Located in the eastern provinces of Haut-Ogooué and Ogooué-Lolo, the Partner Forest in Gabon is a group of forest concessions held by Compagnie Equatoriale des Bois (CEB), a subsidiary of Precious Woods, and staffed by members of local villages. The company exemplifies sustainable forest management, which it has led in Gabon for over a decade, influencing green-standard setting national forest laws.
Managing forests sustainably
Since 2007, Precious Woods has operated three concessions — Bambidié, Lelama, and Okondja — comprising 596 800 hectares of tropical forest managed according to the principles of FSC- and PEFC-certified sustainable forestry. The company follows 25-year harvest cycles with working zones that rotate every five years to ensure forest cover is maintained. This means that only one or two trees per hectare are harvested annually.
The practices of the operation are informed too by an ongoing study of the environment and community engagement. In 2014, 19,900 hectares were designated for wildlife conservation. These special conservation areas follow prescribed FSC standards to preserve natural habitats for species like water buffalo, great apes, and a thriving population of the last known forest elephants on the planet. In addition, local communities define areas, including trees, that they hold sacred. Using GPS, these areas are isolated and protected as high-value conservation zones.
Precious Woods–CEB forest concessions in Gabon
Precious Woods CEB staff organizing processed timber at the Bambidié sawmill.
Supporting local economic development
The forestry operation directly employs about 900 people in forest stewardship and skilled trades that add value to the timber locally before it is exported. In addition, local services maintained by Precious Woods–CEB reach about 2500. An essential settlement at Bambidié consists of administrative offices, a planning division, a major mechanical workshop, two sawmills, a recovery workshop, dryers, and a fleet of equipment. There is also a medical clinic, staff housing, a school complex for more than 750 students, a commissary, and a bakery.
Forest-positive products for export
This is an adapted version of the Precious Woods CEB map viewable by clicking here.
Did you know?
Gabon is one of the most heavily forested countries in the world!
According to the U.N. FAO, 85.4% or about 22,000,000 ha of Gabon is covered by trees.
Out of this total forest cover, 65.2% ( 14,334,000 ha) is classified as primary forest consisting of the most biodiverse and carbon-dense form of forest.
All of this means that Gabon’s forests contain 2,710 million metric tons of carbon in living forest biomass and makeup 18% of the Congo Basin, which is one of the most important wilderness areas left on Earth.
- In 2018, President Ali Bongo declared that all forestry concessions must be FSC-certified by the end of 2022.
- The private forestry sector employs 28% of Gabon citizens.
- Timber accounts for 15% of Gabon’s GDP.
- In 2010, Gabon enacted a law banning the export of unprocessed logs to promote conservation and foster local value-added enterprise.
- The Congo Basin represents about 10 years of global emissions of CO2.
- The country’s forests absorb at least 100 million tonnes more carbon dioxide than its total emissions.
Learn more about Gabon forestry
Learn more about Precious Woods CEB and its operations in Gabon by reading this report here.
Learn more about Gabon's timber and forestry by watching this video here.
Uncover how Gabon concession holders are protecting the last know habitats of forest elephants by reading this Mongabay article and this FSC story
Learn how Gabon is using its own wood to build important infrastructure in Libreville by reading our blog here.
Find out more about how Gabon is fighting against illegal logging while preserving sacred sites by reading this Mongabay article here.