ASM-PACE Gabon Case Study Report
Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining (ASM) in Gabon is a long practiced but frequently informal activity that can play a significant role in local development. However, it can also have negative impacts on the environment due to the mining practices and the presence of human settlements in sensitive environments.
In Gabon, the environmental stakes are particularly high. Gabon has the highest forest cover as a proportion of national surface area of any African country- its pristine forests have brought attention from global conservation organizations, and it has been dubbed the ‘Green Heart of Africa’. Indeed, Gabon is home to five of the world’s 200 Global eco-regions, nine Ramsar-listed sites, one World Heritage Site, and WWF considers the whole country to be a conservation priority.
While artisanal and small-scale mining is frequently viewed with suspicion by those aiming to protect Gabon’s precious resources, there may be space for pragmatism. As showcased in other parts of the world, ASM can be done in a responsible manner, minimizing negative social and environmental impacts. These expectations are termed “Ecologically and Socio-Economically Responsive Artisanal and Small-scale Mining” (ESER-ASM) in this report. Where ESER-ASM is achievable, it can be a desired economic activity contributing to income and local development, while irresponsible ASM is widely rejected by governments and the public.
The Gabonese government has expressed an interest in developing ASM in alignment with its ‘Green Gabon’ vision. This ASM-PACE report provides a situational analysis of Gabon’s ASM sector, with a focus on ASM in Protected Areas and Critical Ecosystems (PACE). The report gauges to what degree ASM in Gabon is ecologically and socio-economically responsive and offers concrete steps to make it more so. Consideration is given to how and where the ASM is practiced, its legality, past efforts to make it more ESER, and other factors that determine the feasibility of incentivising more responsible ASM in Gabon, and in particular in protected areas and critical ecosystems. The report gives a general overview of ASM and conservation in Gabon, before presenting three case studies of ASM in PACE locations (Ndangui, Longo, and Minkébé).