The Internationale Fondation Gabon Eco-tourisme – Giuseppe Vassallo – FIGET
The “Fondation Internationale Gabon Eco-tourisme – Giuseppe Vassallo” (FIGET), a Gabon entity, was set up in Libreville in May 2000 at the request of the Gabon government. It was a carefully thought-out decision that took shape over the course of a number of years with the aim of protecting the untouched forests along the river Ivindo.
In February 2001, the Gabon government placed FIGET in charge of an area of 120 km2 (the Mingoulì protected zone), that is today a part of the National Park of the Ivindo established in 2002. FIGET works with the villages of Loaloa, Melondo Milélé and Truhaya ,the organization Société Ngama Développement et Service (NDS), l’IRET/CENAREST e l’Agence Nationale des Parcs Nationaux in order to expand eco-tourism in the Makokou region, and most especially the Kongou, Mingouli, Tchengue Lelei, and DJidji waterfalls, baï de Langoué (National Park of Ivindo); in addition, baï di Momba, grotte du faucon, inselbergs di Minkébé.
The goals of FIGET are:
- To aid the Gabon government in the protection and enhancement of the primordial forests in the region crossed by the Ivindo river;
- To promote eco-tourism for a sustainable environment, thereby generating financial resources for the local population without destroying their natural capital, namely the forest;
- To promote opportunities for sustainable development that benefits the local population.
Giuseppe Vassallo was an “eco”consul who was exceptionally committed to the ecologically sustainable growth of Gabon..
In 1994, as honorary consul of Gabon in Lombardy, he invited IUCN, the Ministry of Water, Forests and Environment of Gabon, IRET and a variety of Gabon NGOs to come and join him on the Ivindo river: the scope of the mission was the initial assessment of the feasibility for a project to safeguard the forest.
Subsequently, Vassallo opened talks with the Gabon Government, the logging company Rougier-Gabon and environmentally-conscious Gabon ONGs, one of which was Brainforest.
His love of the Gabon forest led him to involve nature conservation experts like Francis Hallé, Charles Doumenge, Mike Fay, and numerous representatives of the Gabon population and the Government.
In March 2000 Vassallo died in a car crash.
The “Fondation Internationale Gabon Eco-tourisme – Giuseppe Vassallo” was set up in Libreville in May 2000.
In 1998 Giuseppe Vassallo encourages the environmental sociologist, Marc Ona Essangui, to set up the Gabon ONG, Brainforest. The name Brainforest symbolises the enormous pool of information that is provided by the biodiversity of the Gabon forest and the ”intelligence” of the primordial Equatorial forest.
In July 2007, in blatant violation of the Gabon environmental protection policy, the Chinese company, CMEC began construction of a road through the Ivindo Park in order to facilitate the construction of a dam at the Kongou waterfalls. The dam was aimed at generating electricity to be utilised for the iron ore mines in Belinga.
FIGET and Brainforest led the campaign for the protection of the Kongou waterfalls.
After a few years, the project was shelved, which was a real bonus for environmental protection in Gabon and the growing emphasis on government policies that would safeguard the natural resources.
In September 2009, Marc Ona Essangui received the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize in San Francisco.