A group of people in high-vis vests stand in a tent surrounded by a forest in Gabon

Traceability and Transparency in Gabon

In October 2023, Gabon committed to transitioning its entire forest sector to a traceable and transparent system of forest governance. The National Traceability System of Wood in Gabon (SNTBG) aims to track all timber products from stump to port, as well as make key forest data electronically available to the public.

The SNTBG is a result of a multi-year joint effort by the Gabonese government, EIA, and Code4Nature to win the country’s “War on Timber.” Systemic corruption and entrenched illegalities have long plagued Gabon’s industrial logging sector, which is second only to oil in importance to the country’s economy. 

All the while, voices from the Congo Basin’s crucial forests have been denouncing these environmental and social injustices, making the struggle against these challenges a national priority in Gabon.

In 2019, EIA released the results of a four-year investigation into how illegally harvested African timber is deceptively marketed in the U.S. as “eco-friendly” products, thanks to the influence of a network of corrupt officials linked to the “Dejia Group.” The report not only exposed the crimes committed by that timber conglomerate – it revealed that many other companies operating in the Congo Basin’s industrial logging sector, along with the U.S. and European markets they serve, are also breaking fundamental forest laws.

The SNTBG represents a critical step towards both supporting the country’s forestry industry while addressing endemic corruption within it. In collaboration with our Gabonese partners, EIA and Code4Nature developed the mobile application, web application, and geoportal to create digital records of every step in the supply chain and transition the sector from paper-based to digital permits.

A series of screenshots demonstrates how users can register a digital permit to transport logs via mobile app

In transitioning to this system, Gabon also sets a new global standard for forest governance that allows consumers to trace timber products back to their point of origin along a digital, verifiable supply chain.

There’s still work to do, though. Lasting change will depend on how Gabonese forest communities, Indigenous peoples, civil society organizations, and citizens are permitted to use the new tool and serve as guardians of their forests.

A group of workers crowd around a folder full of data

Check out our existing resources on Gabon’s fight for their forests, and stay tuned for updates as transparency and traceability technologies continue to expand.