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Up for Grabs

Up for Grabs

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Millions of hectares of customary land in PNG stolen for logging.
Millions of hectares of customary land in PNG stolen for logging.

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: Greenpeace Australia Pacific on Jul 27, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Greenpeace Australia Pacifc

Up for Grabs

Millions of hectares of customary
land in PNG stolen for logging


Section 6

Police paid
by logging
to intimidate

The biggest single issue that was highlighted

during the Commission’s hearings was the lack of

fair representation of CLHs in agreeing to SABLs

being granted over their land.

The instrument that attempts to resolve customary
landowner representation in such matters is the
Land Groups Incorporation Act 1974. The Act was
established to encourage greater participation by local
people in the national economy through the utilisation
of their land with greater certainty of title. The Act
attempted to achieve this through the legal recognition
of the corporate status of customary groups and
by conferring on them the power to acquire, hold,
dispose of and manage land. The Act also attempted
to encourage self-resolution of disputes.

ILGs as an entity do not, however, own customary
land. Ownership remains with the collective customary
landholders and clans. Incorporating an ILG merely
organises landowners and clans as a corporation
recognised by law to enter into commercial deals.

The process of incorporation of land groups has,
however, been poorly administered by the DLPP. The
result, as observed by Aid/Watch, is a “mechanism
widely misused, to the detriment of those landowners
who may have been excluded from the incorporated
group or who fail to receive any benefts”.1

Australian academic Professor Colin Filer stated that
the Act “has nothing to say about the demarcation
of customary land boundaries or the registration of
customary land titles, it does seem to assume that the
process of legal ‘incorporation’ will help customary
land groups to ‘develop’ their land”.2

Of the many problems that arose as a result of the
Act, the lack of complementary land registration
legislation is an important failing. The object of
allowing greater certainty of title was therefore never
fully realised. Legal recognition of the corporate status
of a CLH was instead used to facilitate consent for
resource exploitation and as a mechanism to distribute
the benefts, although frequent complaints arose over
its fair distribution.3

1 Tararia and Ogle, 2010
2 Filer, 2007. P 136
3 Ibid, p 135

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