Property rights exist at many different social levels (individual, nuclear or extended family, clan or tribe, larger group, etc.), and at different levels of “formality” or official status. For example, an urban property may have an individual owner and a government-issued (formal) title. For this kind of property, it can be simple and straightforward to understand the exact identity of the officially recognized owner (by looking at the title) and the means to transfer rights to that property (through sale or rental). Understanding rights to use areas owned by larger numbers of people—extended families, clans, or certain ethnic groups—is much more complex. For example, access rights to grazing or fishing areas vary seasonally, or according to one’s clan or tribal status. There are usually local regulations concerning how group members and non-group members can use the land and its water or plant resources, and these are often not recorded on paper. Nonmembers may have access to the land if they contribute to some group event or pay someone for use rights. Resource rights at this level are likely regulated by local leaders rather than a recognized government authority, and are called “informal” or “customary” or “traditional” rights.

--  Dr. Laura Meitzner Yoder, EDN # 106

Please note that the links listed below may lead to additional resources which have not yet been added to this collection.


  1. 2016-03-01 Session: Edward will discuss the UCRT experience in advocacy for communities to secure their land rights. He will share an analysis and insights into the legal frame work, discuss the opportunities, gaps and challenges on pastoral communities in Northern Tanzania, based upon UCRT's 12 years of...
  2. 2011-07-20 Laura Meitzner Yoder wrote “I just ran across this easy-to-read, concise, but extremely thorough and practical online manual that covers most of what any potential tree-planters ought to know and to consider regarding land and tree tenure issues.
  3. 2015-07-13 Based on a MEAS paper entitled, The Current and Future Roles of Small Farm Resource Centers in Extension and Advisory Services: Synthesis Report from Seven Case Studies in Southeast Asia, this document highlights key take-a-ways of an assessment by ECHO of seven SFRCs in Southeast Asia. Through...
  4. The Tropical Agriculture Association (TAA) is a professional association of individuals and corporate bodies concerned with the role of agriculture for development throughout the world. TAA brings together individuals and organisations from both developed and less developed countries to enable...
  5. Rating: 3.0 - 1 Vote
    2010-01-20 To answer questions about rights to resources in your community, you need to understand the ways people claim and own resources in your region. Ownership defines who can do what with different resources. Four questions that need to be answered.
  6. 2013-08-30 Rural poverty remains widespread and persistent in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. A group of leading experts critically examines the impact of land tenure reforms on poverty reduction and natural resource management in countries in Africa and Asia with highly diverse historical contexts.
  7. 2013-11-12 Barely two centuries ago, most of the world's productive land still belonged either communally to traditional societies or to the higher powers of monarch or church. But that pattern, and the ways of life that went with it, were consigned to history by, Andro Linklater persuasively argues, the...
  8. In broad terms, land tenure rights are often classified according to whether they are “formal” or “informal”. There can be perceptual problems with this approach because, for example, some so-called informal rights may, in practice, be quite formal and secure in their own context. Despite these...