Unravelling property relations around forest carbon

TitleUnravelling property relations around forest carbon
Annotated RecordNot Annotated
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsMahanty S, Dressler W, Milne S, Filer C
Secondary TitleSingapore Journal of Tropical Geography
Key themesEnvironment, Formalisation-titling, Policy-law

Market-based interventions to Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) enable the carbon stored in land and forests to be traded as a new and intangible form of property. Using examples from Cambodia, the Philippines and Papua New Guinea, we examine the property negotiations underpinning this new forest carbon economy. We show that the institutions and land use negotiations needed to ‘produce’ forest carbon interact recursively with existing property claims over land and forests. Even where customary rights are formally recognized (PNG, Philippines), claims to forest carbon are still complicated by ambiguities and complexities surrounding rights to forested land. Meanwhile the new value attached to forest carbon can stimulate efforts to appropriate land and forest resources associated with it, creating new power relations and property dynamics. This interplay between forest carbon and underlying contested property claims in rural forest settings creates an unstable basis for forest carbon markets and raises questions about future access to forested land.


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Journal Article