The synthesis document of the Interactive Forest Atlas of Equatorial Guinea (V1.0) gives an overview of the forest sector in Equatorial Guinea through 2013. It starts with a discussion of forest legislation and follows with information about land use allocation and land cover types in the National Forest Reserve through July 2013. Amongst others, the Interactive Forest Atlas of Equatorial Guinea can be used to identify priority areas for monitoring field trips, to prevent and resolve land use conflicts, to support land use planning, and ultimately, to foster better management.
Forests are the life blood of Equatorial Guinea, covering about 98 percent of the total national land area and providing service and sustenance to hundreds of thousands of Equatoguineans. But despite forests’ critical role the country until recently lacked a comprehensive information system to actually monitor and sustainably manage these ecosystems.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) of Equatorial Guinea in partnership with WRI recently released the Interactive Forest Atlas of Equatorial Guinea Version 1.0 (Forest Atlas). The Forest Atlas is a living information system combining the use of remote sensing, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), and ground-truthing to monitor and manage Equatorial Guinea’s forests. Through a combination of interactive mapping applications, data visualizations, analytical reports, training, and outreach, the Forest Atlas provides users with access to timely, accurate and harmonized information on the state of Equatorial Guinea’s forests. The Forest Atlas displays the major official forest land use categories – forest concessions, protected areas, community forests, etc. – on one platform—including where these uses overlap.
The publication of this first version of the Interactive Forest Atlas is an important step in ensuring access to information and coordination within the forest sector. With a more complete picture of the Equatorial Guinean’s forest sector, the government and other decision-makers can ultimately foster better management. While obstacles still exist to the sustainable management of its forests, Equatorial Guinea has set a solid foundation through the development and publication of this Forest Atlas.
Analyses of the data in the first Interactive Forest Atlas of Equatorial Guinea lead to the following key findings:
- Land Use vs. Land Cover: In 2013, 98% of Equatorial Guinea’s total national area was covered by forests and 2% by non-forest land (for example urban areas, water). 74% of the forest area was dense forests and 24% mixed forests. The total forest area was the same inside and outside the National Forest Reserve (NFR).
- National Forest Reserve: In 2013, the NFR represented 50% (1,354,766 ha) of the total national area. 61% of the NFR was allocated to the Domain of Production (DP) and 39% to the Domain of Protection and Conservation (DPC). The NFR was covered by dense forests (83%), mixed forests (13%) and non-forest land (4%).
- Domain of Production: In 2013, the DP’s area was 820.527 ha representing 30% of the total national area. The DP consisted of national forests (88%), communal forests (7%) and forest plots (5%). The DP was covered by dense forests (89%), mixed forests (8%), and non-forest land (3%).
- Domain of Conservation and Protection: In 2013, the DCP’s area was 515,884 ha, representing 19% of the total national area. The DCP was composed of two scientific reserves (10%), three national parks (57%), two natural monuments (7%) and six natural reserves (26%).The DCP was covered by dense forests (73%), mixed forests (22%) and non-forest land (5%).
- National Forests (CAAF): The total area of National Forests decreased significantly between 1997 (1,670,000 ha) and 2013 (740,122 ha) consistently with the oil boom and changing priorities in national forest policies. In 2013, 11 logging companies shared this area organized into 48 concessions.
- Overlapping Areas: In 2013, an important portion of community forests (33%), forest plots (13%) and nature reserves (9%) overlapped with other land use categories within the RFN (national forests, community forests, natural reserves).