PNG govt insists it's acting on SABLs; promises announcement

12:45 pm on 15 August 2017

Papua New Guinea's government insists it is acting to halt problematic land leases.

Advocacy groups are calling on the re-elected government of Peter O'Neill to finally address Special Agricultural Business Leases, or SABLs, most of which were found to be illegal by a 2013 Commission of Inquiry.

They say despite the government cancelling the leases, logging continues largely unabated.

The forests minister, Douglas Tomuriesa, said the government is acting, but the issue was more complex than simply kicking everybody out.

Papua New Guinea Forestry Minister Douglas Tomuriesa

Papua New Guinea Forestry Minister Douglas Tomuriesa Photo: RNZI / Johnny Blades

He said some of the deforested areas were now productive palm oil and agriculture operations and their benefits needed to be considered.

"But there are some SABLs that have already logged the area out and they have already planted oil palms or cocoa," Mr Tomuriesa said.

"Then we have to support those and make certain that they do the right thing and that is proper things are done, landowner identities and whatsoever."

He said he is working closely with landowners and promised a series of significant forestry-related announcements in the next few weeks.