Last update:

Shell plantation, Thailand


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.

Basic Data
Name of conflict:Shell plantation, Thailand
State or province:Chanthaburi province
Location of conflict:Khun Song forest reserve
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
Land acquisition conflicts
Specific commodities:Eucalyptus
Project Details and Actors
Project details

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.

Project area:17,600
Level of Investment for the conflictive project70,000,000
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:800 families
Start of the conflict:1987
End of the conflict:1990
Company names or state enterprises:Royal Dutch Shell (Shell) from Netherlands
Relevant government actors:Royal Forest Department
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:None
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Local government/political parties
Forms of mobilization:Street protest/marches
Property damage/arson
Burning of eucalyptus plantations
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Food insecurity (crop damage)
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Loss of livelihood, Land dispossession, Displacement
Project StatusStopped
Conflict outcome / response:Criminalization of activists
Violent targeting of activists
Project cancelled
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Yes
Briefly explain:Mobilizations (and the winning over of sectors of the government) forced Shell to stop the project.
Sources & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

Community Forest Bill

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Carrere, R., and L. Lohmann, 1996. Pulping the South: industrial tree plantations and the global paper economy. London: Zed Books.

Lang, C., 2002. The pulp invasion: the international pulp and paper industry in the Mekong region. Montevideo: World Rainforest Movement.

Lang, C., 2008. Plantations, poverty and power: Europe’s role in the expansion of the pulp industry in the South. Montevideo: World Rainforest Movement.

Lohmann, L., 1991. Peasants, plantations and pulp: the politics of eucalyptus in Thailand. Bulletin of Concerned Asian Scholars, 23 (4): 3-17.

Pulp Invasion in Thailand, WRM
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:J.-F. Gerber
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:1216
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