Overcoming tenurial constraints to carbon forestry projects in Africa. CCAFS Working Paper No. 10.


A common perception is that long-term environmental service provision, such as carbon sequestration through tree planting, cannot take place unless a landowner has secure and enforceable property rights to the land. This is especially viewed as a problem for Africa, where the dominance of customary law coupled with the inability of the state to develop and enforce legal institutions, policies and financing have thwarted efforts to introduce formal land titling.

However, in Africa, tree planting and other land investments can also improve land tenure security. Our analysis shows that landowners with customary land tenure can be efficient providers of long-term environmental services, such as carbon forestry, especially if tree planting helps secure their permanent claims to the land. Under customary tenure, where the farmer's tree planting can reduce the threat of eviction, the amount of land allocated to carbon forestry may be less than private ownership, but it is certainly more than if tenure security is completely absent. This finding has important implications for the participation in payment for ecosystem services (PES) schemes of many poor farmers with customary land tenure, especially in Africa. Not only is customary land tenure dominant throughout the region - only about 1% of the land is under formal title - but past efforts to convert rural farmland to private ownership have been largely unsuccessful. Instead, our results support the view that carbon forestry and other PES schemes should accommodate the traditional African customary tenure systems, and if designed successfully, can both promote carbon forestry and benefit the poor.


Barbier, E.B.; Tesfaw, A.T. Overcoming tenurial constraints to carbon forestry projects inAfrica. CCAFS Working Paper No. 10. CGIAR Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), Copenhagen, Denmark (2011) 34 pp.

Overcoming tenurial constraints to carbon forestry projects in Africa. CCAFS Working Paper No. 10.

Published 1 January 2011