Despite 2018 pledges to improve its sustainability credentials, Halcyon Agri-owned Sudcam development in Cameroon continues to leave locals short-changed, new Greenpeace report finds
The Sudcam concession in Cameroon.
Sudcam is facing renewed scrutiny
after a Greenpeace Africa report detailed
fresh allegations of human rights abuses and the flouting of indigenous rights
at its rubber plantation in Cameroon.
Owned by UK firm Corrie MacColl,
a subsidiary of rubber processing giant Halycon Agri, Sudcam has faced repeated
allegations of corruption, environmental malpractice and sidestepping community
rights since 2011 when it started clearing forest in the West African country.
It is estimated that between 2011
and December 2018, Sudcam – shorthand for Sud Cameroun-Hévéa – destroyed over
10,000 hectares of land in southern Cameroon to make way for its rubber
The deal struck by Sudcam and
Paul Biya’s government in 2011 was itself highly contentious.
It is alleged that Sudcam
received favourable tax exemptions to develop the site, were given free rein to
clear forest without informing affected villages or compensating them for land
and that its concession threatens the nearby Dja Faunal Reserve, a UNSECO World
In November 2018 Halcyon Agri
announced several initiatives, including a “Sustainable Natural Rubber Supply
Chain Policy” and the creation of a “sustainability council” to counter several
damning NGO reports that year exposing malign matters at the Sudcam operation.
Yet Greenpeace’s new briefing
argues local rights continue to be marginalised.
“Our brief exposes a hard truth:
the hollow promises of development from a multinational and local elites are a
disaster for Indigenous People,” said Dr. Victorine Che Thöner, Greenpeace
Africa’s forest campaign leader.
“Forest-trashing Sudcam is
responsible for forced displacements and the destruction of dwellings, sacred
areas and graveyards.”
The briefing, which follows on
from Greenpeace’s Ruinous
Rubber and Earthsight’s The Coming Storm releases
in 2018, includes testimony from some of the 30 local communities impacted by
“I don’t see their usefulness
since their arrival in 2012,” a Baka community member told Greenpeace. “Other
than bringing some food and drinks for the children, just this little gesture,
I don’t see that Sudcam has been useful at all.”
Halcyon Agri agreed to suspend
forest clearing in December 2018 and while Greenpeace analysis said no further
deforestation has occurred since, local access to the forest remains greatly
Lands once utilised for farming
and livelihoods and as burial grounds are largely off-limits to villagers,
while forest camps used for hunting are now destroyed. The development has also
left families reliant on agriculture for income now unable to send their
children to school.
The Sudcam development in South Cameroon has caused widespread deforestation.
The briefing, which was based on
field visits in July 2019, claims that government and Sudcam have failed to
provide “just and fair compensation for the land and resources” to communities.
One of only two locals known to
Greenpeace to have been compensated received a solitary payment of 800,000 CFA
francs (€1,200) for his cocoa farm of little under one hectare. In contract, a
cocoa crop of one hectare can generate profits over €15,000 during its lifetime.
“The land grab was facilitated
by… discrimination and marginalization of indigenous peoples and lack of
recognition of customary land and land use rights in Cameroon,” the report
The briefing called on Sudcam to
initiate compensation payments to locals, restore the forest it has destroyed,
and seek free and prior consent from locals for future work. In addition, the
Cameroon government are urged to introduce a moratorium on new projects “which
would negatively affect indigenous peoples” and reform laws to better protect
communities from developments.
No response from Halcyon Agri or
the Cameroon government was included in the briefing.
However, in a separate statement issued
four days before release of the Greenpeace briefing, Corrie MacColl announced
that US NGO Mighty Earth and Cameroon civil society group Community Forests
Platform had signed on to its Cameroon Sustainability Council and the CEO of
Halcyon Agri said that the firm was committed to supporting local communities.