70,000 hectares of rainforest in Cameroon are to be cleared for a palm oil plantation. Kenya, Liberia, the Ivory Coast and other African countries have already given large areas of their rainforests up to palm oil plantations. The Blackstone Group now wishes to cultivate palm oil in Cameroon as well. As a result of this project, one of the oldest rainforests on the planet could be destroyed forever. The palm oil will primarily be produced for European industry.
In Southwest Cameroon, one of the oldest and most biodiverse rainforests on the planet is facing destruction. The area planted for logging directly borders the Korup National Park and the Rumpi Hills forest reserve. This forest is a hotspot for a great variety of species. 25 percent of all African primate species can be found here, among them chimpanzees and the very rare Drills. 45,000 people will also lose their land and with it their livelihood, due to the creation of the palm oil plantation.
Investors are interested in Africa for a number of reasons. Due to the increasing global demand for palm oil, new plantation areas are always needed. Africa has the right climate for palm oil and is reliant on financial aid. The investors know how to use this. One of these investors is the Blackstone Group. It belongs to the largest financial investor in the world and owns shares in Deutschen Telekom and the SE Alliance among others, as well as in a multi-billion property portfolio of the Deutsche Bank. Blackstone now also wishes to share in the profits of the global palm oil boom. The energy company Sithe Global, which is owned 100 percent by Blackstone, wants to plant 60,000 hectares of palm oil trees in Cameroon.
A clever advertising campaign is ensuring the acceptance of this project worldwide. The Managing Director of Sithe Global, Bruce Wrobel, founded the organisation “All for Africa”. Under this name, he is collecting donations in order to plant one million trees, which are supposed to create a “sustainable benefit for the whole of Africa”. What the donors are not told however, is that the ‘trees’ are palm oil trees, and that in order to plant them rainforest must first be destroyed and families thrown off their land.
“The palm oil plantations planned by Blackstone would destroy a unique rainforest, which is part of one of the oldest forests on the planet. Numerous species would lose their habitat forever and thousands of people their land” states Katja Wiese, Managing Director of Naturefund.
Naturefund (www.naturefund.de), together with the SAVE Wildlife Conservation Fund, Regenwald.org and many other organisations, is campaigning to stop the creation of the palm oil plantation in Africa. An open letter was sent to the Blackstone Group as well as to the Director of Sithe Global, Bruce Wrobel. The letter was also published online. People should know what Blackstone is planning in Cameroon.
Pressure should be put on the group in order to get them to distance themselves from the project. Naturefund is primarily interested in speaking with the investors, in order to work together to find new alternatives. So far neither Blackstone nor Sithe Global has responded. The letter can be read here: http://www.save-wildlife.com. Anyone who wishes to take part in the protest campaign can also do so here by signing and sending the letter to Blackstone and Wrobel.