Land tenure

3. WHAT IS LAND TENURELand tenure3.1 Land tenure is the relationship, whether legally or customarily defined, among people, asindividuals or groups, with respect to land.

(For convenience, “land” is used here to includeother natural resources such as water and trees.) Land tenure is an institution, i.e., rulesinvented by societies to regulate behaviour. Rules of tenure define how property rights to landare to be allocated within societies.

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They define how access is granted to rights to use, control,and transfer land, as well as associated responsibilities and restraints. In simple terms, landtenure systems determine who can use what resources for how long, and under whatconditions.3.2 Land tenure is an important part of social, political and economic structures.

It is multidimensional, bringing into play social, technical, economic, institutional, legal and politicalaspects that are often ignored but must be taken into account. Land tenure relationships may bewell-defined and enforceable in a formal court of law or through customary structures in acommunity. Alternatively, they may be relatively poorly defined with ambiguities open toexploitation.3.3 Land tenure thus constitutes a web of intersecting interests. These include:Overriding interests: when a sovereign power (e.g.

, a nation or community has thepowers to allocate or reallocate land through expropriation, etc.)Overlapping interests: when several parties are allocated different rights to the sameparcel of land (e.g., one party may have lease rights, another may have a right of way,etc.)Complementary interests: when different parties share the same interest in the sameparcel of land (e.

g., when members of a community share common rights to grazingland, etc.)Competing interests: when different parties contest the same interests in the sameparcel (e.g.

, when two parties independently claim rights to exclusive use of a parcel of…