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By Joe Kanekane

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (October 6, 2000 - The Independent/PINA Nius Online)---A new Environment Law Center has been set up in Port Moresby to assist groups, communities and landowners in Papua New Guinea's provinces with major resources to protect and build their natural environment.

The Environmental Law Center Limited is situated at Malagan House in Boroko and has been involved with 11 landowner groups in five resource rich provinces since its inception a year ago.

Liaison manager of the center, Ursula Rakova, said that many landowners have expressed interest and frequent the office.

"We have been in operation for a year and there is interest from landowners. We are confident many visit us because they confront a lot of issues and we offer some of our services free," Ms. Rakova said.

Ms. Rakova said the center targets specific provinces, and has informed other landowners that unless they are from these provinces the center may not assist them.

She said the office provides advice on legislation, environment, mining, pollution, marine degradation, illegal fishing, wildlife protection and environmental impact assessment.

She added that a major objective of the center is to assist the resource owners in the legal aspects of their projects.

She added that most of the cases are test cases, making laws work for environmental protection.

"Landholders and community groups who have confidence in environmental issues can make a big contribution to environmental protection," said Ms. Rakova.

She also said the Environment Law Center has a two-year project to equip landowners with skills and knowledge to monitor a logging code of practice and regulate logging operations in their own communities.

For additional reports from The Independent, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The Independent (Papua New Guinea).

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