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  • Title: Ethiopian Reprisal Attacks Serve as Cautionary Tale for Global Land Investors | oaklandinstitute.org
    Descriptive info: Ethiopian Reprisal Attacks Serve as Cautionary Tale for Global Land Investors.. September 7, 2012.. Source:.. Center for Investigative Reporting.. View Original.. In February, we featured a.. story for PBS NewsHour.. about a controversial resettlement plan of the Anuak people in southwestern Ethiopia, who were part of the government's national "villagization" program.. A few months later, we blogged about.. shootings on the Saudi Star rice plantation.. that had been the focus of our story.. Since then, details of the shootings have come into focus: On April 28, unidentified armed men attacked the Saudi Star compound in the Gambella region.. The gunmen killed at least one Pakistani and four Ethiopian employees.. Now, Human Rights Watch has.. released a report.. detailing reprisal attacks by the Ethiopian military.. The report states that the day after the Saudi Star attack, Ethiopian soldiers shot and killed four of Saudi Star's Anuak guards.. Gambella residents interviewed by Human Rights Watch said that in the weeks that followed, "Ethiopian soldiers went house to house looking for gunmen in villages near the Saudi Star camp, arbitrarily arresting and beating young men and raping female relatives of suspects.. ".. The report says the soldiers rounded up scores of young men and detained them in military barracks.. Many allege they were tortured.. Here is an excerpt of eyewitness accounts from the report:.. One former detainee told Human Rights Watch: “They said we were to go into the bush and show them where the rebels are – with whom they claimed we had a relationship.. They beat me after I said I didn’t know where the rebels are.. After they beat me they took me to the  ...   fled to South Sudan.. Human Rights Watch conducted its interviews at a refugee camp in South Sudan with more than 80 people who had fled the attacks and villagization program in Gambella.. Relying on "credible sources in Gambella,” the report links the April attack to the Ethiopian government's villagization program and large-scale land leases.. Leslie Lefkow, the deputy Africa director at Human Rights Watch, acknowledges that the April attack at Saudi Star was a criminal act but says it doesn't justify reprisals against Gambella residents.. "The abuses we found in the government's relocation program in Gambella a year ago are still happening today," Lefkow said.. "Whatever the government's rationale for villagization, it doesn't justify beatings and torture.. Human Rights Watch and groups like the.. Oakland Institute.. and.. GRAIN.. point to the situation in Gambella as a cautionary tale of what might lie ahead for other communities across Africa.. Sparked by the global food crisis and rising value of farmland, governments and private investors from around the world have leased millions of hectares of land in Africa to grow food and biofuels for export.. Many experts say the underlying motive is access to the water beneath the land, as aquifers around the world are drying up and African governments have been offering investors contracts that put little or no stipulation on water use.. You can find the full version of the latest Human Rights Watch report.. here.. Contact.. the oakland institute.. P.. O.. Box 18978.. Oakland, CA 94619.. info@oaklandinstitute.. org.. Donate.. Your tax-deductible donation allows us to conduct independent research, analysis, and advocacy to facilitate democratic participation in critical policy decisions that affect our quality of life..

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  • Title: US Company Withdraws Sustainability Application for Oil Palm Plantation in Cameroon | oaklandinstitute.org
    Descriptive info: US Company Withdraws Sustainability Application for Oil Palm Plantation in Cameroon.. Intercontinental Cry.. By Pratap Chatterjee.. Photo by Greenpeace.. Herakles Farms, a subsidiary of the New York-based investment firm Herakles Capital, has withdrawn its application to join the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) after a coalition of environmental and human rights organizations called attention to the reality of its exposed its proposed 73,000-hectare palm oil plantation in Cameroon.. They exposed the project for what is: bad for the environment and bad for the people.. Unsurprisingly, the company has since denied.. the allegations.. , claiming instead that its decision to withdraw was based on a need to plant seedlings from the nursery to the field.. However, the NGOs who filed the complaint--and the local communities whose livelihoods are threatened by the massive project--know better.. Herakles Farms, which claims to be “addressing a dire humanitarian need,” is developing its palm oil plantation through a 99-year land lease that was obtained by "SG Sustainable Oils Cameroon, Ltd.. (SGSOC), a company that is wholly-owned by Herakles Capital, observes.. Corpwatch.. The company has never consulted or gained the free, prior and informed consent of many local communities.. Instead, Herakles has chosen to pretend that it did.. The company has also fought hard to portray itself as pro-environment, bu that too, couldn't be further from the truth.. “From its very name, American-owned [SGSOC] presents a pro-environment, pro-resources image,” writes Frederic Mousseau, policy director of the Oakland Institute in a.. new report.. that was just released.. “(But it) is also part of a strategy to deceive the public into believing that there is logic to cutting down rainforests to make room for palm oil plantations.. ”.. A notable part of that strategy involves an impressive-sounding partnership with All for Africa, an NGO that's ostensibly dedicated to  ...   order to alleviate hunger and poverty.. International attention needs to be mobilized to support local opposition and prevent future resource grabs.. There is considerable local opposition, despite claims to the contrary.. A newly released film by the Oakland Institute, “.. The Herakles Debacle.. ”, puts a welcomed spotlight on that opposition and documents the scope of destruction that the project will cause.. “Plantation jobs have always been modern day slavery,” says Joshua Osih of the Social Democratic Front, Cameroon’s main opposition party, in an interview for the film.. “We’ve seen a lot of industrial plantations develop around this area and nothing, absolutely nothing, has happened positively to the population.. “Everybody here is self employed,” Okie Bonaventure Ekoko, a cocoa farmer from Mboko village told the film maker, Franck Bieleu.. “There is no advantages that the people here will have (from Herakles investments).. We don’t need them, we are fine.. “And if they come and say they want to take this land from us, we are not ready for it,” says Esoh Sylvanus Asui, a farmer from Bombe Konye village.. “We will fight and we will die for our land.. Local opposition is on the rise, notes.. Cultural Survival.. At the recent Meangwe II meeting in Cameroon, a wide range of people came together to make their position clear.. The meeting brought together Elders, Traditional title holders, farmers, teachers, community leaders, hunters and NGOs from the different villages in and around the proposed plantation.. In their.. final statement.. (PDF), participants of the meeting rejected a number of the company's false claims by Herakles, They further rejected the theft of their lands and the destruction of their livelihoods, the burden of which they will be forced to carry on their own, while the company prospers.. No amount of greenwashing can change the facts..

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  • Title: U.S. Company Accused of Greenwashing Cameroon ‘Land-Grab’ | oaklandinstitute.org
    Descriptive info: U.. S.. Company Accused of Greenwashing Cameroon ‘Land-Grab’.. September 6, 2012.. IPS.. WASHINGTON, Sep 6 2012 (IPS) - Environment groups are accusing a New York-based agricultural company, Herakles Farms, of going forward with plans for a 73,000-hectare palm-oil plantation and refinery in southwest Cameroon despite a lack of government authorisation, two court injunctions, and in the face of significant community opposition.. Because Cameroon is a major new palm-oil producer, many worry that what happens with the Herakles deal could set a precedent for the entire continent.. Credit: One Villiage Initiative/CC by 2.. 0.. On Wednesday, the Oakland Institute and Greenpeace, two environment watchdogs based here in the United States, released a.. report.. suggesting that the project, situated in what is described as a biodiversity hotspot between four major conservation zones, could negatively impact up to 45,000 people.. The groups warn that the project, which is linked to the Blackstone Group, a massive investment group, represents the vanguard of a new “scramble for land” in Africa by Western companies.. “Herakles claims to be engaged in improving Cameroon’s food security and humanitarian situation, but we have found this to be a total fraud.. In fact, they are about to destroy the livelihoods of thousands,” Frederic Mousseau, the report’s author, said in a media call Wednesday.. “Likewise, Herakles claims local support, but we found this to be a blatant lie.. Finally, the claim that this land is secondary forest and degraded is misleading.. In fact, large portions have never even been logged.. ” (By deadline, Herakles officials had not responded to requests for comment.. ).. The project, overseen by a Herakles subsidiary called SG Sustainable Oils Cameroon (SGSOC), is still at an early stage, currently consisting of three large nurseries.. “We are now waiting for an official decision by the Cameroon government to proceed beyond these nurseries,” Mousseau says.. “So this is an important moment – the project can still be stopped.. The backlash against SGSOC took on new energy over the past week, following the Aug.. 24 notification that Herakles was removing the project from formal compliance with a set of eco-friendly industry guidelines called the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).. In explaining the move, Herakles, which describes itself as “committed to addressing the complex issues of food security through sustainable agriculture initiatives”, cited the length of time its RSPO application had been pending, while noting that it was “addressing a dire humanitarian need” in Cameroon.. No formal approval.. The legality of the project’s nurseries has already been called into question.. Although SGSOC did sign a 99-year agreement with the government in 2009, Cameroonian law requires that the use of such large tracts of land have direct presidential consent.. Given that such a decree has yet to be given, activists suggest that SGSOC had no legal basis on which to start bulldozing the forestland and cocoa and vegetable farms on which local communities depended.. A local judge has filed two injunctions  ...   instance, a deal of a million hectares have been discussed.. “There are so many Europeans and Americans looking for new land in Africa right now, we’re worried that a land-rush may be imminent,” Greenpeace’s Rolf Skar says.. Because Cameroon is a major new palm-oil producer, many are now suggesting that what happens with the Herakles deal could set a precedent for the entire continent.. “If we confirm the bad deal we have now, all the companies coming in will have as bad a deal as Herakles,” says Nguiffo.. “Cameroon and neighbouring countries are currently experiencing a huge demand for land, and land grabs at this scale are very new for us – it’s frightening.. Nguiffo says that while Cameroon currently has about 500,000 hectares of land under plantation, mostly on old farms, over the past three years demand for land has shot up to nearly three million hectares, driven by foreign investors backed by pressure from foreign governments and multilateral lenders.. “Donors and international financial institutions have increasingly been asking African countries to open up their economies, despite the fact that in most of these countries there is very little rule of law,” says Anuradha Mittal, the executive director of the Oakland Institute, which in recent years has researched about 70 of the new industrial-scale land deals.. Almost all of these deals, she says, are marked by a lack of both transparency and local involvement, as well as an absence of the many benefits promised to local and national economies – jobs, growth in gross domestic product, the construction of new clinics or water sources for local communities.. “There have also been a lot of myths around who the investors are,” she says.. “It’s not just the Chinese or Indians or the Gulf states.. The number of investors from Europe and U.. is huge, including private equity and hedge funds, all looking for opportunities in the next soft commodity.. Development for whom?.. Still, certain oversight trends have changed in recent years, as consumers become increasingly aware of labour and environment issues around the world.. “A company has to sell its product somewhere, and these practices are in direct contrast to other producers and buyers – Kraft, Nestle, Unilever – which are asking for much higher standards for the palm oil they purchase,” Greenpeace’s Skar says.. “Herakles is falling off the cart on this issue and will have to answer to its shareholders as to why.. For many advocates, the issue comes down to the type of development that the international community is pushing.. “Today the big push is to get rid of the millions of smallholder farmers in Cameroon, to transform them into low-paid labourers on large farms,” Greenpeace’s Mousseau says.. “In today’s development discussion we’re told this is necessary, and we give legal and fiscal exemptions to investors.. But we don’t actually see any development resulting from investments – what we see is exploitation of human and natural resources..

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  • Title: Rainforest or Revenue? | oaklandinstitute.org
    Descriptive info: Rainforest or Revenue?.. Bare Essentials Magazine.. An American owned company with a track record of illegality and links to private equity giant Blackstone Group threatens to destroy rainforests and dislocate local communities in Cameroon.. A new report from The Oakland Institute.. , in collaboration with Greenpeace International, exposes how a New York-based agri-corporation, Herakles Farms, and its local subsidiary SG Sustainable Oils Cameroon (SGSOC), are involved in a land deal that is questionable under Cameroonian Law, opposed by locals since 2010 and  ...   Herakles Farms intends to establish a massive 73,000-hectares palm oil plantation – one of the largest on the continent – in Southwest Cameroon through a 99-year land lease.. Being developed without the consent and adequate consultation of many local communities, this project exemplifies how the scramble for land in Africa threatens sustainable development and human rights.. Evidence in the film.. , produced by the Oakland Institute, documents the scope of community resistance and forest destruction that will result from the project.. Greenpeace..

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  • Title: Cameroon: U.S. Company Accused of Greenwashing 'Land-Grab' | oaklandinstitute.org
    Descriptive info: Cameroon: U.. Company Accused of Greenwashing Land-Grab.. All Africa.. Washington — Environment groups are accusing a New York-based agricultural company, Herakles Farms, of going forward with plans for a 73,000-hectare palm-oil plantation and refinery in southwest Cameroon despite a lack of government authorisation, two court injunctions, and in the face of significant community opposition.. On Wednesday, the Oakland Institute and Greenpeace, two environment watchdogs based here in the United States, released a report suggesting that the project, situated in what is described as a biodiversity hotspot between four major conservation zones, could negatively impact up to 45,000 people.. The groups warn that the project, which is linked to the Blackstone Group, a massive investment group, represents the vanguard of a new "scramble for land" in Africa by Western companies.. "Herakles claims to be engaged in improving Cameroon's food security and humanitarian situation, but we have found this to be a total fraud.. In fact, they are about to destroy the livelihoods of thousands," Frederic Mousseau, the report's author, said in a media call Wednesday.. "We are now waiting for an official decision by the Cameroon government to proceed beyond these nurseries," Mousseau says.. "So this is an important moment - the project can still be stopped.. ".. "Likewise, Herakles claims local support, but we found this to be a blatant lie.. " (By deadline, Herakles officials had not responded to requests for comment.. In explaining the move, Herakles, which describes itself as "committed to addressing the complex issues of food security through sustainable agriculture initiatives", cited the length of time its RSPO application had been pending, while noting that it was "addressing a dire humanitarian need" in Cameroon.. The legality of the project's nurseries has already been called into question.. A local judge has filed two injunctions against the company's actions, but according to local observers the company has refused to comply.. "Not only do they not want to comply with existing law, but the company has clearly turned its back on sustainable practices," says Samuel Nguiffo, a lawyer and director of the Center  ...   new land in Africa right now, we're worried that a land-rush may be imminent," Greenpeace's Rolf Skar says.. "If we confirm the bad deal we have now, all the companies coming in will have as bad a deal as Herakles," says Nguiffo.. "Cameroon and neighbouring countries are currently experiencing a huge demand for land, and land grabs at this scale are very new for us - it's frightening.. Clearly the government structure in our country is very weak, so we're asking the U.. "Donors and international financial institutions have increasingly been asking African countries to open up their economies, despite the fact that in most of these countries there is very little rule of law," says Anuradha Mittal, the executive director of the Oakland Institute, which in recent years has researched about 70 of the new industrial-scale land deals.. Almost all of these deals, she says, are marked by a lack of both transparency and local involvement, as well as an absence of the many benefits promised to local and national economies - jobs, growth in gross domestic product, the construction of new clinics or water sources for local communities.. "There have also been a lot of myths around who the investors are," she says.. "It's not just the Chinese or Indians or the Gulf states.. "A company has to sell its product somewhere, and these practices are in direct contrast to other producers and buyers - Kraft, Nestle, Unilever - which are asking for much higher standards for the palm oil they purchase," Greenpeace's Skar says.. "Herakles is falling off the cart on this issue and will have to answer to its shareholders as to why.. "Today the big push is to get rid of the millions of smallholder farmers in Cameroon, to transform them into low-paid labourers on large farms," Greenpeace's Mousseau says.. "In today's development discussion we're told this is necessary, and we give legal and fiscal exemptions to investors.. But we don't actually see any development resulting from investments - what we see is exploitation of human and natural resources..

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  • Title: Palm Oil Plantation Cuts Core From Cameroon’s Biodiversity | oaklandinstitute.org
    Descriptive info: Palm Oil Plantation Cuts Core From Cameroon’s Biodiversity.. Environmental News Service.. YAOUNDE, Cameroon, September 6, 2012 (ENS) – A biodiversity hotspot in Cameroon and sustainable palm oil in general are threatened as the developer of a large palm oil plantation quits the organization that sets environmental standards for the palm oil industry, warn conservationists.. New York-based Herakles Farms plans to develop a 70,000 hectare oil palm plantation in an area of Cameroon’s Southwest Province now covered by species-rich rainforest and surrounded by two national parks, a forest reserve and a wildlife sanctuary.. On Tuesday, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, RSPO, announced that Herakles had resigned.. A multi-stakeholder membership organization based in Malaysia, RSPO seeks to bring the palm oil industry to sustainability by requiring members to uphold strict environmental guidelines, including no conversion of valuable forest for new palm oil plantations.. Herakles Farms / SGSOC oil palm nursery, Talangaye Village, Southwest Province, Cameroon (Photo by D.. Hoyle courtesy WWF Cameroon).. The plantation site lies inside a globally recognized biodiversity hotspot between Korup National Park, Rumpi Hills Forest Reserve, Bakossi National Park and Banyang-Mbo Wildlife Sanctuary.. These areas are all key habitats for primates, elephants, buffalos and many rare, endemic and IUCN Red-listed species of birds, animals and plants.. The global conservation group WWF was one of nine complainants to the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil who alleged that Herakles had not followed RSPO guidelines on new plantings designed to protect high conservation value forest and community interests.. The complainants asked Herakles to carry out an adequate High Conservation Value Assessment of the entire 70,000 hectare concession area before development started.. They also asked that the company address issues such as ensuring respect for land tenure rights, the implementation of the free, prior and informed consent process and transparent communications with stakeholders.. The Roundtable had asked Herakles to suspend clearing while discussions with the complainants were ongoing.. But in its August 24 letter of resignation to the RSPO, Herakles Senior Vice President Carmine Farnan wrote that the company was resigning because, “…the grievance process is preventing the company from moving forward during a critical and time-sensitive period, in which we must move our first planting of seedlings from the nursery to the field.. Sjostedt’s barred-owlet, Korup National Park, Cameroon (Photo by.. Nigel Voaden.. ).. ”This is a very sad day for Cameroon,” said Basile Yapo, country director of WWF Cameroon, one of the complainant groups.. “WWF believes that sustainable palm oil can be a reality in Cameroon but only if it is produced by responsible companies according to RSPO principles and criteria, supported by sustainable land use policies and involving local communities.. The other complainants are: RELUFA (Network for the Fight against Hunger Cameroon), SAVE Wildlife Conservation Fund, Centre for Environment and Development in Yaounde, the German Agency for International Cooperation, academics and researchers from the James Madison University, Duke University, the University of Goettingen and an independent environment consultant, as well as Greenpeace International.. The complainants allege that the Herakles development is in breach of national laws and regulations.. They claim that because the proposed development area is surrounded by nationally protected forest, clearing can disrupt the ecological landscape and migration routes of protected species.. They fear that clearance of these areas may result in loss of water resources and subsistence farming lands of local communities.. In a statement Wednesday, the Oakland Institute, in collaboration with Greenpeace International, warned that Herakles Farms, and its local subsidiary SG Sustainable Oils Cameroon, are involved in a 99-year land lease deal that is “questionable under Cameroonian Law” and “opposed by locals since  ...   deforestation, loss of biodiversity, and the conversion of natural land and forests into a monoculture crop, its critics point out.. Frédéric Amiel, forest campaign leader, Greenpeace France, said Wednesday, “If Herakles Farms was really about supporting development and environmental protection as it claims, then it would not be ripping off Cameroonians under a contract where they pay as little as US$0.. 50 to US$1.. 00 per hectare per year.. It would not be converting valuable rainforests into large-scale palm oil plantations.. This palm oil plantation would wreak environmental havoc and dislocate communities who rely on the forests.. The Oakland Institute and Greenpeace support the demand from Cameroonian NGOs for a moratorium on new agro-industrial concessions until the country has developed a new approach to the granting of land concessions.. Adam Harrison, WWF International’s representative on the RSPO Executive Board, said, “Forests in the green heart of Africa are vulnerable targets for expansion, as palm oil companies look beyond Indonesia and Malaysia for new land to expand palm oil production.. “WWF calls on investors to support only RSPO members who actively adhere to RSPO principles,” Harrison said.. “Investors should also encourage development on degraded land in order to avoid further negative impacts by the palm oil business on forests, species and people.. WWF supports smallholder production of palm oil, which is less efficient but better supports the local economy.. The ownership history of Herakles Farms is complex.. Bruce Wrobel (Photo courtesy.. All for Africa.. Herakles Capital, through its affiliate, Herakles Farms, LLC, “is involved in the design and implementation of sustainable agricultural projects, with a focus on sub-Saharan Africa,” the company says on its website.. Herakles Farms, LLC is the General Partner of Herakles Farms, LP, the 100 percent owner of Herakles Farms Cooperatierf, U.. A.. (previously known as SG Sustainable Oils Cooperatief, U.. ), which has designed and is developing a commercial-scale palm oil projects on more than 200,000 acres (80,937 hectares) in West and Central Africa.. “Upon full implementation, the Herakles Farms palm oil investment will be one of the largest commercial palm oil operations in Africa,” the company says.. Herakles Farms Cooperatierf, U.. subsidiaries include: SG Sustainable Oils Holdings, Ltd.. , SGSO Ghana Holdings, Ltd.. , SGSO Cameroon Holdings, Ltd.. , SG Sustainable Oils Cameroon, Ltd.. and SG Sustainable Oils Ghana, Ltd.. SG stands for Sithe Global, a New York based company involved in the development, construction, and operations of electric generation facilities founded by the company’s current chairman and CEO Bruce Wrobel in 2004.. In 2009, Herakles Farms acquired 100 percent ownership of SG Sustainable Oils from Sithe Global, an affiliate of the Blackstone Group, a global alternative asset manager and provider of financial advisory services.. In addition to heading Sithe Global, Wroble also serves as CEO of Herakles Farms and heads the nongovernmental organization, All for Africa.. All three organizations have their offices on the 40th floor of the same Park Avenue building in New York City.. Palm oil is an edible plant oil used as a cooking oil and as an ingredient in processed foods such as margarine and baked goods.. Palm kernel oil is used in the cosmetics industry, and palm kernel waste is used as animal feed and in co-firing electricity generation.. Palm oil also can be made into biofuel.. Globally, 50 million tons of palm oil are produced every year, 39 percent of the world’s production of vegetable oils.. Cameroon currently produces just 230,000 tons a year.. For more information, see reports on oil palm development in Cameroon by.. WWF.. and by the.. A documentary film produced by the Oakland Institute is found..

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  • Title: Cameroon Palm Oil Plantation Withdraws Sustainability Application | oaklandinstitute.org
    Descriptive info: Cameroon Palm Oil Plantation Withdraws Sustainability Application.. CorpWatch.. by Pratap Chatterjee, CorpWatch Blog.. A subsidiary of Herakles Capital, a New York based investment firm, has decided to cancel its application to join the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) after environmental groups alleged that its 73,086 hectare project in southwestern Cameroon would threaten the sustainability of the local community.. In 2009, the SG Sustainable Oils Cameroon, Ltd.. (SGSOC), which is wholly owned by Herakles Capital, acquired a 99 year lease to land in Ndian and Kupe-Manenguba divisions where it drew up plans for a $350 million palm oil plantation.. (Herakles Capital has several other investments in Africa such as the Bujagali dam in Uganda, the Boke Alumina Project in the Republic of Guinea and an East African undersea fiber-optic project.. “From its very name, American-owned SG Sustainable Oils Cameroon, Ltd.. (SGSOC) presents a pro-environment, pro-resources image,” writes Frederic Mousseau, policy director of the Oakland Institute in California in a new report released this week.. SGSOC has gone to great lengths to convince the public that it is socially responsible.. “Our project, should it proceed, will be a big project with big impacts – environmentally and socially,” Herakles CEO Bruce Wrobel wrote to the Oakland Institute in July 2011.. “The big question – and the real story – is whether it ends up strongly positive or strongly negative.. I couldn’t be more convinced that this will be an amazingly positive story for the people within our impact area.. In addition to Herakles, Wrobel operates a non-profit dedicated to poverty reduction named “All for Africa” that boasts board members like Nigerian-American actor Gbenga Akinnagbe who shot to fame in The Wire, a U.. TV series, and the film: The Taking of Pelham 123.. And SGSOC also applied to join the international Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), which has signed up 779 members and associates including almost every major industry player in the world, in an effort to burnish its social responsibility credentials.. Indeed RSPO was created in 2004 to address the numerous clashes over palm plantations around the world with  ...   conducted by SGSOC itself.. The company assessment suggested that the negative impact of the plantation on livelihoods will be “major” and “long-term.. Nor is the Herakles investment the most efficient way to support the local economy, according to a report by on the SGSOC deal by two Cameroonian NGOs, the Centre for Environment and Development (CED) and Réseau de Lutte contre la Faim (RELUFA).. The groups calculated that the government of Cameroon could generate 13 times more employment and significantly larger tax revenue if it were to require local bread-makers to use 20 percent locally produced flour (derived from sweet potatoes, corn or cassava), using just 15,000 hectares of land.. Local farmers and politicians are especially skeptical of SGSOC because palm oil plantations are not new to the region.. Beginning in 1927, companies like Pamol have operated similar projects for decades.. “Plantation jobs have always been modern day slavery,” says Joshua Osih of the Social Democratic Front, Cameroon’s main opposition party, in an interview for the film “The Herakles Debacle” just released by the Oakland Institute.. “Everybody here is self employed,” Okie Bonaventure Ekoko, a cocoa farmer from Mboko village told the film maker Franck Bieleu.. In May 2011, some 50 local and international environmental and community groups wrote a letter to Wrobel expressing concern.. In March 2012 a number of the same groups lodged a formal complaint against Herakles with the RSPO alleging that Herakles' project violated Cameroonian laws and noted that it "would disrupt the ecological landscape and migration routes of protected species.. " Meanwhile local farmers have begun to organize against the project.. On June 6, 2012, villagers from Fabe and Toko held a protest against the plantation during the visit of the local governor.. On August 24 2012, Herakles withdrew its application to the RSPO.. “The RSPO regrets this withdrawal of membership by Herakles Farms,” the organization said in a brief statement posted to its website.. “This action pre-empts recommendations from the RSPO Complaints Panel to further verify the allegations made by the complainants.. The company did not respond to requests for comment from the media..

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  • Title: Cameroon Palm Oil Plantation Deal 'Must Be Stopped': Report | oaklandinstitute.org
    Descriptive info: Cameroon Palm Oil Plantation Deal Must Be Stopped : Report.. September 5, 2012.. Agence France Presse.. YAOUNDE — A large palm oil plantation project in development in Cameroon since 2010 will put livelihoods and ecosystems in peril if allowed to continue, a US-based think-tank warned Wednesday.. "With the loss of livelihoods by thousands of Cameroonians on the line and critical and unique ecosystems in peril, this project must be stopped," the Oakland Institute said in a report Wednesday.. Authoured in collaboration with Greenpeace International, the report said the project from SG Sustainable Oils Cameroon (SGSOC) was a case of massive deforestation disguised as a sustainable development project.. In 2009, Cameroon granted SGSOC, a subsidiary of US firm Herakles Farms, over 73,000 hectares (180,000 acres) of  ...   many locals fear the plantation would "restrict their access to lands held by their ancestors for generations" or that they would "lose land for farming as well as access to critical natural resources and forest products.. In April, "11 of the world's top scientists issued an open letter urging the Cameroonian government to stop the project that they say will threaten some of Africa's most important protected areas," the think-tank said.. But Bruce Wrobel, CEO of Herakles Farms, told the institute that "our project, should it proceed, will be a big project with big impacts -- environmentally and socially.. "I couldn't be more convinced that this will be an amazingly positive story for the people within our impact area," he was quoted saying in the report..

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  • Title: Greenpeace Exposes New York Investors’ Land Grab in Cameroon | oaklandinstitute.org
    Descriptive info: Greenpeace Exposes New York Investors’ Land Grab in Cameroon.. New Business Ethiopia.. An American owned company with a track record of illegality and links to private equity giant Blackstone Group threatens to destroy rainforests and dislocate local communities in Cameroon, says new report.. A new report from The Oakland Institute, in collaboration with Greenpeace International, exposes how a New York-based agri-corporation, Herakles Farms, and its local subsidiary SG Sustainable Oils Cameroon (SGSOC), are involved in a land deal that is questionable under Cameroonian Law, opposed by locals since 2010 and has just pulled out of the industry's sustainable certification scheme.. Claiming it is "addressing a dire humanitarian need," Herakles Farms intends to establish a massive 73,000 hectares palm oil plantation - one of the largest on the continent - in Southwest Cameroon through a 99-year land lease.. Evidence in the film "The Herakles Debacle” produced by the Oakland Institute, documents the scope of community resistance and forest destruction that will result from the project.. "Bruce Wrobel's crude attempt to greenwash his company's palm oil project hides broad opposition and questions about the legality of the company's contract with the government.. They started operations in breach of national law and international standards.. But their efforts to hoodwink the public are unsuccessful.. Local communities are unimpressed with promises of infrastructure and jobs, and angry about their loss of land and  ...   This palm oil plantation would wreak environmental havoc and dislocate communities who rely on the forests," said Greenpeace International Campaigner, Frederic Amiel.. Herakles Farms' Chief Executive Officer, Bruce Wrobel has established a non-government organization, All for Africa, that he claims will bring additional development outcomes, through the use of palm oil revenues for the funding of development projects.. While All for Africa claims its goal is to plant trees, it keeps silent on the fact that the plantation will result in major deforestation, loss of biodiversity, and the conversion of natural land and forests into a monoculture crop.. The NGO is also quiet on widespread local and international opposition to the project.. Stop Project, Establish Moratorium.. "The Herakles Farms plantation project in Cameroon is an example of the wave of land investments in Africa that have previously been exposed by the Oakland Institute.. International attention needs to be mobilized to support local opposition and prevent future resource grabs," said Frederic Mousseau.. "The planned Herakles Farms project must be stopped now.. On top of the legal issues, it is the wrong project in the wrong place.. Greenpeace does not believe that palm oil produced from deforestation should ever reach the markets.. We echo local opposition to this project - for the sake of communities who depend on the land and forests for their livelihoods," said Greenpeace Forests Campaigner, Frederic Amiel..

    Original link path: /greenpeace-exposes-new-york-investors%E2%80%99-land-grab-cameroon
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  • Title: Stop Killing Our World: Herakles Farms | oaklandinstitute.org
    Descriptive info: Stop Killing Our World: Herakles Farms.. Stop Killing Our World.. "An American owned company with a track record of illegality and links to private equity giant Blackstone Group threatens to destroy rainforests and dislocate local communities in Cameroon, says new report.. A new report from The Oakland Institute, in collaboration  ...   Farms, and its local subsidiary SG Sustainable Oils Cameroon (SGSOC), are involved in a land deal that is questionable under Cameroonian Law, opposed by locals since 2010 and has just pulled out of the industry’s sustainable certification scheme.. —.. Greenpeace Exposes New York Investors’ Land grab in Cameroon | NewBusinessEthiopia.. source..

    Original link path: /stop-killing-our-world-herakles-farms
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  • Title: Palm Oil Company in Cameroon Drops Bid for Eco-Certification of Controversial Plantation | oaklandinstitute.org
    Descriptive info: Palm Oil Company in Cameroon Drops Bid for Eco-Certification of Controversial Plantation.. Mongabay.. Forest clearing for palm oil production in Cameroon.. Photo courtesy of Greenpeace.. Herakles Farm, a U.. -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.. Herakles announced the decision in a letter to the RSPO, following complaints filed by a range of NGOs against the palm oil developer's planned project.. Had Herakles proceeded with RSPO certification, it would have had to avoid conversion of wildlife-rich forest (.. High Conservation Value assessment for Herakles' concession area.. ), taken measures to reduce pollution, and maintained certain safeguards for workers.. Now Herakles need not comply with such standards, although the company indicates it plans to do so.. Nonetheless WWF said Herakles' decision not to seek RSPO certification means the project "will likely fall short" of basic social and environmental standards for palm oil production.. "This is a very sad day for Cameroon,” said BasileYapo, Country Director of WWF Cameroon.. The controversy  ...   with the Equator Principles, which most major funders of emerging market projects have signed up to.. Oil palm nursery in Cameroon.. Pressure on Herakles has mounted in recent months with environmental behemoths WWF and Greenpeace joining in local grassroots opposition to the project.. This week Greenpeace, together with The Oakland Institute, released.. a report critical of Herakles.. “The planned Herakles Farms project must be stopped now," said Greenpeace Forests Campaigner, Frederic Amiel.. "On top of the legal issues, it is the wrong project in the wrong place.. Frederic Mousseau of The Oakland Institute called the project a land grab.. "Once again, the investor is deceiving the public into believing that forests must be cut down and small farms erased in order to alleviate hunger and poverty.. International attention needs to be mobilized to support local opposition and prevent future resource grabs," he said.. Cameroon does not currently rank among the world's top 15 palm oil producers even though the oil palm cultivated most widely is native to the country.. Cameroon produced 111,440 tons of palm oil in 2010, according to the U.. N.. Map of the Herakles/SGSO plantation in Cameroon.. Courtesy of SAVE Wildlife Conservation Fund..

    Original link path: /palm-oil-company-cameroon-drops-bid-eco-certification-controversial-plantation
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