New satellite data from one of the worlds leading forest monitoring organization shows that a rubber plantation is edging closer to the Dja Wildlife Reserve in Cameroon. The Dja is a UNESCO World Heritage site noted for its biodiversity and a wide variety of primates.
« Tree cover loss alerts show nearly 1,000 hectares (2,500 acres) of tree cover were affected from November 2017 through January 2018, including previously unfragmented intact forest areas. In total, more than 3,000 hectares (7,500 acres), an area about one-fourth the size of Florence, Italy, has been cleared since 2014, » according to the Global Land Analysis and Discovery (GLAD), an initiative of the Global Forest Watch.
The UNESCO forest area is also home to endangered species such as chimpanzees, forest elephants, western lowland gorillas, and a nearly extinct leopard species, with neighboring villages home to around 9,500 people.
The rubber plantation is owned by Sudcam, a subsidiary of the world’s largest natural rubber company Halcyon Agri Corporation, with a China-based parent company Sinochem International.
According to a CIFOR report, Sudcam has come under scrutiny because the plantation expansion involves the clearing of “some 40,000 hectares of natural forests” buffering a park with rich biodiversity and protected species. The report notes that while the project has the potential to create needed employment in the areas, many of the communities are not eligible for compensation for loss of customary land to the plantation as Cameroonian expropriation laws do not recognize customary rights. UNESCO authorities and Greenpeace have raised concerns over the project’s impacts on community rights and the Dja Wildlife reserve.