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Macron, NGOs Pledge $52.9 Million for Forest Preservation

FILE: French President Emmanuel Macron and Gabon's Minister of Water and Forests Lee White visit the Mondah classified forest, on the sidelines of the One Forest Summit in Libreville, Gabon. Taken Mar.2, 2023

France and two nonprofits will contribute to an "action plan" for preserving the world's tropical forests with an additional 100 million euros, President Emmanuel Macron said during a trip to Africa.

Macron’s pledge was announced at the end of the two-day One Forest Summit in Gabon that aimed to assess progress made since last year's COP27 climate conference and renew targets for the preservation and sustainable management of the world's forests.

"We understood the need to have cash on the table and concrete actions,” Macron said in a speech on the first full day of a four-nation Africa tour.

France will put up half the new funds, Macron said, with the remainder coming from the US-based nonprofit Conservation International and the Walton Foundation, created by the founders of retail giant Walmart.

The funding Is part of a joint 100-million-euro commitment to kickstart a mechanism that aims to reward countries that are scientifically proven to have protected their forests or restored them.

The French leader said the scheme would be underpinned by research to improve the understanding of forests' value by mapping carbon reserves, biodiversity, and levels of carbon sequestration in the Amazon, Africa, and Asia.

How Central African countries like Gabon manage their share of the world's second-largest rainforest is critical. The so-called lungs of Africa store more carbon per hectare than the Amazon, help regulate temperatures, and generate rain for millions in the arid Sahel and distant Ethiopian highlands.

Macron said the new mechanism would address a current issue with carbon credit schemes where countries like Gabon with relatively untouched forests are not compensated as well as deforested countries that are planting new trees.

"It's a bit absurd," he said.

Macron earlier visited a rainforest on the outskirts of the Gabonese capital, where he strolled among towering trees and sampled a kola nut. He has said he wants to avoid politics during the Africa tour, which includes his first-time visits as president to Angola, Congo Republic, and Democratic Republic of Congo.

Closing the summit, Gabonese President Ali Bongo expressed satisfaction with its outcome and the outlook for the next climate conference.

"We have put in place a sound plan that will make COP28 the success we wanted it to be," said President Bongo.

This report was sourced from Reuters and Agence France-Presse.