Legal rights to harvest
The Forest Code makes the management of allocated forest concessions, as well as the processing of timber, mandatory. It also provides for three types of forest permits: the forest concession under sustainable management (CFAD - Concession Forestière sous Aménagement Durable), the associated forest permit (PFA - Permis Forestier Associé), the mutual agreement permit (PGG - Permis de Gré à Gré) and the community forests.
The national forest domain includes a permanent forest domain (dedicated to the attribution of concessions and for Protected Areas) and a rural forest domain.
In the permanent forest domain, Gabon recognises two types of forest management permits, which are attributed by auction:
- CFAD - Concession forestière sous aménagement durable (Forest concession under sustainable management), with a minimum area of 50,000hectares and a maximum area of 200,000 hectares, whereas the total area allocated to a single holder cannot exceed 600,000 hectares.
- PFA - Permis forestier associé (Associated forest permit), reserved exclusively for Gabonese nationals. The surface area of a PFA cannot exceed 15,000 hectares when it is integrated into a CFAD and 50,000 hectares when it is subject to management by its holder.
In the rural forest sector, there are Community Forests (FC) which are portions assigned to a village community to carry out activities or undertake dynamic processes for the sustainable management of natural resources based on a simplified management plan.
To obtain a comprehensive operating license, the applicant needs an exploration permit for an initial inventory of the concession and its maximum validity is for 12 months. With the results of this inventory, the applicant can apply for a Provisional Development – Operating – Processing Agreement (CPAET : Convention provisoire d’aménagement – exploitation – transformation) (as ofearly 2020, this represents: 1,504,686 ha), with a maximum validity of 3 years. During this period, the concessionaire has the right to benefit from three Provisional Annual Allowable Cuts (AACp - Assiettes Annuelles de Coupe provisoire), representing a maximum of 10% of the concession's total surface area. The management of each AACp is covered by an Annual Operating Plan.
During these three years, the concessionaire must prepare amanagement plan, which must be approved by theforest authorities. When the Management Plan is approved, a decree by the Prime Minister establishing the Forest Concession under Sustainable Management (CFAD - Concession Forestière sous Aménagement Durable) (representing 13,299,456 ha in 2020) is published.
All processing and manufacturing companies must have the appropriate licenses and permits to process timber and they need an industrialisation plan approved by the forest authorities. Mill inputs and outputs must be recorded in the quarterly reports on logs received, and forestry companies involved in logging and timber processing must maintain quarterly and annual records for the forest administration.
Although the Forest Code provides for a log processing rate of at least 75%, this rate is now 100% as a result of the decision to ban the export of timber in the form of logs. This decision was made by the Gabonese Head of State during the Council of Ministers on 5 November 2009 and fully implemented as of 15 May 2010.