Boasting the second highest forestry potential in Africa, Gabon’s forests covers 22.8 million hectares, i.e. 88% of the country’s land surface. There are three major forest types: evergreen rainforest in the west characterised by abundance of Okoumé & Ozigo, the central Gabonese forest covering most of the country with abundance of species like Azobé & Ayous and semi-deciduous forest with dominance of Limba, Wenge & Ayous. With a low overall population density and 60% of population living in urban areas, there is little anthropogenic pressure on Gabon’s forests. Gabonese Republic (2008) indicated an average annual deforestation rate of 0.12% i.e. 10,000 ha per year. All forest in Gabon is owned by the state. The 2001 Forest Code divides forest into two categories i.e. First Category (13.5 million hectares) include Production PFE managed by private concessionaires and the protection PFE managed directly by the state. The Second Category (8.3 million hectares), the non-PFE, known as domaine rural, includes open access forest for hunting, agriculture, mining and gathering of NTFPs, sacred forests and community protected area for which rights are limited to local communities.
Over the past ten years, Gabon has gone through a profound process of reform affecting the forest and environment. A new forest law has come into force that emphasizes Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) as the overall approach in the forestry. Forest Management plans are fully developed for 3.45 million hectares of forest in concessions and were under preparation for another 6 million hectares of forest in concessions as in 2011. An estimated 2.42 million hectares of the natural production PFE is under SFM, including 1.87 million hectares of forest were certified under the FSC (some of them also had ISO 14001 and Keurhout certificates) as of June, 2010.
Gabonese Republic is aiming to turn Gabon into a world leader in certified tropical timber production through an industrial strategy aimed at sustainably managing timber stocks and by promoting secondary and tertiary processing.
Forestry is, and will remain, one of the pillars of Gabon’s economic and social development. The private sector has become a major driver of industrial forest development and the export of forest products. Gabonese Republic has introduced a system to institutionalize community forestry as a way of meeting local needs for timber and other forest products.Gabon has a low deforestation rate, forests rich in valuable timber species and among the best prospects for a healthy and sustainable forest industry. Reforestation has been continuously promoted, and selective thinning and clearing have prevented the over exploitation. Over 50 firms are engaged in exploitation of Gabon’s forests. Forest concessions covering about 12 million hectares have been granted by the Gabonese Republic.The timber industry is already the largest private sector employer, employing 28% of the working population, and represents an extremely significant growth potential.
Timber Species… the Red Gold from Gabon
Gabon’s forests offers enormous possibilities with a logging potential of 12.5 million hectares with more than 400 species.Until 2010 i.e. before ban on export of raw logs, Gabon was the largest exporter of raw wood in the region, and its sales represent 20% of Africa’s raw wood exports.Gabon’s reserves of exploitable timber is estimated to upwards of 400 million CBM which includes 130 million CBM of Okoumé, 15-25 million CBM of Azobé and 10-20 million CBM of Padouk.
Commercial forest harvesting in Gabon began as early as 1892, but only in 1913 was Okoumé, Gabon’s most valuable wood, introduced to the international market. Gabon supplies 90% of the world’s Okoumé, known worldwide for the production of plywood.Its attractive appearance means that it is often used decoratively as the top surface veneer in panelling and furniture or, in solid form in luxury items such as boxes for cigars or other high value items (e.g. audio equipment). Physical and mechanical properties: Widely recognised as one the world’s best materials for rotary cut veneers, Okoumé timber is easy to work and is as suitable for the manufacturing of furniture as for interior joinery. Moreover, it is a species of a very even colour, good bonding performances and good compatibility with finished products.
Hardwood Species like Sapelli, Sipo, Acajou, Andoung, Gheombi from Gabon are Pinkish Red to Brownish in colour and are similar to Genuine Mahogany (Swieteniamacrophylla) in terms of colour, appearance and density. These timber species could very well serve as an alternative for Mahogany as it is listed in CITES Appendix II. These species are suited for luxury and high end furniture and joinery. This is the reason for their high demand in Europe and USA due to its colour perception. They are exported in high volume to China, Vietnam and Malaysia, as they are the biggest manufacturers and exporters of furniture to developed countries.
Wenge is the premier dark hardwood from the forests of Gabon and suitable for contemporary interiors as it blends quite well with glass and stainless steel. Due to its dark colour, it is well suited for straight/clean line furniture and is quite popular in Europe.
Gabon supplies 90% of the world’s Okoumé, known in Europe and America for the production of veneer & plywood. Its demand is also picking up in Asia especially India and China.
Iroko, Beli, Tali and Okan species can be considered as alternative species to provide teak like finish. These species are quite popular in Asia and Middle East for furniture and joinery. Tali and Okan are extensively used in furniture manufacturing in Vietnam, mainly for export and has helped Vietnam to become second largest exporter of furniture after China. Furniture made out of these species is very popular in Asian and American markets.
Light colour tropical wood species from Gabon includes Izombe, Movingui and Bilinga. These species have appearance similar to Merbau / Kwila and are suitable for furniture as well as joinery and interiors.
Kevazingo (Guibourtia Spp.) is the most expensive and coveted wood species from the forests of Gabon. Trunk diameter of 150 cm is quite common for Kevazingo. Live-edge table tops made from it is in high demand in China because of its natural beauty and its coherence with customs and beliefs of Chinese community world over.
Padouck is a dark coloured redwood found in Gabon; quite similar to Rosewood and suitable for outdoor furniture as well as joinery. Outdoor flooring, decking and garden furniture made out of it is exported to European markets. It is resistant to damage from weather elements. Padouck is also very popular in southern part of India due to its red colour and high density. Door and door frames made from Padouck are very popular in the Asian markets.
Gabon … change just begun
In last decade, African countries have promoted the idea of processing of natural resources within their countries itself so as to generate jobs and give boost to their economy. Following the same ideology, Gabonese Republic also banned exports of raw logs in 2010. Thereafter, in order to facilitate the secondary and tertiary processing of timber and other natural resources within the country, Gabonese Republic has embarked on a journey to provide amenable ecosystem and infrastructure. In the same pursuit, Gabonese Republic developed 1126 hectares SEZ at Nkok in partnership with Olam International, Singapore to provide ready and reliable infrastructure. Gabon SEZ offers an array fiscal incentives to industrial investors which includes complete exemption from all taxes (income tax, corporate tax, capital gain, MAT, VAT, customs, Property Tax), reduced rate of export duty (0-2%) and permission for 100% repatriation of profits.
Gabon Wood Hub… First Furniture Manufacturing Cluster in Central Africa
Nkok SEZ also has 60,000 square meters of ready to use sheds as Furniture Manufacturing Cluster to promote manufacturing of finished products i.e. furniture in Gabon. Shed are provided on rental model in module of 500 square meters to furniture manufacturers intending to start their unit in Furniture Manufacturing Cluster. The cluster also offers common facilities like:
Kiln Drying: Dedicated 1000 cubic meter per month capacity Kiln Drying has been installed to serve furniture manufacturing units
Show Room: A show room spread over 9000 square meters to showcase furniture manufactured in the cluster
Packaging and Logistics: 2000 square meters packaging and 4000 square meters logistics facility within cluster for customs clearance.
As of now, there are ten units working from this cluster. The quality of raw material i.e. wood available and huge variety of wood species found in Gabon is a unique opportunity for any furniture manufacturing unit. Matured wood of any size, any length is available in good quantity on sustainable basis. Furniture Units are starting manufacturing of upscale furniture for customers in Asian, European and USA markets. Furniture majors like Wolf Mobile [Germany], Artemano[Canada], Terry [USA], Williams-Sonoma [USA], Habufa [Netherland] etc. have expressed their interest to buy furniture manufactured from sustainably harvested wood available in Africa.
Solid wood furniture made from various wood species like Beli, Tali, Sapeli, Mouvingui, Wenge, Padouck and Kevazingo is of pertinent interest to many furniture majors.Moreover, major import houses in USA and Europe have taken a resolution to source minimum 30% of furniture done with SFM compliant / FSC certified wood by 2020 and this SFM compliant / FSC certified wood with genuine Traceability and Legality certificates is easily available in Gabon.
For business enquiries, please get in touch with team of GSEZ at firstname.lastname@example.org