Extractive Industries Programme

WWF instructor & students from the "Water & Forests" department in a degraded mangrove forest along the Ivindo river near Minkebé forest, Gabon
© Michel Gunther / WWF
Most of the natural heritage and biodiversity in Gabon is found outside protected areas, which leaves it particularly vulnerable to industrial expansion.

1. Extractive Industries and Infrastructures

WWF Gabon has invested in recent years in promoting more environmentally and socially sustainable mining practices. We have supported the national environment ministry by:
  • Developing more appropriate regulations, including input to the new Mining Code and Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) guidelines;
  • Setting up a national EIA database;
  • Participating in EIA analyses.

2. Small-scale mining

Small-scale or artisanal mining is a vital source of income for thousands of families in Central Africa. However, it can also have significant environmental and social impacts.

We are working with government agencies to continue to improve knowledge of the sector. We have begun a nationwide inventory of artisanal gold mining sites, recording their scope, techniques used and environmental impacts.

In collaboration with Equatorial Mining Company (SEM), the Gabonese park authorities (ANPN) and the Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM), WWF organized two joint field missions on the development of a certification system for sustainable artisanal gold mining in Gabon. The missions were carried out in Lower Ogooué and in TRIDOM, with the following objectives:
  • Assess the differences between current practices and the principles and criteria of certification systems of "sustainable gold mining" existing in Latin America;
  • Assess stakeholders in their ability to participate in the development of a certification system of "sustainable gold mining" adapted to Gabon.

3. Palm Oil

Oil palm plantations are expanding in Central Africa. They can contribute significantly to the economy, employment and food security. However, they are causing serious environmental impacts, as natural ecosystems like forests are cleared to make way for plantations.
In Gabon, the government is committed to adopt the highest international standards for the cultivation of palm oil. In practice, this means the criteria for certified sustainable palm oil developed by the RSPO. As RSPO members, the two largest firms in Gabon are committed to adopt these principles.
WWF is participating in the process of national interpretation of the RSPO principles and criteria in Gabon through:
  • Reviewing existing regulations in Gabon;
  • Raising awareness of RSPO in Gabon, focusing on the ministries of environment and agriculture;
  • Steering the participatory process on national interpretation, creating a national taskforce and conducting meetings of the working group.


Traditionally, Gabon’s economy was built on logging and oil exploitation. Although some mining sites have been developed in the past, the sector is currently booming, focusing on numerous minerals such as iron, gold and manganese.

Mining exploration concessions now cover a large part of the country. With the high price of gold, small-scale gold mining has grown throughout the country as well.

Oil palm and rubber plantations are also being developed.

The extractive industries program works across the whole of Gabon with a particular focus on the areas of intervention of the three field programmes.

The programme focuses on the reduction of environmental impact of extractive industries and investments:
  1. Extractive Industries and infrastructures
  2. Small-scale gold mining
  3. Palm oil
Road for Belinga mine exploration, near Minkebe National Park, Gabon
© jamesmorgan
Impact of mining activities
© jamesmorgan