Massive oil palm project threatens biodiversity in Cameroon

Oil palm plantations continue to spread like a tsunami across large expanses of the world's humid tropical regions, often driving large-scale deforestation.  Initially widespread in Southeast Asia, the crop is now spreading apace to Latin America, Africa and beyond.

Things are not looking up for wildlife in Cameroon (photo by William Laurance).

Things are not looking up for wildlife in Cameroon (photo by William Laurance).

ALERT member Joshua Linder has been very concerned about the impacts of a massive oil palm project in Cameroon.  Advocated by Herakles Corp., a New York-based agroindustrial firm, the plantation could eventually span over 70,000 hectares and destroy large areas of habitat in the buffer zones of three of Cameroon's most important national parks.

In a recent article, Linder decries the tactics of Herakles and explains how the project could impact on endangered primates and other wildlife species.  Other observers are also expressing great concern about this huge project, both for its environmental impacts and potential effects on local communities.

The challenges to nature conservation in Africa will surely increase dramatically this century, as its human population continues to grow rapidly.  The United Nations estimates that Africa's population will quadruple this century, and the continent is also experiencing an explosion of mining, infrastructure and other development pressures.