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Research Report

Tenure rights and access to forests: A training manual for research Part I. A guide to key issues

Anne M. Larson
Copyright Date: Jan. 1, 2012
Pages: 71
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 5-7)

    This guide has been created with the purpose of summarising the most important aspects of forest tenure rights and resource access, because of the relevance of these issues to research on forests, as well as providing guidance on the selection of methods and tools for obtaining appropriate tenure information in research. It is hoped that the guide will help researchers to incorporate tenure dimensions more effectively, with a common understanding and in ways that are comparable across research sites and projects, into a broad spectrum of research projects where tenure issues may influence results.

    Although forest tenure has been an...

  2. (pp. 8-11)

    Tenure rights with regard to natural resources refer to the social relations and institutions governing access to and use of land and resources (von Benda Beckman et al. 2006). Forest tenure, then, is concerned with who owns forestland, and who uses, manages and makes decisions about forest resources. Forest tenure determines who is allowed to use which resources, in what way, for how long and under what conditions, as well as who is entitled to transfer rights to others and how. Different rights may be shared or divided in a number of ways and among stakeholders, as are obligations and...

  3. (pp. 12-15)

    With regard to forests, and particularly collective forests and resources, the term tenure rights refers to a bundle of rights ranging from access and use rights to management, exclusion and alienation (see Schlager and Ostrom 1992). Access refers simply to the right to enter the area. Use, or withdrawal, rights refers to the right to obtain resources, such as timber, firewood or other forest products, and remove them from the forest; this includes grazing rights. Use rights can also include the right to earn income from a resource, even if one does not use the resource directly (Mwangi and Meinzen-Dick...

  4. (pp. 16-20)

    There are many dimensions to tenure, but security of rights is usually seen as a primary variable affecting outcomes for both forests and people. At the same time, security alone does not determine outcomes. This section provides a brief overview of current thinking on tenure security as it relates to forests ad forest people.

    Forest tenure insecurity and lack of clarity are often associated with forest degradation and deforestation (Chomitz et al. 2007). Deforestation has often been a means of demonstrating use and asserting one’s rights in relation to other claimants, particularly in contested or agricultural frontier areas but also...

  5. (pp. 21-26)

    Although a full, historical literature review on property or tenure rights is beyond the scope of this guide, it is useful to have some understanding of the variety of approaches in literature and practice. Ellsworth (2002) provides a useful summary of four main schools of thought around property, which she names as follows: property rights, agrarian, common property and institutionalists. These four schools are not necessarily exclusive, and despite some differences based on their theoretical underpinnings, they are probably better described as tendencies or groupings around research priorities. As there is some overlap between them, then, it is possible in...

  6. (pp. 27-39)

    This section is aimed at understanding both de jure and de facto tenure rights in practice. A statutory or de jure right concerns a set of rules established and protected by the state (e.g. registered land titles, concession contracts, forestry laws and regulations). De facto rights are patterns of interactions established outside the formal realm of law. They include customary rights, a set of community rules and regulations inherited from ancestors and accepted, reinterpreted and enforced by the community, and which may or may not be recognised by the state. The first part of this section discusses the nature of...

  7. (pp. 40-54)

    This section discusses several additional factors that shape tenure rights and are thus also important to understanding rights in practice. They are: the role of the state, competing interests in forests and forestland, the role of collective action, issues internal to communities and two alternative (or complementary) approaches to tenure rights. Each of these topics warrants far more space than can be provided in this manual and will by necessity be highly simplified here.

    As is apparent from the previous discussions, the state plays a central role in relation to forest tenure rights. In any particular setting, however, the specific...