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Cover photo: PNG Biomass staff showing a jiffy to a DLPP delegation during their visit to the PNG Biomass nursery at FRI.

A delegation of National and Provincial officers from the Department of Lands & Physical Planning (DLPP) visited the Markham Valley in late August to talk to the customary landowners who have released land for the PNG Biomass Project. The team was satisfied with their assessment of the landowner benefits and methods used by PNG Biomass to access customary land for its 16,000 hectares plantation establishment.

The delegation consisted of the Assistant Valuer General, Registrar ILG, Director Customary Land Registration, and Acting Director of Acquisition from Port Moresby, who were joined by their Lae based staff Coordinating Valuer for Momase region, Senior ILG Officer, Acquisition Officer and Senior Leases Officer.

The first stop in the visit was the PNG Forest Research Institute (FRI) in Lae city where they looked at the PNG Biomass nursery. The delegation was impressed to see PNG Biomass’ automated seedling production system using a Fibre Cell Filling Machine and Vacuum Sowing Machine to produce a consistent supply of high-quality fibre cell seedlings – also known as jiffy.

The delegation was given an overview of the Project focusing in particular on how PNG Biomass is accessing land through ongoing awareness sessions, close relationships with landowners, and the type of agreements used. Information was also provided on how the development and establishment of Incorporated Land Groups (ILGs) is supported by the Project, enabling and empowering landowners to understand the process and by facilitating the necessary steps to take place. The ILG Registrar lauded PNG Biomass for the amount of awareness and support provided to help landowners establish ILGs.

ILG Director Iruna Rogakila addressing a landowner leaders group at Chivasing Ranch.
ILG Director Iruna Rogakila addressing a landowner leaders group at Chivasing Ranch.

A field visit followed in which the DLPP delegation visited the site selected for the construction of the power plant at Ganef land, they stopped at a the Bampu Community Nursery, looked at women practising intercropping at Ngaromugish, and inspected at Ongka land clones of the best performing trees. After that the delegation sat down with a group of landowner leaders at Chivasing Cattle Ranch to hear their thoughts, views and feedback on the Project.

By the end of the field visit the delegation expressed its appreciation for what PNG Biomass has done, they had seen and heard firsthand from landowners and community leaders positive responses on how they are engaged and participating in the operation of the Project. DLPP was impressed with the amount of work and awareness done by the PNG Biomass, noting that the Project’s participatory approach is clearly having a direct positive impact on the lives of the communities, unlike some other projects they have seen in the past.

By the end of the visit the Registrar ILG summed up the delegation’s view on the Project, stating that the local feedback they had heard had been very positive. The Project’s level of engagement with communities showed that most of what the Lands Department expected to be done was done by the Project and that they would continue to assist by completing the process of customary land registration and setting up ILGs.

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