Responsible forest governance and secure forest rights are needed to reduce deforestation, combating climate change, and sustain the planet.
Forests are sources of multiple products and services of importance to a wide array of stakeholders, from local communities to urban citizens. In addition to contributing to human wellbeing and livelihoods, forests are important for people’s spiritual and cultural traditions. For many of the world’s poor, land and forests are important economic, social and cultural assets. In large parts of the world, however, local people’s use and ownership rights to resources are insecure, which undermines not only their livelihoods and sustainable resource management but also many development outcomes, such as biodiversity conservation, poverty reduction, improved food security and climate change mitigation.
Forest tenure and property rights determine who owns and manages forest resources. Forest tenure often is very complex, as there is an array of stakeholders with different interests to forests, such as the national and local state officials, the local users, local communities and Indigenous Peoples and seasonal users. Part of this complexity can be traced back to the colonial times, when many natural resources were taken over by the state while the rights of local resource users were unrecognized. State control and management of land and forests persists in many areas today, yet these resources are claimed and managed by indigenous and local communities who base their tenure claims on community-based, customary rights that are commonly unacknowledged by states. Overlapping tenure rights often result from the co-existence of competing laws that emanate from the state and from communities. The presence of multiple groups with overlapping and simultaneous tenure claims contributes to resource conflicts. In many countries, conflicts related to tenure and property rights are so grave that they result in social conflicts and violence, as well as environmental destruction.
A stylized presentation of the bundles of rights (Courtesy of CAPRi)