Climatic Change

, Volume 115, Issue 3–4, pp 741–757 | Cite as

Seeing the trees for the carbon: agroforestry for development and carbon mitigation

  • Emily K. AndersonEmail author
  • Hisham Zerriffi


Land-use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF) activities will play an important role in global climate change mitigation. Many carbon schemes require the delivery of both climate and rural development benefits by mitigation activities conducted in developing countries. Agroforestry is a LULUCF activity that is gaining attention because of its potential to deliver climate benefits as well as rural development benefits to smallholders. There is hope that agroforestry can deliver co-benefits for climate and development; however experience with early projects suggests co-benefits are difficult to achieve in practice. We review the literature on agroforestry, participatory rural development, tree-based carbon projects and co-benefit carbon projects to look at how recommended project characteristics align when trying to generate different types of benefits. We conclude that there is considerable tension inherent in designing co-benefit smallholder agroforestry projects. We suggest that designing projects to seek ancillary benefits rather than co-benefits may help to reduce this tension.


Project Design Carbon Credit Project Characteristic Carbon Mitigation Development Benefit 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors acknowledge funding support from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Government of British Columbia and the Faculty of Graduate Studies at the University of British Columbia. The authors are grateful to Gary Bull, James Tansey and three anonymous reviewers for helpful comments and feedback, and to Rita Zamluk for editing assistance.

Supplementary material

10584_2012_456_MOESM1_ESM.docx (39 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 38 kb)
10584_2012_456_MOESM2_ESM.docx (74 kb)
ESM 2 (DOCX 73 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Resources, Environment and SustainabilityThe University of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  2. 2.Liu Institute for Global IssuesThe University of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada

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