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Challenges / Concerns

Dear brothers and sisters,

May the Lord continue to bless the beautiful relationship that Melanesian people have with their land! This pastoral letter has one purpose and it is to encourage you to be very careful when dealing with companies regarding your land.

It seems that some companies are getting agricultural leases for most of the land of the North Fly District and even more. These leases are given for a period of 99 years.

My concerns are the following:

  • Some Traditional land owners are not aware of what is taking place.
  • Sometimes only one (1) person signs important documents on behalf of so many others.
  • The people are losing the rights to their Traditional land.
  • Who will monitor that the planned activities will truly be agricultural?
  • Why so many kilometers of land given to logging on both sides of roads to be constructed?
  • The richness of the Melanesian people is their land. Take the land away from them and they have nothing.
  • Who will really benefit from these contracts? The very few who sign the agreements and those responsible for Trust accounts will benefit much. How will the ordinary land owners truly benefit?
  • What about the future of your children and grand-children and those who will come after them? Will they be able to inherit land from their fathers? Or they will be landless because their fathers have sold it to companies?

In the Melanesian culture, land is part of the life of the people. People identify with their land. People own land and are part of it. It gives them dignity. Will this beautiful relationship with the land be lost with the agreements being signed now?

Bishop Gilles

Deforestration in Papua New Guinea

Projected deforestration rate in Papua New Guinea. 1980 to 2020
Projected deforestration rate in Papua New Guinea (1980 - 2020)

Projected deforestation map for New Guinea. Based on data from Papua New Guinea Resource Information System, PNG Forest Information System, PNG Forest Authority, maps of logging and oil palm and transmigration sites overlayed on vegetation cover maps.