The Participatory Prospective Analysis (PPA) process in Masindi district in Uganda's Western Region brought together stakeholders from government, the private sector, NGOs and local communities to collectively reflect on factors affecting local tenure rights, forecast future scenarios and propose actionable plans for securing forest tenure rights.
Participants identified several factors threatening local forest tenure rights. These included: lack of land ownership documentation; inadequate implementation and enforcement of forest policies, laws and programs; land use changes; gender bias against women; political interference; lack of community awareness of forest tenure rights; and inadequate financial and human resources to effectively protect local people's rights to forests and land.
To identify potential barriers and drivers, three workshops were organized. With both forestry and agricultural sectors being male-dominated, one women-only workshop was organized to capture women's perspectives and compare findings with those of the mixed gender group.
The two groups identified four key "driving forces" impacting forest tenure security: (1) community participation in forest tenure reform implementation, particularly that of women; (2) access to financial resources to implement forest tenure reform activities; (3) the importance of outside organizations having an awareness of community, cultural and institutional norms and beliefs regarding forest tenure rights; (4) the role played by local and national government agencies and politicians in coordinating and promoting progress towards forest tenure reforms.
Women stakeholders emphasized the importance of access to land for forestry activities as critical to securing their rights; they also noted that supportive men and domestic relationships can impact on women's rights to forest land. Mixed group stakeholders identified the role of oil, gas and other industrial activities as a key threat to local forest tenure security.
Participants developed four scenarios to anticipate potential future situations impacting on local forest tenure rights. Desirable scenarios depicted a well-governed, well-financed forestry sector characterized by gender equality and participative forest management. Undesirable scenarios were characterized by a dominant oil and gas sector undermining forest sustainability and forest rights; a weak, underfunded and poorly-managed forest sector; forest conversion to other uses; government failure to recognize community rights and integrate communities in forest management; and disappointed, disempowered communities collectively destroying forests for survival instead of managing them sustainably.
Several actions were identified to secure local forest tenure rights: 1) making district-level government more responsive to local needs and aspirations around community forest tenure reforms; 2) increasing the number of well-trained district government officers and providing adequate financial resources; 3) facilitating a faster and affordable process for community forest registration, including community incentives; 4) equipping communities with knowledge, skills and resources to enhance their participation in forest tenure reform implementation; 5) promoting environmentally and socially responsible investments to mobilize resources for protecting local people's forest tenure rights.