Trees & Forests

November Trees & Forests

Photo courtesy of New York Times: A scene along the Akaka River. The elephant population has bounced back so strongly in recent years that it is becoming a nuisance for some.

Can a Nation Replace Its Oil Wealth With Trees?: The nation of Gabon is so lush with forests and wildlife its nickname is Africa’s Eden. It’s also one of the continent’s major oil producers. Gabon for decades has relied on petroleum to drive its economy. But officials know their oil won’t last forever. So they’ve turned to Gabon’s other abundant resource — a huge Congo Basin rainforest, full of valuable trees — to help make up the difference once the oil is gone. Gabon is engaging in activities that have become dirty words in the world of climate activism: It allows palm-oil plantations in certain areas and is turning rainforest into plywood.  However, unlike Brazil and other countries that have stood by as rainforests are decimated, Gabon has adopted strict rules designed to keep the vast majority of its trees standing. Its aim is to strike an important balance between the needs of a single nation and those of a world facing a climate crisis. Gabon has banned raw timber exports (France was a major buyer) and created an industrial complex with tax breaks to attract furniture companies, plywood makers and others to build factories and create jobs. Rules limit logging to just two trees per hectare every 25 years. And, to fight illegal logging, a new program tracks logs with bar codes. Gabon’s approach appears to be working, and other countries are already copying aspects of its plan, making it a potential blueprint for rainforest protection. Several Congo Basin nations have made commitments to ban raw timber exports next year, and two countries are planning industrial complexes aimed at creating jobs by transforming wood locally.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s