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Gabon could earn up to $150 million for forest conservation

Rainforest trees in Gabon at sunset. Only time will tell if the combined efforts of conservationists, agribusiness and the government will be able to protect a significant portion of Gabon’s rainforest and biodiversity. Photo by Rhett A. Butler

  • Home to 12 percent of the Congo Basin’s forests, the African nation has an established conservation and sustainable management practices track record.
  • Since the early 2000s, Gabon has worked to create 13 national parks, while improving performance on timber resource management outside of the parks.
  • Gabon’s rainforest has been largely preserved by these and other measures, a key reason why the Central African Rainforest Initiative is brokering a 10-year, $150 million agreement for results-based payments.

Gabon is set to become the first nation in Africa to earn millions in results-based payments for conservation to the tune of $150 million. The deal, brokered by Central African Rainforest Initiative (CAFI) on behalf of the Norwegian government, aims to bolster the successes already seen by Gabon in their rainforest conservation. 

The 10-year agreement will reward Gabon – in the form of results-based payments – for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and degradation. The agreement will also reward them for the absorption of carbon dioxide by natural forests. It will retroactively honor performance from as far back as 2016. Monies from those and future results will be paid out annually. 

Notably, the Norway-CAFI-Gabon deal will set a carbon price floor of $10 per certified ton as a financial incentive to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Gabon plans to use ART (Architecture for REDD+ Transactions) to certify emission reductions and removal. The processes include third-party verification.  

Although it is home to just 12 percent of the Congo Basin’s rainforests, the presence of nearly 60 percent of Africa’s remaining forest elephants is seen as indicative of good conservation and sustainable management practices. In fact, since the early 2000s, Gabon has worked to create 13 national parks and improve performance on timber resource management outside the parks. 

“I am very pleased with this results-based partnership through CAFI, which includes a historic carbon floor price to further encourage Gabon to continue to preserve its rainforest,” said Ola Elvestuen, Norway’s Minister of Climate and Environment, in a statement.

Approximately 88 percent of Gabon has forest cover, and the government aims to preserve most of that in the coming years – as much as 98 percent. 

“Norway’s agreement to double the price of a ton of rainforest carbon dioxide is highly significant and gives us hope that the international community will move towards a realistic price that will provide a real incentive for rainforest countries to follow our example,” said Lee White, Gabon’s Minister of Forest, Seas, Environment and Climate Change, in a statement. 

Part of the hope is that as the value of Gabon’s rainforest goes up, the Gabonese people will also benefit through an improved standard of living, new jobs, and more conservation and sustainable exploitation successes. 

Details laid out in an addendum to the announcement note that the programs under the agreement are not yet defined. Once the details of a national investment plan are worked out, the reinvestment of the results-based payments will be determined. The government of Gabon will work with various stakeholders and the CAFI executive board on the plan. The final say will lay with Gabon’s Ministry of Economy and the National Climate Council.

CAFI supports REDD+-based investment frameworks and development of low emissions in the Central African region’s six “high forest cover countries,” including Gabon. It is managed under the UN Multi-Partner Trust Fund Office and the UN Development Programme.