The Raponda Walker Arboretum is a forest that covers over 6,747 hectares. Located outside Gabonese capital Libreville, the protected area is open to the public.
But like much of the country’s forests, illegal felling of trees is still rampant here despite a forest code. It faces threats of small-scale subsistence farming, charcoal production, mining and commercial logging.
Annie Medik, is a programme coordinator for the NGO KEVA INITIATIVE: “There is a national strategy to combat illegal logging. There is a strategy and a national action plan to protect biodiversity.”
KEVA Initiative is a conservation group in Libreville. Created in 2006, it works to raise awareness on the sustainable use of natural resources in a country where forests cover 90 percent of the territory.
“We also support them in actions to promote non-wood forest products in actions to set up agricultural plots, especially market gardening,” Medik adds.
The Gabonese forests are part of the Congo Basin in Central Africa, which covers 200 million hectares according to the World Wildlife Fund, and is the world’s second-largest tropical rainforest after the Amazon.
Ada Edou Mijola, an environmental lawyer speaks on the need for the state to do more: “They practice inappropriate methods, even taking resources that have not yet reached maturity, so this is why we say that biodiversity is really threatened and that the state should strengthen measures to better protect it.”
Ahead of World Rainforest Day on June 22nd, conservationists are raising awareness on the need to protect the rainforests, noting that 20% of the oxygen we breathe and the freshwater we drink is attributed to rainforests of the Amazon.
The non-profit group’s staff members organise training seminars for the village communities and accompany the villagers in their market gardening activities.
KEVA Initiative takes part in studies, training and mapping. It covers land use for agriculture, climate, and forest resources, among others.