12 Aug 2010

Wide support to rein in foreign acquisition of land in Vanuatu

1:39 pm on 12 August 2010

Customary landowners on Vanuatu's outer islands are backing chiefly calls to stop foreigners acquiring more land for development.

Efate's chiefs are concerned that close to 80 percent of customary land on the main island, where the capital Port Vila is, has been sold to foreigners for development.

Our correspondent Len Garae says landowners on the other islands are learning lessons from what's happened on Efate.

"Outer islands like Ebi island, and then Malekula island as well as Santo, there are large chunks of land in the three islands that have been sold also. And they are watching with the greatest of interest, because they obviously realise that this kind of purchasing of land cannot continue."

He says part of the problem is that when landowners are offered cash up front from wealthy investors, it can be hard to refuse.