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

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

Escazu Agreement Offers Hope but is Only the Beginning
02/23/2021
2020 was a terrible year across the globe, but particularly for Latin America’s environmental defenders. After record numbers of murders in 2019, the perils for environmental and human rights defenders did not decline in 2020. In fact, these threats remained high and even increased during the pandemic, as illegal loggers, miners, and other land grabbers had free reign to encroach upon remote communities. And this time, the intruders brought with them the deadly coronavirus.
Letter to Peru President Vizcarra
10/31/2020
Civil society organizations ask Peru President Vizcarra to fight against impunity and not be fooled by the company sentenced for deforesting Tamshiyacu

Recent Reports

Cashing-In On Chaos
06/03/2020
Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA)’s three-year investigation into the Senegal-Gambia-China rosewood traffic uncovered unprecedented evidence on a series of major forest crimes.
Mukula Cartel
12/05/2019
In Zambia the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) found that a handful of very high profile figures have apparently orchestrated and facilitated massive trafficking operations for years that are driving mukula rosewood trees to the edge of commercial extinction, devastating vulnerable forests and threatening communities’ livelihoods.

Recent Press Releases

ORAU Statement on the murders of two indigenous Cacataibo leaders in Peru
03/03/2021
EIA joins ORAU in expressing outrage at the murders of human rights defenders who are protecting the Amazon region and their communities, and echoes ORAU’s calls for urgent and immediate actions. Here is an EIA-translated version in English of ORAU’s original letter in Spanish.
One Step Forward, Two Steps Back: Romania’s New Timber Traceability System Removes Public Transparency
02/03/2021
On January 31, Romania released a new electronic timber traceability system, an important step in its transition to a fully digital forest sector. Unfortunately, the new system has inexplicably removed all public transparency.

Recent Videos

Mukula Cartel
12/05/2019
In Zambia the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) found that a handful of very high profile figures have apparently orchestrated and facilitated massive trafficking operations for years that are driving mukula rosewood trees to the edge of commercial extinction, devastating vulnerable forests and threatening communities’ livelihoods
Raw Intelligence: GOCA
10/18/2019
Mr. Lu is the Secretary of the Association of Overseas Chinese in Gabon and a leading figure in the Forest Union of the Asian Industry in Gabon (UFIAG). He doesn’t miss an opportunity to publicly defend Chinese logging companies in Gabon, and to assert that these entrepreneurs operate with the best of intentions.
Follow us @eiaenvironment on twitter for the latest updates!