Tumring logging and rubber concessions, Kampong Thom province, Cambodia

“From tapping resin to tapping rubber”: The Tumring rubber concession marked a new era of Cambodian land use policy. Under the guise of development, an agrarian transition was forced and a large-scale illegal logging operation was established.


“Our people have been transformed from rice and slash-and-burn farmers into workers and owners of the family rubber plantation. A collector of wood resin with unstable income has become a rubber plantation worker in the community who can generate adequate, stable revenue to support his or her own family.” These were the words with which Prime Minister Hun Sen inaugurated the contentious Tumring Rubber concession in August 2001 and promised to bring an end to the villagers’ conflicts with the logging companies active in the area. What the villagers did not know at that time was that the Tumring rubber concession was not the end, but rather the beginning of a new era of the timber business. Under the guise of agricultural development and poverty reduction, the concession turned the area into a massive centre of large-scale illegal logging [1,2].

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Basic Data
NameTumring logging and rubber concessions, Kampong Thom province, Cambodia
ProvinceKampong Thom
SiteTumring commune
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local 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
Logging and non timber extraction
Specific CommoditiesLand
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsThe Tumring commune consists of 8 villages: Tum Ar, Roneam, Ronteah, Samrong, Sror Lao Srong, Khaos, Leng, and Kbal Damrei [1].

About 6,200 ha were excluded from the previous logging concessions (Colexim Enterprise -3,577ha, GAT International - 2,181ha, and Mien Ly Heng - 442ha) in order to establish the Tumring Rubber concession [2]. 4,359ha of the area were granted later to the state-owned Chup company [1;2;3]. 912 ha of land was allocated to people leaving on the concession area. 929 ha of land was reserved to be distributed to families for small-scale rubber growing [1;4].

Seng Keang Import Export Company was awarded exclusive rights to collect and process all timber cut in the Tumring plantation. They received permission to establish a sawmill in the area, despite that this was illegal [2].

Colexim enterprise was owned by Japanese enterprise Okada, by the Cambodian government and by Cambodian businessman Oknha So Sovann. According to Global Witness, the company has a well-document track record of illegal logging and use of violence against villagers [2].

Different strategies were used to obscure logging and timber trade. Seng Keang Import Export Company Ltd. was alleged to transport illegal logs out of the concession area during night in earth moving trucks [1]. Some trucks appeared as banana trucks [2], others had “firewood collection permits” [2]. Colexim used banana trucks to conceal wood transports [1].

In 2004, 2,600 people were living in the 8 villages affected by the rubber plantation.
Project Area (in hectares)6,200
Level of Investment (in USD)unknown
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population2,600 most directly affected
Start Date2000
Company Names or State EnterprisesChup Rubber Plantation Company from Cambodia - rubber plantation and logging
Colexim Enterprise from Cambodia - logging
GAT International (GAT) from Cambodia - logging
Mien Ly Heng - logging
Seng Keang Import Export Company Ltd. from Cambodia - timber trade
Kingwood Factory from Cambodia - wood processing
Okada from Japan - parent company
Relevant government actorsKampong Thom Forestry office

Kampong Thom Provincial Department of Agriculture

General Directorate for Rubber Plantation (GDRP)

Ministry of Agriculture

Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen was a supporter of the Tumring rubber project.
Environmental justice organisations and other supporterslocal NGOs

NGO Forum (https://www.ngoforum.org.kh/)

Global Witness (https://www.globalwitness.org/)
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)HIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Local ejos
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Kuy indigenous
Forms of MobilizationBlockades
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Land occupation
Official complaint letters and petitions
Street protest/marches
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Soil erosion, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Potential: Soil contamination, Waste overflow, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality
Health ImpactsVisible: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..)
Potential: Malnutrition, Health problems related to alcoholism, prostitution
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement, Increase in violence and crime, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Militarization and increased police presence, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..), Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Violations of human rights
Potential: Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCompensation
Strengthening of participation
Violent targeting of activists
Murder of a Ronteah resident by a Colexim security guard
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.The project had negative impacts far beyond the planned concession activities. It could not be stopped.
Sources and Materials

Cambodia's land law and related regulatory frameworks
[click to view]

2002 Law on Forestry. Royal Government of Cambodia, Phnom Penh.
[click to view]


[2] Global Witness (2007). "Cambodia's Family Trees: Illegal logging and the stripping of public assets

by Cambodia’s elite". A report by Global Witness, June 2007
[click to view]

[4] Yem Dararath, Neth Top and Vuthy Lic (2011). "Rubber Plantation Development in Cambodia:

At What Cost?" The Economy and Environment Program for Southeast Asia (EEPSEA).
[click to view]

[1] Cock, Andrew (2004). "Forest destruction and poverty reduction: The Tum Ring rubber plantation". Watershed Vol 9. No 3. page 30-39
[click to view]

[3] NGO Forum (2005). "A Study of the Impacts of Rubber Plantation Development in Tum Ring, Cambodia". Report
[click to view]


Foto blog on the Tumring concession by John Vink
[click to view]

Media Links

Video extract about the Tumring concession (from: CAMBODIA: ILLEGAL LOGGING BY CAMBODIA's ELITE)
[click to view]

Video extract about logging in the Tumring area (from: CAMBODIA: ILLEGAL LOGGING BY CAMBODIA's ELITE)
[click to view]

Other Documents

Timber transports Source: Global Witness 2007 (see reference [2])
[click to view]

Tumring rubber plantation Source: REDD-monitor. http://www.redd-monitor.org/2016/04/22/i-am-chut-wutty-new-film-banned-in-cambodia/
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorEJatlas Southeast Asia Team (ejatlas.asia"at"gmail.com)
Last update29/10/2017