24 Oct 2005

Solomon Islands investigates the set up of a land registry system

4:17 pm on 24 October 2005

There are moves to look at setting up a land registry system in Solomon Islands.

A workshop is to be held next month to grapple with the issues of customary land ownership which is based on tribal or group ownership.

Abraham Baenisia of the Solomon Islands Development Trust says the provinces have either a matrilineal or patrilineal system of land inheritance in place but there is some argument in certain areas over who owns what.

Mr Baenisia says there's a reluctance to see a land registry system put in place because it could mean some people in the tribe miss out, and therefore, their descendants are excluded forever, whilst others could gain.

"The fear in the past was that if land was registered, some people can take advantage of it, and say, I'm the leader of this tribe, and therefore I have the right to decide individually what can be done with the land, especially with development issues, involving outsiders."

Mr Baenisia says tribal landowners in East Fataleka on Malaita have reached agreement on boundaries in order to see a palm oil plantation established.

He says this could prove a model for other provinces.