The Government of Gabon adopted on 2nd May the PANEFI, or National Action Plan of the Fight Against Illegal Logging. Rapidly, as many cases of illegal forest exploitation were previously identified and documented by Forestry officials with the assistance of the project ALEFI (Support to the Fight against Illegal Logging) executed by Conservation Justice, several forest operators and their accomplices were arrested and locked behind bars. They will be sent to Justice and should be judged strictly.
On 8th May the managers of two timber companies (SFAF and SFBT) were arrested together with their staff in the North of Gabon, Woleu-Ntem Province, Okano department. In total, fifteen suspects have been arrested and locked in the Judicial Police, among which the three company managers – two Malaysians and one Gabonese. The illegal timber exploiters have finally denounced corrupt Wildlife and Forestry officials, three among which were arrested and locked on Friday 10th May. The other officials are on the run! Illegal logging by other Chinese timber companies (HSIBG, KIBG and SZBG) has already been documented by project ALEFI in the same zone during February-March. The Chinese managers of the companies are fugitives on the run, wanted by the authorities.
Close to 2,000 m³ of illegally logged timber have been seized on 8th May by these companies that operate without an exploitation title, using a permit number given for an exploitation area more than 100 km away. This represents half a million of dollars, and this is only the logs in the timber parks of 2 local illegal loggers when they are still many more, and it is a fraction of the timber that has already been shipped out by them.
The PANEFI adopted by the government of Gabon and the ALEFI project executed by the Ministry of Forestry and Conservation Justice are two innovative tools that demonstrated their effectiveness. They constitute a concrete mean to fight illegal logging through investigations, arrest operations and strict legal follow up of the prosecution thanks to the assistance to/of the forces of law and order and the justice system to the Ministry of Forestry.