Developing countries are increasingly decentralizing forest governance by granting indigenous groups and other local communities formal legal title to land. However, the effects of titling on forest cover are unclear. Rigorous analyses of titling campaigns are rare, and related theoretical and empirical research suggests that they could either stem or spur forest damage. We analyze such a campaign in the Peruvian Amazon, where more than 1,200 indigenous communities comprising some 11 million ha have been titled since the mid-1970s. We use community-level longitudinal data derived from high-resolution satellite images to estimate the effect of titling between 2002 and 2005 on contemporaneous forest clearing and disturbance. Our results indicate that titling reduces clearing by more than three-quarters and forest disturbance by roughly two-thirds in a 2-y window spanning the year title is awarded and the year afterward. These results suggest that awarding formal land titles to local communities can advance forest conservation.
Awarding Indigenous Communities Land Titles Reduces Tropical Forest Damage
All over the world, indigenous communities tend to be marginalized both politically and economically. So awarding them formal legal rights to the f...
Indigenous Peoples’ Role in Protecting Forests: Podcast with RFF Fellow Allen Blackman
In this new podcast, RFF Senior Fellow Allen Blackman sits down to talk about the granting of titles to indigenous communities in Latin American co...
Testimony and Public Comments
Testimony on the Use of Natural Infrastructure for Watershed Restoration and Water Management
Forest management can actively support water capture and storage, taking advantage of natural infrastructure to protect water sources and restore watersheds.