Global Forest Governance

Global Forest Governance

Legal Concepts and Policy Trends

Rowena Maguire

This book identifies the fundamental legal principles and the governance requirements of sustainable forest management. An analytical model for assessing forest regulation is created which identifies the doctrinal concepts that underpin forest regulation (justice, property, sovereignty and governance). It also highlights the dominant public international institutions involved in forest regulation (UNFF, UNFCCC and WB) which is followed by analysis of non-state international forest regulation (forest certification and ecosystem markets). The book concludes by making a number of practical recommendations for reform of global forest governance arrangements and suggested reforms for individual international forest institutions.

Chapter 3: Legal concepts creating forest rights and limitations

Rowena Maguire

Subjects: environment, climate change, environmental law, environmental politics and policy, law - academic, environmental law, politics and public policy, environmental politics and policy


This chapter explores two legal concepts that have greatly influenced the development of international and national forest laws and policies. These concepts are that of state sovereignty and the legal concept of property. At the international level, states have been unwilling to accept binding legal obligations concerning sustainable forest management due to concerns that such an agreement would limit absolute sovereign rights and discretion about how forest estates were managed. Sovereignty provides rights to states – both externally within international negotiations, and also internally to self-govern. At the national level, the concept of property underpins all natural resources and management by providing rights and interests in land and resources. Property rights in forest estates can take a number of forms including access rights, use rights, usufruct rights and occupation rights. While both of these concepts provide rights, they also inherently involve restrictions on how these rights can be used and enjoyed. The evolution of international and national environmental regulation also places limitations upon how these rights can be exercised.

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