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Kenya defies its own courts: torching homes and forcefully evicting the Sengwer from their ancestral lands, threatening their cultural survival

Click here to sign the Avaaz petition to put pressure on the World Bank to use their leverage over the Kenyan government to halt these illegal evictions.

The Kenyan government has sent Kenya Forest Service (KFS) guards, with police support, to Embobut Forest in the Cherangany Hills to forcibly and illegally evict thousands of Sengwer indigenous people from their ancestral forest lands and burn their homes and belongings to the ground. 

Kenyan Government torches hundreds of Sengwer homes in the forest glades in Embobut

The forcible eviction of the Sengwer communities from their ancestral lands began this last week, despite the interim injunction granted in the High Court at Eldoret against any such evictions, and despite the national and international Appeal against such unlawful action. For the latest update see below, and for the background to this see the section below that. Update: 

Publication launch: 'Securing land and resource rights in Africa: a guide to legal reform and best practice'

Please join FERN, Forest Peoples Programme, ClientEarth and the Centre for the Environment and for Development (CED) for a short presentation on the findings of "a strong seat at the table", an EU funded project to strengthen land tenure rights in Africa. It will include the launch of a new guide on securing land tenure reform in Africa titled "Securing land and resource rights in Africa: a guide to legal reform and best practice" and will be followed by Forest Drinks.

Urgent appeal against the forced eviction of Sengwer communities in Kenya

We are deeply concerned by the forced evictions of the 6,000-7,000 Sengwer indigenous people and other communities in Embobut Forest in the Cherangany Hills (Elgeyo Marakwet County, Kenya).

For many years the Government has been trying to move the indigenous inhabitants of Embobut off their land by burning their homes. They have done this in the name of a fortress conservation approach which seeks to remove local people from their lands. As IUCN and all pre-eminent conservation organisations now acknowledge, such an approach only ever makes the environmental situation worse, and adds a human rights disaster to the environmental crisis. The new President has taken what at first appeared to be a new approach: he came in November and promised them a small amount of money to move, however now that it is clear people are refusing to move, this is being followed up with this threat of imminent eviction.

'Conflict or Consent?' Chapter 13: Summary case study on the situation of Golden Veroleum Liberia’s oil palm concession

The Golden Veroleum Liberia (GVL) concession agreement was concluded on 16th August 2010 and provides a lease for 220,000 ha of land to GVL in Liberia's southern counties. Community grievances concerning the loss of land to the company, the destruction of crops and water sources, the lack of respect for communities' rights to free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) in land acquisition and associated allegations of intimidation, arrests and harassment directed at community leaders, led to several complaints.

'Conflict or Consent?' Chapter 14: The BioPalm oil palm project: a case study in the Département of Océan, Cameroon

This is the fourteenth chapter of 'Conflict or Consent? The oil palm sector at a crossroads'.

Introduction

An increasing trend in large-scale land acquisitions has been observed globally since about 2007 driven by rising food commodity prices, amongst other factors. This phenomenon has attracted the label of ‘land-grab’ due to widespread concern over the threats it presents to the human rights of communities living from the land being acquired. Africa has arguably been the region most affected by such land deals and the authors of this study have recently witnessed this trend in Cameroon. Coinciding with the moratorium on palm oil in Indonesia in 2011, at least four new large-scale oil palm plantation projects have been announced in Cameroon and several existing oil palm and rubber plantations are seeking to expand their current land allocations. This paper examines an oil palm plantation project planned by BioPalm/SIVA in the Océan department of Cameroon. It assesses the plans and processes undertaken by the project proponents, reports on the views of local communities and analyses the project’s compliance with national and international laws, with particular emphasis on the right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC).

'Conflict or Consent?' Chapter 15: SG Sustainable Oils Cameroon PLC (SGSOC) in South West Cameroon

This is the fifthteenth chapter of 'Conflict or Consent? The oil palm sector at a crossroads'.

On 17th September 2009, SG Sustainable Oils Cameroon PLC (SGSOC) signed a contract with the Cameroonian government to develop a large industrial oil palm plantation and refinery. SGSOC is 100% owned by the American company Herakles Farms, an affiliate of Herakles Capital, an Africa-focused private investment firm involved in the telecommunications, energy, infrastructure, mining and agroindustrial sectors.

SGSOC's project has been the subject of great controversy over the last two years. Local communities, conservation groups, and NGOs have expressed opposition to the project due to its numerous negative social and environmental impacts. However, Herakles claims the project will contribute to socio-economic development and environmental protection. Yet in September 2012, the firm withdrew their application for membership of the RSPO in reaction to a formal complaint lodged against them and widespread criticism of their project.

'Conflict or Consent?' Chapter 12: Sime Darby oil palm and rubber plantation in Grand Cape Mount County, Liberia

This is the twelth chapter of 'Conflict or Consent? The oil palm sector at a crossroads'.

Introduction:

Sime Darby’s oil palm and rubber concession in Grand Cape Mount county in northwest Liberia has come under sharp national and international focus after a complaint was submitted under the RSPO New Plantings Procedure (NPP) in November 2011. The complaint, submitted by communities affected by the concession, claimed that their Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) had not been sought, and that the destruction of their farmlands by the company in order to plant palm oil was leaving them destitute. Sime Darby’s concession also includes land in the neighbouring counties of Bomi, Gbarpolu and Bong.This case study, based on field research conducted in February 2012, assesses the nature and extent of community involvement in the acquisition of land for Sime Darby’s concession in Grand Cape Mount, in particular with regard to whether the right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent was respected.1 See page 315 for Sime Darby’s own map of the new plantings area and affected towns in Grand Cape Mount county.

FPP E-Newsletter December 2013 (PDF Version)

Dear Friends,

What are the prospects for securing the land rights of indigenous peoples, local communities, and women in the foreseeable future?

Significantly, the report of the United Nations Secretary-General’s High Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, under Goal 1 to “End Poverty”, sets a target to “Increase by x% the share of women and men, communities, and businesses with secure rights to land, property, and other assets”.

Letter to UNESCO reiterating concerns over the designation of the Lake Bogoria site as a World Heritage Site without obtaining the FPIC of the Endorois

The Endorois Welfare Council, IWGIA, Minority Rights Group and Forest Peoples Programme have written to UNESCO to express their continued concerns over the designation of the Lake Bogoria site (in Kenya) as a World Heritage Site without obtaining the free, prior and informed consent of the Endorois, who are the rightful owners of the land in and around the site. 

New publication by CED: A Simplified Guide to Forest Monitoring for Local Communities

The Centre for the Environment and for Development (CED) has published a new guide on forest monitoring for use by local communities. The aim of the guide is to inform and raise awareness of the benefits of forest monitoring by communities, and to present the main methods and necesssary tools to ensure good forest governance. It is intended to provide local forest communities with the necessary skills and tools to effectively identify and denounce activities of illegal forest exploitation taking place around them.

Conflict or Consent? The oil palm sector at a crossroads

Click here to read related PRESS RELEASE.

Read this report in English or in Bahasa Indonesia

Growing global demand for palm oil is fuelling the large-scale expansion of oil palm plantations across Southeast Asia and Africa. Concerns about the environmental and social impacts of the conversion of vast tracts of land to monocrop plantations led in 2004 to the establishment of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), which encourages oil palm expansion in ways that do not destroy high conservation values or cause social conflict. Numerous international agencies have also called for reforms of national frameworks to secure communities’ rights and to develop sound land governance.

Press Release - Sustainable Palm Oil: Marketing Ploy or True Commitment? New Research Questions Effectiveness of RSPO Standards

MEDAN, INDONESIA (7 November, 2013)—Members of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) are violating the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities in the forests and peatlands of tropical nations worldwide, according to a new research publication released today. The study details the performance of 16 oil palm operations, many run by RSPO members, reporting on their failure to uphold human rights and environmental standards required.