GABON: CTRI wants to see clearly in the management of forest resources?

18 09 2023 | 16:19Boris Ngounou / AFRIK21

In Gabon, the Director General of Forests was arrested on September 12, 2023. The arrest of Ghislain Moussavou comes a few days after his meeting with the president of the Transitional Council for the Restoration of Institutions (CTRI). General Brice Clotaire Oligui Nguema had ordered the senior executive of the Ministry of Water and Forests to return potentially misappropriated funds within 48 hours.

In Gabon, Ghislain Moussavou, the Director General of Forests, is working at the General Directorate of Research (DGR). His arrest took place on Tuesday September 12, 2023 in his office at the Gabonese Ministry of Water and Forests, the Sea, the Environment, the Climate Plan, and the Land Use Plan.

The arrest of Ghislain Moussavou follows a complaint filed in May 2023 by the National Union of Water and Forestry Professionals (Synapef). The union accuses the senior executive of being part of a criminal network which allegedly set up a system of shell companies and parallel bank accounts in order to embezzle public money. The complaint concerns around 200 forestry permits which were allegedly granted illegally, for an area of ​​3 million hectares and hundreds of millions of CFA francs.

A complaint reportedly taken up by the president of the Transition Council for the Restoration of Institutions (CTRI). Because the day after his swearing in on September 4, 2023, the general who overthrew President Ali Bongo four days earlier, ordered the director general of forests to return within 48 hours all the money they had embezzled.

As a reminder, the accused had already been imprisoned in Libreville central prison in 2022 for breach of trust and embezzlement. His release came thanks to the intervention of the former Minister of Water and Forests, Lee White.

A sustainable forestry model

Gabon is, however, presented in Central Africa as a model in terms of sustainable forestry. The country captures the most biodiversity funding, compared to the rest of the countries in the sub-region. With nearly 88% forest cover, Gabon promotes green diplomacy whose effectiveness is reflected in the financing obtained on the carbon market. In 2019, Norway committed $150 million to Gabon to protect its forests as part of the Central African Forest Initiative (CAFI).

Well before this funding, the country underwent an independent audit of its deforestation rates in 2016 and 2017. The conclusive results of this study, i.e. a deforestation rate of around 0.1% per year, allowed Gabon to obtain a first payment of 17 million dollars, as part of the REDD+ initiative, thus becoming the first African country to be paid for protecting its forests.