Human Ecology

, Volume 40, Issue 5, pp 679–691 | Cite as

REDD Policy Impacts on Indigenous Property Rights Regimes on Palawan Island, the Philippines

  • Wolfram DresslerEmail author
  • Melanie McDermott
  • Will Smith
  • Juan Pulhin


Several Southeast Asian states have been working feverishly to design and implement REDD policy frameworks to fulfil their commitment to global climate change mitigation. In doing so, state agencies will be challenged to design REDD plus policies that value and conserve forest carbon in ways that align with national policies and local priorities for managing forest landscapes defined by complex property rights regimes. However, as with other market-based policies, the expeditious delivery of REDD could bypass critical analysis of potential interactions with national tenure regimes, customary property rights, and local livelihoods. Drawing on the case of Palawan Island—a forested frontier island in the Philippines—we examine how nascent REDD policies can articulate with state sanctioned tenure, customary tenure, and forest uses in changing livelihood contexts. This paper draws on research among Tagbanua and Pala’wan people to illustrate how complex and changing tenure structures, commodity markets and livelihood dynamics may influence how REDD plus interventions affect indigenous customary lands and forest use. We argue that the ability of indigenous forest users to maintain stored carbon and improve livelihoods is contingent upon the ‘socio-material’ form of carbon—a commodity defined in relation to the resources and social processes of which it is part.


Forest carbon Forest tenure Relationality REDD plus Southeast Asia 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wolfram Dressler
    • 1
    Email author
  • Melanie McDermott
    • 2
  • Will Smith
    • 3
  • Juan Pulhin
    • 4
  1. 1.Forest and Nature Conservation Policy GroupWageningen UniversityWageningenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Department of Human EcologyRutgers UniversityNew BrunswickUSA
  3. 3.School of Social ScienceThe University of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia
  4. 4.Department of Social Forestry and Forest Governance, College of Forestry and Natural ResourcesUniversity of the Philippines Los BañosLagunaPhilippines

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