REDD+ practitioners and stakeholders convened in Zambia for an Africa sub-regional knowledge exchange on tenure and REDD+, from 11-13 November 2015. Participants represented government, academia and local communities from Madagascar, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Uganda, and Kenya. The event was organized by the UN-REDD Programme, with support from USAID, and facilitated knowledge sharing and learning on land tenure issues in the context of REDD+. 

Through the rich discussions and detailed country presentations, participants jointly agreed that that despite different REDD+ contexts, they faced common challenges. Participants from Uganda, Kenya and Malawi noted that their countries’ had sound legal and policy frameworks to protect legitimate tenure rights exist, but implementation has been lacking. By contrast, Zimbabwe representatives noted that their country is just starting to discuss the development of new laws and policies in this area. 


Issues related to customary land tenure also generated a good deal of common interest. In many of the countries represented, participants noted that there is a need to find ways to engage traditional authorities and to identify appropriate strategies to recognize legitimate tenure rights in the chiefdoms. At the same time, shared concerns were raised about systems of traditional land inheritance that often fail to properly recognize women’s rights, with negative consequences for sustainable forest management. 

Speakers brought the discussion back to the practical dimension with the introduction of community mapping tools and approaches. Brian Makabayi from Makarere University in Uganda presented the experience of using FAO’s Open Tenure application, while Matt Sommerville from Tetratech/USAID presented on the extensive customary mapping experience in chiefdoms in Zambia. The similarities and distinctions of the two projects introduced participants to different possible approaches. 

Participants also identified that even though tenure issues can be very complex, clear and secure tenure is a fundamental building block for REDD+ strategies and actions.

“We need to deal with tenure if we want REDD+ to succeed,” said one participant, highlighting one of the key conclusions of the event dialogue. 

Another attendee noted, “We need to avoid being intimidated by the sometimes overwhelming task at hand and identify interventions which are feasible within a REDD+ framework.” Participants did exactly this through exercises to identify tenure-related policies and measures that could be integrated in national REDD+ strategies. The UN-REDD Programme will continue to support partner efforts to undertake measures on tenure and REDD+ under the Programme’s 2016-2020 strategy.   

The workshop closed with a plan to establish a community of practice to continue an online exchange of ideas and experience. The workshop closed with a plan to establish a community of practice to continue an online exchange of ideas and experience.  To stay up to date on the latest news and information on this subject, readers are invited to visit, to join the">D-Group on Legal Preparedness for REDD+ and to subscribe to the newsletter on the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure by sending an email to .



Submitted by Amanda Bradley, UN-REDD Programme REDD+ Tenure Specialist and Ela Ionescu, UN-REDD Programme Knowledge Management Specialist