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Conservation and Society
An interdisciplinary journal exploring linkages between society, environment and development
Conservation and Society
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SPECIAL SECTION: GREEN WARS
Year : 2018  |  Volume : 16  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 136-146

Slippery Violence in the REDD+ Forests of Central Kalimantan, Indonesia


Department of Geography and Environmental Sciences, Northumbria University, Newcastle, UK; School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, Aotearoa, New Zealand

Correspondence Address:
Peter Howson
Department of Geography and Environmental Sciences, Northumbria University, Newcastle; School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, Aotearoa

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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/cs.cs_16_150

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Due to increasing global demand for palm oil, coal, and timber, Indonesia has become the largest contributor of greenhouse gases from primary forest loss in the world. Carbon market mechanisms, like Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+), are being promoted by many elements of Indonesia's government as an effective policy response. The REDD+ programme is designed to enable the provision of financial compensations to protect and restore standing forests by making them more valuable than the timber they contain. However, the logic of REDD+ constructs people living in and around project sites as environmentally destructive and therefore in need of incentivisation to do otherwise. Local people are compensated for the 'opportunity costs' of not degrading forests. Within this frame ‘locals’—suffering from the malaise of dispossession—are Othered as illegal loggers, poachers, greedy miners or arsonists. In reality, REDD+ often facilitates the continuation of violence, legitimising an image of small-holders, rather than large international corporations, as the cause of forest degradation in Indonesia. Focusing on the Sungai Lamandau REDD+ project of Central Kalimantan, I discuss how, for some of Sungai Lamandau's landless farmers, REDD+ is accelerating the very violence and environmentally destructive behaviours it claims to discourage. Farmers are becoming embroiled in other ongoing processes, pushing them towards illicit livelihood strategies, sometimes with devastating outcomes.


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