22 Nov 2012

Specialist says Vanuatu land leases amount to alienation

7:23 pm on 22 November 2012

A specialist in land and governance issues in Vanuatu says the land grab underway through lease arrangements in the country is of a similar scale to Papua New Guinea's but by contrast has gained little attention.

Siobhan McDonnell, who recently worked as Land Law advisor to Vanuatu's Attorney General, says land pressures are increasing, especially on Efate and Santo.

Ms McDonnell says that approximately 10 to 12 percent of Vanuatu land is now under lease.

She says social issues associated with the alienation of land leave Vanuatu's youthful population disenfranchised and vulnerable.

"There may be improvement clauses built into those leases which means that the time the lease term is up, custom land owners will need to compensate for any buildings on that land. And if they're large scale resorts or expensive housing, it's very unlikely that custom landowners are going to be able to compensate, which is where you get the argument that that style of leasing is really alienation."

Siobhan McDonnell.