Last update:

Bioshape Kilwa Jatropha Project, Tanzania


The Dutch company BioShape acquired a 50-year lease in 2006 for 81,000 ha of bio-diverse land in the Tanzanian Kilwa district to cultivate jatropha at a site located to the north of the Mavuji river, about 20km inland from Kilwa Masoko. It planned to sell biodiesel to the European Union market on the back of an EU Renewable Energy Directive that set a 10 per cent binding target for use of renewable energy in the transport sector by 2020. Huge tracts of land were cleared, much of it ecologically sensitive woodland. But one of the main investors in BioShape, Eneco Energie BV, pulled out in early 2009. In November 2009, the company ceased operations[2]. Areas of dispute stretch back to the beginning of the project, with allegations of irregularities in the Environmental Impact Assessment. Other concerns were around food security, because people left farming to work for Bioshape, where there were complaints of long working hours and poor pay. There were also concerns about the level of compensation paid for land as payments did not meet expectations. Furthermore, there were allegations that Bioshape was more interested in the land for its timber value as timber from forests cleared was exported.

See more
Basic Data
Name of conflict:Bioshape Kilwa Jatropha Project, Tanzania
State or province:Lindi Region
Location of conflict:Kilwa district
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 :Deforestation
Land acquisition conflicts
Agro-fuels and biomass energy plants
Logging and non timber extraction
Specific commodities:
Project Details and Actors
Project details:

According to figures quoted by Inter Press Services, which the agency said came from a confidential business plan, Bioshape expected to earn up to $6 to 7-million in profits from logging and to use this money to partly subsidise its biofuel project. About 225 cubic metres of miombo timber was harvested from 70 hectares. The Bioshape concession included between 200,000 and 800,000 cubic metres of wood worth $50-150-million[4]. Bioshape estimated that it would employ 10,000 people, 3,000 from outside the district[6]. In terms of compensation, BioShape gave local authorities US$676,000, but only 40 per cent of this amount reached the farmers, with the rest going to the local government authority. Despite claims that biofuels could reduce carbon dioxide emissions, critics noted that the EIA had no life cycle analysis or evidence that cutting down forests, replacing it with jatropha and transporting it to Europe would result in carbon dioxide emission reductions.

See more
Project area:81000
Level of Investment:9600000
Type of populationRural
Start of the conflict:2006
Company names or state enterprises:Bioshape
Bio-Shape Tanzania Limited from Tanzania
Kempen and Co - a merchant bank
Eneco Energy
Relevant government actors:Ministry for Lands and Human Settlement, Ministry of Agriculture Tanzania, Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism Tanzania, National Environmental Management Council
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Land Rights Research and Resources Institute, WWF, Resource Extraction Monitoring (REM), Independent Monitor of Forest Law Enforcement and, Governance in Tanzania, Tanzania Forest Conservation Group
Conflict and Mobilization
IntensityLOW (some local organising)
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:Involvement of national and international NGOs
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Impacts of the project
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Health ImpactsPotential: Malnutrition
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Specific impacts on women, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusStopped
Conflict outcome / response:Environmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
Withdrawal of company/investment
It has been suggested that land acquired by BioShape should be transferred back to village level under the Village Land Act, 1999[1].
Development of alternatives:Instead of following an approach that seeks to attract foreign investors to the agricultural sector, activists believe the government should facilitate the development of the pastoral sector[1].
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:While Bioshape has ceased operations in the area, outstanding issues include complaints about compensation and the clearing of forests. This project is an example of how biofuel projects - which often claim job creation potential - have failed to deliver.
Sources and Materials
Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

National Biofuel Guidelines

Village Land Act, 1999

Land Act 1999

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

[1] Land Rights Research and Resources Institute (2010). Accumulation by land dispossession and labour devaluation in Tanzania. Available at . Accessed 29 January 2013.
[click to view]

[2] Friends of the Earth International (2010). Jatropha: money doesnt grow on trees. Available at Accessed 29 January 2013.
[click to view]

[3] Independent Monitor of Forest Law Enforcement and Governance in Tanzania (2009). Available at: Accessed 29 January 2013.
[click to view]

[4] Valentino, Stefano (2011). Tanzanias biofuel projects promise proves barren. Available at: Accessed 29 January 2013.
[click to view]

[6] Broadhurst, Tom (2011). Biofuels and Sustainability: A Case Study from Tanzania. Available at: Accessed 3 February 2013.
[click to view]

[5] Peter G. Veit, Mercedes Stickler, Candy Schibli and Catherine Easton (2012). Biofuel Investments Threaten Local Land Rights in Tanzania. Available at: Accessed 29 January 2013.
[click to view]

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

wa Simbeye, Finnigan (2010). This Dutch firm is cheating on biofuels. Available at Accessed 29 January 2013.
[click to view]

World Wide Fund for Nature (2009). Biofuel Industry Study, Tanzania. Available at: Accessed 3 February 2013.
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

See for a number of photos related to the project. Accessed 3 February 2013.
[click to view]


Meta information
Contributor:Patrick Burnett
Last update08/04/2014
Legal notice / Aviso legal
We use cookies for statistical purposes and to improve our services. By clicking "Accept cookies" you consent to place cookies when visiting the website. For more information, and to find out how to change the configuration of cookies, please read our cookie policy. Utilizamos cookies para realizar el análisis de la navegación de los usuarios y mejorar nuestros servicios. Al pulsar "Accept cookies" consiente dichas cookies. Puede obtener más información, o bien conocer cómo cambiar la configuración, pulsando en más información.