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Teak forest exploitation, South Sudan


Newly-independent South Sudan is heavily reliant on oil as an income earner, which is why harvesting extensive teak forests, originally planted by the British in the 1940s, is seen as important in generating foreign exchange. Large land concessions have already been granted to foreign companies to harvest the teak. Of these, two of the largest are a 50,000 hectare natural forest concession to Central Equatoria Teak Company (CETC) and 18,640 hectares (1,319 hectares of which are under teak)[1] to Equatoria Teak Company (ETC). There have been years of local opposition to the deals, signed in 2007, because of a lack of consultation. Although there has not been displacement, there are reports that suggest the government wants people to be moved from forestry areas. The CETC agreement stipulates the payment of $200,000 into a social fund plus $155 per m^3 of teak exported. The ETC agreement also involves a $200,000 social fund amount (ETCs website, however, says under the terms of its concession agreement they have contributed $70,000) plus $110 per m^3 of teak exported. Government officials have expressed dissatisfaction with these amounts compared to the price that Sudanese teak, considered to be of the highest quality in Africa, earns on international markets[2]. The concessions have an interesting history involving the development department of the British and Finnish governments. As reported by the Oakland Institute, the Commonwealth Development Corporation (CDC), whose sole shareholder is the UK Department for International Development, and the Finnish Fund for Development Cooperation (Finnfund) held majority interests in Equatoria Teak Company and Central Equatoria Teak Company. They later sold their interests to unnamed investors, but as the Oakland Institute points out, the implication is that the Government of South Sudan entered into the investment because they believed CDC and Finnfund were responsible investors. Having divested, there is no guarantee that new investors are as committed to sustainable development. However, Oakland acknowledges some benefits, citing job creation (a Forest Stewardship Council report indicated ETC was employing 246 people, 98 percent of whom were from the local population) and that the wood is processed onsite. But there have also been complaints that expectations of large amounts of jobs have not been fulfilled and that existing jobs are poorly paid[3].

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Teak forest exploitation, South Sudan
Country:South Sudan
State or province:Western Equatoria
(municipality or city/town)Nzara
Accuracy of locationLOW (Country level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict: 1st level:Biomass and Land Conflicts (Forests, Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock Management)
Type of conflict: 2nd level :Land acquisition conflicts
Plantation conflicts (incl. Pulp
Specific commodities:Teak
Project Details and Actors
Project details:

Processed timber (teak) can retail at prices from $750 per cubic meter to $1,500 per cubic meter[1].

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Project area:68600
Level of Investment:N/A
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:N/A
Start of the conflict:2007
Company names or state enterprises:Equatoria Teak Company from United Kingdom
Central Equatoria Teak Company from United Kingdom
Maris Capital from United Kingdom
Relevant government actors:Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Investment, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Ministry of Environment
International and Finance InstitutionsU.K. Department for International Development (DFID) from United Kingdom
Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)
US Agency for International Development (USAID)
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Generation Agency for Development and Transformation-Pentagon (GADET- Pentagon), South Sudan Law Society (SSLS), Oakland Institute, Norwegian Peoples Aid
Conflict and Mobilization
IntensityLOW (some local organising)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Indigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Forms of mobilization:Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Official complaint letters and petitions
Impacts of the project
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Potential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil erosion
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment
Potential: displacement, Loss of livelihood, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Migration/displacement
Strengthening of participation
New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
Cancellation of the concession agreement.
Development of alternatives:Teaching local farmers agro-forestry, promoting afforestation and giving smallholder farmers equity in the venture have all been suggested as possibilities.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:There are reports of dissatisfaction with the amount of money that South Sudan will get out of the deals, lack of consultation with the local community and poor wages and working conditions. Recently, the CETC project has lost its FSC certification but it is not clear what the reasons behind this were [4].
Sources and Materials
Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

Investment Promotion Act (2009)

Land Act (2009)

Draft Land Policy (2011)

The Local Government Act (2009)

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

[1] Ferrie, Jared (2013). South Sudan to Start Teak Exports to Cut Dependence on Oil. Available at: Accessed 10 February 2013.
[click to view]

[2] Norwegian Peoples Aid (2011). The New Frontier. Available at: Accessed 7 February 2013.
[click to view]

[3] Oakland Institute (2011). Understanding land investment deals in Africa: South Sudan. Available at: Accessed 13 February 2013.
[click to view]

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

[4] Is All Well In The Teak Forests Of South Sudan? – By Aly Verjee
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Standard Group Kenya (2013). South Sudan to export teak tree. Available at: Accessed 14 February 2013.
[click to view]

UNMISTV (2011). UNcover Sudan Show 6 - Teak. Available at: Accessed 14 February 2013.
[click to view]

Flickr (2011). Ngari Norways Photostream. Available at: Accessed 14 February 2013.
[click to view]



Meta information
Contributor:Patrick Burnett
Last update08/04/2014