This brief argues that expansion of the Protected Area system through support from the Norway/Liberia partnership requires careful scrutiny of existing land rights in the proposed Protected Areas. Areas that have been proposed for Protected Area management should be carefully surveyed to identify existing community rights to land so as to provide communities with the option of managing the land as community forests. Alternatively, under the proposed Land Rights Legislation, communities could receive benefits if the land is recognized as customarily owned, but “taken” for inclusion in the Protected Area network. Finally, because of the potential that much of the proposed Protected Areas will fall within community’s customary lands, this brief urges consideration of the option to funnel resources for Protected Area management through community forest management mechanisms.
May 9, 2018