Licence to Launder

How Herakles Farms' illegal timber trade threatens Cameroon's forests and VPA

Publication - 27 May, 2014
The oil palm plantation being developed by Herakles Farms in the southwest region of Cameroon – an area of great biodiversity surrounded by five protected areas – illustrates what happens when irresponsible companies are not held accountable to local laws and processes. The companies activities pose a serious threat to forested areas and the communities who rely upon the forest for their livelihoods.

Herakles Farms was originally trying to acquire more than 70,000 hectares of forested land in the region in 2009. Its local subsidiary, SG Sustainable Oils Cameroon (SGSOC), began clearing forest despite the fact the project did not have a land lease signed by the president as required by Cameroon law. Greenpeace and other local and international NGOs have continued to exposed Herakles Farms’ illegal operations and the threats its irresponsible project poses to local livelihoods, environment and global climate.

In this report, Greenpeace reveals how the company is now colluding with the Cameroonian government to commercialise the timber – much of which was illegally felled – from its project, despite previously categorically stating that it had no intention to do so. This new development demonstrates the persistent illegalities at the heart of the Herakles Farms project, indicative of a wider problem in many land deals and the logging sector in Africa. If allowed to persist, it will also seriously undermine Cameroon’s Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) with the EU to stop illegal logging.

Finally, it sends the message that, if companies are allowed to behave as they wish, contravening national laws and ignoring the rights of local communities, then the forests and people of Africa will have no protection.

Licence to Launder