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REDD-in the news: 16-22 March 2009

This week FAO released its “State of the World’s Forests 2009”, FAO discussed REDD at its 19th Committee on Forestry and UN-REDD promised US$18 million to Democratic Republic of Congo, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Tanzania, and Viet Nam.

Winrock International’s American Carbon Registry released a “forestry standard” for offsets, including REDD. Ecosystem Marketplace published two articles on Brazil, in the lead up to the 14th Katoomba Group meeting on 1-2 April 2009. IPS reported from Namibia. Mongabay interviewed Norway’s Hans Brattskar about Norway and REDD.

16 March 2009

Forests ‘facing a testing time’
BBC interview with CTS Nair, the FAO Forestry Department’s chief economist and one of the lead authors of the FAO’s report “State of the World’s Forests 2009“.

An initiative called Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (Redd), which is likely to involve developed nations paying tropical forest-rich nations not to cut down trees, appears to be gaining support.

Mr Nair gave the scheme a cautious welcome: “In theory, it is an excellent idea but its implementation is going to be extremely tricky.

“If you look at the people involved in forest clearing, it is different people in different regions.

“For example, in Latin America, it is largely cattle rangers and soya bean planters. In South-East Asia, it is palm oil and rubber plantations.

“What we find is that it is not the smallholders, it is the big players who are working within a global market.

“So far, only the issue of what it is trying to achieve has been examined, the issue of how we are going to implement it has not really been discussed or examined.”

Economic crisis hurts forestry sector, sustainability initiatives
Mongabay reports on FAO’s release of its “State of the World’s Forests 2009”. The good news is that wood demand is decreasing and falling demand for commodities would reduce pressure to convert forests for croplands.

Still the news is not all positive for the world’s remaining forests.

FAO said that green initiatives — including sustainable forest management, timber certification, and payments for carbon sequestration in forests — would likely suffer as well.
[ . . . ]
“Initiatives such as those for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) that are dependent on international financial transfers could face similar problems.”

17 March 2009
Economic crisis mixed for forests: FAO
Article by Carbon Positive about the FAO’s “State of the World’s Forests 2009”.

The FAO said the REDD initiative to develop avoided deforestation market payments is welcome in the fight to halt forest loss but required a lot more work to iron out the complexities in such an approach.

The FAO’s assistant director-general of forestry, Jan Heino, called on governments to include sustainable forestry in their economic stimulus plans. He said it was an industry that could create up to 10 million jobs in forest management, agro-forestry farm forestry and plantations, improved fire management, forest recreation, and restoring degraded forests.

“As more jobs are lost due to the current economic downturn, sustainable forest management could become a means of creating millions of green jobs, thus helping to reduce poverty and improve the environment,” Heino said.

18 March 2009
American Carbon Registry Releases Forestry Standard in Anticipation of U.S. Federal Cap and Trade Bill
Press release from Winrock International’s American Carbon Registry: “With forestry offsets likely to play a major role in the future United States cap and trade scheme, American Carbon Registry, a leading U.S. non-profit greenhouse gas registry, today, released its much-awaited Forest Carbon Project Standard at Point Carbon’s Carbon Markets Insights 2009, Copenhagen.”

The new standard details requirements for afforestation and reforestation, improved forest management and reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD) projects. Included are project eligibility requirements, additionality determination, methodologies and quantification tools for baselines, monitoring and leakage.

“There is no use in reinventing the wheel when solid science has already been applied to develop methodologies,” adds Dr. Tim Pearson of Winrock, lead author of the standard. “We recognize the value in a consistent technical approach.”

18 Million Dollars Approved Under UN-REDD Programme
UN press release about US$18 million-worth of funding to five pilot countries: Democratic Republic of Congo, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Tanzania, and Viet Nam.

The $18 million-worth of funding, roughly a third of the sums currently available, has been approved by inaugural Policy Board meeting of Programme which met in Panama. The funding will support action plans to assist the countries concerned prepare for the inclusion of REDD in a new climate deal. An additional $6.9 million were approved for global support functions.

Guaraqueçaba: Where the Buffalo Roamed
Ecosystem Marketplace article about the Guaraqueçaba Environmental Protection Area in Brazil. The project is run by The Nature Conservancy and the Society for Wildlife Research and Environmental Education (SPVS).

After purchasing the land, SPVS sent all of the buffalo off to slaughter and also conducted interviews with farmers to make sure they weren’t simply taking the money and clearing land someplace else.

“There’s a lot of debate as to how far we should go with that,” says [TNC’s Miguel] Calmon. “We do what we can, and the Código Florestal does place limits on the amount of forest that a farmer can chop down – but we all know there is a lot of illegal logging, and ultimately the only way to really eliminate leakage is to create incentives for not doing it.”

Ten Dollars for a 200-Year-Old Tree
IPS reports from Namibia about illegal logging, REDD and community forestry.

Developing nations are holding their breath as the integration of Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) mechanisms into global carbon markets is being hotly debated. Recently the scientific journal Nature published a study that puts African forests on par with the Amazon rainforest as a potential carbon sink.

A drawback of the REDD proposals is that unless the rights of indigenous people are protected, forest communities are believed to suffer under the scheme. If accepted into the global carbon trading regime, REDDs could arguably assist to alleviate poverty in the communities. A condition, however, is that legal requirements for logging are strictly enforced.

[Michael] Pröpper [a scientist with the Biodiversity Transect Analysis (BIOTA) project] argues that currently the major part of the harvesting happens illegally due to a ‘leaky’ permit system.

According to him, the Department of Forestry is unable to patrol the region, which measures 43,418 square kilometres – roughly the size of Switzerland. Outside the Community Forests there is no effective control, but even within the reserves “it is very questionable trees will remain untouched, considering the current attitude towards timber values”, he states.

19 March 2009
Norway emerges as champion of rainforest conservation
Mongabay interview with Hans Brattskar, ambassador and director of the Norwegian government’s International Climate and Forest Initiative.

mongabay: What are Norway’s principle concerns with REDD in terms of the challenges that need be overcome to make it a reality?

Brattskar: There are of course several challenges. The drivers behind deforestation are strong and to find ways within each country to reduce the deforestation is probably the main challenge. Another challenge is to establish funding mechanisms for REDD to that generate sufficient funds to make REDD possible at a scale that really matters to combat climate change and to provide the developing countries with long-term, predictable compensation for their REDD-achievements. REDD is recognized as a cost effective and relatively fast way to reduce emissions, but as we like to say: that does not mean it is neither cheap nor easy. Our main goal and challenge is the inclusion of REDD in a future climate regime, in a form that ensures cooperation and predictable financing for REDD in developing forest countries.

COFO Participants Prepare for Final Day
Earth Negotiations Bulletin’s notes on the penultimate day of the 19th Session of the FAO’s Committee on Forestry.

The Global Environment Facility (GEF) presented on how forests are included within the upcoming GEF V replenishment and the ITTO presented on how its new Thematic Elements address REDD, forest law enforcement, governance and trade, and other issues.

20 March 2009
Seeing the Forest for the Carbon – From Space
Ecosystem Marketplace reports on Brazil’s forest monitoring systems.

Indeed, thanks to state-of-the-art, satellite-based monitoring systems, we find out each December in excruciating detail exactly where detectable deforestation has happened in Brazil over the previous 12 months. And with lesser detail but every two weeks, the environmental ministry receives a report on where large-scale destruction is taking place. Finally, if you’ve ever wondered whether your teak coffee table was sustainably produced – well, the Brazilians can’t tell you that, but as of December 2008 they can tell you exactly where their forests are being whittled away due to selective logging and other forest degradation activities.

Still, there are limits to the capabilities of Brazil’s eyes in the sky. And as we will see, this has implications for the design of a global REDD payment system designed to stimulate sustainable forestry.

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