Herakles Farms Continues Forest Clearing in Cameroon

by Malo Herry

November 27, 2012

An artisanal palm oil mill near Mundemba. More and more farmers avoid selling their oil palm fruits to PAMOL (the big state owned company in Mundemba) and prefer selling it to local artisanal mills. These mills are the only ones that directly provide the local market with crude oil used for cooking. While all production from PAMOL is sent to Doula (300 km away) where it is refined and bottled as cooking oil or used in soap/cosmetic factories.

© Jan-Joseph Stok / Greenpeace

Originally posted to Greenpeace Africa. A US-owned company is clearing natural forest in the southwest of Cameroon to establish a large-scale palm oil plantation, heightening social tension as serious questions about the legality of the project persist.
Aerial footage by Greenpeace taken earlier this month showshow trees in the largely forested concession area have been cleared by SGSustainable Oils Cameroon (SGSOC), a subsidiary of New York-based HeraklesFarms. The deforestation is taking place despite the fact SGSOC is operating via a99-year land lease that has not yet been approved by Presidential Decreeand is therefore questionable under Cameroonian Law. If it is not stopped, the planned 730km2concession will eventuallybe almost half the size of the greater Johannesburg metropolitan area, or 10 times the size of Manhattan. It would destroy a densely forested areain a biodiversity hotspot, resulting in severe consequences for thelivelihoods of thousands of residents and for the global climate. Any large scale industrial projects in an area that is one of the mostimportant watersheds in sub-Saharan Africa and located in one of Africasmost important biodiversity hotspots are entirely unsuitable, saidFrdric Amiel, a forest campaigner with Greenpeace International. TheHerakles Farms plantation must be stopped with no conditions. Despite claims from the company that the palm oil plantation would spurlocal economic growth and social development, local and internationalopposition continues to grow and the continued clearing risks heighteningsocial conflict over the project. Information received by Greenpeace International indicates that localfarmers and villagers are opposed to the plans for their land, imposedwithout their consultation. People working for SGSOC, meanwhile, areincreasingly dissatisfied with pay and working conditions. Greenpeace International is also alarmed by indications that people whohave objected to the project have been harassed at the hands of Cameroonianauthorities. On November 14, Nasako Besingi the director of the local NGO Struggle toEconomize Future Environment (SEFE), an organisation campaigning peacefullyagainst the Herakles Farms project, was arrested with three colleagues anddetained without charge. All four were later released following international and local pressure. Greenpeace calls upon the Cameroonian government to halt the forestclearance, end the project and set up better standards for land allocationand palm oil development in Cameroon that will prevent social conflict,disruption of Cameroonian livelihoods and forest destruction.  

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