Why guarantee the land rights of communities?

Why guarantee the land rights of communities?

Why should Peru move forward in guaranteeing the land rights of its indigenous communities? Causes, challenges and reasons for Peru to advance in recognizing land rights to its traditional forest communities.

For many indigenous communities that inhabit the forest lands of the Peruvian Amazon, obtaining legal recognition that guarantees their collective rights to land can become a long-term struggle.

Between 2014 and 2018, the Global Comparative Study on Tenure Reforms that the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and its partners carried out in five countries around the world, has highlighted some common challenges that forest communities face in relation to the exercise of land rights and the improvement of their livelihoods.

Over four years and based on numerous analyzes and data, the study has identified some critical points that can be addressed so that Peru advances in this task, within the framework of international commitments assumed by the country and in the face of the growing international consensus that promotes the recognition of the rights of traditional forest-dwelling communities to advance towards the goals of sustainable development and in the face of climate change.

This video exposes the problems identified by the study for the case of Peru and offers specific recommendations that can be considered for the country to advance in this field, thus improving opportunities for communities and forests in Peru.

For more information on this topic, you can contact Anne Larson at [email protected]

This research was carried out by CIFOR with the support of the European Commission, the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations ( FAO).

Learn more about this study at CIFOR


Forest tenure reform has been at the center of debate, on national and international policy agendas, in recent years. The objective of the reform is to grant traditional communities, local communities or local governments ownership or some level of rights over forest lands and resources. Despite more than two decades of experience in tenure reform in most developing countries, the impact of reforms on the ground has not achieved the expected results. The reforms are either inadequate to conserve forest resources or provide limited livelihood returns for the local population.

Research on forest tenure reform has shown that a number of factors including a regulatory framework, administrative management, market forces, resource systems, and community attributes are key to determining the impacts of reforms. However, there is limited understanding of the extent to which each of these factors affects results at the systems level. The research accommodates the historical, scale, and power dimensions of the reform into consideration, and aims to generate ideas by investigating the emergence, concurrent implementation practice, key results, and bottlenecks of these reforms.

Investigation programme

The current research program builds on CIFOR's existing knowledge of forest tenure reform:

Improving equity and livelihoods in community forestry: a global action research initiative in support of a strategic partnership on rights and resources

Rural people have lived in and around forests for centuries, but state forest policies have usurped the rights of local communities. This may finally be changing. In several countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, governments are beginning to recognize community tenure rights. Although the world's forests are still the primary property of the state, more than a quarter of the southern forests are now owned or assigned to communities. Most of this change has occurred since 1985, with an increase from 22% to 27% from 2002 to 2008 alone.

This shift in rights, which represents a “forest reform” comparable to the widespread land reforms of the mid-20th century, deserves serious consideration. What is the nature of this forestry reform and why is it happening? What are the forces that make up this new trend? How is it developing and what are the challenges that communities continue to face? How has it affected forests and livelihoods?

This study is part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA), which is supported by the CGIAR Fund Donors.

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