UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

Can planting trees bring co-benefits? : smallholder tree planting for development and carbon mitigation Anderson, Emily Kathryn


There has been a growing interest in land-use change and forestry activities for advancing the global goals of climate change mitigation and rural development. Because of its links to agriculture, the main livelihood activity of the rural poor in most developing countries, one particularly promising land-use is agroforestry, the use of land for both agricultural and silvicultural activities. The potential for agroforestry to deliver rural development and climate change mitigation benefits is well documented. There is considerable hope and expectation that agroforestry will be able realize co-benefits, where projects seek simultaneous goals of improving human welfare and mitigating climate change. However, it is less clear how and whether both goals might be accomplished in practice. Through an analytical literature review of rural development and carbon forestry literature, and a qualitative case study of participant experiences and understandings in smallholder tree planting initiatives in Uganda, this thesis explored the following overarching research questions: 1. What are areas of likely tension and synergy when smallholder agroforestry projects in developing countries attempt to realize co-benefits for rural development and climate change mitigation? 2. How should smallholder planting projects be designed to effectively maximize the delivery of benefits for both development and carbon goals? Both the case study and review of the literature suggest that projects seeking co-benefits from smallholder tree planting initiatives will encounter substantial tension between practices best suited to realizing development versus carbon benefits. These projects have considerable potential to fail in meeting expectations. Explicitly seeking ancillary benefits in projects that have primary goals of development or climate change mitigation may be a more effective way to more quickly expand the use of smallholder planting projects and attain both types of benefits, while concurrently providing opportunities to learn from experience and move towards the development of best practice for delivering returns for carbon and development on the ground. Alternative approaches to project design and pathways to deliver development benefits may be more appropriate in smallholder carbon projects to overcome expected tensions in projects attempting to deliver both development and climate benefits.

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International