In recent years, many governments have been formalizing the rights of local communities and Indigenous Peoples to use and manage forest resources. This is expected to contribute to both sustainable rural development and forest conservation.

Now, with forest tenure reforms on their way in many parts of the world, it is a good time to reflect on the experiences so far: Do the reforms have the desired outcomes? What are the barriers and conditions? And how can the outcomes be improved?

To address these questions, Tropenbos International is conducting a review of experiences with community forest rights. We dive into the literature, collect stories of communities, and bring together the perspectives of various experts.

On this page you will find links to the publications so far, including a booklet, interviews, articles, and several short videos. In the months to come we will continue our exploration, including a review of specific community forest tenure models in 13 countries. We will share our findings through regular updates on this site. So, come back soon to find out more!

Click here for our booklet on community forest rights, based on a review of the literature

InterviewsShow more

Interview

Community forestry is central to Bolivia’s climate plans, but bottlenecks remain- In conversation with Humberto Gómez Cerveró

The Bolivian government sees community forestry as a way to achieve objectives related to both climate change and development. However, to truly unleash the potential of community forestry, the capacity of communities needs to be strengthened and the regulatory environment needs to be improved, says Humberto Gómez Cerveró.

Read more

Interview

Community forest land allocation can help to achieve climate objectives in Viet Nam - In conversation with Tran Nam Thang

In Viet Nam, large areas of forests are traditionally managed by ethnic minorities. Allocating forest lands to these communities can result in better forest management, contributing to climate change mitigation and adaptation goals, says Tran Nam Thang of Tropenbos Viet Nam.

Read more

Interview

In the Philippines, community forestry can help the climate agenda, and vice versa - In conversation with Heidi Mendoza

The Filipino government can generate new momentum and resources for its longstanding community-based forest management programme, by placing it more centrally in its climate policies. This could benefit forest-dependent communities, but only if mistakes from the past are not repeated, argues Heidi Mendoza. It requires a better understanding of the conditions and constraints for community forestry.

Read more

Interview

The future of community forests in Suriname - In conversation with Rudi van Kanten

With a forest cover of 93%, Suriname is the most forested country on the globe. Its forests are home to five Indigenous Peoples, who have been living there since long before the country became occupied by Europeans. Next to the Indigenous Peoples, Suriname’s forests are populated by Maroon communities who mostly live along the rivers. They are descendants of enslaved Africans who fled the colonial Dutch plantations and established independent communities deep in the interior rainforests, where they could not be found. Today, there are a total of six Maroon tribes, spread over hundreds of villages, making up almost 14% of the population. Both the Indigenous and Maroon communities depend on the forest for their food, medicines and construction material. Also, they are increasingly involved in commercial timber extraction.

Read more

Interview

Do forest rights empower communities in Liberia? In conversation with Jonathan Yiah

With around 4.3 million hectares of lowland tropical forest, Liberia is the most forested country in West Africa. Liberia’s forestry sector contributes significantly to the national economy. Moreover, about one-third of the population lives in forested areas, many of whom depend on forests for their livelihoods. The government has developed a legal framework, which recognises customary rights of local communities to access and manage forests. Crucial in this has been the Community Rights Law of 2009.

Read more

Interview

A bumpy road — forest concessions of local communities in DR Congo - In conversation with Alphonse Maindo

Earlier this year, three communities in the Tshopo province of DR Congo received forest concession titles. The government and NGOs believe that these will help decrease deforestation and poverty, but researchers have casted doubts whether these expectations are realistic. Alphonse Maindo, Director of Tropenbos DRC, is cautiously optimistic.

Read more

Interview

Lessons from the Indigenous territories in Colombia – In conversation with Carlos Rodriguez

Indigenous groups control a significant portion of the land in Colombia. This is good news for the forest, as the Indigenous worldview is based on the idea that people are an integrated part of nature. But this does not necessarily mean they reject modernity. There is a need to cherish and pass on Indigenous culture, while at the same time taking local development aspirations seriously, according to Carlos Rodriguez, director of Tropenbos Colombia.

Read more

Interview

CSOs key to implementing social forestry in Indonesia - In conversation with Edi Purwanto

In 2014, the Indonesian government started an ambitious social forestry program, aiming to provide communities with legal permits to manage and use forests located on state lands. As of March 2019, around 2.5 million hectares of land were titled under the program.

Read more

Interview

A double-edged sword: Can formalization of forest rights empower women? - In conversation with Esther Mwangi

In large parts of the tropics, women collect fuelwood, fruits, vegetables and medicines from the forest. Although they depend on these forest resources for their livelihoods, their rights to the forest are often not secure. Esther Mwangi believes that this should change. Mwangi is a principal scientist at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), and here she talks about the relationship between gender and forest tenure – two topics she has been researching for many years.

Read more

VideosShow more

Video

Community Forest Rights, Solano - Colombia

In Colombia, the government recognises the right of Indigenous groups to use and manage their forests in Indigenous territories, called 'resguardos'. In this video Indigenous people and peasants talk about their perceptions of the forest, and how they can learn from each other.

Read more

Video

The village forest of Laman Satong: for money and more

After having received a village forest permit, the village of Laman Satong in West Kalimantan can earn money from its forest by selling carbon credits. However, the money should not be the prime motivation to protect the forest, according to one of the village’s customary elders.

Read more

Video

Managing a village forest – a matter of commitment

In Indonesia, local communities can apply for a village forest permit, which gives them the right to use and manage forests that are located on state lands. In theory, this provides an incentive for sustainable forest management, which in turn generates income for the community. In practice, it is not always that easy. In this video Yohanes Dogol, the head of the village forest committee of Laman Satong in West Kalimantan, Indonesia, describes some of the challenges they are facing.

Read more

Video

Women’s business — selling water from the forest

Laman Satong is a small village located on the foot of two forested hills in West Kalimantan, Indonesia. The forests are formally owned by the government, but in 2011 the community successfully applied for a so-called village forest permit, giving them the legal right to sell forest products for a period of 35 years.

Read more

Video

The village forest permit: Challenges and conditions for social forestry in Indonesia

In Indonesia, forest tenure has long been a source of conflict. About two thirds of the country's terrestrial area is classified as state-forest land, even though local people have been living there for many generations. When the government allocates these areas for production or conservation purposes, local people face the threat of losing access to their traditional territories. To resolve this, the Indonesian government launched an ambitious social forestry program in 2014, giving communities formal rights to use and manage forests that are located on state land. Significant progress has been made, but many challenges remain. This video introduces the program and highlights some of the conditions for success.

Read more

_

News and blogsShow more

News

Community forestry: Who Benefits?

Community forestry has the potential to contribute to sustainable livelihoods for people living in and near forests. However, it is not uncommon that a large part of the benefits of collectively managed forests end up in the pockets of local elites. Civil society organizations (CSOs) therefore support communities to strengthen their internal governance processes and promote equitable benefit sharing. This raises complex questions, such as: Who decides what is fair? And how do new governance structures relate to customary decision making?

Read more

News

More equitable community forestry in Suriname

In Suriname, income from logging within community forests goes mostly to companies and village leaders, rather than to community members. This was one of the conclusions of a study conducted by Tropenbos Suriname in 2020. It prompted 14 indigenous communities to request training in benefit sharing.

Read more

News

Tropenbos International launches briefing papers on the formalization of community forest rights

Over the last couple of decades, many governments have formalized the forest rights of local communities and indigenous peoples, with the expectation that this would contribute to both conservation and sustainable development. With forest tenure reforms underway, this is a good time to reflect on the experiences so far: Have these reforms led to the desired outcomes? And, what are the conditions for success?

Read more

News

What are the conditions for successful community forest rights? Insights from the Philippines and Bolivia

In recent years, the call for the legal recognition of community rights to forests has been growing stronger. It is put forward as the key to combatting deforestation, climate change and poverty. The formalization of community forest rights has a better chance of achieving those objectives, when the rights are adapted to local needs, and accompanied with support for livelihood development.

Read more

News

Community forest rights in the Philippines and Nigeria: Strong legal foundation is not enough

Over the last couple of decades, governments all over the world introduced forest tenure reforms. A key element of these reforms is to grant forest rights to local communities and indigenous peoples, which is expected to contribute to local development objectives as well as conservation. So far, however, the outcomes have been mixed.

Read more

News

New book on community forest rights to be launched at the GLF in Bonn, June 2019

The 2019 annual event of the Global Landscapes Forum in Bonn focusses on rights and rights-based approaches. It will help draw attention to a discrepancy that is still common in many countries: while local communities and Indigenous Peoples depend on forest resources for their livelihoods, they do not have the legal right to use and manage them. However, change is in the air.

Read more

This website uses cookies. More information.