Box 7.1 FRA 2005 thematic study on forest ownership and resource tenure

With a view to assessing and understanding changes in forest ownership patterns, possible variations among continents and issues related to these trends, the FAO Forestry Department has begun a thematic study aimed at complementing the information collected through the FRA 2005 reporting table on forest ownership.

The study, to be released during 2006, was designed to collect, analyse and monitor data on forest ownership, resource tenure and related trends at the regional level in policy and law development.

This phase is a pilot exercise conducted in East and Southeast Asia. Similar studies are expected to be conducted in other regions. Its objective is to develop and test a methodology for collecting and monitoring forest ownership and tenure data at the global level that can be integrated into the FRA 2010 process. The exercise has been implemented on two levels:

Regional. A pilot survey was conducted in 17 countries,1 aimed at collecting detailed data on forest areas for two variables: different types of ownership and different levels of control of and access to resources. The information was gathered through the use of a matrix designed for this purpose and was completed by country focal points (primarily government agencies).

National. Eleven country-specific case studies were conducted in nine countries 2 with the objective of expanding and strengthening the quantitative analysis done at the regional level and of complementing this with detailed qualitative information on types of forest tenure, particularly on resource ownership, management agreements and institutional arrangements. The case studies seek a better understanding of the relationship between forest resource tenure and forest management – and specifically of the implications for poverty alleviation.

Results and main conclusions

  • Forests remain public to a great extent (86 percent), with limited differences among countries, and mostly under the direct control of central governments (79 percent).
  • Devolution of management responsibilities to local communities involves no more than 10 percent of forests (18 percent if small-scale forest holders are included). In general, rights are devolved for degraded forests.
  • Short-term management agreements prevail over long-term ones.
  • Despite the examples provided by some countries – known for their well-established traditions of community forestry, joint forest management and private forestry – the scale of these schemes remains limited. Forests and the forestry sector do not generally offer a more diversified and adapted system of tenurial arrangements than can be seen in the rural development context.
  • Some emerging trends are the allocation of forests to private households (China and Viet Nam) and the interesting, but still limited and very recent granting of long-term agreements (100 years) to private companies (Malaysia).
  • The forestry sector seems slow to adapt to current trends such as decentralization and greater stakeholder participation. Instead, it tends to react to shocks in extreme ways (e.g. logging bans), which further weaken tenure rights.
  • In many countries, resource users and managers still have only a vague understanding of their roles, responsibilities and rights: poor management is often the result of limited knowledge and capacities.

Evidence emerging from the case studies demonstrates the linkage between clear and secure tenure arrangements and the contribution of forests to sustainable livelihoods and better management. While security of tenure is recognized as a founding block of effective forest management, it is not a sufficient condition. Secure forest tenure needs to be consolidated by effective capacity-building.

A strong recommendation emerging from the study is that awareness must be increased of the implications of forest ownership and tenure on forest management and poverty reduction. It is expected that FRA 2010 could contribute significantly to this goal.

1Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Thailand and Viet Nam.

2China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Thailand and Viet Nam.

Source & © FAO  Global Forest Resources Assessment 2005, Progress towards sustainable forest management,
Chapter 7: Socio-economic functions, p.120

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Other Figures & Tables on this publication:

Table 1.1: FRA 2005 reporting tables

Table 1.2: Indicative linkages among reporting tables and thematic elements of sustainable forest management

Table 1.3: Key statistics for regions and subregions used in FRA 2005

Table 2.1: Distribution of forests by subregion

Table 2.3: Forest cover by subregion 2005

Table 2.8: Carbon stock per hectare 2005

Table 2.10: Trends in carbon stocks in forest biomass 1990–2005

Table 3.3: Area of forest designated primarily for conservation of biodiversity 2005

Table 4.1: Average area of forest annually affected by fire 1998–2002

Table 4.3: Average area of forest annually affected by insects 1998–2002

Table 4.4: Average area of forest annually affected by diseases 1998–2002

Table 4.7: Average area of forest annually affected by other disturbances 1998–2002

Table 5.1: Area of forest designated primarily for production 2005

Table 5.7: Forest area and growing stock 2005

Table 5.13: Removals of four categories of Non-Wood Forest Products 2005 (tonnes)

Table 6.2: Area of forest designated primarily for protection 2005

Table 5.8: Commercial growing stock 2005

Table 6.3 Total area of forest designated for protection 2005

Table 7.2: Value of wood removals 2005

Table 7.4: Value of Non-Wood Forest Products removals 2005

Table 7.6: Number of people employed in forestry in 2000

Table 7.8: Ownership of forest area 2000

Table 8.2: Trends towards sustainable forest management at the global level

Table 8.3 Trends towards sustainable forest management in Africa

Table 8.4: Trends towards sustainable forest management in Asia

Table 8.5: Trends towards sustainable forest management in Europe

Table 8.6: Trends towards sustainable forest management in North and Central America

Table 8.7: Trends towards sustainable forest management in Oceania

Table 8.8: Trends towards sustainable forest management in South America

Table 8.9: Trends towards sustainable forest management by subregion

Table 5.10: Trends in commercial growing stock 1990–2005

Figure 1.1: Regional and Subregional breakdown used in FRA 2005

Figure 2.2: The world’s forests

Figure 2.3: Ten countries with largest forest ares 2005 (million ha)

Figure 2.5: Forest Change Dynamics

Figure 2.9: Forest characteristics 2005 (%)

Figure 2.12: Total Carbon Stock (C) in forests by region 2005

Figure 3.3: Ten countries with the largest area of primary forest 2005 (%)

Figure 3.11: Number of native forest tree species

Figure 3.13: Average number of threatened tree species by region

Figure 5.5: Ten countries with largest area of productive forest plantations 2005 (%)

Figure 5.8: Five countries with greatest total growing stock 2005 (%)

Figure 5.10: Five countries with largest volume of wood removal 2005 (%)

Figure 6.1: Information availability – protective functions of forest resources

Figure 7.7: Ownership of forests by subregion 2000

Figure 8.1: Designated functions of forests globally 2005 (%)

Figure 8.2 Distribution of subregional trends

Forest cover by subregion 2005 and distribution

Box 1.1 Thematic elements of sustainable forest management

Box 2.1 FRA 2005 thematic study on planted forests

Box 2.2 FRA 2005 thematic study on mangroves

Box 2.3 FRA 2005 thematic study on bamboo

Box 4.1 FRA 2005 thematic study on forest fires

Box 4.2 FRA 2005 thematic study on forest pests

Box 6.1 FRA 2005 thematic study on forests and water

Box 7.1 FRA 2005 thematic study on forest ownership and resource tenure