Situated in the western part of the Congo Basin on the South Atlantic Ocean, Gabon has a land area of 26.8 million hectares and a population of about 1.3 million people. The climate is typically tropical, always hot and humid, with high average temperatures year round.
Gabon’s total forest area was estimated at 25.8 million hectares in 2000 which is more than 80% of the land area. The main forest types include the evergreen rainforest in the west, the central Gabonese forest covering most of the country and which is similar to the closed moist forest found from Liberia to the Congo Basin and the semi-deciduous forests occurring in the northeast. Gabon contains more than 6,500 plant species, 320 mammals and 617 birds.
More than 60% of the population in Gabon live in urban areas and with one of the lowest overall population density, there is little anthropogenic pressure on forest resources. Less than 10,000 hectares (0.1%) of forest were lost per year until 2005 although the situation is set to change rapidly in the coming years. Gabon enjoys one of the highest GDP per capita in sub-Saharan Africa estimated at US$14,900 in 2008.
An environmental law was adopted in Gabon in 1993 (No 16/93) and the current forest policy was adopted in 1996. It aims to increase and optimize the contribution of the forestry sector to economic and social development and to promote a more diversified and efficient wood industry through a significant reduction in the export of logs and an increase in the local processing of wood products. After the development of a national environmental action plan and an extensive consultation at the national level, a new forest law was adopted in Gabon in December 2001. Gabon is also signatories to several international agreements on environmental practices and policies.