Institut de Recherche en Ecologie Tropicale

IRET is the regional focal point organisation for Central Africa

Created under the environmental Act No. 001867 of November 1985, IRET is a research institute under the authority of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique et Technologique, CENAREST. It is part of the Ministry of Education, Higher Education and Scientific Research and Technological Innovation of the Government of Gabon. 

The institute undertakes research in Gabon on:

  • biodiversity conservation and studies related to the understanding of the functioning of forest ecosystems;
  • ecosystem stability; and
  • topics related to global change and sustainable use of natural resources.

IRET is located at CENAREST, but comprises a network of senior researchers, postdoctoral associates and graduate students in African universities and abroad.


Research Station: Makokou/Ipassa

Located within the Ivindo National Park, the Ipassa Research Station is part of IRET, under the authority of CENAREST. In 1983, Ipassa was recognised and classified by UNESCO as a Biosphere Reserve. The Station is accessible from Libreville in 1 hour by airplane (twice a week on Tuesdays and Saturdays up to Makokou city), or about 12 hours by car or train (through the town of Booué). It is approximately 10 km from Makokou.

The missions of the Station are:

  • to reinforce the scientific and technical capacities with regard to forest management and conservation in Gabon and Central Africa; and
  • to generate scientific knowledge on sustainable forest management.

A policy of collaboration based on in situ training programmes was developed; as a result more than 30 doctorate theses and dozens of Master’s degree reports were submitted. Since 1962, over 200 researchers from various countries have realised numerous scientific studies at the station. Several specialists also took part in many research activities by conducting laboratory analyses on the collected biological material. A specialised scientific review, ‘Biologia gabonica’, was launched and published until 1972.

With more than 800 publications, the surrounding area of the Station is one of the most studied forest lands in Africa. Scientific results already published represent an important sum of knowledge compiled in various fields (floristic and faunistic inventories, climatology and pedology, plant and animal biology, forest dynamics, fauna-flora interaction, agroforestry, etc). The station can accommodate 25 people. Living facilities available on site include a canteen, a kitchen, a laundry and drinking water. Scientists can also make use of a library (with more than 700 books and publications), a herbarium (with more than 1000 specimens), an experimental zoo, 10 laboratory rooms and various experimental plots laid out in the forest areas within Ivindo National Park (Ipassa, Kongou, and Djidji stations). Technical facilities comprise an internet connection, computers, phone access, a garage with 2 4x4 vehicles for field activities, four speedboat engines for touring or scientific studies on the Ivindo River and its tributaries, and various items of field equipment (canvas covers, tents, rucksacks, generating sets, chainsaws, etc).

In 2002, a 4-year project funded by the European Union allowed the rehabilitation and the restarting of research activities at the research station (PSVAP, Component II, Makokou). The objectives of this project were achieved in collaboration with CIFOR, IRET's technical partner. The Station is fully functional.


  • Dr Alfred Ngomanda
    IRET Representative in the Steering Committee
  • Dr Donald Midoko Iponga
    IRET Focal Point Person to the project
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