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Rubber tree plantation near Dja Reserve, Cameroon


Description

The contentious Sudcam plantation involves the conversion into rubber plantation of about 45.000 ha of natural forest. The concession is just a few hundred meters away from the western border of the World Heritage Conservation site of the Dja Reserve. This area, declared World Heritage by the UNESCO in 1987, is exceptionally rich in biodiversity. The project could affect endangered species such as chimpanzees, forest elephants, western lowland gorillas, and a nearly extinct leopard species. According to a 2018 article by Global Forest Watch, this is one of the forest regions at risk right now [1]. Only from November 2017 to March 2018, they have found that 1.000 new hectares of tree cover were affected. According to Greenpeace, the Sudcam plantation is “the most devastating new clearing of forest for industrial agriculture in the Congo Basin” [2]. Besides, there is a conflict with the population about the property of the land, as many people don’t have formal titles of property and rely on the customary access rules for their subsistence.

In this area live about 9.500 people, most of them belonging to the Bulu tribe, (Bantu group), but there are are also others belonging to the indigenous Baka Tribe. These latter are traditionally hunters in the forests, so they are particularly impacted by the change of land use. On the other hand, residents have claimed that subsistence farmland has been taken away from them without any (or very little) compensation. In words of the Greenpeace Africa forest expert, Sylvie Djacbou, talking for Mongabay, the Baka are also suffering the  destruction of graves and sacred sites which were very important for them”. 

The organization Rainforest led a community mapping action [3]  in the area, which “has shown widespread dispossession of community lands and resources, including those of indigenous Baka people”, a specially protected community. Besides, communities claim that “there has been wholly inadequate compensation, provisions to protect their livelihood, and no benefits from the plantations”.

Basic Data

NameRubber tree plantation near Dja Reserve, Cameroon
CountryCameroon
ProvinceSouth West Regioon (Départament Dja-et-lobo)
SiteNdibision
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level

Source of Conflict

Type of Conflict (1st level)Biomass and Land Conflicts (Forests, Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock Management)
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Plantation conflicts (incl. Pulp
Deforestation
Land acquisition conflicts
Logging and non timber extraction
Intensive food production (monoculture and livestock)
Specific CommoditiesRubber

Project Details and Actors

Project DetailsThe land concession approved to Sudcam by presidential decree in 2008 granted about 45.000 ha in total [4]. They have been divided for various uses: 30.000 for rubber plantations, 500 for nurseries and 375 for worker’s camps. About 9.000 of the concession are deemed to be unsuitable for plantations, so they are used for conservation. There are concerns that Sudcam might be working also out of the concession,although this point is not yet clear. The forecast is that the 45.000 ha are planted by 2029, and the company has already announced the intention of building a factory to transform the rubber [5].
Project Area (in hectares)5,930
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population9,500
Start Date01/07/2008
Company Names or State EnterprisesSud-Cameroun Hévéa S.A (Sudcam) from Cameroon
Halcyon Agri Corporation from China
Relevant government actorsThere has been a lack of transparence in the whole process.According to an investigacion led by CIFOR, 20€ of Sudcam’s shares were owned by an unknown “influential member of the Cameroonian political elite.”
International and Financial InstitutionsChina-Africa Development Fund (CAD FUND) from China
Environmental justice organisations and other supporters- Greenpeace Africa: http://www.greenpeace.org/africa/en/

- Africa Wildlife Foundation https://www.awf.org/

- Earthsight: https://www.earthsight.org.uk/coming-storm

The Conflict and the Mobilization

Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)LATENT (no visible organising at the moment)
When did the mobilization beginLATENT (no visible resistance)
Groups MobilizingIndigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Local ejos
Landless peasants
Forms of MobilizationCommunity-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Official complaint letters and petitions
Arguments for the rights of mother nature
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment

Impacts

Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Food insecurity (crop damage)
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Land dispossession, Displacement, Loss of livelihood

Outcome

Project StatusIn operation
Development of AlternativesThere are different proposal to mitigate the negative impacts of the project.

The Africa Wildlife Foundation talks about the possibility of developing wildlife corridors between plantation blocks, and creating buffers around wetlands and streams.

Greenpeace Africa has urged the Cameronian government to stop the contract with SudCam and has publicly denounced to the UNESCO for not protecting the Dja Reserve. They ask for more transparency and, specially, that the company does the Free, Prior and informed consent process in a proper way.
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.There hasn´t been any sign of change from the company nor the Government since 2008, despite the petitions from different organizations to halt the project.

Sources and Materials

References

Etude d'impact environnemental du projet de création d'une plantation agroindustrielle d'hevea dans le Dja et Lobo, Region du Sud. Greenpeace
http://www.greenpeace.org/africa/Global/africa/Forests/Publications/2-Sudcam%E2%80%99s%20Environmental%20Impact%20Assessment.pdf

"Socioecological responsibility and Chinese overseas investments: The case of rubber plantation expansion in Cameroon". Assembe-Mvondo, S.; Putzel, L.; Atyi, R.E.
http://www.cifor.org/library/5474/socioecological-responsibility-and-chinese-overseas-investments-the-case-of-rubber-plantation-expansion-in-cameroon/

Links

"Rubber plantation in Camerron edges closer to UNESCO World Heritage Site".- Mongabay
https://news.mongabay.com/2018/04/rubber-plantation-in-cameroon-edges-closer-to-unesco-world-heritage-site/

[2] UNESCO fails to protec Cameroon's Dja Reserve from multiple threats including the Sudcam Rummber Plantation.
http://www.greenpeace.org/africa/en/News/news/UNESCO-fails-to-protect-Cameroons-Dja-Reserve-from-multiple-threats-including-the-Sudcam-rubber-plantation/#Note7

[1] Places to watch: 3 regions of forest at risk right now
https://blog.globalforestwatch.org/places-to-watch/places-to-watch-march-2018

[3]The impacts of agri-business in Cameroon laid bare
http://blog.mappingforrights.org/?p=1359

[5] La société Sud Hevea veut construire une usine de transformation de caoutchouc. Cameroun-info.net
http://www.cameroon-info.net/article/cameroun-developpement-la-societe-sud-hevea-cameroun-veut-construire-une-usine-de-transformation-de-caoutchouc-312561.html

Other Documents

Dja World Site Heritage This area , declared World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1978, is exceptionally rich in biodiversity. Now, it is at risk for various questions,being one of them the Hévea Sudcam Rubber plantation. Source: Wikipe
https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/reserve_du_Dja.JPG

Affected area for the Rubber plantation In this image it's possible to see how near the plantation is to the western border of the Dja Reserve. Source: Greenpeace
https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/0406-dja-glad-greepeace-map.png

Meta Information

ContributorAurora M. Alcojor, Carro de Combate
Last update10/07/2018

Images

 

Dja World Site Heritage

This area , declared World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1978, is exceptionally rich in biodiversity. Now, it is at risk for various questions,being one of them the Hévea Sudcam Rubber plantation. Source: Wikipe

Affected area for the Rubber plantation

In this image it's possible to see how near the plantation is to the western border of the Dja Reserve. Source: Greenpeace