Tenure is a critical element for the prosperity of people living in forest areas and ensuring the long-term sustainability of forest ecosystems. But it is an area in which a major gap exists in many countries whose legal systems and forest management institutions fall short in their recognition of community-based tenure based on traditional occupancy and stewardship.
Securing forest tenure lays the foundation for effective programs across sectors (e.g. forestry, agriculture, energy, mining, and climate change. In the context of the role of forests in climate change mitigation, research indicates that securing forest tenure is linked to lowering deforestation rates and ensures the success of the United Nations REDD+ strategies and programs.
Yet the world's most biodiverse and carbon-rich forests are often found in low and middle-income countries where forest ownership rights and arrangements are ill-defined, contested, or insecure because of limited government presence and capacity. Since tenure systems are often based on customary and collective rights, the questions of who owns the forests, who claims them, who has access to them, and how to manage overlapping use and access right, are deeply contested in many forest regions of the world.
Land Alliance is developing a program on community-based forest tenure to help address this gap. The program currently consists of the development of an analytical and assessment framework for forest tenure for the World Bank through its PROFOR program which will be delivered and piloted in 2018, and a new initiative to quantify the benefits of forest tenure reform -- the "tenure dividend" under development with partners from The Nature Conservancy and McGill University.