Environmental group, Greenpeace, has accused Herakles Farms of illegal logging in Cameroon after the company has already been lambasted by scientists and conservationists for its plan to build a 70,000 hectare palm oil plantation in one of Africa’s most biodiverse rainforests. Herakles Farms has been under fire from green groups—both in Cameroon and abroad—for years over its oil palm plantation plans, including facing protests from locals who live in the forest to be cleared.
Now, Greenpeace says it has collected evidence of two instances of illegal logging on the company’s land. In one case, logs cut from the forest are dated during a short period in which the company was suspended from forest clearing by the Cameroon government. In the second, likely more egregious, instance, Greenpeace says “logs are being marked in a way that clearly indicates that they are intended for commercial sale.” However, Herakles Farms currently does not have a commercial timber trading license in Cameroon.
In 2012, Herakles Farms abandoned seeking certification from the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) after numerous groups, including Greenpeace, submitted complaints against the company. Herakles Farms has long-argued it will bring jobs and reduce poverty in the long-neglected region. However, locals—who have seen their traditional lands signed away to the company in a 99-year lease—are reportedly split on the company’s benefits. Recently an independent assessment by Forest Peoples Programme (FPP) has found that Herakles Farms failed to gain Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) of the communities in the region.
If built, the plantation will sit in the middle of four protected areas, including Korup National Park. A recent biodiversity survey in the company’s concession catalogued 23 species of large mammals, including the Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes ellioti), the most threatened of the world’s chimpanzee subspecies. In addition, the documented forest elephants; drill monkeys (Mandrillus leucophaeus), listed as Endangered by the IUCN Red List; Preuss’s red colobus monkey (Procolobus preussi), Critically Endangered; and red-capped mangabey (Cercocebus torquatus), Vulnerable.
Palm oil has become a ubiquitous ingredient in many processed foods as well as cosmetics. However, the industry has been responsible for large-scale deforestation across Southeast Asia, including Malaysia and Indonesia. Now plantation developers are expanding into Africa and Latin America.
Despite saying no to the project, Adolf and other villagers discovered that Herakles had in fact ignored their wishes and proceeded to bulldoze tracts of forests belonging to the village that border on the area with the neighboring village of Talangaye. © Jean-Pierre Kepseu/Greenpeace.
(08/08/2013) A biological survey of forests slated for destruction for a palm oil project in Cameroon has uncovered 23 species of large mammals, including the world’s most endangered chimpanzee subspecies, the Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes ellioti). The project in question, operated by U.S.-based company Herakles Farms, has come under stiff criticism both locally and abroad for threatening one of Africa’s most biologically rich forest lands and arguably undercutting local peoples’ access to traditional lands.
(06/06/2013) The Cameroonian government has lifted the suspension on controversial palm oil project in the northwestern part of the Central African nation, reports the AFP.
(05/24/2013) An American company has halted work on a controversial palm oil project in Cameroon due to opposition from local communities and environmentalists, reports Reuters.
(02/21/2013) Satellite mapping and aerial surveys have revealed that a controversial palm oil concession in Cameroon is almost entirely covered by “dense natural forest,” according to a new report by Greenpeace. The activist group alleges that the concession, owned by Herakles Farms, is under 89 percent forest cover. The U.S.-based corporation intends to build a 70,000 hectare palm oil plantation in a region surrounded by four protected areas, including Korup National Park, but has faced stiff criticism from numerous environmental groups as well as conflict with locals.
(11/26/2012) Newly released photos by Greenpeace show the dramatic destruction of tropical forest in Cameroon for an oil palm plantation operated by SG Sustainable Oils Cameroon (SGSOC), a subsidiary of the U.S. company Herakles Farm. The agriculture company is planning to convert 73,000 hectares to palm oil plantations on the edge of several protected areas, but has faced considerable opposition from environmentalists and some local communities. In addition to the aerial photos, Greenpeace alleges that ongoing forest clearing by Herakles is illegal since the companies 99-year lease has yet to be fully approved by the Cameroonian government.
(11/17/2012) Activists protesting conversion of rainforest to an oil palm plantation have been arrested in Cameroon, reports Greenpeace.
(10/01/2012) Cross River gorillas and eastern gorillas lost more than half their habitat since the early 1990s due to deforestation, logging, and other human activities, finds a comprehensive new assessment across great apes’ range in West and Central Africa.
(09/05/2012) Herakles Farm, a U.S.-based agricultural developer, will no longer seek eco-certification of its 70,000-hectare oil palm plantation in Cameroon, reports the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). The move comes amid criticism from environmental groups that Herakles is converting high conservation value rainforest for the plantation.