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Local communities criticise Gabon's forest conservation policy they consider as very restrictive for their activities

Author: The New Times (Rwanda), Published on: 11 November 2019

"Dilemma in Gabon's forest conservation and economic interests", 6 October 2019

The lush green canopy stretches over the Akanda National Park -- one of the many forest jewels that Gabon is fighting to conserve. But those living in poverty in the shadow of the park are ambiguous. They see the forests less as a global treasure to be cosseted and more as a resource that they need to use to survive. A bank employee...glanced up at the immense trees almost with hostility. "I've lived here for two years and I can tell you that I have no electricity and no water," said the man... "Gabon's forests are a source of national pride, but you can't be proud and live without a roof over your head." ...

...Norway announced a $150-million (Sh15 billion) contract with Gabon to reduce its carbon emissions...But the fight against climate change spurred little enthusiasm among local people...A retired cook, Luc Boudzanga, said he had no pension. To get by, he had to grow food on land where such activities are banned. "We eat thanks to the forest," Boudzanga says..."Otherwise, how would we survive?" It is not just poor people who eye the forest as a resource -- loggers and miners, too, argue that the trees and the mineral-rich land below deserve to be used, a position fiercely opposed by green campaigners...

"They will pay us because we have not deforested and because we've managed logging responsibly, and reduced emissions linked to logging," said...[the forestry minister]... 

 

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