About Securing Rights to Forest Resources
Although there is growing recognition that land tenure plays a role in sustainable forest management, and that security of tenure is an important mechanism to ensure accountability and control of forestry operations at the local level, most forest dependent communities still live in poverty because their rights to the land are weak and their tenure insecure. In addition, most current policies and legal frameworks continue to limit local people’s access to natural resources. Forest tenure reforms may have complex, wide-ranging implications, which are often poorly understood and may deter governments from initiating or supporting such reform processes. Understanding the implications of different forest tenure arrangements is therefore essential for governments seeking to strengthen, adapt, and formulate policies that are conducive to local management of forest resources, and for other stakeholders supporting community-based forest management (CBFM). Reconciling official and local forms of forest and tree tenure is often an important aspect of securing rights to forest resources.
The Forest Conservation Programme defines natural resource tenure as the arrangements through which people gain legitimate access to natural resources; the conditions under which they use those resources and participate in the benefits deriving from them; and the institutions and processes for the management of those resources. Tenure is broader than ownership. It refers to a bundle of both rights and obligations—rights when it comes to owning, holding, using, managing or transferring resources, and obligations when it comes to using resources in such a way as not to harm others, and paying taxes, fees and other duties. These rights and obligations are defined by national law, customary rules, or a combination of the two.
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