Burundi‘s total land area is approximately 25,700 square kilometers, 91% of which is classified as agricultural land.
Burundi‘s formal law recognizes state and private land. State land includes land classified as public land (e.g., rivers, lakes) and private state land, which includes all state land not classified as public, including vacant land, forests, land expropriated for public use, and land purchased by the state. Under the law, all land that is not occupied is considered state land. Temporary rights of occupation are available on land classified as private state land (GOB Land Code 1986).
The 1986 Land Code recognizes private rights to land. Landowners have the right to exclusive use and possession, the right to transfer land freely, and the right to mortgage their land. The Land Code permits usufruct rights, leaseholds, and concessions. Under the 1986 Land Code, rights over previously titled land are recognized as private property rights. The 1986 Land Code expressly recognizes the legitimacy of land rights acquired and held under customary law. However, all asserted rights must be registered; unregistered customary rights do not have the protection of the formal law (GOB Land Code 1986; Leisz 1996).
Under customary law, land in Burundi is generally held individually, rather than by lineage. Families obtained land through clearing and using the land or purchasing land. Wealthier individuals may also own rights to pastureland and forest areas. Access to the forest and grazing land is generally shared with neighbors and relatives, who are permitted to use the land for grazing and collection of forest products.
Historically, customary law recognized tree tenure separate from land tenure: the person planting trees had the right to benefit from the production, regardless of land ownership. It is unknown whether separate tree and land tenure continues to be recognized (Leisz 1998).
Land in Burundi has been summarized to include the following