup in Gabon – GN Mboumba – 2017
  • A Long Strange Trip to Gabon One of the world’s strongest psychedelic drugs has become an unlikely tourist draw – L Secorun – 2016
  • Oil, centralised power and their shaping effects on tourism in Gabon – I Cloquet – 2016
  • Sport events as catalysts for tourism and hospitality development in Libreville, Gabon – JDO Othy, K Swart – 2016
  • From vision to narrative: A trial of information-based gorilla tourism in the Moukalaba-Doudou National Park, Gabon – Y Takenoshita – 2015
  • Tourism Development and the Question of’Stasis’: A Case Study of Internal Leisure Travel in Gabon – I Cloquet, JM Decroly – 2015
  • Integrating tourism development projects at Gabon protected natural sites: Lessons learned from an aborted attempt – I Cloquet – 2014
  • The role of local populations in tourism development projects: the case of Loango National Park in Gabon – A Payen – 2014
  • Looking into the overlooked: incoming tour operators and early tourism development in Gabon – I Cloquet – 2013
  • Designing Ecotourism in Gabon to Achieve Natural Resource and Biodiversity Conservation – E Prazeres – 2010
  • Can western lowland gorilla tourism become a viable tool for conservation in Gabon? – J French – 2009

Gabon Data