This paper examined traditional systems of land and resource tenure among the shifting cultivators of southern Cameroon, from the scale of villages and clans - over historical time - down to individual rights within close family units. Essentially, territorial rights were established via first occupancy and then transmitted through the patrilineage. Land was viewed as belonging to the clan but usufruct fell to individuals. This usufruct continued on fallow plots, but land that had not been worked in living memory reverted to common property. The coherence of local systems of tenure had survived all interventions by the state and should be incorporated rather than negated in any future forestry developments.