Tenure Security



The provision of clear and legitimate tenure rights over forests can provide motivation and incentives to sustainably manage forest resources, thus contributing to the goal of reducing carbon emissions. Likewise, clarifying tenure rights strengthens accountability. In fact, communities and stakeholders with secure tenure rights have a strong interest in investing time and resources in maintaining and enhancing the natural capital under a long-term vision. By identifying who owns, manages and uses forests, more effective engagement on the ground in activities to address deforestation and forest degradation can be achieved.

The challenges faced in many developing countries with regard to tenure and REDD+ often stem from the difficulty of reconciling customary rights and statutory law, combined with increasing pressure on forest resources. Some common issues that relate to REDD+ include: lack of legal provisions to recognize customary forest tenure; lack of transparency in transactions related to forestland; costly and cumbersome forestland registration procedures that tend to exclude the poor; lack of enforcement of existing forest tenure claims, and lack of institutional capacity to address forest and land tenure issues.

The Cancun Agreements request developing country parties to address land tenure issues (1/CP.16, paragraph 72) when developing and implementing their national strategies. Thus, many countries have acknowledged the importance of tenure in the context of REDD+ and have been seeking support from the UN-REDD Programme in this area. The UN-REDD Programme’s focus on tenure stems from understanding tenure security as an important enabling condition for REDD+. Each country will determine the appropriate approach to deal with tenure issues based on its unique situation. Depending on country needs and priorities, the UN-REDD Programme may support both short and long-term activities, ranging from technical advice on tenure reforms based on participatory approaches, to training on the use of specific tools and methodologies to improve land use planning or demarcate forest boundaries. In addressing tenure and REDD+ the following are important:

  •                   To support a country-driven approach to tenure and REDD+, whereby multiple stakeholders are encouraged to participate in the process of assessment, capacity building, and reform;
  •                   To utilize the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security (VGGT) as a guiding framework for addressing tenure issues in the context of REDD+;
  •                   To emphasize the importance of customary ownership rights and the collective tenure rights of indigenous peoples and local communities;
  •                   To promote the mainstreaming of gender and the use of gender-responsive approaches; and
  •                   To encourage an integrated approach that recognizes the interconnectedness of forest tenure with the broader land and resource tenure regime. In particular, to identify and take advantage of synergies related to in-country VGGT activities.                           


The Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries, and Forests in the Context of National Food Security (EN/ES/FR)

The Voluntary Guidelines on Tenure promote secure tenure rights and equitable access to land, fisheries and forests with respect to all forms of tenure: public, private, communal, indigenous, customary and informal.  They were finalized through intergovernmental negotiations that included participation by civil society, the private sector and research institutions. The Guidelines were officially endorsed by the Committee on World Food Security on 11 May 2012. Since then implementation has been encouraged by G20, Rio+ 20, United Nations General Assembly, Francophone Assembly of Parliamentarians and others.


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Key Contacts

Ms. Mino Randrianarison (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)
Forestry Officer, Food and Agriculture Organizaton of the United Nations (FAO)
Ms. Amanda Bradley (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)
REDD+ Tenure Specialist, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

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Find Tenure Security capacity building resources and learning tools here.

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