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Baka and Bagyeli leaders highlight forest issues to media and wider public

Three indigenous leaders, Margrite Akom, Jeanne Noah and Mathilde Zang, from a remote forest near the UNESCO World Heritage Dja Reserve, Cameroon, were key figures in the development and construction of a Rainforest Garden at Chelsea Flower Show, London, from 25 to 29 May 2010. This garden highlighted their communities' traditions and concerns to the international media and wider public. At the event, the leaders spoke with the Queen, press and public, eloquently explaining the pressures they face including the discrimination and violation of their rights, the impact of industrial expansion and deforestation, and the loss of access to forest biodiversity upon which communities rely. Maps, developed by the Baka illustrating their traditional use of the forest for subsistence, were also incorporated into the garden. Margrite, Jeanne and Mathilde work with the African Indigenous Women's Organisation (AIWO) in Yaounde, Cameroon and were assisted by Aisha Aishatou from AIWO.

Pulp and paper giant, APRIL, continues to seek to impose its expansion plans on the Kampar Peninsula, Riau

The Singapore-based pulp and paper giant, APRIL, through its Indonesian national subsidiary, PT Riau Andolan Pulp and Paper (RAPP), is seeking to develop a ring of new Acacia plantations on community lands on the peat soils of the Kampar Peninsula, in Riau Province on the island of Sumatra. The company also hopes to promote conservation zones in the core of the Peninsula payable with REDD money.

The company claims it adheres to corporate 'best practice' standards, including the communities' rights to 'Free, Prior and Informed Consent'. Yet it has already secured permits to almost 100,000 hecatres of community lands and now only seeks to negotiate with the communities about land use within a heavily constrained framework. This series of letters and a briefing summarises the escalating crisis in the area.  

In the latest letter letter (May 2010), FPP and Scale Up query APRIL's controversial operations in the Kampar Peninsula and urge it to respect the communities' rights. (APRIL recently had its controlled wood certificate from the Forest Stewardship Council withdrawn for lack of compliance.)

Press Release - Baka and Bagyeli forest communities at the Green & Black's Rainforest Garden, Chelsea Flower Show, London

"We are excited about this garden at the Chelsea Flower Show. It provides a wonderful opportunity to raise awareness among the wider public about the many challenges facing African forest peoples. These include discrimination and violation of their rights, the impact of industrial expansion and deforestation, and the loss of access to forest biodiversity upon which communities rely."

Joint Statement of Indigenous Peoples, Smallholders and NGOs to IFC Consultation on Palm Oil

Indigenous peoples and NGOs urge reforms prior to World Bank re-engagement in palm oil

In response to a World Bank Group consultation on its revised strategy on palm oil, an international consortium of NGOs and indigenous peoples' organisations has urged caution. Major reforms in the way land rights are recognised and lands are allocated for planting are needed, particularly in Indonesia and Sarawak, before World Bank Group investments in the sector can contribute to poverty alleviation and environmental sustainability.Joint Statement and Discussion Note