With its oil reserves in decline, Gabon is betting that careful logging can safeguard the vast wealth of its forests, halving carbon emissions associated with the industry while producing more timber.

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.

In western Gabon, lumberjack Rodrigue Mboumba uses his chainsaw to topple a 130-foot (40-meter) tropical eveuss tree into the surrounding rainforest.