Cameroon: Palm Oil Project Threatens People and the Rainforest

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.

Palm oil investors destroy the rainforest and local cultures

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.

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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

Man standing between two huge trees in the Korup rainforest Breathing 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.

To:
Mr Hele Pierre, Minister of Environment, Republic of Cameroon
Mr Ngolle Ngolle, Minister of Forestry, Republic of Cameroon
c/o Embassy of the Republic of Cameroon
Ulmenallee 32, 14050 Berlin, Germany
Tel.: ++49 - 30 – 89068090, Fax.: ++49 - 30 – 890680929
E-mail: berlin@ambacam.de

Dear Minister Hele Pirre, dear Minister Ngolle Ngolle,

I was very pleased to hear that on June 22nd you initiated a regional action plan to protect the endangered chimpanzee species Pan troglodytes ellioti and that you are seeking to establish numerous wildlife protection areas and national parks in Cameroon.

I am however also deeply concerned about the future palm oil developments that are being pursued in your country by Herakles Farms and Sithe Global Sustainable Oils Cameroon. For the planned 72,000 hectares of oil palm monoculture, valuable rainforests and the fields of the local population would be cleared.

In your reply from May 13th, 2011, although you write that you share the concern of the 61 environmental and human rights organizations, you also state that you are not responsible for agricultural projects. To the best of my knowledge, however, your ministry is responsible for reviewing and approving the studies on the social and environmental impact of palm oil plantations that are required of the project developers.

I cannot imagine that the studies reflect the reality of the situation or adequately consider the protection of the environment and the local people. The rainforest is the habitat of endangered animal and plant species including the endangered chimpanzee species and other primates. This development would destroy the existing rainforest corridor between Korup National Park and the Rumpi Hills Forest Reserve.

I also don't believe that the planned industrial oil palm monocultures would be advantageous for local residents. The clearing of the rain forest and fields would destroy their livelihoods. The people would lose their ancestral lands to the plantation operators. There is no sensible reason why the population should cede their land and livelihoods to investors from the United States of America.

The number of jobs that the operators supposedly intend to create appear quite exaggerated and overly optimistic to me. Our experience has shown that these are usually temporary and poorly paid jobs. They lead the people into a fatal dependency on the plantation operators.

The industrial palm oil plantations also threaten the many years of development and rain forest protection work that has been done in the region. Germany's Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development has been operating projects since 2006 in the villages that would be affected by the palm oil project as well as in Korup National Park.

Please reject the palm oil project proposed by Herakles Farms and Sithe Global Sustainable Oils Cameroon.

Sincerely,

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