LIBREVILLE — Gabon will ban the export of unhewn timber from the beginning of 2010, in line with a decision taken by the cabinet early this month, government and other sources said Thursday.
"The measure will be effective. It has been confirmed," a consultant in the ministry of water and forests told AFP, asking not to be named.
On November 6, the government of the equatorial African country announced that it would ban the export of undressed wood in order to take advantage of its forest resources and to help tackle unemployment.
The long-term aim is to export "finished and semi-finished products with a high added value," the cabinet decided.
"We've been told that the measure will be applied from the month of January and is not negotiable," a timber professional told AFP. The treatment of raw materials within Gabon was one of the electoral priorities of President Ali Bongo Ondimba, who was sworn in on October 16.
The two main trade unions of forestry workers acknowledge the need to industrialise the sector, but believe time is short.
"It's happening too fast," stressed Gerard Moussu, secretary-general of the Union of Industrial Foresters and Forest Managers (UFIGA), which includes most of the affected workers.
"We've always been in phase with government policy and our members all back the objective of 75 percent" of dressed wood by 2012, in line with a law passed in 2001, Moussu said.
Gabon exports about three million cubic metres (106 million cubic feet) of wood per year, of which 1.8 million is simply chopped lumber that has not been processed.
The country, which is also oil-rich, has about 20 million hectares (49.4 million acres) of forest.
Outside the civil service, the logging industry is Gabon's main employer. According to various estimates, the sector provides 10,000 direct jobs and 20,000 indirectly.
Copyright © 2013 AFP. All rights reserved. More »