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The Nouabalé-Ndoki TEAM site was established in 2009 at the Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park, a 4,200 km ² forested park in the northern Republic of Congo, Central Africa.
The Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park was created by Presidential Decree in 1993, further to a 3-year collaborative project between the Congo Forest Conservation Project of Wildlife Conservation International (now Wildlife Conservation Society), The World Bank Global Environmental Facility program (GEF), the German GTZ and the Government of Congo. The aim of the Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park is to effectively protect the biodiversity of the region through a site-based and landscape management approach, in collaboration with the logging concessions in its buffer zones and contiguous protected areas in the Sangha River Trinational Region. Key site-based activities include local education, eco-tourism development, protected area law enforcement, research and monitoring activities coupled with capacity building programs in each of these areas. The park’s management approach builds from the ecological needs and threats of a complementary suite of wide-ranging landscape species to efficiently target conservation efforts. Current research and monitoring programs being conducted within the national park enable project managers to evaluate the success of their conservation efforts in meeting targets and mitigating the threats.
Despite surrounding logging activities, the Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park remains one of the most intact large forest ecosystems in Africa with no permanent human settlement within and extremely low human population density in the surrounding areas around the park. The main forest types in the park are mixed Sterculiaceae – Ulmaceae semi deciduous forest divided into a mixed humid forest on terra firma and a liana or vine forest, with large patches of monodominant Gilbertiodendron dewevrei forest and swamp and flooded forests with a rich diversity of aquatic plants along most of the main rivers. Forest clearings are found along most of the park’s rivers and are key habitat types.
Nouabalé-Ndoki is covered by a rich and diverse forest habitat, providing high quality shelter and food for its rich diversity of terrestrial and aquatic fauna.
The mixed humid forest on terra firma includes open and closed canopy, both with a fairly high diversity of tree species. Closed canopy forest tends to have a clear understorey and a high tree density and basal area. Open canopy forest has a low density of trees, and a dense cover of ground vegetation, usually terrestrial herbaceous vegetation, largely in the families Marantaceae and Zingiberaceae.
Liana or vine forest is very similar to the above types of forest, but is characterized by dense understorey vegetation composed of lianas and terrestrial herbaceous vegetation and a light canopy cover. It is usually close to rivers and sometimes has Cleistanthus, Macaranga, Terminalia, and Pycnanthus species.
A gregarious Caesalpinoid legume, G. dewevrei is the dominant species of the Gilbertiodendron dewevrei monodominant forest. This is a widespread vegetation type in the forest of the Congo Basin with a high tree density and basal area, very dense canopy and little understorey vegetation. This type of forest occurs both beside the watercourses of the area, and also in large patches on the inter-fluvial plateaux of the Park. The understorey is generally fairly sparse, due to the dense canopy that admits little light. However some areas have a dense Haumania dankelmaniana understorey, often with an abundance of Palisota spp. (Commelinaceae). Usually the G. dewevrei forest is relatively dry underfoot, but this vegetation type also occurs as a flooded forest type.
Flooded forest is usually dominated by Guibourtia demeusei, Cleistanthus spp., Raphia spp., Daniellia pynaertii, Symphonia globulifera, Uapaca spp., Macaranga spp., and Lophira alata and is flooded for at least a part of the year.
Swamp forest is a mixed-species vegetation forest, usually in the floodplains of rivers, usually of fairly low-canopy vegetation. The common species making up this vegetation type are Alstonia congoensis, Guibourtia demeusei, Macaranga schweinfurthii, Mitragyna (Hallea) ciliate, Nauclea pobeguineii and Symphonia globulifera.
The forest clearings comprise only a tiny percentage of the total surface area of the Park and the neighboring forests. They are, however, of outstanding importance for several species of large mammals of the region. These forest clearings exist in the north of the Congo, including not only Nouabalé-Ndoki, but also the Odzala National Park, and the area between these two important protected areas. They are also found in the areas adjacent to Nouabalé-Ndoki in the neighboring countries of Cameroon and the Central African Republic, namely the Lobéké and Dzanga-Sangha areas.
The Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park is home to important populations of forest elephants, western lowland gorillas, chimpanzees, African Leopard, bongo antelope, sitatunga, forest buffalos, red river hog and many other endangered large mammals. It also boasts over 300 bird species and 1,000 plant species, including a rich diversity of old grown endangered African Mahoganies.
The park is accessible from its Headquarter at Bomassa in the southeast, after about 40 minutes (32km) drive along a forestry road. There are two access points to Bomassa from Brazzaville, with two different transportation types, as regular domestic flights from Brazzaville are available either to Ouesso or to Pokola. On arrival in Ouesso (about 100km southern Bomassa), it takes between two and eight hours to travel up the Sangha River by motorized dugout canoe to Bomassa. While arriving in Pokola (about 150km southern Bomassa), it takes between two to three hours driving on a logging road to Bomassa.
As there is no road inside the park, small dugout canoes take researchers and visitors inside the park along a range of large to narrow rivers and access to most of the park’s areas involves a few hours walk along a combination of elephant and human maintained trails.