One of the most important innovations from Gabon’s 2001 forest reform was a mechanism that recognised the management rights of local communities over the forests they depend on for their living.
Subsequent legislation to complement the principles of the Forest Code, has made it possible to build a comprehensive framework allowing communities to collectively manage the forests in which they exercise customary rights.
This mechanism is important because it effectively transfers management rights from the state to forest communities whose customary rights are not recognised by written law. By March 2018, however, only 1% of Gabon’s forests were effectively managed by communities.
ClientEarth has now published a comprehensive review of the community forestry legal framework in Gabon. For this, we reviewed Gabonese laws and interviewed administration representatives and communities that implement community forestry.
The review examines the key elements of the legal framework, highlighting both how it can help community forest management flourish and the legal gaps and inconsistencies that could impact its implementation and development.
Our analysis shows that the legal framework can explain the relative success of community forestry in Gabon.
As Gabon is reviewing its forest legislation, policymakers have the opportunity to learn from the strengths and weaknesses of existing laws to build a more supportive framework.
To help them with this task, we have also published our main recommendations in a ‘report of contributions’ to the draft Forest Code.
This short study presents legal options for a framework designed to enable community forestry.