The value of the untenured forest


Tropical forests are newly valuable because of the carbon they sequester. Yet it is not clear who will benefit as a result. This article examines forest carbon’s new value in Acre, Brazil. It argues that a state program (the System of Incentives for Environmental Services – SISA) shifts forest carbon’s value from land to certain forms of labor. This approach allows the government to allocate it to poorer people without access to formal land tenure, a form of environmentally-premised redistribution. It also increases governmental power, favors intensive land use, and threatens to unmoor forest carbon from struggles for rights.

A Government-run Program Implements a New Model for Carbon Credits