The world’s rainforests are home to around 50 per cent of all land animals and plants. They are also important to mitigate climate change because they absorb carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and binds it (they function as so-called carbon sinks). Mining, illegal and unsustainable logging, the conversion of forest into agricultural land and large-scale animal husbandry are some of the causes of the destruction of tropical rainforest. Seventeen per cent of the Amazon rainforest has been destroyed in the past 50 years.
Source: FAO, 2016
Tropical forestry is a high-risk sector because logging typically affects individual forests as well as the rights and livelihoods of local and indigenous people in nearby areas. Swedwatch has investigated the effects of activities of logging companies in Cameroon. Forest clearance to make way for rubber plantations of Asian and domestic companies have resulted in villagers being driven from their homes and human rights being abused. Logging conducted by a Dutch and a French company to produce timber affected villagers’ access to water and opportunities to hunt and conduct small-scale farming. Representatives of indigenous people claimed that their ability to support themselves from the forest’s resources had worsened. Logging companies operating in tropical countries are encouraged to carry out risk- and impact analyses in terms of human rights and environmental impact (so-called due diligence). Companies that buy tropical timber are called on to ensure that their suppliers have carried out such analyses.
The local population claims that a key reason for the reduction of animal life are the roads that the logging companies have built that cut through the forest. “Now, poachers can drive into the forest on the new roads without being seen, and they hire local hunters and give them weapons to hunt the wild animals,” a villager tells Swedwatch.
The indigenous Baka in Cameroon depend on hunting and gathering plants and other products from the woods for their survival. Logging and large-scale agricultural plantations now encroach on their areas. Photo: Swedwatch