Nigerian villagers to starve, fall ill, for French tires

Twenty-thousand villagers in southwestern Nigeria face starvation and disease epidemics because their forest and lands have been taken from them in an illegal deal and bulldozed for rubber plantations. Their women are asking us to help with our signatures.


The French transnational corporation Michelin, the world’s second largest producer of tires, was granted rights to more than 3,500 hectares of land in Nigeria’s Iguobazuwa Forest Reserve, including individual and communal farmlands. There was no consultation with local communities.


Iguobazuwa Forest Reserve, located in Edo State in southwestern Nigeria, used to be described as one of the forest and biodiversity-rich regions of Nigeria. More than 20,000 farming people live around Iguobazuwa. They depend on the forest for their daily livelihoods and used to have land to farm around the forests.


When Michelin arrived, it bulldozed the 3,500 hectares of forests and the people’s farmlands. From one day to the next both sources of their livelihood – their forest and farmlands – were completely destroyed. Iguobazuwa communities lost everything.


Communities face serious threats from food shortages and health risks due to an outbreak of epidemics as a result of the extinction of local medicinal plants, resulting from Michelin’s destruction of their forests.


Various members of the communities have made many attempts to make their voices heard, to no avail.


Women, tired of being passive, have decided to raise their voices and make their demands heard by the authorities and Michelin and are determined to get their lands back.


The women say they won’t stop protesting until their land is given back, every tree felled is replanted and full compensation for the crops destroyed is given. They know it is not an easy path and that they need international support.


Please sign up ( to send the following letter prepared by the World Rainforest Movement (WRM) to the Nigerian government and to Michelin’s offices, enclosed below:



NO tires at the expense of forests and people’s livelihoods


Protest letter

-      Honourable Minister, Federal Ministry of Environment, Housing and Urban Development, Nigeria.

-      Honourable Minister, Federal Ministry of Agriculture & Water Resources, Nigeria.

-      Chairman, Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nigeria.

-      Chairman, House Committee on Environment, Federal House of Representatives, Nigeria.

-      Governor Adams Oshiomhole, Edo state, Nigeria.

-      Chairman, House Committee on Environment, Edo state House of Assembly, Nigeria.


With copy to:

-      The Director, Michelin Nigeria Limited, Nigeria.



Dear Sir/Madam,


I am deeply concerned about the recent deforestation of more than 3,500 hectares of land at the Iguobazuwa Forest Reserve located in Ovia South West Local Government Area of Edo state, Nigeria.


I have been informed that this land was allocated without due process on the eve of former Governor Lucky Igbinedion’s exit from office (29th May, 2007), to the France-based company Michelin to set up rubber plantations (they also own the Osse River Rubber Estate Company). The decision was taken without consulting the more than 20,000 people in communities surrounding Iguobazuwa Forest Reserve, whose lives and livelihoods depend on those forests and forest lands.


The company entered the area and bulldozed not only the 3,500 hectares of forest but also individual and local communities’ farmlands which were their main source of food. Local communities are now facing serious threats linked both to food shortages and to an outbreak of epidemics as a result of the extinction of local medicinal plants destroyed by Michelin’s conversion of their forests to rubber plantations.


With this letter I would like to express my strong condemnation to Michelin for destroying these people’s livelihoods. At the same time, we request the Nigerian government including the current Governor of Edo state under the leadership of Adams Oshiomhole to review the sale of Iguobazuwa forest reserve, to support the local people’s demands and to make Michelin give their lands back to them, replant every tree felled and pay full compensation to all the affected community people whose crops were destroyed.


Looking forward to your answer.


Yours sincerely,