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Cameroon: Report raises concerns that Herakles Capital's palm oil plantation will displace local farmers, destroy livelihoods

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5 September 2012

Report Assails Palm Oil Project in Cameroon

Author: Elisabeth Rosenthal, Green blog, New York Times

Today environmental groups and forestry experts are abuzz about a project in nearby Cameroon that is overseen by Herakles Farms, an affiliate of the New York-based company Herakles Capital that pursues agricultural initiatives in Africa. The company has acquired a huge tract of land in southwestern Cameroon under long-term lease and plans to develop one of the world’s largest palm oil plantations there...Although Herakles had promised sustainable development..., several environmental groups, including W.W.F., have filed complaints with the Roundtable [for Sustainable Palm Oil] about practices related to the palm oil project. A new report released by Greenpeace and the Oakland Institute...details numerous problems. The...99-year land lease is of questionable legal status, the groups’ researchers say. The report also asserts that the project was vehemently opposed by many of the people who live in the region...The Roundtable...announced on Tuesday that Herakles had withdrawn from the sustainability program.

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5 September 2012

[Response to criticisms of Herakles Farms' oil-palm project in Cameroon made by WWF International, Greenpeace and Oakland Institute]

Author: Bruce Wrobel, Chairman & CEO of Herakles Farms

...Herakles Farms is fully committed to the ideals of sustainability and...it remains our full intention to meet or exceed the standards of RSPO [Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil] as well as the IFC Performance Standards...Then the obvious question becomes “why did we withdraw”. It is simply because RSPO as an organization is still too young and is missing the key technical staff to carry out its mission to assist stakeholders in vetting projects suitable for oil palm cultivation...The [Oakland Institute & Greenpeace] report is certainly full of inaccuracies, false statements and incendiary commentary...We are not proceeding with any activities in an illegal manner...[The] references to the court cases are misleading...The report expresses shock at our right to arrest and detain. We do not have the right to arrest but we do have the right to detain. This is no different than the right of a security guard in [a store] to detain a shoplifter and to turn him over to authorities.

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