Sudcam, a subsidiary of Singapore rubber firm, Halcyon Agri, is responsible for devastating forest clearance in Cameroon, resulting in dispossession of community lands and other impacts on human rights, a new report has said.
The company has cleared more than 10,000 hectares of dense equatorial forest in the past seven years to set up a rubber plantation in south Cameroon; a project described by the Greenpeace Africa report as “by far the most devastating new clearing for industrial agriculture in the Congo Basin”.
The report; Halcyon Agri’s Ruinous Rubber, says the Sudcam Cameroon concessions overlap with the customary land of forest-dependent communities, including the indigenous Baka people and its acquisition amounts to land grabbing.
“Sudcam’s land acquisition and operation is a typical example of land grabbing in Cameroon. Greenpeace Africa calls on Halycon Agri and Sudcam to immediately halt the deforestation carnage and complete an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment of all activities,” the watchdog said.
It says the company was also responsible for the forced displacement of the indigenous Baka communities and other villagers seeking to defend their rights had been met with threats and intimidation.
“It’s pathetic that the Cameroonian government still accommodates the threatening activities of Sudcam. Indigenous community settlements inside the concession have been completely destroyed without a resettlement plan or compensation. This is a clear violation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People,” said Sylvie Djacbou, Greenpeace Africa Forest Campaigner.
The Sudcam rubber project is directly adjacent to and identified as a new and serious threat to the Dja Faunal Reserve, a Unesco World Heritage Site that is home to 14 species of primate and megafauna like elephants, buffalos, giant pangolins and bongo antelopes.
Greenpeace also called on the parent company and its Cameroon subsidiary to adequately compensate community members for harms caused by the physical and economic displacement, compliant with international best practice.
Some sources say senior local government officials owned shares in the scandal-mired rubber company.
In June last year, inhabitants of several affected villages told Greenpeace that the project had been presented to them by company representatives as the president’s plantation and Sudcam belonging to President Paul Biya.
Sudcam had yet to officially react to the Greenpeace report, but Halcyon Agri told UK human rights and environmental justice investigative and reporting organisation, Earthsight that the company was “committed to continuous improvement in the way we operate our assets globally.
"We view the environment and the communities within which we operate as key stakeholders, and we have implemented solid documentation and progress measurement tools on the ground.”