A new ecological research program is born in Africa. Launched by British partners, including the African Conservation Development Group (ACDG), ForestLAB's main missions are to highlight the role of Africa's high forest density, low deforestation (HFLD) countries in mitigating global climate change and to develop monitoring tools and financial mechanisms to ensure the continued protection of these forests. The pilot phase of the project, with initial funding of $5 billion from the ACDG, will be implemented in Gabon for five years.
Gabon is benefiting from the first ever deployment of the ForestLAB initiative. In this Central African country located in the heart of the Congo Basin, which is home to the second largest expanse of tropical forest on the planet and represents a critical line of defence in the fight against climate change, the ForestLAB research centre is located in the Loango National Park in the south. The programme received initial funding of $5 billion from the African Conservation Development Group (ACDG), which works for climate-smart development focused on nature conservation.
The ForestLAB program is also supported by two British academic institutions. The Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics and Political Science and the University of Stirling, based in Scotland. These three British partners will collaborate with the Centre de recherché scientifique et technique du Gabon (Cenarest), during the five years of project implementation.
ForestLAB’s research areas in Africa
ForestLAB has a mandate to focus on ten research areas, including natural capital measurement and valuation, environmental finance and economics, sustainable agriculture, sustainable forestry, and biodiversity conservation. Briefly, the program aims to highlight the role of Africa’s high forest density, low deforestation (HFLD) countries in mitigating global climate change and to develop monitoring tools and financial mechanisms to ensure the continued protection of these forests. “Harnessing ForestLAB’s scientific data and knowledge can help scale up new sustainable models that conserve biodiversity, provide socio-economic development, and mitigate climate change,” says Alan Bernstein, CIG President.
The launch of ForestLAB in Gabon comes on the eve of COP26 on climate change, which runs from October 31st, to November 12th, in Glasgow, Scotland. It is a platform for the program’s initiators to call for incentives for African HFLD countries to realize the value of their forests in a way that is both climate positive and economically sustainable.
According to the ForestLAB proponents, HFLD nations currently host 24% of the earth’s remaining forests and play a crucial role in global carbon storage, but receive a disproportionately small share of climate finance. Gabon alone sequesters 100 million more tons of CO2 each year than it emits.