If you are looking for EIA UK, it's over here.

Palm Oil Plantation in Cameroon: An Opportunity to Stop “The Wrong Project in the Wrong Place”

YAOUNDE, CAMEROON — In anticipation of a crucial decision to be made by the Government of Cameroon on the renewal of a land lease for a controversial oil palm project, EIA releases today a video that shows how the large-scale project has negatively impacted the lives of thousands of community members, threatened biodiversity hotspots, and failed to meet development promises to local communities in the Southwest region of Cameroon. The video, “The Wrong Project in the Wrong Place,” is the result of a collaboration with local, national, and international environmental groups.

By the end of November 2016, the Government of Cameroon is expected to issue a crucial decision for the future of its forests. The respect for national rule of law, the livelihoods of thousands of community members, and the habitat of the vulnerable African elephant hang in the balance as the government decides whether or not to renew the land lease for the controversial Sithe Global Sustainable Oils Cameroon (SGSOC) oil palm project.

“The Cameroonian government has an opportunity to send a strong signal to foreign investors that it will no longer accept investments that undermine its people and its laws,” said Lisa Handy, EIA Director of Forest Campaigns. “Since the beginning of this oil palm project, SGSOC has shown very little interest in complying with Cameroonian laws at the expense of the national economy, local communities, and unique habitats. The Cameroonian government can now make a decision to lead the country – and the region – in a new direction.”

SGSOC, a company originally owned by the New York-based group Herakles Farms, acquired a 99-year land lease of 73,086 hectares in 2009. The process of granting the concession at that time was very questionable. In November 2013, the initial land lease contract was reviewed by a presidential decree and as a result, the concession was drastically reduced to 19,843 hectares for a probationary three year period. In November, the probationary lease comes to an end and the Cameroonian government must decide whether or not to stop this controversial project.

Since its inception, the SGSOC oil palm project has been associated with illegalities. The company started clear-cutting hundreds of hectares of pristine tropical rainforests and exporting the timber harvested from the concession without the required authorization from the Cameroonian government. The project was also launched without providing a complete environmental impact assessment as required by law. These practices are setting dangerous precedents for a country that is betting on palm oil as a pillar of its national development plan.

The SGSOC oil palm project is a prime example of the extremely concerning forest conversion projects that have proliferated throughout the Congo Basin in recent years. These projects share many of the following characteristics: questionable land right acquisition, shady corporate architecture, lack of traceability in forest resources exploitation and trade, and tensions with neighboring communities. Altogether their development path is fundamentally undermining forest governance in the region and jeopardizing decades of efforts to improve the situation.

“Community lands were demarcated and palms were planted in people’s farms without any proper consultations,” said Dominic Ngwese, CEO of Nature Cameroon. “The Government of Cameroon should not renew this concession simply because this project has proven to bring more conflicts than development in the area.”

In the past several years, Cameroon has witnessed a sharp increase in demand for vast areas of land to develop palm oil plantations due to its biophysical conditions, which are suitable for palm oil expansion. More than one million hectares of land have recently been requested for large-scale monoculture plantations. In many cases, these land acquisitions present a high risk of negatively impacting local communities that depend on land and forests for small-scale subsistence agriculture, as well as hunting and the gathering of non-timber forest products. The promises of local employment, infrastructure development including roads, schools and health centers, and electricity for local people have been used to justify advantageous land leases granted to entrepreneurs. Unfortunately, most cases reveal rampant exploitation of natural resources, while the promises for local development are generally not met.

Watch the video in English here, or in French here.

###

Contact:
Eric Parfait Essomba, EIA Congo Basin Representative, ericessomba@eia-global.org +237 66107-9453
Maggie Dewane, EIA Press Officer, mdewane@eia-global.org, +1 (202) 483-6621.

View all Press Releases

Recent Blog Posts

Diana's Song: Musicians join indigenous defenders in Peru's threatened Amazon
01/19/2018
It’s not every day that the average person finds herself sitting on a stage in Lima, singing an unknown song in a native Amazonian language to half a million viewers on Facebook Live, with back-up vocals by KT Tunstall and musical accompaniment by Maroon 5’s guitarist, Dave Matthews Band’s bassist, and the lead singers of Guster and Kanaku & El Tigre. But Diana Rios is not your average person, and this was not your average day.
Fighting Forest Crime: CITES takes action against illegal rosewood trade
12/08/2017
At its 69th meeting, the Standing Committee (SC69) of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) took important steps to curb the destructive illegal trade in rosewoods from Africa.

Recent Reports

Destino China: resumen complementario al informe Momento de la Verdad
02/14/2018
El reciente informe de EIA, El Momento de la Verdad mostró que la ilegalidad y el fraude son generalizados en todo el sector maderero peruano, y que una gran parte de la madera talada ilegalmente se exporta a decenas de países. En “Destino China: resumen complementario al informe Momento de la Verdad”, EIA parte de los mismos datos y análisis para destacar el mayor mercado de destino para las exportaciones de madera ilegal de Perú: China.
Moment of Truth: Promise or Peril for the Amazon as Peru Confronts its Illegal Timber Trade
02/07/2018
EIA’s new report describes important advances since 2012 in Peru’s fight against illegal logging, timber laundering, and its associated international trade – as well as the backlash against these new approaches.

Recent Press Releases

Peru's Fight Against Illegal Timber Trade at Risk as Authorities Weaken Rules and Regulations
02/07/2018
Peruvian forest authorities are weakening the tools and inspections necessary to prevent illegal timber trade, in the face of overwhelming evidence that Peru’s exports to the United States, China, Mexico and 15 other countries contained high percentages of illegal or high-risk wood. Moment of Truth, a new report from the non-profit Environmental Investigation Agency, demonstrates the extent of this illegal trade and the backlash against attempts to fight it.
Retrocesos en Regulaciones e Inspecciones Debilitan La Lucha Del Perú Contra el Comercio de Madera Ilegal
02/07/2018
Las autoridades forestales peruanas están debilitando las herramientas e inspecciones necesarias para prevenir el comercio de madera ilegal, ante una abrumadora evidencia de que las exportaciones del Perú a Estados Unidos, China, México y otros 15 países incluyeron altos porcentajes de madera ilegal o de alto riesgo. El Momento de la Verdad, un nuevo informe de investigación de la ONG internacional Agencia de Investigación Ambiental (EIA – Environmental Investigation Agency), demuestra los alcances de este tráfico ilegal y las reacciones en contra de las acciones para combatirlo.

Recent Videos

The 'S' Files
02/16/2017
EIA's series of videos exposing Holzindustrie Schweighofer's involvement in illegal logging in Romania,
The 'S' Files, Case #3: Depot Deception
12/21/2016
The latest in EIA's video series, The 'S' Files, Depot Deception shows that Holzindustrie Schweighofer, one of the largest timber companies in Europe, appears to be systematically...
Follow us @eiaenvironment on twitter for the latest updates!
How the U.S. Lacey Act Protects the Planet
The precedent-setting U.S. Lacey Act supports honest industry and protects the planet.
Lumber Liquidators pleads guilty to smuggling timber
Holzindustrie Schweighofer & Illegal Timber
Lumber Liquidators in the Russian Far East
Musicians and the Illegal Timber Trade