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.

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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.

Global Land Alliance is developing a program on community-based resource management 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 was delivered in 2018, and is being piloted in 2019, 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.

Spotlight on Recent Community-Based Resource Management Projects:

 
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Analysis of Laws Affecting Indigenous and Local Communities’ Rights and Access to Freshwater in a set of Focus Countries

Global Land Alliance and The Nature Conservancy began a partnership to complete an analysis of legal access to freshwater rights and resources in Colombia and Ecuador, as well as prepared and scoped for a full analysis to take place in early 2020 in Gabon, Angola and Brazil. The analysis sought to advance understanding of who has rights to access, withdrawal, management, exclusion, alienation, and due process with regards to freshwater resources, and whether those rights have both substance (i.e., the right exists) and assurance (i.e., is consistently applied and enforced).

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Securing Forest Tenure for Rural Development: an Analytical Framework

Global Land Alliance co-contributed and co-authored an Analytical Framework as a product of a World Bank initiative on Securing Forest Tenure Rights for Rural Development, which seeks to enhance the World Bank’s capacity and effectiveness when dealing with land rights issues in forest areas. The overall objective of the initiative is to provide information and guidance—to client countries, indigenous peoples and local communities, World Bank managers and staff, and other donors—to strengthen forest tenure security in forest landscapes as a foundation for rural development. The scope of this work is defined by the two key dimensions: forest landscapes and community-based tenure. The framework is meant to provide a solid foundation for the development of tools to assess forest tenure security strengths and gaps, as well as links with Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Learn more here

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UAV Technical Demonstration with Forest County Potawatomi

GLA, in collaboration with professors from the University of Florida’s Geomatics Department and the Forest County Potawatomi Community Land Information Department, conducted a hands-on, technical demonstration in northern Wisconsin in June, 2018; exchanging ideas on the potential benefits of utilizing Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) in assessing the Community’s natural resources and physical infrastructure. Faced with competing interests and uses of the land and natural resources, the Forest County Potawatomi recognize the importance of efficiently collecting up-to-date information and modernizing land information management systems with their goal to ‘conserve and develop our common resources and to promote the welfare of ourselves and our descents’. The purpose of the technical exchange was to look at the use of UAV (drone) technology to quickly image and map Community resources ‘where and when needed’. Learn more about the exchange here.