STOCKHOLM (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Up to 2.5 billion people depend on indigenous and community lands, which make up more than half of all land globally, but they legally own just 10 percent.
The remaining land is unprotected by laws and vulnerable to exploitation by governments and companies keen to explore natural resources through large agricultural concessions, mining and energy projects, experts say.
Here are some of the terms frequently used in connection with indigenous and community lands.
- Indigenous and community lands are used or managed collectively, often based on centuries-old traditions. This is commonly referred to as customary or indigenous land tenure.
- Customary tenure refers to the rules and norms which communities devise to regulate how their land is acquired, owned, used and transferred. Many of these rules have evolved over generations according to traditions and customs.
- Customary law refers to norms which are enforced within communities. When national legislation recognizes customary law it also becomes part of statutory law.
- Community lands are often owned and managed by farmers, pastoralists, hunter-gatherers, fishermen and women, and others using resources such as forests, water and pastures as a common resource. Each generation adjusts how they use land to meet their needs.
- Local communities who depend on using land for their survival vary in size and how they use land. They all share strong connections to their land and distribute rights according to their own rules and customs.
- Community-based tenure refers to situations in which the right to own or manage land is held by the whole community rather than by individuals.
SOURCES: International Land Coalition, Oxfam, Rights and Resources Initiative.