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Forest Restoration in Landscapes

Forest Restoration in Landscapes

12 Land Ownership and

12 Land Ownership and Forest Restoration Gonzalo Oviedo Key Points to Retain Forest ownership regimes matter for forest restoration because the end result of restoration, the trees, are the centrepieces of the ecosystem, and their consequent, associated goods and ecological services are of direct value to people. The ownership regime determines how such goods and services are accessed and distributed, and therefore, is the basis for restoration incentives. It is necessary to undertake further research on experiences (successful and unsuccessful) of forest restoration under different types of ownership, to better understand how ownership rights’ systems impact on the results. 1. Background and Explanation of the Issue 1.1. Forest Ownership: An Overview The reports “Who Owns the World’s Forests” 112 and “Who Conserves the World’s Forests?” 113 indicate that globally, 77 percent of forestlands are owned by governments, 7 percent by indigenous and local communities, and 12 percent by individual and corporate landowners, and that in the last 15 years the forest area owned and 112 White and Martin, 2002. 113 Molnar et al, 2004. 84 administered by indigenous and local communities has doubled, reaching nearly 400 million hectares. This reflects important changes in forest ownership worldwide. This chapter discusses the relationships between forest ownership and restoration, more specifically, the implications of the various types and conditions of forest ownership for successful restoration of forestlands. The basic assumption in this chapter is that forest ownership regimes matter for restoration because the end result of forest restoration, trees, are the centrepieces of the ecosystem, and their consequent, associated goods and ecological services are of direct value to people. In other words, the basic nature of the link between forest ownership and forest restoration is the fact that forest owners (whatever their specific regime and bundles of rights) are driven to restore (or not) by the expectation of goods and services that restored forests offer. 1.2. Definitions The literature often does not distinguish “tenure” from “property” or “ownership” of forests, although in a more general sense “tenure” could be linked to custom-defined bundles of rights that are socially acknowledged, and “property” would be identified as a status in which customary tenure becomes more “institutional” through legal and political procedures and means. Ownership or property itself is in essence a bundle of rights which are defined according to the nature of the subject and the legal frame-

work in a given situation. Such rights can be listed 114 as the rights to (1) possess and exclusively physically control, (2) use, (3) manage, (4) draw income, (5) transmit or destroy capital, (6) have protection from expropriation, (7) dispose of interest on death, (8) potentially hold property forever, (9) reversionary/residual interests arising on expiration, (10) liability to seizure for debts, and (11) prohibitions on harmful use. There are many differences in the way in which these various rights are defined and apply to forests in different countries and social and historical contexts; some of these specific rights appear to be particularly important when dealing with sustainable forest management and forest restoration, as will be discussed later. The literature distinguishes four main types of property applicable to lands and forests: private (individual or corporative), state, common or communal, and open access. These systems have been studied extensively, and their advantages and disadvantages with regard to natural resource use are well documented (for a useful typology and comparative analysis, see GTZ, 1998). In country regimes of the 20th and 21st centuries, the rule for forest ownership is typically a combination of these four types of property, with significant changes in the composition of property according to historical moments and with great differences among countries. Generally, however, the predominant pattern is for the majority of forest areas to be in the hands of government, and only a small proportion being communal forests. In modern times, legally speaking there is little if any open access in forestlands, as any forestlands without private owners are automatically converted by law to state lands. In practice, however, stateowned forest has in many cases meant open access, as governments, particularly in developing countries, have had little capacity to control access to their forests. In developing countries, however, the establishment of large stateowned forest areas was in most cases the result of the expropriation of forestlands from their traditional users, who until colonial times were owners of those lands (or parts of them) under 114 Ziff, 1993, cited by Clogg, 1997. 12. Land Ownership and Forest Restoration 85 customary tenure. In this sense, and in cases where traditional forest-owning communities still exist and inhabit their traditional lands, there is an overlap of state property and communal, customary tenure. Partly due to the recognition of customary tenure as legal communal (or individual) property, forest ownership is undergoing a major change in the world, with the main trend being the transfer or “devolution” of ownership rights to the local level, and the consequent expansion of community-owned forests. 1.3. Degree of Dependence on Forests From the perspective of goods and services that forests (standing or future) offer, there are roughly two types of owners: forest-dependent people and non–forest-dependent people (and institutions). This distinction is important because of the expectations of the end result of forest restoration and their implications. Forest-dependent communities basically expect from restored forests an array of goods and services of direct economic value. They may value other associated benefits, such as ecological services at a landscape scale—climate change mitigation, regulation of the hydrological cycle, watershed protection, etc.—but they will normally not place higher values on associated ecological services than on those related to direct forest produce. 115 In the cases of non–forest-dependent owners, such as the absentee forest owner and the state and public agencies, the scale and hierarchy of values may vary for some areas, and their expectations, therefore, may not directly be linked to the economic importance of forest produce, but to ecosystem protection and services, biodiversity conservation, aesthetic aspects (which in turn can become economic values for example from tourism), etc. 115 Some exceptions exist to the hierarchy of values of forest restoration from the perspective of forest-dependent owners, but they are exceptions that do not contradict the primary expectations on forest produce or alternative livelihoods. For example, this is the case of restoration of degraded forest areas with sacred or particular spiritual value to local communities.

Forest Landscape Restoration - IUCN
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