Herakles Capital Gets Nod for Controversial Plantation

November 27, 2013
Source
Hispanic Business

Cameroon President Paul Biya has given final approval to New York venture capital firm Herakles Capital to start work on a 20 000 hectare palm oil plantation, despite opposition from locals and conservation groups. Herakles' palm oil project in the South West forest region of Cameroon has been mired in controversy after environmental campaigners including Greenpeace and WWF said it violated Cameroon's laws and could endanger wildlife and deprive locals of their livelihoods. The firm had initially planned for a 73 000ha plantation but this was halted after protests. The government asked Herakles in June to reduce the size of the plantation to 20 000ha. The decree signed by Biya on Monday said Herakles could begin work on the reduced-size plantation after paying a |198 million CFA francs (R4m) land tax and must invest another 259m CFA francs in palm nurseries. The government said Herakles would invest about 260 billion CFA francs in the project. Greenpeace and Think Tank Oakland Institute said yesterday the government approval of the project, although downsized, was alarming. The government is also putting at risk a partnership with the EU and Germany , who have a long-standing relationship with Cameroon to help protect biodiversity and promote good governance in the forest sector, it said. - Reuters Cape Argus