| ||Though inaccessible by road, Port-Gentil is the economic capital of this country of 150,000 inhabitants, dependent on the oil and wood industries. The Gabonese forest, which covers 85 percent of the territory, contains nearly 400 different tree species, 60 of which are exploited. Logs are transported to the coast by road and railroad, then by the Ogooué River, the country’s longest watercourse (745 mi [1,200 km]), to Port-Gentil. Some will be loaded as is onto cargo ships for China and Europe. Others will be gathered and turned into peeler logs. This will be the case with Okoumé (Aucoumea klaineana), a forest species used to make plywood. Gabon is the leading exporter of this wood, of which it provides half the annual worldwide production (70 million ft3 [1,983,000 m3]). But it does not intend to increase its current quotas, thus safeguarding the “sustainable management” of its forest resources. The plan is to process more wood on-site in order to create jobs and increase revenue from forest exploitation, an activity that contributes 60 percent of Gabon’s GDP outside of oil. But forest exploitation has a downside: roads laid by loggers allow smuggling to develop and forest concessions encroach on territories inhabited by pygmy populations.
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