Thursday, September 15, 2011

Palm oil plantations could threaten Africa’s biodiversity

The large palm oil plantations have already caused huge environmental destruction in Indonesia, mostly in form of massive deforestation. The same scenario could soon happen in Africa after a New York-based agricultural firm Herakles Farms announced its plan for a massive palm oil plantation (148,000 acres) in Cameroon.

This big palm oil plantation should be built in one of the Africa's most biodiverse areas, amid four protected areas, including Korup National Park, Rumpi Hills Forest Reserve, Bakossi National Park, and Banyang Mbo Wildlife Sanctuary.

An expected massive deforestation in this area will create irreparable damage to wildlife in this area and many animals will find it very hard to survive. This area already gives home to some of the endangered species including red-eared guenon, Preuss’s red colobus, the drill, and the Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzee.

The conservationists also fear that the increased economic activity in this area will cause more people to migrate to this region, causing rapid boom in population, meaning that there won't be enough available space for both people and wildlife.

The bushmeat trade is already a big issue in this area and with more workers coming to this area this problem could become even worse.

If this plantation gets the final go ahead by Cameroon government it will disrupt important wildlife migration routes and isolate wildlife populations by preventing their interconnection. The Herakles did however say that it is considering creating wildlife corridors but with more people coming in this area something it will be almost impossible to achieve this.

There is no doubt that this huge oil plantation would cause significant economic benefits in this area, particularly in form of new jobs for poor African people. The Heracles already mentioned the number of 9.000 new jobs.

However, even the positive economic prospect isn't enough for many people in this area to support this new palm oil plantation because they (rightfully) fear that this could mean losing their forests, not to mention being surrounded by oil palms or in some cases even being forced to relocate.

Developing a sustainable and environmentally friendly oil industry in Africa isn't as easy to do as Bruce Wrobel, president & CEO of Herakles Capital thinks it is. Even the positive social ambitions for better economic prosperity aren't enough to justify potentially irreparable damage to Africa's rich biodiversity.

No comments:

Post a Comment