Göttingen, Georg-August-Univ., eDiss.
The Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) mechanism has been framed as a „win-win“-solution by donors, conservation organizations and corporate actors facilitating simultaneously forest conservation, rural development and cost-effective climate change mitigation. But the expansion of protected areas is seldom a conflict-free process, especially when local communities have to cope with the simultaneous expansion of agro-industrial estates. This dissertation aims to unravel the causes and the scalar dimension of conflictive and unequal access and property relations in the context of an emerging transnational framework for forest conservation to mitigate climate change (REDD+).
While empirically focusing on conflictive forest and land tenure in Indonesia’s REDD+ pilot province Jambi (Sumatra) this dissertation seeks to contribute to the deconstruction of REDD+ as a “win-win” solution. The overarching research question of this dissertation is: How are multi-scalar land conflicts on access and property in REDD+ target areas structured and how can this be explained? Conceptually this study is guided by political ecology and by the interrelated politics of scale literature. For investigating multi-scalar land conflicts on access and property in REDD+ pilot areas this study builds on a multi-sited qualitative approach (multi-sited ethnography). Empirical research has been conducted mainly in villages’ located within or adjacent to two REDD+ pilot projects and at transnational nodes of REDD+ and land tenure governance in the province of Jambi (Sumatra), in Jakarta, Germany and elsewhere.
The findings show that social conflict has changed scales of meaning and regulation and led to the construction of new scales (e.g. village scales of land tenure regulation). In Indonesia resistance was made possible because of changing power constellations after regime change at the end of the 1990s and has further changed the power constellation in place. Changing power constellations and rescaling facilitated access to the state forest (kawasan hutan) for local elites.
The studied conflicts on access and control of forests within REDD+ projects in Jambi indicate that REDD+ has transnationalized and has changed meanings and implications of pre-existing land conflicts. REDD+ links greenhouse gas emitters in the global North to peasants and indigenous groups struggling for land and property in the global South. REDD+ rescales conflicts and provides entry points for a spatial expansion of resistance linking peasants to transnational climate justice groups in North and South. Thus, REDD+ pilot projects in Jambi financed by private and public donors changed the dialectical relationships between structure and agency. They reduced the ability to access land for some actors, provided additional opportunities for others and additional agency for transnational resistance campaigns. The ongoing land conflicts on access and control of forests in Jambi indicate that forest carbon offsetting is a very risky strategy to mitigate climate change. Instead of avoiding emissions forest carbon offsetting could lead to additional greenhouse gas emissions if conflictive access and property relations undermine the integrity of forest areas designated for conservation and carbon offsetting.