Forest tenure is a broad concept that includes ownership, tenancy, and other arrangements for the use of forests. It is a combination of legally or customarily defined forest ownership, and of rights and arrangements to manage and use forest resources. Forest tenure determines who can use what resources, for how long and under what conditions.
More than half of the world’s land are managed collectively by local communities and indigenous peoples under various arrangements, including customary tenure. They play an essential role in protecting and managing the forests and forested lands. However, despite the relationship of peoples and forests that have withstood time, legal establishment of ownership, use, and protection are yet to be improved. The importance of the establishment of legal frameworks and policies in recognizing forest rights could not be further emphasized as they establish the foundation of an effective forest management.
Under the tenure rights and governance theme, NTFP-EP facilitates the creation of spaces that allow for multi-stakeholder approaches in advocating for a community-centered forest rights agenda. NTFP-EP targets the following outcomes:
- Government policies and programmers promoting NTFPs and sustainable forest management;
- Institutions promoting equitable, gender-responsive and inclusive governance in forest resources utilization and management;
- Regional and local constituencies advocating for NTFPs, social forestry, tenure and resource use rights are built, strengthened and expanded; and
- Communities are united and enabled to secure and enjoy their customary tenure and/or resource use rights.
- Facilitate learning opportunities for government offices and civil society organizations (CSOs) in participatory and multi-stakeholder approaches to securing forest tenure and natural resources governance.
- Conduct evidence-based policy analysis on tenure rights and forest/natural resources governance and prepare policy briefs with the academe and CSOs.
- Advocate for and support processes to secure NTFP permits, tenurial agreements, memoranda of agreements, and recognition and registration of community-based forestry, protected areas, indigenous and local community conserved areas and territories (ICCAs), and others.
- Demonstrate, adopt, and promote FPIC principles and processes in the exercise of NTFP-EP interventions, and advocate the same over policies and projects that affect local and indigenous communities.
- Develop and champion a community-centered forest rights agenda through multi-stakeholder dialogue and site-based approaches; where appropriate, employ negotiation, mediation, and litigation strategies, and build key competencies around these.
- Build and participate in technical working groups, multi-stakeholder platforms, alliances, and coalitions for advocacy on forest rights, particularly pertaining to resource use and access, safeguards, and tenure.
- Conduct awareness-raising (including learning and exchange activities) and use multimedia and community-appropriate communications channels in community capacity building.
- Develop site level strategies (both short and long-term) for engaging policymakers to improve resource access and community tenure rights.