Documents - Land Rights

Whose Land Is It? Commons and Conflict States

This paper addresses the tenure fate of three commons: the 30 million hectares of pasturelands of Afghanistan which represent 45 percent of the total land area and are key to livelihood and water catchment in that exceedingly dry country; the 5.7 million hectares of timber-rich tropical forests in Liberia, 59 percent of the total land area; and the 125 million hectares of savannah in Sudan, half the area of that largest state of Africa. All three resources have an uncountably long history as customary properties of local communities. They also share a 20th century history as the property of the state. Of course there is nothing unusual in this contradiction. Between one and two billion people on the planet today are tenants of the State (CLEP, 2008, Alden Wily, forthcoming (b)). They live on and use traditional properties on which, in the eyes of the national laws of those countries, they are no more than lawful occupants and users. When their expansive collectively-owned forest, pastoral and swamp lands are taken into account, up to five billion hectares are involved, potentially one third of the world’s total land area (Wily / RRI, 2010).

Rights to Resources in Crisis: Reviewing the Fate of Customary Tenure in Africa

This is the first in a series of briefs about modern African land tenure that provides up-to-date analysis on the status of customary land rights in Sub-Saharan Africa. The purpose of the series is to inform and help to structure advocacy and action aimed at challenging the weak legal status of customary land rights in many African countries (Wily / RRI, 2012).

Where They Stand

The Wapichan people of Guyana are using modern technology and community research to seek legal recognition of their ancestral land in the face of aggressive land-grabbing, destructive logging, and poisonous mining by illegal miners and foreign companies, finds new report by internationally acclaimed science writer Fred Pearce (Forest Peoples Program, 2015).

Who Owns the World’s Land?

A global baseline of formally recognized indigenous and community land rights. In recent years, there has been growing attention and effort towards securing the formal, legal recognition of land rights for Indigenous Peoples and local communities. Communities and Indigenous Peoples are estimated to hold as much as 65 percent of the world’s land area under customary systems, yet many governments formally recognize their rights to only a fraction of those lands. This gap—between what is held by communities and what is recognized by governments—is a major driver of conflict, disrupted investments, environmental degradation, climate change, and cultural extinction. This report seeks to contribute to this field as the first analysis to quantify the amount of land formally recognized by national governments as owned or controlled by Indigenous Peoples and local communities around the world ( RRI 2015).

Our Lifeways, Our Survival

Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP) have created this comic depicting indigenous peoples land use in Asia. It shows that land use is customary-based and is generally regulated by the community to allow equal access to resources. (AIPP, 2015)

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