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Shades of green and REDD: Local and global contestations over the value of forest versus plantation development on the Indonesian forest frontier

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In a time of increasing land enclosures sparked by large-scale environmental initiatives and agricultural expansion, this paper examines local and global contestations over the value of forest on an Indonesian forest frontier. Engaging with recent debates on carbon forestry, the paper problematises the emerging initiatives of ‘Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation’ known as REDD+ in the province of West Kalimantan, Indonesia. The paper argues that the general rush to implement REDD+ without intimate knowledge of the socio-political landscape of resource access and control is in danger of generating new enclosures of land and resources easily appropriated by local elites, excluding less fortunate sections of local society. The paper shows how divergent interpretations of REDD+ are triggering local land disputes, and how powerful actors readily appropriate REDD+ discourses as a tool to support divergent claims of land ownership and access to land. Government and villagers, through overlapping and often contradictory engagements, negotiate REDD+ with global environmental actors and private plantation companies. The paper highlights what implications these local realities have for the future successes of REDD+. The Kalimantan case highlights some of the dilemmas of carbon mitigation initiatives experienced in frontier regions throughout Southeast Asia, places that have become prime battlefronts of large-scale climate change initiatives and agrarian expansion.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAsia Pacific Viewpoint
Pages (from-to)48-61
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2015

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