Forest carbon has been called a pseudo-commodity, meaning offsetting schemes such as REDD+ can increase the value of tropical forests gained from the developmental rent, even where integration into an imagined global carbon market is never achieved.
This article discusses, through a case-based approach, the consequences of such effects in relation to debates on the potentially recentralizing effects of REDD+ and reconfiguration of land tenure and property rights. It presents an empirically grounded study of how a REDD+ pilot project in Kigoma, Western Tanzania, exacerbated boundary conflict after implementation on a forested land area, without first definitively establishing land tenure and property rights.
The study employs an interactionist social science approach to examine the resulting contestations between parties and political processes that took place, including the overriding of decisions made within a village assembly meeting by district level authorities, using strategies of forum shopping and evoking the politics of scale.
Such recentralization processes can be understood as incentivized by value grabbing, in addition to other motives related to wildlife conservation. This highlights the need for future forest policies to prioritize questions of land tenure, political accountability and the context-specific interactions of forest users before technical conditionalities that involve biophysical measurement of trees to estimate forest carbon densities.
Emma Jane Lord is a PhD Candidate at the Centre for the Study of the Sciences and the Humanities (SVT) at the University of Bergen, Norway.
Amber Huff, Institute of Development Studies.
We would like to acknowledge the University of Bergen for supporting Emma Jan Lord for presenting at this seminar. This was done through their mobility grant.