Environment and Natural Resource Rights

Rural communities depend on many natural resources and ecosystems-wildlife, water, forests and pasture-for their livelihoods and well-being. But in most African countries, local people have few rights and little effective control over natural resources. Usually, governments control high-value natural resources and alone can grant the right to use or benefit from them.

Furthermore, rights to natural resources are governed separately from rights to land, and overlapping rights can fuel conflict, especially when large-scale resource extraction, such as mining and logging, interferes with farming or other local uses.

While communities can formally acquire certain natural resource rights in some countries, in many cases procedures for doing so are overly complex and expensive. To reduce poverty and promote local development, advocates have argued that these procedures must be simple to understand and implement. In addition, rights must be secure enough to encourage investment in natural resource management, and local people must benefit from resource use.

Environment and natural resource briefs

Rights and Wrongs in Cameroon's Community Forests

Rights to Trees and Livelihoods in Niger

Tanzania's Ongoing Experiment with Wildlife Management Areas

Striking Gold in Burkina Faso