Cameroon: Palm Oil Project Threatens People and the Rainforest

Palm oil investors destroy the rainforest and local cultures

American investors are planning a 72,000 hectare palm oil plantation in the rainforest of Cameroon. The forest and the animal and plant species living there would be destroyed forever. The people would also lose their land and livelihoods. Help us stop this project. Please write to the government of Cameroon.

Plans are in place to clear the diverse rainforest ecosystem in Southwest Cameroon to make room for oil palm plantations. The forest and the agricultural societies situated around it are the foundation for the livelihoods and food supply of the people in the region, which comprises 38 villages and around 45,000 inhabitants. The farmers would permanently lose their ancestral lands to the operators of the palm oil plantations. In return, the investors are promising potential employment. But experience has shown that there will be only a few, irregular and poorly paid jobs.

more information

Please participate in our protest and write to the Minister of Environment and the Minister of Forests of Cameroon. We are collecting signatures and will be presenting them to the Cameroon Embassy in Berlin.

Answer from Minister on Forests of Cameroon from 16th June 2011

bulldozer in a clear-cut area in the rainforest in cameroonThe bulldozers have finally stopped working

Jun 6, 2013

Cameroon: Government is stopping deforestation

The U.S. company Herakles Farms wants to destroy 70,000 hectares of rainforest for its huge palm oil project. Illegal clearings have already started. The authorities have now stopped the company's activities and seized the logging machinery in the rainforest.

The affected rainforest is directly located between Korup National Park and three other protection areas, which are home to endangered animals such as forest elephants, chimpanzees, and drill apes.

Rainforest Rescue has been supporting the people in this area for three years now as 16.000 small-scale farmers are living in 56 villages there. They are at risk of losing their ancestral land as well as their livelihood. So far, the association was able to help with two protest actions and donations for workshops, a lawyer and two lawsuits. The immediate stop of all deforestation had even been decided by court order.

Currently, the Government is examining the social impact of palm oil projects. A previously published inspection report by the Forest and Wildlife Department in Cameroon has pointed out the methods Herakles Farms is using: the company is massively violating the law as well as human rights, they are illegally logging the woods and are trying to appropriate land in adjacent forest areas with immense pressure.

In April, a study by the American Oakland Institute and Greenpeace had uncovered that the palm oil speculators had not only fooled the locals, the authorities and politicians but also the sponsors of the palm oil project. Accordingly, Herakles Farms systematically defrauds, bribes and betrays the people and the law. They are distributing envelopes with bribes to politicians and key individuals in order to buy their consent. Investors, however, are not being informed about missing permits and are led to believe that completely unrealistic profits would be possible.

As internal company documents have shown, the gaining of tropical wood is a major factor for land theft. In this rain forest area, there are several million cubic meters of wood with a market value of at least 70 million U.S. dollars. By logging this wood, the company wants to make a quick profit. Herakles Farms is supposedly only paying one dollar per hectare per year for the 99-year lease.

However it is not too late yet. So far, the company has only cut down a few dozen hectares of forest, in order to grow palm oil seedlings and to build access roads. Cameroon's President Paul Biya will have the final say on this. Rainforest Rescue is demanding that the head of government is immediately putting an end to this scandalous palm oil project.

RR Protest Action: Cameroon: Palm Oil Project Threatens People and the Rainforest

RR success: Cameroon: Court stops deforestation

Further information:
Inspection report drawn up by the Forest and Wildlife Department: Report Fact finding mission on Herakles Farms (SGSOC) oil palm plantation project, February 2013

Study by the Oakland Institute: Herakles exposed: The truth behind Herakles Farms false promises in Cameroon

Man standing between two huge trees in the Korup rainforestBreathing easier in the Korup rainforest

Sep 29, 2011

Cameroon: Court stops deforestation

A recent judicial degree by a Cameroon court declared the planned deforestation of 30.000 hectares of rainforest close to the Korup National Park illegal. The judges stopped the activities of US investor Herakles Capital and followed the arguments of an environmetal lawyer.

A recent court decision in Cameroon barred US investor Herakles Capital from clearing 30,000 hectares of rainforest on the edge of the Korup National Park until further notice. The judges ruled in favor of an environmental attorney who filed the suit on behalf of rainforest conservation organizations.

The fact that the environmental and social impact studies required by the competent authorities for the plantation project had not been submitted was crucial to the court’s decision. The deforestation that had already been started by the investor was thus deemed unlawful. A second ruling on another area of nearly 40,000 hectares which is also threatened by the project is scheduled for October.

According to the plans of the investor, the rainforest will be cleared for palm oil plantations. Herakles Capital would reap additional profits from the sale of the felled trees. The species-rich forest adjoining Korup National Park plays a key ecological and social role, serving as a biological corridor between two reservations for forest elephants and a variety of ape species. A genetic exchange would no longer be possible if the forest were destroyed, thus endangering the herds. The people in the numerous villages in the project area would also lose their ancestral land and their livelihoods.

Rainforest Rescue launched two campaigns – directed at the US investors and the government of Cameroon respectively – and collected nearly 36,000 protest signatures. The organization also supported a major awareness meeting in Cameroon and the work of the environmental lawyer with donations.