Addressing encroachment on state forest land in Tunisia
Amanda Bradley, Jamel Kailene
Tunisia’s state forest domain faces a common problem of encroachment due to increasing pressure from developers, farmers, and pastoralists. Moreover, the boundaries of the state forest domain are unclear; archival maps are outdated and boundary markers are insufficient. Approximately 500,000 hectares of State Forest land (about 50% of the country’s total forest cover) are affected or at risk. The Tunisian government recognizes the high dependence on these lands for local livelihoods and the risks of a heavyhanded approach to reclaiming state land. These challenges are juxtaposed with the need to protect valuable and shrinking forest resources in the fragile Mediterranean ecosystem. Guided by the principles of the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure and operating within the context of the country’s national REDD+1 preparedness activities, Tunisia’s Directorate General of Forestry (DGF) adopted a consultative approach to addressing the tenure issues affecting state forest areas. Using the tool Open Tenure, an open source application developed by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and a Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS), the DGF was able to collect tenure data as well as accurate waypoints to delineate boundaries. The paper discusses the results of the fieldwork with local communities and other stakeholders, including the factors that both contributed to and hampered DGF efforts. While country contexts differ significantly, the lessons gained through the experience in Tunisia provide insight for other countries interested to address the issue of encroachment on the state forest domain. This topic has wider ranging application for global efforts to reduce emissions from deforestation and degradation.
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