Rio, Brazil, May 2012
New RRI Analysis for Rio+20

Twenty Years of Tenure Reform

Press Release

PRESS RELEASE: New Study Reports Rise in Community Land Rights in Tropical Forests; Yet Most Laws in Asia, Africa Remain either Meaningless or Unenforced
(Read in Portuguese)

Citing Global Land-Grab, Lack of Action by Authorities in Vulnerable Nations, Authors Warn of Risk to Positive 20-Year Global Trend—Even in Latin America.

New Analyses

What Rights? A Comparative Analysis of Developing Countries’ National Legislation on Community and Indigenous Peoples’ Forest Tenure Rights

Spanish | French

This report presents a legal analysis of the national legislation that relates to Indigenous Peoples’ and communities’ forest tenure rights at a global scale by assessing whether the legal systems of 27 of the most forested developing countries of the world recognize the rights of Indigenous Peoples and communities to access, withdraw, manage, exclude and alienate to forest resources and land. The countries included in this study are home to 2.2 billion rural people and include approximately 75% of the forests in the developing world.

Respecting Rights, Delivering Development: Forest Tenure Reform since Rio 1992

French | Portuguese | Spanish

In the twenty years since the 1992 Earth Summit set sustainable development as a key global objective, Indigenous Peoples and local community management of forests has proven to be one major area of progress among the many unmet goals and aspirations. In the same amount of time, the amount of forest recognized as owned or controlled by Indigenous Peoples and forest communities increased from 10 to 15% globally and from 21 to 31% of developing country forests. The amount of legislation recognizing or strengthening local peoples’ forest and land rights have also increased dramatically. Rigorous research makes clear that the recognition of rights results in strong, positive impacts in social, economic and environmental terms – delivering on the global goals of sustainable development. However, global progress is attributable to a small set of countries even in light of this research, and the majority of forest country governments continue to deny communities land rights to those who depend of them for their livelihoods.


Background Papers

Click the country name for examples of tenure reform around the world from 1992-2012:
Brazil, China, India, Nepal, Mexico

Media Contacts

To arrange interviews with the individuals below, or for more information, please contact:

Jenna DiPaolo
[email protected]
+1 202 412 0331

Coimbra Sirica
[email protected]
+1 301 943 3287

Key Spokespeople Biographies (click here to download)


Andy White, President, Rights and Resources Group (coordinating unit of the Rights and Resources Initiative)
Jeffrey Hatcher, Director of Global Programs, Rights and Resources Initiative
Fred Pearce, Freelance Author and Journalist
Fernanda Almeida, International Legal Consultant


Luiz Carlos Joels, Brazilian Forestry Expert
Adriana Ramos, Vice Executive Secretary, Instituto Socioambiental (ISA)
Antonio Hummel, Director General, Brazilian Forest Service


Su Yufang, Deputy Director, Center for Mountain Ecosystem Studies
Liu Song, Research Assistant, Center for Mountain Ecosystem Studies
Li Ping, Staff Attorney, Landesa-RDI


Madhu Sarin, Fellow, Rights and Resources Initiative
Sudhansu Sekhar Deo, Indian Expert in Natural Resource Management
Tushar Dash, Director Forest Rights Act Thematic Group, Vasundhara

Additional Resources for Press
RRI Press Kit
RRI Press Coverage

Suggested Resources for Reading

Declaration on Environment and Development
Agenda 21
Statement of principles for the Sustainable Management of Forests
Who Owns the World’s Forests? (White and Martin, 2002)
Map « Amazonia Protected Areas and Indigenous Territories » (Instituto Socioambiental, 2009)
Trade-offs and synergies between carbon storage and livelihood benefits from forest commons (Chhatre and Agrawal, 2009)
Community-managed forests and forest protected areas: An assessment of their conservation effectiveness across the tropics (Porter-Bolland et al., 2011)
Effectiveness of strict vs. multiple-use protected areas in reducing tropical forest fires (Nelson and Chomitz, 2011)