Central Africa countries are experiencing rapid population growth and are counting on significant economic development to be included in the list of “emerging countries” or “middle-income countries”. Beyond human considerations (~70% of the population lives less than 50 km from the coast) and important geostrategic considerations (the Gulf of Guinea provides ~50% of the African continent’s oil production and ~8% of world production), Central Africa is a key region providing many ecosystem functions and services. For example, the many estuarine and lagoon areas, mainly composed of mangroves, particularly in Cameroon and Gabon, are the home of an important natural resource that makes them high places on the biodiversity and constitutes essential fish habitats. However, a great diversity of anthropogenic pressures threatens these coastal ecosystems (urban sprawl, contaminant discharges, overexploitation of minerals, plants and animals), to which are added climate uncertainties (loss of diversity, reduced productivity, coastal erosion, etc.). The many challenges for sustainable development in this region, taking into account climate change mitigation, adaptation and biodiversity conservation, raise many questions, the main one being: how to reconcile the development and preservation of major ecosystems with very rich biodiversity in the context of global warming, high population growth and increased land use?
Faced with these questions, Central Africa remains one of the least studied regions in the world. Major gaps in hydrological, climatic, biogeochemical and ecological data persist and result in observations that remain fragmented, poorly distributed throughout the territory and rarely sustained. It is in this context that LEMAR, in collaboration with its partners, has been developing research projects for several years to understand the functioning of coastal ecosystems in Gabon. The objective of this research is to support the implementation of management measures, in the context of the ecosystem approach to the conservation and sustainable use of marine resources.