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Ecosystem and Relict Cultural

Landscape of Lop-Okanda
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Ecosystem and Relict Cultural Landscape of Lop-Okanda
The Ecosystem and Relict Cultural Landscape of Lop-Okanda demonstrates an unusual
interface between dense and well-conserved tropical rainforest and relict savannah
environments with a great diversity of species including endangered large mammals and
habitats! The site illustrates ecological and biological processes in terms of species and
habitat adaptation to post-glacial climatic changes! "t contains evidence of the successive
passages of different peoples who have left e#tensive and comparatively well-preserved
remains of habitation around hilltops caves and shelters evidence of iron-working and a
remarkable collection of some $%&& petroglyphs 'rock carvings(! The property)s collection of
*eolithic and "ron +ge sites together with the rock art found there reflects a ma,or migration
route of -antu and other peoples from .est +frica along the River Ogoou valley to the
north of the dense evergreen Congo forests and to central east and southern +frica that has
shaped the development of the whole of sub-/aharan +frica!
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Ecosystem and Relict Cultural Landscape of Lop-Okanda! Ogooue River 3 4*E/CO
Outstanding 4niversal 5alue
The Ecosystem and Relic Cultural Landscape of Lop-Okanda represents an unusual
interface between dense and well conserved tropical rainforest and relict savannah
environments! + greater number of threatened species of large mammals find their last
refuge in Lop-Okanda than in any other comparable rainforest area in the Congo Rainforest
-iogeographical 6rovince! The property also preserves a record of biological evolution over
the last $7&&& years of the still e#tant rainforest-savannah transition 8one!
The Lop-Okanda *ational 6ark displays remarkable evidence for settlement stretching over
9&&&&& years from the 6alaeolithic through the *eolithic and "ron +ge to the present day
-antu and 6ygmy peoples! The *ational 6ark includes the River Ogoou valley one of the
principle migration routes for the diffusion of people and languages including the -antu to
Central and /outhern +frica in the *eolithic and "ron +ge as evidenced in e#traordinary
number of substantial settlements sites and an e#tensive collection of rock art petroglyphs!
The Lop-Okanda *ational 6ark provides the oldest dates for the e#tension of the Tshitolien
culture towards the +tlantic and it has revealed evidence of the early domestication of plants
and animals and the use of forest resources!
Criterion 'iii(: the rich archaeological ensembles of the middle stretches of the River Ogoou
5alley demonstrate 9&&&&& years of almost continuous history! The archaeological sites
have revealed the earliest date for the e#tension of Tshitolien culture towards the +tlantic as
well as detailed evidence for the early use of forest produce cultivation of crops and the
domestication of animals!
Criterion 'iv(: the collection of *eolithic and "ron +ge sites together with the rock art remains
appear to reflect a ma,or migration route of -antu and other peoples along the River Ogoou
valley to the north of the dense evergreen Congo forests from .est +frica to central east and
southern +frica that has shaped the development of the whole of sub-/aharan +frica! The
subsidiary "ron +ge sites within the forest provide evidence for the development of forest
communities and their relationship with present day peoples!
Criterion 'i#(: The nominated property demonstrates an unusual interface between forest and
savannah environments and a very important manifestation of evolutionary processes in
terms of species and habitat adaptation to post-glacial climatic changes! The diversity of
species and habitats present are the result of natural processes and also the long-term
interaction between man and nature!
Criterion '#(: The diversity of habitats and the comple# relationship between forest and
savannah ecosystems have contributed to a high biological diversity particularly in relation to
the property;s flora making it one of the most outstanding areas in relation to floristic
diversity and comple#ity in the Congo Rainforest -iogeographical 6rovince! Over $77&
plant species have been recorded including 9& never recorded before in <abon and it is
anticipated that once all the floristic surveys and research are completed the number of plant
species could reach over =&&&!
The property is of sufficient si8e to maintain the long-term ecological viability of its habitats
and ecosystems! The conservation and management of the property is guided by a
management plan for the period >&&?->&$$ which is supported by international cooperation
particularly through a number of international and national *<Os! Conservation and
management of the property also benefits from a number of transboundary cooperation
initiatives! @ey management issues include the need to resolve conflicts from competing
interests and to raise awareness amongst local people on the importance of conserving this
property and to involve them in its management! Control and regulation of commercial
poaching is of priority as well as the need to fully enforce regulations banning commercial
logging within the property! +dditional financial logistical and human resources need to be
obtained to ensure the effective management of the property and its buffer 8one!
The authenticity of the archaeological sites and rock art site is intact! There is a need for
consolidation of the e#cavated sites to be carried out to ensure that they are not eroded by
natural or human processes!
The integrity of the cultural sites lies mainly in their relationship to one another along the
River Ogoou 5alley corridor which facilitated waves of migrations and subsidiary later
archaeological sites which fan out along the lesser river valleys within the forest! "t would be
desirable if at some point in the future that part of the river valley between the north-west
corner of the *ational 6ark and the historic ensemble to the north-west could be included so
that the integrity of the river corridor as a whole could be protected!
The legal protective measures for the property are adeAuate to protect the cultural attributes
of the landscape! .ithout a mission to the main archaeological sites in the River Ogoou
5alley details of the state of conservation of the cultural property cannot be recorded!
Currently there are no active conservation measures undertaken on the archaeological sites!
+lthough many of the sites are remote and this remoteness will help provide good protection
it would appear that over time consolidation and remedial work will be needed! Bigh priority
should be given to putting in place one or more staff with appropriate training for
archaeological sites and cultural landscapes!
Bistorical 2escription
Cin 0rench onlyD
Le dbut de l;histoire du site a t amplement voAu prcdemment!
Les fouilles archologiAues de la 8one ont commenc en $E%F et se poursuivent au,ourd;hui!
2ans la ceinture de savane Aui a attir des populations en grand nombre sur plusieurs
millnaires des gens vivent encore au,ourd;hui! Les langues parles dans la 8one sont
organises en plusieurs groupes parmi lesAuels : Okandais /imba et 6ouvi Gakina +kl
Gbahouin /ak et Gassango!
+u# H"He et HHe siIcles avec l;arrive du rgime colonial les peuplements alors forms de
petits hameau# pour chaAue famille ont t regroups en villages et villes plus grands! En
$E?F la Route nationale = fut construite le long de la valle pour faciliter l;e#ploitation des
forJts! Les principau# villages se trouvent au,ourd;hui le long de cette route!
En $EF? un chemin de fer a t construit par un consortium Eurotrag entre Libreville sur la
cKte et 0ranceville dans la forJt! Ce chemin de fer devait faciliter l;e#ploitation du
manganIse et du bois! Cela conduisit L la cration de nouveau# villages autour des gares
d;+yem et de Lop!
+u,ourd;hui environ > &&& personnes vivent L l;intrieur des limites de la 8one propose
pour inscription dans si# petits villages! Trois le long de la valle de l;Ogoou : -olko
'Lop( @ongoboumba et @a8amabika et trois dans le sud le long de l;Offou : Gakogh
-adond et Gikongo au#Auels on a,outera les deu# villages de Ramba et de
Gassenguelani oM vivent des populations bantoues et pygmes! Les si# principau# villages
sont dsigns comme 8ones de dveloppement pour encourager l;essor des marchs de
produits locau# et de l;cotourisme!
2ans la 8one tampon se trouve +schouka! 4n campement touristiAue a t install L Lop
la station de -oleko!
Lop-Okanda a t class comme rserve en $E9? et en >&&> est devenu parc national!
/ource: +dvisory -ody Evaluation
/pecies
The species listed below represent a small sample of iconic andNor "4C* Red Listed animals
and plants found in the property! Clicking on the number in brackets ne#t to the species will
reveal other .orld Beritage 6roperties in which a species has been identified! These species
are identified in an effort to better communicate the biological diversity contained within
.orld Beritage properties inscribed under criteria i# andNor #!
Bradypterus grandis N 2,a river warbler
Cephalophus ogilbyi crusalbum N .hite-legged 2uiker
Cercopithecus solatus N /un-tailed Gonkey /un-tailed <uenon
Colobus satanas satanas N -lack colobus
Diospyros crassiflora N +frican 6ersimmon
Euoticus elegantulus N *eedle-clawed -ushbaby
Falco naumanni N Lesser @estrel '9(
Gorilla gorilla N Lowland <orilla .estern <orilla '>(
Hippopotamus amphibius N Bippopotamus '>(
Loxodonta cyclotis N +frican 0orest Elephant