Forest Crime File: Corporate Crimes, april 2003
Engelstalige publicatie over illegale houtkap door het houtbedrijf Wijma in Kameroen.

Auteur: Greenpeace, Forests Monitor, CED

Omschrijving: In its company literature, the Dutch logger and timber trader Wijma has made many claims about the environmental and social acceptability of its timber. However, Wijma not only buys from some of the most notorious logging companies in Africa1, but is also itself involved in illegal logging in Cameroon.

In April 2002, Greenpeace released information about Wijma’s illegal logging activities in Cameroon. Greenpeace and Forests Monitor released additional information about Wijma logging illegally in August last year. Wijma claims these cases were isolated incidents.

Yet, in March 2003, researchers from Centre pour l’Environnement et le Developpement (CED), Forests Monitor and Greenpeace documented further evidence of the company’s illegal activities. The joint field investigations revealed that Wijma has used its legally allocated cutting permit, VC 09-04-59, to illegally access and log a much larger area, well outside the official limits of this permit. Using Global Positioning System (GPS) co-ordinates, the investigations have provided evidence of an illegal road network, log ponds2 and abandoned logs over an area of about 14 km2.

Some of the illegally cut logs were found to have been fraudulently marked with Wijma’s legal logging title VC 09-04-59, which is a clear method of laundering illegal timber into the marketplace. The investigations also revealed that Wijma’s illegal logging operation was both destructive and highly wasteful, causing significant ecological damage.

Also, it caused significant economic damages to the Cameroonian government, and large economic and social damages to local communities. Preliminary estimates indicate that the illegally produced timber is worth (FOB value) in the region of € 1,5 million (1 billion FCFA)3. Road construction has destroyed agricultural and cash crops of at least 27 local villagers. These farmers depend upon these plantations for food and cash incomes, and have not been compensated at all. CED, Forests Monitor and Greenpeace believe that Wijma must be held accountable for the damage it has caused, and that the Cameroonian government and the local people must be fully compensated.

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