Land Tenure System in Papua New Guinea
In Papua New Guinea ownership to land falls under two main categories and there are the Alienated Land and the Customary Land .
1.0 Alienated Land
The term " Alienated Land " refers to land that was acquired from the Customary Land Owners initially and now owned and administered by the State through leasehold and Freehold interest.
- Alienated Land in Papua New Guinea is only 3% of the total land mass. The 3% comprises of State vacant and undeveloped land, State leasehold land, Freehold and Private Land .
- The leasehold and freehold interest are registered under the Torrens Title System of Tenure and there is indefeasibility of Title.
- Most of the Alienated Land is taken up by the Towns and Urban centres. The Towns are declared under the Physical Planning Act and that allows for land use planning and controlling and regulating of developments.
- It is the Government that controls the allocation of land in the Towns, Urban Centres and Rural Government Stations.
- Subject to demand, Urban land that may be available for leasing from time to time is allocated through tender or advertisement processes.
- Towns are capable of meeting public demand for land development mainly for residential and business purposes.
- A sudden increase in demand for land in these Urban Centres brought about mainly by the current trend of increased economic activities in the Provinces.
- Heavy alienation of land during the early colonial era has left a significant landmark currently evident in a large number of plantations being purchased in most parts of the country.
- Currently conditions on many of these plantations are generally poor to substandard and require substantial rehabilitation with the exception of those being fully developed and under good management.
- The plantation sector in particular, once the backbone of the PNG's economy, could now require adequate attention and readdressing by the Government of its problem or shortfalls in order to get it back on the recovery trend.
2.0 Customary Land
The term " Customary Land " refers to Land that is not state land and is owned by the Indigenous People of Papua New Guinea whose ownership rights and interest is regulated by their customs.
- In Papua New Guinea the Customary Land holding Unit is the Clan and members of the Clan acquire ownership rights through inheritance.
- There are two distinct Customary Land tenure practice in Papua New Guinea through which an individual member of the clan may acquire ownership rights to land through inheritance. These two practices are;
In this Land Tenure practice the ownership rights to land is inherited from the male ancestor and pasts down the male lineage.
The female members of the clan have user rights whilst living with the parents and when they are married they move on and settle with their husband and use the husband's Clan land.
This is opposite of the Patrilineal where the ownership rights to land is inherited from the female ancestor and pasts down the female lineage.
The male members of the clan have user rights to land whilst living with the parents and when married they move on and settle and use their wife's Clan land.
- Customary Land comprises of 97% of the total land mass in Papua New Guinea and it continues to sustain the rural subsistence economy, whilst vast track of it mainly in the inaccessible inter-land is either left unutilized or partly used for timber and logging activities, mines and petroleum purposes.
- There is currently no written law governing and regulating the use of the customary land.
- However, when an interest for development is shown for a particular piece or parcel of land, then the Land Act and other Land related Acts are called into play by the Government to ensure a legal interest is created and properly registered.