Mesoamerica at the forefront of community forest rights: Lessons for making REDD work



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Mesoamerica stands out for the enormous progress it has made in the recognition of community forest rights. Forest communities and indigenous peoples either own or manage over 60% of the region´s forests, in tenure reforms that have demonstrated a broad diversity of pathways to community rights (ejidos, usufruct contracts, municipal forests, indigenous territories, reserves and Comarcas, community forestry concessions, forest cooperatives etc.). Several decades of experience have already been generated from these reforms, and confirmed that the recognition of community rights has enormous potential not only in reconciling local environment and development dilemmas, but also for enhancing livelihoods, combating climate change, increasing resilience, and strengthening forest governance. These experiences contain critical lessons for large forested regions in other areas of the world – in particular for REDD+ – where many large forests are in the hands of governments with little capacity to manage them effectively.