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A local community in Gabon wanted to protect their forests and their ecosystems from turning into a logging concession area. After a year and a half, they finally managed to reclassify the site as a protected area.
After months of mixed signals from the government, the Massaha village received a positive response after Lee White, the environmental minister, visited the town. Besides showing him some of the village’s ancestry and culture, the villagers showed him how the previous logging has affected ecosystems in the area and what the outcome could be if commercial activity continued.
“It is not just the forest that speaks to me, but the ancestors,” White said after the ceremony. “We came to Massaha to get a better understanding of the community’s request. They are concerned that the forestry activities will destroy their sacred sites, so we came to reassure them.”
Now, the government has to decide how they are going to protect the forest. Mongabay writes that “the legal status that is decided on will be of great importance as this will be the first protected area in Gabon established at the request of a local community. In doing so, Gabon demonstrates its commitment to meet the “30 by 30” goal that emerged from the recent COP15 biodiversity meeting in Geneva.”
Protecting our forests and ecosystems allows a greener and more sustainable future to come sooner.