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Who Owns the World’s Forests? Forest Tenure and Public Forests in Transition

By Andy White, and Alejandra Martin - Forest Trends, Forest Trends, Center for International Environmental Law
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Since the late 1980s, some governments of major forested countries have begun to reconsider and reform forest ownership policies. These transitions are driven by three primary considerations. First, governments are increasingly aware that official forest tenure systems in many countries discriminate against the rights and claims of indigenous people and other local communities. Although the data are incomplete, it is estimated that some 60 million highly forest-dependent indigenous forest people live in the rainforests of Latin America, West Africa and Southeast Asia. An additional 400 million to 500 million people are estimated to be directly dependent on forest resources for their livelihoods. Around the world, indigenous people have legitimate claims to more forest areas than governments currently acknowledge.