Skip to main content

Fire is REDD+: offsetting carbon through early burning activities in south-eastern Tanzania

  • Kaysara Khatun (a1), Esteve Corbera (a2) and Steve Ball (a3)

A project combining participatory forest management and REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation) is underway in south-eastern Tanzania. It introduces early burning practices to reduce the number and (heat) intensity of wild and late-season fires, to develop robust carbon accounting methods. Our analysis considers the causes of forest fires, and local people's knowledge of the early burning process and its impacts on livelihoods, through the development of early burning activities as a potential source of carbon revenue. Some of the difficulties of implementation have been resolved over time (e.g. the premature introduction of carbon contracts), whereas others remain: there are inequalities in knowledge, awareness and participation in early burning and the broader REDD+ process at village level. A more structured approach to early burning, with well-publicized advance planning, that includes all community members and subvillages would make a significant difference. Further challenges exist in the form of both legal and illegal hunting, a cause of forest fires that could undermine the early burning process. We argue that the long-term commitment of project managers to gain detailed knowledge of social–ecological systems, forest governance and local politics is required to successfully develop this and other similar REDD+ projects.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Fire is REDD+: offsetting carbon through early burning activities in south-eastern Tanzania
      Available formats
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Fire is REDD+: offsetting carbon through early burning activities in south-eastern Tanzania
      Available formats
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Fire is REDD+: offsetting carbon through early burning activities in south-eastern Tanzania
      Available formats
Corresponding author
(Corresponding author) E-mail
Hide All
Aragão L.E.O.C. & Shimabukuro Y.E. (2010) The incidence of fire in Amazonian forests with implications for REDD. Science, 328, 12751278.
Barlow J., Parry L., Gardner T.A., Ferreira J., Aragão L.E.O.C., Carmenta R. et al. (2012) The critical importance of considering fire in REDD+ programs. Biological Conservation, 154, 18.
Benjaminsen T.A., Goldman M.J., Minwary M.Y. & Maganga F.P. (2013) Wildlife management in Tanzania: State control, rent seeking and community resistance. Development and Change, 44, 10871109.
Bowers S. & Williams M. (2013) GapFire. The University of Edinburgh, UK. Http:// [accessed 8 March 2016].
Bozmoski A.S. & Hultman N.E. (2010) Participant perceptions of risk and benefit in carbon forestry: evidence from central Tanzania. The Journal of Environment and Development, 19, 427.
Burgess N.D., Bahane B., Clairs T., Danielsen F., Dalsgaard S., Funder M. et al. (2010) Getting ready for REDD+ in Tanzania: a case study of progress and challenges. Oryx, 44, 339351.
Corbera E., Estrada M., May P., Navarro G. & Pacheco P. (2011) Rights to land, forests and carbon in REDD+: insights from Mexico, Brazil and Costa Rica. Forests, 2, 301342.
Corbera E., Martin A., Villasenor A. & Springate-Baginski O. (2015) MCDI REDD Project: Combining REDD, PFM and FSC Certification in SE Tanzania. An Analysis of Livelihood Impacts Through Household Panel Data (2011–2014). Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain, & University of East Anglia, UK.
Dokken T., Caplow S., Angelsen A. & Sunderlin W.D. (2014) Tenure issues in REDD+ pilot project sites in Tanzania. Forests, 5, 234255.
Fehse J. (2012) Forest Carbon Project Feasibility Assessment of the MCDI Grouped REDD Project on Fire Management in Village Land Forest Reserves, Kilwa District, Tanzania. Unpublished report by LTS and Value for Nature, consulting for MCDI.
Fehse J. & Ball S. (2014) Avoiding Degradation through Fire Management. VCS project description template version 3. Verified Carbon Standard, Washington, DC, USA.
Forsyth T. (2014) Public concerns about transboundary haze: a comparison of Indonesia, Singapore, and Malaysia. Global Environmental Change, 25, 7686.
Haines T.K., Martinez J. & Cleaves D.A. (1998) Influences on prescribed burning activity in the United States national forest system. International Forest Fire News, 19, 4346.
Katani J.Z., Mustalahti I., Mukama K. & Zahabu E. (2015) Participatory forest carbon assessment in south-eastern Tanzania: experiences, costs and implications for REDD+ initiatives. Oryx,
Khatun K., Valdes P.J., Knorr W. & Chaturvedi R.K. (2010) Assessing the mitigation potential of forestry activities in a changing climate: a case study for Karnataka. Forest Policy and Economics, 12, 277286.
Khatun K., Gross-Camp N., Corbera E., Martin A., Ball S.M.J. & Massao G. (2015) When Participatory Forest Management makes money: insights from Tanzania on governance, benefit sharing, and implications for REDD+. Environment and Planning A, 47, 20972112.
Kull C.A. (2002) Madagascar aflame: landscape burning as peasant protest, resistance, or a resource management tool? Political Geography, 21, 927953.
Kull C.A. & Laris P. (2009) Fire ecology and fire politics in Mali and Madagascar. In Tropical Fire Ecology: Climate Change, Land Use, and Ecosystem Dynamics (ed. Cochrane M.A.), pp. 171226. Springer–Praxis, Heidelberg, Germany.
Laris P. (2011) Humanizing savanna biogeography: linking human practices with ecological patterns in a frequently burned savanna of southern Mali. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 101, 10671088.
Laris P., Caillault S., Dadashi S. & Jo A. (2015) The human ecology and geography of burning in an unstable savanna environment. Journal of Ethnobiology, 35, 111139.
Minang P.A. & van Noordwijk M. (2013) Design challenges for achieving reduced emissions from deforestation and forest degradation through conservation: leveraging multiple paradigms at the tropical forest margins. Land Use Policy, 31, 6170.
Miya M., Ball S.M.J. & Nelson F.D. (2012) Drivers of Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Kilwa District. Mpingo Conservation and Development Initiative, Kilwa Masoko, Tanzania.
Müller D., Suess S., Hoffmann A.A. & Buchholz G. (2013) The value of satellite-based active fire data for monitoring, reporting and verification of REDD+ in the Lao PDR. Human Ecology, 41, 720.
National Bureau of Statistics (2013) 2012 Population and Housing Census: Population Distribution by Administrative Areas. National Bureau of Statistics, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
Nielsen M.R. & Meilby H. (2013) Determinants of compliance with hunting regulations under Joint Forest Management in Tanzania. South African Journal of Wildlife Research, 43, 120137.
Peskett L., Schreckenberg K. & Brown J. (2011) Institutional approaches for carbon financing in the forest sector: learning lessons for REDD+ from forest carbon projects in Uganda. Environmental Science & Policy, 14, 216229.
Phelps J., Webb E.L. & Agrawal A. (2010) Does REDD+ threaten to recentralize forest governance? Science, 328, 312313.
Russell-Smith J., Monagle C., Jacobsohn M., Beatty R.L., Bilbao B., Millán A. et al. (2013) Can savanna burning projects deliver measurable greenhouse emissions reductions and sustainable livelihood opportunities in fire-prone settings? Climatic Change, .
Ryan C.M. & Williams M. (2011) How does fire intensity and frequency affect miombo woodland tree populations and biomass? Ecological Applications, 21, 4860.
Sodhi N.S., Butler R., Laurance W.F. & Gibson L. (2011) Conservation successes at micro-, meso- and macroscales. Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 26, 585594.
URT (United Republic of Tanzania) (2007) Prime Minister's Office, Information about Lindi Region, Kilwa District. Http:// [accessed 13 April 2016].
Van Lear D.H., Carroll W.D., Kapeluck P.R. & Johnson R. (2005) History and restoration of the longleaf pine-grassland ecosystem: implications for species at risk. Forest Ecology and Management, 211, 150165.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

  • ISSN: 0030-6053
  • EISSN: 1365-3008
  • URL: /core/journals/oryx
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 30
Total number of PDF views: 285 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 420 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 19th January 2018. This data will be updated every 24 hours.