SPECIAL SECTION: THE GREEN ECONOMY IN THE SOUTH
Year : 2017 | Volume
| Issue : 2 | Page : 125-135
Intimate Exclusions from the REDD+ forests of Sungai Lamandau, Indonesia
School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, Aotearoa, New Zealand
School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, Aotearoa
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
|Date of Web Publication||19-Jun-2017|
| Abstract|| |
Due to land-use conversions for palm oil, mining and other extractive industries, Indonesia remains the largest contributor of greenhouse gases from primary forest loss in the world. Nowhere are solutions to large-scale forest loss more urgently required. To reverse the trend, the Government of Indonesia is banking on carbon market mechanisms like the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+) programme. REDD+ is designed to enable the provision of economic compensations to protect forests by making them more valuable standing than cut down. The Sungai Lamandau REDD+ demonstration activity is unique in Indonesia as the first REDD+ project officially proposed by a community group upon land they hope to manage autonomously. Despite the project's 'bottom-up' architecture, for some, access to Sungai Lamandau's REDD+ benefits remain exclusive. These exclusions are not only something imposed by powerful external actors, but has emerged endogenously, through the everyday functioning of gendered market relations, and community-based socio-environmental and ethno-territorial movements. This paper adopts a feminist-inspired intimacy-geopolitics to explore the nuanced powers of exclusion used by Sungai Lamandau's farmers to access the project's non-monetary REDD+ benefits. The paper focuses on 'intimate exclusions' – everyday processes of accumulation and dispossession among villagers and small-holders. In doing so, it highlights the hazards of developing REDD+ projects structured with limited sympathy for marginalised actors. Although the seemingly 'inclusive' benefits sharing structure attracted excellent ethical carbon credit ratings, the project still failed to address (and even exacerbated) existing inequalities – a root cause of Sungai Lamandau's forest degradation.
Keywords: Forests, Exclusion, REDD+, Gender, Race, Indonesia
|How to cite this article:|
Howson P. Intimate Exclusions from the REDD+ forests of Sungai Lamandau, Indonesia. Conservat Soc 2017;15:125-35
| Introduction|| |
Despite a national moratorium on deforestation licences, Indonesia remains the largest contributor of greenhouse gases from primary forest loss in the world, removing 840,000 hectares of primary forest each year (Margono et al. 2014). To reverse this trend, the Government of Indonesia (GoI) is banking on carbon market mechanisms like Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+) (Indrarto et al. 2012). The REDD+ mechanism is designed to enable the provision of economic compensations, aimed at resource extractive industries, forest communities and governments, to protect forests by making them “more valuable standing than cut down” (Katerere, 2010: 105). In doing so, the mechanism promises to directly address the cross-sectoral drivers of forest loss in developing countries like Indonesia (Indrarto et al. 2012). It is also the first initiative to promise a way past three key contentious areas that have stalled other global forest agreements. These include: 1) compensation for the 'opportunity costs' of forest conservation, 2) the sovereign right of countries to determine their own priorities for development and conservation, and 3) strong substantive requirements for protecting the environment, indigenous peoples and local communities (McDermott 2014).
There is a growing body of REDD+ literature focusing on the protection of 'local and indigenous communities'1 from the negative impacts of externally imposed REDD+ activities (Cavanagh and Benjaminsen 2014; Nel 2014). This paper however, utilises a feminist-inspired intimacy-geopolitics to show how ethnicity and gender affects people's ability to access the diverse REDD+ benefits on offer while excluding others from within REDD+ communities themselves. The findings are informed by the Sungai Lamandau REDD+ project in Central Kalimantan, one of a portfolio of four REDD+ projects being supported by the Clinton Climate Initiative's Forestry program (between 2008 and 2013). I use Hall et al. (2011: 7) definition of 'exclusion' as the “ways in which people are prevented from benefiting from things“. This is a reversal of the definition of access as “the ability to benefit from things” used in Ribot and Peluso's (2003: 153) A Theory of Access. Drawing from Hall et al. (2011), the conceptualisation used here, does not simply take exclusion as something negative, counter posed with the positive idea of 'inclusion', but rather as something inevitable within community-based constructions of REDD+.
REDD+ is loaded with a great breadth of meanings. The Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) defines it both broadly and narrowly:
A broad definition, based on the official COP13 terminology, holds that REDD+ comprises local, subnational, national and global actions whose primary aim is to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation and enhance carbon stocks (increase removals) in developing countries. A narrower definition is that REDD+ also includes results-based or conditional payments, which was a core idea when REDD+ was launched at the 2007 climate talks in Bali (Angelsen et al. 2012: 381).
The mechanism has morphed considerably from how it was originally conceived at the 2007 climate talks in Bali, from a tool to reduce emissions from land use change and forestry to a multifaceted scheme, redefining and reshaping human-forest interactions (den Besten et al. 2014). In Indonesia, REDD+ as a performance-based mechanism is being presented as an effective and cost-efficient option for mitigating climate change (Nielsen 2013). Evidence suggests that values of biodiversity conservation, equity, and sustainable livelihoods are critical to the legitimacy and effectiveness of REDD+ carbon projects (Corbera and Brown, 2010; Pistorius et al. 2011). Various actors have therefore called for a more integrated REDD+ paradigm encompassing 'three pillars': carbon, biodiversity and community (Pant 2011). In this paradigm, carbon is positioned as a 'bonus', should a viable market for it materialise.
Significant debate remains about who should benefit from an incentive-based REDD+ mechanism and what the incentives should look like. Many poorly-substantiated claims have arisen about who 'depends' on forests and the link between forest dependency and poverty alleviation (Belcher 2012). Increasingly, commentators recognise that underlying who should have (or could have) access to REDD+ benefits are social processes and relations, which connect actors across distances between different material realities (Lohmann 2009). These relations define who is entitled to the benefits, how much benefits are worth, and which benefits accrue for which actors (Corbera and Brown 2010). Lindhjem et al. (2010) characterised two forms of benefit accrual. The first involved sharing benefits between global, national and local level actors. The second occurs within communities, households and other local actors. These categories are problematic on multiple levels. Scalar formations – which posit the sites of carbon commodity production as fundamentally separate from where they are theoretically traded – are used to justify an inability to distribute benefits equitably across these distances. Furthermore, these categories disguise the messy and inequitable webs of power, painting them instead as neat production lines along which different parties receive what they deserve. The dominant REDD+ scalar formation excludes communities, households and other local actors from the projects potential direct monetary benefits. These actors are rarely considered 'global' enough for those (Lohmann 2009).
Furthermore, the non-monetary 'community benefits' (e.g. biodiversity conservation, clean water, recreation, livelihoods, etc.) are rarely exclusively 'local'. They are benefits often accessible to anyone with access to a standing forest. One might also need to consider that non-monetary benefits such as, 'cultural heritage' and 'recreation', could form the basis for a financially-profitable 'global' eco-tourism venture. Also, some benefits are near impossible to box. For example, 'access to timber' for firewood and construction could be a desirable benefit for forest communities, which simultaneously limit global market access to tradable carbon stocks (Howson and Kindon 2015). Consequently, potential trade-offs exist between different 'global' land-uses for carbon and 'local' livelihood priorities.
The following section describes the conceptual framework used for analysing these trade-offs and considers how these trade-offs result in 'intimate exclusions' (Hall et al. 2011) from REDD+ benefits. I then introduce the Sungai Lamandau project site, as well as the methods used for exploring its complex political ecology. The penultimate section discusses the powers of intimate exclusion used by local agriculturalists to secure access to benefits for themselves. These discussions inform the paper's conclusion, with a focus on project equity issues and associated risks for project implementers. As the community-based model implemented in Sungai Lamandau is intended for roll-out across the region, it is imperative that these risks are well understood.
| Conceptualising Exclusions from Redd+ Benefits|| |
The conceptualisation used here views the inverse of 'exclusion' as 'access'. Hall et al. (2011) point out that, even the poorest people, farming collectively and sustainably, require some assurance that their efforts will not be annexed by outside actors. Starting from the assumption that some degree of exclusion is therefore inevitable (and potentially positive), this framing enables an exploration into the diverse array of ways individuals have both been excluded, and have excluded others, from land and the REDD+ benefits wrapped up in it. Hall et al. (2011: 7) define 'exclusion' as the “ways in which people are prevented from benefiting from things“. This is a reversal of Ribot and Peluso's (2003: 153) definition of access: “the ability to benefit from things“. The paper focuses on 'intimate exclusions', which Hall et al. (2011: 145-146) use to explore “'everyday' processes of accumulation and dispossession among villagers“. As asserted by Li (2007: 97), these intimate exclusions are often violent, requiring “intervention by force and law” to transform the private property regime while turning neighbours and kin into wage labourers for hire.
This paper offers an innovative addition to Hall et al's. (2011) approach by adopting a feminist-inspired intimacy-geopolitics together with a more spatially-curious conceptualisation of power. This conceptualisation foregrounds associational as well as instrumental forms of power and offers an understanding of “power's mediated relationality” in places (Allen 2004: 19). Furthermore, this framing enables an understanding of how exclusion was mediated by intimate processes that transcended conventional scales of REDD+ implementation – 'national, sub-national and local' (see Angelsen et al. 2012). Market-based exclusions, for example, connected actors across great distances and relied upon both trans-national finance mechanisms for carbon trading as well as favourable local commodity market conditions, such as rubber and rice. What mediated these market relations were intimate processes – friendships, fears, shared histories and spaces of interaction.
However, 'intimacy' here represents more than just the relationship between neighbours and kin, or that which was spatially proximate. Drawing on Pain and Staeheli's (2014) intimacy-geopolitics, intimacy is understood as a set of spatial relations, interactions and practices linking actors across multiple scales and sites of REDD+ implementation. Here, the 'intimate' in intimate exclusion is more contingent upon emotional geographies (of fear, guilt and shame), than a matter of spatial proximity to trees and significant others. The intimacy-geopolitics frame seeks to avoid discursive abstractions which serve to reinforce a fixed 'global scale' and placeless state power. Attention to traditional geopolitical discourse, even in the form of critique, perpetuates the removal of people and everyday practices from geopolitical analysis (Sharp 2000). The intimacy-geopolitics approach, as it is used here, challenges the nation-state as the sole or primary subject of geopolitical thinking by attending to the social construction of scale (Marston 2000) and the interconnections among and across scales. For example, Hyndman (2007) suggests that our understanding of security (a classic theme of geopolitics) is fundamentally transformed if we begin questioning security at the scale of the individual body as opposed to that of the nation-state. A focus on human security, rather than national security, provides a way to attend to the lived realities of individuals as they are shaped by and influence geopolitical processes. Furthermore, a shift to the scale of the body enables an analysis of the way geopolitical processes are experienced unevenly across differently situated populations (Massaro and Williams 2013).
This analytical strategy emphasises subject formation in struggles around livelihoods, natural resource access and exclusion (Harris 2006; Nightingale 2006), where 'gender' is understood as a highly relational analytical concept for considering the workings of power, rather than as a descriptive term or categorisation (Butler 2004; Elmhirst 2011). Gender is therefore seen neither as analytically central nor as the end point of critique and analysis (Fraser 2004). People are conceptualised as inhabiting multiple and fragmented identities, constituted through social relations that include gender, but also include class, religion, sexuality, race/ethnicity, as well as in multiple networks for coping with, transforming or resisting development interventions, like REDD+.
This way of looking at exclusion incorporates ideas of equity, customary rights and tenure. However, it does not perceive exclusion as something that can ever be fully reconciled within such 'rights-based' private property discourses. Due to the interminable nature of the commodity in question (land), exclusion can never be permanently ameliorated through 'inclusion'; it can only be partially and temporarily relieved through access controls. But this is a contentious position, and not everyone agrees.
For Sikor and Ngoc Tranh (2007) exclusion is an ameliorable issue of governance or coming together. They describe a process of exclusive forest devolution in Vietnam, whereby some forest users were given rights to alienate and exclude others. In an unspecific manner, Sikor and Ngoc Tranh (2007: 652) recommend the recognition of customary rights and forms of governance that “involve all relevant types of actors“. Trudeau (2006; see also Vanderbeck and Dunkley 2004) also shares the idea of exclusion's perfectibility. But, he argues that the opposite of exclusion is better understood as 'belonging'. This emotional sense of belonging necessarily entails bounded classifications of characteristics associated with membership in a polity. He argues that membership in such a (territorialised) polity is often a political issue and the politics of belonging (and exclusion) plays a role in the production of social spaces such as landscapes and place.
Hall et al. (2011) provide a heuristic basis for mapping these interactions across four 'powers of exclusion': regulation, force, the market and legitimation. Although this paper agrees that these powers are fundamental to understanding the processes that resulted in various kinds of exclusions in the study site, unlike Hall et al. (2011), I put the four powers to work within a more anarchist geographical tradition. In adopting a scalar ontology that does not insist on predominant hierarchy, the people, discourses, and misunderstandings which make up the Sungai Lamandau REDD+ project can be better elucidated.
There is a danger of overly localising people within abstract geographical boundaries when one uses Hall et al.'s (2011: 145) anthropological designation of “social intimates“. Instead, by adopting an intimacy-geopolitics approach, I understand that all actors accessing and adopting exclusionary practices in Sungai Lamandau – the farmers and small-holders, financiers, carbon brokers and buyers, volunteers and researchers – were all networked bodies that disobeyed spatial boundaries and interacted in ways beyond kinship ties or standard geo-political cartographies.
| Intimate Exclusion in Sungai Lamandau|| |
The Sungai Lamandau project was the first 'community-based' REDD+ related activity in Indonesia (World Agroforestry Centre 2010). The project was formed in 2010 after a consortium of NGOs, in partnership with the local West Kotawaringin (KoBar) government, established land already enclosed for conservation purposes as a potential site for forest protection and restoration, to be funded through the sale of REDD+ carbon credits. The land was a restricted use area bordering the Sungai Lamandau wildlife reserve. This 'buffer zone' had no access restrictions, but fires and the felling of trees was prohibited and closely monitored by local government officials [Figure 1].
|Figure 1: Map of the Sungai Lamandau study area, including REDD+ project site|
Click here to view
The project aimed to formalise existing community groups into legally recognised farmers' cooperatives, which YAYORIN, a local orangutan conservation NGO, had facilitated since the charity's inauguration in 1991. To become a member of a cooperative, one had to possess.
A livelihood connection, and be a registered citizen of KoBar. In March 2011, ten cooperatives, with members from villages across the district, formed a legally-recognised union known as Pelangi KoBar Bersatu – The United Rainbow of KoBar (PKB). The union, on multiple occasions, formally submitted an application to the local Regent's office for a Community Forest (HKm) licence, which would grant the union rights to manage the buffer-zone for carbon capture and restoration purposes. To date, a decision on that has not been issued. The Sungai Lamandau demonstration activity is the only REDD+ project in Indonesia where a community cooperative is listed by the carbon credit certification bodies 2 as the project's official proponent. But, like most REDD+ projects, it is a cross-scalar effort influenced by a diverse array of actors and institutions. These include the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), RARE, OFUK, YAYORIN, CCI, and PKBs multiple constituent groups.
Using an intimacy-geopolitics frame, I was able to move beyond a simplified understanding of these actors as somewhat anonymous strategic geopolitical 'players' that formed the foundations of the REDD+ project (O'Tuathail 1996). The narrative being communicated in the project design documentation for example, often discusses strategic alliances in Sungai Lamandau between global actors and local stakeholders to conserve Central Kalimantan's forests (RARE 2010). In reality these seemingly 'strategic' linkages were profoundly intimate; the result of friendships formed in university dorm rooms in Jakarta, or holidays in Bali. As the Sungai Lamandau activity is a community-based project, it is a good case through which to explore the intimate processes for accessing REDD+ benefits and associated processes of exclusion.
The empirical material in this paper derives from ethnographic fieldwork in the KoBar district of Central Kalimantan, Indonesia from April to December 2013. In each village and sub-village, the administrative head (Kepala Desa/Kedes), the leaders, members and affiliates of local farmers' groups and women's groups, and a sample of 15–40 individual households participated in the study. Much of the ethnographic research involved semi-structured interviews and observations within three distinct groups to explore processes of exclusion in detail. These ethnic groups included: 1) the Mendawai of Pendulangan – a group of indigenous Muslims (sometimes known generically as 'Malay'), influenced heavily by the Banjar Kuala people of South Kalimantan, 2) a Javanese trans migrant group located within a rice farming settlement between Kumpai Batu Atas and Tanjung Terantang, and 3) an ethnic Malay Banjarese Jelutung (Dyera costulata) rubber tapping group located in the Sei Gandis settlement.
The ethnographic material generated through observation and discussion within these groups was supplemented by formal and informal discussions with the project implementers, YAYORIN and CCI, heads of local corporations, including: KORINDO Sawmills, Sawit Sumbermas and the Citra Borneo Indah Oil Palm companies, NGO staff members and volunteers, including: Orangutan Foundation Indonesia (OFI), and Orangutan Foundation UK (OFUK), as well as local and provincial government staff and civil servants including: the District forestry bureau (Dinas Kehutanan), and National Conservation Office (BKSDA). Local and national newspaper articles and statistical information were also collected, usually from district government offices and research reports from the 1990s to present day. All this data enabled a nuanced understanding of the intimate relations, interactions and practices connecting nodes of REDD+ implementation (Pain and Staehili, 2014). The following section shows how a feminist-inspired 'intimacy-geopolitics', as an analytical approach, connects seemingly close-knit and disparate people, places, and events orbiting issues of REDD+ implementation. I draw attention to the outwardly 'apolitical' (or 'a-geopolitical') realms of the body, the home, and intimate relationships as key sites where geopolitical power was (re)produced and challenged (Massaro and Williams 2013).
| Exploring Intimate Exclusions from the Redd+ Forests of Sungai Lamandau|| |
(Re)producing agrarian classes
For most Sungai Lamandau farmers that I met, interest in the REDD+ project was dependent upon what one stood to gain. CCI and YAYORIN had advised each cooperative to open bank accounts, in order for any future payments from the sale of the project's REDD+ Carbon Emission Reductions (CERs) certificates to be made. CCI's Forests Programme director described the implementation model as:
[M]uch more transparent than any other REDD+ pilot so far. I know because [CCI] has paid for most of them and we don't know where the money has gone. […] When you go to Rimba Raya you (the author) should find out for us if they have made money yet. Please do that. […] The Sungai Lamandau project, all the money will go to the community. Not YAYORIN. Not Winrock – they have already been paid. Not us of course. So the community will manage it and they will get all the benefits (Peter Howson per.comm.2013).
From most of the farmers I interviewed it was clear that the REDD+ implementation model and management decisions were being negotiated by those with specific interests in the project. Often however, people had more important things to worry about. As Fattah, a male farm labourer in Terantang, told me:
The forest is for timber, that's all. I don't go walking in the forest for fun. I go to cut wood for my house. […] The cooperative isn't working here because we work in the rice fields […] I have no time for playing in the forest or planting trees which someone else will have (Peter Howson pers.comm.2013).
There is little evidence of Fattah's purposeful exclusion from the project. As a labourer, he was seeing little incentive to join an enterprise that he perceived as unproductive considering his livelihood options. He was possibly blind to the long-term incentives because Fattah was being paid in rice. He had limited ability to accumulate benefits from the REDD+ project because he could not afford the time. Yet, to ignore Fattah's position was to exclude him. And many landed Sungai Lamandau small-holders did just that.
Utsman, the leader of the all-male group, Mawar Bersemi (Fattah's local group) explained to me on one occasion:
Our [REDD+] group meets every Sunday. We're very disciplined here. We have to pay our subs every week, we have to attend the [gotong] royong3 every week to dig our ponds and ditches. If you don't pay one week you can't join the meeting. If you don't attend the [gotong] royong, you pay a fine. Why would we have people join unless they have something to contribute? That wouldn't make any sense (Peter Howson pers.comm.2013).
These intimate exclusions continued, for the most part, as everyday practices. They were mundane and piecemeal – more a process of obliviousness than malice. Yet, cumulatively these practices were producing (and reproducing) agrarian classes in Sungai Lamandau, with differential access to land and the REDD+ project benefits which came with that.
Intimate regulation & exclusion
Exclusion of certain groups from the REDD+ project was sometimes based on their inability to coalesce around shared livelihood strategies. The fisher folk and their families, located in clusters sporadically positioned along the riverbanks north of Sei Gandis, despite their dependence on the buffer-zone tributaries, were excluded due to their geographical isolation from one another. The fisher folk communities seldom came together. They lacked motorised canoes to reach Pangkalanbuun, and none of their huts were spacious enough to accommodate monthly meetings, let alone house a thriving communal enterprise.
Through the project, REDD+ co-ops were expected to establish at least one communally-managed enterprise, which would in principle, provide members with greater economic security, a source of credit, or a means of capital to establish other enterprises in the future. These enterprises often allowed members to negotiate better market prices for their commodities, such as rubber and rattan. Some had purchased machinery such as rice milling machines, fish food mixers or aeration units. This community mobilisation was intended to influence the Social and Environmental Safeguard (SES) instruments produced by CCI and intended for roll-out across its Indonesia portfolio of projects and beyond. Furthermore, such an 'inclusive' consultation process would attract a 'Climate Adaptation, Community & Biodiversity Gold Level' certification from carbon credit auditors. Yet, individuals who could not position themselves within a coop, or the project implementing consortium, were excluded from both accessing REDD+ project benefits and regulating what those benefits looked like.
The Javanese trans migrant community co-ops of Terantang – Mawar Bersemi and Tani Sejati – consisted predominantly of rice farmers and practitioners of inland captive fish pond aquaculture. For the landed members of these groups, the REDD+ project benefited those that already had competitive advantage, enabling them to access more resources and exclude others. Most members were affiliated to three or more other development project initiatives and supplemented these incomes with jobs in the urban centres of Pangkalanbuun or Sukamara, as explained by Utsman:
I am the Boss of the group for REDD+ and HKm and I'm also the Boss of the PU (public works) rice irrigation project. […] We also have 'Blue Earth' (fish stock restoration), PNPM (World Bank community empowerment fund), and a few others. I forget. [...] We've had community groups since I arrived in 1986, when the Javanese transmigration village started (Peter Howson pers. comm. 2013).
Although many trans migrants relocated as wet-rice specialists, these were engineers, entrepreneurs, major landholders and 'progressive farmers'4. For them this was another opportunity to increase their capacity to accumulate land and capital for themselves.
For those with the means in Terantang, Sundays were strictly dedicated to gotong royong. For the Mawar Bersemi group, gotong royong sessions involved building both communal fish ponds, which produced fish hatchlings for their members, and private fishponds on a rotating basis. As Alam, a Mawar Bersemi member, explained:
Missing a gotong royong means you have to pay a Rp35,000 fine 5. […] To make sure people are serious and disciplined, if you want to join the group you are required to pay a monthly subscription of Rp50,000 and a one-off joining fee of Rp300,000. […] And it works – all the members attend every week (Peter Howson pers.comm. 2013).
Individuals who did not possess land on which to dig a fish pond had very little incentive to join the coop and submit a weeks' salary for the privilege. In such instances, these individuals could pay to dig others' fish ponds, with little guarantee of reciprocal kindness. They could travel long distances to join a suitable coop in another village (requiring them to be of the correct gender, religion, speak the same language and have a similar livelihood connection), or they were necessarily excluded from any current or future REDD+ project benefits.
Once every three months, the REDD+ coop heads met in Pangkalanbuun for the PKB umbrella group meeting to discuss any business associated with the REDD+ project. The meetings were attended by representatives from YAYORIN, BKSDA (Natural Resource Conservation Bureau), Dinas Kehutanan (District forestry office) and OFUK. Each negotiated rules and incentives for the cooperatives acting within the REDD+ site.
Prescriptive requirements had been set by state authorities, including BKSDA and the district forestry office, concerning allowable limits for timber extraction (fifty square metres per annum), and imposing a moratorium on controlled burning and logging over allowable limits. The carbon credit validation agencies had also imposed requirements relating to monitoring and protection of carbon stocks, biodiversity and incidence of 'carbon leakage' (fire, logging and so on). Some groups, such as Sepakat and Sei Gandis, were required to have maximum member limits imposed. Land use was however, most heavily regulated between and within the co-ops themselves, through their constitutions. These terms of reference documents varied slightly in content from coop-to-coop, but each was largely a reproduction of their umbrella body, PKB's, agreement. This was ratified during a meeting, which YAYORIN had facilitated in the project's early days.
From the twenty-five or so members of PKB, who regularly attended meetings, only two were women – a single representative each from the two women only cooperatives. As well as their absence from formal decision making, women were, generally speaking, excluded from paid forest protection duties. Formal protection of the REDD+ project site and reserve area involved employing forest guards (paid for through an OFI/OFUK grant). Although forest guards usually housed their immediate families within the guard-post huts, no women were formally employed as guards.
Within the guard posts, women usually performed all the domestic duties required of them as well as performing the duties of the guard – checking entry-permission passes, opening the gates to visitors and managing paper-work – all performed without pay. Traditional agricultural or other work that did not bring cash income was generally perceived by the PKB group as female work, while income-earning work was socially considered the domain of men. Adinda, a member of a women-only group named Wanita Mandiri, stated in an interview:
I am not a guard – I don't want to do that. […] You would probably become a guard if you wanted to be a PNS (civil servant), which is a good job and you get a pension and house and school for your children. […] It is a family endeavour. The woman supports her husband and then he will get a good job as a PNS, which is good for the whole family. […] Women work in the guard post for free, but it's always that way (Peter Howson pers.comm.2013).
Many women also worked as labourers to generate cash income for their families, but this was normatively considered as supplemental to their husbands' incomes. Besides being the main farmers of family plots, the holdings often did not formally belong to them, but to their husbands or male children.
Forceful exclusion through debt discipline
For one REDD+ rubber coop named Kelompok Sei Gandis, the regulation of the group's activities was achieved through its traditional paternalist structure that had existed long before the REDD+ project was established. The group's well-connected chief, was the main source of informal credit for all the coop's members and their families and the principal node through which rubber markets in the provincial hubs of Sampit and Palangkaraya were accessed. A male member of the group told me:
Hasan (the group's chief) accepts repayments on loans as rubber. Timber is also just fine, no questions [...] If you have private land you have to promise it as security. […] My neighbour had a plot of land in Kubu, but he lost it when he couldn't pay any more. He still has his house there, but Hasan owns it (Peter Howson pers.comm. 2013).
As argued elsewhere by Gerber (2013), this appropriation of land as collateral was leaving the appearance of a standard 'voluntary' sale on the part of the farmer, but was glossing over the fact that the neighbour was being forced to sell his land in order to finance a debt.
Entering into these credit relations had other hidden consequences. Creditors' acceptance of timber as a repayment method potentially drew the debtor into a destructive livelihood dependent on logging. In concreting the group's hierarchical structure in this way, the REDD+ project had the potential to exacerbate the forceful exclusions which formed a root cause of Sungai Lamandau's forest degradation. Furthermore, Hasan had no real incentive for being reimbursed, preferring to remain as an interest or rent-collector, extracting value from the debtor's work or the fruits thereof. Such mechanisms have been observed elsewhere in Indonesia. Li (2010: 387) found that:
The principal mechanism through which owners of capital have been able to profit from rural peoples' labour and the principal vector of dispossession has been debt. Debt makes nominally independent landholders in effect their tenants, disciplined by the need for further loans and the threat of foreclosure.
Furthermore, although Sei Gandis operated 'communal' rubber and cattle enterprises, where group members operated shares in the group's cows and rubber was collected from the groups managed forest walkways, unlike the other co-ops, Sei Gandis members were forcefully excluded, through debt, from the REDD+ project benefits enjoyed elsewhere. These benefits included communal savings and loans schemes, fixed and guaranteed market prices for rubber or other commodities, and access to land held in common. Improving access to these benefits was not in Hasan's interests.
Exclusion through market logic
Just as informal credit was a primary tool in enacting forceful exclusions from REDD+ benefits, the debilitating nature of debt arrangements allowed those with means to control the market and labour conditions to suit their interests. Being able to control market forces was of enormous importance in the dynamics of land access for Sungai Lamandau's small-holders.
Tani Sejati, the REDD+ project's newest coop, located in the rice farming village of Kumpai Batu Bawah (KBB), had formed in early August, 2013. The coop was a mixed-ethnicity group, but was composed predominantly of Malay Muslims and Javanese migrants. Their first meeting was conducted at the elected chief's house and was attended by all thirty-one members. The men represented almost every family in the village. Facilitated by YAYORIN staff, the coop was to agree a constitution document, REDD+ project management roles, potential enterprises (to increase the economic empowerment of its members), and the coop's finances (including savings and loans schemes, rotating lottery and subscription costs). During the meeting I witnessed Mahmud, an older Malay gentleman arguing against the group's purchasing of a communally owned and operated rice milling machine. He stated: “A rice enterprise isn't going to work well for us, because we're old and therefore not strong and in poor health.” Many others agreed.
Raist, a Dayak gentleman in his mid-forties, later in the meeting described his willingness to see a rice venture move forward:
I'm prepared to pay double [the subscriptions] and I think others who are able should do the same. Then we can quickly build sufficient modal (start-up capital for a new business), to buy milling machines and get more to market (Peter Howson pers.comm. 2013).
There were a number of market exclusions at work here. As Hairuman, a resident of the village explained:
The price of rice, milled, is usually around Rp10,000 per kilo at the market. […] Rice farmers and labourers often choose to sell their rice to a middle man for Rp8,000 per kilo, because labourers are often paid in rice and they don't have transport to markets, you understand? If the rice was un-milled, a farmer could sell it at the market for only Rp4,000 per kilo, but middlemen won't buy it because there's no profit. So if you can you would always pay a rice miller, and that's a standard fee of Rp1,000/kilo.
This necessity provided a healthy profit for rice milling machine owners, which included Mahmud, holder of a sizable six-hectare plot. His was one of only two milling machines in KBB. A REDD+ communal rice production venture would allow another to be purchased, significantly cutting production costs and benefiting the landless labourers of the group. For the landed owners of existing profit making machinery, such a project would be disadvantageous.
Unlike the landed members of KBB, the landless lacked the means to invest in temporally distant pay-offs. They were, instead, compelled to sell their labour to make ends meet. Away from the meeting, Raist explained:
I'm paid in rice. I have only rice to sell. Sometimes I buy broken motorbikes and sell them in town, but that's for school fees and cigarette money. I can't buy land. I rent the land my house is on and enough for the ducks. […] The only thing there is plenty of for me, is work. [...] My children have to work hard at school. There is nothing more I can give them here, so they will need to find good jobs in town (Peter Howson pers.comm. 2013).
Raist was not alone. For many of KBB's landless, the market-based exclusion was forcing many to get out of farming altogether. Anton, a male Malay farm labourer living in KBB told me:
Today, rice from Thailand is cheaper here than rice from Kalimantan. How is it possible? How can they transport it to Surabaya, then bring it here and sell it cheaper than I can get it from the Pasar Baru market (Pangkalanbuun's main food market)? […] There is no future here. The Thai farmers get all the help they need to grow rice and get rich. We can't even get basic machines and chemicals. […] If you have no land and no machines, you're dead here. I'm nearly dead here. Enough (Peter Howson pers.comm.2013).
It was common for labourers in KBB to acquire informal loans to maintain a 'normal life'. This normal life consisted of being able to eat, produce, pay bills, or meet the basic needs of family life such as weddings, funerals, housing, health care and schooling. Anton was one of these individuals. He had sold his land (he and his family remained as rent-paying tenants) in order to pay for his own previous medical expenses, following an accident, and to purchase a bicycle.
Unlike Raist, most of KBB's landless labourers saw little incentive to join the REDD+ project. The coop disbanded in early December, 2013, and Raist, Anton and many of the other labourers, continued to work for rice, pay rent, middlemen and rice millers.
From their secure vantage points, the landed small-holders of KBB were able to weigh-up the advantages of REDD+ against their continued pursuit of purely private interests. However, in doing so, small-holders, like Mahmud, were eliminating the labourers' access to far-distant carbon credit incentives. As Gerber (2013) explains, the debtor must adopt and develop a short-term 'algorithmic thinking' in order to avoid bankruptcy and therefore to survive socioeconomically (if not physically). Market prices were confronting the landless as hugely persuasive social facts, which across Sungai Lamandau lead countless times to exclusion. Though they desired it, many of the KBB labourers' participation in the REDD+ project was undesirable to land-holders, who wished to maintain the status quo in their own favour.
Unlike the male labourers of KBB, women had different social roles, rights, and opportunities and were therefore differentially affected by the family's dispossession through land transfers to local creditors. Land in rural Kalimantan, under normal circumstances, was only ever transferred following the death of family members, as Sugi, a female small-holder in Terantang stated in an interview: “If you're poor you must eat old rice. When you are rich, you must try and buy land, and eat old rice” (Peter Howson pers.comm. 2013). Under normal circumstances, the allocations of inheritance distributed on death usually depended on which child would take care of the parents. The family member (usually a female sibling) who would be caring for the parents would inherit more of the parents' properties (see also White 2012). When Raist and his wife, Titin's land (the final asset to go) was lost, their daughter was still expected to maintain her role as carer, but with few opportunities outside of these domestic responsibilities to build up any financialised security to support her own family.
This predicament has been echoed elsewhere. Recent studies of the gendered dynamics of land tenure in Kalimantan have explored the systematic discrimination that women have experienced in processes of land reforms (Jacobs 2010; White 2012). Through these processes, access to REDD+ activities were placed even further out of reach for Sungai Lamanau's women. The gendered dynamics of systematic discrimination that women experienced within the REDD+ project were starkly obvious. Women suffered differential access entitlements to markets, but were also differentially victimised by processes of dispossession.
Access to land, within and around the REDD+ project site was enabled through multiple processes. These sometimes included claims, based on ethnicity, culture and attachment to a place, and were legitimised under a banner of indigeneity or unique ability to manage the land effectively (Krause et al. 2013). This process of legitimation can be understood here as the moral justifications for supporting exclusionary practices, thus providing the normative underpinning to certain regulatory, market and forceful powers. For Sungai Lamandau's farmers, legitimation was a matter of appeal to an audience. Although market based exclusions, like those mentioned so far, appear unfair, they were certainly legitimate. However, for some, historical ties to Sungai Lamandau were superseding claims based on, for example, land purchased in good faith, or through government sponsored transmigration programmes.
Powers of legitimation supported a number of exclusions employed by rubber tappers in Pendulangan, based on ancestral heritage and perceived customary rights to land within the REDD+ project site. As Neni, a male rubber tapper from the Sepakat group, said in an interview:
From my perspective, the trans migrants have taken more and more of the land in Terantang and Tanjung Puteri. I don't mind. They're welcome to join in projects which help them. We are brothers together. […] But the transmigrants are from Java. They don't use the forest. They use rice. When they enter the forest it's to cut it down for wood. They don't need to enter REDD+. We use the forest, so REDD+ is for us. They have no rights to it (Peter Howson pers.comm. 2013).
The trans migrants were often viewed as destructive by the ethnic Malay residents of Tanjung Puteri, due to many from Terantang having sought alternative employment within logging concessions, which later became the REDD+ project site. Fitri, a member of the all women Wanita Mandiri group told me:
My husband and two of my brothers go into [the REDD+ project site] every day to tap rubber. Our friends from YAYORIN have planted lots of jelutong [rubber trees] with us, which we use for feeding our families. That is REDD+, yes? […] The people from Java cut down the trees to feed their families. Do you see? They don't fit together (Peter Howson pers.comm. 2013).
Furthermore, the Malays of Pendulangan and Tanjung Puteri perceived themselves as an unfairly marginalised group sat between the already well empowered Dayak of the interior and the rich landed trans migrants who occupy the most fertile rice lands. 'Kami suku asli juga!' (We are an original tribe too!), Malay coop members would often say. Yet, through their adoption of Islam, fishing and sea trade, they were not considered as such by indigenous advocacy groups, who represented the in-land animist, forest dwelling Dayak interests. As Irfan explained:
My plot is rented. I pay high fees to tap rubber trees on a Dayak family's land. […] We are friends and they are good people, but they are businessmen. […] The Dayak have business forums and they are friends with AMAN (Indonesian Indigenous People's Alliance NGO) you know? […] We're just honest, but we get nothing (Peter Howson pers.comm. 2015).
The Dayak of Kalimantan were celebrating a landmark victory in the Indonesian constitutional courts, which granted them more secure land tenure. The Malays had no such privileges as an ethnic grouping. However, Sepakat members did have access to the REDD+ site.
As the Head of the Sepakat rubber collective, Irfan was tasked with ensuring the group complied with the REDD+ implementing consortium's access rules, to ensure no more than thirty members could use the Sungai Bulu tributary. All names on the coop's entry permit belonged to Malays. Although many Javanese and Malays in Pendulangan and Tanjung Puteri wished to use the tributary, most were excluded. In an interview, Anjar, a male Javanese water delivery bike driver stated:
My father had a hut in [the REDD+ project site] that he used all his life. But I can't use it because there are no spaces on the list. But I know most people on the list don't use [the REDD+ project forests]. […] According to me, only three people there are using their huts. So why can't I use mine? (Peter Howson pers.comm. 2013).
Many members of Sepakat had purchased homes and started families in the urban centre of Pangkalanbuun. For them, their names on Sepakat's SEMAKSI were a matter of security – a social safety net. Irfan had not entered the reserve, other than to escort researchers and tourists, in several months. He had acquired a property brokerage on the outskirts of the town. The ten-hectares of land he possessed a deed for in Pendulangan remained undeveloped, but for a line of non-native karat rubber trees which staked his claim around the perimeter.
Some residents resorted to other strategies to secure access to land within the REDD+ project site. Wanita Mandiri, the Pendulangan women's coop, had incorporated a nipah palm sugar initiative into their activities, which was sponsored through the REDD+ project fund. This arrangement, built-up through tree planting and restoration, enabled the women to gain social recognition of property rights and therefore exclude neighbours from what was ultimately communally owned land 6, but with potentially positive outcomes.
To legitimise the project's exclusions, wrapped up in the project's appropriation of land for carbon, required the instilling of a 'rightness of property' (Malhi 2011; Springer 2012). Whether to service community-based environmental management (see Tubtim and Hirsch 2004), or other private interest, the distinction between access to land as temporary 'possession' and access to (or ability to accumulate land as) 'property' for profit must be blurred. A popular amnesia needed to be engrained where memories of theft (or enclosure) were erased and replaced with ideas of 'rights' to things. In doing so REDD+ did not create a regime of accumulation by dispossession (Harvey 2014), but rather perpetuated the on-going instruments of market-based violence that enabled the regime's continuity.
All the strategies discussed in this section, framed in terms of what was right and appropriate, came together and created changes in Sungai Lamandau's land relations and/or concreted the inequalities already well-established. Removing a neighbour's ability to access land, extinguished his/her most effective incentive to participate in the REDD+ project and allowed the benefits to be accumulated with intensified social differentiation.
This paper is not suggesting that market calculus dominated the cognitive processes of agrarian communities in Sungai Lamandau. Even when markets and market prices were well established, it was hard to justify the application of pure market calculus within tightly woven communities. Yet, those constricted by debt adjust their thinking accordingly. Punts in the dark on future REDD+ carbon economies and international market forces that were not well understood, became unacceptable risks. But, all these powers of exclusion were differentially effective in each context. Each community's complex historical political ecology, ethnic diversity, degree of intimacy between friends and neighbours, and the capacity for reciprocity and collective action, were key variables in explaining unique patterns of social differentiation, enclosure and dispossession from below.
| Conclusions|| |
Drawing from Pain and Staeheli (2014), this exploration of the Sungai Lamandau REDD+ project has attempted to show how seemingly disparate people, places, events, and issues are linked together, and the connections across various operations of power and productions of inequality. It has demonstrated the ways in which an intimacy-geopolitics challenges the distinct global, national and subnational scales of REDD+ negotiations (see Angelsen et al. 2008) refocusing attention to the seemingly apolitical, 'mundane', everyday reproductions of geopolitical power. The exploration has highlighted how this intimacy-geopolitics lens can help scholars understand the ways REDD+ manifests in places while recognising how spaces where REDD+ interventions take place are differentially experienced. REDD+ is reliant on imaginaries of place that are tied to socio-spatial fixity (Lohmann 2009). Because carbon can be captured and traded almost anywhere, concerns over geographical specificity are neither here nor there, creating a false commensurability connecting surplus capital to potential sites of carbon production. REDD+, as a mechanism to ensure commensurability between carbon products, hides complex race and gendered power dynamics, which play powerfully in shaping highly exclusive and uneven distributions of REDD+ benefits.
The intimacy-geopolitics frame has therefore provided an element of spatial curiosity somewhat missing from Hall et al's (2011) conception of intimate exclusion. This spatially curious approach offers an understanding of “power's mediated relationality” in places (Allen 2004: 19). The intimate here, represents more than just spatial proximity to trees and significant others. Instead, intimacy is understood as a set of spatial relations, interactions and practices linking actors across multiple scales and sites of REDD+ implementation. Furthermore, the framing enables an understanding of how exclusion was mediated by intimate processes that transcended conventional scales of REDD+ implementation – 'national, sub-national and local' (see Angelsen et al. 2012). These intimate exclusions did not fit the conception of well-organised yet anonymously instantiated 'green-grabs' discussed elsewhere (see Fairhead et al. 2012), but rather, were hidden amongst everyday practices and identities. The empirical evidence from this paper has shown how intersections of gender, race and class mediated exclusionary practices from the various REDD+ benefits on offer.
The interactions between powers of regulation, force, the market and legitimation were fundamental to understanding the processes that resulted in various kinds of race and gender-based intimate exclusions. In the case of Sungai Lamandau, it was clear that the uneven distribution of REDD+ carbon and development benefits intersected with processes of accumulation and dispossession that were already proceeding between farmers and small-holders. Through engagement in REDD+ discourses, multiple nodes of state and non-state actors aimed to clarify property rights for communities, which facilitated development based on a market economy framework. While this met the goal of simplification in land tenure regimes, it necessarily alienated land and resources from some actors in favour of others. However, this was not a simple process of resource appropriation, but rather the catalyst for incremental micro-processes of enclosure (Tubtim and Hirsch 2004).
The accelerated social differentiation and cementing of existing inequalities were discrete processes. They were there if one looked, but they did not demonstrate themselves on marches, hold placards or mobilise international advocacy efforts. The value of REDD+ products depends on this apparent consensus. The workings of REDD+ are wrapped up in all sorts of other good things: community empowerment, economic development, and the desire (felt as a powerful obligation) to intervene in other people's lives – to make them better (Hall 2013). Yet, despite enacting a certain 'Will to Improve' (Li 2007) through the REDD+ project, for some who hoped to secure a share of the benefits, dispossession accelerated towards a more destructive livelihood.
Exclusions were not inflicted upon an easily identifiable racialised indigenous subject. 'Indigeneity' is a hugely complex category in Indonesia, often rendered neat and malleable by REDD+ research that fails to understand its nuances. Internationally recognised standards of indigeneity, enabling comparisons across continents and cultures, offers insufficient analytical traction to elucidate the complex forests of Kalimantan and beyond.
This paper has demonstrated that changes in common-property arrangements were occurring between actors across sites and scales of implementation. What is more, these rearrangements in land and the market economy did not occur in an isolated context, but through a reaction to wider processes of exclusion, exacerbating competitions for land control and the associated REDD+ benefits. Many individuals supported aspects of this market economy development and welcomed a more exclusive property regime to facilitate such development. What is obvious here is that the augmenting of values surrounding land use, debt and market relations in Sungai Lamandau was not simply an imposition orchestrated by project implementers, but rather a process in which local farmers often colluded.
| Notes|| |
- The Cancun Agreement (UNFCCC, 2011) called for “respect for the knowledge and rights of indigenous peoples and members of local communities... [as well as]... the full and effective participation of relevant stakeholders, in particular indigenous peoples and local communities“.
- Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) and CCBA's Climate Community & Biodiversity Standard.
- Common across Indonesia, 'gotong royong' can include projects such as mending walls, cleaning streets or sometimes even laying tarmac or larger civil engineering project – see Bowen (1986) for a broader discussion on its misappropriation in Indonesia.
- See McCarthy et al. (2012) for an explanation of 'progressive farming' in the governance arrangements for landowners in outer island Indonesia.
- This amounted to approximately US$3 and represented an average half-day's salary on rural Kalimantan plantations.
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