Carbon forestry in West Africa: The politics of models, measures and verification processes
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In a context of neo-liberal environmental governance, imperatives for global climate change mitigation are motivating a new round of policy initiatives and projects aimed at carbon forestry: conserving and enhancing forest carbon stocks, and trading these values in emerging carbon markets. In this context modelling and measurement, always significant in framing and justifying forest policy initiatives, are of renewed importance, with a growing array of protocols focused on counting and accounting for forest carbon as a commodity. This article draws on perspectives from science and technology studies and environmental discourse analysis to explore how these modelling and measurement processes are being co-constructed with forest carbon policies and political economies, and applied in project design in local settings. Document analysis and key informant interviews are used to track and illustrate these processes in a pair of case studies of forest carbon projects in Sierra Leone and Ghana. These are chosen to highlight different project types – focused respectively on forest reserve and farm-forestry – in settings with multi-layered histories of people-forest relations, landscape change and prior project intervention. The analysis shows how longer established framings and assessments of deforestation are being re-invoked and re-worked amidst current carbon concerns. We demonstrate that measurement processes are not just technical but social and political, carrying and thus cementing particular views of landscape and social relations that in turn make likely particular kinds of intervention pathway, with fortress style conservation or plantations becoming the dominant approach. In the process, other possibilities – including alternative pathways that might treat and value carbon as part of complex, lived-in landscapes, or respond more adaptively to less equilibrial people–forest relations, are occluded.
CitationLeach, Melissa, and Ian Scoones. "Carbon forestry in West Africa: The politics of models, measures and verification processes." Global Environmental Change 23.5 (2013): 957-967
Rights holderGlobal Environmental Change (Elsevier)
- ESRC STEPS Centre