Deforestation and degradation are tied to a complex array of socioeconomic and political factors. As noted in studies focusing on large-scale policy interventions such as REDD+ and payment for ecosystem services programs, among the most important of these factors is land tenure and land tenure security. This paper reviews past literature connecting forest outcomes and land tenure to better understand broad relationships between land tenure form, land tenure security and forest outcomes. From a theoretical perspective, clear and secure forest tenure can have either a positive or negative impact on forested land, depending on political and economic conditions. We review over 100 empirical cases of forest outcomes under specific land tenure conditions and find that land tenure security is associated with less deforestation, regardless of the form of tenure. State-owned protected forests are associated with more positive forest outcomes relative to private, communal and public land. We discuss consistency and identification issues in the current literature around deforestation and land tenure, and provide suggestions for future studies and implementation issues for policymakers.
Robinson, B.E.; Holland, M.B.; Naughton-Treves, L. Does secure land tenure save forests? A reviewof the relationship between land tenure and tropical deforestation. CCAFS Working Paper No. 7. CGIAR Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), Copenhagen, Denmark (2011) 49 pp.