Unbiased reporting is very difficult when it comes to the environment. How can one deliver a balanced report when ultra-rich investment corporation ‘X’ forgoes the environmental impact assessment, and goes ahead with project destroy-precious-habitat-for-profit-again? Unfortunately, this is a tale of that exact old story. The happy ending will come from a simple click to share your voice. It’s easy to feel heroic these days.
Blackstone, in their own words, is “a leading global alternative investment manager and financial advisor and an established global financial brand.” They speak of providing alternative energy to parts of the United States, which dresses them in sheep’s clothing, since their biofuels exacerbate the problem they claim to fix. Palm oil, a frequent ingredient of biofuels, is a bittersweet fuel. Touted once as an alternative to ‘dirty’ coal and oil fuels, it is just as devastating.
The WWF state that “Large areas of tropical forests and other ecosystems with high conservation values have been cleared to make room for vast monoculture oil palm plantation,” which is why alarms are now sounding for the forests of Cameroon.
Dr. Joshua M. Linder, an assistant professor in the department of sociology and anthropology at James Madison University, has been working in Cameroon and has witnessed first-hand the effects of tropical deforestation for palm oil plantations.
According to a survey he has been circulating, “Blackstone … a huge international investor, finances a 70.000 hectare palm oil plantation. For this plantation dense, high canopy, mature rainforest would be cut down fragmenting a continuous forestblock.”
Habitat fragmentation is one of the triggers that can cause a wildlife population to collapse, bringing it to the deep gorge of endangerment. Fragmentation isolates animal populations, making it harder to maintain a cohesive group, which is supposed to help with gathering food and protection against predators. It also imposes other dangers and opens up the forest for further development.
According to Dr.Linder, the permit for the plantation was given without agreement from the 30 small villages (3,000 people) and actual landowners, whose estates would be confiscated.
Blackstone intends to clear 700 square kilometers of Africa’s oldest forests near Korup National Park, in Cameroon. This area is a region known for high levels of species diversity unique to that region, such as drill, chimpanzee, red colobus monkey, red-capped mangabey, the redeared monkey and a variety of small, shy antelopes known as duikers.
According to Dr. Linder and his colleagues at McGill University, “Oil palm plantations kill off tropical forests and biodiversity throughout the tropics. Much of this is being done in the name of biofuel, a senseless paradigm. Note too that Cameroon is a major exporter of petroleum from off-shore drilling.”
Dr. Linder is in Cameroon presently, and will be contacting colleagues and protesters within the next two weeks after he re-emerges from the forest, where he is studying the loss of property and forest habitat directly.
“The companies are quickly moving forward with their development but the protest is gaining momentum, even in the Cameroon govt. We actually have a chance to stop this with your help with the Cameroon oil palm protest.”
Signing this petition will give you an exciting opportunity to be part of protecting some precious forest land that would otherwise be lost forever to palm oil plantations. Once a crop like this is planted, the tropical soil, which is shallow in nutrients, is sapped of its ability to support a complex ecosystem and will collapse several years down the line. Click here to sign the petition.
Great article, gives a good overview of the current situation in Cameroon.