MAC Oil Palm plantation and timber logging, Tanintharyi region, Myanmar

Tanintharyi's largest palm oil concession facilitates timber extraction. Affected villagers and civil society groups demand the return of their customary lands and forests.


Description

Land reserved for oil palm plantations has increased rapidly in Myanmar, particularly in the Southern Tanintharyi Region. Following the 2012 ceasefire agreement between the Myanmar government and the Karen National Union (KNU), many former conflict zones became attractive for (foreign) investment. Between 2011 and 2016, no less than 1,9 million acres (ca. 769,000 ha) were reportedly granted to oil palm companies. However, only a small share of the land is actually developed into plantations, while parts of the remaining concession areas seems to be used for timber logging [1]. The Myanmar Auto Corporation (MAC) has received the largest oil palm concession in the Tanintharyi region, Myanmar. The concession covering 133,600 acres (ca. 54,000 ha) has caused deep conflicts with customary users over land grabbing, environmental change and deforestation. Affected villagers, together with a group of civil society organizations documented the impacts and the arising conflict in the report “Behind the Oil Palm: Consequences of international investment into oil palm plantations”, published in March 2018 (see [2]).

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Basic Data
NameMAC Oil Palm plantation and timber logging, Tanintharyi region, Myanmar
CountryMyanmar
ProvinceTanintharyi region
SitePyigyimandaing Subtownship, Kawthaung District
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
Deforestation
Plantation conflicts (incl. Pulp
Logging and non timber extraction
Specific CommoditiesLand
Timber
Palm oil
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsThe Myanmar Auto Corporation (MAC), is a joint venture of South Korean Auto Industrial Co. Ltd (AIC) (51%), and Singapore-based Resources & Resource Pte Ltd (R & R Pte Ltd. ) (49%) [1]. MAC was registered as a company in 2011 through the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation and received later a permission for the establishment of oil palm plantations and a processing plant though the Myanmar Investment Committee (MIC). It was reported to be the first 100% foreign investment in the oil palm sector. (For a history of the company establishment, see [2]).

An investigation by civil society groups and the NGO Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) found that the extracted timber has been exported to international markets in collaboration with Yadanar Moe Pyae Tun Co. Ltd. [1]. MAC itself furthermore advertised timber stocks from their “timber harvesting permit on areas of 54000 ha (133,380 acres) from Myanmar Government in Tanintharyi Region” on Chinese Alibaba website, looking for business partner to import timber from Myanmar [2, page 21].

The concession covers a total of ca. 133,600 acres (ca. 54,000 ha) [1,2]. It is located in Pyigyimandaing Subtownship, Kawthaung District, Tanintharyi region [2].

The report estimated that up to 190,000 tons of timber could be produced from the forested area within the MAC concession. The actual amount of extraction by the company is unknown, but general estimates consider it could mount up to half of the estimated 190,000 tons. [2, page 45].

Most directly affected population: 407 persons [2].
Project Area (in hectares)54,000
Level of Investment (in USD)unknown
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population407 persons most directly affected. Many more through environmental change
Start Date2011
Company Names or State EnterprisesMyanmar Auto Corporation (MAC) (MAC) from Myanmar - project developer
Auto Industrial Co. Ltd (AIC) (AIC) from Republic of Korea - parent company
Resources & Resource Pte Ltd (R & R Pte Ltd.) (R & R Pte Ltd.) from Singapore - parent company
Yadanar Moe Pyae Tun Co. Ltd from Myanmar - timber transport and export
Relevant government actorsMyanmar Investment Commission (MIC)

Agriculture Department,

Forest Department,

Department of Agriculture Land Management and Statistics

Karen National Union (KNU)
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersAdvancing Life and Regenerating Motherland (ALARM),

Southern Youth Organization,

Myanmar Lawyers’ Network,

Future Light Committee,

Green Network -Mergui Archipelago

Candle Light Group

Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), https://eia-international.org
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
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
Religious groups
Kayin (Karen) ethnic groups (Poe and Sakaw)
Forms of MobilizationArtistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)
Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Public campaigns
Impacts
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Health ImpactsVisible: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Loss of livelihood, Land dispossession
Potential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Violations of human rights, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Outcome
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseUnder negotiation
The government has voiced plans to return some of the land.
Do you consider this as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.It seems that the project continues, although plans have been voice to return the land not developed so far.
Sources and Materials
Legislations

2012 Vacant, Fallow and Virgin Lands Management Law
[click to view]

2012 Foreign Investment Law
[click to view]

2012 Environmental Conservation Law
[click to view]

2014 Environmental Conservation Rules
[click to view]

2015 Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Procedure
[click to view]

1995 Forest Policy
[click to view]

1992 Forest Law
[click to view]

References

[2] Civil Society Report, March, 2018 “Behind the Oil Palm: Consequences of international Investment into Oil Palm Plantations”. Authored by Advancing Life and Regenerating Motherland (ALARM), Southern Youth Organization (SYO), Myeik Lawyer Network, Future Light Committee, Green Network-Mergui Archipelago, Candle Light Group. (accessed on 22.01.2019)
[click to view]

See also Woods, K. (2015). "Commercial Agriculture Expansion in Myanmar: Links to Deforestation, Conversion Timber, and Land Conflicts". Forest Trends Reports Series.
[click to view]

See also Saturnino M. Borras Jr., Jennifer C. Franco, San Ngwe, Thant Zin, Ye Lin Myint, Clara Park,

Mads Barbesgaard and Yukari Sekine (2018). "The twin challenge of agrarian and climate justice: connections and contradictions between climate change mitigation politics, land grabbing and conflict in Myanmar" TNI Working Paper, 25 February 2018. Transnational Institute
[click to view]

Links

[1] Environmental Investigation Agency, 20 March 2018. "Myanmar palm oil concessions trample on communities, act as a cover for extracting timber" (accessed on 19.01.2019).
[click to view]

Myanmar Business Today, online news, 02 April 2018. "Govt Plans to Take Back Approved 5 Palm Oil Plantation Projects" (accessed on 19.01.2019).
[click to view]

Other Documents

Log piles at log yard Source: “Behind the Oil Palm: Consequences of international Investment into Oil Palm Plantations” (2018). Authored by Advancing Life and Regenerating Motherland (ALARM), Southern Youth Organization (SYO), Myeik Lawyer Network, Future Light Committee, Green Network-Mergui Archipelago, Candle Light Group. Available at: https://eia-international.org/wp-content/uploads/Behind-the-Oil-Palm.pdf
[click to view]

Letter from Department of Agriculture ordering MAC to take action for local community Source: “Behind the Oil Palm: Consequences of international Investment into Oil Palm Plantations” (2018). Authored by Advancing Life and Regenerating Motherland (ALARM), Southern Youth Organization (SYO), Myeik Lawyer Network, Future Light Committee, Green Network-Mergui Archipelago, Candle Light Group. Available at: https://eia-international.org/wp-content/uploads/Behind-the-Oil-Palm.pdf
[click to view]

Herbal medicines, classified by indigenous researchers Source: “Behind the Oil Palm: Consequences of international Investment into Oil Palm Plantations” (2018). Authored by Advancing Life and Regenerating Motherland (ALARM), Southern Youth Organization (SYO), Myeik Lawyer Network, Future Light Committee, Green Network-Mergui Archipelago, Candle Light Group. Available at: https://eia-international.org/wp-content/uploads/Behind-the-Oil-Palm.pdf
[click to view]

Vegetable plants, classified by indigenous researchers Source: “Behind the Oil Palm: Consequences of international Investment into Oil Palm Plantations” (2018). Authored by Advancing Life and Regenerating Motherland (ALARM), Southern Youth Organization (SYO), Myeik Lawyer Network, Future Light Committee, Green Network-Mergui Archipelago, Candle Light Group. Available at: https://eia-international.org/wp-content/uploads/Behind-the-Oil-Palm.pdf
[click to view]

Report Cover Source: “Behind the Oil Palm: Consequences of international Investment into Oil Palm Plantations” (2018). Authored by Advancing Life and Regenerating Motherland (ALARM), Southern Youth Organization (SYO), Myeik Lawyer Network, Future Light Committee, Green Network-Mergui Archipelago, Candle Light Group. Available at: https://eia-international.org/wp-content/uploads/Behind-the-Oil-Palm.pdf
[click to view]

Concession area Source: “Behind the Oil Palm: Consequences of international Investment into Oil Palm Plantations” (2018). Authored by Advancing Life and Regenerating Motherland (ALARM), Southern Youth Organization (SYO), Myeik Lawyer Network, Future Light Committee, Green Network-Mergui Archipelago, Candle Light Group. Available at: https://eia-international.org/wp-content/uploads/Behind-the-Oil-Palm.pdf
[click to view]

log yard, MAC sign Source: “Behind the Oil Palm: Consequences of international Investment into Oil Palm Plantations” (2018). Authored by Advancing Life and Regenerating Motherland (ALARM), Southern Youth Organization (SYO), Myeik Lawyer Network, Future Light Committee, Green Network-Mergui Archipelago, Candle Light Group. Available at: https://eia-international.org/wp-content/uploads/Behind-the-Oil-Palm.pdf
[click to view]

ship transporting timber logs Source: “Behind the Oil Palm: Consequences of international Investment into Oil Palm Plantations” (2018). Authored by Advancing Life and Regenerating Motherland (ALARM), Southern Youth Organization (SYO), Myeik Lawyer Network, Future Light Committee, Green Network-Mergui Archipelago, Candle Light Group. Available at: https://eia-international.org/wp-content/uploads/Behind-the-Oil-Palm.pdf
[click to view]

Oil palm nursery Source: “Behind the Oil Palm: Consequences of international Investment into Oil Palm Plantations” (2018). Authored by Advancing Life and Regenerating Motherland (ALARM), Southern Youth Organization (SYO), Myeik Lawyer Network, Future Light Committee, Green Network-Mergui Archipelago, Candle Light Group. Available at: https://eia-international.org/wp-content/uploads/Behind-the-Oil-Palm.pdf
[click to view]

Oil palms grown only close to road Source: “Behind the Oil Palm: Consequences of international Investment into Oil Palm Plantations” (2018). Authored by Advancing Life and Regenerating Motherland (ALARM), Southern Youth Organization (SYO), Myeik Lawyer Network, Future Light Committee, Green Network-Mergui Archipelago, Candle Light Group. Available at: https://eia-international.org/wp-content/uploads/Behind-the-Oil-Palm.pdf
[click to view]

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ContributorEJatlas Southeast Asia Team (ejatlas.asia"at"gmail.com)
Last update22/01/2019
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