By Elias Ntungwe Ngalame
YAOUNDE, 23 May 2012 – Cameroon is inviting foreign companies to expand lucrative palm plantations, pitting the country’s need for economic development against environmentalists who foresee the loss of important forests.
Since 2009 this West African country has witnessed a sharp rise in interest from companies seeking vast expanses of land for industrial palm plantations in response to increasing global demand for palm oil.
Six foreign-owned companies are currently trying to secure over 1 million hectares (about 2.5 million acres) of land for the production of palm oil in the country’s forested southern zone, according to a coalition of environmental organisations.
Jean Kuete, who until December 2011 was Cameroon’s minister of agriculture, told journalists last October that palm production is integral to the government’s plans for growth, employment and poverty reduction.
“The industrial production of palm oil is a national priority and the many investors in this sector are welcomed,” the minister said.
According to information from the agriculture ministry, there is particular interest in land on the flanks of West Africa’s highest peak, Mt. Fako, where conditions are good for growing palms, as well as the cheap land stretching through the Southwest and Littoral regions of Cameroon.
For the complete article, please see AlertNet.
Source: BBC News
By Guy De Launey
PHNOM PENH, 12 May 2012 - The death of an environmental activist, shot dead by police, has galvanised his campaign against deforestation and illegal logging in a scenic part of Cambodia.
Ratanakiri is a beautiful province in the north of this country - with volcanic lakes, waterfalls and huge areas of unspoiled forest.
Most of the people who live there belong to indigenous hill tribes who worship spirits in nature.
But peace has brought smooth-surfaced roads and outsiders to rural parts of the country that were once remote.
The hill tribes complain that the newcomers try to trick them out of their traditional lands - and hack down the trees which make up what they call the "spirit forests".
A young man from the Tampeun people told me he knew where loggers were at work - and volunteered to show me. So we jumped into a battered pickup - and slithered along a narrow trail through the forest.
Suddenly we burst out into a clearing. And immediately it seemed that we had made a horrible mistake.
For the complete article, please see BBC News.
VIENTIANE, 16 April 2012 - With pressure on natural resources increasing in Laos, the first community land titles granted to five villages in Vientiane Province could provide a national model for environmental protection while safeguarding the livelihoods of villagers.
“It’s very important because the communal land titles can give communities the right to access and harvest natural resources, and overcome land concessions to companies,” Souvanpheng Phommasane, an advisor for SNV Netherlands Development Organization told IRIN.
The title deeds cover an area of 2,189 hectares of bamboo-producing forest. After a two-year process the land was finally handed over to the five villages in Sangthong District, 50km west of the capital, Vientiane, in February.
Hanna Saarinen, coordinator for the Land Issues Working Group, which represents 40 concerned civil society organizations, says the issue of land ownership is becoming more urgent.
“In the last five to 10 years there have been more and more competing interests [seeking control] over natural resources,” she said. Private sector companies as well as communities “have been using the same land, the same forest for years”.
For the complete article, please see IRIN.
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