Forest ownership in Papua New Guinea
The ‘Papua New Guinea Policy on Protected Areas 2014’ supports the development and management of a National Protected Area Network in PNG. PNG’s new Protected Area Classification System comprises National protected areas (National Parks, Marine Sanctuaries, National Heritage Areas and Special Management Areas), as well as Regional protected areas (Community Conservation Areas and Locally Managed Marine Areas). From a handful of Wildlife Management Areas established in the 1970s, there are now 58 Protected Areas totaling 1,724,800 ha i.e. 4% of the country’s land surface (plus, a little under 1% of the seas, with 334,400 ha), with many more yet to be gazetted.
It is estimated that only 3% of the country's overall land area is publicly owned, most of which are towns and cities, and the remaining 97% is owned or possessed by customary landowners. Customary land tenure includes the rights to almost all above-ground natural resources, including forests, and landowner groups are consequently legally entitled to be involved in decisions concerning the management of their forest.