$1m package for Bua pine landowners

Landowners at the consultation in Nabouwalu yesterday. Picture SERAFINA SILAITOGA

A $1 MILLION package is earmarked for pine landowners in Bua under the new proposed lease with the iTaukei Lands Trust Board and Fiji Pine Ltd.

The proposed lease for pine farming, which awaits approval of pine landowners around the country, will allow a lease period of 50 years.

Yesterday, pine landowners in the district of Dama, Bua, agreed to the proposed lease of 50 years.

ITLTB executive Solomone Nata informed landowners in Dama District that the purpose of the proposed lease was to address concerns and complaints such as over planting issues that were raised by landowners in the past.

Another issue highlighted during the consultation was the traditional agreement between elders of landowning groups and companies that were not recorded or legally recognised but verbally agreed to by the elders.

Mr Nata said they had cases in which landonwners claimed that their forefathers planted pine for the mataqali and not for Fiji Pine Ltd, however, these same areas in which pine iwas planted for the mataqali would be leased by Fiji Pine Ltd.

He told landowners that the new proposed lease would include a re-survey of pine farming areas and reconfirming existing lease boundaries. Mr Nata said this would address outstanding issues and concerns landowners faced.

The existing lease, he said allowed for two periods of lease – the 30 years lease and the 50 years lease – for pine farming purposes.

But under the proposed lease, Mr Nata said only 50 years period was considered of which $1m covered for pine landowners in Bua.

Under the new lease, a total of $516,000 (included in the $1m package) will be paid to landowners in Bua as advance stumpage. Landowners will also be paid $20 per hectare as premium and $13 for rent per hectare.

When landowners agree to the proposed lease and all necessary action works are completed, Mr Nata said the existing lease would then be cancelled.

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