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Oil palm and National Park Jeannette Kawas, Honduras

Jeanette Kawas was murdered on 6 February 1995. Kawas opposed planting oil palm in protected areas and illegal logging. She is known as the first environmental martyr of Honduras.


Jeanette Kawas was an environmentalist. A national park in Honduras is named after her. The park was originally named Punta Sal National Park, but the name was changed to Jeanette Kawas National Park in honour of Jeanette Kawas, an environmental activist and PROLANSATE president who was murdered on February 6, 1995 for her work trying to keep the palm plantations out of the park. The park is included in the Ramsar Convention List of Wetlands of International Importance and was designated as such on March 28, 1995. Jeannette Kawas was an accountant by training but her concept of value was broader than any balance sheet. Probably no number could capture for her the natural wealth she saw in the forests, rivers, beaches and mangrove swamps of Punta Sal, near her hometown of Tela in northern Honduras. In the 1980s, cattle ranchers, resort developers and loggers all wanted a slice of this landscape. As their hunger grew, Kawas formed an environmental organization, PROLANSATE, to protect the land, and in 1994, it convinced the government to allow it to create and manage a new national park there.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Oil palm and National Park Jeannette Kawas, Honduras
State or province:Atlántida
Location of conflict:Bahía de Tela
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Biodiversity conservation conflicts
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Plantation conflicts (incl. Pulp
Agro-fuels and biomass energy plants
Land acquisition conflicts
Establishment of reserves/national parks
Specific commodities:Palm oil
Project Details and Actors
Project details

There were attempts to take timber from the area and also to start oil palm plantations. The zone is now a natural Park and Ramsar site named after Jeannete Kawas.

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Project area:7,8162
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:80,000
Start of the conflict:1990
Company names or state enterprises:Hondupalma Company (Hondupalma) from Honduras
Relevant government actors:Government of Honduras, Secretaría de Recursos Naturales y Ambiente (SERNA)
Instituto de Conservación Forestal (ICF)
International and Finance InstitutionsRamsar convention
Inter-American Court of Human Rights (CIDH)
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL), Equipo de Reflexión, Investigación y Comunicación de la Compañía de Jesús en Honduras (ERIC), Protección de Lancetilla, Punta Sal y Texiguat (PROLANSATE),
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Forms of mobilization:Development of a network/collective action
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Violations of human rights
Project StatusStopped
Conflict outcome / response:Criminalization of activists
Deaths, Assassinations, Murders
New legislation
Project cancelled
Jeanette Kawas was murdered on February 6, 1995
Proposal and development of alternatives:Declaration of Ramsar site for the Jeanette Kawas National Park
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Yes
Briefly explain:La Fundación para la Protección de Lancetilla, Punta Sal y Texiguat PROLANSATE, was born in 1990, from a group of people from Tela, members of the Asociación Hondureña de Ecología (AHE); Jeannette Kawas and Andrew Stoll took the initiative. At the cost of her life, the destruction of the site was stopped, it is now a National Park and Ramsar site.
Sources & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

American Convention on Human Rights
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References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Inter-American Court of Human Rights Case of Kawas-Fernández vrs. Honduras Judgment of April 3, 2009
[click to view]

Caso Jeannette Kawas: Estado de Honduras incumple varios puntos de la sentencia, 13 Marzo 201
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[1] Honduras no quiere bosques, quiere aceite de palma
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Fundación para la Protección de Punta Sal, Lancetilla y Texiguat
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Documentary, "Los árboles mueren de pie"
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Grettel Navas and SM (ICTA-UAB)
Last update22/08/2017
Conflict ID:1463
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