Land-use Planning Programme | WWF

Land-use Planning Programme

Land-use planning is key to effective long-term protection of the environment. Clear rules on how land is allocated and distributed allow for better understanding and management of the environmental issues involved.

 

1. Mapping and providing solutions for overlapping land-use types


In 2011, WWF worked with WRI to produce a map for mining and logging permits and their locations vis-à-vis protected areas. This revealed that different land uses often overlap, which can have serious impacts on the environment if not handled properly.

WWF carried out a legal analysis of the compatibility of the different land uses. This showed what existing laws applied, and where regulations needed reinforcement.

The most significant land use overlapping is between mining and logging exploitation. Another overlap that can have substantial effects on the environment is oil exploration within protected areas. We have ensured that these issues take centre stage in the work of the government.

2. Defining conservation priorities and areas of high conservation value

The concept of high conservation value (HCV) areas comes from the FSC forest certification process. It identifies areas in logging concessions that must be protected, based on certain priority values such as endemism (unique species), protected species and rare ecosystems, as well as cultural importance.

The concept is also used in the criteria of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). Recent palm oil developments have revived the importance of a national interpretation of the HCV concept for Gabon.

WWF, in collaboration with other international environmental conservation organizations (WCS, MBG), has launched a new interpretation process. This has included an HCV training workshop to develop a methodology for national interpretation with the help of international experts.

Studies have been launched to improve data on biodiversity in Gabon, particularly concerning large mammals, fish and endemic plants, as well working on identifying forest blocks.

3. Redefining limits of protected areas

Gabon’s national parks were created in 2002, with the law being adopted in 2007. This five-year span allowed for park limits to be redefined. WWF carried out studies to propose park demarcations based on criteria such as conservation value and the prevention of conflicts with other land uses (traditional use or mining). These have included:
 
  • Social and economic studies on Loango and Moukalaba-Doudou national parks;
  • Biological inventories for Mwagna, Loango and Moukalaba-Doudou national parks;

Our new wetland programme is revising the limits of existing Ramsar sites based on ecological values, such as watersheds.


4. Allocating new agro-industrial concessions

Agricultural land allocation in Gabon lacks clear procedures. WWF, WCS and other RSPO members in Gabon have analysed the process for allocating agricultural concessions in order to improve procedures for converting logging concessions to agricultural concessions.


5. Recognizing traditional land-use rights

The traditional land-use rights of local communities and indigenous people are only recognized in national parks and private concessions in Gabon if they are included in the relevant management plans.

WWF accompanied villagers in the periphery of Loango and Moukalaba-Doudou national parks in participative mapping processes and set up village committees to make sure their rights are officially recognized. This process will be replicated around Mwagna and Minkebe national parks.


6. Providing geographic information system (GIS) support to the government

At the request of the ministry in charge of forests, we assessed the need for capacity building for managing a geographic information system (GIS) holding all the data on logging permits and concessions. WWF has set up a computer network linking relevant departments and trained staff on GIS management.
 

WWF'S WORK

WWF has worked with the World Resources Institute (WRI) and the Gabonese ministries in charge of mines and forests to come up with a first national map of mining, forestry and protected areas. WWF is continuing this work to ensure sustainable land-use practices, focusing especially on:
  • Mapping and providing solutions for overlapping land-use types;
  • Defining conservation priorities and areas of high conservation value;
  • Defining limits of protected areas;
  • Allocating new agro-industrial concessions;
  • Recognizing traditional land-use rights;
  • Providing support to the government on geographic information systems (GIS).