Recognizing Carbon Forestry’s Uneven Geography: A Response to Purdon and the Structure-Agency Dichotomy That Never Was

Research output: Contribution to journalDebate/Note/Editorial


We here respond to the critique by Purdon of an article on carbon forestry that we published in this journal last year (Carton and Andersson). While we welcome critical engagements with our work, Purdon’s argument is wide of the mark and appears based largely on misconceptions regarding our theoretical entry point and empirical findings. Underlying this are fundamental disagreements about the nature of carbon forestry, structure-agency dynamics, and how to understand environmental interventions in the global South more broadly. We argue that we are unlikely to “find common ground” in our respective analyses of the Trees for Global Benefits project unless we share a common understanding of the unequal power relations and fundamental geographical unevenness within which carbon projects operate. Contrary to what Purdon argues, this position has nothing to do with ignoring local benefits, nor with denying the agency of the smallholder farmers who participate in the project. We see no contradiction between an analysis that does justice to the various structural conditions that frame carbon forest projects, and a recognition of local agency.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1094-1102
Number of pages9
JournalSociety and Natural Resources
Issue number9
Early online date2018 Jun 1
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Sep
Publication categoryResearch