Inverting the moral economy: the case of land acquisitions for forest plantations in Tanzania
Economy principles and practices often draw on certain notions of morality. Typically, they seek to achieve an ideal, such as social justice, based on a set of commonly accepted ethical norms. This paper examines the discourses and narratives around forestry-based climate change mitigation actions. The authors argue that the consensus on forestry plantations as a solution to climate change which can also channel economic investments towards the global South fulfills the requirements of a global moral economy which views environmental sustainability as an ideal. They point out that this moral economy challenges a more traditional emphasis that the moral economy had on safeguarding the rights of subsistence farmers.
Research goals & methods
The authors conducted field work in two villages of Mufindi district in Tanzania in the summer of 2013. They collected data using focus group discussions and personal interviews.
Conclusions & takeaways
The paper identifies three narratives key that legitimize forestry plantations as a solution to climate change: (i) idle or underutilized land, based on estimates of biophysical productivity, is available for forestry plantations, (ii) international investments can lead to local benefits in the form of social infrastructure, employment, market access or national economic growth, and (iii) all trees are uniformly good for the environment. The authors find that state-led map creation can enable the categorization of land and consequently its acquisition by private entities. Almost one-third of the land in the study area has been transferred to private ownership, and community members will not have access to this land for 99 years. Almost half of the community members felt that large-scale investors benefited the most from the villages natural resources as a result of the new plantations, while a little over 20% felt that those community members with the financial capacity benefitted the most. However, a little over half the respondents felt that the current projects should continue, albeit with increased monitoring.
Inverting the moral economy: the case of land acquisitions for forest plantations in Tanzania. Third World Quarterly. 2015;36(12):2316 - 2336. doi:10.1080/01436597.2015.1078231..
- Department of Society and Globalisation, Roskilde University, Denmark