The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) aims to support sustainable development by stimulating investment in emission-reducing projects and programmes. In Africa, however, the anticipated benefits of CDM have not been realised. By the end of 2005, only four CDM projects had been registered.This briefing looks at the reasons why CDM afforestation and reforestation projects have not been developed in Africa – despite what the author sees as their eminent suitability for the African context – and suggests some possible areas for improvement. It identifies a variety of barriers to the development and registration of such projects. These include:prohibitive costs and lack of investment capital to develop forest projects over the many years before income from emission trading starts to accrueuncertain markets for emission reductionsthe complexity of the processes for developing projects to completiona lack of capacity in international institutions and African countriesdifficulties in identifying eligible projects, in part due to a lack of land-use records in Africacurrent rules that only allow small-scale bioenergy projects that replace fossil fuels, and therefore do not permit projects that aim to replace the use of wood.The paper offers the following suggestions for how the CDM might be better engaged in Africa:CDM projects are more likely to achieve meaningful benefits and be sustainable at a local levelprojects should be initiated and developed by local rather than external groups wherever possible, and African experts should be more involved in CDM design – both in negotiations at the Conference of the Parties level and in project managementcarbon money alone may not be enough to fund CDM projects, so additional financing may be neededbundling of projects across sectors and possibly between countries could be explored to achieve economies of scale and to build on the limited capacity that existsCDM projects associated with afforestation would be more attractive to investors if the values from forest-related products and services were factored into the economic analysis.