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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

NameShell plantation, Thailand
ProvinceChanthaburi province
SiteKhun 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)Land acquisition conflicts
Plantation conflicts (incl. Pulp
Specific CommoditiesEucalyptus

Project Details and Actors

Project DetailsIn 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 (in hectares)17,600
Level of Investment (in USD)70,000,000
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population800 families
Start Date1987
End Date1990
Company Names or State EnterprisesRoyal Dutch Shell (Shell) from Netherlands
Relevant government actorsRoyal Forest Department
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersNone

The Conflict and the Mobilization

Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)HIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Local government/political parties
Forms of MobilizationStreet 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-economic ImpactsPotential: Loss of livelihood, Land dispossession, Displacement


Project StatusStopped
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCriminalization of activists
Violent targeting of activists
Project cancelled
Do you consider this as a success?Yes
Why? Explain briefly.Mobilizations (and the winning over of sectors of the government) forced Shell to stop the project.

Sources and Materials


Community Forest Bill


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

Meta Information

ContributorJ.-F. Gerber
Last update02/02/2017