Thursday, June 12, 2008

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Forest Resources

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Various sources estimate Gabon's forest cover at between 17 and 20 million hectares, comprising the majority of the Guineo-Congolese forest. Guineo-Congolese forest is a tropical rain forest ecosystem known for its high species richness and endemism. This forest is an invaluable resource to Gabon locally and is also important globally as a source of biodiversity and a carbon sink, which influences the global climate.

Over the past 40 years, the area of forest allocated to logging concessions has grown from less than 10 per cent to over 50 per cent with most of this increase occurring in the last decade. Okoume, a valuable African hardwood, accounts for over 70 per cent of Gabon's timber harvest. It is selectively harvested by clear-cutting patches of Okoume, leaving a few trees to encourage regrowth. During the first six months of 2005, production of logs of all species in Gabon rose 4.7 per cent over the previous year.

The 2000 image shows a clear cut patch in the centre of the image at a regrowth stage. This is in contrast to the 1988 image, in which only slight disturbance of the forest cover is visible (yellow arrow). The least densely populated country in Central Africa, Gabon has less pressure than many of its neighbours to convert forests to agricultural land. With good forest management practices, the immense value of Gabon's Guineo-Congolese forest can be sustainably utilized for many generations.
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