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While internationally, large-scale forestry projects have gained in importance for climate change mitigation, the implementation of such projects, particularly in regions with smallholder forestry like Southeast and East Asia, faces various obstacles. The organization of smallholders is one crucial element for the success of these projects. Hereby, an equal distribution of benefits is generally considered vital. It will support a balanced socio-economic development in poor rural areas, guaranteeing long-term success and a sustained stock of carbon sinks. China presents an especially interesting case of smallholder forestry. The conversion from collectively-managed to household-management forest in 2003, which is, however, still collectively owned, has increasedthe number of participants in large-scale forestry projects substantially. Simultaneously, the government has been promoting plantations for biodiesel production from oil seeds, such as jatropha and tea oil tree (camellia oleifera). Using the case of a governmental program for tea oil tree plantations, as well as the case of a European Investment bank project, this research inquires the distribution of benefits under their respective institutional arrangements and organization of smallholders. Empirical research was undertaken in three counties of Jiangxi province, China, in 2011, consisting of semi-structured stakeholder interviews and a survey with 308 smallholders. Results show that, on the village level, we can distinguish four implementation schemesof tea oil tree plantations, i.e. individual, partnership, collective, and cooperation with company. Distinguishing factors for these schemes are property rights relations, monetary input distribution, productive resource distribution and extension services. As this research will show, these criteria impact the distribution mechanisms of output sharing, respectively generating different distribution effects for poor smallholders. Results will be important also for other countries where smallholder forestry is prevalent, and carbon sink projects are to be implemented.


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