Contested Palm Oil Leases Declared Illegal in Papua New Guinea

By Jake Conroy

Papua New Guinea, 21 May 2014. The National Court of Papua New Guinea (PNG) has declared that two large land development leases claimed by Malaysia-based Kuala Lumpur Kepong Berhad (KLK) in the Collingwood Bay region of PNG are void and has ordered the State to cancel the title deeds. As a result, KLK will not be able to develop the 38,350 hectares of land subject to the leases, which is part of the customary territory of nine Indigenous tribes who rely on the natural landscape of the region as the basis for their economy and subsistence livelihoods. Most of the land in question is pristine tropical forest containing extremely high levels of biological diversity.

The issue garnered international attention when Collingwood Bay landowners asked Rainforest Action Network (RAN) and other allies to support their formal complaint to the RSPO against KLK’s activities on their land. In January the RSPO issued a decision ordering KLK to cease all activity until the legality of leases was determined by the courts and to demonstrate proof that the Free Prior and Informed Consent process carried out involved the whole of the affected community, rather than small pockets of it.

Read more about how KLK is disregarding communities’ right to withhold their Free, Prior and Informed Contest to developments on their lands in Liberia from the rest of this RAN’s post.