Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Research Report

The domestic market for small-scale chainsaw milling in Gabon: Present situation, opportunities and challenges

Guillaume Lescuyer
Paolo Omar Cerutti
Saturnin Ndotit Manguiengha
Laurentine Bilogo bi Ndong
Copyright Date: Jan. 1, 2011
Pages: 36
  • Cite this Item

Table of Contents

  1. (pp. VII-VIII)

    Since early 2008, the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) has been studying the domestic timber sector in Cameroon, Gabon (Libreville), Republic of Congo (Brazzaville, Pointe-Noire), Democratic Republic of Congo (Kinshasa) and Central African Republic (Bangui), together with partners based in these countries. Funding to conduct research at the subregional level was granted mainly by the Netherlands International Cooperation Agency, the European Union and the French Development Agency.

    We decided to conduct parallel research on the domestic timber sector in several countries in the Congo Basin for several reasons. First, very little information is available on this sector, which is...

  2. (pp. 1-2)

    With sparsely populated forestland covering most of the country, Gabon has the highest forest:population ratio in Africa. Forest resources, therefore, are a pillar of the country’s long-term national development. Timber exploitation and trade account for 42% of non-oil exports and employ about 14 000 people (Chevalier et al. 2009). As in other countries in the subregion, nearly all timber produced in the official sector is exported. One species, okoumé (Aucoumea klaineana), comprises more than 80% of Gabon’s exports, and most exports are logs (1.5–2 million m³ per year until 2009). For the past 10 years, most of the okoumé...

  3. (pp. 3-6)

    Despite having insufficient data on domestic timber consumption in Gabon, Gérard (2007) and Chevalier et al. (2009) hypothesized that a large informal timber exploitation and processing sector exists, and that this sector exploits forests located outside the permit zone and supplies almost all of the capital city’s demand for sawnwood at very competitive prices.

    Little is known about the size of this market. However, during the past few years, Ministry of Forestry has conducted systematic surveys of the sales points for chainsaw products and of second-and third-level processing (carpentry, cabinet making, tapestry work) by small and medium enterprises for the...

  4. (pp. 7-10)

    Our research focused on sawnwood consumed in the Libreville urban area, regardless of origin; timber is considered to be of legal origin if covered by an exploitation permit or obtained as sawmill scrap; otherwise, it is considered to be of informal origin. We used 3 types of survey to study the flow and consumption of small-scale chainsaw milling products in Libreville and their importance to rural economies in Estuaire Province. First, the sale of small-scale chainsaw products was quantified based on a sample of sales points (hardware stores and outlets) in Libreville. Second, the main access points for sawnwood entering...

  5. (pp. 11-18)

    The main results presented are an estimate of the volumes of sawnwood from the informal sector sold in Libreville and a socio-economic analysis of upstream informal chainsaw milling operations in Estuaire Province.

    By extrapolating data collected from the outlets in the sample between December 2008 and November 2009, we estimated the annual average consumption of sawnwood in Libreville at 70 000 m³, of which 27% comes from industrial sawmills, mainly as sawmill scrap. Therefore, the annual volume of products obtained directly from small-scale chainsaw millers is estimated at 51 100 m³. This is the equivalent of about 17% of the...

  6. (pp. 19-22)

    The ecological impacts of small-scale chainsaw milling are difficult to quantify in the current, highly varied Gabonese context. The central role of the city–forest relationship in the sustainable management of natural resources has led to population densification in peri-urban forests, where operators are seeking to exploit timber resources as saleable sawnwood products; this trend will certainly continue in coming years. The timber cartels that are being created generally ignore the role of peri-urban forests, the norms of growth dynamics and the availability and management of woody resources, thus causing enormous environmental degradation.

    In Estuaire Province, most chainsaw timber comes...

  7. (pp. 23-23)

    During the latest two years, Gabon has experienced many changes that will probably have a powerful impact on the domestic sawnwood market: return to political stability, emergence from the international financial crisis period, a ban on unprocessed log exports, introduction of a support fund for the industrialisation of the timber industry, commitment to the FLEGT process and creation of PGGs. This mix of factors is likely to promote across-the-board growth in the timber sector in the next few years, either by maintaining and developing exports or by meeting domestic demand stimulated by the country’s economic growth. It is difficult to...