This study addresses the question, ‘How can remaining forests be conserved when these are already individually privatized, and when the people prefer landuses other than forestry?’ These changes in landuse and forest ownership are demonstrated through a case study of a village in Ifugao, Philippines. A rapid and continued conversion of forest into agricultural land is observed, particularly for vegetable farming. Traditionally, most of the village total land area was under communal land ownership, but now almost half is under de facto private ownership. This transition in land (including forest) ownership is generally attributed to increased demand for land which is further attributed to changes in peoples’ values towards wealth accumulation rather than redistribution, greater integration to the market economy and a shift towards commercial agriculture. Past forest policies have been ineffective in regulating the landuse largely because they have not reflected local reality, and this appears to be true with the present national forest management strategy of community-based forest management. It is argued that the granting of land titles will improve forest conservation because it will improve the enforcement of forest laws and related contractual agreements. Based on the reality of private land ownership, it is further argued that forest policy in IP land should include private (individual, family or household) forest management. Given the possibility that indigenous people may prefer landuses other than forestry or may sell their property for various reasons, policies should regulate landuse as well as make it legal for IPs to transfer rights of ownership to ‘outsiders’. There is scope to improve the implementation of the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act in the Philippines.
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