Carbon Farming on Māori land: Do governance structures matter?

A PhD thesis: Funk, Jason. 2009. "Carbon Farming on Māori land: Do governance structures matter?" PhD Thesis, Chapter IV. Stanford University: Palo Alto, CA.

Market-based climate policies have the potential to create important new opportunities for land management for indigenous and communal landowners, while providing environmental benefits. Yet these policies have been designed with an incomplete understanding of land-use decision-making among such landowners, possibly leading to problems with uptake and, therefore, under-delivery of public benefits. Understanding decision-making by these landowners, through the lens of organizational theory, helps make our understanding of potential policy impacts more complete, guiding policymakers toward more effective solutions, better targeted policies, and greater uptake among landowners.

To better understand the process of land-use decision-making, I developed and conducted four participatory case studies of carbon farming on Māori land blocks with different communal governance structures. I interpreted the outcomes using concepts from organizational theory.

The results suggest that structural attributes of the governance institutions shape their decision processes, influencing whether and to what extent they take up market-based policy opportunities. Some structures had difficulty responding effectively to the policy conditions as currently framed. Insights from organizational theory, supported by the case studies, point to policy interventions or modifications that will make it easier for each structure to participate. Such policy amendments could induce greater participation, ultimately leading to better livelihoods for indigenous landowners and greater delivery of public benefits.