Cameroonian Ministry for Forestry Orders Herakles Farms to Suspend Forest Clearance

Press release - May 22, 2013
Johannesburg, May 22nd 2013 -- After years of controversy surrounding Herakles Farms’ proposed palm oil plantation, the Cameroonian Ministry for Forestry and Wildlife (MINFOF) has ordered the company to suspend all logging at its main worksite at Talangaye, in the Nguti region.

"Greenpeace Africa welcomes the Cameroonian Government's decision to suspend Herakles Farms’ operations, because of the numerous illegalities associated with the project and the social conflicts and the environmental destruction that it has caused,” said Michael O’Brien-Onyeka, Executive Director for Greenpeace Africa.

Herakles Farms confirmed the stop order in a press release, in which it claimed the company “always has and will comply fully and transparently with government regulations in force”. [1] However, the MINFOF suspension letter cited a letter from MINEPAT, the Ministry of Economy, Planning and Regional Development, referring to violations of the forestry law by the company.  

Working closely alongside Cameroonian NGOs and communities, Greenpeace Africa has continually challenged the legality of Herakles Farms’ contract and exposed the many negative impacts of the proposed project on the local communities that depend on the forest for their livelihoods. [2]

These concerns were echoed in a recent report compiled for the Programme for the Sustainable Management of Natural resources in the South West Region of Cameroon (PSMNR – SWR) , a programme of the Cameroon government  which is co-financed by the German government. [3] The report, published in February 2013, concluded that Herakles Farms had been “actively negotiating as much land as possible with local communities which are not prepared or neither informed on what they are getting into”.  The report also stated that “the loss of opportunities offered by forest resources can’t be compensated by few precarious employments in the plantation”, and that the environmental impacts of the plantation would be enormous, given that it “is located within an ecologically vital area”.  

In addition, a report released today by Greenpeace International and the Oakland Institute demonstrates how misleading of investors and corruption are just two of the deceitful tactics believed to be employed by Herakles Farms. Herakles Exposed: The Truth behind Herakles Farms reveals a series of internal company communications and documents which uncover a sharp contrast between what its executives communicate publicly and what they are conveying to investors and the reality on the ground. [4]

“Herakles Farms’ plantation is the wrong project in the wrong place. Greenpeace Africa is encouraged by the Cameroonian Government’s decision and hopes that it will pursue a genuine alternative development path, which increases communities’ livelihoods while protecting the forests on which they depend,” concluded O’Brien-Onyeka. [5]

Media contacts:

  • Irene Wabiwa, Forests Campaigner, Greenpeace Africa, phone: +237 93714286,
  • Alexa Phillips, Forests Communications Coordinator, Greenpeace Africa, phone: +27 798945277

Notes to the editor:

  1. The Herakles Farms’ press release can be found here: http://heraklesfarms.com/docs/HeraklesFarmsMINFOFOrderPressRelease18May2013.pdf
  2. Herakles Farms in Cameroon; A Showcase in Bad Palm Oil Production report can be found here: http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/en/media-center/reports/Herakles-Farms-in-Cameroon/
  3. The PSNMR report can be found here: http://cameroonveritas.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/03_01_2013_report-fact-finding-mission-sgsoc.pdf
  4. The Herakles Exposed: The Truth Behind Herakles Farms report can be found here: http://www.greenpeace.org/international/Global/international/briefings/forests/2013/Herakles_ExposedFinal.pdf
  5. The Agriculture Systems and Food Security in Toko, Mundemba and Nguti, in South West Cameroon report can be found here:

http://www.greenpeace.org/africa/Global/africa/publications/forests/Agriculture_FoodSecurity_EN.pdf