West and Central African rainforests, the new slaves of Agribusiness

A new research study conducted by Greenpeace Africa exposed the radical deforestation of rain forests in the central African region. Its culprits? Agribusiness.

According to new evidence of Satellite images and research obtained by Green Peace Africa, more than 3000 hectares of rainforest bordering the Dja Faunal Reserve is destroyed inside the Chinese owned Hevea Sud rubber and palm oil concession in Cameroons Southern region. Although it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the malicious use of this land is hardly affecting the western lowland gorilla, chimpanzees and mandrills that have called this area home long before the Chinese business.

Of course we have to look into what UNESCO’s efforts have been in seeking any damage assessment, we have learnt that UNESCO has previously requested for an inspection to assess if any damage has occurred in the Dja reserve, of which local authorities denied them access. This is probably why Greenpeace went the areal route to uproot the truth of this natural habitat.

In December last year, Greenpeace Africa held a further investigation that revealed Cameroonian company Azur is targeting a large area of the Littoral forest region to convert to oil plantation – the same region that was proposed to be a national park for many primate species such as the Nigerian-Cameroonian sub-species and the rare and endangered forest elephant. Greenpeace has written to Azur, twice over, to seek their plans and share their environmental concerns for the project – however no response from Azur has been given back to date.

Common practice for interest in businesses extracting production in these areas is the industrial scale agricultural concessions, many of which are foreign-owned businesses. These concessions lead to allocation throughout West and Central Africa land without efficient land use planning. The result? Ongoing social conflicts when forest clearance takes place without the advice of local communities, Conflict wars which still has the environment on the short end of the stick.

Filip Verbelen, a senior forest campaigner with Greenpeace Belgium believes that governments need to urgently develop a participatory land use planning process prior to the allocation of industrial concessions. “Projects that are being developed without adequate community consultation and are located in areas of high ecological value should not be allowed to go ahead and risk further social conflict and environmental damage.” He further added.

The real cost of agribusiness

The profits gained from this business will never overlap the cost of ruining the rain forests – vital wildlife habitat is now deforested, local communities that depended on the forest for their livelihoods must now look elsewhere for maintaining their community. The biggest cost? The destroyed land that multiple generations will never benefit from.