Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
  Energy News  

Subscribe free to our newsletters via your

After Asia, palm oil faces backlash in Africa
By by Samir Tounsi in Libreville and Reinnier Kaze in Yaounde
Libreville (AFP) Dec 28, 2016

Its lower cost has made it popular in commercial food production, but after being blamed for deforestation in Asia, palm oil plantations are now getting a similar rap in Africa.

The sheer scale of land required is having an impact in Gabon, Cameroon and the Congo Basin, environmentalists say.

With financing coming from American, European and Asian agri-businesses, palm bunches are cultivated then cut from trees and sent to factories where oil is extracted by hot pressing.

But the production process accelerates deforestation, contributes to climate change and threatens fauna and flora in vulnerable areas, opponents argue.

However the companies say that palm oil is not only less expensive than soya or sunflower oil but requires much less land to produce and provides much-needed jobs.

Gabon -- where forest covers 80 percent of the territory -- is feeling the brunt.

Brainforest and Mighty, two environmental groups, investigated the activities of Olam, an agri-business from Singapore, which said it has planted 58,000 hectares of palm trees in Gabon.

"It is estimated that Olam has deforested 20,000 hectares in its Gabonese concessions of Awala et Mouila since 2012," the groups said in a report released in mid-December. "Investigators on the scene witnessed and filmed bulldozers knocking down huge trees en masse."

Olam said palm trees had been planted on 25,000 hectares of land which had previously been forested, but that this had been "highly logged and degraded secondary forest" and represented just 0.1 percent of Gabon's forests.

In response to the report Olam published advertisements touting the almost 11,000 jobs it has created, the 1,100 hectares of food crops planted and 251 kilometres (150 miles) of roads built.

- A wider impact -

But the impact appears wider. In their report, the environmental groups expressed fears that the Congo Basin, considered the lung of Africa, could go the same way as forests in Sumatra, Indonesia and on Borneo.

"A few decades ago, these places were almost entirely covered with forests, a paradise for orangutans, rhinos, elephants and exotic birds. Today, only 20-30 percent of the forest cover exists."

The report was released in Libreville when an environmental film festival honoured the French documentary "Et Maintenant Nos Terres" (And Now Our Land).

Its directors, Julien Le Net and Benjamin Polle, chronicled how villages in Cameroon and Senegal were being affected by what they called "land grabs" by multinational companies.

In southwest Cameroon 244 farmers have filed a trespassing complaint against a company that intends to plant 20,000 hectares of palm trees.

Hearings in the case against Sustainable Oils Cameroon, formerly a subsidiary of American company Herakles Farms, were postponed after reports of unrest in the area in November.

Greenpeace has asked Cameroon not to renew the company's concession which expired at the end of November, and it cited "six years of illegal foresting, trampling of locals' rights, unfulfilled investments and destruction of forest".

A petition signed by 180,000 people against renewal of the contract was sent last week to Cameroon President Paul Biya, Greenpeace said.

The government has not yet made a decision but Greenpeace said it hoped it would hear the voices of "thousands of Cameroonians".

Meanwhile the plantations of Socapalm, a subsidiary of the Luxembourg company Socfin in which the family firm of French businessman Vincent Bollore owns a large minority stake, were targeted by protests in November.

"No to pollution and massive environmental destruction" read one banner, while another urged the company to open a dialogue with residents.

"More than 5,000 hectares has been used," a resident called Ebeneser Ekango told AFPTV at the time, complaining there wasn't enough land to plant the staple crop cassava. "What do we eat?"

Greenpeace, which has complained that Socfin concessions have included old-growth forests, applauded the company publishing in December a responsible management policy commits to "eliminating deforestation".

Comment on this article using your Disqus, Facebook, Google or Twitter login.

Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once

credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly

paypal only


Related Links
Farming Today - Suppliers and Technology

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Previous Report
Iran culls birds after avian flu outbreak
Tehran (AFP) Dec 26, 2016
Iran has killed hundreds of thousands of birds in recent weeks as avian flu spreads across seven provinces of the country, officials have reported. More than 1,000 wild birds, mostly geese, have been found dead in the Mighan wetland in central Iran, the environmental protection organisation told state news agency IRNA on Monday. IRNA said 63,000 chickens, along with 800,000 fertilised ... read more

Airbus DS ships payload module for MetOp-C for final assembly

Neutron diffraction probes forms of carbon dioxide in extreme environments

NOAA's GOES-S Satellite Undergoing Environmental Testing

China launches carbon dioxide monitoring satellite

Austrian cows swap bells from 'hell' for GPS

Russia, China Making Progress in Synchronization of GLONASS, BeiDou Systems

Alpha Defence Company To Make Navigation Satellites For ISRO

Europe's own satnav Galileo goes live

Amazonia's best and worst areas for carbon recovery revealed

Warming could slow upslope migration of trees

Better road planning could boost food production while protect forests

A roadmap for guiding development and conservation in the Amazon

Molecular Velcro boosts microalgae's potential in biofuel, industrial applications

Ultrafast lasers reveal light-harvesting secrets of photosynthetic algae

People willing to pay more for new biofuels

Investing in the 'bioeconomy' could create jobs and reduce carbon emissions

Blue Oak Energy and Sun Air Solar complete additional 808kW PV System

Tesla, Panasonic team up for solar power

Tenth Year of Consecutive Global Growth for PV Demand, IHS Markit Says

Saudi Vision 2030 Gives Boost to Solar Energy Investors

New rules for micro-grids in Alberta

Offshore wind makes U.S. debut

Apple invests in China wind farms

German energy company plants wind farm seed in Texas

Norway fund blacklists more coal groups over climate concerns

Black coal, thin pickings: China's miners face decline

Coal demand shifting to Asia, IEA says

China halts North Korean coal imports

Nine 'rebel' villagers jailed in China

Dalai Lama will not visit Mongolia again: govts

Woman sues China public security bureau over propaganda video

'Iron lady' Ip runs for Hong Kong leader

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement