Vanuatu Chiefs Implement Community Leases For Custom Lands

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Leases enacted to preserve land for future generations

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, May 30, 2012) – A new model for protecting customary land has been introduced in Vanuatu's northern Efate.

In a historic move, the chiefs of Mangaliliu and Lelema communities have decided to protect their customary tribal lands by implementing community leases.

At a meeting, the people and their chiefs granted their land to all the people of the two villages and both will now be known as Lelema.

One of the paramount chiefs of Lelema community, Chief Kalkot Mormor, says the new model offers important protection for the people.

"And we're afraid that in the future, there will be no land left for our children. So we decided to have, to preserve some land for our future, for our children, for tomorrow," he said.

The community lease areas include tribal land around Saone, Fatanlima and Awako in North Efate and also the whole island of Lelepa.

[PIR editor's note: The chiefs have reportedly sent a letter announcing their intentions to the minister of land, calling for a halt on any further leasing in North Efate. Paramount chief Kalkot Mormor said concerns over investors developing the entire island prompted the chiefs' decision.]

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