For rent: "830,000 hectares of pristine tropical rainforest. Rich in wildlife, including forest elephants and gorillas. Provides a regionally important African green corridor. Price: $1.6m a year. Conservationist tenant preferred, but extractive forestry also considered. Please apply to the Cameroonian minister of forestry."
This offer by the government of Cameroon has been on the table since 2001, but they haven't found any takers from the conservation side yet. If nobody steps up, the forest of Ngoyla-Mintom will probably be leased to logging companies.
The WWF has proposed a compromise - keeping an unexploited core of Ngoyla-Mintom while the rest is opened to limited "sustainable" hunting and forestry - but it is not clear yet if it will be accepted.Joseph Matta, the country's forestry minister, points out that even the limited forestry that the WWF proposes would mean building roads that will present additional threats to the area, so it is not ideal.
The idea of conservation concessions has been around since 2000. It was introduced by an American charity called Conservation International, which realised the going rate for logging concessions was often so low that it could afford to outbid the foresters. It has since leased forests in Guyana—where it has 80,000 hectares of Upper Essequibo—and in Peru, Sierra Leone, Papua New Guinea, Fiji and Mexico.
Anybody with deep pockets reading this? Any org that can organize fund-raising on the internet?