In 1987, Shell started preparations for a 17,600 ha eucalypt plantation. The trees were to be exported as wood chips to the pulp and paper industries of Taiwan, Korea and Japan. Shell chose the site for the USD 70 million project for two reasons: its proximity to Laem Chabang deep-sea port in Rayong province, and because the 800 families living on the land had no formal land-use rights. In the terminology of the Royal Forest Department (RFD), they were “squatters”. Although the RFD jumped at the opportunity to hand over “degraded forest” to a commercial eucalypt plantation, and approved Shell’s request to plant the land, the Thai cabinet also had to approve the project. In 1990, Shell was forced to drop the plantation proposal as protests increased and scandals forced delays in governmental approval for the project. RFD officials warned villagers of forcible eviction, houses were burned down, and villagers were arrested for forest encroachment. Villagers meanwhile burned down eucalypts in experimental plantation plots. In 1988, after the governor of Chanthaburi opposed the project, unknown gunmen fired at his house, apparently in an attempt to persuade him to drop his opposition to the scheme.