Background and aims - Floristic inventories are the primary means by which the plant diversity of an area can be understood and are important in underpinning management plans for conservation. One of the priorities set out for Loango National Park (LNP) in an IUCN assessment of Gabon's protected areas was to produce a vascular plant checklist. Therefore, the primary goal of this research was to significantly increase the number of specimens for the park and make a concentrated effort to increase knowledge of plant diversity in the area. The secondary goal of this study was to analyse the flora of LNP in terms of phytogeography and endemism. Methods - A specimen-based botanical inventory was carried out in LNP (1005 herbarium specimens collected for this study were added to 752 existing records) and vegetation observations were made. Phytogeographical analyses were also performed using two different methods and datasets for comparison. Key results - A preliminary checklist of 686 species of vascular plants of LNP is presented, making a significant contribution to our knowledge of the flora of Gabon with more than twenty new country records. Conclusions -There is a surprisingly high proportion (15%) of the overall Gabonese flora recorded from within the park in this preliminary checklist. Further inventory within the park will undoubtedly produce a much higher percentage of the flora of the whole country. This high proportion is explained in part by the combination of restricted coastal endemics, diversity of habitats, and dynamic biological and physical processes. Phytogeographical analyses reveal different floristic relationships between the forest and savanna components of the flora suggesting different origins of these two biomes in coastal Gabon. The forest species are typically Guineo-Congolian in distribution and the savanna species are Sudano- Zambezian or widespread in distribution. Together, the faunal elements and the high diversity of the flora of Loango National Park make it a globally important site for conservation.
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