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Cameroon In Crisis: West Africa Palm Oil and US, China, Corporate Plantations
by Tomas DiFiore
Friday Jan 1st, 2016 7:32 AM
On November 3, 2015, West African farmer and activist Nasako Besingi of Cameroon was convicted of four criminal counts against a controversial palm oil company operating in the country. But a coalition of environmental and human rights organizations is denouncing the charges, urging authorities to stop what they call the repression of Besingi and other activists. Such is the West African State of Cameroon's social, environmental, and human rights saga in which Nasako Besingi and others through SEFE rose up to seek truth and justice, fairness, and to hold onto their land. It's the same everywhere now, these days; palm oil development vs cultural survival. Join their call.
800_nasako_besingi_greenpeaceimage.jpg
Cameroon In Crisis: West Africa Palm Oil and US, China, Corporate Plantations

Cameroon, West Africa, November 2015 - Six environmental and human rights organizations, which include Greenpeace Africa, the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), GRAIN, Fern, Oakland Institute and SAVE are calling on Cameroon authorities to stop the repression of environmental human rights defender and farmer Nasako Besingi.

“The call comes following the conviction of farmer Nasako Besingi, from the country’s Southwest Region, after a protracted and controversial legal process, on two counts of propagation of false news against the US agribusiness company Herakles Farms and two counts of defamation against two employees of the company. After more than 3 years and multiple judicial delays, Besingi has been ordered to pay $2,400 US dollars in fines or face up to 3 years in prison. He was also sentenced to pay damages of $ 17,000 US dollars to the two civil parties.”

“Besingi, the director of Cameroonian NGO SEFE in the town of Mundemba, was awarded the 2012 TAIGO prize for non-state actors and was nominated in 2014 as one of the most notable human rights defenders by the Jeune Afrique newspaper. Besingi and his colleagues have long campaigned against the establishment of a large industrial palm oil plantation in the area by a Herakles Farms' local subsidiary.”

Image Greenpeace: “Nasako Besingi speaks about the impacts of the Herakles Farms Palm Oil plantation development on his community and environment at a 2013 press briefing in Washington, DC.”

“Without the courage of SEFE and others, the voices of local communities and farmers who have little say in what is done with their land and livelihoods, would not be heard,” says Victorine Chethoener, Forest project leader, Greenpeace Africa. “Those voices cannot fall silent because of government repression and intimidation.” (GRAIN, NGO located in Spain)
http://ow.ly/WtD00

PLEASE, SEND an email to the director of SEFE, Nasako Besingi:
nasako.bondoko [at] gmail.com

The page of SEFE at FB:
https://www.facebook.com/sefe.creation

On January 14, 2014, Mr. Nasako Besingi appeared before the Mundemba Court on charges of “publication of false news via the Internet” following a complaint filed by Herakles Farms. The complaint followed the publication by Mr. Besingi in Meangwe of an email in August 2012, in which he recalled the attack against him. The trial was postponed 10 times before resuming on June 24, 2014. (Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders)
http://www.omct.org/human-rights-defenders/urgent-interventions/cameroon/2015/12/d23499/

Charges Of “Publication Of False News Via The Internet”

“On August 29, 2012, Mr. Besingi was attacked while he was going to Mengwe village to deliver a public lecture about the impacts of the Herakles project on the local population. Mr. Besingi was pulled off his motorcycle, and beaten while he was on the ground. A group of journalists from France 24 then arrived on the spot and the attackers fled. Due to his aggression, Mr. Besingi suffered ocular and nerves injuries.”

“On October 29, 2012, Mr. Besingi lodged a complaint at the Senior State counsel of the legal department, following his attack. Following months of silence, on January 2014, the State counsel notified him that the complaint had disappeared from registers.”

“According to the information received, on November 3, 2015, the Mundemba Court in the Southwest region of Cameroon sentenced Mr. Nasako Besingi for false publication and defamation, and ordered him to pay a fine of 1 million CFA Francs (approx. 1,520 Euros) within 24 hours or face up to three years in prison. In addition, Mr. Besingi was condemned to pay damages of 10 million CFA Francs (approx. 15,200 Euros) to the two civil parties (workers of Herakles) and around 200,000 CFA Francs (approx. 304 Euros) of legal costs.”

“Although Mr. Besingi was able to pay the required fine (of 1 million CFA Francs) in addition to the legal fees, his lawyer has notified the court of his intention to appeal before the Southwest Court of Appeal in Buea.”

“Herakles' presence in the region is considered a security risk by those opposed to the project, and as a threat to local communities’ rights. Its reputation is tarnished by an abundance of illegal activities: for example, the treaty of establishment linking SGSOC to the Cameroonian State gives the company the right to arrest and detain any person crossing the concession, a clause that violates both national law and international conventions ratified by Cameroon. Moreover, the company does not have a lease agreement with the State and therefore does not have the legal right to conduct its operations in the areas where it is located.”

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint program of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organization Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the situation in Cameroon.

You can state: (That you) strongly condemn and / or that you find reprehensible - the ongoing judicial harassment of Mr. Nasako Besingi, as it seems to merely aim at sanctioning his and SEFE’s peaceful human rights activities, and calls upon the authorities of Cameroon to put an end to all acts of harassment against him as well as against all human rights defenders in Cameroon. (That is the message from The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, December 1, 2015)
https://www.fidh.org/en/issues/human-rights-defenders/cameroon-continued-judicial-harassment-against-mr-nasako-besingi

Urge the authorities to do what they can, to stop the repression of Besingi and other activists.

Please write:
Ambassador of the United States of America to the Republic of Cameroon
Michael S. Hoza
The United States Embassy in Cameroon
Avenue Rosa Parks
P.O. Box 817
Yaounde, Cameroon
Phone: (237) 22220-1500
Fax: (237) 22220-1500, ext. 4531
http://yaounde.usembassy.gov/ambassador.html

Ambassador Michael Hoza has served at eleven different Foreign Service posts in Africa, Asia, and Europe; and he also served in the State Department’s Bureau of African Affairs in Washington, D.C. He assumed his duties as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Republic of Cameroon on August 22, 2014, after having been nominated by President Barack Obama on July 31, 2013.

Also; the US State Department shows that Cameroon maintains an embassy in the United States at 1700 Wisconsin Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20007 (tel. 202-265-8790).
http://www.cameroonembassyusa.org/

Apparently the site is unavailable. This is not the Residency address for the Cameroon Embassy though, but they moved to the current address in 2009 due to a remodel....

In Cameroon; The Herackles Farms' Deforestation Debacle

“Herakles Farms packaged the project as one that would be environmentally sustainable and socioeconomically beneficial for the communities surrounding the plantations (SGSOC stands for SG Sustainable Oils Cameroon, Ltd). However, in 2012 Herakles pulled out of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) – the world’s most influential regulator of palm of palm oil production. And a Greenpeace report issued last year accused the company of illegal logging and colluding with government officials to sell the illicit timber to China.”
http://news.mongabay.com/2014/05/greenpeace-accuses-controversial-palm-oil-company-and-cameroon-government-of-illegal-logging/

A report published in 2012 by The Oakland Institute, an independent policy think tank, disputed the company’s claims that the plantations would benefit local communities.
http://www.oaklandinstitute.org/sites/oaklandinstitute.org/files/Land_deal_brief_herakles.pdf

Mongabay, on November 16, 2015, published: “Conservationists have long-condemned the project. They say that Herakles Farms’ palm oil plantations will come at the expense of important habitat for threatened species like the critically endangered Preuss’s red colobus monkey (Procolobus preussi), the endangered Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes ellioti) and drill (Mandrillus leucophaeus), and the vulnerable forest elephant (Loxodonta cyclotis) and red-capped mangabey (Cercocebus torquatus). The plantations are also close to Cross River National Park, just across the border in Nigeria. The park is home to the Cross River gorilla, the world’s rarest and most threatened gorilla subspecies.”

“On November 3, Cameroonian activist Nasako Besingi was convicted of four criminal counts against a controversial palm oil company operating in the country. But a coalition of environmental and human rights organizations is denouncing the charges, urging authorities to stop what they call the repression of Besingi and other activists.”
http://news.mongabay.com/2015/11/cameroon-convicts-activist-campaigning-against-palm-oil-company/

Nasako Besingi - SEFE: "I first heard about the plans for a plantation in our area from a government agent back in 2009, I was shocked. I told him, But there are no available lands in our area. Later that year, at a local meeting of the ruling political party, chiefs from the area were asked to sign a blank piece of paper in exchange for 10,000 FCFA. None of them knew what they were signing, says Nasako. We only found out later that the paper was used as proof of local consent for the proposed oil palm project."

“An inside source gave Nasako a copy of the Establishment Convention between the company and the government. The convention does not specify the amount of lands or the location of the lands involved in the project," says Nasako. "But when the company came to the area, they said that the lands had been allocated by the government."

SEFE organized a meeting in August 2011 to get clarity on the proposed project. They invited all of the affected villages, the government and the company. But the company refused to participate. It was then that we realized that this company did not want to negotiate, that they were shunning us, says Nasako. So we decided to take them to court."

“SEFE brought charges against the company for violating national and international environmental and human rights laws to the High Court. The court ruled in its favor, concluding that Herakles did not have permission to operate in the area, but this did not stop the company.”

"The company ignored this decision from the court because they had the blessing of the Prime Minister. We looked at this and said, If this company is going to ignore the court, how can we, as villagers, expect them to listen to us?”

“SEFE stepped up its awareness raising work. It organized another major meeting in July 2012 in the village of Meangwe. In the days leading up to the meeting, company agents went into the villages warning residents not to attend.”
https://www.grain.org/article/entries/4827-cameroon-activist-takes-on-land-grabber-from-wall-street-now-faces-imprisonment

In September 2012, the Oakland Institute published a report in collaboration with Greenpeace International on the 73,000 hectares (ha) palm oil project proposed for development by SG Sustainable Oils Cameroon, Ltd. (SGSOC)/Herakles Farms in the Southwest region of Cameroon. The report, “Massive Deforestation Portrayed as Sustainable Development: the Deceit of Herakles Farms in Cameroon”, describes major flaws of the project and questionable tactics used by the New York-based company and its CEO, Bruce Wrobel, to make the project look sustainable and beneficial to Cameroon.

“Company documents related to the Herakles Farms palm oil project in Cameroon were recently provided to the Oakland Institute. These documents contain evidence that Herakles Farms is misleading investors, local communities, the Cameroonian government, and the general public about the status of its project and operations in the country.”
http://www.oaklandinstitute.org/herakles-exposed

“From its very name, American-owned SG Sustainable Oils Cameroon, Ltd. (SGSOC) presents a pro-environment, pro-resources image. This is supported by an impressive-sounding partnership with an NGO by the name of All for Africa and as a package typifies the kind of convoluted modern-day foreign investment going on in Africa.”
http://www.oaklandinstitute.org/land-deal-brief-massive-deforestation-portrayed-sustainable-investment-deceit-herakles-farms

An expanded view of the false promises of the oil palm industry as exemplified in Cameroon appears in the article “Herakles Farms Palm Oil Project Rears Its Ugly Head Again” by Amy Moas published November 19, 2015. “New information has surfaced about a number of complaints and lawsuits that Herakles Farms/SGSOC itself faces.”

“More than 60 former employees have turned to local activists, including Nasako Besingi, for help securing unpaid allowances and a number of employees have reportedly brought lawsuits against the company. One former employee has filed at least eight different actions, including accusations of racial discrimination and unpaid wages.”

“Herakles Farms/SGSOC’s defense in response to these legal actions has recently come to light and includes an arbitration clause in its employment contracts which designates the “New York Arbitration Board” as the only authorized body to hear complaints.”

“This condition that an employee can only take up a grievance in a foreign country places an unfair insurmountable burden on employees and is rather strange given Herakles Farms no longer has an office in New York.”
http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/herakles-farms-palm-oil-project-rears-its-ugly-head-again/

Herakles Exposed: The Truth Behind Herakles Farms False Promises In Cameroon

In September 2012, the Oakland Institute published a report in collaboration with Greenpeace International on a 73,000 hectares (ha) palm oil project proposed for development by SG Sustainable Oils Cameroon, Ltd. (SGSOC)/Herakles Farms in the Southwest region of Cameroon. The report, was titled: “Massive Deforestation Portrayed as Sustainable Development: the Deceit of Herakles Farms in Cameroon.”

The subsequent report; “Herakles Exposed: The Truth Behind Herakles Farms False Promises In Cameroon” exposes the “significant discrepancies between how the company has represented the project to the public and what it is telling prospective investors and creditors. It also exposes internal communications that contradict the optimistic outlook for the palm oil project presented to investors.”

1) “In a March 2013 presentation to its potential investors, Herakles Farms stated: “Herakles has secured a 99 year lease and also received all required permits and approvals to commence field operations.” A senior Herakles Farms official contradicts this claim, stating in an October 2012 internal communication that they do not have the required government approvals for field planting. The situation has not changed since then and Herakles Farms has not secured all required government permits to commence field operations.”

2) “In an open letter in response to Oakland Institute and Greenpeace September 2012 report, Bruce Wrobel, the CEO of Herakles Farms, claimed that any timber sales that resulted from the clearing of land for the project would only be done to benefit the government of Cameroon and not the company.”

“The rental rate on our land is only one dollar per hectare... we could have negotiated for the timber rights and paid a higher price. But we surrendered the timber to the government, and took a lower lease rate. We will cut it, trim it, and stack it for the government at a cost of about seventy five million dollars to us (Herackles Farms). It will add huge value to the government's income.”

“Its March 2013 investment opportunity advisory states that the “sale of timber could provide immediate profit uplift” to the company. In its Value Drivers document, Herakles Farms informs investors that the sale of timber may generate between $60 to $90 million during the initial phase of the project, until revenue from palm oil materializes in later phases. The company claimed it had obtained permission from Ministry of Forestry to process and sell merchantable timber – 3 billion cubic feet of timber are available.”

3) “Herakles Farms insists it is developing the project in compliance with anti-corruption requirements, and has developed a Global Anti-Corruption Policy, which is posted on its website. However, the Oakland Institute and Greenpeace International have evidence that suggests that Herakles Farms’ employees have used bribery, cash gifts, and promises of employment to win support for its project in Cameroon. When asked about this issue, a Herakles Farms employee responded: Of course envelopes were distributed; that’s how you facilitate your way.”

4) “The plantation is already well established - In its March 2013 Investment Opportunity advisory, Herakles Farms announced plans to clear 10,000 ha of land in order to plant the 1.5 million seedlings from its existing nurseries in 2013. 46 But according to its own staff, the company does not have the capacity to clear this quantity of land. Seedlings are now already overgrown because the company ordered more than it could handle given the limited capacity of its nurseries.”

5) “Herakles Farms has presented unrealistic data to investors. The company plans to harvest 24 tons of fruit per hectare 7 years after planting and 34 tons per hectare after 10 years 49 (i.e. at peak production, when the trees have reached their highest level of output).”

“Yet, in the most intensive conditions of production in Cameroon, the quantities that are produced at peak output are 18 to 19 tons/ha. The Herakles Farms projections are far above the estimates made by the London-based firm Hardman & Co, which establish an average of 14.5 tons of fruit/ha in West Africa. They also exceed the yield estimates made by Olam in Gabon, with 26 tons/ha in peak years, already a record in Africa. According to an expert in the palm oil industry, projections put forth by Herakles Farms are unrealistic and as of today not a single oil palm plantation company across the globe has been able to achieve this.”

6) “Herakles Farms has focused its public communication on the benefits its project will bring to the people of Cameroon. The company claims that the project is “designed to provide employment and social development and improve the level of food security, while incorporating industry best practices,” 55 and its homepage actually makes no mention of the business goals of the company. Instead, it pretends its goal is to address “the complex issues of food security through sustainable agriculture initiatives.”

Herakles Farms has marketed its plantation as a development project. One presentation says, “The SGSOC team is committed to developing a long-term sustainable project partnership with the people of Cameroon.” But Herakles Farms tells a different story to investors. “The company is looking to make huge profits “upon exit through IPO or acquisition potentially as soon as 2017.”

The full reports exposes 9 false promises, 6 were selected for this brief.
“Herakles Exposed: The Truth Behind Herakles Farms False Promises In Cameroon”
2013 by The Oakland Institute and Greenpeace International The report was written by Frederic Mousseau, with contributions by researchers from the Oakland Institute and Greenpeace International.
http://www.oaklandinstitute.org/sites/oaklandinstitute.org/files/OI_Report_Herakles_Exposed.pdf

This is the backdrop, the background scenery, the corporate transnational veil, a canvas larger than life – a wall mural of profit painted at the expense of local cultures, and communities of the region's populations. Such is the West African State of Cameroon's social, environmental, and human rights saga in which Nasako Besingi and others through SEFE rose up to seek truth and justice, fairness, and to hold onto their land. It's the same everywhere now, these days; palm oil development vs cultural survival.

In Cameroon now, another new company, “the local enterprise named PAMOL Plantations Plc (an agrobusiness specializing in palm oil production) also wants to plant palm oil in the tiny Bakassi peninsula, South of the Korup Park. The defense that SEFE does of the rainforests of the SW of Cameroon has not finished with the ending of the projects of Herakles Farms, new companies (like PAMOL Plantations Plc) follow similar activities against the biodiversity and the environment of this region of Cameroon. It's very necessary that people send help to SEFE. Furthermore, the judicial accusations against SEFE continue - a long, expensive and painful battle in the courts.”

This is an urgent appeal from Cameroon: “Environmental and Human Rights activists persecuted for defending the environment against the interests of powerful transnational and local companies.”
https://www.facebook.com/sefe.creation

It's necessary our help to these environmental activists from Cameroon: Please, contact SEFE and Nasako Besingi expressing your solidarity with their efforts in defense of the peoples, the rural communities, the biodiversity, the nature, the wildlife, the rainforests and the natural resources of Cameroon.

Two Billion-Plus Hectares Of Land - In Some Sense Degraded - Open For Production

“The opaque and illegal manner in which the project has been carried out demonstrates the threats to Africa’s forests. Projects like the Herakles plantation are just the first wave of large-scale industrial plantation development in the Congo, the world’s second largest rainforest. Already plans are moving forward for new oil palm development in DRC, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, and Cameroon.”
http://news.mongabay.com/2013/11/controversial-palm-oil-project-approved-in-cameroon-rainforest/

More On The Biodiversity Of South West Cameroon

“In a letter signed by members of more than 80 civil society organizations, conservationists warn that the development may threaten primary rainforest as well forest areas dubbed High Conservation Value Forests (HCVF). The plantation site lies near four protected areas, including world-renowned Korup National Park, home to over 600 species of trees, nearly 200 reptiles and amphibians, an estimated 1,000 butterflies, 400 species of birds, and 160 species of mammals including one of the richest assemblages of primates in the world. Korup has fourteen species of primates, including red-eared guenon (Cercopithecus erythrotis), listed as Vulnerable to extinction by the IUCN Red List; the drill (Mandrillus leucophaeus), Endangered; and Preuss’s red colobus monkey (Piliocolobus preussi), Critically Endangered; and the Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes ellioti), the most imperiled of the world’s chimpanzee subspecies. Forest elephants, leopards, bushpigs, duikers, bush-tailed porcupines, and forest buffalo roam the lowland rainforest as well.”

“Environmentalists warn that the palm oil plantation will disrupt important wildlife routes between Korup National Park (to the north), Rumpi Hills Forest Reserve (south), Bakossi National Park and Banyang Mbo Wildlife Sanctuary (both to the east), essentially isolating populations and preventing them from dispersing and intermingling. Forest elephants, which scientists argue may be a distinct species from Africa’s better-known savanna elephants, are said to cross between Korup and Rumpi. A plantation, half the size of Korup National Park, could present an insurmountable barrier for the elephants, say environmentalists. In Southeast Asia, palm oil plantations have built elephant ditches and electric fences to keep the often-destructive animals away from their commodities.”

“Workers will migrate into the area seeking jobs and they will demand bushmeat. Hunters will have even more incentive to violate Cameroon laws and harvest animals from inside the protected areas, where animal populations are still relatively abundant. The current conservation infrastructure will be ill-equipped to do anything about it, a statement from SAVE-Wildlife Conservation Fund reads, one of the organization spear-heading the effort against Herakles’ plantation.”

“Animals will be wiped out and the current conservation infrastructure is ill-equipped to do anything about it. So, unless Herakles plans on hiring and training (and supporting over their 99-year lease) hundreds of eco-guards in each protected area, protecting HCV forest outside protected areas, funding environmental education programs throughout the plantation area, restricting immigration into the area, and providing non-bushmeat alternative protein to its employees and surrounding residents, Korup is in big trouble.”

“The vulnerability of the region raises the question: why here? Why not choose an area where the forest is gone? After meeting briefly with Herakles Farms, director of World Resources Institute’s (WRI) Global Forests Initiative, Dr. Nigel Sizer, said that one of the issues raised with the company was that there are two billion-plus hectares of land that are in some sense degraded, open for improved use and productivity, according to our latest analysis.”

“Given the versatility of oil palm and so much degraded, deforested land across the tropics, surely there are better places to make this kind of investment,”
http://news.mongabay.com/2011/09/palm-oil-poverty-and-conservation-collide-in-cameroon/

14.5 Million Trees Of Various Species Illegally Destroyed Company Fined US$48,519.
That's one third of a penny per tree.

In April 2012, eleven of the worlds top scientists issued an open letter urging the Cameroonian government to stop the project. In June 2012, villagers from Fabe and Toko organized a protest against the project and in response faced intimidation and arrest by police.

“The company is paying $0.50 to $1 per hectare per year and has a 99 year land lease. This plantation will have major impacts on up to 45,000 Indigenous Peoples in 88 villages who are dependent on the forest for their livelihoods. The plantation will also fragment and isolate the regions protected areas, including Korup National Park, Bakossi National Park, Banyang Mbo Wildlife Sanctuary, Nta Ali Forest Reserve, and Rumpi Hills Forest Reserve.”

Local smallholders grow millet, cocoa, cassava, oil palm, beans, rice and fruit, which they supplement with fishing and hunting. "If you look at the working conditions in other agro-industrial plantations, they are truly deplorable. Most employees make US$34-70 per month, which is not a living wage in today's economy," Besingi added.

"Our people used to live in harmony with animals in this forest but recent forest exploitation, aggravated by SGSOCs bulldozing of forest areas, has upset the sensitive human-animal eco-balance, Besingi said, leading to a number of recent cases of elephants attacking farmers.”

“According to Samuel Nguiffo, a lawyer and director of Cameroon's Centre for Environment and Development, the company had been clearing forest and developing oil palm nurseries prior to submitting an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) or obtaining the Certificate of Environmental Conformity as required by law. When an ESIA was eventually carried out in 2012, it was discovered that SGSOC had destroyed 14.5 million trees of various species; the company was asked to pay damages and interest amounting to US$48,519, according Ebo'o Léopold Francis, the regional government delegate for environmental issues in the South West Region.”

“Major protests erupted against Herakles after it withdrew from the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) over protracted discussions on human rights.”

On November 14, 2012, Besingi and three other campaigners were arrested and detained without charge. "It was only following international and local pressure that we were released - however, on condition that we present ourselves before the authorities when called, and if we can't show up the community members who negotiated our release will have to pay $1,500 for each of us, Besingi explained.”

"While peasant farmers have numerous obstacles to titling their land and securing access to other natural resources on which they depend, multinational companies can fly into Yaoundé and sign deals to secure huge tracts of land with little regard for the communities in these areas. This is a fight for the livelihoods of rural peoples in Cameroon and across Africa."
http://www.irinnews.org/report/97051/cameroon-campaigners-oppose-industrial-palm-oil-plantation

Palm Oil Wiping Out Africa's Great Ape Rainforests - The Ecologist
Published February 24, 2015
http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_round_up/2768642/palm_oil_wiping_out_africas_great_ape_rainforests.html

“The rainforest habitat of chimpanzees and other great apes is being destroyed by the expansion of palm oil projects in central Africa, according to new evidence from Greenpeace.
If proactive strategies to mitigate the effects of large-scale habitat conversion are not soon implemented, we can expect a rapid decline in African primate diversity”

“Thousands of hectares of prime rainforest habitat for chimpanzees, drills, gorillas and other primates are being wiped out as agribusiness advances across Cameroon. The rainforest habitat of chimpanzees and other great apes is being destroyed by the expansion of palm oil projects in central Africa, according to new evidence from Greenpeace. If proactive strategies to mitigate the effects of large-scale habitat conversion are not soon implemented, we can expect a rapid decline in African primate diversity.”

“Satellite images obtained by Greenpeace Africa show that more than 3,000 hectares of rainforest bordering the Dja Faunal Reserve in Cameroon's Southern region have been destroyed.”
http://www.greenpeace.org/international/Global/international/documents/forests/2015/Cameroon-Hevea-Sud.pdf

“The cleared forest, until now home to western lowland gorillas, chimpanzees and mandrills, lies inside the Chinese-owned Hevea Sud rubber and palm oil concession. The land was granted to the company even though it lies next to Dja Faunal Reserve, which is designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. The plantation lies in the home district of Cameroonian president Paul Biya.”

"Agro-industrial developments will soon emerge as a top threat to biodiversity in the African tropical forest zone."

“The forest clearance at Hevea Sud is significantly greater than that carried out by US company Herakles Farms for their palm oil project in the country's South West region that has also deforested vital wildlife habitat and deprived local communities of the forest they depend on for their livelihoods.”

A Greenpeace Africa investigation in December revealed that Cameroonian company Azur is also targeting a large area of dense forest in Cameroon's Littoral region to convert to a palm oil plantation. A large part of the area at risk is adjacent to the Ebo forest, a proposed national park that is used by forest elephants and many primate species. These include the Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzee sub-species and the rare and endangered drill.”

Species Viability Today: Minimum Threshold Levels A Slow Extinction Event

“The Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzee is one of the most endangered primates in the world and faces numerous threats including destruction of habitat from illegal logging, poaching, the bush meat trade and the effects of climate change. The drill is a rare ape and 80% of the world's remaining population is in Cameroon and Azur's plantation project may lead to even more habitat destruction of this already endangered primate.”

"Projects that are being developed without adequate community consultation and are located in areas of high ecological value should not be allowed to proceed and risk further social conflict and environmental damage. The Congo Basin is the world's second largest rainforested area. Its rich and diverse ecosystem provides food, fresh water, shelter and medicine for tens of millions of people.”

“Kenneth Richter, biofuels campaigner at Friends of the Earth said that current EU biofuels policy is destroying forests, sending food prices soaring and may even be causing an increase in climate-changing pollution."

The French React

“Cameroon was one of four countries where palm plantation operations by yet another palm oil company were the focus of protests organized by French ReAct last summer. Local NGOs held the demonstrations under the umbrella of ReAct, a French NGO that helps communities involved in conflicts with multinational corporations.”

“At the Bolloré company headquarters west of Paris protesters gathered, calling for thousands of local people to have their land returned to them near oil palm and rubber plantations in several African and Asian countries run by Socfin, a Belgian concern with origins in the Belgian Congo. Bolloré holds a 39 percent stake in the company.”

“Since April 2015, communities and activists in Cameroon, Cambodia, Liberia and the Ivory Coast have also staged direct protest actions against subsidiaries of Socfin, one of the world’s largest independent plantation owners with 150,000 hectares of rubber and oil palm in several African and Southeast Asian countries.”

“The recent movement began in Dibombari in western Cameroon. On April 23, hundreds of local activists blocked the entrance to the Socapalm factory and plantation. The same tactic was deployed at a plantation in Mbongo several days later. Workers were prevented from carrying out their work, forcing operations shut for several days.”

“Bolloré cashes in its Socfin dividends while shirking responsibility,” said Emmanuel Elong, president of an international alliance of villages surrounding Socfin-Bolloré plantations established by ReAct in 2013. “We demand an international negotiation with Socfin and Bolloré to set an agenda to return our land and receive compensation as defined by our previous agreements.”
http://news.mongabay.com/2015/06/coordinated-protests-hit-socfin-plantations-in-four-countries/

It seems appropriate here, to include an Indigenous view from Turtle Island:

“Whatever it is that people believe in, or show respect to, or worship; or however they express it to their creator – if they don't use their intelligence, if they don't use it daily on a continual basis, to wake up, and on a daily basis strive to seek clarity and coherence, then everything else is neutralized. Because this gift of intelligence is given to us and it's our way through everything, our evolutionary protection. See, it's about more than non-violent civil disobedience. Somewhere in there, the deal is about non-cooperation.” John Trudell

Please get involved in protecting the world's rainforests and human rights!

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Tomas DiFiore
North Coast, California, Redwood Forest Region





Cameroon, West Africa Palm Oil, Nasako, Nasako Besingi, Herakles Farms, Boycott Palm Oil, South West Cameroon, Cameroon Land Grabs, Great Ape Rainforests,
§Corrected address for Cameroon Embassy in the US
by Tomas DiFiore Friday Jan 8th, 2016 1:41 PM
Embassy of the Republic of Cameroon in the US
His Excellency Joseph B.C. Foe-Atangana
3400 International Drive, NW
Washington, DC 20008
Phone: 202-265-8790
Fax:(202) 387-3826
http://cameroonembassyusa.org/embassy.aspx

Most embassies will be closed on Monday, January 18th in observance of Martin Luther King Jr Day. Cameroon Embassy offices in the US will close at 2:00 PM local time (Washington, Eastern Standard Time).