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Gabon’s forests nourish the Sahel and Blue Nile. What happens if they vanish?


As oil dwindles, Gabon is looking for new sources of revenue. It wants to be paid for preserving its virgin rainforests — which is equivalent to around a year’s worth of global emissions.
The consequences of Gabon chopping down its forests, argues Gabon forests minister Lee White, would be catastrophic: no more clouds feeding the Blue Nile and the Sahel, which could push tens of millions of Nigerians and Egyptians off their land.

Clad in camouflage and grasping a tape measure in one hand, Vincent Medjibe is hugging a tree in the Gabonese rainforest, trying to gauge its size. Since 2011 he has been in charge of calculating how much carbon is locked into his country’s trees, one of the world’s last remaining tracts of intact tropical forest.

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