Gabon to receive $150 million from Norway to protect its forests

Gabon to receive $150 million from Norway to protect its forests

The Norwegian government will provide Gabon with $150 million to fight deforestation, according to the Central African Forest Initiative (CAFI).

Gabon which is almost 90 percent covered by forest will use the funds, to be disbursed over 10 years, to “both reducing its greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and degradation, and absorption of carbon dioxide by natural forests,” CAFI said in a statement.

The Central African nation has enacted regulations and set up a bold plan that sets aside 10 percent of the country as protected parks. However, despite these efforts, illegal logging is steadily eroding Gabon’s natural resources.

One driver of deforestation in Gabon is the upscale furniture market in China. When processed, the kevazingo tree — also known as bubinga, amazique, and African rosewood — looks similar to wood used by the Chinese to make expensive hongmu furniture.

This has encouraged illegal loggers to hunt down kevazingo trees, and similar looking trees, and smuggle them to Asia. Hopefully, Norway’s new deal will not only help curb climate change, but also help Gabon maintain its kevazingo trees, which indigenous groups consider to be sacred.

Gabon has around 12 percent of the Congo Basin forest, the world’s second-largest tropical rainforest, and is home to almost 60 percent of the surviving forest elephants in Africa.

“I am very pleased with this results-based partnership,” said Ola Elvestuen, Norway’s Minister of Climate and Environment. “It properly takes into account Gabon’s special status as a country with high forest cover and low deforestation.”

Gabon’s plans also allow it to slash its own emissions by more than 50 percent when compared with 2005, bringing it in line with a new Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) commitment.

CAFI, established four years ago, includes six African nations (Cameroon, Central African Republic, RDC, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon & Congo-Brazzavilleand), a host of global development agencies and European partners committed to protecting rainforests that cover an area the size of Western Europe.

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