WWF welcomes Gabon government’s declaration to have all forest concessions FSC certified by 2022 | WWF

WWF welcomes Gabon government’s declaration to have all forest concessions FSC certified by 2022

Posted on 03 October 2018
Atlantic coast forest, Gabon
© WWF / James Morgan
On 26 September, the President of Gabon – His Excellency Ali Bongo Ondimba - took an important step towards sustainable forest management by declaring that as of 2022, all forest concessions operating in Gabon will have to be certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), an international certification scheme that advocates socially equitable, environmentally sustainable and economically viable forest management. Forest concessions that have not entered the FSC forest certification assessment process by the target date will have their permits withdrawn. 
To date, only 3 out of 40 major companies in Gabon are FSC certified: Rougier Gabon, Precious Wood and CBG (Compagnie des bois du Gabon). CBG is a participant in the Global Forest & Trade Network (GFTN), one of WWF’s leading initiatives to tackle illegal timber trade and promote responsible forestry and trade. Although Gabon’s overall rate of deforestation has remained relatively low (below 0.1 percent), illegal logging has been a problem and illegal timber trade is expected to constitute 50 percent of all forestry activity in the country.
“The government’s decision to require FSC certification for all forest concessions is a positive step to protect Gabon’s forest ecosystems and to ensure benefits for local communities,” said Marthe Mapangou, Director of WWF-Gabon. “WWF will continue to support the government and companies in Gabon to implement sustainable forest management practices through our understanding of practicalities on the ground, and we will communicate best practices in forest management through the implementation of Global Forest & Trade Network (GFTN) tools.”
With forests covering about 85 percent of the country – about 22 million hectares – half of which is destined to timber production, Gabon is an important destination for foreign investors, in particular Chinese companies. Timber is the country's second most important export after oil, and key markets include China and the European Union. Over 2 million hectares, or 14 percent of total forestry concessions in Gabon are currently FSC-certified. In the whole Congo Basin, only Cameroon, the Republic of the Congo and Gabon have FSC-certified concessions. 
 “The new announcement from Gabon follows the government’s 2009 decision to ban the export of raw logs. Gabon is establishing itself as a reference point for sustainable forest management in the Congo Basin, and we encourage other countries to follow suit,” said Marc Languy, WWF Deputy Regional Director for Central Africa.
Atlantic coast forest, Gabon
© WWF / James Morgan Enlarge