Gabon to be first African nation to be paid to protect its rainforests

Gabon has reportedly become the first country in Africa to get paid to reduce carbon emissions by protecting its rainforest. As per reliable sources, the UN-supported Central African Forest Initiative (CAFI) has extended the first $17 million-tranche to the country as part of a $150 million deal, which was inked back in 2019.

Forests cover almost 90% of Gabon’s land and capture more carbon that the nation emits. Rainforests are critical in absorbing the world’s climate-heating emissions.

According to CAFI, the African nation has seemingly managed to reduce deforestation and subsequently lowered carbon emissions in the years 2016 and 2017 compared to the preceding decade.

In view of this, Norway, through CAFI, has paid $17 million to Gabon based on a formula that calculates the amount of carbon that would have otherwise been released. The remaining amount under the $150 million-agreement would supposedly be released to the country over the coming years.

Lee White, the Minister of Water, Forests, the Sea, and Environment of Gabon, stated that this initial payment equates to 0.1% of the annual GDP of Gabon, nonetheless, it was a significant first step.

White added that Norway has validated the African nation’s systems for monitoring carbon emissions and deforestation, which could aid high carbon-emitting countries in paying to help Gabon manage its resources in the coming years.

Gabon has apparently launched several conservation schemes in recent years, along with building 13 national parks and undertaking a project to tackle illegal logging.

However, the country evidently aims to bring in more money from timber. Therefore, the nation would continue to harvest trees and enhance the value of the sector through increased domestic processing of raw material.

Rainforest Foundation UK, the charity organization working on rainforest protection and community land rights, has reportedly said that while funds for forest protection is crucial, the payment risked becoming a “public relations” exercise.

It is worth noting that data released by Global Forest Watch indicated that in 2017, Gabon reported the highest rate of forest loss since 2001. On the other hand, the country’s government has said that as per its monitoring data, Gabon could maintain its carbon stocks by sustainable forestry, reports suggest.

Source credits: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-57567829