Environmental Protests makes EU Postpone Ecologically Destructive Roads across Cameroon's Rainforests!
On July 7, 1999, the European Development Fund, an EU institution that disburses development aid largely without parlamentarian or public control for the first time decided to reconsider a proposed project before approving it. A number of representatives from different countries asked questions to the EU Commission about a proposed 52 million EURO grant for road rehabilitation in Cameroon.
The day before, environmentalists from the Rainforest Foundation, London, Pro Regenwald, Munich and Rettet den Regenwald, Hamburg, had met with the German Development Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul and a number of development civil servants in the BMZ (Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development) in Bonn to present 30 000 signatures against the project.
The environmentalists expressed their concerns that, with the lack of law enforcement in Cameroon, the rehabilitation of the roads would accelerate illegal and non-sustainable forest exploitation by timber companies. A side effect would also be to facilitate massive commercial poaching of all wildlife up to extinction of virtually all species in the easily accessible areas. Negative effects on the Baka and Bagyely pygmy peoples were another concern raised.
The NGOs also raised concern about the lack of law enforcement on road traffic and the insufficient financial contribution of the transport companies in Cameroon to road maintenance.
In general the NGOs deplored that the EDF and parts of the EU still lacked transparency of their decisions and planning. For example the EDF is not willing to share the project proposal with concerned NGOs and neither the Cameroon Government nor the EU could explain which roads would be rehabilitated with the money before the project was adopted.
The German Minister promised that her government would ask questions about the project in Cameroon to the European Commission.
After the postponement of the road grant in the EDF committee this Wednesday the project will be considered again by the same Committee in September.
Given the state of complete lawlessness in the forest sector and the huge profits that logging and transport companies make currently in Cameroon NGOs doubt that the situation will improve rapidly. NGOs now await with great interest answers to the concerns raised with the EU Commission and the Cameroon government about this project.
Meanwhile the Rainforest Foundation, Pro Regenwald and Rettet den Regenwald wish to express their thanks to all the citizens who have made possible the rethinking of EU development policy by writing letters and collecting signatures.
Rettet den Regenwald e. V.
For more information, in English see http://www.rainforestfoundationuk.org with sound clips about the impact of a previous EU-funded road project in Cameroon, and a briefing on the latest threats. (click on Cameroon Action Alert)
The Rainforest Foundation UK - http://www.rainforestfoundationuk.org
THE BIOSYNERGY INSTITUTE
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Hermosa Beach, California 90254