ELEPHANT GARDEN RESORT

Larger Lodges Can Be Green Too
MULTIPLE POSSIBILITIES FOR SUSTAINABLE DESIGN
There will be demand for high-capacity specialty lodges (resorts like the world-famous Club Med). Gabon's best places for development are: on the beach within the Sette Cama Faunal Reserve north of Gamba; at Point Denis by Pongara; at Ogooué; and at Mayumba, where a smaller development would work best. The resorts may have more rooms than standard Parcs Gabon 10-room park ecolodges, but large lodges must also employ best practices in “green” architecture and sustainability. As part of Gabon's post-petroleum economic diversification, a mid-scale tourist development will be suitable for the Gamba area. A “green” tourist village is proposed at the Jardin des Elephants area of Pointe Pédras on the beach, 16.5 km north of Gamba. Large scale resorts built low to the ground (rather than high rises), with second homes, clubs, restaurants, and activity places for children are proposed, using sustainable design, biological sewage filtration, high quality beach resort designs. Everything would be in easy walking distance to minimize vehicle use (as with the best tropical resorts). Private lots within the development would be for sale. All could be sited within a new group of beachside private and community reserves to reinforce protection for nature while enabling moderate human development at the core 4 km beach x 6-10 km inland parcels). Both quality of life and land values here will be increased if people can see a herd of Forest Elephants outside their window, or pass through groups of Red River Hogs and Congo Buffaloes while en route to the beach hotel from Gamba.
Recreation Zone Hotel Zones
Hotel Villas and Timeshares Golf Course

Lagoon

Wildlife Corridor between Golf Course and Development

Service Area

Access/Service Road

Staff Village

Restaurants, Retail, etc.

Hotel Villas/Timeshares

A larger tourism village can be built near Jardin des Elephants, maintaining the point and beach and building “organically” within the cooler nearby forest. Multiple hotels (200-, 50- and 20-bed sizes) can radiate from a central village center with restaurants, shops, and activities. The proposed design for an intensive community development includes a 40- 50 room lodge, built to Parcs Gabon sustainable standards. Buildings could be two or three stories high, sited to meander among the trees. Use of recycled “turtlewood” and other “green” technologies, including composting toilets that do not send sewage into the sea, are part of the design. Trees will be protected during construction so that the site remains cool and verdant. While this site may be less sensitive than those within parks and can accommodate more human activity, development can still be “green.”
WCS & cresolus

No development on the point (to protect wildlife)

Trails throughout green areas Private Houses

65

LOANGO NATIONAL PARK

coastal forest and grasslands in the Sette Cama Faunal Reserve between Gamba. OFFICE AND ENTRY The Brigade at Sette Cama can be transformed into a new entry and office for the southern part of Loango National Park. shopping. The Gamba/ South Loango area provides opportunities for multiple markets for tourists seeking different experiences. N 0 5 10 Km 15 20 ABOVE: Proposed development at Gamba. INTERPRETIVE CENTER A former hotel in Gamba can be renovated as an interpretive center.Other gamba Ecotourism Sites DISPERSED TOURISM DEVELOPMENTS PROPOSED A dispersion strategy is critical to spread development across the entire region to reduce the pressure of excessive future tourism on the Park’s beaches and to support investments and jobs in the economically-depressed Gamba area. elephant. It has a good restaurant and several hotels. PRIVATE AND COMMUNITY RESERVES The area between Gamba and Sette Cama has great potential for tourism development. Parcs Gabon guidelines minimize the environmental impact and visibility of tourism while proposing tactics for economic and social sustainablity. including community operated reserves are proposed near the Jardin des Elephants as a long term economic and environmental revitalization plan for the area. Existing infrastructure provides plane access via Gamba airport. Large reserves with clustered developments will enable wildlife to return to the area. Private and Community Reserves are proposed near the beach between Sette Cama and Gamba to give opportunity for additional future development zones while increasing safe places for wildlife. and a lagoon. supported by staff who live at Gamba. WWF. LOANGO NATIONAL PARK 66 LOANGO . Floating hotels would allow tourists to experience this unique environment. COMMUNITY TOURISM One of the lodges in Sette Cama is run by local people as part of an EU/PSVAP initiative. At least one major sustainable tourist “village” can be developed within these private reserves with multiple beach hotels (200 and 20 beds). No hunting is allowed. protecting remnant populations of hippo. they need boats for water sports and access to the best fishing areas. GAMBA TOWN Gamba is an ideal access point for the area. savanna. restaurants. Sette Cama and Bounda offer several economic and environmental opportunities. and local transportation via Ndogo Lagoon. gorilla. Although wildlife populations have been under heavier pressure here than in the adjacent park due to the proximity of the town. The larger market of general nature tourists will want to see wildlife from comfortable vehicles or boats and take nature walks with enthusiastic guides. and monkeys that can all rebound with increased protection (and therefore creation of jobs as guards). Outdoor sports enthusiasts want adventure. buffalo. A series of large privately-operated reserves. FLOATING HOTELS Ndogo lagoon offers thousands of hectares of peaceful wilderness. The beach. and Ibonga. guests can enjoy staying in a protected reserve outside the Park with views of animals nearby. 15 years of work by management authorities. Like near Kruger National Park in South Africa. time-share second homes and more. chimp. with beaches. Staunch ecotourist and birding groups want ready access to the wildest places. good access to the south end of the Park.

Thousands of waterbirds herons. taken by renowned photographer Michael "Nick" Nichols. many Smithsonian-sponsored photographs showcased in the book “The Edge of Africa” were taken in the eastern flooded forests outside Park boundaries. finfoots. egrets. ABOVE: Millions of National Geographic publications and programs travel around the world. creating remarkable scenes for photographers. where such an insect does not exist.Global Fame for Akaka AKAKA’S WILDLIFE IN INTERNATIONAL PRESS In the wet season. ibis. sprouting rich grasses that attract herds of Forest Elephants. storks. In the dry season many of Akaka’s previously flooded lagoons become dry land.an indication of the need for expanded protection for Akaka. it will be important to officially incorporate Akaka into Loango NP . RIGHT: Many of photographer Carlton Ward’s well-known pictures in the Smithsonian Institution’s book “The Edge of Africa” featured the Gamba area and local swamp forests. pelicans. Many wildlife photographs in National Geographic magazine's August 2004 article on Loango were actually taken in nearby Akaka. 67 LOANGO NATIONAL PARK . making the area a paradise for nature tourists. Because of Akaka’s value for tourism and the richness of wildlife in the area. the Akaka forests are mirrored by tannin-rich black waters. Akaka is filled with herons and other waterbirds. and other big herbivores. Similarly. Creatures like this intrigue people from Europe and North America. all crowd together into the drying pools. Many of the photographs. A large section of the August 2004 issue of National Geographic magazine was devoted to Loango National Park. were taken in the buffer zone at Akaka. jacanas. Congo Buffaloes. RIGHT: This armored cricket appeared in National Geographic magazine’s feature on Loango. and the rarely-seen Hartlaub's Duck. partly outside the National Park .

hippo populations increase. The incredible fauna of Akaka is worth the nickname of "The Okavango of Gabon. offering habitat for different species as it alternates between dry forest and wetlands. the possiblilty of a unique relationship between oil extraction and conservation could be envisioned. It is a vast expanse of seasonally flooded forest that plays a key ecological role. Part of Akaka will likely be explored for petroleum." Here visitors can observe how animals . and birds. home to unusually large populations of wildlife due to protection as part of the petroleum reserve area (Domain de Chasse de Ngove-Ndogo).AKAKA forests THE “OKAVANGO OF GABON” East of Loango National Park are the forests of Akaka. Akaka can be developed for tourism without disturbing wildlife or creating negative tourism experiences. too. LOANGO NATIONAL PARK 68 LOANGO . Akaka is a paradise for nature photographers. This seasonal swamp habitat goes through dramatic variations throughout the year. Akaka will be important. If lodges are created properly (according to Parcs Gabon sustainable standards and approvals). The biological richness of these rare seasonally flooded forests warrant expanded legal protection for this area (currently much of it falls in the buffer zone) – this is almost certainly Africa’s manatee capital. the former Akaka village site is starting to be used by Operation Loango. especially toward the beach. Uninhabited by villagers.” Akaka is the only known intact ecosystem of its kind remaining in forested Africa. allowing people to get closer to them. other large animals.like elephants and water birds . Majestic African Manatees frequent the waterways of Akaka. Animal-friendly propellors may be required on boats to ensure no harm to these endangered beauties.use the same habitat. It is a seasonally important area for elephants. Amazingly rich in wildlife. As hunting declines. Conditioned by extremely careful environmental mitigation measures. for dispersing the future volume of tourism in Loango National Park. the Akaka area is nicknamed the “Okavango of Gabon.

All visitors require ecoguide support. Fuel storage (above) must be designed to prevent petroleum from entering the sensitive ecosystem here. which scare wildlife with the noise they create. new lodges can bring visitors deep into nature without adverse effects. Akaka Lagoon Lodge would be built among big trees along the mud levees next to a major river through flooded forest. 69 LOANGO NATIONAL PARK . The goal is to make nature comfortable for people. Natural ventilation is maximized by architectural design and by siting under trees and over water for natural cooling. Birders will be looking for rare sights of Hartlaub’s Duck flocks and an occasional tiny African Pygmy Goose or Black Crake. and architecture that enhances natural airflow but excludes insects. Used water will be captured and filtered by vats of biologically -filtering local aquatic vegetation. Native papyrus and sedges are renowned for heavy nutrient absorption needs – perfect for biological filtration. while protecting the entire ecosystem. Composting toilets will be built under each building to capture human effluent. mosquito-protected tented platforms and lodges will employ natural methods to bring visitors up close to nature. with concepts like "treehouse" and floating barge designs. they can be met by an ecoguide. Buildings will be fitted among and protect natural vegetation for cooling effects. At certain times mosquitoes are noticeable. A variety of covered. especially in the dry season when they transform into tallgrass meadows. No air conditioning needed for guest comfort. Elephant barriers are needed to protect this green treat from being eaten in the dry season. cormorants and egrets.New Technology Enables Proper Construction GREEN DESIGN RESPECTS A SENSITIVE ENVIRONMENT Using waterless toilets and other new technologies. hence all buildings here will be screened. From here one can get spectacular river views and views across adjacent flood plains (often elephant destinations). guests can be outfitted with location transmitters so that if they become lost. Special biological filtration containers are designed to naturally filter grey water. Sited under existing trees for shade. Four-stroke engines are more ecologically sound than the more conventional two-stroke engines. Grey water recycling is important for effluent from bathing and kitchen clean-up. As self-propelled kayaks become popular. Waterbird congregations build seasonally along these permanent waters upstream river travelers will soon find themselves counting numbers of kingfishers. roofs will be designed with ventilation maximizers such as solar chimneys to increase airflow naturally without need for air-conditioning (which isolates the guests from the sounds of wilderness).

Not all tourists can be at the beach at once. all park architecture must follow sustainability guidelines. using green design and elements such as composting toilets. LEFT: When heron colonies and African Darter nests are located. If birds don’t see people inside and get used to seeing the floating structure. LOANGO NATIONAL PARK . and the area is also critical for expanding Loango’s visitor capacity without crowding. Elevated structures. and other infrastructure will increase in successful areas. Night explorations could use the same boats to search for crocodiles and fishing owls. Building sustainably at Akaka also offers Gabon the opportunity to create another distinctive icon for tourism promotion. they will let photographers come close. simple moving photography observatories can be created to make nature photography easy. As with other Parcs Gabon designs. The need for new schools. including buildings and walkways. Guided pirogue rides or self-propelled kayaks allow extensive exploration of this animal-rich world. Here it would be evocative buildings on stilts and floating platforms over the water. hence multiple visitor destinations are important for dispersing visitors around the entire park. RIGHT: The flooded forest is an appealingly moody place for visitors. Similar moving observatories have proven effective for tourism in Peru and Ecuador where visitors can approach parrots closely without alarming the birds. Employment and community improvements would be stimulated for nearby villages outside the park. take visitors close to nature but offer protection from wildlife. By including such “green” examples into marketing plans as a distinctive national mark. Gabon positions itself as a unique and desirable tourist destination – and one of the planet’s rare icons of proper sustainable design. The process of bringing in tourism into all wildlife-rich areas requires up front assessment and ongoing environmental monitoring. clinics. Local people can supply park staff and lodges with food via farming and sustainable fishing. Advance planning is important to create model villages.VISION Bringing Tourism to Akaka lagoons LODGES SEEM TO FLOAT OVER MIRROR-LIKE WATERS Expanded protection at Akaka is important in order to preserve this biological treasure. LOANGO 70 WCS & cresolus ABOVE: Distinctive architectural designs fit into the existing habitat. where dark waters mirror all. The lodge sits on stilts that emerge from the mirrored waters of the lagoons.

as well as summer camps and excursions. is managed by the guiding service with the support of the local tourism operators’ association. Each partner acts in his area of expertise. and other NGO’s.PARTNERSHIP (CPPP) In Southern Loango. This guiding service is at the disposal of community-based and private tourism operators alike. In partnership with Loango NP ASF monitors 35 km of nesting beach in the Iguela area. Visitors learn about different options for wildlife observations and forest hikes. Ibonga offers environmental classes for local schools. and Manuelle Prunier) to develop valuable training programs. WWF and Ibonga also run turtle programs near Gamba. and recently expanded to include teacher training and environmental curriculum. Sette Cama Wildlife Brigade and WWF work closely with EU-funded PSVAP (here Biyogho-Bi-Essono II. This program has reached hundreds of students. the Gabonese Architects Guild. WWF. explore the local history and culture (including handicraft demonstrations). a unique teaming of a local non-governmental organization. books. ASF . and maps. Such a community-public-private partnership contributes to the sustainability of the Park and also to the future of a growing number of local community-based tourism initiatives. Smithsonian will provide specimens and help with displays while Ibonga and WWF will equip the center with audio-visual equipment. The Sette Cama Wildlife Brigade will be closely associated with the center as well. Ibonga. Adventures Sans Frontières (ASF) conducts scientific monitoring and surveys at four field sites along Gabon’s coast. The program was developed in collaboration with government agencies. Ibonga.NGO Activity CURRENT VISION SOUTHERN LOANGO NATIONAL PARK GUIDING SERVICE: A COMMUNITY-PUBLIC-PRIVATE. Eric Magaya. and support the local guides through guiding fees and donations. Parcs Gabon. Smithsonian. also works on a threat reduction program and works with hotel owners to develop turtle tourism. including its professional eco-guide staff and high class Visitor's Center. and in collaboration for the overall success of Southern Loango National Park. 71 LOANGO NATIONAL PARK . and park authorities is working to manage a high class guiding service for the National Park. While National Park staff focus on management issues of the Park. display materials. the guiding aspect of the Park. WCS. and WWF. CENTER: Interior sketch for a new park visitor center that will be designed and built in a cooperative effort between the EU.

National Emlpoyment Office (ONE).collaboration in gamba CURRENT VISION JOINT EFFORTS TO REVITALIZE THE LOCAL ECONOMY Lack of work and opportunities make the Gamba area a priority for socioeconomic revitalization. they would be renewed with windows for ventilation. WWF’s Brigitte Carr (Gabon’s National Coordinator). LOANGO ABOVE: The existing cabins at Conseil Beach can be rebuilt to attract a mid-market clientele as recommended by Conservation International. a Memorandum of Understanding was signed to set up a Steering Committee responsible for supervising implementation of the After Oil program. The purpose of the program is to identify and implement a diversity of income-generating initiatives that enhance sustainable livelihoods of people living in and around Gamba town. The World Wildlife Fund and USAID have a long history of support at Gamba. minimizing the need for expensive. WWF Gamba. oil will make less and less of a contribution to the local economy. additions for space. Here. The Smithsonian Institute has expansive research projects in the Gamba area. This could be done in a relatively inexpensive manner.especially important “post petrol. le Fonds d'Expansion et de Développement des petites et moyennes Entreprises (FODEX). and Beth Coates of Cresolus Design work together on tourism planning. Pauwel De Wachter. (Designs above and left included in CI’s report. while assuring long term management and protection for biodiversity in the Gamba Complex. stark. the Municipality of Gamba. energy-intensive air conditioning.AORC. In October 2004. LOANGO NATIONAL PARK 72 . Buildings use existing trees for natural cooling. planting of native beach trees and pergolas for shade. in terms of size and worker skills. and the District Council of Ndougou. Towards Ecotourism in Gabon: The Loango Region. Tourism development has been identified as one of the key potential economical drivers for the area after oil. much of which are supported by the Shell Foundation. much of which are supported by the Shell Foundation. Bas Huijbregts. Converting them from small. therefore. and creation of guests' private areas. It is likely. Economic revitalization will benefit residents of the Gamba area . hot cabins. A progressive decline in oil production from the region is expected and unless new reserves are discovered soon.” The World Wildlife Fund has expansive research projects in the Gamba area. The Steering Committee includes: Shell Gabon. Shell Gabon and Shell Foundation initiated an “After Oil Development Program” in 2002. that the community will need to evolve. in the medium or longer term.) ABOVE: CI and architect Hitesh Mehta envisioned ways for wildlife to move naturally through the environment unimpeded. The After Oil Reflection Committee . April 2004. Shell Foundation.

training sessions were organized according to local talent and interests. by PSVAP. To facilitate access to the market.Community Activities NEW OPPORTUNITIES FOR LOCAL PEOPLE To promote active community participation in tourism. RIGHT: A spontaneous welcome at Case Abietu by the village children. PSVAP (sponsored by the EU) created a project for professional development in Sette Cama. A traditional style wooden cabin has been built. which extends benefits to fishermen and small farmers. After numerous village meetings. skillfully prepared and served by a catering service run by village women. Fifteen people took part in a tailormade hotel and catering course. ABOVE: The award ceremony: participants who successfully completed a hospitality training program proudly display their certificates. 73 LOANGO NATIONAL PARK . at Gamba airport to serve as a sales outlet for local crafts and a tourism information office. The women adapted traditional Pandanu weaving to create floor and table mats. to supply souvenirs for the tourist market. MARKETING LOCAL CRAFTS A number of older women from Sette Cama and the neighboring camps formed an artisans group under the name Mama Mafubu. Two of the women now work as housekeepers in Case Abietu. PSVAP and Ibonga manage the purchase and resale of craftwork from the Mama Mafubu. LEFT: Tourists enjoy lunch on the terrace of Case Abietu. Meals consist of mostly local ingredients. and the others formed catering groups to provide guest meals and service for independent operators and private visitors. Revenues generated and shared with the community lead to enthusiasm for tourism and parks. and a few men joined the group as sculptors.

as well as coordination of operations in Sette Cama and Gamba. forests. TOP RIGHT: Ecoguides studying together in a training session. and other NGOs. three of whom now work with the private operators of Sette Cama. (Proceeds from park entry tickets go to National Park authorities. Tourists are hungry for cultural information and the history of the place. This exemplifies the global demand for authentic tourism products and encounters with the local population. an NGO created by the Regional Council in order to support and promote community development initiatives. Local populations will only support conservation and National Parks if they see economic or social benefits and have a sound understanding of the issues at stake. is becoming directly involved in tourism activities. WCS. The guiding service will be closely associated with the future Visitor Center planned for Sette Cama Wildlife Brigade. under the aegis of the European Union). Communities that are in favor of tourism development contribute significantly by welcoming tourists and by sharing knowledge and culture thus enhancing the visitor experience and stabilizing tourism services. RIGHT: Camping in the shade of Manilkara trees at Pointe Milango. previously unemployed. craftwork production and sales. and traditional dances. CI. GIC provides assistance with marketing. wetlands. Tourists enjoy firsthand knowledge about local wildlife. All income from Abietu’s craft sales and tourism activities is locally redistributed in various forms: remuneration for tourism personnel and income for crafts people. and traditional plant use. as a way to generate support from local communities while benefitting tourism. Six other guides. Many guests have returned and an overwhelming majority of bookings are stimulated by word-of-mouth recommendations . the village of Sette Cama. A sense of ownership developed among the area’s residents insures the future of community tourism activities and encourages local interest in maintaining the Park. are involved in the community tourism enterprise managed by PSVAP and Ibonga. Abietu has successfully attracted clients since its opening in January 2004. Ten local men were trained to become ecoguides in the park. PSVAP.SUCCESFUL LOCAL GUIDE SERVICE Loango’s pioneering ecoguide training program was designed by the National Foresty Service in collaboration with WWF. Futhermore. while 40% of profits are gathered into a village fund managed by the Cooperative. The guides combine skills acquired during training with ancestral forest knowledge and tracking talents (some guides were previously hunters) to help tourists discover Loango through an expert’s eyes. A majority of the profits made by Case Abietu go to the Regional Council. With the support of PSVAP (Sectoral Programme for the development of protected areas. community tourism at loango BENEFITTING BOTH LOCAL PEOPLE AND VISITORS Community-based tourism is increasingly popular worldwide. near south Loango. Abietu is managed jointly by the village cooperative and GIC. The Case Abietu guest house offers a postive example of community involvement in tourism. guided walks and wildlife viewing. catered meals. bookings. ) The funds are used to finance community projects chosen by the cooperative and the village. a local NGO. LOANGO NATIONAL PARK 74 LOANGO .word has spread to tour operators around the world. A village cooperative called Abietu-Bi-Sette Cama (meaning “for the benefit of Sette Cama” in the local Lumbu language) organizes local people for ecotourism services including accommodations. airport pick-ups and tourist transportation. MIDDLE RIGHT: A guide educating visitors in Sette Cama’s historical cemetery. guides foster relationships between tourists and the local community.