Laws governing Indigenous Peoples’ and local community forest rights vary from context to context, and from country to country. Some communities are legally permitted to use forest resources like fuelwood and fruit for commercial purposes, while others are allowed only to use these resources for basic survival needs. Some communities have the legal right to decide whether outsiders can enter their land and extract resources like lumber, minerals, or oil, while other communities cannot.

The land rights that national-level tenure regimes recognize can be unpacked into the seven types, below. By looking at national laws and regulations, it is possible to have a more exact idea of the range of the legally recognized rights—and what that means in practice—for the Indigenous Peoples and local communities living in these forests.

  • Access: Access rights allow a community and its members to enter a forest area.
  • Duration: Duration measures the permanence of allocated rights.
  • Exclusion: Exclusion is the ability to refuse another individual, group, or entity access to and use of a particular resource.
  • Management: Management can be defined by the legal limits of other rights, and it can also be used to empower a community to articulate its rights to alienation or the exclusion of particular resources.
  • Alienation: The right to alienate one’s property is the right to transfer one’s rights to another entity.
  • Withdrawal: Withdrawal rights are the right to benefit from forest products, for subsistence or commercial purposes.
  • Due Process & Compensation: Due Process and Compensation is the right to due process and compensation in cases of eminent domain.

Different laws “bundle”combinations of these rights into separate regimes that represent the collective rights for areas or forest communities. For a detailed definition of the “bundle of rights,”please refer to Section 2 in the report What Rights?