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Green Desert: Communities in Tanintharyi Renounce the MSPP Oil Palm Concession

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Around the world, oil palm plantations have been criticised for forced evictions of indigenous communities, labour abuses and rampant deforestation. This notorious industry has now expanded to Myanmar with devastating consequences for human rights and the environment.

More than 1.8 million acres of oil palm concessions have been awarded in Tanintharyi region in the far south of the country, often to companies with close ties to the former military regime. Poor land use planning has allowed oil palm companies to clear cut High Conservation Value (HCV) forest, including globally important lowland rainforest. Furthermore, oil palm plantations have encroached on the customary territory of indigenous communities, causing land conflict and damaging livelihoods in contested areas affected by more than six decades of civil war.

With foreign investment in Myanmar expected to increase following the country’s ongoing political transition, there is a serious risk that oil palm expansion will continue to fuel social and environmental harm in Tanintharyi region. This report aims to understand and highlight these risks. Based on 18 months of research by local civil society organisations, this report documents the impacts of oil palm in Myanmar, using the controversial Myanmar Stark Prestige Plantation (MSPP) project as a case study.

In 2011, MSPP was granted a permit by the Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC) to establish a 38,000-acre, $36.75 million oil palm project in Tanintharyi Township, Myeik District, Tanintharyi region of south-eastern Myanmar. The Karen National Union (KNU) administers this area as Ler Muh Lah Township, Mergui-Tavoy District. However, lack of transparency makes it difficult to determine the actual size of the concession area. A project signboard erected by MSPP in 2014 lists the concession area as 42,200 acres, while a company map from 2015 shows a concession boundary measuring 49,227 acres.

Download full report in English HERE.

Download report summary in English HERE.