Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
213R: Land tenure (security) and land use (change)
Wednesday, 24/Apr/2019:
11:15am - 12:45pm

Session Chair: Martin C. Lukas
Session Chair: Brian Evan Robinson
Location: MB-114
Main Building, 1st floor, west wing, 78 seats
Session Topics:
What do people want from land?

Session Abstract

Land tenure form and security are key determinants of land use (change) and land governance. Land tenure security is on the agenda of international organizations and global initiatives, such as the Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris Climate Agreement, and REDD+. Yet, the underlying links between land tenure and land use (change) are still poorly understood. The widespread lack of area-wide tenure data constrains landscape-scale analyses and integration in remote sensing studies of land use (change) in many parts of the world. Case studies are therefore crucial to help uncover the influence of site-specific social, economic, cultural, and political factors, institutions, and historical trajectories. However, site-specific features also imply heterogeneous causal links between land tenure and land use and constrain generalisations. Further, in many areas, often including those with the most dynamic land use changes, land tenure tends to be messy, insecure, or contested, often with discrepancies between de jure and de facto tenure and a large variety of not easily classifiable forms of land and resource access and control, which are continuously renegotiated in some cases. The links between these diverse and, in some areas, continuously emerging or abruptly changing tenure arrangements and land use are multifaceted and challenging to systematically analyse. Yet, these links have been the subject of increasing research interest over the past years. Our session aims to bring together some of this research on the varied links of tenure form, tenure (in)security, tenure contestations, and tenure changes and renegotiations with land use (change). We welcome empirical case studies, broader-scale and meta-analyses, conceptual contributions, as well as governance analyses.

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Full talk
ID: 692 / 213R: 1
213R Land tenure (security) and land use (change)
Keywords: Tenure insecurity, tenure contestation, land conflicts, land use change, Indonesia

Unpacking situations of tenure insecurity. Land use change as means and outcome of tenure contestation

Martin C. Lukas

University of Bremen, Germany

The effects of tenure form and security on land use and land cover have been the focus of increasing research interest. Yet, the multiplicity of tenure forms and of situations of tenure insecurity, the lack of respective area-wide data, and the critical roles of site-specific contexts and historical trajectories impede general conclusions. Particularly the effects of tenure insecurity are not well understood. I argue that different kinds of tenure insecurity should be disaggregated and focus on tenure contestation, an underexplored cause of land use and land cover change (LUCC). Tenure contestations involve dynamics not found in other situations of tenure insecurity. These dynamics comprise strategic acts of contestation, such as forest clearing and burning, tree planting, crop cultivation, or the uprooting of seedlings. LUCC is the means and outcome of such strategic acts. Notions of ‘tenure insecurity’, mostly conceptualised as uncertainty whether existing tenure rights are upheld, do not sufficiently grasp these dynamics. Research rather needs to investigate the processes of struggle over such rights. This requires analyses of site-specific circumstances and historical trajectories. I illustrate this with empirical cases from Java, Indonesia. Linking remote sensing, historical cartographic analyses and in-depth qualitative social-scientific research, I analysed historically rooted tenure contestations as a major cause of LUCC. These contestations turned forests or plantations into widely treeless landscapes, resembling ‘scars’ in satellite images. Following the resolution of tenure conflicts, some of these landscapes of contestation were converted into mosaics of terraced rice fields and mixed forests or back into plantations.

Full talk
ID: 486 / 213R: 2
213R Land tenure (security) and land use (change)
Keywords: impact evaluation, deforestation, forest degradation, land tenure, Guatemala

The impacts of a land tenure clarification project on deforestation and forest degradation in Guatemala

Ana Laura Reboredo Segovia1, Eric Bullock1, Leonardo Corral2, Christoph Nolte1

1Boston University, United States of America; 2Inter-American Development Bank

Insecure land tenure has hampered effective land management in Guatemala for decades. Uncertainty about protected area boundaries, property boundaries within protected areas, and the land uses permitted within them contribute to deforestation and forest degradation in Guatemala. Between 2012 and 2017, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) financed a project to clarify land tenure in Guatemala’s nationally administered protected areas. The project funded the Registry of Cadastral Information (RIC)’s efforts to rectify errors delimiting the location of protected areas and to demarcate their boundaries. With project funds, RIC also measured parcels inside of the protected areas, analyzed ownership claims, and added these parcels to the National General Property Registry. The project’s leaders hoped that secure land tenure would reduce deforestation and degradation by resolving questions about park boundary locations, people’s land use rights within the parks, and by giving more legitimacy to property boundary enforcement. They also hoped that given land tenure security, land owners within protected areas would choose longer-term livelihood strategies that would avoid deforestation. To determine the project’s impacts on deforestation and forest degradation in Guatemala, we used a brand-new dataset on deforestation and forest degradation generated by the Continuous Degradation Detection (CODED) algorithm. To further inform the analysis, we used information from interviews with 24 relevant practitioners and stakeholders. Panel regression models and matching analyses indicate that the treatments have so far done little to reduce deforestation and forest degradation overall. They also suggest that after treatment there were slight increases in avoided deforestation and forest degradation in protected areas where enforcement is better and where local communities accrue more conservation benefits. Interviews indicate that future land tenure clarification projects should take into account the constraints imposed by the governability of and conflicts within protected areas, and the executing institution’s ability to mitigate these challenges.

Full talk
ID: 752 / 213R: 3
213R Land tenure (security) and land use (change)
Keywords: land tenure, land tenure security, property rights

The tenure gap: policy implications for discrepancies in informal and statutory land rights

Margaret B Holland1, Allison Kelly2, Yuta J Masuda3, Brian E Robinson4

1University of Maryland, Baltimore County; 2University of Michigan; 3The Nature Conservancy; 4McGill University

Land tenure is often defined statutorily by rules and regulations set by a governing body. At the local level, communities may also have rules or management systems that govern property relations that may or may not be recognized and upheld by the State. Discrepancies in land tenure as it is formally (statutorily) and informally (locally) defined, what we call a tenure gap, are common across many rural and developing contexts, can affect decision-making in many ways. Using a bundle of rights approach, several typologies of tenure gaps emerge. This typology brings together what are typically described as disparate types of tenure insecurity into a singular framework. With a novel dataset of cases collected from land tenure practitioners and researchers across ten countries in the Global South, we characterize common types of tenure gaps and which interventions might be useful for addressing different types of gaps. Our results offer critical and actionable information to sustainable development organizations about one of the major obstacles to strengthening and clarifying land tenure for local stakeholders and point to new research directions to advance knowledge around sources of tenure insecurity.

Full talk
ID: 642 / 213R: 4
213R Land tenure (security) and land use (change)
Keywords: customary tenure, land use change, Myanmar, land reform

Chasing tenure rights in the ‘new’ Myanmar - Opportunities and challenges to the recognition of land and forest tenure rights on the indigenous frontier

Glenn Hunt1, Lara M. Lundsgaard-Hansen1, Manuel von der Mühlen1,2, Joan Bastide1, Andreas Heinimann1

1Centre for Development and Environment, University of Bern; 2ETH Zürich

Since the reforms of 2011 Myanmar has gradually been opening up to the outside world. The election of the new government in 2016 brought with it a promise of change and opportunity, and while some aspects of the legal framework have changed, notably the Investment Law, there remains little to no recognition of the customary tenure rights of rural and indigenous communities. 3 years since the election of the ‘new’ government, the current legal framework remains firmly skewed towards large scale extractive investment at the expense of smallholder farmers and forest dependent peoples, and the government continues to struggle with the legacy of historic land grabbing cases, many linked to the military and powerful businesses interests.

This paper reflects on the case of indigenous communities in the far north and south of the country, and their continuing efforts of to claim broader land and forest tenure rights in the absence of a supportive legal framework. The two areas reflect very different contexts, one under high commercial pressure from agri-business investments, and the other existing as a remote frontier under largely subsistence agriculture. The paper draws on the experiences of select pilot activities of the OneMap Myanmar project to support community efforts to claim extensive communal land rights, and draws on the authors’ understanding of the ongoing land reform process in Myanmar.

The two case studies presented offer unique insights into the interplay between land tenure security and land use change on the indigenous frontier lands of Myanmar. The paper examines how indigenous communities are attempting to lay claim to historic and traditional territories in an attempt to push back against large scale agribusiness investments, and at how the success and failure of these attempts are affecting land use change in and around these contested areas.

Full talk
ID: 340 / 213R: 5
213R Land tenure (security) and land use (change)
Keywords: land conflict, agrarian reform, land tenure, social movements

Contentious land change: a longitudinal analysis from the Eastern Brazilian Amazon

Stephen Aldrich1, Cynthia Simmons2, Eugenio Arima3, Robert Walker2, Francisco Michelotti4, Edna Castro5

1Indiana State University; 2University of Florida; 3The University of Texas at Austin, United States of America; 4Federal University of South & Southeast of Para; 5Federal University of Para

Deforestation has long been modeled and discussed as an outcome of agro-economic decision-making by a single land use agent or entity. However, in landscapes with land conflict deforestation may be undertaken by multiple-land users, and may take place due to drivers that are not strictly economic or agricultural (e.g., to avoid conflict or loss of land rights). This work shows that contentious land change (CLC) is a significant modifier of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon, increasing rates of deforestation even in landscapes with near-total deforestation. Using a panel dataset of properties over the period of redemocratization in Brazil (1984) until the privatization of long-term land leases (2010), we show that deforestation rates increase under land conflict, that expropriation of property for agrarian reform increases deforestation, and that deforestation is greater during periods of land conflict when social movements (rather than private landowners) control properties. Despite these findings, the landscape of the Study Area, in the Southeast of Pará, Brazil, is almost completely deforested by the end of the study period, regardless of land ownership.

Full talk
ID: 653 / 213R: 6
213R Land tenure (security) and land use (change)
Keywords: Drylands, Pastoralism, Land Tenure, Transitions

Towards sustainable drylands: bridging the gap between land tenure and sustainable management

Deborah Namayi Muricho1, Stephen Mwangi Mureithi2

1University of Nairobi, Kenya; 2University of Nairobi, Kenya

Drylands cover over one third of the earth’s surface. The main economic activity in most drylands in Sub-Saharan Africa is pastoralism which is either nomadic, transhumant or sedentary. Land is a key factor in the production process. It is particularly important to pastoralists who derive over 50% of their food and income needs from livestock as it allows for grazing and transhumant movement. However, with rapid population increase, people are encroaching into grazing and transhumant lands for settlement. There is also an increase in demand for livestock products which calls for intensified production. In countenance to the above challenges, many pastoralists respond by acquiring own exclusive rights over land use through formal and customary institutions.

There is a scholarly divide on the impacts of the transitioning tenure systems from communal to individual land tenure. Individual tenure system bestows upon individuals the rights to exclusive access and use. It has been argued that this would provide incentives for investment on land, making it more productive. On the other hand, excluding others from access and use of a particular piece of land becomes a challenge to pastoralists who for a long time have relied on communally shared water and pasture resources for their livestock’s’ well being.

This paper explores both sides of the argument, looking at sustainable land management practices under both tenure systems. The practices favor individual land tenure systems over communal land tenure systems. However, with proper incentives, communally owned lands can be sustainably managed. These include formalizing customary institutions that work and building on local practices that contribute to sustainable land management in the drylands.

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