Towards concessions 2.0 in Central Africa Managing overlapping rights between industrial concessions and community forestry : Alain KARSENTY - Cédric VERMEULEN 38



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In Central Africa, industrial forest concessions and protected areas occupy most of the forested space while community forests are confined to the margins. This separation ignores the reality of land rights and overlapping uses, as well as the need for governance involving different users of the same space. The mapping of local land rights lays the foundation for sharing timber revenues and the development of new economic activities involving industrial operators and communities.


A partnership based on rights between industrial operators, communities and other economic operators would lead to a new type of institution of territorial development, which we call Concession 2.0. These redesigned concessions would cohabit and interact with community concessions. The latter would remain forest landscapes offering exclusive rights for autonomous community development.


Industrial forest concessions have existed for over a century in Africa and have not always enjoyed a good reputation. These concessions are sometimes criticised for their limited contribution to local development, but also for the blurring of local populations’ important customary land rights. Some activities are therefore impossible, particularly agriculture and commercial activities stemming from the gathering of forest products, the hunting of small game and fishing. The only activities tolerated are traditional use rights, in other words subsistence gathering, hunting and fishing. In Central Africa, States are the legal holders of the majority of natural forests.


Forest concessions are therefore a public-private partnership. The State grants the company a temporary right to exploit timber, generally excluding other resources. The concessionaire, who has to follow a set of specifications, must also pay taxes and fulfil other obligations, such as forest management, road maintenance and providing drinking water and other services to local people. However, relations between forest concessions and local communities remain complicated. On the one hand, the forest concession reduces the activities possible for local inhabitants. On the other, it is one of the few sources…


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