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Jubilee Australia's Resource Centre

Land and Forests

Exposing rampant deforestation and illegal land grabbing in Melanesia.

What is a land grab? It is a process whereby powerful interests use subterfuge or illegal means to get control of a piece of land in order to make money from it. It is a process that happens all too often in developing countries, and is widespread in our region.

In theory, local people have some sort of legal protections from their land being taken over. But there are all sorts of reasons why local communities can be overpowered in the fight to hold onto their land.

Powerful interests can use their money and their political influence to coax leases out of government officials. They can also bribe local agents to support them, and/or make grandiose promises which local people lack the information to challenge. When all else fails, violence and intimidation can often do the trick.

The outcomes are generally catastrophic for development. Local communities become disempowered, human rights abuses occur, and democratic institutions are undermined.

Environmentally, land grabs are often associated with widespread deforestation, which destroys ecosystems and biodiversity and is a huge driver of global climate change.

The Australia Institute