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Nation States and Forest Peoples: Tenurial Control and the Squandering of the Central African Rainforest

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Talbott, Kirk
Conference: Common Property Conference, the Second Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Common Property
Location: Winnipeg, Canada
Conf. Date: September 26-30, 1991
Date: 1991
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/1922
Sector: Forestry
Region: Africa
Subject(s): forestry
rain forests
indigenous institutions
customary law
Abstract: "As in much of Asia, forest of Central Africa are defined by national (non-customary) laws as being owned by nation-states. In Cameroon, Zaire, Congo, and Gabon (which have more than 70% of Africa's remaining closed, moist forests) tenurial rights over forest resources are based on colonial extension of the Roman law principle which held that land not covered by documentary titles was deemed to be 'unoccupied' and owned by the state. De facto authority and management of the region's forests is a complex mix of traditional forest use practices and rules, modern statutes and laws, legal and business agreements with foreign entities in the form of timber and mineral concessions, and variety of culturally and socially influenced tenurial arrangements. This paper, based on field research by WRI and African partners, will assess the current status of common property resource management systems extant in Central Africa's rainforests. It will identify specific legal strategies, policy options and project alternatives by which governments, donors, NGOs and local communities can mutually benefit from incentives that promote conservation and sustainable use."

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