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.

bulldozer in a clear-cut area in the rainforest in 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.

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 cameroon The 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

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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