Land tenure and forests property rights are one of global today’s most pressing development issues. More than two billion people worldwide land resources access is under customary tenures systems (USAID, 2013). UN-Habitat (2014) has reported that millions of people around the world still have insecure land tenure and property rights but many countries have completely restructured their legal and regulatory frameworks related to land and tried to harmonize modern statutory law with the customary law. The variation in land tenure settings considerably, reflecting the past and recent history of the countries, the different approaches selected by governments to improve land resources management, but also the voices of land owners demanding recognition of their rights and a role in decision making. Furthermore, a diversification of forest tenure arrangements is also taking place in various countries around the world as part of revised forest policies, laws and traditional land allocation systems. (FAO, 2014).
In sub-Saharan Africa, most land has no registration of who owns it or has rights to use it (Toulmin, 2009). In most African countries, politicians and powerful groups are often dispossessed of the land on which they farm or, in urban areas, on which they have developed their home, while low classes population possess and depend on small plots. Such insecure land tenure in rural areas lead to land use conflicts and environmental degradation (e.g., deforestation, degradation of biodiversity, and desertification).
Rwanda’s land resources, patterns of land occupation and existing land tenure systems are characterised by high population growth, severe land pressure and an increasing number of small fragmented land plots combined with limited non-agricultural livelihood options have been severe conflicts that resulted in the 1994 genocide which have also weakened traditional land allocation systems. In the aftermath of the genocide, there was a lack of clarity over legal status and rights to land, with landowners returning to Rwanda to find their land occupied by others (Gillingham et al.,2014)). The government has engaged in a land sharing and reallocation programme to settle returning refugees and landless people. In 2004, the Government of Rwanda adopted the first-ever National land policy and land Law in 2005; to operationalize this law in 2008, the GoR initiated the land tenure regularization program (LTRP) which legalised land ownership by providing individuals with land titles. About 10.3 million parcels encompassing most of the private land in Rwanda have been demarcated in 2013, the LTRP has become a model for other African countries (Ayalew et al., 2012).