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In Cameroon, the critically important Ebo forest is under threat from a road building project

04 August 2022

A 200,000 hectare intact forest in Cameroon is under threat from a road-building project, which could lead to devastating impacts on critically endangered wildlife and more than 40 communities who call Ebo home.  

While the road-building project is purported to bring development opportunities to the villages affected, closer inspection of the plan shows that this consideration is not part of its design.  

In an urgent letter addressed to European Union representatives in Cameroon, NGOs explain: “The current road trajectory is badly planned and will not deliver for communities. It goes right through the Ebo Forest, it does not connect to any existing villages, and thus has no impact on local economic development. Scientific evidence abounds on the deforestation impact of badly planned roads. Communities stand to lose a precious natural resource that provides for their livelihoods.”  

RFUK’s own research from a 2021 report (en/fr) shows that this follows a pattern in the region, of poorly planned large-scale infrastructure projects which often lack participatory development, robust social and environmental risk assessments, and practical measures for oversight and mitigation. The case studies in the report demonstrate that this overwhelmingly results in deforestation and the destruction of livelihoods for forest communities, and Ebo will be no exception.  

The Forest is already under pressure from logging and palm oil development. Only two years ago, a plan to allocate 68,000 hectares as a logging concession was aborted following outcry from local and international NGOs. In a 2019 study, RFUK raised the alarm about a palm oil plantation, which at the time was the largest driver of deforestation in the area and was granted without an environmental impact assessment or adequate consultation with local communities. Meanwhile, the government has refused for years to classify the core area of the Forest as a protected area, in spite of local support for this measure. 

National and International NGOs have sent a letter to the EU delegation to Cameroon, asking them to support an investigation into the legality of the project and to fund alternative development initiatives which are inclusive and sustainable.  

“The letter we sent is addressed to the main donors of Cameroon….The purpose of the letter is to remind them about their commitments to support Cameroon in complying with its climate change commitments. And we know that to comply with the climate change commitments, we need to better protect the forest.” - Samuel Nguiffo, Secretary General for the Centre for Environment and Development 

We stand with the communities resisting this project, and call for the Cameroon government and its donors to uphold the commitments made in the Paris agreement to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, promote inclusive forest governance, and protect biodiversity.  

 

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