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REDD in the news: 11-17 October 2010

A round up of the week’s news on REDD, in chronological order with short extracts (click on the title for the full article). REDD-Monitor’s news page (REDD in the news) is updated regularly.

Poverty and sustainable development impacts of REDD architecture

IIED, no date | Reducing deforestation and forest degradation has become a major climate and development issue. The conversion of natural forests and woodlands, particularly in the Tropics is estimated by the IPCC to account for 17-18 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, and the forest-dependent poor number over a billion. The ongoing negotiations on a REDD mechanism offer a way for incentivizing forest conservation that could bring benefits to developing countries with forest cover. But the division of benefits both between countries and between different stakeholders and types of forest resource user within countries will depend on the rules and design of REDD at the international and national and subnational levels.

Ecologists have roles in developing carbon markets

coolearth, no date | According to a report released earlier this year, there has probably never been a more exciting time to be a tropical forest ecologist. With the emerging global forest carbon market alongside the growing interest in payments for ecosystem services, there is an immediate and unprecedented need for ecologists’ expertise. Forest carbon market frameworks, like the UN REDD+ initiative (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation), depend on establishing historical baselines for land-use changes and drivers of deforestation, estimating carbon stocks and monitoring the response of forests over 10 to 20 year periods into the future.

Voluntary Markets Moving Faster than UN Forest Climate Agreement, no date | In the wake of the Copenhagen UN Climate Talks last December, and the build up to this winter’s gathering in Mexico, it is national donors, individual governments, the private sector and NGO’s that are developing and pushing forward the forest carbon market in 2010. So far, this action has come from international cooperation and the voluntary market sector. Simultaneously, the first verified REDD+ type projects have begun to emerge.

Call for Papers: Communities, Commodities, and Carbon: Innovations in Tropical Forest Management

International Society of Tropical Foresters, Yale Chapter, Annual conference, January 27-29, 2011 | On January 27-29, the Yale Chapter of the International Society of Tropical Foresters will bring together practitioners and researchers from government, academia, and environmental and development organizations to explore innovations in tropical forest conservation and management. We are seeking presenters to share experiences and engage in discussions driven by questions such as: … What are the major obstacles in assuring REDD+ project permanence? How are global drivers of deforestation (e.g. timber markets) contributing to international leakage? What are the latest innovations in remote-sensing technologies, and what new methods are being devised for more reliable ground-truthing?

Biodiversity is life

ITTO, Vol. 20, No. 1, 2010 | The world’s ecosystems provide environmental services we simply cannot live without. As an integral part of nature, our fate is tightly linked with biological diversity, i.e. the huge variety of animals, plants and microorganisms that live in mountains, forests, oceans, wetlands and other ecosystems. We rely on this diversity of life to provide us with essentials such as water, food, fuel and medicine. Yet each day an estimated 150 species disappear, many due to human activities.

11 October 2010

PNG leaders at odds with each other over carbon trade schemes

AAP, 11 October 2010 | Papua New Guinea’s prime minister and deputy prime minister appear to be at odds with each other over controversial voluntary carbon trade schemes (VCS) that have plagued their country with scandal. Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare issued a media release at the weekend claiming the VCS were risky and premature… “The voluntary trading of forest carbon is inadvisable at this time,” Sir Michael said. But on September 23 this year Deputy Prime Minister Don Polye wrote a letter to carbon trade developer Kirk Roberts saying the PNG government supported and endorsed his VCS projects. Roberts, through the VCS projects, has been promoting carbon trade to PNG villagers as an alternative income to logging. Polye’s letter, supported by another letter from the prime minister’s legal adviser Sumasy Singin, has been posted on websites and PNG blog sites.

Voluntary carbon schemes risky, says prime minister

The National, 11 October 2010 | PRIME Minister Sir Michael Somare says the trading of forest carbon through voluntary carbon schemes in PNG is risky, premature and undermines an equitable REDD+ approach that is being promoted by the government… The prime minister said in a statement that a domestic climate framework was not yet finalised to protect and safeguard the interests of landowners dealing with carbon trading issues in voluntary arrangements. Rather, he encouraged forest owners to involve themselves in REDD+ demonstration projects with the guidelines being developed by the government through the Office of Climate Change and Development (OCCD). He said this was because additional readiness efforts were required to allow for the sustainable and equitable participation of landowners under a global REDD+ framework. “The voluntary trading of forest carbon is inadvisable at this time.”

Will PNG Cash in on ‘Carbon Credits’?

By Paul Oates, The Masalai Blog, 11 October 2010 | PM Somare has been very critical of agencies such as the UN and the World Bank who are trying to specify how Carbon Credits can actually be monitored. PNG is co-chair of the REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) negotiations. Apparently PNG is arguing that a reduction in monitoring of the eventual process will speed up negotiations. It doesn’t take the proverbial ‘Blind Freddy’ to work out what Somare actually wants? Sam Moko, a PNG forests campaigner, is quoted as saying. “With a reputation of corruption, complete disregard for land owner rights, free and prior informed consent and accurate estimations of likely benefits, PNG is in no fit state to be receiving REDD funding without strict conditions in place. The PNG delegation is using its position to keep green groups and indigenous people’s groups away from meetings in an attempt to keep rules on social and biodiversity safeguards out of the REDD framework.”

Papua New Guinea unready for REDD

By Paul Oates, Malum Nalu, 11 October 2010 | Was someone ‘Unready’ for the UN REDD + talks? Papua New Guinea media report that PM Somare has arrived back in the country and reported that the REDD + talks (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation) were successful. Having redd, sorry read the reports coming from the REDD+ meeting in China one may well ask: “Successful for whom?’ A simple check on the Internet reveals an entirely different picture to that being portrayed by PM Somare. Clearly the talks ended in a debacle with PNG being held responsible to the failure to agree on any real achievement.

REDD forest offset demand 3-7 years away

By David Fogarty and Sunanda Creagh, Reuters, 11 October 2010 | A global market in forest carbon offsets under a U.N.-backed scheme will take three to seven years to develop in part because of the stalled U.S. climate bill, a top Indonesian forest investor said… “No one will do anything until the U.S. comes to the table and I think that will happen in the second term, assuming Obama wins the election again in 2012,” said Dharsono Hartono, president and director of Jakarta-based private company Rimba Makmur Utama. His firm is the developer of a vast REDD pilot project in Indonesia’s Central Kalimantan province… Hartono and business partner Rezal Kusumaatmadja of consultancy Starling Resources have spent the past two years developing a project to save an area of pristine and degraded peat swamp forest in central Kalimantan. The 227,000 hectare (560,900 acres) project is about three times the size of Singapore…

Tension rises as Tianjin talks end in US-China acrimony

By James Murray, BusinessGreen, 11 October 2010 | However, Pershing publicly rejected the UN’s tactic of trying to deliver agreement on a number of areas at the Cancun Summit before addressing the controversial topic of emissions targets next year. “We hear here that we should save the tough decisions for later, but that will not work,” he told reporters… There were also reports that the negotiations on forestry protection, which had been hailed as an area where agreement may be possible, had stalled following opposition from Saudi Arabia and Papua New Guinea. Peg Putts of the Wilderness Society told The Guardian that any hope that the so-called Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (REDD) scheme could be finalised in Cancun was receding fast. “This was supposed to have been a confidence-building exercise, but discussions this week have been shatteringly awful,” she said.

Sinar Mas told to stop campaigning biospheric preserve projects

Antara News, 11 October 2010 | WALHI Riau has asked Sinar Mas group to stop its campaign of the Giam Siak Kecil Preserve in Bukit Batu as it has claimed to have been protecting the conservation area. “What the company`s claim did not correspond to the fact, therefore we ask the company to stop its campaign,” Riau`s Walhi director Hariansyah Usman said here Sunday. The last time the company claimed, Harun added, was at the ASEAN meeting on peatland forest projects in Pekanbaru on October 4 to 6. Giam Siak Kecil Bukit Batu is located in Bengkalis regency. It was made one of the Biosphere Reserve networks in 560 in 109 countries. The decision was made at the 21st Session of the International Coordinating Council of Man and Biosphere Program (ICC/MAB) of UNESCO in Jeju, South Korea, May 26, 2009. Usman said the organization still found timber cutting operations in the buffer zone of the reserves by partner companies or suppliers that supplied timber to Sinar Mas.

From RED to REDD+

EDRI and Rights and Resources, 11-12 October 2010 | Africa Regional Dialogue on Forests, Governance & Climate Change Background Paper #2. Additionally, the recommendation that land tenure reforms be at the forefront of all REDD+ initiatives has gained prevalence. This recommendation lies on the ground that no fair compensation can be made, no sustainable participation guaranteed, no efficient and equitable markets developed, no livelihoods strengthened, no appropriate opportunity cost determined if the populations’ rights on forests are not clarified and secured. Evidence from research shows that forests with secured communities rights are better conserved (hence have high forest carbon storage potential) than those under the government’s management. One of the key prerequisites for REDD+ effectiveness and success will therefore be to support initiatives aiming at recognizing, protecting and strengthening the rights of indigenous peoples and forests communities.

12 October 2010

30-Mile Logjam on Malaysian River Hints at Forest Crimes

By Andrew C. Revkin, New York Times, 12 October 2010 | It’s hardly news that the rich virgin rain forests on both the Malaysian and Indonesian sides of Borneo are being steadily sheared away, enriching a few while ravaging unique ecosystems. In fact, it’s such a persistent issue that headlines are rare. But a 30-mile-long logjam created on Malaysia’s longest river after a heavy rainstorm last week has brought new focus to the issue, and new questions about whether the government official who runs just about everything on Sarawak, the Malaysian portion of the island, is abetting – and profiting from – an unfolding environmental disaster.

Palm Oil Giant Unfazed by Proposed Land Use Rules

Jakarta Globe, 12 October 2010 | Wilmar International, the world’s No. 1 palm oil firm, expects Indonesia’s proposed two-year ban on clearing forests to have a limited impact on its operations as land available for oil palm estates is ample. Singapore-listed Wilmar’s stand runs counter to many palm oil and mining firms that fear the moratorium – part of a $1 billion deal with Norway aimed at fighting deforestation and carbon emissions – will curb expansion and future earnings. Wilmar’s head of corporate social responsibility, Jeremy Goon, said oil palm concessions only covered 3.2 percent of Indonesia’s land mass but contributed 70 percent of total agriculture activity in the country. “We understand there is sufficient non-forest degraded lands in Indonesia to accommodate and support the growth of the plantation businesses,” Goon told the Reuters Climate and Alternative Energy Summit.

REDD forests have ‘unclear’ borders

By Adianto P. Simamora, Jakarta Post, 12 October 2010 | A report by the Supreme Audit Agency (BPK) revealed that only less than 5 percent of forests in five provinces nominated to implement a climate partnership with Norway have legal border status. The five provinces, Riau, Jambi, Central Kalimantan, East Kalimantan and Papua, are the options for REDD pilot project hosts. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is scheduled to choose one among the five as host to the pilot project this month. Central Kalimantan is recorded to have 15 million hectares of forest, East Kalimantan 14 million hectares, Papua 40 million hectares, Riau 9 million hectares and Jambi 2.17 million hectares. The report said border status that had been legally defined in Central Kalimantan province was only less than 1 percent, East Kalimantan 4 percent, Papua with 5 percent, Riau 6 percent and Jambi 1 percent.

Indonesia denies deforesting caused Papua floods

AFP, 12 October 2010 | Indonesia denied on Thursday that flash floods in the remote area of Papua that killed at least 148 people were caused by rampant deforestation. Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan said the flooding in West Papua province’s Teluk Wondama district last Monday was caused by a natural dam bursting in the area after heavy downpours. “The dam was formed by landslides, and the landslides were caused by heavy rains and probably triggered by earthquakes,” Hasan said. “Yes, there is logging in Papua. But the logging concessions are far away and not connected to the disaster area,” he said. Officials said more than 100 people were still missing and about 700 people were injured after the floods. Those who were killed had reportedly drowned and were swept away by the powerful waters along with uprooted trees, rocks and debris.

Camera catches bulldozer destroying Sumatra tiger forest

WWF, 12 October 2010 | A video camera trap installed by WWF and partners has captured footage linking the destruction of a crucial Sumatran tiger forest to the expansion of palm oil plantations in Indonesia’s Riau Province. Videos and photos captured in May and June 2010 – released to the public for the first time today – caught a male Sumatran tiger walking straight to a camera and sniffing it. A week later, the heat-activated-video camera trap documented a bulldozer clearing trees for an illegal palm oil plantation in the same exact location. The next day, the camera recorded a Sumatran tiger walking through the devastated landscape.

Is Papua New Guinea too Risky for the Carbon Market?

By Steve Zwick, Ecosystem Marketplace, 12 October 2010 | On Monday, an article attributed to the Australian Associated Press (AAP) reported that Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Michael Somare has officially denounced voluntary carbon schemes as being too risky. The article – widely replicated in blogs and news outlets – said that Somare was encouraging forest owners to wait for a formal UN REDD regime before preserving their forests to earn credits for saving rainforests… The projects have become a media sensation in Australia, largely because Nupan is run by a colorful character named Kirk William Roberts. He makes a great TV villain, and some have tried to equate him with the markets themselves, but the fact is that his company has never had a carbon credit verified or validated under any recognized crediting scheme. He is tangential to the carbon markets, and not of the carbon markets. That may change the day one of his projects is accredited, but that day has not come.

Keeping Up the REDD+ Momentum

CIFOR’s blog, 12 October 2010 | Just one year ago, all hopes were pegged on REDD to slow down global deforestation and mitigate its contribution to climate change. After world leaders failed to come to a legally binding agreement on REDD+ at COP15 in Copenhagen last December, REDD enthusiasts realised that it may take longer than expected to reach an agreement. Perhaps there are reasons for the slowdown. Global agreements on national programmes have been delayed, said CIFOR’s Andrew Wardell on the first day of CIFOR’s Annual Meeting 2010. There is uncertainty about a global climate agreement at COP 15 in Cancun, Mexico, this December, there is little progress on new domestic markets in countries such as the United States, Australia, Japan and South Korea, and there have been protracted delays in validating REDD+ pilots and new Avoided Deforestation Methodologies, Wardell said.

Min. Amara Konneh: “…Conclusions of Reports False and Misleading”

The Liberian Journal, 12 October 2010 | In June 2010, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf appointed a three-man committee to investigate an alleged proposed carbon concession agreement between the Forestry Development Authority (FDA) and Carbon Harvesting Corporation (CHC), a UK based company, involving 400,000 hectares of Liberia’s forest space in Rivercess County… The Minister of Planning & Economic Affairs, Amara Konneh, finds this conclusion to be false and misleading as he has NEVER issued any concession certificate to the FDA in favor of CHC and challenges the authors of the report to prove otherwise. Furthermore, Carbon concession is NOT the same as Forest concession as stated in section 3.3. Forest Management Contracts (FMCs) and Timber Sales Contracts (TSCs) are explicit components in the forestry laws of Liberia that are regulated by the Forestry Development Authority.

Brazil Amazon forest to be privately managed

By Raymond Colitt, Reuters, 12 October 2010 | Brazil will auction large swaths of the Amazon forest to be managed by private timber companies and cooperatives to help reduce demand for illegal logging, a top official told Reuters on Monday. After years of legal battles and political opposition, the government is reviving concessions for private companies to log its national forests. “The future of the Amazon – combating deforestation and climate change – is strengthening forest management. I don’t see any other solution,” Antonio Carlos Hummel, head of Brazil’s National Forestry Service, said at the Reuters Global Climate and Alternative Summit. The government will grant private companies logging concessions for nearly 1 million hectares (2.47 million) by year-end and, within 4 to 5 years, nearly 11 million hectares (27 million acres), the size of the U.S. state of Virginia. Existing concessions total only 150,000 hectares (370,000 acres).

Carbon Conscious Signs Deal With Perenia Under Carbon Farming Initiative

By John Viljoen, Bloomberg, 12 October 2010 | Carbon Conscious Ltd., a carbon forest sink developer, said Perenia Pty contracted it to supply 10,000 future internationally exportable Australian government backed assigned amount units, or AAUs. Carbon Conscious will plant about 50,000 to 70,000 mallee eucalypt trees on marginal Western Australian farmland and deliver AAUs to Perenia under the Australian government’s Carbon Farming initiative, the company said in a statement to the stock exchange today. The parties agreed a delivery price from A$16 per unit for the transaction, which Carbon Conscious said was the first of its kind in Australia.

Amaila hydro access road construction to begin this week

Guyana Chronicle, 12 October 2010 | Construction work on the Amaila Hydroelectric Project access road will begin this week. This follows the issuance of the construction notice to proceed by the Ministry of Public Works to Synergy Holdings on October 5. The notice follows the recent approval given by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the positive review by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) of key environmental and social aspects of the road works and the contractor’s Environmental & Social Management Plan (ESMP) in the context of the IDB’s policies. Synergy is fully mobilised at the project site, along with the supervisory consultants.

Critics of LCDS should hang their heads in shame

By David DeGroot, letter to the editor Stabroek News, 12 October 2010 | “It is very important to support climate change financing, particularly in the forestry area,” World Bank Vice President for Concessional Finance and Global Partnership Axel Von Trotsenburg was quoted as saying. “In this context, we are very pleased to support Norway and Guyana in their innovative results-based approach by providing the financial platform for this important initiative,” he added. The signing of the administrative agreement was announced in the weekend press and I was moved to reflect that neither Burnham nor Jagan (Hoyte’s tenure was an aberration) were ever involved in such an initiative that has brought this magnitude of financial assistance to this country.

13 October 2010

Corruption Trail Revealed in Indonesian Government’s ‘Lost’ $1 Billion

By Dion Bisara, Jakarta Globe, 13 October 2010 | Despite the central government’s efforts to foster improved governance, the state lost about $1 billion last year due to misspent or misappropriated budget allocations, the Supreme Audit Agency reported on Tuesday. Hadi Poernomo, chairman of the agency, known as the BPK, told a plenary session of the House of Representatives that it had uncovered losses of Rp 9.55 trillion in the financial reports of ministries, state agencies, local governments and state-owned enterprises during the 2009 fiscal year. Hadi said the results offered clear indications of widespread corruption, and demonstrated the weak internal supervision of government spending and non-compliance with regulations. Most of the lost money – Rp 4.98 trillion – was channeled through central government ministries and state agencies, and only Rp 40 billion has been returned.

Flash floods bring misery to the east of Indonesia

SOS Children’s Villages, 13 October 2010 | Across the eastern province of Papua in Indonesia, flash floods have caused the deaths of at least 145 people and forced over 4,600 to flee their homes. Papua is a mountainous area and the floods have caused damage to an already poor infrastructure. Roads have been blocked by mud and landslides and bridges have collapsed. The blockages have been hampering the efforts of relief agencies to reach the worst-affected areas… Forestry experts have been asked to investigate the area by the Indonesian government, which believes that illegal logging may be to blame for the widespread damage caused by the flooding. Recently, the government has appointed Kuntoro Mangkusubroto to head up Indonesia’s new REDD agency, the organisation encompassing 58 nations set up to halve deforestation globally by 2020. Mr Mangkusubroto is currently Indonesia’s most respected official, after he oversaw the redevelopment of Aceh following the tsunami.

VER market flat, with forestry bright spots, 13 October 2010 | The voluntary carbon market remains sluggish, hit hard by the global financial crisis and ongoing worldwide recession, but life is flickering in the forest carbon segment. Voluntary carbon buyers are in the market but taking much longer to carry out their buying programmes knowing they are in a good position to hold out and squeeze prices down, says David Pontis, an emissions broker at Tullet Prebon. Organisations are still offsetting but the market appears to be 70 per cent sellers and 30 per cent buyers currently, Pontis said.

Carbon trading likely to develop regionally -experts

By Bruce Hextall, Reuters, 13 October 2010 | Huge investments in green technology in Asia and steps towards domestic emissions trading are opening up the prospect of regional carbon trading, climate change experts in Asia said on Wednesday. Many Asian nations are not waiting for agreement on a broader U.N. climate pact and see good investment opportunities to move ahead now to boost energy security and job growth. Countries such as China, Japan, Korea and Australia were likely to press ahead with their own schemes to curb greenhouse gases, Anthony Hobley, global head of climate change at law firm Norton Rose, said at a carbon conference in Melbourne.

Five Climate Action Items from the IMF and World Bank Meetings

By Katherine Sierra, Brookings, 13 October 2010 | With UNFCCC officials clear that there are no prospects for a comprehensive global agreement in Cancun, the goal has shifted to Plan B: to reach agreement on a number of building blocks that were framed in the Copenhagen Accord that could ultimately shape an eventual global agreement. Likely candidates for agreement include: mechanisms for supporting reductions in emissions from forestry (REDD+), building on the recent partnership forged by 58 countries at the Oslo Climate and Forest Conference; technology, including the setting up of regional innovation centers; a framework for adaptation, focusing on capacity building; and the principles of, and processes for designing, the Copenhagen Green Fund.

National Mission for Green India Draft Submitted to PM’s Council on Climate Change

Delhi Greens, 13 October 2010 | On October 11, 2010, the first draft of the Green India Mission, the sixth out of the eight priority national missions was submitted to the Prime Minister’s Council on climate change. This eight priority national missions are the central focus of the NAPCC, for sustaining India’s growth and development… The Mission will also set up a cell under the overall guidance of MoEF to link Reducing Emissions from Deforestation & Forest Degradation (REDD) and REDD Plus activities in the country. The Mission strategies will be implemented through a set of five Sub Missions and cross-cutting interventions.

Mining deforestation nearly tripled between 2000-08 –WWF

Stabroek News, 13 October 2010 | The deforestation rate due to mining activities in Guyana from 2000 to 2008 increased 2.77 times according to an assessment by the World Wildlife Fund-Guianas… In a presentation, [Regional Goldmining Pollution Abatement Coordinator, Rickford] Vieira said that 5335.1 hectares of Guyana’s forest was deforested due to mining activities in 2000 and this increased to 14 781.9 hectares in 2008. This was a rate of 0.02% in 2000 increasing to 0.06% in 2008, an increase of 0.04%. The assessment focused only on mining activities and excluded roads, agricultural activities, settlements and so on.

Tianjin Climate Talks Recap: Little Progress on the Policies

By Corbin Hiar, Huffington Post, 13 October 2010 | “The agreements that can be reached in Cancun may not be exhaustive in their details,” UNFCCC chief negotiator Christiana Figueres explained in a statement. “But as a balanced package they must be comprehensive in their scope and they can deliver strong results in the short term as well as set the stage for long term commitments to address climate change in an effective and fair manner.” Forestry rules are unlikely to be included in any “balanced package,” as Figueres and others referred to the hoped-for Cancun agreement. Discussions on REDD+, the updated program for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation that now includes conservation, never happened. As an unfortunate result, a workshop and technical meeting on the policy planned for later this month in Japan was canceled. The lack of certainty about the REDD+ rules also makes countries wary of agreeing to binding emissions reductions.

Tianjin Climate Meeting Delivers Little, Overshadowed by US-China Spat

ICTSD, 13 October 2010 | The latest round of United Nations climate change talks in Tianjin, China made little headway before closing last Saturday, casting further doubt onto whether governments will be able to take meaningful steps towards a global treaty on reducing greenhouse gas emissions when they meet in Cancun next month… One potential outcome that governments considering is a set of discrete “decisions” on specific topics that are ripe for agreement: technology, adaptation, “REDD-plus” (which pertains to reducing emissions from deforestation and land degradation), agriculture, and market mechanisms.

REDD Policy Brief: Key Design Issues for the National REDD Strategy

Tanzania Natural Resource Forum, 13 October 2010 | The Tanzania Forest Working Group just released a policy brief, “Options for REDD in Tanzania: Key Design Issues for the National REDD Strategy.” REDD presents both risks and opportunities for forest conservation and poverty reduction in Tanzania. It has the opportunity to increase national, district, and local benefits from forests, and to diversify local incomes from natural resource management. However, REDD also presents the risk of increased appropriation of community lands and conflicts over resource benefits in ways that could negatively impact local livelihoods and sustainable forest management. This policy brief discusses some of the key design questions and options in relation to REDD in Tanzania, with a particular focus on the various benefit sharing options.

Fears of corruption as REDD forest-protection schemes begin

By Lynn Morris, The Ecologist, 13 October 2010 | Misunderstandings and scepticism around schemes that pay countries to protect their forests are rife, with fears that without proper policing it will be a magnet for organised crime and corruption… One of those countries where it is happening is Guyana, where president Bharrat Jagdeo, who earlier this year was given the UN’s Champion of the Earth award, says ‘climate change is good business for us. It is probably the best thing that could have happened to forested countries’… Dane Gobin, chief executive of Iwokrama – a forest reserve in Guyana – sums up the matter: ‘We have a resource we would like to get money for. Either you pay us for biodiversity services or we will sell the forest to Malaysian logging companies.’ … Forest campaigner for Global Witness, Mattia Fosci, said: ‘Every organised criminal and corrupt official worth their salt will be planning how to take a slice…’

Climate Change, Deforestation and Corruption Combine to Drown a Region

By Nathanial Gronewold, New York Times, 13 October 2010 | “I think, after terrorism, the biggest threat we have is the environmental decay.” Tariq Yousafzai, a water and environmental engineer with detailed knowledge of his country’s water infrastructure, sees evidence of climate change in the flood disaster that inundated one-fifth of his country. But a more immediate concern of his is the massive deforestation that has silted up the waterways and left Pakistan more vulnerable to storms than ever. The scene at this reservoir created by the Tarbela Dam and in areas to its north vividly shows what he’s talking about. Long after the rains ended, the water level is still almost even with the rim of the dam, seemingly ready to spill over at any moment. Equally striking is the murky color of the water itself.

Europe on track for Kyoto targets while emissions from imported goods rise

By Juliette Jowit, Guardian, 13 October 2010 | The huge extent to which Europe has exported its global warming pollution is evident from two sharply contrasting reports on how much greenhouse gas emissions have fallen or risen since world leaders signed up to huge reduction targets in the Kyoto protocol. The European Environment Agency reported that by the end of last year emissions produced by the current 27 member countries have fallen by more than 17% since 1990, putting them “well on track” to meet the target to meet the EU’s own pledge of a 20% reduction by 2020… However a report due to be published soon by the Policy Exchange thinktank has measured the emissions generated by goods and services consumed by those countries and found that it has increased by more than 40%.

More carbon credit projects planned

Bangkok Post, 13 October 2010 | EDF Trading, one of the world’s top three carbon credit buyers, is considering up to six more projects in Thailand for next year in addition to 10 projects in which it already signed contractual purchasing agreements. EDF’s portfolio in Thailand includes clean development mechanism (CDM) projects in biomass, biogas from waste water, landfill gas capturing, and wind farms. “We expect to have five to six more projects in Thailand next year with projects under discussion including a waste heat generator (WHG), biomass and energy efficiency projects,” said Suchai Lertpichet, a representative of EDF in Thailand. EDF is a unit of Electricite de France, the largest power utility in Europe with installed capacity of 129,000 megawatts, and EDF has more than 110 CDM projects.

Liberia seeks trial of UK national over carbon deal

Reuters, 13 October 2010 | Liberia is seeking to prosecute a British citizen for bribery in a proposed carbon deal that would have given him control of a fifth of the West African country’s rainforests, the government said. The civil-war ravaged country will also investigate a former government minister and has dismissed several officials in the forestry authority over the case, according to a statement from the presidency issued late on Tuesday. Liberia began investigating the accord to grant 400,000 hectares of rainforest to British firm Carbon Harvesting Corporation in July after governance watchdog Global Witness said the deal involved fraud. The accord would have allowed CHC to sell carbon credits from the vast area of forest to companies seeking to offset their emissions on international carbon markets.

Global Witness welcomes decisive action by Liberian President regarding carbon fraud investigation

Global Witness press release, 13 October 2010 | Global Witness today warmly welcomed moves by Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to put forward for further investigation and potential prosecution a number of individuals involved in an allegedly corrupt carbon offset deal… The proposed deal was between the Liberian government and the UK company, Carbon Harvesting Corporation (CHC). CHC sought the allocation of a 400,000 hectare forest concession – which would have been by far the country’s largest forest concession – from which to sell carbon credits. Global Witness had been examining the financial, social and environmental implications of the deal and became aware of the existence of apparently irregular payments allegedly made by CHC’s CEO, Michael Foster, to a Liberian government official and a politician, via a middleman.

14 October 2010

Liberia: Presidential Committee Under Fire

The Analyst, 14 October 2010 | In the same breath that it praised President Sirleaf for setting up the Special Presidential Committee to probe the Carbon Harvesting Corporation fraud, the Ministry of Planning has challenged the committee to prove any wrongdoing involving Minister Amara Konneh or any other official of the ministry. President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf reported to the nation, Tuesday this week, that the Special Presidential Committee has linked the minister to official wrongdoing and recommended that he is reprimanded for failure to exercise due diligence by issuing a blanket Concession Certificate covering Forest Management Contracts.

Liberia: President prosecutes nine officials

AfricaNews, 14 October 2010 | The President of West African country Liberia Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has forwarded the names of nine serving and former public employees to the Senate, the Ministry of Justice, and the criminal law courts for their suspected roles in the fraud associated with the activities of Carbon Harvesting Corporation (CHC) in Liberia. Those on the list include Rivercess Senior Senator Jonathan Banney. Senator Banney would initially face his peers for “appropriate action”, after which he would be scraped of immunity, in case of wrongdoing, and released to the government to be forwarded to the Justice Ministry for further probe, according to a special statement from the presidency… [T]he government has directed the ministries of Foreign Affairs and Justice to start the process of extraditing CHC manager, Michael Foster, to the UK.

Forestry Contract Scandal Cracked…Former Internal Affairs Minister, River Cess Senator, Several Others Linked

The Inquirer Online, 14 October 2010 | Several senior officials of the Liberian government have been held liable and are to be reprimanded in connection to the controversial carbon credits deal, in which a UK citizen through fraud and misrepresentation was granted allocation of 400,000 hectares of forest by the Forestry Development Authority (FDA). President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, in a special statement to the nation last evening said having received a report from a special presidential committee she constituted on June 18, 2010 to look into the matter, has resolved to institute several actions against the officials involved in the matter, among them being the former Minister of Internal Affairs, Mr. Ambulai Johnson, former FDA Managing Director John Woods, Senator Jonathan Banney of Rivercess County and the Minister of Planning and Economic Affairs.

Liberia: Names in Deal to Bankrupt Country

New Democrat, 14 October 2010 | When the news first leaked, it said top-level Liberian officials had joined a deal that, if carried out, would have economically bled this country to bankruptcy. The deal was with a British firm in the business of carbon harvesting. London got involved in the investigation and now those said to have been behind the big money deal have been named in a report by a presidential Committee headed by Cllr. T. Negbalee Warner. The scandal came to light when, in 2007, the environmental rights organization Global Witness, discovered that a UK-based company, Harvesting Corporation (CHC) approached the Government of Liberia to negotiate the allocation of a 400,000 hectare forest carbon concession – a fifth of Liberia’s rainforest – in order to sell carbon credits to clients who want to offset their own carbon emissions.

Code RED for biodiversity

Arizona State University press release, 14 October 2010 | While not an outright failure, a 2010 goal set by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) for staunching the loss of the world’s species fell far short of expectations for “The International Year of Biodiversity.” What does this mean for the 20 proposed 2020 goals being considered by the 10th conference of parties at the Convention on Biological Diversity in Nagoya, Japan, on Oct. 18-29, 2010? … For example, the 2020 target that “all people are aware of the values of biodiversity and the steps they can take to conserve and use it sustainably” seems unrealistic. In addition, a 2020 target for the sustainability of agriculture, aquaculture and forestry asserts that doing this will automatically assure conservation of biodiversity, yet scientific evidence does not support this, according to the authors.

Study supports carbon price to protect forests, 14 October 2010 | A modelling study on the effects of differing land use policies on forests has found that placing a carbon price on emissions are needed to protect forest cover. The lack of a carbon price on land-use emissions is likely to lead to significant deforestation for the purpose of bio-energy crop production this century, it says. The study, “Climate mitigation and the future of tropical landscapes” by Allison Thomson and others is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It concludes “that tropical forests are preserved near their present-day extent, and bio-energy crops emerge as an effective mitigation option, only in cases in which a climate mitigation policy that includes an economic price for land-use emissions is in place”. Increases in agricultural productivity throughout the 21st Century will also be a key factor in reducing the pressure on forests the study finds, by reducing the area required for croplands.

Shifting focus from UN to grassroots organizing in lead-up to Cancun meetings

The Dominion, 14 October 2010 | Battle lines are being drawn as governments, environmental organizations and grassroots organizers are gearing up for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Cancun, Mexico. On one side, nations from the Global North—including Canada—are setting up to push the agenda of the Copenhagen Accord, an agreement that emerged from last winter’s UN conference in Denmark—one that failed to establish any binding terms for carbon emissions reductions. On the other side, many nations from the Global South have rallied around the Cochabamba Accord, the end result of April’s World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth in Bolivia. The final text includes calls for a global referendum on climate change, the establishment of an international climate justice tribunal and the recognition of a declaration on the rights of Mother Earth.

This Week in Forest Carbon

Ecosystem Marketplace, 14 October 2010 | In Tianjin, China, REDD+ Partnership talks came apart at the seams. Although it’s a small wonder nobody lost any eyes with the number of fingers pointing around the room, most of the fingers seem to be leveled at Papua New Guinea. As co-chair of the Partnership, PNG is purported to be strenuously resisting the integration of meaningful stakeholder consultation into the Partnership’s governance. As a result of all the discord, side events that were to be held in Nagoya, Japan during the 10th Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity later this month were cancelled and will be rescheduled to take place during the climate talks in Cancún…

Governing sustainable forest management in the new climate regime

By Frances Seymour (CIFOR) and Elizabeth Forwand (SCS), Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change, 14 October 2010 | The governance challenges faced by new REDD mechanisms are immense, but the risks of no action to mitigate forest-based emissions are similarly large. Accordingly, there is an urgent need for applied research to accompany the first generation of REDD initiatives. Such research could illuminate how REDD proponents can optimize among competing objectives and manage risks so as to protect vulnerable forest-related stakeholders while also contributing to efforts to protect the planet from catastrophic climate change.

UN warned about oil pipeline in Peru

Survival International, 14 October 2010 | Survival is warning the United Nations of massive oil operations in the northern Peruvian Amazon that could decimate uncontacted tribal people. ‘By permitting companies to operate in this region Peru’s government is flagrantly violating international law. Survival believes it very important to investigate this situation as soon as possible and for Peru’s government to prohibit the companies from working there. If that is not done, some of the world’s most vulnerable citizens could be wiped out,’ said a letter from Survival to the UN’s Special Rapporteur on indigenous peoples, Prof. James Anaya.

Microchips in trees to protect the Amazon rainforest

TuExperto, 14 October 2010 | There is strong international pressure to curb deforestation, yet the market continues to demand tons of wood. To many experts the solution lies in systems that ensure sustainable forest practices. Technology can play an important role in protecting the lungs of the planet. For example, satellites are used to remotely control the logging, and in others it has come to implement barcodes to trees and even RFID (radio frequency) to facilitate traceability. Currently, on a farm of one hundred hectares in Brazil is conducting a pilot project is to install two microchips at the base of each tree, protected by a white plastic box. The chips store information georeferenced data such as species, location, size and date and time of logging, entrainment and transport. With a handheld device can inventory all the carbon stored in forest. The system also allows the online real-time throughout the process. [R-M: Article available here in Spanish:]

Civil Society Coalition Pushes Government to Finally Halt Logging Permits

By Fidelis E. Satriastanti & Markus Junianto Sihaloho, Jakarta Globe, 14 October 2010 | Ten civil-society groups, including Greenpeace, have called on the government to get serious about implementing a moratorium on issuing new logging concessions in critical areas… Kumi Naidoo, the executive director of Greenpeace International, said on Thursday that the moratorium offered a golden opportunity to suspend the devastation of Indonesia’s forests. “We need to use the moratorium to engage public participation, proper research and look at all the alternatives, and also look at it in terms of the future of the palm oil industry,” he said. “In terms of REDD and REDD Plus, there’s a danger that if we don’t use the moratorium period to actually agree on procedures on transparency, then resources from REDD Plus” could be lost.

15 October 2010

No retreat on logging moratorium, NGOs warn

By Adianto P. Simamora, Jakarta Post, 15 October 2010 | Civil society groups are stepping up pressure on the government to honor its pledged moratorium on exploiting forests despite protests from corporations, especially forestry businesses. Eleven NGOs, including Greenpeace, the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi), Sawit Watch, Indigenous People’s Alliance of the Archipelago (AMAN) and Forest Watch Indonesia (FWI) issued a joint statement on the moratorium to the government on Thursday. The two-page document outlined principles, criteria and steps to implement the moratorium. The groups also condemned the Indonesian government for barring Greenpeace’s flagship Rainbow Warrior from entering Indonesian waters. The Greenpeace vessel was scheduled to dock in Jakarta on Wednesday enroute to Wasior, West Papua, on a humanitarian mission.

Comment: REDD forests have ‘unclear’ borders

Jakarta Post, 15 October 2010 | A report by the Supreme Audit Agency (BPK) revealed that less than 5 percent of forests in five provinces nominated to implement a climate partnership with Norway have legally defined borders. The five provinces – Riau, Jambi, Central Kalimantan, East Kalimantan and Papua – are proposed sites for a REDD pilot project… Apart from unclear and unresolved forest borders that may hamper the implementation of REDD in Indonesia, there are few things that need to be sorted out in order to make the REDD scheme successful. First is the completion of provincial and district spatial planning revisions to establish clear forest and non-forest boundaries and certainty on land-use allocations… Alue Dohong, Palangka Raya…

Company Reversing Land Use Changes, 15 October 2010 | A pulp and paper company, Asia Pulp & Paper, has decided to convert a large portion of its pulpwood plantation into a massive carbon reserve. The 15,000 hectares (about 37,000 acres) in Jakarta are being reallocated as a deep peat bog for at least 30 years. The reserve will effectively act as a bog with decaying vegetation, peat, which consumes atmospheric carbon dioxide as part of a chemical reaction… This project is also a perfect example of sustainability. Environmentally, this conversion of land will be a large carbon sink and is an important move in Indonesia, the world’s third largest emitter of GHG. Socially, this land use change will provide jobs for the local community without negatively impacting their quality of life. And economically, both the paper company and the nearby indigenous communities experience long-term economic development.

REDD money for Green

Kaieteur News, 15 October 2010 | It appears that as the President had predicted, the first US$30 million installment will be disbursed imminently from the US$250 promised by Norway for the conservation of our forests. This should be of some satisfaction to the President because he has expended much political capital (not to mention, time) to bring the negotiations to fruition. It should also be of great satisfaction to all Guyanese since to be blunt about it, we are getting money for pretty much doing nothing… Strangely enough, the President was criticised by some for pulling the wool over the international bodies’ eyes: as if those August bodies are not masters at performing that very same task. Why should Guyana not milk the system for once – we certainly have been milked enough over the past three centuries. The critics then complained paradoxically at the same time that controls demanded by the foreigners over our forests would place our miners and loggers on the streets.

Account of the Tianjin Climate Talks

By Damien Ma, The Atlantic, 15 October 2010 | The expectations are already much lower -BBC news is contemplating only sending one correspondent to cover the talks, as opposed to around 30 last year. Hopes for a legally-binding deal have long been off the table – I could even sense the difference in Pershing’s more relaxed demeanor in Tianjin compared to Copenhagen. Second, the inability of countries in Tianjin to make enough progress on the negotiation text means that some important issues identified in the Copenhagen Accord may not be discussed in Cancun. Bright points at Copenhagen, such discussion on credits from avoided deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+), were barely even touched at the talks at Tianjin, which do not bode well for hopes of a decision in Cancun.

Introducing the REDD+ Partnership & chaos, 15 October 2010 | Climate ministers are busy trying to come up with long-term financing options before COP 16 in Cancun. Sounds great, right? Not exactly. Several NGOs representing poor countries are angry about stakeholder involvement in the Partnership. There are disagreements on which institution should make decisions, and hold the money. The recent REDD+ meeting in Tianjen, China was called “dysfunctional” which started some ugly finger-pointing among nations. Nothing is easy, especially trying to let everyone on the planet have a say on how billions of dollars should be spent. One of the biggest challenges is avoiding corruption and fraud. Maybe we should send Kenneth Feinberg, administrator of the 9/11 and BP oil spill funds to the REDD rescue?

UN Forestry Plan Could Increase Logging, Advocates Warn

By Stacy Feldman,, 15 October 2010 | Forestry advocates are warning that a UN-backed plan to preserve disappearing forests in poor nations could do the opposite if alleged loopholes are not closed… “Governments … have told their constituencies that they’re going to protect forests in REDD. But when you look hard, that’s not what the text actually says is going to happen,” said Peg Putt of the Wilderness Society, a conservation group that is part of the nonprofit Ecosystems Climate Alliance (ECA). “It needs these holes filled so that you get something good,” she told SolveClimate News.

UN climate panel agrees to reforms, Pachauri stays

Reuters, 15 October 2010 | The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC),the UN’s climate change panel, Thursday agreed to push ahead with reforms but chairman Rajendra Pachauri rejected suggestions he should step down.

CO2 Risk Tool May Spur UN Carbon Trade, IDEAcarbon

By Catherine Airlie, Bloomberg, 15 October 2010 | IDEAglobal, a research company advised by economist Nicholas Stern, has started selling software that predicts prices of United Nations carbon credits and may spur trading and investment in emissions reduction. The Carbon Rating Agency, part of the company’s IDEAcarbon unit, said its CARBONrisk software helps bring financial risk management tools to the carbon market, according to an e-mailed statement today. The software predicts supply and future prices of credits by analyzing the likelihood that emissions reduction projects will be awarded with tradable credits. “The carbon markets significantly lag the established financial markets in their ability to generate and deploy the funding deemed necessary to address the effects of climate change,” IDEAcarbon Chairman Ian Johnson said in the statement.

U.S. to Investigate China’s Clean Energy Subsidies

By Sewell Chan and Keith Bradsher, New York Times, 15 October 2010 | The economic tension between the United States and China escalated on Friday, as the Obama administration pledged to investigate Beijing’s subsidies to its growing clean energy industries while delaying a politically volatile report on the Chinese currency.

Indicators to Value and Monitor the Quality of Forest Governance, 15 October 2010 | Poor governance is a major impediment to achieving development outcomes in the forest sector. It results in losses of income, employment, government revenues, and local and global environmental services. There are many different specialized areas of application for indicators (REDD +, anti-corruption, FLEGT VPAs, etc.), and there are measurable governance attributes are of peculiar relevance to these area. The trouble with poor governence is that it touches, among others, on rural community growing, national energy use, climate change, conservation of biodiversity, indigenous people’s rights, and extraction and trade of commercial forest resources.

16 October 2010

Rainforest Alliance to evaluate Guyana’s REDD+ progress

Stabroek News, 16 October 2010 | Rainforest Alliance has been selected as the independent entity to review Guyana’s Annual Progress reports on REDD+ enablers under the Guyana-Norway forest protection agreement… The verification team comprises: Team Leader Richard Z. Donovan, who is also the Vice President of Forestry and Senior Vice President, Rainforest Alliance; Christian Sloth, Manager of Rainforest Alliance/SmartWood Program Verification Services and Rainforest Alliance/SmartWood representative for the Guianas, Dr. Gary Clarke… However, when contacted, Donovan said that Clarke, as director, separated from Sherwood in July 2009 with documents formally registered in early September 2009. “He has not been a director of the company since then”, Donovan said. Sherwood’s advisor, Dr. Patrick Williams had in February 4 this year at a meeting in Annai, named Clarke as a principal of the company and quizzed on this, Donovan said that this must have been a comment made in error.

Sustainable Forest Management and Good Governance – Crucial Keys to REDD+

By Markus Sommerauer,, 16 October 2010 | In this context good and efficient governance of forest resources and the distribution of benefits will therefore be central to the success of REDD+ policies and measures. The concept of Sustainable Forest Management (SFM), thus, can be seen as a holistic management system which addresses all relevant issues and aspects of forests resources, is one of the most important building blocks of any further national REDD+ program.

17 October 2010

Greenpeace: Palm-Oil Campaign Not Effort At Sabotage

By Fidelis E Satriastanti, Jakarta Globe, 17 October 2010 | International environmental group Greenpeace is denying accusations that it is waging a foreign-funded campaign aimed at sabotaging the palm oil industry in Indonesia. Kumi Naidoo, executive director of Greenpeace International, said over the weekend that the group’s only motivation was preserving the environment for future generations. “We are not trying to blacken [Indonesia’s] palm oil [industry]. In Brazil, we’re against soya and cattle ranches because they are the two main drivers of deforestation there. What are the two main drivers [of deforestation] in Indonesia? [The industries behind] pulp and paper and palm oil,” Kumi said.

UN hails C-River’s forestry programme

Vanguard, 17 October 2010 | The United Nations REDD Mission to Nigeria, has described the Cross River State Forestry Programme as an ambitious opposition to global warming. Mr. Janthomas Hiemstra of UN-REDD Mission, disclosed this, weekend, during a courtesy call on Governor Liyel Imoke of Cross River State, saying that the attempt by the state was unprecedented and places it as a lead state in Nigeria. He said they are committed to partner the state and create opportunities for it to succeed in its efforts to conserve and protect its forests and its potentials, through its well articulated forestry programmes.

Norway climate change funds for hydro, fibre-optic cable, land demarcation

By Johann Earle, Guyana Chronicle, 17 October 2010 | The government has outlined how it would use the money that has begun to flow from the climate change agreement it has with Norway. The bulk of the first tranche of US$30M for 2010 goes to buying equity in the Amaila Falls hydro-power project, to the tune of US$20 million, according to details from the Office of Climate Change (OCC) in the Office of the President. For 2011, this amount will be between US$20 million and US$35 million. The final draft of the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) said a further US$5 million may be invested in the Amaila Falls in 2012. The OCC said between US$4 million and US$8.2 million will go towards the Amerindian Development Fund in 2010 while in 2011, the figure will be between US$4 million and US$12.3 million. The sum of US$3 million will go to Amerindian Land Titling for both 2010 and 2011.

Climate Change Highlights – No. 7

Guyana Chronicle, 17 October 2010 | The REDD+ Partnership in Tianjin, China: Even the most optimistic observers could not help noticing that the REDD+ Partnership became bogged down in disagreement during last week’s UN climate meeting in Tianjin, China. The meetings were spent arguing about agenda, the level of ambition in the workplan, and civil society participation. There has been much finger-pointing and blaming for the REDD+ Partnership shambles. A workshop and technical meeting proposed for 25 October 2010, in parallel with the tenth Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP 10) in Nagoya, Japan has been cancelled over a funding issue.

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  1. In West Papua over 100,000 square kilometres of forest are to be logged, for one project alone clearing 16,000 square kilometres of Pacific forest is to be cleared as a farm to produce food for Jakarta thousands of miles away in Asia.
    Indonesia denies West Papua is a colony, yet it restricts foreign access to the region. And our government have yet to answer some simple questions being asked of them.