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Country Profile: Gabon

With 88% forest cover, Gabon holds a special status as a High-Forest, Low-Deforestation (HFLD) country with the second-highest percentage forest cover in the world (after Suriname). The government of Gabon has demonstrated strong leadership and action to protect its forests.

Country timeline Joint first Biennial Update Report (BUR) /3rd National Communication (2021) 

Forest Reference level (2021)

Main activities
in 2020
Support on national legislation on climate change 

Support in the development of the Greenhouse Gas inventory (Quality assurance for the Forest Reference Emissions Level/Forest Reference Level)

Summary

Gabon’s forests store high levels of carbon, host exceptional biodiversity, provide resources and livelihoods for rural populations, and regulate rainfall and mitigate climate change at the national, regional and global scales. Gabon’s Forest Reference Level (FRL) serves as a benchmark for assessing the country’s performance in implementing the five REDD+ activities. Gabon had a 2018 Forest Landscape Integrity Index mean score of 9.07/10, ranking it 9th globally out of 172 countries.

Gabon is forging that path with its Low Emissions Development Strategy (LEDS) to increase economic growth and become an emerging economy through sustainable policies and actions, while conserving its natural ecosystems and contributing to global climate efforts.

Participants in the CfRN training session at the National Climate Council in Libreville

Background

Gabon is a country on the west coast of Central Africa. Located on the equator, Gabon is bordered by Equatorial Guinea to the northwest, Cameroon to the north, the Republic of the Congo on the east and south, and the Gulf of Guinea to the west. It has an area of nearly 270,000 square kilometers (100,000 sq mi) and its population is estimated at 2.1 million people. Its capital and largest city is Libreville. Gabon generally has an equatorial climate with an extensive system of rainforests, with 89.3% of its land area forested. There are three distinct regions: the coastal plains (ranging between 20 and 300 km from the ocean’s shore), the mountains (the Cristal Mountains to the northeast of Libreville, the Chaillu Massif in the center), and the savanna in the east. The coastal plains form a large section of the World Wildlife Fund’s Atlantic Equatorial coastal forests ecoregion and contain patches of Central African mangroves especially on the Muni River estuary on the border with Equatorial Guinea. Gabon had a 2018 Forest Landscape Integrity Index mean score of 9.07/10, ranking it 9th globally out of 172 countries.

Participants in the CfRN training session at the National Climate Council in Libreville

Gabon Timeline

1996 Gabon adopted its first forest policy to increase the forestry sector’s contribution to economic and social development.

2009 A new Forest Code was signed into law requiring logging companies to undertake sustainable management of their concessions, to employ low impact harvesting techniques, to lengthen harvest rotation to at least 20 years, and to submit 30-year management plans for forest concessions. The Code also prescribed that by 2009, 75% of raw logs would be processed in Gabon prior to export.

2002 President Omar Bongo Ondimba designated roughly 10% of the nation’s territory to be part of its national park system (with 13 parks in total), one of the largest allocations of nature parkland in the world. The National Agency for National Parks manages Gabon’s national park system.

2009 Gabon was still far from reaching its wood processing goal, so President Ali Bongo Ondimba halted all export of raw logs and required that 100% of timber be processed in country. These restrictions started to come into effect in 2010 and were fully implemented in 2011. This radical measure was intended to generate more value-add and jobs on national territory, but also contributed to professionalizing the sector and to a significant drop in total wood production, thereby reducing emissions.

2018 The Gabonese President announced that all logging concessions must be FSC certified by 2022.

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