Linking notions of justice and project outcomes in carbon offset forestry projects: insights from a comparative study in Uganda

Janet Fisher, Connor Cavanagh, David Mwayafu, Thomas Sikor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Over the last 20 years, Uganda has emerged as a testing ground for the various modes of carbon forestry used in Africa. Carbon forestry initiatives in Uganda raise questions of justice, given that people with comparatively negligible carbon footprints are affected by land use changes initiated by the desire of wealthy people, firms, and countries to reduce their more extensive carbon footprints. This paper examines the notions of justice local people express in relation to two contrasting carbon forestry projects in Uganda, the Mount Elgon Uganda Wildlife Authority – Forests Absorbing Carbon Emissions (UWA-FACE) project and Trees for Global Benefit (TFGB). UWA-FACE closed down its initial operations at Mount Elgon after 10 years as a result of deep controversies and negative international publicity, whereas TFGB is regarded by many as an exemplary design for smallholder carbon forestry in Africa. Our approach builds upon an emerging strand in the literature, of empirical analyses of local people’s notions of justice related to environmental interventions. The main contribution of the paper is to examine how people’s notions of justice have influenced divergent project outcomes in these cases. In particular, we highlight the relative success of TFGB in the way it meets people’s primarily distributional concerns, apparently without significantly challenging prevalent expectations of recognition or procedural justice. In contrast, we illuminate how controversy across the range of justice dimensions in UWA-FACE at Mount Elgon ultimately led to the project’s decline. This paper therefore explores how attention to notions of justice can contribute to a fuller understanding of the reactions of people to carbon forestry projects, as well as the pathways and ultimate outcomes of such interventions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)259-268
JournalLand Use Policy
Early online date21 Feb 2018
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2018


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