There is no land policy document as such to orientate the actions of the relevant public institutions; there are, however legal provisions to align institutional operations. The Codified Forest Law has a number of articles dealing with forest tenure, the most important of which states that “The State guarantees the right of private ownership of forested lands and forests in the private domain, with the limitations set down in the Constitution and the laws. With regard to natural forests, in lands exclusively suitable for forest use, the owner must conserve them and manage them according to the technical requirements set out in the regulations in this Law.” Lands that form part of the national system of protected areas are dealt with by the Ministry of Environment (MAE).
As far as forest tenure is concerned, it is estimated that the indigenous peoples and Afro-Ecuadorians own seven and a half million hectares of native forests in the country, and that the State has approximately nine million hectares, including around two million hectares of Forest Heritage land (1). Forest Heritage land is classified as permanent production state forests, permanent production private forests, protective forests, and special or experimental forests and areas.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Aquaculture and Fisheries (MAGAP) has a land under-secretariat whose aim is to take a strategic management role in the formulation, application and implementation of policies, programmes, rules of access, distribution, redistribution, re-grouping, legalisation and use of land. The responsibilities assigned by law to this under-secretariat prioritise redistribution processes. According to one of the directorates, projects dealing with title deeds intended for forest purposes are a priority; however, this prioritisation is informal in nature and not regulated.
There is a land plan which orients the processes of land redistribution, for those lands set aside for agriculture and which are outside the national system of protected areas. This group also includes lands with forest cover. To be part of this plan, it is clear that it must be with an organisation, which may be indigenous, and which must be recognised by the MAGAP. It is worth highlighting that very few lands with this type of coverage have been part of this plan.
In 2011 and 2012, a proposal for a Land Law has been drawn up, which stipulates regulations on property which is home to fragile ecosystems and includes a prohibition on land planning expansion which encroaches on agricultural, livestock and ecological spaces, respectively. It is important to emphasise that the land law should guarantee tenure and offer legal security for forest owners, bearing in mind that, as an economic activity, forest use is a long-term activity. In addition, the law should contain a section which simplifies the procedures for allocation of lands. Added to this is the fact that putting into practice a process of land regularisation involves high costs, which may complicate the application of a policy of this type.
In May 2012, the National Assembly’s Food Sovereignty Commission announced that a number of forums would be created involving the interested players, including groups, producers and indigenous peoples, amongst others, to incorporate their proposals in the law. The indigenous organisations which have worked on drawing up bills have highlighted the importance of including amongst the topics for debate the redistribution of lands, issuing title deeds for lands, and the creation of the National Land Fund.
(1) Añazco, M., M. Morales, W. Palacios, E. Vega, A. Cuesta (2010). Sector forestal Ecuatoriano: propuestas para una gestión forestal sostenible. (Ecuadorian forest sector: proposals for sustainable forest management). Research and Systematisation Series No. 8. Regional Programme ECOBONA-INTERCOOPERATION. Quito. Available at http://www.bosquesandinos.info/portales.shtml?apc=Sb--Biblioteca8587Gesti%F3n%20Social%20EFAs8570xx18326xx1-&x=24929&m=Biblioteca
|Title||a. Codification of the Forest and Conservation of Natural Areas and Wildlife Law (R.O No. 418)
b. Agricultural Development Law
c. Codification of the Special Law for Allocation of Waste Lands in the Amazon Region
d. Final proposal for a preliminary draft of the land law
|Organisation||a. Ministry of Environment
b. Specialised search engine
c. Specialised search engine
d. Specialised search engine
|Date||a. 10 September 2004
b. Promulgated in 1994, codified on 29 December 2010
c. 17 February 1972 codified 16 April 2004d. -
b. Access via the pay search engine Lexis, R.O No. 315, Quito.
c. Access is only possible via the pay search engine Lexis R.O supplement 315
d. Via a general search engine