THE Papua New Guinea Government has finally decided to shut down illegal logging leases that have enriched foreign companies and dispossessed traditional landowners. The decision would put an end to a dubious agriculture and business purposes scheme where an estimated more than 5.2 million hectares of customary land around the country had been alienated for ‘special agriculture activities’ over virgin forest tracts containing tropical hardwoods.
It was estimated that more than 400 leases had been issued over customary land since the early 1980s to 2013. The country’s new Lands Minister, Justin Tkatchenko, has announced a committee to review the 175 controversial Special Agricultural Business Leases (SABL) with objective to cancel the leases. Mr Tkatchenko said a Customary Land Advisory Committee would deal with the SABLs which, he said, was a long-outstanding issue and one that was advertised all around the world.
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