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Golden Agri Resources/Golden Veroleum Palm Oil Plantations, Sinoe, Liberia

Expansion of large Palm Oil Plantations in south-eastern Liberian rainforest at the expense of livelihood, sacred sites of local communities, without their previous consent.


A partnership between Golden Agri Resources (GAR) (through Golden Veroleum, a subsidiary of the New York-based Verdant Fund LP) and the Government of Liberia was announced in August 2010. The concession is located in Sinoe County and is for 220,000 ha, with an additional 40,000 ha for small holder (out-grower) plantations. GAR is the world’s second-largest palm-oil plantation company, with a total planted area of 464,600 ha in Indonesia. The terms of the contract, which are valid for 65 years (with an option to extend an additional 33) are for palm oil plantations, out-grower schemes, and the construction of a new port, but is written in such a way that do not provide for the protection of human rights or adherence to RSPO commitments. In October 2012 Green Advocates, an NGO, filed a case against the company for non-compliance with the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) for a variety of grievances on behalf of communities in Sinoe County (including polluting water, bulldozing ancestral graves, and forced relocation). According to the Forest People’s Programme they have gathered evidence on places where crops were destroyed, shrines were desecrated, villages uprooted and burial grounds and graves sites destroyed, as well as several sites where wetlands including rivers, marshlands, swamps, streams and creeks have been dammed or diverted and polluted. The Forest Trust (TFT) conducted an assessment in January of 2013, found merit in the complaints, and halted development activity until terms that were agreed upon by the company, the auditor (TFT), and NGOs involved had reached certain benchmarks.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Golden Agri Resources/Golden Veroleum Palm Oil Plantations, Sinoe, Liberia
State or province:Sinoe, Grand Kru, Maryland Counties
Location of conflict:Plusunnie, Pynes Town, Kilo Town, Dejila, Solo Village, Bukrah, Saklaboh, Bloh,Pluoh,Farley town, Soweh, Jaryenneh, Tuoh, Teah Town, Klay Tow,Butaw Compound, Otis Village
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Biomass and Land Conflicts (Forests, Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock Management)
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Plantation conflicts (incl. Pulp
Wetlands and coastal zone management
Land acquisition conflicts
Specific commodities:Palm oil
Project Details and Actors
Project details

The company Golden Veroleum (GVL) advertises it will produce over 1 million tons of palm oil, directly employ 40,000 people, and develop infrastructure. 220,000 ha are leased to GVL, plus an additional 40,000 ha for out-growers to cultivate oil palm, but as of April 2013 only 6,000 ha were planted. The surrounding 100 ha around the port is also the property of GVL. 5% by volume was to be sold domestically at local market rates – therefore allowing 95% of the product to be exported.

Project area:220,000
Level of Investment for the conflictive projectcould reach 1,600,000,000
Type of populationRural
Start of the conflict:16/08/2010
Company names or state enterprises:Golden Agri Resources (GAR) from Singapore - through Golden Veroleum, a subsidiary of the New York-based Verdant Fund LP
Golden Veroleum Inc from Liberia
Verdant Fund LP
Relevant government actors:Government of Liberia, Minister of Agriculture, Minister of Finance, Chairman of the National Investment Commission
International and Finance InstitutionsThe Forest Trust (TFT)
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:The Forest Trust,, Green Advocates,, Forest People Programme,
Global Witness, Global Forest Watch, Sustainable Development Institute, Rainforest Rescue
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Local ejos
Forms of mobilization:Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment
Economic valuation: "in 2015 Global Witness commissioned a study to provide the Government of Liberia and affected communities much-needed data about who might win and who might lose as a result of a plantation. This study was undertaken by Sync Consult Limited, a Ghanaian economic consultancy, and focused on the Golden Veroleum Liberia (GVL) oil palm plantation in South-East Liberia".[1]
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Other socio-economic impacts, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures
Potential: Loss of landscape/sense of place
Other socio-economic impactsDestruction of sacred sites. "Palm oil giant Golden Veroleum (GVL) has bulldozed religious sites in southeast Liberia and has paid police armed with assault rifles to protect its plantations, a new Global Witness exposé has revealed. "(Oct. 2016)
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Criminalization of activists
Under negotiation
Application of existing regulations
The Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) found merit in the complaints of the NGOs, especially those which detailed the violation of RSPOs New Planting Procedure, and halted development until reparations were implemented.
Proposal and development of alternatives:Free Prior and Informed consent: Abide by Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) New Planting Procedures and RSPO Principles and Criteria as pledged
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:Although grievances were lodged and the company seems to be addressing them, it is evident communities have already suffered irreparable damage and the political atmosphere will allow future developments to continue.
Sources & Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Golden Veroleum Liberia, 2013, 'GVL Status Report to RSPO'
[click to view]

Forest Peoples Program, 'Human rights-based analysis of the agricultural concession agreements between Sime Darby and Colden Veroleum and the Government of Liberia'
[click to view]

Golden Agri-Resources Ltd, 'Preserving the Present, Ensuring the Future: Sustainability report 2012'
[click to view]

Filings/2013/GAR Sustainability Report 2012.pdf
[click to view]

complaint to RSPO on Golden Veroleum- Butaw-sinoe county (2).pdf
[click to view]

on Oil Palm Liberia_November 2012.pdf
[click to view]

Forest Peoples Program, 2012, 'Letter of Complaint to RSPO'
[click to view]

Forest People's Program, 'Statement and Declaration by Affected Community members from Sime Darby and Golden Veroleum Concessions'
[click to view]

[1] Will big plantations help Liberians? New economic study shows costs outweigh benefits, Global Witness, October 19, 2016
[click to view]

'Asian interest boosts Liberia palm oil hopes' http:///post/view/14877
[click to view]

All Africa, 'Liberia Intervenes to Resolve Land, Rights Disputes With Agriculture Concessionaires'
[click to view]

'Liberia: GOL, Golden Veroleum in US 1.6bn negotiation'
[click to view]

George D. Kennedy, Liberia: GOL, Golden Veroleum in US$1.6bn negotiation, FarmLandGrab, January 12, 2010
[click to view]

Kevin Brown, Asian interest boosts Liberia palm oil hopes, Golden Agri close to investing in huge plantation project, Financial Times, August 17, 2010
[click to view]

Temples and Guns, Global witness Report, October 2016
[click to view]

Jeremy Hance, America Aguilera, Le projet d’autoriser la vente du bois des concessions d’huile de palme crée l’inquiétude au Libéria, Mongabay, November 15, 2016
[click to view]

Clair MacDougall, Liberia: the growth of a new palm oil frontier, The Guardian, October 20, 2016
[click to view]

Jeremy Hance, Proposed sale of timber from palm oil concession sparks alarm in Liberia, Mongabay, September 2016
[click to view]

CASE TRACKER « Golden Veroleum Liberia », Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil
[click to view]

The new Snake Oil?, Global witness Report, July 23, 2015
[click to view]

Data on Liberia Rainforest, Global Forest Watch
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Documentary trailer “The Land Beneath our feet”
[click to view]

Other comments:Flamengo International, the holding for the Widjaja Family of Indonesia, owns 50% of GAR.
Forest People’s Programme Complaint Letter: “We have gathered evidence and are prepared to show you places where crops were destroyed, shrines were desecrated, villages uprooted and burial grounds and
graves sites denigrated… In addition to the above, there are several sites where wetlands including rivers, marshlands, swamps, streams and creeks have been dammed or diverted and polluted.'
Meta information
Contributor:Aliza Tuttle and Camila Rolando
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:109
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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