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UN human rights bodies take note of massive land speculation in Papua New Guinea

Lands held and managed under custom in Papua New Guinea (PNG) are regularly quoted as covering the vast majority of the country’s land mass, 97% is the usually accepted figure. The remaining 3% of lands, no longer governed by tradition and custom, are referred to as ‘alienated lands’ and come under the management of the Department of Lands and Physical Planning.  However these remarkable figures of land tenure security hide a grimmer truth. Over the past 13 months alone almost 10% of the land mass of Papua New Guinea has been issued out as concessions under an arrangement known as ‘Special Agricultural and Business Leases’ (SABL). Under these lease agreements, the government leases customary lands from traditional owners and re-leases the same lands, often to a third party, with customary rights to the lands suspended for the term of the lease.  

Australia Indonesia Partnership fails to respect Dayak rights

Australia and Indonesia have been working together for several years now on REDD+. Their main cooperation is the Kalimantan Forests and Climate Partnership (KFCP) which seeks to rehabilitate 100,000 hectares of peat swamp in Central Kalimantan. The area is part of Soeharto's Mega Rice scheme which failed to grow rice but reduced the agroforestry systems of dozens of Dayak communities to burning peat wastelands. Now, with millions of dollars already spent on the REDD+ project, Yayasan Petak Danum, a Dayak community organisation from the area of the KFCP project, wrote a letter listing major concerns with the project, especially its failure to respect the rights of the Dayak communities in the area. Read Yayasan Petak Danum (YPD) Network’s Letter to the Australian delegation to Central Kalimantan, Indonesia, February 2011, regarding the Kalimantan Forests and Climate Partnership pilot REDD+ project:http://www.forestpeoples.org/topics/redd-and-related-initiatives/publication/2011/letter-australian-delegation-central-kalimantan

Precedent-setting land deal in palm oil expansion zone in Borneo

A new oil palm plantation being developed in Indonesian Borneo (West Kalimantan) has relinquished community lands to which it had gained a government permit. The company PT Agro Wiratama, a member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and subsidiary of the giant Musim Mas group, agreed to relinquish more than 1,000 hectares of its 9,000 hectare concession back to the community, following interventions by community representatives and NGOs. This is a breakthrough in the context of a pattern of development whereby millions of hectares of large-scale oil palm plantations have been established without consent on indigenous peoples’ land. Forest Peoples Programme spotted PT Agro Wiratama’s plans to open up this area on the RSPO website and alerted NGO partners in Borneo, who were able to work with the community and help them negotiate with the company and local government to get their lands recognised. 

Read recent FPP, Sawit Watch, Gemawan and Kontak Press Release