Legal Concepts and Policy Trends
Chapter 3: Legal concepts creating forest rights and limitations
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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