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Call for Zero Deforestation in the Congo Basin!

From chocolate spread to toothpaste, shampoo to Melba toast, palm oil is in a wide variety of every day products. But exploitive palm oil plantations also present a wide variety of problems for the Congo Basin forests.

We take a close look at the leading planter in Africa, SOCFIN (Société Financière des Caoutchoucs), to highlight their role & responsibility in the uncontrolled development of plantation in the Congo Basin and its impact on the forest and communities.

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Due to global demand, the palm oil sector attracts interest and investors. South-East Asia has sacrificed millions of hectares of forest for exponentially growing palm oil production, thereby generating many conflicts with impacted communities.

Buoyed by global demand, the palm oil sector attracts interest and investors. South-East Asia has sacrificed millions of hectares of forest for exponentially growing palm oil production, thereby generating many conflicts with impacted communities.

In Asia however, international pressure has forced the sector’s giants to make certain commitments to combat deforestation and to put an end to land conflicts. While it is becoming more difficult to turn forests into plantations in South-East Asia, the same mistakes must not be made on other continents.

The leading planter in Africa, the Société Financière des Caoutchoucs (Socfin) is little known to the general public but has been operating in the continent for over a century. Heading up Socfin’s shareholdings are two figures of African business: Vincent Bolloré, France’s ninth-richest person, and the Belgian businessman Hubert Fabri.
#Zero Deforestation
Socfin has announced plans to extend its plantations in a number of African nations, threatening forests that are essential for the preservation of climate balances, biodiversity and the living conditions of local populations. Some of these plantations border onto unique ecosystems, such as São Tomé where they are located next to a national Natural Park that is home to remarkable biodiversity. Call for Zero Deforestation in the Congo Basin!

  • A traditional wooden house in Praia Pesqueira, Sao Tomé-et-Principe. Wood is a valuable here. Today, logging companies are venturing deeper into the forest, threatening the Obo National Park.
  • Members of the team Rede Bio, a platform of seven NGOs formed after a large mobilization of civil society against Socfin's proposed expansion in Sao Tomé.
  • The Greenpeace team crosschecks the information collected in the field. Farmers have had their land seized for the expansion of the Socfin plantations. There were barely offered three months salary as compensation.
  • A palm oil plantation belonging to Socfin in Sao Tomé.
  • A farmer on his agricultural land near the Obo National Park. The farmers who lost their land due to oil palm plantations are in fact encouraged to use ground beyond the borders of the nature reserve park Obo.
  • São Tomé-et- Príncipe is one of the smallest countries in Africa. With a third of its territory covered by forests, it features great biodiversity. But this forest paradise is threatened by the expansion of palm oil plantations controlled by Socfin.
  • The commercial terminal in Sao Tome, where the containers are packed for export.
  • The Greenpeace team on the ground in Sao Tomé.
  • A palm oil plantation belonging to Socfin in Sao Tome.
  • A child with a "breadfruit" in Praia Pesqueira. Local people directly depend on this fruit for a living. But because of the expansion of oil palm plantations, this commodity is disappearing.
  • A palm oil plantation belonging to Socfin in Sao Tomé.


“Socfin’s extension plans for its plantations threaten natural forest areas storing large quantities of carbon and including intact forest landscapes.”













With such wealth and power in the sector and in the region, Socfin could turn things around and take the right approach if they wanted to.

So, What is Zero Deofrestation? And is it feasible for Socfin to commit to Zero Deforestation?

Zero deforestation includes:
  • Mapping forest areas that must absolutely be protected that store a large amount of carbon (that would be released into the atmosphere should they be converted into plantations) or are home to significant plant or animal biodiversity.
  • Respecting local communities, local populations, affected by plantations, including the creation of participative mapping on a community level to ensure their food security and sustainable living conditions.
  • Respecting human rights, in particular labour law and customary land rights.
  • Implementing an effective conflict resolution mechanism, including compensation and land restitution measures where necessary.


  • The hopeful news is that in the palm oil sector, most multinational companies are already committed to zero deforestation practices.

    Therefor, Greenpeace calls for Vincent Bolloré to use his influence to make Socfin immediately commit to a credible zero deforestation plantation policy that respects the rights of local communities. At the same time, the Bolloré Group must itself publish a zero deforestation policy that covers all of its investments in the sector.



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