Gabon is a unique country. It is one of only 11 countries on the planet to be termed an HFLD or “High Forest Low Deforestation.” 88% of the country is a tropical rainforest with an average deforestation rate of less than 0.1% in the past 30 years.
These rainforests are an incredible source of biodiversity. But, beyond that, they’re also critical to rainfall across Africa.
The challenge ahead is maintaining that low deforestation rate. Gabon managed that with urbanization supported by oil exports. But, with oil reserves running low, the country needs a way out of it.
Given how important its forests are to all of Africa, Gabon is looking to diversify its economy without disturbing its forests. So, they’re testing a new “results based emission reduction payment” as part of the Central African Forest Initiative. In 2019, Norway committed to pay $150M to Gabon to protect its forests.
As long as Gabon continues to be Carbon Dioxide positive – they currently absorb 100 million tons above their annual emissions – they would qualify for these payments (more here).
It received its first $17M payment this year.
It’s likely not enough. But, it is a start and it was heartening to see this.
I hope many other countries follow Norway’s lead.