Like many activists, we ask lots of questions, and often these questions go unanswered in the hope that we’ll simply give up and stop asking.
US agribusiness Herakles Farms and its chief executive Bruce Wrobel think they can put their heads in the sand in the hope we’ll eventually stop pestering them. Why? Because they do not like answering questions about how they intend to carve out 73,000 hectares of largely dense forest in Cameroon.
Greenpeace has asked Wrobel to directly answer whether the forest clearing that has already started in Cameroon to establish a large palm oil plantation is being done without a presidential decree – required by national law.
But Wrobel and his associates don't appear very interested in proving the legality of their actions in Cameroon.
'No Palm Plantation' T-shirt in Cameroon © Jean-Pierre Kepseu / Greenpeace
Instead, they are very interested in claiming the palm oil plantation they want to create will bring benefits to the thousands of people living, using and farming in the forests there. Asked for details though on what these benefits actually translate to on the ground and how the project will prevent people losing their lands and their livelihoods, Herakles Farms cannot give a straight answer.
But Greenpeace likes asking questions and has raised a few more in Greenpeace USA’s new report, Herakles: A showcase in bad palm oil production,
which has been released today.
Among the critical issues the company has failed to address are:
- How the massive environmental devastation that will be caused by the project will result in the release of millions of tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere;
- How a key corridor for both endangered and rare species of wildlife, situated between five protected areas, will be removed;
- How widespread opposition to the project continues to grow and the company has not sought the free and prior informed consent of all the people using the area;
- How work and clearing continues despite the fact the project is in violation of national law.
Greenpeace and our partners need Herakles to start acknowledging that the company's project is the wrong type of project in the wrong place.
If not stopped, it will show other companies that it is possible to destroy Africa’s forests for profit and with no regard for the rights of people living there or for the environment of the countries they are doing business in.
Bruce Wrobel says his company is addressing the issues surrounding the project and are prepared to demonstrate that further. Until the facts on the ground start backing up those claims and until Greenpeace and its partners in Cameroon start getting specific answers on a host of issues that show their palm oil project is not suited to the area, we will continue to ask.
Help us get answers.
Karine Jacquemart is the Africa Forest Campaign Coordinator at Greenpeace International