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REDD in the news: 23 February – 1 March 2009

REDD in the news: 23 February - 1 March 2009

Several articles discussing the risks and possibilities of REDD this week: Panos visits Juma and talks to some REDD critics in Poznan; the Council on Hemispheric Affairs looks at REDD, carbon trading and globalisation; Climatico discusses REDD in Mexico and the USA; and a post on GEF’s blog notes that forests are carbon sinks, not just sources.

A new study shows that Papua New Guinea is losing its forests much faster than previously reported. CD REDD held a training workshop in Brazil. Biomass magazine reports on ImageTree’s project to measure carbon in Panama’s forests. The US Climate Action Group pushes for REDD in federal legislation. Tropical forests are “a potential gold mine”, according to the Jakarta Post. UNFF publishes a report on “Forests and Climate Change”. Ecosystem Marketplace seems to think that there’s a consensus on funding REDD (there isn’t). The Guyana Chronicle reports on Guyana’s REDD plans.


23 February 2009
24% of Papua New Guinea’s rainforest destroyed or degraded by logging in 30 years
Mongabay reports on a study published in Biotopica which shows that Papua New Guinea is losing its forests much faster than previously reported.

Dr. Phil Shearman, director of the University of Papua New Guinea’s Remote Sensing Centre and lead author of the paper, says that without incentives to keep forest standing, Papua New Guinea will continue to lose its forests.

“Forests in Papua New Guinea are being logged repeatedly and wastefully with little regard for the environmental consequences and with at least the passive complicity of government authorities,” said Shearman, noting that nearly half of Papua New Guinea’s 8.7 million hectares of forest accessible to mechanized logging have been allocated to the commercial logging industry.

Coalition for Rainforest Nations and Brazilian Space Agency (INPE), supported by GTZ and the German Ministry for Environment, conduct the second workshop on advances in forest monitoring and accounting
Delegates from 37 countries took part in a workshop in Sao Jose dos Campos, Brazil conducted by the Capacity Development for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (CD REDD) programme. The meeting was organised by the Coalition for Rainforest Nations (CfRN) and the Brazilian National Space Agency (INPE) with support from the German Technical Cooperation (GTZ) and the German Federal Ministry for Environment.

This workshop specifically addressed land cover and land use change detection using remote sensing data. The objective was to introduce experts in developing countries to techniques and scientifically sound practices of detection and tracking of forest land cover changes due to changes in land use (deforestation) and in carbon density (forest degradation, including forest fires).

Major new US proposal for tropical forests in Cap’n’trade
Post on the Tropical Forest Group blog about a study released in January 2009 by the US Climate Action Group (a group of corporations and organisations like The Nature Conservancy)

US CAP released a new study that will undoubtedly have some street cred as the new administration and congress grapple with how to include REDD in federal climate change policy. Check it out and send us your thoughts. Check out pages 8 -11 in particular for REDD stuff…


24 February 2009
Billion dollar jungle
Article by Panos London featuring the Juma reserve project in Brazil and comments on some of the risks of REDD.

The risk of these hidden threats from REDD was the main message which organised indigenous groups tried to get across during the Poznan climate conference. Several developing country groups actually travelled to Poland to ask for the inclusion of specific regulations to protect forest communities and their way of life. “Most of the tropical countries need to improve governance within the forests. There are a lot of illegal activities happening. Although there are good laws and policies, there is no enforcement,” Kenn Mondiai, from Papua New Guinea’s Ecoforest Forum, told me during the conference.

Surely Globalization Doesn’t Rhyme with the Environment? Conservation and Market Based Instruments in the Amazon Rainforest
Article by the Council on Hemispheric Affairs about REDD, carbon trading and globalisation.

It should by now be clear that any rational response to the problem will, at some level, place restrictions on unsustainably high levels of consumption in developed countries along with high usage levels by the elite classes of developing ones. If we follow the optimists’ line that carbon trading is indeed the most rational way of combating climate change, then they must also accept that the amount of available carbon credits must be consistent with scientific evidence rather than determined by political and economic expediency. It is axiomatic that the demand for environmentally damaging products must be repressed, and that all forms of “offsets” must be religiously monitored and regulated, with serious fines leveled at offenders. Moreover, if the market is indeed to be the savior, it will need to incorporate other fundamental aspects of a market economy; this means an escalating tax on, and ending of all subsidies in favor of, destructive fossil fuel extraction and consumption.


25 February 2009

Carbon absorbing tropical forests a potential gold mine

The Jakarta Post reports on a study in Nature that found that tropical forests absorb about 18 per cent of the CO2 added to the atmosphere each year.

A member of the research team, Terry Sunderland from the Bogor-based Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), said that carbon up-take studies were particularly important for Indonesia ahead of the implementation of the emission reduction from deforestation and degradation (REDD) scheme.
[ . . . ]
Sunderland warned that any investment in REDD or similar carbon payment schemes must first involve formalized structures and the enforcement of land rights for forest communities.

“It’s absolutely essential that a significant proportion of any payments for environmental services, such as REDD payments, are made to those who rely on forests for their wellbeing.

After all, up to a billion of the world’s poorest people rely on forests in one way or another for their livelihoods,” Sunderland said.

ImageTree prepares to measure forest carbon change
Article in Biomass magazine about ImageTree Corp’s project aimed at measuring carbon in Panama’s forests.

One of the challenges has been to find accurate methods to measure changes in large tracts of forests. ImageTree will use its technology to help establish the baseline data that Panama will need to demonstrate improvements in forest carbon sequestration.

UNFF to Consider Forests and Climate Change
The UN Forum on Forests has produced a report on “Forests and Climate Change” in preparation for its eight session, which will take place from 20 April to 1 May 2009 in New York.

The report further finds that the reduction of emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD), and sustainable management and conservation of forests can contribute significantly to mitigating climate change. The authors underline that any UNFCCC decision on issues regarding REDD creates a new potential funding source for the sustainable management and conservation of forests in a post-2012 regime. They recommend that consideration be given to closer cooperation between the UNFF and UNFCCC, the Convention on Biological Diversity and the UN Convention to Combat Desertification on the role of forests in mitigating and adapting to climate change.

Picking up the REDD Tab
Article on Ecosystem Marketplace about carbon markets and forests.

And so it seems the outlines of a consensus could be emerging: use non-market funds to lay the groundwork for an eventual market-funded incentive system. Employ philanthropic dollars and government money to prepare countries around the world to sell emissions reductions from forestry.

Now, the debate has shifted to what kind of non-market spending is needed to pave the way to REDD’s entrance to the carbon market – and how it should be done.


26 February 2009
REDD – a view from Mexico
Post on Climatico about REDD in Mexico concludes that “REDD alone will not solve deforestation” but that it could provide finance to support Mexico’s efforts at “expanding its market incentives for sustainable forest management”.

Mexico’s National Forest Commission (CONAFOR) estimated in a presentation on Mexico’s advances in preparing for REDD (June 2008) that one hectare of reduction in deforestation requires 180 hectares under sustainable forest management and 150 hectares under conservation. Consequently, the various government programmes that are expected to cover almost 20 million hectares of forest between 2007 and 2012 will yield an estimated reduction in deforestation of 310,000 hectares. If REDD pays only for actual reduction in deforestation the per hectare value of REDD earnings -considering the entire forest area under sustainable management and conservation- will only yield: USD34 (not including transaction costs for project development, verification, monitoring, etc). That is maybe better than nothing, it might even be more than what some farmers earn from small scale farming activities, yet, it will not be enough to keep private interests at bay.


27 February 2009
Indonesia Aims To Wrap Up Forest-Carbon Rules
Indonesian plantation company Perhutani (which has an appalling human rights record) reports on REDD discussions in Indonesia.

The United Nations has backed a scheme called REDD, or reduced emissions from deforestation and degradation, in which developing nations could potentially earn billions of dollars from selling carbon credits in return for saving their forests.

Investors from banks to forestry firms and NGOs are lining up to set up REDD schemes in Indonesia and elsewhere in Asia, Africa and South America.

But the scheme is in its infancy and regulations are needed guide how REDD projects will work, will ensure the forests remain intact, how much carbon they will save and sequester and how money from selling the credits will flow to local communities.

Under pressure: building political will in the U.S. to tackle avoided deforestation
Article on Climatico about the REDD debate in the USA.

Protecting tropical forests and reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation is not only a critical measure to putting the brakes on rising carbon emissions at a reasonable cost, but is regarded by many as a win-win-win strategy. “It’s good for climate change, good for biodiversity, and good for economies around the world,” says Mark Tercek, president and CEO of The Nature Conservancy. “Forests are being destroyed at rapid rates, and this solution will not be available to us if we wait too long. Forest protection is one of the most cost-effective methods available to fight climate change with the unmatched benefit of preserving biodiversity at the same time.”

Hello, REDD – Tropical Forests are Sinks and Not Just Sources
Post on GEF’s blog looking at the potential benefits and the risks that REDD will end up “rewarding the poor stewards of forests throughout the world”.

In its February 19 issue, Nature has published a groundbreaking paper signed by 33 co-authors (Lewis, S. L. et al. Increasing carbon storage in intact African tropical forests. Nature 457:1003-1067, 2009) strongly suggesting that carbon continues to be stored in intact forests of Africa. These results match similar findings for the Amazon dating back over a decade. While forests will not grow forever, the estimated rates of carbon accumulation over a period of 39 years covered by the Lewis et al. study amount to about 1% of the average standing stocks. The paper speculates why these largely intact forests have not reached an equilibrium, and continue to store carbon, but the take home conclusion is quite significant for the policy discussions.

If these results could start to sophisticate further the policy debate, perhaps progress could be made in the “no forest left behind” agenda. Intact forests are not carbon stocks sitting idly, but at least for now are playing an active role in reducing the rate of CO2 accumulation in the atmosphere. These carbon pumps deserve due financial attention, perhaps through the creation of financing schemes in the form of “preventive credits” directed at the standing stocks, and also helping keep the carbon pumps functioning well into the future.


28 February 2009
Persaud unveils plan to advance avoided deforestation initiative
Guyana Chronicle reports on Agriculture Minister Robert Persaud’s comments about REDD during the debate on the National Budget.

He said the results were presented internationally to lobby for the creation of incentives for avoided deforestation and Guyana was one of the first 14 countries to be formally approved as a participant in the World Bank Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF), looking at ways to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.

“Because of these innovative initiatives, Guyana is now considered a world leader in the current global debate on the crucial roles of avoided deforestation and sustainably managed forests in global climate change mitigation activities,” Persaud explained.

He said that those interventions have led to a greater awareness that forest products originating from Guyana come from sustainably managed forests and this was an important factor that allowed this country to retain its market access, even in the face of the current international financial meltdown.

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  1. I could be wrong but would it not be cheaper to use RADAR from satellites? To see if deforestation is taking place, using ERDAS with RADAR would easily detect deforestation. It would be cheaper and faster. You do not need specific attributes of single trees when you are trying to find deforestation. You look for trees that disappear from the prior image. This can be done much cheaper by individual countries using one of the many RADAR satellites. This way cap and trade would be more viable and you could keep the jobs in the specific country. LiDAR can give you great images but I feel it would be excess.