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 chang ing 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.
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