Tracey Osborne

About Tracey Osborne

My research is broadly concerned with the commodification of nature through environmental markets. More specifically, I draw on political ecology, agrarian studies and critical development to investigate the ways in which carbon markets and payments for environmental services intersect with resource access, forest governance and livelihoods in forest communities of southern Mexico.  More recently I have been working collaboratively on a story map project called the Climate Alliance Mapping Project, which identifies priority areas for keeping fossil fuels underground across the Americas. The mapping project is an initiative of the Public Political Ecology Lab, which I direct to support engaged scholarship by communicating environmental research to a broader public. I have worked throughout Latin America, most extensively in Mexico and Guyana.

Areas of Study

Commodification of nature, climate change mitigation, carbon markets, forests, critical development, political ecology, agrarian change, climate justice, global counter-mapping, Mexico, Amazon


The Political Ecology of Deforestation and the Carbon Market in Chiapas, Mexico. This research seeks to understand the complex history of land use and deforestation in the Lacandon Rainforest of Chiapas, and the ways in which engagement with carbon markets - through carbon forestry and REDD projects - affect environmental governance and campesino access to land and resources.

Public Political Ecology Lab (PPEL): a social science lab dedicated theoretically-informed engaged scholarship, as a vehicle for social and environmental change. See our website:

Climate Alliance Mapping Project (CAMP): one of the Lab’s most recent initiatives, and provides research and mapping support to environmental organizations and Indigenous groups committed to climate justice and just transitions to renewable energy. It also provides a digital space for communities to share information and experiences through digital stories. See our website:



Research Interests

My research interests and areas of supervision include climate change and development, carbon forestry and REDD, carbon markets, climate justice, payments for environmental services, commodification of nature, agrarian political economy, international development, and political ecology.


Selected Publications

Refereed Journal Articles

Osborne, T. 2015. Tradeoffs in carbon commodification: A political ecology of common property forest governance. Geoforum, 67, 64-77.

Osborne, T. 2013. “Fixing Carbon, Losing Ground: Payments for Environmental Services and Land (In)security in Mexico.” Human Geography, 6(1):119-133.

Osborne, T. 2011. “Carbon Forestry and Agrarian Change: Access and Land Control in a Mexican Forest.”  Journal of Peasant Studies, 38(4): 859-883

Osborne, Tracey and Clyde Kiker. 2005. “Carbon Offsets as an Economic Alternative to Large-scale Logging:  A Case Study in Guyana.”  Ecological Economics, 52(1): 481-496.

vonHedemann, N. and T. Osborne. 2016.  “Communities and Forests: Payments for Ecosystem Services in the Guatemalan Highlands.” Journal of Latin American Geography.

Wilder, M., D. Liverman, L. Bellante and T. Osborne. 2016. “Southwest Climate Gap: Poverty and Environmental Justice in the US Southwest”, Local Environment, pp 1-22.



Other Publications

Osborne, T. 2015. “The Political Ecology of Carbon Offsets”. Why Geography Matters section in Human Geography: Places and Regions in Global Context. By P. Knox and S. Marston. 7th Edition Pearson (pg. 112-113).


Electronic Publications

Osborne, T., Bellante, L. & vonHedemann, N. (2014). Indigenous Peoples and REDD+: A Critical Perspective. Cusco: Indigenous Peoples Biocultural Climate Change Assessment Initiative. [Peer Reviewed] Retrieved from:

Osborne, T. 2013 “Beyond Safeguards: A Critique of Carbon Markets for REDD+”, Blog on the Public Political Ecology Lab webpage [], March 2013.

Tracey Osborne's picture

Contact Information

Tracey Osborne
Assistant Professor
Telephone: 520-621-5798
Fax: 520-621-2889
Office: ENR2 S527


PhD, 2010,  Energy and Resources Group, University of California - Berkeley

Courses Taught

GEOG 150C:  Environment and Society (Spring & Fall semesters)

GEOG 461:   Environment and Development (Spring)

GEOG 696I:  Political Ecology: The Politics & Politcal Economy of Land & Nature (Fall 2011)

GEOG 696I:  Political Ecology & The Commodification of Nature (Fall 2012 and 2013)