Environment - Nature | Economy - Development
Gabon hopes for cash for forest protection
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.
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."
By staff writer
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