São Tomé and Principe (Biosphere Reserve) are located in the west coast of Africa with unique flora and fauna. Of a total avifauna of 143 species, including 72 breeding residents, 28 species are endemic to São Tomé and Principe. Twelve of the endemics are species of global conservation concern . According to WRM report , the Oil palm grows naturally on the two main islands. Although the islands were not inhabited when the Portuguese arrived between 1469 and 1472, the subsequent introduction of sugar cane cultivation based on slave labour led to the forced arrival of Africans from Benin, Congo and Angola who brought with them the traditional uses of this oil palm (Elaeis guineesis). Their leaves, traditionally have been used in basket weaving, bags, brooms by local people. Moreover, this type of palm is used to produce wine across the entire country too .The product generates considerable income for wine extractors and vendors. This oil is extracted by the local suppliers for agricultural use, although it is also sold . After the Independence of the islands, the European Community financed the plantation of 650 hectares of oil palm in Ribeira Peixe, in the south of São Tomé island. The first palm oil mill (Empresa de Óleos Vegetais – EMOLVE) was established by a loan from the European Investment Bank. The mill was the capacity to meet the food oil needs of the entire population in the island. During the 1980s, EMOLVE continued expanding its palm plantations. By 1990, EMOLVE's industrial plant produced about 2,000 oil tonnes/year. In 1999, theoil production declined, falling to less than 100 tonnes/year, and finally coming to a halt in 2007. Several factors were behind this: for one, the oil palm groves grew old, and for another, the company’s equipment and infrastructure deteriorated. In 2008, the equipment was somewhat improved with a contribution from the government of Taiwan. but the problem was not fully resolved .
In 2009 , Agripalma, a subsidiary of STP Invest and São Tomé investors acquired a concession to recover and expand oil palm plantations (5,000 ha) . The aim of the oil palm expansion by Socfinco (Agripalma subsidiary) was the production of palm oil for its further processing into biofuel in Belgium . The danger is aggravated by the rehabilitation and expansion of the plantation from the current 610 hectares to approximately 5,000 hectares. People of Prince Island, rebelled against the agreement, not allowing the deforestation of more than 1,000 hectares of land in the Sundy area, to produce palm oil. Because of the Prince's refusal the government looked for more land on the island of São Tomé to respond to the agreement signed in 2009 between the State and Agripalma. This new expansion took place close to the Monte Carmo forests of the Obô Natural Park and overlapping with the Natural Park’s buffer zone . For planting the oil palm trees, the state expropriated land from agricultures to Agripalma Company generating land conflicts that the farmers are individually fighting. For example, a national farmer, who since the end of the 1990s has benefited from a medium-sized agricultural enterprise in the new oil palm expansion area. He protested to the Agriculture Ministry that the company Agripalma planted over several hectares of his land. He is threatening to “bring the oil palm planted by Agripalma down, within the space that belongs to me if the Ministry doesn’t solve the problem” . He lost 13 hectares of his land in favor of the Agripalma Company, according to the law, he should be compensated, but at the time, the Government institutions, refused to pay the pre-defined amount.
According to Bird Life International , the Natural Park is suffering a serious threats “resulting from opening up access to the forest due to oil palm plantations, including increasing hunting and extractive pressures on the forest birds and other biodiversity”. International NGOs have developed a campaign to avoid losing the rich biodiversity because of the land grabbing.
Since 2013, some citizens are organizing to fight the “ongoing environmental crime” (according to them). They say “We intend to create a citizen movement to defend our environment” "This is the environmental crime that is being committed by the state of São Tomé!". They also complain that the oil palm is replacing their staple food that is coconut.
In July of 2013, following legal complains by citizens, the Saotoméan court has approved an injunction against Agripalma, imposing restrictions on its development of a palm oil plantation in the country. However, the court's decision does not halt the company's clearing work for the establishment of palm oil plantations. It merely imposes conditions with the objective of protecting specific areas [6, 11].