Carbon forestry in agricultural landscapes: ready for the competition?

  • Published 17/02/15

by Ishmael Hashmiu
Researcher, Political Ecologies of Carbon project

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Carbon offset projects are an increasingly important approach to carbon mitigation under the REDD+ (Reducing Emissions by Forest Degradation and Deforestation) framework. But how does ‘farming carbon’ compete with other land uses? This briefing investigates this question through the experience of the Carbon Credit Project in Ghana.

The project required farmers to plant and maintain Cedrela trees on their farmlands at a density of 100 trees/10,000 ft² over an agreed period of 20 years for carbon revenue of an uncertain amount. This briefing examines the pro-poor claims and local acceptance of the carbon offset project in the context of potential returns from alternative land uses (hybrid cocoa, chili pepper and maize farming), and provides policy recommendations for making REDD-type interventions pro-poor and acceptable in smallholder contexts.

Our analysis draws on case studies from two communities of contrasting land values: Dumasua (peri-urban) and Badu (rural). This contrast helps to show the differing implications of urbanization and land pressure on the future of smallholder agriculture within the framework of REDD+. Socially differentiated access to land, and how it affects grassroots actors’ ability to join the project and derive benefits from it, are also factored into the discussion.

This briefing draws from the STEPS working paper Carbon Offsets and Agricultural Livelihoods: Lessons Learned From a Carbon Credit Project in The Transition Zone Of Ghana.