Eight environmental protection organisations are alerting the international community to the dangers of a road project currently underway in the Ebo forest massif in Cameroon. In a joint letter sent to several chancelleries represented in Cameroon, these organisations denounce a road project “that destroys biodiversity, threatens the existence of local communities and promotes the illegal exploitation of the Ebo forest”.
In Cameroon, the Ebo forest massif, located between the Centre and Littoral regions, is facing a new threat. A road project is being built in the middle of this forest, which covers almost 1,500 km2 and where 40 local communities live in harmony with a rich biodiversity.
To stop the road project and strengthen protection around the Ebo Forest, eight conservation NGOs, including Greenpeace, Green Development Advocates and the Centre for Environment and Development (CED), are appealing to the international community. In a joint letter sent on 22 July 2022 to the European Union (EU) delegation, the British High Commission in Cameroon and the embassies of France, Germany and the United States of America in Cameroon, these organisations call for the suspension of the road project underway in the Ebo forest.
A certainly “illegal” project
For the NGOs, the road project currently underway in the Ebo forest is certainly illegal. Local people were not consulted in determining the route of the road, nor does it allow for inclusive development. “Communities want to develop and roads are supposed to provide access to markets, education and health care. But in this case, the road is not connected to any existing village. This is evidence that it is a road to be used to clear the forest. The communities are therefore at risk of losing a precious natural resource that ensures their livelihoods,” the letter said.
The NGOs call on the various recipients of their letter to discuss concerns about the Ebo Forest with the Cameroonian government and to demand an independent investigation into the legality of the disputed road project.
This is the second time in two years that the Ebo forest has been threatened with destruction. In August 2020, the Cameroonian Prime Minister annulled a government decision of 14 July 2020 allocating more than 68,000 hectares of the Ebo forest massif for timber production. This reversal followed complaints from NGOs and local populations living in one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots, which is home to numerous species of flora and fauna found nowhere else in the world.