See also:
» 16.10.2009 - Gabon and Nigeria elected to UN Security Council
» 25.06.2007 - Gabon President guilty of graft
» 27.05.2005 - Two new World Heritage sites for Gabon?
» 07.02.2005 - Landmark Congo Basin conservation treaty signed
» 03.02.2005 - Brazzaville summit addresses Congo Basin's forests
» 21.05.2004 - Tri-national rainforest park in Congo Basin financed
» 13.05.2004 - Gabon to increase national park guarding
» 03.09.2003 - Gabonese national park system given world publicity

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Environment - Nature | Economy - Development

Gabon hopes for cash for forest protection

Gabonese President Ali Bongo Ondimba

© Govt Austria/afrol News
afrol News, 26 May
- Gabon's President Ali Bongo Ondimba on his way to an international conference on climate change and forests hopes he can cash in aid funds in return for further forest protection. A Gabonese climate council was launched today.

Omar Bongo, Gabon's ex-President and father of the incumbent, may have acted five years too early when he decided to effectively protect large parts of his country's vast rainforests. The diseased President hoped for an ecotourism boom, but nowadays, forest protection is far more lucrative.

Several billion dollar deals have been announced during the last two years, where industrial countries sponsor forest protection and regeneration in developing countries in a new type of climate deal. Protecting or re-establishing forests - which function as the world's lungs by consuming CO2 - is considered one of the most effective ways to limit global warming. Industrial countries "buy off" potential logging and as such get climate quotas enabling them to continue emission of greenhouse gases.

Only today, a deal between Indonesia and Norway was announced, where the latter is to pay Indonesia US$ 1 billion for an immediate moratorium on logging concessions. Earlier, Brazil and Guyana have achieved even greater sums, while Tanzania is the only African country securing a major forest protection award.

Gabon has done much to protect its rainforest, already in 2005 being classified the best in Africa in Yale University's Environmental Sustainability Index. 80 percent of Gabon's landmass is covered by rainforest, which forms part of the vast Congo Basin. And the Congo Basin is the world's largest carbon sink after the Amazon and is estimated by scientists to capture more than 70 million tonnes of carbon each year.

While most other countries in the Congo Basin - including Congo Kinshasa (DRC), Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea - have lost large parts of their virgin forests to more or less uncontrolled logging, Gabon over the last decade has taken a number of actions to improve fores

Equatorial tropical rainforest in Gabon

© Sally Lahm/UCSD/afrol News
t conservation and sustainable forest management.

Large parts of the country have been set aside as national parks and reserves. Gabon had expected to pay for the management of these valuable parks by establishing a large ecotourism sector. While many exiting destinations have already been constructed, others are still waiting for investors and revenues from the new sector have yet to take off.

President Bongo therefore has taken a greater interest in the carbon trade, hoping his large protected forests finally will pay off. Today, the Gabonese President arrived at the Oslo Climate and Forest Conference as one of very few state leaders, hoping to sell Gabon as a preferable carbon sink to industrial countries.

To make sure his initiative to save the global climate is taken seriously, a Gabonese climate council was inaugurated by the President before his departure in Libreville today. The Climate Council is to "recommend ways in which to develop the nation sustainably while combating climate change and preventing species loss," according to a press release from the Libreville presidency.

Gabon's new Climate Council comprises members of government from key ministries, including finance, foreign affairs, agriculture, health, defence, and technical experts. They are set to formulate recommendations and to "define the financial costs of integrating climate change considerations into national development policies and projects."

The Gabonese statement, issued in several languages, emphasises on Gabon's large efforts to protect its forests and on the immense value of the Congo Basin as a carbon sink. President Bongo announced he will use his voice at the Oslo conference to focus on "reducing carbon emissions generated by deforestation and the degradation of forests."

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