- Despite a strong legislative framework for forest management, illegal logging is still considered widespread in Gabon.
Governance reforms are underway with political commitment to achieve certification for all forest concessions by 2022.
- NGOs continue to document sector-wide illegalities, widespread corruption, and illegal timber being sold on international markets.
- There is currently no mandated independent forest monitor; therefore, information on company compliance with national legislation is limited.
- Over the last fifteen years, there has been a substitution of European trading partners by Asian – mainly Chinese operators – and Gabon is now the one of the most important destinations for Chinese forestry sector investment in Africa.
- Despite a rise in trade with Asia, Gabon still exports high risk timber to Europe and the U.S. and there is a risk that timber sourced from Gabon is used in Chinese, Vietnamese and Indian-manufactured products that are likely entering European and U.S. markets.
Read more by downloading the Gabon Timber Legality Risk Dashboard here.
Many of the countries that form part of the rainforest like Cameroon and the Democratic Republic of the Congo struggle with conservation due to a lack of funds or rebel groups.
Gabon, on the other hand, claims it has preserved its natural environment with satellite imagery and environment-first policies – and some industry insiders agree.
“Between 2010 and 2020, Gabon only lost approximately 12,000 hectares (29,652 acres) of forest which is less than 0.1 percent per year,” said George Akwah Neba, the coordinator of the Congo Basin Programme at the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).
“We’ve seen a huge regeneration of degraded forests since the early 2000s with several courageous decisions that set Gabon apart as a leader in environmental and forest management policies”.
Gabon’s environment minister has announced an immediate end to the logging of the Massaha ancestral forest in the country’s northeast, setting his administration a two-month deadline to finalize technical questions for permanent protection of the site. The move follows his visit to Massaha to gain a better understanding of the motives behind the community’s request to declassify the logging concession and grant it protected area status. Minister Lee White also ordered the Chinese company that holds the logging concession, Transport Bois Négoce International (TBNI), to “leave quickly” and “preserve the area.”
Deforestation due to the illegal cutting and sale of wood could be a sad memory in Central Africa. One of the countries of the sub-region wants to take up this challenge. Gabon is developing a system to monitor the legality and traceability of the timber it exports. Launched in July 2021, the Legality and Traceability Control System (LTCS) has as its main objective the preservation of forests and the improvement of transparency in the timber sector.
With its oil reserves waning, Gabon is betting that careful logging can safeguard the vast wealth of its forests, halving its associated carbon emissions while producing more timber. How Central African countries like Gabon manage their share of the world’s second-largest rainforest is critical. The so-called lungs of Africa store more carbon per hectare than the Amazon, help regulate temperatures, and generate rain for millions in the arid Sahel and distant Ethiopian highlands.
In view of the entry into force, from January 1 2023, of the measure prohibiting the export of logs in the six CEMAC countries (Cameroon, Congo, Gabon, Chad, CAR and Equatorial Guinea), a workshop devoted to the validation of the regional guidelines for taxation and forest certification is currently being held in Libreville.