THERE are growing concerns in some environmental rights circles in Africa, over alleged massive land grab by a US company, for oil palm plantations.
Environmental rights groups in Cameron, galvanized by Struggle to Economize Future Environment (SEFE) are already pressing groups in Nigeria, to rise up against the land deals.
SEFE said in an e-mail to Nnimmo Bassey, Chair of the Friends of the Earth International (FoEI) that they formed the African Mangrove Network, as a platform to tackle the threats to the survival of mangrove and to an extend the marine environment.
SEFE President/Managing Director, Nasako Besingi, in the e-mail that was made available to AkanimoReports on Sunday, said: ''You will agree with me that these threats do not only come from nearby communities but from onshore and offshore human activities''.
Continuing, he said, ''in 2009, government of Cameroon and SGSOC company, an affiliated to Herakles farms, a New york based investment company,signed an establishment convention for the development of large-scale oil palm plantations in Cameroon.
''However, the convention did not specified that the plantations be established in the buffer zone between Korup national park and the Rumpi Hills Forest Reserve in Toko and Mundemba subdivisions in Ndain Division and in the protected areas of Bakossi Natioal Park and Bayang-mbo Wildlife Sanctuary in Nguti subdivision of Kupe-Muanenguba Division''.
According to the SEFE chief, '' instead of SGSOC /Herakles looking for land elsewhere in Cameroon, they decided to come to seek for land within these protected areas ignoring significance of these areas nationally and internationally in terms of biodiversity, ecology, hydrology, climate change, sanatory etc. The establishment of this plantation will not only cause problems to communities that live in the proposed concession areas but also those that live on coastal fringes in other areas of Cameroon, including those in CrossRriver State in Nigeria''.
Bassey, however, told AkanimoReports that SEFE and many friendly civil society organizations in Cameroon and abroad, including eminent world scientists are opposed to the implantation of this large-scale plantation because of it unmeasurable and reparable impacts to human lives, wildlife and biodiversity, hydrological equilibria, climate change, etc of a wider region.
Moreover, floods rates will increase affecting most low-lying communities causing lost of human lives properties, and infrastructure owing to the steep and hilly nature of the areas.Should this project be allowed, it will indubitable have far reaching cascading effects on other underlying systems like mangroves, floodplains, marine and freshwater mammals, wetlands etc. both in the proposed the concession and beyond.
The company on the other hand claimed that the project is to fight poverty and unemployment in the locales. They are allegedly using primitive methods of land acquisition that exclude broad based community participation which clearly circumvent the procedural (dialogue,information, participation etc.) and substantive rights of local people (life,food,water, health, housing, etc), for people living in and out and these areas whose lives shall be in jeopardy if this project is establish.
Due to the seriousness and widespread impacts to be generated by this project to communities in Cameroon and Nigeria, ''we urge you all in Nigeria and West Africa to stand up and support to this worthwhile campaign by appealing to your Federal Government other governments to ask Cameroon to restrained from awarding the proposed land concession in this very strategically sensitive area of abundance hydrological and biodiversity merits. The Nigerian government can raise this issue in the Cameroon/Nigeria Joint Commission platform'', SEFE said.
They want environmental rights activists in Nigeria to ask Abuja, to tell the Cameroon government that there is no reason for any try-out of the project in those areas where research and experiences over the years have already proven that the proposed project will be harmful to the natural environment, hazardous to human existence and a bad deal to climate change, among other concerns. ENDS