Who Owns the Forests of Africa?

An introduction to the forest tenure transition in Africa, 2002-2008

Author: Rights and Resources Initiative

Date: October 26, 2010

In recent decades there has been a shift away from government control of forest land towards increasing access and ownership for indigenous groups, communities, individuals, and firms. This brief highlights this transition in statutory forest tenure from 2002-2008 in Africa. The brief focuses on forest land tenure, but tenure over other forest resources (timber, non-timber forest products, carbon, sub-soil mineral ores, etc.) is often just as important. Moreover, although the focus is only on tenure in this analysis, the regulatory framework is also critically important because it specifies the rules regarding land use and who gets access to what resources.