A non-governmental organisation (NGO) in Gabon whose activities are centred around environmental protection, Brainforest, has sued nine timber companies for violating the terms of their community forestry contracts.
After a mission undertaken by a team of the NGO to several forestry concessions in the Ogooue-Ivindo province under its “Citizens Voices for Change: Forestry Observation in the Congo Basin” project, nine companies operating in the area were identified as not respecting their agreements with host communities signed in October 2015 and August 2016.
The forestry companies sued were: WCTS, XWBS, KHLL, Pat Timber, Sunry, TBN, Peng Xing, TBF, and SIAFED. Brainforest said they have not completely fulfilled their obligation to finance projects of collective interests identified by the villages in line with the contracts.
“In effect, in application of Article 251 of the Forestry Code and Article 4 of arête 105 of the Ministry of Forestry and Water, these structures have to finance, through the Local Development Fund, some projects of collective interest identified by the village communities concerned,” the NGO said.
The Gabonese government has announced plans to replace revenues from oil exploration, which constitutes 22 percent of its GDP according to the World Bank, with the exploitation of Timber.
“We are currently finalising a strategy for the development of the forest-wood sector that will see the establishment of forest plantations and the creation of more than 50,000 jobs over 5 years,” the Minister of Environment and Forests, Lee White, said in July.
“It is through this strategy that the Gabonese forest will contribute more significantly to the national economy. Wood, a renewable resource when exploited in a sustainable manner, could as early as 2030 replace oil in our economy.”