The United Nations-backed Central African Forest Initiative (CAFI) sent 17 million United States dollars to Gabon, making Gabon the first African nation to receive financial payment for reducing carbon emissions via protecting its existing rainforests. This latest payment was funded by Norway, which calculated the payment based on a formula looking at Gabon's carbon emission reductions between 2016-2017 compared to its annual emission levels from 2006-2015, and is essentially a pioneering sale of carbon credit. Though this first payment represents about 0.1% of Gabon's annual Gross Domestic Product, Professor Lee White, the Minister of Water, Forests, the Sea, and Environment of Gabon, said that this is a significant "first step".
Currently, about 88% of Gabon is covered by forest, capturing more carbon than the nation emits. This initial payment to Gabon is the first of a 150 million United States dollar deal struck in 2019, with the remaining amount to be paid in the coming years. According to a statement by Professor White on the CAFI website, the first payment was proportional to the carbon emission reductions of 2016-2017 at $5.00 a ton. Gabon and CAFI have agreed that this first payment will go towards activities to further reduce carbon emissions such as community forestry, scientific research, forest management practices, and enhancing national parks and protected areas.
Since 1990, Gabon's deforestation rates have been consistently low at under 0.08%, yet made advances in sustainable management of timber resources outside of its national parks and attempting to ensure all forest concessions are Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified. Currently, it is estimated that Gabon's forests absorb about 140,000,000 tons of carbon dioxide each year.
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