Carbon forestry and agrarian change: Access and land control in a Mexican rainforest

Tracey Muttoo Osborne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

90 Scopus citations


Over the last decade, carbon forestry has grown in Chiapas, where small farmers are increasingly turning to planting carbon-sequestering trees and the carbon market as a new source of income. Using an agrarian political ecology approach, and based on empirical research in a rainforest community in the Lacandon Jungle, I argue that while carbon offset producers continue to have formal land rights, they lose some of the short-term benefits of land in part through the use of land for carbon-sequestering trees but mostly through the preoccupation of labor. The labor requirements for carbon production act as a type of enclosure mechanism that constrains more traditional land uses such as the production of subsistence and annual cash crops. Nevertheless, campesinos continue to participate in carbon forestry as a means to maintain a foothold on their land in the wake of neoliberal agrarian policies that threaten to displace them. Carbon forestry enables campesinos to maintain their land through productive activity, which, though it delivers limited short-term income, allows them to stake claims to land by demonstrating active land use. This paper illustrates the continued relevance of the agrarian question.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)859-883
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Peasant Studies
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2011


  • Agrarian question
  • Carbon forestry
  • Carbon market
  • Chiapas
  • Environmental enclosure
  • Mexico

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


Dive into the research topics of 'Carbon forestry and agrarian change: Access and land control in a Mexican rainforest'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this