Forest Trends, an International NGO, and others have noted that governments are increasingly recognizing the role of communities and indigenous people as forest custodians by recognizing their rights of forest control and ownership. A recent study by Dr. Anne Larson of the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and others, confirms this trend. The researchers compared case studies from Latin America, Asia, and Africa, focusing on forest and land tenure rights, equity, and livelihoods. The comparison found that 200 million hectares – approximately 11% of the world’s forests – are under the control of communities or indigenous people, mostly in Latin America. In this interview, Dr. Larson states that legal recognition of forest and land rights alone is insufficient, noting that the role of the state is critical to enforcement of property rights, as well as in the creation of additional policies which enable communities to benefit from those rights. Even when forest rights of communities and indigenous people are recognized, important issues such as the decision-making, distributing benefits from forest use, and expanding the role of women in decisions over community-forest resources need to be addressed.
April 22, 2013