The Greenpeace ship, “MV Esperanza”, on Friday, October 13, 2017 docked at the port of Douala in Cameroon on the first leg of its tour in Central Africa. For four weeks, the Esperanza will sail through the waters of Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the Republic of Congo to engage with local communities and raise awareness on the importance of the Congo Basin forest. The tour has been named “Give the Congo Basin forest a chance”.
“By bringing our ship to Central Africa and in Cameroon for the first time, Greenpeace Africa seeks to emphasise its commitment to working with local communities and stakeholders in addressing issues of industrial agriculture and logging that have plagued the Congo Basin region for decades,” said Lindlyn Moma, Greenpeace Africa Programme Director.
The Congo Basin forest is the second largest rainforest in the world. More than 75 million people and a wide range of endangered species depend on it for survival. However, logging and exploitative agribusiness has often contributed to forest loss and land grabbing. This often means local and indigenous communities loss the customary rights to their lands to logging companies.
During the ship tour, local communities will undertake a range of activities to show their support for the protection of the Congo Basin forest. Greenpeace Africa will seek to amplify these voices locally and internationally. The voices of these communities will be heard in the form of traditional dances, forest fashion parade and a wish tree capturing wishes of communities for their forest. These wishes will be handed to world leaders meeting in Bonn, Germany during the COP23 climate change conference. Open boats and guided tours of the ship will also be available to the public.
“We are excited about the opportunity to engage with Cameroonians on the issue of forest protection. Forest destruction is a major threat to the global environment which depends on the Congo Basin forest to regulate carbon compound in our atmosphere. It is imperative that collaboration between the states be reinforced to promote land use planning. We also must encourage ecotourism and community forestry to guarantee the protection of our forest for present and future generations,” said Sylvie Djacbou, Greenpeace Africa Forest Campaigner.
For the next four weeks, Greenpeace’s Esperanza will host stakeholders in the region to increase the urgency required to deal with the current unsustainable approach to forest management. These activities will also help imbue a sense of pride and conservation in the youths of the region.