By Bethanie Harriman – EM TV, Goroka
Landowners in Lapegu, Eastern Highlands Province, are forming an incorporated landowner group to take ownership of trees growing on their land.
The National Forestry Authority (NFA) is facilitating the process by awarding certificates to legitimate landowners who provide birth certificate details.
Lapegu is one of the oldest forestry stations in the country, with trees replanted from Morobe’s Bulolo district.
The forest industry, and the benefits gained from the selling of forests products has encouraged locals to also move into this area.
Timothy Palpali, an inventory and mapping officer from the National Forestry Authority will be working with the landowner clan groups. He explains that it is imperative that landowners care for their forests and refrain from starting fires in the woods.
“The people need to realise that they own the trees and whatever happens, they will benefit as well,” says Palpali.
The move to develop forestry in the area comes after an inventory was carried out in the province which established that there were three hundred thousand cubic metres of trees throughout the Eastern Highlands Province.
This highlighted the potential of generating income through royalty payments that the people could benefit from.
“It’s a renewable, sustainable resource, its cut after twenty five years, it can make up to a hundred million kina,” says National Forestry Authority Highlands Regional Manager, Enda Akevi.
The provincial government is supporting the endeavours of the landowners and the NFA through the Governor, Julie Soso, by funding the certification of the Incorporated Landowner Groups.