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Greenpeace Africa Uncover Illegal Logging

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A trail of stolen timber in Cameroon has been exposed by Greenpeace Africa. Greenpeace Africa led an investigation into illegal logging in the country and found a trial leading to main log exporter Compagnie et de Transport (CCT). There will now reportedly be a government audit into the actions of CCT, including its suppliers.

That audit should include the supplier La Socamba, subject of a Greenpeace briefing released today. The evidence presented in the briefing, La Socamba: How Cameroon’s Stolen Wood Reaches International Markets, demonstrates how CCT, which supplies timber companies worldwide, including in China and Europe, sources timber from La Socamba.

La Socamba is a company engaged in illegal and destructive practices, including logging several kilometres outside their legal logging title. This new case complements evidence already presented by Greenpeace in its reports on CCT suppliers.


On 25 May, in response to Greenpeace offer of a right to response, CCT admitted that Cameroon’s Ministry of Forests and Wildlife (MINFOF) had ordered an audit of the activities of CCT and its suppliers to determine which were involved in illegal activities and to trace the resulting timber.

Eric Ini, Forest Campaigner at Greenpeace Africa, said: “Greenpeace Africa takes note of the audit of CCT’s practices – but stresses that this process should be independent and transparent, and that CCT suppliers are properly sanctioned when illegal activities are confirmed.”

In September 2015, Greenpeace published three cases of illegal logging in permits supplying CCT: logging permits exploited by South Forestry Company (SFC), FEEMAM and SOFOCAM. The Minister of Forestry, Ngole Philip Ngwese, has proclaimed the innocence of companies exposed by Greenpeace for their involvement in illegal logging.

Yet, one of the companies investigated by Greenpeace, SFC has been fined by the authorities twice for exactly the kind of practices Greenpeace exposed, and CCT and its suppliers are now apparently subject to an investigation by MINFOF. The Dutch authorities also sanctioned the Dutch importer of CCT timber based on the Greenpeace evidence.


Eric Ini added: “If Cameroon is serious about ending the illegal timber trade, it must work closely with the EU towards credible implementation of the Voluntary Partnership Agreement and, as a first priority, to re-establish a system of credible Independent Monitoring of Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade in Cameroon.”

Next to Belgium and the Netherlands, the UK government also regards timber from Cameroon as “high risk” and has recently investigated UK operators trading in Cameroon timber. These actions from the UK government and the sanction from the Dutch Authorities are positive first steps. However, all EU countries must treat timber from Cameroon as high risk, and require stringent due diligence standards from importing companies until the government of Cameroon can prove beyond reasonable doubts that it is properly enforcing the country’s forestry laws and regulations.

While carrying out research for the La Socamba briefing, Greenpeace undertook field investigations in October 2014 and January 2016 to document areas where permits for destructive “cut-and-run” logging, known as “sales of standing volume” (or VCs, from the French ventes de coupe), have been issued to CCT suppliers and recorded testimonies from local residents and authorities, as well as ex-employees.  Greenpeace also discovered timber carrying the permit number VC 09 01 203 – issued to La Socamba – discarded up to 8km outside the logging title.

Cameroon’s forests support the livelihoods of thousands of people and are amongst the region’s most biologically diverse forests, providing valuable habitat for endangered Western Lowland Gorillas, chimpanzees and forest elephants, amongst other species. Unsustainable and illegal logging in these forests is leading to deforestation, destruction of the ecosystem and diminished resilience to climate change.

Read Greenpeace Africa’s briefing, La Socamba: How Cameroon’s Stolen Wood Reaches Europe’s Markets, and read a story map with photographs documenting the journey of timber illegally felled by La Socamba.

Environment

Want to Connect With Nature? Start by Disconnecting From Busyness

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Connect With Nature

Have you ever found yourself staring at one of your (many) devices and feeling slightly disgusted with how much time you waste on technology? If so, you aren’t alone. We all have moments like these and it’s important that we use them as motivation to change – especially if we want to be more connected with nature.

How Busyness Impacts Your Connection With Nature

Whether you realize it or not, you live an ultra connected life. Between smart phones, tablets, computers, and wearable devices, you’re never very far from some sort of technology that can connect you to the internet or put you in touch with other people. That’s just the world we live in.


While it could be argued that this sort of omnipresent connectivity is a positive thing, it’s also pretty clear that being permanently tethered to technology impacts our ability to strip away distractions and connect with nature.

When you’re always within arm’s reach of a device, you feel a sense of busyness.  Whether it’s browsing your social media feed, uploading a picture, reading the news, or responding to an email, there’s always something to do. As someone who wants to spend more time in nature, this is problematic.

4 Practical Ways to Disconnect

If you want to truly connect with nature and live a greener lifestyle, you have to be proactive about finding ways to disconnect. Here are a few practical suggestions:

1. Switch to a New Phone Plan

It’s not always practical to totally unplug from the world. Family and work responsibilities mean you can’t go off the grid and continue to fulfill your responsibilities. Having said that, there are some ways to scale back.


One suggestion is to switch to a prepaid phone plan. When you have a prepaid phone plan, you’re far less likely to spend hours and hours of your time making phone calls, sending texts, and surfing the web. It forces you to be more conscious of what you’re doing.

2. Get Rid of Social Media

Social media is one of the biggest time wasters for most people. Whether you realize it or not, it’s also a huge stressor. You’re constantly being exposed to the best snapshots of everyone else’s lives, which makes you feel like you’re missing out on something (even when you aren’t).

If you want to feel a sense of relief and free yourself up to spend more time in nature, get rid of social media. Don’t just delete the apps off your phone – actually disable your accounts. It’s a bold, yet necessary step.

3. Create Quiet Hours

If you aren’t able to get rid of social media and disable various online accounts, the next best thing you can do is establish quiet hours each day where you totally detach from technology. You should do this for a minimum of three hours per day for best results.

4. Build Community

Do you know why we’re drawn to social media and our devices? Whether consciously or subconsciously, it’s because we all want to be connected to other people. But do you know what’s better than connecting with people online? Connecting with them in person.

As you build real life, person-to-person relationships, you’ll feel less of a need to constantly have your eyes glued to a screen. Connect with other people who have an appreciation for nature and bond over your mutual interests.

Untether Your Life

If you find yourself constantly connected to a device, then this is probably a clear indicator that you aren’t living your best life. You certainly aren’t enjoying any sort of meaningful connection with nature. Now’s as good a time as any to untether your life and explore what a world free from cords, screens, and batteries is really like.

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6 Tips for an Eco-Friendly Move

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Moving can be a stressful and challenging time. No matter how many times you’ve done it in the past, the process of packing up, transporting, and unpacking isn’t very fun. It’s also not very eco-friendly. As you prepare for your next move, there are things you can do to ensure you leave less of a footprint behind.

6 Tips for a Greener Move

Because of the stress and pressure felt when moving, it’s pretty common for people to rush through the process and focus on getting it done. In fact, a lot of people take an “at all costs” approach; they’ll do whatever it takes to make the process as cheap and fast as possible. Don’t be one of those people. It doesn’t take much effort to turn a standard move into an eco-friendly move.


1. Maximize Each Trip

When moving across town, it’s imperative that you make as few trips as possible. Each trip requires more gas, more emissions, and more waste, and more time.

If you’re taking your personal vehicle, consider pulling a trailer behind it. You’d be surprised how much stuff you can fit into a small trailer. Not only will it make your move greener, but it’ll also save you a lot of time.

2. Donate Things You Don’t Want to Keep

The longer you live somewhere, the more junk you accumulate. This isn’t always obvious until you start packing for a big move. Instead of bringing all of these things with you to your next home, get rid of the stuff you don’t need! If the items are useful, donate them. If the items don’t have much value, toss them.

3. Reuse Moving Boxes

Not only are moving boxes expensive, but they’re also wasteful. If you need a bunch of cardboard boxes, consider looking around on Craigslist, asking friends, or checking the dumpsters behind stores. You can usually find a bunch of recycled boxes of all different shapes and sizes. Here are 12 places you can get them for free.


4. Get Creative With Packing

Who says you need moving boxes? You may find that it’s possible to do most of your move without all that cardboard. Things like storage containers, trashcans, filing cabinets, buckets, and dressers can all store items. Blankets and sheets can be used in lieu of bubble wrap to prevent your items from getting damaged.

5. Use Green Cleaning Supplies

Once you arrive at your new place, resist the urge to pull out a bunch of harsh chemicals to clean the place. You can do yourself (and the planet) a favor by using green cleaning supplies instead. Ingredients like vinegar, baking soda, and ammonia are great to start with.

6. Forward Your Mail ASAP

Don’t delay in forwarding your mail from your previous address to your new one. Not only is it wasteful for the Postal Service to route your mail to a place where you don’t live, but the next owner is probably just going to toss your letters in the trash.

Moving Doesn’t Have to be Wasteful

Most people only move once every few years. Some people will go a decade or more without a move. As a result, the process of moving often feels strange and new. The less experience you have with it, the less likely it is that you’ll be as efficient as you should. But instead of just diving into the process blind, take some time to learn about what an eco-friendly move looks like. That way, you can leave behind the smallest footprint possible.

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