Commercial forest harvesting in Gabon began as early as 1892, but only in 1913 was Okoumé, Gabon’s most valuable wood, introduced to the international market. Gabon supplies 90% of the world’s Okoumé, known worldwide for the production of veneer & plywood. Forestry and timber processing has been one of the driving sectors of the economy of Gabon. Boasting the second highest forestry potential in Africa, Gabon’s forests covers 22.8 million hectares, i.e. 88% of the country’s land surface. Until 2010 i.e. before ban on export of raw logs, Gabon was the largest exporter of raw wood in the region, and its sales represent 20% of Africa’s raw wood exports. Gabon’s reserves of exploitable timber estimated at 400 million cubic meter includes 130 million cubic meters of Okoumé.
Gabon supplies 90% of the world’s Okoumé, known in Europe and America for the production of veneer & plywood. Its demand is also picking up in Asia.
Aucoumeaklaineana (Angouma, Gaboon, or Okoumé) is a tree in the family Burseraceae, found in equatorial West Africa and mainly in Gabon. Its attractive appearance means that it is often used decoratively as the top surface veneer in panelling and furniture. Physical and mechanical properties: Widely recognised as one of the world’s best materials for rotary cut veneers. Moreover, it is a species of a very even colour, good bonding performances and good compatibility with finished products. The log quality of Okoumé in Gabon is very high. The first grade is normally used for veneer and the second grade for sawn wood, which still is an excellent quality for the production of sawn timber. Okoumé wood species at solid timber stage shows a durability level of Class 4 in accordance with EN 350 – 2.
Republic of Gabon’s Efforts for Forest & Timber Industries
Over the past ten years, Gabon has gone through a profound process of reform affecting the forest and environment. A new forest law has come into force that emphasizes Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) as the overall approach in the forestry. Gabon has a low deforestation rate, forests rich in valuable timber species and among the best prospects for a healthy and sustainable timber industry.
Republic of Gabon is aiming to turn Gabon into a world leader in certified tropical timber production through an industrial strategy aimed at sustainably managing timber stocks and by promoting secondary and tertiary processing.
After ban on export of raw logs, Gabonese Republic has embarked on a journey to provide amenable ecosystem and infrastructure to facilitate the processing of timber within Gabon. In this pursuit, Gabonese Republic in partnership with Olam International Limited, Singapore developed a Special Economic Zone, spread over 1126 ha at Nkok (20 Km from the capital city of Libreville).
The Special Economic Zone at Nkok is managed and operated by Gabon Special Economic Zone (GSEZ) SA which offers land on freehold and lease basis for timber processing industries along with utilities like water, electricity etc. at very attractive terms. As part of its business facilitation role and to ensure unhindered supply of logs to units in Nkok SEZ, GSEZ SA is also operating a log supply chain for units in SEZ, and offer long term contract for assured supply of raw material i.e. logs.
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