Local villagers discuss on participatory natural resources mapping in Honitetu village, Maluku province, Indonesia – Photo by Ulet Ifansasti/CIFOR
Global Comparative Study on Tenure Reform
Ambitious approach to shared learning delivers results
As forest resources become scarcer,
governments, communities and companies are all vying for access to them.
Getting forest tenure reform right could make or break forests for future
generations – and the global climate.
Many national governments are revising land
and forestry laws to increase legal recognition of customary and local
authorities, indigenous territorial rights and women’s rights. Yet despite
decades of such efforts in some countries, these groups have yet to see the
change they need.
Why is forest and land tenure reform so
challenging to implement? To what extent does it secure the rights of local
communities? What conflicts is it causing, and what benefits can it bring? These
questions are at the core of CIFOR’s Global Comparative Study on Tenure Reform
(GCS Tenure), and an evaluation of its
first four years shows its participatory approach is making a difference.
Since 2014, CIFOR’s cross-disciplinary teams in Indonesia, Peru and Uganda have studied how forest tenure reforms are designed and implemented, what affects reform processes, and how the resulting reforms have impacted both livelihoods and the condition of forests. The ultimate aim is to inform land tenure policy, while also learning from communities, organizations, government and academia in order to equip local people with everything they need to claim their rights to forests.
Flexibility is central to the study’s iterative and multi-method approach. For example, Participatory prospective analysis (PPA) combines the knowledge of technical experts and decision makers with that of local people using computer software to help them envision scenarios based on their own context in a face-to-face setting. And they kept track of unexpected issues through regular project advisory committee meetings, making adjustments as needed and forging critical links with local partners.
As well as building knowledge with communities, researchers have been reporting back to them, sharing their findings through meetings, workshops, training sessions, and outputs written for different audiences.
European Commission, Global Environmental Facility (GEF), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), and the CGIAR Research Programs on Policies, Institutions and Markets (PIM) and on Forest, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA), which are supported by the CGIAR Trust Fund
Anne Larson (Principal Scientist and Team Leader, Equal Opportunities, Gender Justice & Tenure), Esther Mwangi (Principal Scientist and Team Leader, Nairobi Hub), Nining Liswanti (Researcher), Iliana Monterroso (Scientist)
A diversity of tenure across the Indonesian archipelago
In Indonesia, social forestry schemes have made it possible for
communities to claim customary tenure over land and forest resources, although
tenure reform is far more advanced in some areas than others. GCS Tenure has
focused mainly on the densely populated island of Maluku, where no reforms have
taken place, and West Kalimantan and Lampung provinces, where reforms are
already under way.
The evaluation found that both the PPA approach and creation of project
advisory committees helped meet project outcomes, in several ways. By bringing
together various stakeholders, PPA helped to strengthen participants’ capacity
for joint analysis and problem solving. Members and implementing agencies
valued the resulting collaborative scenario building and action plans. Project
advisory committees actively supported coordination and collaboration among
stakeholders, offering valuable feedback to the project team and providing
continuity for sustained efforts toward evidence-based forest tenure reform.
One committee called the attention of the Ministry of Environment and Forestry
to the project’s findings and suggested it consider using them to inform
Training addressed capacity gaps among diverse stakeholders on forest
tenure reform implementation, and workshops and dialogues helped build local
awareness of issues around gender integration, legal support, and major
constraints and challenges to reform. Tools and guides to enhance legal
literacy have helped communities to better understand their rights and how to
claim them, and some of these have been adopted by tenure-focused organizations
in the USA and Europe. GCS Tenure served as a conduit for global, national and
local information about land tenure, and this helped raise participants’
critical perspective of issues – and potential solutions.
Three main factors helped the project achieve its intended outcomes in Indonesia: high-quality collaborative research and outreach, capacity development, and a holistic approach that encompasses socioeconomic, ecological, policy and regulatory dimensions.
Peru: Where land rights do not necessarily equal forest rights
In the Peruvian Amazon, communities
scattered along rivers in the Amazonian regions of Loreto and Madre de Dios receive
titles to agricultural areas, but only long-term usufruct rights to the forests
on their land because forests are considered a public good. Overlapping land
rights and oil and gas exploration also create tension in the region.
The project used a theory of change to identify specific goals and pathways, including historical and legal analysis, PPA, surveys with government implementers, and 22 community studies. Researchers engaged deeply with specific actors from central and regional government, non-governmental and indigenous organizations, and local people through workshops, trainings, South-South country exchanges, and briefs, blogs, videos and tools – which many found useful. And they adapted their work to respond to emerging issues, such as the need for more emphasis on gender in reform processes.
Government officials in charge of titling gained greater awareness of the challenges for indigenous peoples, and some Amazon indigenous communities also have new capacities and tools to address these issues. There is also evidence that GCS Tenure has brought attention to new ideas about gender and land tenure insecurity, among others, at least to some key stakeholders. And working directly with professors and students at several universities led to the inclusion of social and cultural issues in the forest department curriculum and helped to develop critical mass in land tenure thinking in the country – something that should last beyond the end of the project.
Navigating contextual intricacies in Uganda
Migration, absentee landholders and the
expansion of corporate farms and ranches are all putting pressure on forests in
western Uganda, creating uncertainties about tenure and rights.
Evidence from interviews suggests that PPA enabled
participants to recognize their own capacity to improve their future. The evaluation
also found that the study’s regular project advisory committee meetings allowed
researchers to make mid-course corrections to the project, convey updated
information to key stakeholders, and create lasting coalitions around the topic
of land tenure.
By working through local research and
implementation partners, the study adapted to the local context and built
networks with local organizations and government representatives far more
effectively than it would have through CIFOR researchers, consultants or PhD
students alone. What made this project so effective is that it combined
research with action and shifted iteratively between research, community/actor
feedback, capacity building and engagement in platforms that allowed
experience-sharing, joint foresighting and collective problem-solving. In this
way, the project responded to local needs and was flexible enough to
accommodate emerging ones.
The project raised awareness among communities of their legal rights and the institutional channels to claim them or address grievances, and brought together legislators/parliamentarians to debate with and learn from researchers. Beyond that, it also provided concrete proposals on how best to integrate gender into collaborative forest management guidelines – drafted more than a decade ago – and motivated local government officials to increase the number and balance the gender ratio of staff in their environment departments.
A ‘how to’ guide to claiming forest rights
To help comunities navigate the complexities of tenure reform, GCS Tenure has created step-by-step guidelines for specific jurisdictions, with considerations for women and minority groups.