Land Use, Land Tenure, Planning and Governance for Conservation


To address the challenge of conserving biodiversity outside of protected areas, conservation organizations are assessing the range of land and natural resource-use management tools, especially on community-land, to achieve biodiversity conservation. Among these tools are zoning, long-term land leases, voluntary easements, measures to secure tenure, and land purchases. The application of these new tools on community land depends in large measure on the law and practice of land tenure and natural resource property rights in the individual countries.  ABCG organizations are working to advance the use of new land tools for biodiversity conservation and local development purposes on land outside the protected areas in Kenya and Tanzania. This work is supported by the US Agency for International Developments' Biodiversity Analysis and Technical Support (BATS) Program of its Africa Bureau.

FY2013 Accomplishments and Outcomes

In the past year, ABCG member organizations including AWF, JGI, TNC and WRI continued to collaborate on reviewing land tenure issues in key countries including Kenya, Tanzania and Zimbabwe; organized village sensitization meetings and implemented land use tenure actions; conducted research on compensation for property losses for private land-use restrictions in several countries; and developed a new benefit-sharing business model in communal conservancy areas. The following is a selection of task accomplishments.

AWF continued to focus on improving understanding of the evolution of tenure relationships in Zimbabwe as part of the indigenization process. Efforts were focus on developing a working model and pilot restructuring for conservancies. Read the summary Report on: A Proposed Business Model for a Conservation Based Property in a Conservancy in Zimbabwe.

TNC collaborated with JGI and Frankfurt Zoological Society to launch the Greater Mahale Ecosystem (GME) Steering Committee, which will among others coordinate the development of an Integrated Management Plan for the GME and advance conservation of priority areas within the GME. The TNC report, Steps towards Implementing the Tongwe West District Authority Reserve for Mpanda District Council provides more details on the launch of this steering committee in June, participants, as well as it’s intended objectives.

A three-day meeting was held in Kigoma to review the Terms of Reference of the steering committee [Terms of Reference for the Greater Katavi Mahale Gombe Ecosystem Conservation Technical Team] and incorporate the comments from the regional and district leaders that were provided during the inauguration of the steering committee in June [Report on the Exercise of Establishing a Local Authority Forest Reserve for the District of Mpanda]

WRI conducted research on compensation for property losses from private land-use restrictions. The research focused on the law and practice of land-use restrictions in Kenya, Uganda and Zambia. It compared the findings from Africa with compensation principles in the U.S.(Compensation for Land Use Restrictions – Kenya, Uganda and Zambia, in Comparison to the United States of America) A written report was prepared that captures the data, findings and recommendations [to be published soon]. WRI also finalized a research report that captures the main findings and recommendations from our research on overlapping land and natural resource rights (Overlapping Land and Natural Resource Property Rights: A Comparative Analysis from Africa). The report was submitted to the April 2013 World Bank Land and Poverty Conference and is also available on the web (http://www.conftool.com/landandpoverty2013/index.php?page=browseSessions&am...).

- See more at: http://abcg.sonjara.com/governance_and_land#sthash.X8ChRtLn.dpuf

FY2012 Accomplishments and Outcomes

In the past year, ABCG member organizations including AWF, JGI, TNC and WRI have collaborated to review land tenure issues in key countries including Kenya, Tanzania and Zimbabwe; analyzed communal conservancies and related strategies in several countries; and examine the law and practice of private land-use restrictions and assess their usefulness in achieving biodiversity conservation outside the protected estate. Much progress has been achieved in illuminating land use constraints, and uncovering opportunities for intervention as a first step in tackling poverty, biodiversity loss and conflict resolution. This paves the way to helping communities and governments at all levels implement a knowledge-based strategy integrating biodiversity conservation into local, regional and national development plans. Key results from the below activites were shared in an ABCG Thematic Meeting on October 2, 2012.

Development of integrated Management Plan for the Greater Mahale Ecosystem (GME), Tanzania (JGI & TNC)

ABCG members the Jane Goodall Institute and The Nature Conservancy are working together with the Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS) to assist local governments and citizen in general land management planning in the Greater Mahale Ecosystem of Western Tanzania.Land Tenure in Greater Mahale Ecosystem, Tanzania

  • Land Use Planning workshop with Kigoma and Mpanda District stakeholders
  • Development of general land use plan maps
  • Mapping: Maps were developed using satellite imagery to identify deforestation rates from 2001 to 2007 and 2011. Information from biodiversity surveys in the region and mapping species distribution (funded through USFWS) and from on the ground data collectors (forest monitors), was incorporated into the maps. Maps showing forests identified as priority conservation areas within the general land were developed using satellite imagery to identify deforestation rates from 2001 to 2007 and 2011 and used during the general management plan workshop. We integrated findings from regional biodiversity surveys funded through USFWS, and incorporated information collected from forest monitors patrolling the forests.

Conservation Business Model Development (AWF)
With support from USAID’s BATS program, ABCG member AWF developed a proposed business model to be used by the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority to achieve tourism sustainability in its Parks, using Hwange National Park in Northwestern Zimbabwe as the pilot area.

AWF has also developed a business model to pilot application of the indigenization of the wildlife sector focused on the Save Conservancy in Zimbabwe’s Southeast Lowveld which has been the center of controversy between government, local communities and private land owners. This will include valuation, zoning and community engagement. The model will be presented to the relevant ministry for review and endorsement. Information and data was collected through site visits, discussions with key partner (i.e. Conservancy members and staff, ZPWMA staff), economic valuations, and community engagement using AWF staff directly and commissioned consultancy. Several high level meetings were held between AWF Senior Program staff led by the AWF President and ZPWMA management, board of trustees, the Minister, USAID Mission & other donors, and partners in Zimbabwe to discuss the findings. By the end of the year, a ‘Report of Study and Recommended Model for Piloting’ was completed and is being finalized for presentation to the Minister of Environment and Natural Resources Management to endorse recommended course of action.

Research on Overlapping Land and Natural Resource Property Rights (WRI)
In many African countries, most land and natural resources are either the property of the state or are public resources vested in or held in trust by the government for the people. While the state may be the owner, rights of access, control, transfer and exclusion—the bundle of property rights—are held under customary tenure arrangements or grants by the state under formal law for land and various natural resources on or below the land (e.g., minerals, oil, natural gas, water, trees, and wildlife). Under formal law, these property rights regimes are separate and distinct. The rights to land often include only surface rights and not rights to these natural resources. As a result, different individuals or institutions may hold surface and natural resource rights on the same plot of land.

While considerable attention has focused on protecting against overlapping land (surface) rights, less attention has focused on reconciling overlapping surface and natural resource rights. Conflict can arise when the various holders of surface and natural resource rights on the same piece of land seek to exercise their rights in ways that contradict each other. For example, when the holder of surface rights wishes to farm the land, while the holder of mineral rights wants to mine, or the holder of tree rights wishes to log the forest, while the holder of wildlife rights wants to manage the forest for game viewing. Security in land is weakened when the holders of natural resource rights are legally empowered to limit or restrict the surface rights held by others.

In most African countries, the property rights regime for land and various natural resources are established and governed by different laws, and implemented principally by different government agencies. For example, land laws provide for surface property rights and sectoral laws (e.g., mineral, petroleum, forest, wildlife, water and other natural resources) establish the property rights regime for the various natural resources. While the land laws are generally silent on the exercise of natural resource rights on land in which surface rights are held by an individual, many natural resource laws provide for the rights and obligations of natural resource and surface rights holders. For example, the mineral laws often establish the authorities that holders of mineral rights have to enter onto land (surface rights) held by another individual, and the procedures to exercise their mineral rights. Many mineral laws also provide for some roles and responsibilities of surface rights holders regarding the exercise of mineral rights.

WRI’s research focuses on the laws that govern land and natural resource property rights and the implications for the holder of the land (surface) rights. The review of laws included petroleum, minerals and trees/forests in six African countries: Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Nigeria, Ghana and Liberia. WRI is developing a series of recommendations designed to reduce conflict and promote development, including harmonizing legislation and promoting more coordination across the government agencies responsible for implementing the laws. The full report will be completed in FY2013.

2012 ABCG Land Use & Governance Thematic Meeting: Land under Pressure—Competition, Opportunities and Implications for Conservation

ABCG held a thematic meeting on Land Tenure and Biodiversity: Analyzing Biodiversity Conservation and Governance to Prevent Conflict and Crisis. Jimmiel Mandima, Program Director of Policy with the Africa Wildlife Foundation served as Chair and moderator on this open meeting that featured recent work in the field and a lively discussion with all participants.

Key themes of the meeting included:

  • Land is the thread that runs through numerous conservation challenges in Africa
  • Communities’ voice and involvement in matters related to land use is essential
  • A need for coordinated and integrated approaches that avoid stove-piping and sectoral silos
  • The role of policy AND implementation as cross-checks on one another

The following is a summary of the presentation points and proceedings.

Implementation of Land Policy for Improved Ecosystem Management and Land Tenure in Western Tanzania

Emmanuel Mtiti, Program Director, the Jane Goodall Institute-Tanzania; Emmanuel Mtiti of JGI
Matt Brown, Conservation Director, The Nature Conservancy Africa Region

The landscape of Western Tanzania is seriously threatened by incompatible development, unsustainable farming techniques, destructive and uncontrolled wildfires, and inadequate local capacity to establish and enforce more environmentally friendly land use policies and practices.  Gradual encroachment has caused significant negative impact on sustainable development and habitat preservation in the region. Co-presented by Mtiti and Brown, the discussion focused on how the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI), The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and partners are working with authorities from the village to the national level in a land use planning process to address on-going threats.

Available opportunities exist within the country policy framework to improve management of critical ecosystems in Western Tanzania and reduce conflicts in the utilization of forests while improving the livelihoods of the local population. Through an intense participatory process, JGI and Frankfurt Zoological Society have completed 63 village land use plans and 37 village land forest reserves in the Greater Mahale Ecosystem. This contributes to the process of integrating local planning with regional and national natural resource planning and management. Brown shared that the recently completed 15 month survey for assessing critical chimpanzee habitat is being used by government officials to identify priority conservation sites and reach consensus regarding the conservation status for each of those sites within the Greater Mahale Ecosystem. This information is being used to define the most critical forest protection sites for existing chimpanzee populations and for connectivity within this broader ecosystem.  The resulting knowledge is being discussed with district and higher government officials to consider the value of the resource inventory and implications for management, local livelihoods and conservation. A forest protection blue-print will be produced that will result in the creation of new protected areas–village forest reserves and national forest reserves.

Matt Brown, TNCMtiti emphasized that the most challenging issue for land tenure in Tanzania is in poor management, rather than a need to reform the constitution. It is important for villagers to develop village land use plans and to register clearly demarcated land, thereby avoid land grabs especially in densely populated areas. Having done this, villagers can pursue customary land use rights that are legally binding that could be honored as collateral for bank loans.






Securing Land and Community Benefits through Creative Conservation Tools and Models: Research and Practice in Zimbabwe, Kenya and South Africa

Kathleen Fitzgerald, AWFKathleen Fitzgerald, Director of Land Conservation, Africa Wildlife Foundation

The African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) has explored land tenure, environmental easements, carbon mitigation, co-management agreements and conservancy models in Zimbabwe, Kenya, and South Africa. Fitzgerald highlighted some of their key findings and featured the work AWF is conducting in Zimbabwe around developing conservancy models as part of achieving provisions of the country’s indigenization policy as well as economic, social and ecological sustainability.

The Zimbabwe government invited AWFs assistance with an initial review of the state of the nation’s conservation estate that includes three major designations: 

  • Protected Areas
  • CAMPFIRE Areas
  • Conservancies

 All three areas have experienced wildlife declines due to a number of factors including land use conversion, poaching, unplanned resettlement as part of the Land Reform Program, lack of capacity because of the financial situation and mismanagement. AWF is implementing a variety of strategies to address these threats, and was invited by the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority to help develop a proposed model for conservancies in Zimbabwe that meet the Indigenization and Economic Empowerment policy of 2007. AWF’s proposal includes indigenization through the engagement of the communities that live in and around conservancies.

While conservancies vary throughout Africa, they offer a suite of universal benefits to land, natural resource management, community empowerment, tourism diversity, revenue generation and biodiversity conservation. The Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority requested AWF to use Save Valley Conservancy as a pilot site for AWF to develop a model that achieves economic, social and environmental sustainability. Fitzgerald discussed some of the best practices AWF has reviewed in Africa for conservancy management and development and shared some of the proposed model in Zimbabwe. She reviewed Zimbabwe’s Land Reform Policy and how this had and continues to have a direct impact on wildlife conservation in Zimbabwe.

Overlapping Land and Natural Resource Rights in Africa: A Comparative Analysis

Peter Veit, WRIPeter Veit, Interim Director of Institutions and Governance Program, World Resources Institute

Peter Veit discussed the authorities granted by government to natural resource licensees to enter onto and use privately-held land (including communal/customary land and private conservancies) for purposes of exercising their resource rights. He focused on petroleum and mineral concession holders in Ghana, Liberia, Kenya and Uganda. Some comparison was also made with the authorities granted to the holders of tree and forest rights.

Veit’s work with the World Resources Institute (WRI) has focused on the spectrum of restrictions on privately-held land—from restrictions with minor impacts on land use and values to regulatory takings. Of note is the contrast with US land rights where land ownership comes with rights to many natural resources, while in the study countries, there are separate and distinct land and many natural resource property rights regimes. Veit’s research shows that mineral and petroleum laws provide resource licensees with considerable authorities to use private land for their operations.

The situation with trees and forests is more complex but in some countries the forestry laws better recognize land rights than mineral and petroleum laws. Still, commercial use usually requires government approval management plans and certain species have use restrictions or are fully protected.

There is ample room to increase options for landowners to lobby for stronger land rights such as requesting rent from licensees to use private land, mandating landholder consent for licensees to use natural resources, and allowing landowners to use land in conjunction with licensee, etc. Many contradictions exist between land and natural resource laws that need to be harmonized.

Empowering Communities: Recognizing Land Rights as a Path to Collaboration

Karol Boudreaux, USAIDKarol Boudreaux, Africa Land Tenure Specialist, U.S. Agency for International Development—Economic Growth, Education and Environment

Karol Boudreaux presented on emerging land tenure and land governance issues in Africa and focused on large-scale land acquisitions, private-sector investment and the opportunity presented by the adoption of the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests (VGGT) to address conflict related to competing land uses and how USAID is thinking about these issues and challenges.

The VGGT offers land and resource managers fundamental guidelines on land use planning and administration. Adoption of the VGGT provides an important “window of opportunity” to tackle issues including protecting customary rights, integrating gender concerns, recognizing secondary and tertiary rights (most typically to natural resources) and supporting responsible investing by private sector actors.   Boudreaux highlighted how some community-based natural resource management (CBNRM) best practices can be applied to work with communities, farmers’ associations, etc. to build more collaborative contracting models that empower communities.

Governance is a systemic process that relates to the rule of law, political concerns and local power structures. Land tenure professionals would benefit from incorporating more comprehensive, integrated approaches to their practices so as to incorporate not only institutions allocating and enforcing laws, but also informal sector institutions, traditional leaders and customary practices.

Demand for land in Africa is high but tenure rights on the ground are often weak. Locals need assurances that their rights are realized and honored thus promoting a sense of ownership and resource stewardship. For example, empowering local communities to transfer rights between their own people and to engage directly with investors can be mutually beneficial and reduce some risks associated with land acquisitions.

Carl Bruch, Environmental Law Institute

Carl Bruch, ELIThe Environmental Law Institute (ELI) is working on a multi-year project examining how post-conflict peace-building can be catalyzed through natural resource management processes. As a joint exercise with other institutions, ELI has published Land and Post-Conflict Peacebuilding edited by Jon Unruh and Rhodri Williams and published by Earthscan. Peace building is difficult often because of conflicts over land and natural resources. In South Sudan, virtually none of the communities have come forward to validate their claims to community land after Khartoum enacted a law that invalidated 99 percent of the population’s claims, reflecting a daunting task of integrating formal governance structures with local, informal customary systems.

Well functioning land management systems depend on good information systems. Cadastral systems thus need careful design to incorporate the vertical spectrum of rights—minerals and petroleum, grazing, trees, etc. into one system.

Closing Discussion:

Several key themes percolated during the discussion:

 Land tenure professionals need to be more considerate of cross-sectoral land use issues, including climate change. USAID, for example, employs climate experts to address climate change implications on land use, and show concern on the level of informality prevalent with rural communities and other stakeholders.

The role of governance is crucial as a regulatory mechanism, but must also involve an interactive, multi-ministerial framework for effective policy-making and functioning regulation using a comprehensive cadastral database.

A significant challenge for land tenure practitioners is engaging communities, often small and marginalized, in the process of securing their land rights and other resource privileges with trust and confidence in the governance system. Some examples were cited where community awareness and trust in a (generally) centralized government agency is poor. These include South Sudan and southern Kenya, where communal rangeland in Kajiado County is being subdivided amid short-term gain and community uncertainty.

The land use and governance theme may gain from efforts to further formalize land issues and build capacity to tackle conservation challenges by engaging academic institutions. Whereas conservation and developments organizations indeed have field specialists and technical expertise, the academic sector offers opportunities to pool various resources including robust evidence-based socio-economic and ecological knowledge. The UK’s Department of Land Economy at the University of Cambridge was cited as an example of its role in helping create several land use statutes in Africa. Other partnerships include USAID and The Nelson Institute’s Land Tenure Center at the University of Madison-Wisconsin.

Much of the work done by ABCG is closely tied to the land, a fact that resonates with our development counterparts. Many of the stakeholders including rural communities approach land use broadly and systemically. Land use thus serves as an ever present reminder of the need to synergize strengths through partnerships, and break barriers of institutional silos and information stove piping that affect the mission of work towards biodiversity conservation and sustained livelihood development.

2011 ABCG Land Use & Governance Thematic Meeting

An ABCG meeting on this issue was hosted by The Nature Conservancy (Arlington, VA) and African Wildlife Foundation (Nairobi, Kenya) on 5 February 2011. The two locations were linked by video conference. Co-Moderators of the meeting were Helen Gichoi, PhD, President, African Wildlife Foundation (in Nairobi, Kenya) and Peter Veit, Institutions and Governance, World Resources Institute (in Washington, DC). The work presented in the meeting represents the first of several years’ work by ABCG members African Wildlife Foundation, The Nature Conservancy and World Resources Institute (with the Jane Goodall Institute joining them in FY2011) on the intersections of governance, rights and land management for conservation.

Click here to download the minutes of the meeting

Presentations included:

Government Restrictions on the Use of Private Land in Tanzania and Kenya (click for presentation)
Peter Veit, Institutions and Governance, World Resources Institute

Expanding Options for Habitat Conservation Outside Protected Areas: The Use of Environmental Easements, Leases, Payments for Ecosystem Services and Other Conservation Tools in Kenya (click for presentation)
Kathleen Fitzgerald, Director, Land Conservation, African Wildlife Foundation

The Impact of the Recent Constitution and Land Policy Reforms on Community Conservation Initiatives in Kenya (click for presentation)
Collins Odote, University of Nairobi, Nairobi

Peter Veit of WRI, Johnny Wilson of TNC and Emmanuel Sulle of University of Maryland talk after the meeting

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