Tree and Land Tenure Nexus in Côte D’Ivoire

Overview of Tenure Issues with Forests and Cocoa

Côte d’Ivoire’s forests have decreased from 16 million hectares in 1900 to 7.8 million hectares in 1990 and to 3.4 million hectares in 2015 (GoCI, 2018). Today 11 percent of the country’s surface area is forested. Of the remaining forests, 39 percent are located in protected areas, 25 percent in gazetted areas (forêts classées) and 36 percent in rural areas (GoCI, 2019b). From 1990 to 2000, rural areas lost the most forest at an annual rate of 7 percent, whereas between 2000 and 2015, gazetted forests were lost the fastest at 4 percent per year (GoCI, 2019b). Today there are 387 forest logging permits covering rural and gazetted lands, though historically logging has been concentrated in rural areas (GoCI, 2019b).

Agriculture – especially cocoa – has been the primary driver of deforestation in Côte d’Ivoire in recent decades (World Bank, 2019). There are an estimated 3.5 million hectares of cocoa plantations – more than remaining forests – of which 750,000 hectares are located in gazetted areas (GoCI, 2019b). Farms are all smallholder and produce on average 40 percent of the world’s cocoa supply, with annual exports exceeding two million tons in 2018 (World Bank, 2019). A fifth of the population depends on cocoa for a living. As land availability in rural areas has diminished, farmers have moved into gazetted forests and protected areas, which today account for a quarter of national production (RFI, 2019).

Two important features differentiate Côte d’Ivoire’s tenure arrangements for cocoa compared to Ghana. First, Côte d’Ivoire’s farms have a different settlement history, with the vast majority established during migrations to forest zones by outsider ethnic groups, mainly the baoulé ethnic group as well as foreigners, mainly from Burkina Faso (OFPRA, 2017). These migrations picked up in the 1940s as part of colonial policy and administrative strategies to attract labor (USAID, 2016) but they intensified after independence to a point where migrants outnumbered locals in many areas (Ruf, 2020).

Migration in the 1970s was driven by President Houphouët Boigny’s slogan “the land is owned by whoever puts it to use” (“la terre appartient à celui qui la met en valeur”). Clearing forest helped secure access to land (Bymolt et al., 2018), and along with a government policy favoring full-sun cocoa varieties (Schulte et al., 2020), migrants had a strong incentive to clear natural forests. Customary arrangements varied and evolved, with most initially governed by the tutorat system of integrating outsiders through sharing of production and gifts with a representative of the land-owning family (Chauveau, 2007).

These arrangements became more monetized as land pressure increased (Chauveau, 2007) and in some instances transitioned to outright land sales from the 1950s (Wily, 2015) but especially the 1970s and1980s (Chauveau, 2007). In the 1990s and 2000s, new tenure arrangements called planter-partager (plant and share) took hold whereby outsiders would clear forests and build a farm and then half of the farm would revert to the landowner upon crop maturity. The new paradigm could be explained by land-owning groups becoming more aware of the value of holding onto land while “financing” the labor needed to establish a viable plantation (Colin & Ruf, 2011). Specific tenure agreements are diverse, with as many as 15 typologies (Wily, 2015). While some of these arrangements resemble those found in Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire differs in the preponderance of migrant farmers and also the violence and politicization of cocoa belt land disputes in the 1990s and 2000s (Chauveau, 2000).

A second distinguishing feature of Côte d’Ivoire is the history of centralized state-driven approaches to land and forest management in disregard of customary practices. This has led to legal pluralism (Lamarche, 2019) and a schism between laws and what is done in practice (OFPRA, 2017). While Ghana has similar features, there is no equivalent of recognized “stool lands” in Côte d’Ivoire despite the existence of parallel customary systems. Instead the rural land law recognizes customary rights only as a temporary stepping stone towards a national titling system controlled by the central government (GoCI, 2017; OFPRA, 2017). This leads to considerable challenges in securing land tenure despite over US$100 million in donor support in recent years (Dagrou & Loroux, 2017; Wily, 2015).

Against this backdrop, the issue of tree tenure has gained increasing attention from several fronts. First, difficulties implementing tree cover and tree planting requirements under standards like the Rainforest Alliance’s Cocoa Certification Program drew attention to misaligned tenure incentives (Ruf & Varlet, 2017). Meanwhile the current government has embraced the concept of “zero-deforestation cocoa” as part of its broader commitment to increasing the country’s forest cover from 11 percent to 20 percent by 2030 (GoCI, 2018). The new forest code of 2019 explicitly addresses tree tenure for the first time and gives primacy to the underlying landowner (GoCI, 2019a). The logic underlying such reforms is as follows: just as secure land tenure is a key predictor of higher cocoa productivity (Schulte et al., 2020), secure tree tenure can incentivize agroforestry. However, as discussed below, Côte d’Ivoire shows that this is not straightforward in practice.

Scaling Up Community Forest Management in Zambia 2021

Introduction and Background

In May – June 2021, the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID’s) Integrated Land and Resource Governance (ILRG) program organized a series of webinars on community forestry. The webinar series was designed to raise national awareness and facilitate dialogue between stakeholders and the government on the status, challenges, and opportunities of community forest management (CFM). The webinars brought together academics, practitioners, and the government. The webinar series focused on four primary themes: the current status of CFM; scaling up CFM and enterprise development; benefit sharing and law enforcement; and how to move CFM forward.

The webinar series grew out of the ongoing work of the ILRG program in supporting partner institutions implementing CFM in Eastern and Muchinga Provinces. The objectives of the sessions were to:

  • Raise awareness of the challenges and opportunities in scaling up CFM in Zambia;
  • Provide a platform for sharing CFM experiences;
  • Strengthen the linkages between local communities, government agencies, and communities of practice; and
  • Generate new ideas to strengthen the role of community forest management groups (CFMGs) and critical stakeholders.

The webinar series was held for four consecutive weeks, with each week including three to four topical presentations, followed by a discussion period. Aside from the first week, each week’s presentations included two presentations from the community of practice, followed by a presentation by a District Forest Officer (DFO) presenting on the district-level experience of that week’s theme. Participation in the webinar sessions was high, with an average of 42 participants per session representing non-government organizations (NGOs), government, the private sector, academia, and communities. Individuals from 28 institutions participated, with the largest share (42 percent) representing NGOs. Feedback from these participants in the Zoom comment panel found that the majority found the webinar series to be a great success.

This report summarizes the presentations and discussion from the various CFM webinar sessions. Full recordings of the sessions can be found on YouTube.

Report on the 2021 Community Game Ranching and Private Wildlife Estate Webinar Series

Introduction and Background

The United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Integrated Land and Resource Governance (ILRG) program organized a series of webinars on community forestry, women’s land rights, and private wildlife estates and community game ranching from May to September 2021. The webinar series replaced in-person research symposiums held in previous years; the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic necessitated the shift to webinars. The goal of the webinar series was to provide a platform to share research and field experience from the land and natural resource governance sector in Zambia, bringing together academics, practitioners, civil society, traditional leaders, community organizations, government officials, and students from different sectors and geographical locations.

Sessions on community game ranching and private wildlife estates were held in June 2021. The objectives of the sessions were to:

  • Develop an understanding of the current states of private wildlife estates (PWEs) and community game ranches (CGRs) in Zambia;
  • Provide a venue for stakeholders, including communities, the private sector, and government, to share their experiences with CGRs and PWEs;
  • Give insights on the challenges and opportunities for CGRs and PWEs in Zambia; and
  • Provide an opportunity for practical commitments to promote CGRs and PWEs.

The Zoom webinar sessions were well-attended, with an average of 60 participants at each session. Each session included three to four presentations of 15 to 20 minutes, followed by a discussion period for participants and presenters to follow up on the content of the presentations.

This report summarizes the presentations and discussion from the two sessions on PWEs and CGRs. Full recordings of the sessions can be found on YouTube.

Report on the 2021 Women’s Land Rights Webinar Series

Introduction and Background

The USAID Integrated Land and Resource Governance (ILRG) program in Zambia held two webinars on women’s land rights in July 2021. The webinars brought together academia, practitioners and the government, with the goal of facilitating dialogue between government and communities of practice on the issue of women’s land and property rights. The webinars covered current opportunities and challenges in securing women’s land tenure and property rights in Zambia, and lessons learned for future efforts.

The webinar series on women’s land rights grew out of ongoing work by USAID through the Integrated Land and Resource Governance (ILRG) program in Zambia, which supports gender responsive community land documentation efforts. The objectives for the webinars were to:

  • Offer a platform for practitioners to learn and exchange ideas on women’s land rights in the Zambian context;
  • Identify best practices to address barriers to women’s land access and ownership rights and add to the body of local knowledge on gender and land;
  • Discuss the challenges and opportunities for increasing women’s rights in land documentation; and
  • Offer opportunities for collaboration and networking to promote greater gender equality in land and natural resources management.

Each two-hour webinar featured four presentations and a question-and-answer session. An average of 66 participants from academia, civil society, community groups, traditional leaders, cooperating partners, and government departments attended each session.

This report summarizes the presentations and discussion from the various women’s land rights webinar sessions. Full recordings of the sessions can be found on YouTube.

2020 Land and Resource Governance Research Symposium Report

Introductions and Background

This report summarizes the Annual Research Symposium held from 6 – 29 October 2020 by the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID’s) Integrated Land and Resource Governance (ILRG) program. The theme of the symposium was Implementing Zambia’s Land and Resource Policies Across Sectors. This was divided into four sub-themes:

  • Governance of state and customary land;
  • Documentation of state and customary land;
  • Integrated natural resources governance; and
  • Integrated development planning.

The overall objective of the symposium was to share evidence on land and resource governance experiences in Zambia to inform policy and improved field implementation. Specifically, the symposium aimed to serve as a platform for consideration of research information; identify gaps in land tenure and resource governance in Zambia by examining what is being experienced by partners on the ground; and examine land issues in a holistic and integrated manner to identify enablers and barriers to policy implementation.

Due to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) restrictions and guidelines, the symposium was held as an online webinar series. The event deviated from previous in-person symposiums that ran over three days; it was held over the course of four weeks, with two hours of sessions every Wednesday and Thursday. Each session featured four to five presentations lasting about 15 minutes and focusing on field experiences, project implementation, and academic-focused research. The emphasis was less on theoretical and methodological discussions and more on practical experiences and implications for policy. The webinar series opened with national perspectives on land and resource management from government ministries and departments.

On average, 60 participants, including academics, the public and private sectors, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), customary leaders, and decision-makers, attended each session.

2020 Review of Zambian Land Governance News


Land and natural resources are an important source of livelihoods for many Zambians and a factor of production across various sectors. Access and control of land and natural resources is a common source of news within the Zambian media, frequently highlighting disagreements or conflicts, butoccasionally also celebrating achievements promoting secure tenure. In 2020, several high profile projects focused on the improvement of tenure security and protection of natural resources were advanced, aimed at securing land rights and protecting forests and natural resources. Yet activities such as poaching, illegal mining, tree-cutting for charcoal production, and encroachments, continue to threaten the adequate protection these resources. This report presents an analysis of land and natural resource activities in Zambia in 2020 by tracking newspaper articles in four leading daily newspaper: The Daily Mail, Daily Nation, the Mast, and The Times of Zambia. The report organizes news articles around key themes under broad classifications of land governance, administration, conflict, and natural resource management, covering both state and customary institutions, as well as urban, peri-urban, and rural issues. This report also summarizes issues related to gender and women’s economic empowerment, as well as traditional leadership, as these topics have a large role in land tenure outcomes across the country. A total of 265 news articles were analyzed for 2020, significantly lower than the over 700 articles reviewed in 2019. This may be partially due to the prevalence of news related to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) during 2020.

The analysis shows that one of the most debated topics, the draft land policy, reached an apex when it was approved by the House of Chiefs, a significant success given the decades of impasse between actors in the policy process. Consensus was reached that chiefs would be responsible for the administration of customary land and not “traditional rulers” as the term was considered vague. However, the leasing of land to non-Zambians, which has also received considerable debate, remained unchanged as non-Zambians are eligible for 99-year leases. The Housing Policy and Implementation Plan was also launched in 2020, as were numerous projects focused on forest and wildlife protection. Key to highlight are the government’s vision to construct 220,000 housing units annually to provide affordable and decent housing for all by 2030, the Ministry of Gender’s Strategic Plan and Balanced Scorecard, the launch of the National Land Titling Programme, and memoranda of understanding with the governments of the United Kingdom and the United States on skills and infrastructure development in forest and wildlife protection.

Corruption and illegal land allocations were highly prevalent in 2020, and this led to the suspension of the Kitwe City Council and the Lusaka City Council. Although the investigations exposed the local authority officials involved in these activities, the vulnerability of institutional and policy processes to the personalization of land allocation reveals the need for strengthening capacities in land administration. The final approval of the land policy and its subsequent implementation provides an opportunity for these processes to be strengthened through provisions that place authority in the local authority and remove the pervasion of political control in state institutions.

Zambia Resource Tenure and Governance Review (January – December 2019)


Over the course of a year, newspapers report on a broad range of topics reflecting the issues that rise to the surface of public discourse. Conflict, court cases, and scandals are among the most common narratives reaching the papers, but these are also complemented by positive development gains around new infrastructure, public and private investment, or victories in longstanding challenges. Because of the centrality of land to urban and rural livelihoods, tenure security is a major topic of interest that arises almost daily. Over the course of 2019, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded Integrated Land and Resource Governance Program (ILRG) documented 721 newspaper articles that referenced tenure security and governance of land and other natural resources. These articles were then classified across a range of issues and between state and customary land areas. This analysis tracks these issues both across specific stories that continue throughout the year, as well as trends that are seen between different parts of the country. The review follows four major papers, the Daily Mail, Times of Zambia, the Nation, and Mast. An appendix to this report provides a short summary of each article that was reviewed.

The report demonstrates the broad range of challenges within the sector, particularly around boundary disputes, corruption, deforestation, displacements, encroachments, illegal allocation of land, land policy,mining, poaching, succession wrangles, titling, and the protection of natural resources.

Economic Analysis of Proposed Tree Tenure Reform in Ghana

Executive Summary

Government ownership and control of all “naturally occurring” timber trees on public and private land in Ghana is a contributing factor to illegal deforestation and a challenge to planting trees. Continued deforestation and reduced tree planting makes it harder for Ghana to meet its climate targets under the Paris Agreement to generate 23.5 million emission reductions from “gender-responsive sustainable forest management” between 2020 – 2030, which is expected to require $392 million in funding (MESTI, 2021). This assessment, prepared as a part of the USAID Integrated Land Resources and Governance (ILRG) program’s Supporting Deforestation-Free Cocoa in Ghana activity, reviews the economic impact of a proposed tree tenure policy reform in Ghana that transfers full ownership of all trees to farmers and landowners. The audience for this assessment is the Forestry Commission (FC) and other stakeholders in the forest sector in Ghana.

Colombia Land for Prosperity – Southern Meta and the Vicinity of Chiribiquete National Park: Impact and Performance Evaluation Design Report

This document outlines the approach to the Colombia Land for Prosperity Southern Meta and the Vicinity of Chiribiquete National Park evaluation recommended by the Cloudburst evaluation team, including research questions, research methodology, analytical framework, sampling strategy, analysis plan, and detailed timeline for data collection. The evaluation team wrote this evaluation design report in November 2022; it builds upon the feasibility study previously conducted by NORC and background sections from the NORC feasibility assessment (FA; Albornoz et al., 2022).

As a mixed impact and performance evaluation, the evaluation design outlined here fulfills some of the basic quality elements of an impact evaluation outlined in USAID’s 2020 report Assessing the Quality of Impact Evaluations at USAID. In terms of conceptual framing, the design presents the purpose and intended use of the evaluation, evaluation questions, and theory of change. These are supported with a literature review, are appropriate to the local context, and speak to evaluation hypotheses. The treatment is described in detail, and this report includes outcome measures, sample size, data collection methods, and data analysis methods. The final analysis will include the statistical significance of impact estimates and recommendations closely connected to findings, which will address the practical significance of the findings.