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REDD in the news: 28 March – 3 April 2011

REDD in the news: 28 March - 3 April 2011

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.

REDD+, Biodiversity Safeguards and Indigenous Rights in Asia and the Pacific

By Isis Alvarez (Global Forest Coalition, Colombia) and Fiu Mataese Elisara (OLSSI, Samoa), Forest Cover, March 2011 | The Asia-Pacific regional consultation and capacity-building workshop on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) including relevant biodiversity safeguards was held in Singapore from 15 to 18 March 2011. The workshop was designed to provide a space for participants to share and learn from each other, rather than for negotiating… Most participants, including NGOs as well as country and institutional representatives recognise that safeguards for biodiversity and indigenous and local communities (ILCs) should consider people’s rights and grant them full participation at every stage of the REDD+ process. Paradoxically, only two representatives from indigenous organisations in the region were invited to participate: Ms Grace Tauli Balawag from Tebtebba in the Philippines and Fiu Mataese Elisara from Samoa.

Estimating the Opportunity Costs of REDD+

World Bank Institute, no date | This training manual shares hands-on experiences from field programs and presents the essential practical and theoretical steps, methods and tools to estimate the opportunity costs of REDD+ at the national level. REDD stands for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation. REDD+ additionally includes conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of carbon stocks in developing countries. The manual addresses the calculation of costs and benefits of the various land use alternatives in relation to their carbon stocks and the identification of economic trade-offs involved in REDD+ activities. As required data are generally not readily available, the manual also includes information on data collection, analysis and evaluation techniques.

Tropical Forest Conservation for REDD in Indonesia

Seven & i Holdings Co., Ltd., no date | Seven & i Holdings is a donor to the REDD (Deforestatioin and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries)project at Meru Betiri Natinal Park (58,000 hectares) in Indonesia. The project started in 2010 and a CSR Management committee staff member visited Meru Betiri six months after the project started.

28 March 2011

The Green Graft

By Hendra Teja, Jakarta Globe, 28 March 2011 | The state of our forests has reached critical condition in the last several years. Indonesia has one of the world’s highest rates of deforestation. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, we lost 1.8 million hectares per year between 2000 and 2005. Green Peace Indonesia has forecasted that if deforestation continues unchecked, our forests will be lost forever within 35 years. In monetary terms, the costs are high. Indonesia Corruption Watch has estimated that our economy lost Rp 71 trillion ($8.16 billion) from 2005-09, or $1.6 billion annually, due to deforestation. Human Rights Watch puts the losses even higher, at $2 billion a year.

Bill Clinton takes on Brazil’s megadams, James Cameron backs tribal groups

By Jeremy Hance,, 28 March 2011 | Former US President, Bill Clinton, spoke out against Brazil’s megadams at the 2nd World Sustainability Forum, which was also attended by former California governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and film director, James Cameron, who has been an outspoken critic of the most famous of the controversial dams, the Belo Monte on the Xingu River. As reported by Forbes, in a speech delivered on the last day of the forum last week, Bill Clinton said, “You need electricity and you need to preserve the forest. But 20% of the world’s oxygen comes from the Amazon. It’s not an easy decision, but you have to think about these things, and about the future of your children and grandchildren. You also have to consider the indigenous population, the wildlife, and the plant species that can be used to cure illnesses and will be affected by building these dams.”

UN-REDD 2010 Year in Review

Forest Carbon Portal, 28 March 2011 | The UN-REDD Programme partner countries can be incredibly proud of what they accomplished in 2010. Extensive national-level consultations and capacity building processes culminated in eight partner countries presenting full or initial National Programmes to the UN-REDD Programme Policy Board, which in turn approved a total of US$29.8 million in funding for them. All nine of the Programme’s initial pilot countries have now submitted National Programmes and by the end of the year, seven of them had entered into implementation. Building on their achievements over the past two years, UN-REDD Programme partner countries produced valuable REDD+ knowledge and lessons learned throughout 2010, providing significant inputs into the very evolution of the REDD+ mechanism.

Google Earth reveals stark contrast between Sarawak’s damaged forests and those in neighboring Borneo states, 28 March 2011 | Images from Google Earth show a sharp contract between forest cover in Sarawak, a state in Malaysian Borneo, and the neighboring countries of Brunei and Indonesia at a time when Sarawak’s Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud is claiming that 70 percent of Sarawak’s forest cover is intact. Google Earth images from GeoEye, TerraMetrics, Tele Atlas, Europa Technologies, and other providers show logging roads snaking across Sarawak’s forest areas. Forests across international borders are substantially less impacted, as viewed on Google Earth.

Amazon tribe’s unique fishing ritual could be their last

Survival International, 28 March 2011 | The Enawene Nawe tribe of Brazil have begun their unique annual fishing ritual, amid fears that the 80 dams planned for the Juruena river basin are destroying their fish. The tribe’s extraordinary ‘Yãkwa’ ritual is recognized by Brazil’s Ministry of Culture as part of the country’s cultural heritage. But in 2009, for the first time, the ritual could not be practiced, as the tribe found almost no fish in the rivers. The Enawene Nawe faced a catastrophic food shortage, and the dam construction company was forced to buy three thousand kilos of farmed fish for the tribe. In 2010 fish numbers were again low. Some of the planned dams are funded by the Grupo André Maggi company, one of the world’s largest soya producers.

Brunei Reaffirms Support For Climate Plan

Borneo Bulletin, 28 March 2011 | According to a press release from the Ministry of Development, the ministers and ambassadors responsible for climate change from 41 countries exchanged views on how to sustain the momentum of agreement reached in Cancun in 2010 as well as the road map and “deliverables” of the upcoming 17th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the 7th Conference Meeting of Parties to Kyoto Protocol in Durban in December 2011. At the meeting, Pehin Orang Kaya Indera Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Suyoi said that despitelhe positive outcome of the COP16 and CMP6 held in Cancun, Mexico in December 2010, there are still unresolved and complex issues relating to mitigation, adoption, finance and technology transfer, and issues related to REDD+ that have to be addressed.

REDD+ Indonesia Website to be Launched in April

Kompas, 28 March 2011 | A website of REDD+ Indonesia, will be officially launched in April 2011, according to the forestry ministry in a press statement. The forestry ministry in cooperation with the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) is currently developing the website on REDD+, forests and climate change in Indonesia, the statement said on Monday. CIFOR Director General Frances Seymour and the forestry ministry’s Head of the Research and Development Body Tachrir Fathoni signed a cooperation agreement on the website development in Bogor, last Thursday. The website is expected to become an information source on the implementation of REDD and climate change mitigation in Indonesia.

REDD+ should better embrace forest values – land policy think tank

By Geoff Thompson, World Agroforestry Centre, 28 March 2011 | Investments in agricultural research and development, including agroforestry and community forestry, are important for maintaining the livelihoods of many forest-dependent people in developing countries and should not be overlooked in the REDD+ debate, according to a working paper by the land policy think tank, the Lincoln Institute. The Lincoln Institute paper assesses the strengths and weaknesses of the current global environmental policy and aid architecture, relating to mitigating carbon emissions, specifically policies relating to reduced emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+). The paper notes that the focus of REDD+ has largely remained on forest carbon storage as a mitigation strategy, but this should be broadened to include other forest values, including biodiversity, watershed protection, forest production, income generation, social and cultural values.

Cocaine in logs shipment may have been destined for China

Stabroek News, 28 March 2011 | The large quantity of cocaine which was busted by Jamaican officials recently on a ship out of Guyana may have been headed for China, investigators have revealed. While Customs and Anti Narcotics Unit (CANU) have so far found no evidence implicating anyone and are still awaiting a report from the preliminary investigation conducted by the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA), sources have told Stabroek News that the logs among which the cocaine was found were shipped by a Chinese national. [R-M: Subscription needed]

Gov’t has ‘substantially failed’ to implement forest saving agreement with Norway, say civil society members

Stabroek News, 28 March 2011 | As Norwegian Environment Minister Erik Solheim heads to Guyana this week, several members of civil society have charged that the government here has “substantially failed” to implement the forest saving agreement with the Scandinavian state, an assertion rejected by the Office of Climate Change (OCC). Solheim arrives here on Tuesday and new terms for the forest protection pact between the two countries are expected to be agreed. Clauses were included in the original Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the agreement to be reviewed in light of new knowledge about deforestation rates here. Guyana and Norway in November 2009 inked an MOU that saw Oslo paying US$30 million ($6.2 billion) last year and potentially up to US$250 million ($51.7 billion) by 2015 for Guyana to preserve its forests. [R-M: subscription needed]

Group wants Norway to delay payment to Guyana

Kaieteur News, 28 March 2011 | Just days before Norway’s Minister of Environment and International Development, Mr. Erik Solheim is scheduled to arrive in Guyana an open letter has been sent to him by a group of 18 persons aimed at convincing the Norwegians to delay the payment of the Money under the MoU it signed with Guyana. The letter sought to point out to the Minister what they say were eight key problems with the operation of the MoU. The Office of Climate Change (OCC) in Guyana in retaliation debunked the letter saying that it was sent by a group of persons well known for their anti-government and destructive politics. According to the OCC, the letter is clearly written with the express intention of undermining the joint commitments of the governments of Guyana and Norway to an international effort to combat climate change through the funding of a Low Carbon Development Strategy for Guyana.

29 March 2011

Forest-Conservation Scheme Scarred By Violations in Central Kalimantan

By Fidelis E Satriastanti, Jakarta Globe, 29 March 2011 | A pilot project for forest conservation in Central Kalimantan continues to be plagued by land use violations, an official said on Monday. Nielson R. Nihin, head of the Lamandau district environment agency, said there were at least 18 plantation firms in the district that were operating without a mandatory environmental impact analysis (Amdal). He said the companies, mostly oil palm firms occupying 200,000 hectares of land, were also violating zoning regulations. “There’s a regulation stipulating that nothing may be planted on a 45-degree slope, but you can see that they’ve planted oil palms there,” Nihin said. The entire province has been made into a pilot project for the REDD Plus scheme, an UN-backed mechanism for forest conservation where countries with large forests will get compensation in return for preserving them. The project is part of an agreement between Indonesia and Norway, signed in 2010, worth $1 billion.

Malaysian Forestry Claims Refuted by Google Earth Satellite Images

Yale Environment 360, 29 March 2011 | While officials in the state of Sarawak in Malaysian Borneo have insisted that 70 percent of the region’s forest cover is intact, satellite images indicate that far more widespread deforestation is taking place. A review of Google Earth images collected from GeoEye, TerraMetrics, and other satellite programs by the tropical forest Web site, Mongabay, reveals a network of logging roads and cleared forest across Sarawak. In contrast, the satellites reveal largely intact forests covering nearby Kalimantan – the Indonesian portion of Borneo – and the nation of Brunei… Sarawak’s Chief Minister, Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud, under pressure from environmental groups that claim his family has acquired millions of dollars worth of holdings for his role in Sarawak’s forestry sector, last week invited independent inspectors to visit the state to verify the extent of forest cover.

Trees on Shaky Ground in Texaco’s Rainforest

By Gonzalo Ortiz, IPS, 29 March 2011 | This reporter travelled 400 kilometres of highways and roads in the northeastern provinces of Sucumbíos and Orellana and visited six communities affected and 12 sites contaminated by the U.S. oil company Texaco during its oil exploration and production activities between 1964 and 1990. The swamp with the moving trees was the “pool” filled with oil waste from the Yuca 9 well, one of 162 that Texaco claims to have cleaned up or “remediated” between 1995 and 1998. These pools or pits, some of them as big as a football field, were used to dump mud and other waste produced by oil drilling, and even human faeces and garbage, since there were no sanitary landfills or wastewater treatment facilities built.

Indians take on Amazon loggers

Survival International, 29 March 2011 | Peruvian Indians have been forced to set up a guard post to protect an uncontacted Indians’ reserve, after the authorities ignored their repeated pleas for action. The Isconahua reserve on the Peru-Brazil border was set up with the support of Peru’s Amazon Indian organization, AIDESEP, to protect uncontacted Isconahua Indians living in its forests. But the reserve has been invaded by illegal loggers, and numerous appeals to the authorities have gone unanswered. Now local indigenous organizations ORAU and FECONAU have united to create a guard post to protect the reserve themselves.

Selangor wants trust fund for forest reserves

By Meena L. Ramadas, The Sun Daily, 29 March 2011 | The Selangor government wants to create a trust fund for the preservation of forest reserves in the state and is considering introducing a carbon trading programme that will boost the state’s coffers. State executive councilor for environment Elizabeth Wong (PKR-Bukit Lanjan) said this when replying to a question from Dr Ahmad Yunus Hairi (PAS-Sijangkang). She said the state has decided to preserve the Kuala Langat South Forest Reserve as a permanent reserve and is preparing a blueprint to protect it from further encroachment. “The state is considering several methods including the implementation of a Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) scheme which can generate funds for the state,” she said. Wong said the REDD scheme is a carbon trading programme that allows foreign investors to sponsor the protection of forests in a bid to reduce emissions of green house gases.

Amazon’s drought, seen from space

By Deborah Zabarenko, Reuters, 29 March 2011 | How green is the Amazon? Not as green as it used to be, as shown in an analysis of satellite images made during last year’s record-breaking drought. Because greenness is an indication of health in the Amazon, a decline in this measurement means this vast area is getting less healthy – bad news for biodiversity and some native peoples in the region. What does a drop in the greenness index look like? It looks gold, orange and red in a graphic accompanying an article to be published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters: Gray areas are the norm, based on a decade of satellite observations that cover every acre (actually every square kilometer) on the planet. Dots that are gold, orange or deep red show areas with a decrease in greenness. Scientists call this the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI on this chart) or the greenness index.

Blatant display of unpatriotic actions

By L. Daniels, letter to the editor, Guyana Chronicle, 29 March 2011 | Were it not for the blatant display of unpatriotic actions and by extension, the deficiency in the willingness to see our country advance, the demonstration of bitterness and resentment by Janet Bulkan, Christopher Ram, Khemraj Ramjattan and others with insatiable appetites for attention would have been almost laughable. However, it is impossible for one to laugh in the face of such a disgraceful attempt by this group to involve Norway in their mediocre political scheme to stymie Government’s development efforts to the extent of being destructive. How does Ramjattan hope to gain political mileage from trying to influence the Norwegians to withdraw funding from Guyana which was already sealed in the agreement between the two countries?

30 March 2011

The Ecosystem Marketplace’s Forest Carbon News

Forest Carbon Portal, 30 March 2011 | Over the past two weeks in forest carbon news Africa and China made big leaps, California assumed a holding pattern, Indonesia is (still) debating internally whether and how to move, and a handful of major international policy and finance meetings continue rolling in through Southeast Asia. In Kenya, the African Carbon Exchange had a soft launch, showing off the new trading platform to reporters. In China, the Panda Standard is pulling back the curtain on a growing domestic appetite for carbon offsets and trading with the first contracted sales from a bamboo reforestation project.

New Palm Oil Factory Marks Start of Sinar Mas’s Rp 9t Pledge

Jakarta Globe, 30 March 2011 | Indonesian palm oil giant Sinar Mas Agro Resources & Technology and its affiliated companies will invest Rp 9 trillion ($1 billion) in the space of four to five years to develop its downstream business, the company said. “This Rp 9 trillion in investment is likely to absorb around 20,000 workers, either directly or indirectly,” company chairman Franky Widjaja said after an inauguration ceremony for a crude palm oil factory in Marunda, West Java, on Wednesday.

Rejecting an ‘unfounded’ attack

By David Yahnn, letter to the editor, Kaieteur News, 30 March 2011 | I refer to an article in the March 28, 2011 edition of the Kaieteur News entitled ‘Group wants Norway to delay payment to Guyana’. The Office of Climate Change (OCC) is quoted as having referred to the signatories of the open letter to Minister Solheim as “a group of persons well known for their anti-government and destructive politics.” As a signatory, I wish to register my indignation at this unfounded and unwarranted attack. As a Guyanese who has consistently worked over the years in whatever little way I could to contribute positively to Guyana’s development, I resent that a state agency would wish to vilify citizens for their legitimate comments, instead of welcoming their involvement and seeking to address their concerns. From the word go, the government has been touting the importance of ‘citizen participation’ in the LCDS, which, by the way, I support and endorse in principle.

‘Huge reduction’ of water from plants due to higher carbon levels, 30 March 2011 | As if ocean acidification and a warming world weren’t enough, researchers have outlined another way in which carbon emissions are impacting the planet. A new study shows that higher carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere have taken a toll on how much water vapor plants release, potentially impacting the rainfall and groundwater sources. A study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) has found that carbon dioxide levels over the past 150 years has reduced plants’ spores, called stomata, by over one third (34%). This is important because stomata take in oxygen and carbon dioxide and release water vapor in a process dubbed ‘transpiration’. Less stomata means less water driven into the atmosphere.

Tanzania: Kigoma Intensifies War on Illegal Charcoal Exports

By Finnigan Wa Simbeye, Tanzania Daily News, 30 March 2011 | Over 100 charcoal bags worth over a half a million shillings were impounded from illegal traders accused of sponsoring villagers in Kigoma Rural District to cut down trees from Masito-Ugalla forest reserve. The charcoal which is exported mainly to Democratic Republic of Congo through Kilando village on the shores of Lake Tanganyika to Kalemie, was ceased from traders by forestry officers from Kigoma Rural and forest monitors recruited by Jane Goodall Institute… JGI with funding from Norwegian government is implementing a three-year pilot project to assist communities from seven villages in Kigoma Rural and Mpanda districts protect the70,000 hectares Masito-Ugalla forest reserve and earn money through Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) initiative. The JGI has trained two forest monitors from each of the seven villages to patrol their area bordering the forest reserve to curb deforestation.

Community Forest Management and the Emergence of Multi-Scale Governance Institutions: Lessons for REDD+ Development from Mexico, Brazil and Bolivia

By Peter Cronkleton, David Barton Bray and Gabriel Medina, Forests, 30 March 2011 | At their most local, initiatives to reduce emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD) will depend on rural people to manage forest resources. Although the design of frameworks, mechanisms and arrangements, to implement REDD programs have received significant attention, it is not yet clear how REDD+ will function on the ground or how the participation of local populations will be assured. Community forest management (CFM) could be an option under REDD+ depending on how it is negotiated, largely because of the expectation that CFM could reduce emissions from deforestation and degradation. Examining institutional factors in the emergence of successful CFM systems and local forest enterprises could provide valuable lessons for REDD planners.

Surinamese government, indigenous groups and NGOs join together to protect forests

EDF’s blog, 30 March 2011 | As EDF’s Amazon Basin Project coordinator, I spend much of my time working in Latin America with our non-governmental allies to discuss REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation) with indigenous groups. REDD+ has come so far since conceived two decades ago; the general framework has been approved by the United Nations, and now countries will be spending time in the UN meetings hammering out the details at the international level. In the meantime, EDF is partnering with groups like the Coordinating Body of the Amazon Basin Indigenous Peoples (COICA), the Amazon Institute for Environmental Research (IPAM), and U.S.-based Woods Hole Research Center (WHRC) to help tropical rainforest countries and local governments with preparing for REDD+ policies to go into effect – what’s called “REDD+ Readiness.” (Read about our REDD+ training workshops in Ecuador).

Communities Depend On Mountain Resources Tanzanian President nullifies application to grant Eastern Mountains as World Heritage Site

eTN, 30 March 2011 | Tanzania’s President has rejected an application to place some mountains in the Eastern Arc under the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as a World Heritage Site. The President, Mr. Jakaya Kikwete, nullified an application that was submitted to UNESCO by Tanzania’s Ministry of Tourism, which was looking for the UN body to assess and grant the Udzungwa and Uluguru mountain ranges in the Eastern Arc Mountains, the status of World Heritage Site. The Tanzanian President said there was no logic to place some of the mountains in the Eastern Arc under UNESCO as heritage site, because these mountains are highly needed by the people of Tanzania for various economic reasons.

So-called civil society group hell bent on undermining LCDS

By Peter Persaud, letter to the editor, Guyana Chronicle, 30 March 2011 | The devil is at work. The devil is like a roaring lion seeking to only destroy. The so-called civil society grouping that wrote to Norway’s Minister of the Environment and International Development calling for a delay in payments of the money under the MOU signed between Guyana and Norway is the devil at work.

31 March 2011

Policy Nominations for Visionary Forest Policies

John-O Niles, Tropical Forest Group Blog, 31 March 2011 | This is an interesting article on nominations for Visionary Forest Policies, an award by the World Future Council. The article at the bottom provides a link to 19 nominated policies from around the world, including the US 2008 Lacey Act, Aceh’s 2007 Logging Moratorium, and Brazil’s 2008 law authorizing the Amazon Fund (among many others).

As Larger Animals Decline, Forests Feel Their Absence

By Sharon Levy, Yale Environment 360, 31 March 2011 | The loss of seed dispersers is a serious problem in tropical forests worldwide. Even forests that appear intact in terms of their vegetation are fated to change dramatically when large frugivores are lost. In the Peruvian Amazon, hunting of large monkeys for bushmeat has altered the shape of the forest, as seedlings of plants with wind-dispersed seeds come to dominate. In heavily hunted parts of Ngotto Forest, in the Central African Republic, the disappearance of large animals — including primates, elephants, and hornbills, a group of fruit-eating birds — led to a drop in the diversity of young trees. The trees that declined were all large-seeded, including cola nut and African star apple.

Reclaiming Stolen Lands: Indigenous Community Stands up to Global Palm Oil Giant

By Lindsey Allen, The Understory (RAN’s blog), 31 March 2011 | After fighting for the return of their ancestral lands for more than a decade, the people of Long Teran Kenan in Malaysian Borneo took a stand earlier this month and reclaimed part of their homeland with a decisive and peaceful act of collective resistance. Their territory had been taken from them and converted into oil palm plantations, which are now owned by the notorious global palm oil giant IOI Group.

Tiny flight tax could raise billions to protect people from climate change

IIED press release, 31 March 2011 | A small tax on international airline tickets could raise US$10 billion a year to help people to adapt to the impacts of climate change, say economists at the International Institute for Environment and Development. Tom Birch and Muyeye Chambwera make the case for such a tax in a briefing paper to be published online on Monday 4 April, as the latest round of intergovernmental negotiations on how to tackle climate change get under way in Bangkok, Thailand. Southern Thailand is in the grip of major floods that have affected close to a million people. This is exactly the kind of impact that scientists say countries and communities will need to adapt to as climate change takes hold.

Study finds Russia’s vast boreal forests changing, adding fuel to climate change

By Dina Fine Maron, ClimateWire, 31 March 2011 | Russian boreal forests are transforming as more heat-tolerant trees climb northward in response to rising temperatures, creating conditions that may further fuel the problem, according to new findings. [R-M: subscription needed]

Potentially catastrophic climate impacts on food production over the long-term

FAO press release, 31 March 2011 | FAO suggests that countries consider food security as a socio-economic safeguard for mitigation measures. Meeting increasing demand for fuel, food and carbon storage will challenge national policy-makers to capture synergies and manage trade-offs between competing land-uses. Already biofuel production (a mitigation response measure) has been associated with spiking food prices in 2007-2008. Also, there are signs that the success of REDD+ (an initiative to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation and increase the carbon stock in forests) will depend on how successfully the linkages with agriculture are managed.

REDD+, Technical, Socioeconomic and Political Dimensions

Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute conference announcement, 31 March 2011 | If designed and implemented correctly, REDD+ has the potential to generate a valuable stream of funding for initiatives that will conserve and restore important tracts of tropical forests. These efforts would not only contribute toward abating the effects of global warming, but also to protect biodiversity and ecosystem services, and support poverty alleviation and rural development. Alternatively, if the mechanism fails to adequately address potential pitfalls, REDD+ could compromise local livelihoods, affect traditional uses of forests, and enhance or catalyze corruption, among other problems… Panama has been actively engaged in international negotiations and debates regarding REDD+.

New World Growth report contains ‘false and misleading’ information

By Rhett A. Butler,, 31 March 2011 | A new report from World Growth International, a lobby group for industrial forestry interests, contains “false and misleading” information on the economic impact of reducing Indonesia’s deforestation rate, says an Indonesian environmental group. The report, released today, claims that reducing deforestation in Indonesia will cost the country 3.5 million jobs annually by slowing growth of the forestry sector… But Oxley’s claims were quickly countered by Elfian Effendi, Director of Greenomics-Indonesia. “The World Growth report is misleading,” Effendi told via email. “Greenomics sees the employment calculation as false and totally baseless.”

Trade-offs and other REDD+ scenarios

Profor, 31 March 2011 | The World Bank Institute which shares knowledge related to poverty reduction has recently published online a training manual for estimating REDD+ opportunity costs. The theory behind REDD+ and terms of art like “carbon dioxide equivalents” or “net profit values” are demystified in accessible terms and helpful graphs. The guide is intended for “professionals within governments, universities, research institutions, international or non-governmental organizations and program developers who may use the presented methods and tools to estimate opportunity costs and incorporate these costs into recommendations for REDD+ policies and programs.” But it has elements for the layman as well. Among the very didactic charts, two illustrate the fallacy of thinking of the trade-off between forests and agriculture as a lost cause for trees.

Norway stresses anti-corruption ahead of meeting with civil society, opposition

Demerara Waves, 31 March 2011 | Norway Thursday night stressed the need for anti-corruption mechanisms before compensating Guyana and other countries to preserve their forests. “We do not want to interfere in how Guyana use money…But there must be strict standards for anti-corruption and also strict international standards for environmental and social concerns that will be applied,” said Norway’s Environment and International Development Minister, Erik Solheim. He also identified the need for a consultative process with interest groups and others. “As long as these basic standards are applied, it is up to Guyana to decide how it will use its money,” he told a news conference that he shared with President Bharrat Jagdeo. Solheim confirmed that an additional US$40 million would be paid to Guyana because the country has kept within the limits of deforestation, a sign that a call by the Group of 22 civil society activists and politicians’ call for monies to be withheld has been rejected.

LCDS group upset at call to delay Norway funds

Stabroek News, 31 March 2011 | Following a letter to Norway’s government by a group of prominent Guyanese who said there is no present justification for the release of funds under the forests’ pact between the two countries, members of the Multi Stakeholders Steering Committee (MSSC) have taken “exception” to its contents.

Guyana’s Low Carbon Development Strategy

Guyana Chronicle, 31 March 2011 | The members of the Multi Stakeholders Steering Committee (MSSC) of Guyana’s Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) take exception to an open letter sent by a group of Guyanese to the government of Norway, which is clearly intended to undermine the implementation of the agreement between the governments of Norway and Guyana to provide Guyana with payments for services rendered in preserving Guyana’s forests. The MSSC comprises a wide public, private partnership, which includes non-governmental organisations, environmental and indigenous peoples’ organizations, labour and the business community. The civil society members of the MSSC have volunteered their involvement because of their commitment towards establishing a transparent and constructive process to deliver the REDD+ Programme and the LCDS. The MSSC is committed to its responsibility to oversee, assist and guide the process of Guyana’s LCDS.

Norway’s Minister Solheim to commence two-day visit today

By Johann Earle, Guyana Chronicle, 31 March 2011 | Today, Norwegian Minister of Environment and International Development Erik Solheim comes to Guyana to further the discussions around the Guyana REDD Investment Fund (GRIF), financed by the funding that Norway has provided through the Memorandum of Understanding between the two nations. Further, Solheim, together with President Bharrat Jagdeo, will make an announcement on the GRIF at a dinner tonight, to be held in honour of the visiting Minister… On Friday, there will be a series of breakfast meetings at Solheim’s hotel. The first meeting will be with the Ministry of Finance, where there will be presentations by the Government. This will be followed by a meeting between Solheim and leaders of Opposition parties in Parliament. Solheim will then be the key participant in a meeting with Civil Society and NGOs. Following this meeting, Solheim will have lunch with representatives of the World Bank, the IDB and UNDP among others.

1 April 2011

Rwandan ‘anti-thatch’ campaign leaves thousands of ‘Pygmies’ homeless

Survival International, 1 April 2011 | A Rwandan government programme to destroy all thatched roofs in the country is leaving thousands of Batwa ‘Pygmies’ homeless. Hundreds of Batwa families have seen their homes destroyed in recent months, forcing them to live in the open during the rainy season. The authorities plan to destroy all thatched roofs in the country by May this year. Under the destructive scheme, families with means are meant to build new houses at their own expense. The very poor (which include almost all Batwa) are supposed to be provided with iron sheets to replace the thatch, and the sick and elderly should be given completely new homes. But many huts have been destroyed without new homes being provided.

Ethiopia to reforest 15m hectares, 1 April 2011 | Ethiopia plans to reforest 15 million hectares of degraded land as part of a climate change and renewable energy plan to become carbon neutral by 2025, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi announced this week. The forestry goal is one arm of a strategy that also includes developing renewable energy resources in hydro, wind, geothermal and bio-gas. Ethiopia is already home to a reforestation project developed by the Word Bank to earn CER carbon credits under the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism. The Humbo Assisted Natural Regeneration Project is reforesting 2700 hectares of heavily degraded mountain forest area.

World Bank Group Adopts new Approach for Investment in Palm Oil Sector

IFC press release, 1 April 2011 | The World Bank Group today announced the adoption of a World Bank Group Framework and IFC Strategy to guide future engagement in the global palm oil sector. The new framework and strategy were developed following extensive consultations with a wide range of stakeholders including environmental and social NGOs, farmers, indigenous communities, private sector companies, and governments. Feedback received affirmed that, when guided by rigorous environmental and social protections, the palm oil sector can be an important contributor to growth and economic development and to overcoming poverty.

Forest carbon facility: “more harm than good”?

Bretton Woords Project, 1 April 2011 | As details emerge of the World Bank’s new facility to pay countries for preventing deforestation and forest degradation, concerns about its operations and governance mount. A draft ‘information memorandum’ was circulated end 2007 on the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) which, according to the Bank, is to assist selected countries to find the most cost effective way to reduce emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD) and promote carbon trading-based incentives for those reductions (see Update 57). The memo outlines operating arrangements for the funds that make up the FCPF, as well as the applicability of Bank safeguards and operational policies, and includes a draft charter.

A staggering blow for the cynics

Guyana Chronicle, 1 April 2011 | At long last, the Norwegian government has announced the release of US$40M for projects to be executed under our Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) and, as such, they[projects] will become a reality. However, this is a staggering blow to the so-called civil society group (which has two politicians among its members!) and their sympathizers because they had made a shameless, unpatriotic, illogical but futile effort to have the release of the Norway funds delayed for some of the most ridiculous and baseless reasons. It would be interesting to see their response now that the visiting Norwegian Minister of Environment Mr. Erik Solheim has refuted their spurious allegations. They should be ashamed of themselves. It also boggles the mind how some people who are supposed to be interested in Guyana’s development and advancement could actually advocate the delay of release of funds that are exactly for that purpose.

Monitoring of Norway funds to be tightened

Demerara Waves, 1 April 2011 | The Guyana government is to take additional steps to tighten the monitoring of the funds to be released under its five-year, US$250 million climate deal with Norway even as the parties make ready to speed up the long-awaited disbursement process. According to the just released revised copy of the Concept Note originally signed by the two states in November 2009, an independently facilitated process to help disburse the funds from the Guyana REDD+ Investment Fund (GRIF) will start by “mid-May 2011.” That process will also be used to “identify potential short-term improvements in the processes and practices of the GRIF and all its partners,” states the document which was released Thursday night.

GRIF projects money to be returned ‘promptly’ if misuse uncovered

Stabroek News, 1 April 2011 | Entities implementing projects funded through the Guyana REDD+ Investment Fund (GRIF) will be required to return the money “promptly” if it is determined that it is being used in a manner that is inconsistent with the grant agreement. This requirement is to be included in the grant agreement signed between the implementing entity and a partner entity that will oversee GRIF projects… In a recent update, the World Bank said that to date, none of the partner entities have presented any projects to the Steering Committee; therefore the committee has yet to consider project approvals.

Norway releases another US$40M into GRIF

By Gaulbert Sutherland, Stabroek News, 1 April 2011 | Norway will deposit another US$40 million into the Guyana REDD+ Investment Fund (GRIF) immediately as research shows that Guyana’s deforestation rate is lower than previously thought, Norway’s Minister of the Environment and International Development, Erik Solheim announced last evening. This is very positive and Oslo will immediately pay US$40 million into the GRIF, Solheim said in an announcement made jointly with President Bharrat Jagdeo at State House before an audience of government ministers, representatives of multi-lateral institutions and the diplomatic community as well as other members of civil society. [R-M: Subscription needed.]

An appeal to Norway’s Environment Minister, Erik Solheim

By Freddie Kissoon, Kaieteur News, 1 April 2011 | Mr. Solheim is in Guyana. I timed this publication for today. I assumed that since the Minister arrived last night, he may not have had a chance to read the independent dailies. Mr. Solheim’s visit came the day after Transparency International published its corruption index for 2010. Guyana is classified as the 57th most corrupt country in the world. In a list of 178 countries, it lies at 116. Guyana chalked up 2.7 on a scale of 10. On that scale Norway is 8.6. All Caricom nations are way in front of Guyana. Today, the Minister meets with the opposition. He must be handed a picture of the regime to which his government plans to give millions of American dollars. Mr. Solheim comes from a region of the world that is generally viewed as one of the most enduring democratic havens. All Scandinavian countries are models of freedom and justice.

Norway adds US$40M to forest-saving fund

Kaieteur News, 1 April 2011 | Norway yesterday announced it was depositing a further US$40 million into its forest-saving deal with Guyana, with its Environment Minister Erik Solheim bluntly stating “it doesn’t matter” that deforestation increased by a whopping 300% here last year. Solheim’s response was a curt rebuttal to charges by a group in Guyana which has asked Norway to delay payments under the five-year deal worth a total of US$250M over concerns about the rate the forest is being chopped down and about consistent allegations of corruption.

Forest Products Association responds to open letter to Minister Solheim

By Mohindra Chand (Junior Vice-President Forest Products Association), Guyana Chronicle, 1 April 2011 | The Forests Products Association (FPA) notably recognizes the concerns raised in the open letter to Minister Erik Solheim, Minister of the Environment & International Development of Norway, dated March 24, 2011. As a Private Sector body, we believe in open dialogue and transparency in development initiatives such as the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS). Further, as a critical forest resource base stakeholder, we support any initiative such as the LCDS which adds greater value to our natural resources in a manner that benefits our nation. In this regard and respectfully we wish to embrace the LCDS funding mechanisms and fiduciary oversight as set out by International Standards. Our expectation is that greater attention will be placed on the development of the Forest Sector along with other natural resource base sectors under the LCDS.

Nation needs LCDS money to help poor

By Vishnu Bisram, letter to the editor, Guyana Chronicle, 1 April 2011 | With reference to calls by a few for the Norway government to withhold disbursement of funds for LCDS to Guyana, and counter calls from LCDS backers to continue disbursement of money, I am confident visiting Norwegian Minister Mr. Erik Solheim will make the right decision as per the memorandum of agreement signed between the two nations. That is what really matters in the end, not politicking. Once the Guyana government honours the agreement, and so far people I have spoken with, say there is no credible evidence that the agreement is not being honoured, Norway must commit to its end of the deal. It is not clear to many I have spoken with why the funds should be delayed when they are needed for the preservation of the environment and to achieve developmental goals, especially money committed to uplifting the indigenous Amerindians communities.

LCDS projects to translate into reality this year – President Jagdeo

Guyana Chronicle, 1 April 2011 | The priority projects under Guyana’s revolutionary Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) will become a reality this year with development partner, Norway, announcing its readiness to release the second tranche of forest protection funds. President Bharrat Jagdeo, during a joint press conference he hosted at State House in Georgetown last night, with visiting Norwegian Minister of Environment and International Development Mr. Erik Solheim, stressed that the Guyana REDD Investment Fund is safe as regards fiduciary oversight, and noted that the projects to be funded will be done so in accordance to the strictest standards.

2 April 2011

Opposition vents to Norway on forest $$$

Demerara Waves, 2 April 2011 | The parliamentary opposition parties on Friday got to vent their concerns about the processes in place to govern the funds coming Guyana’s way from the climate deal with Norway when they met that country’s Environment Minister Erik Solheim and his team. The Norwegians had met President Bharrat Jagdeo the previous day. Speaking to reporters following their meeting Leader of the Opposition and PNCR Robert Corbin said the party used the opportunity to air several concerns it had. “The first one is the question of the decision-making process whereby there is non-participation of the major stakeholders in determining how the money would be spent and particularly in this election year we made the point that they may be directly involved in the internal political affairs by the way the government is planning to use this money at the moment,” Corbin stated.

President defends Guyana’s safeguard levels

Guyana Chronicle, 2 April 2011 | President Jagdeo fired at the small group that made a recent attempt to subvert efforts by Guyana to benefit from forest-based incentives through a correspondence to the Norwegian government. The Head of State was at the time speaking at a joint press conference with Minister of Environment and International Development of Norway, Erik Solheim. The Head of State vowed to hold a separate press conference to address the issues in detail as he believes Thursday night’s press conference today was not the forum for such, but noted that the group has consistently made attempts to undermine the Guyana/Norway agreement. He said Guyana has committed to the highest level of safeguards as with every other project.

Guyana has greater influence than any other country its size on climate talks, environment affairs – Norwegian Minister

Guyana Chronicle, 2 April 2011 | Norwegian Minister of the Environment and International Development, Erik Solheim, at a reception at State House Thursday evening, commended Guyana for maintaining a deforestation rate that is even lower than that outlined in the agreement with Norway, according to the rate used by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation for Guyana. “That is very positive,” Minister Solheim stated. Norway has announced the immediate release of US$40M to Guyana for fulfilling the conditions outlined in the Memorandum of Understanding signed between the two countries in November 2009, and for maintaining one of the lowest deforestation rates in the world.

Janette Bulkan is again up to her amateurish rhetoric

By Vivian Li, Guyana Chronicle, 2 April 2011 | It seems Janette Bulkan is up to her usual amateurish rhetoric self to gain ill-gotten publicity from making baseless claims in relation to Guyana’s Low Carbon Development Strategy and other social issues even after being provided publicly with information to clarify her concerns. Her recent outburst, once again, is a ploy to get international recognition. She continues to flaunt her own hidden self-interest as well-meaning civil society analytical work under the guise that she is looking out for the interest of the Guyanese people. I would like to restate, “you can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.” Janette, your charade will come to an end as the Guyanese people are seeing your actions which are not reflective of your words.

Mining remains key driver of deforestation in Guyana

Kaieteur News, 2 April 2011 | New data shows that mining remains the key driver of deforestation here, while Guyana and Norway are rebutting reports of a 300 per cent increase in deforestation last year. The Guyana Forestry Commission recently commissioned a report on deforestation rates in Guyana. It was carried out by New Zealand-based consultants Pöyry Forest Industry. According to a document prepared by the Guyana-Norway partnership, there was a need for new data on deforestation rates in Guyana because when Norway and Guyana entered into their forest-saving deal in November 2009, estimates of deforestation rates in Guyana varied significantly. Most estimates were in the range of 0.1 to 0.4 percent annual deforestation but for a performance based payment scheme to work, it was realized that more precise data on current and historical deforestation rates was needed.

Stricter deforestation limits set in revised Norway deal

By Gaulbert Sutherland, Stabroek News, 2 April 2011 | New terms for Guyana’s forests’ deal with Norway have been agreed, with payments from Oslo to decrease should the deforestation level here increase over last year’s level. “There is room for small fluctuations but if you go above last year’s results then you immediately start to reduce the amount [of money] due to Guyana. At 0.1 [percent of deforestation]… nothing is due to Guyana,” said Per Fredrik Pharo, the Deputy Director of Norway’s Climate and Forest Initiative in an interview with Stabroek News yesterday. Under the terms of a new Joint Concept Note (JCN) released Thursday, the interim reference level for deforestation was revised to 0.27%, a cut of almost forty percent from the previous level of 0.45%. [R-M: subscription needed]

Group which sought delay in LCDS payments is political

By Peter Persaud, Stabroek News, 2 April 2011 | The SN called this grouping a “civil society body,” while the KN referred to the grouping as merely “the group.” Both the independent dailies are wrong; the ‘body’ is a loose grouping and it is not a civil society group, since the group is saddled with opposition politicians and environmentalists with political objectives. Despite the fact that global climate change is occurring and has catastrophic effects, this loose grouping of so-called environmentalists and politicians are hell-bent on sabotaging the genuine partnership between Norway and Guyana. This political grouping under the leadership of Janette Bulkan wants the LCDS to fail, and is working towards this hideous cause for cheap political mileage for the upcoming general elections. This is what Norway needs to know.

3 April 2011

The last stand of the Amazon

By Edward Docx, The Observer, 3 April 2011 | [O]il is one of the main resurgent threats to the region. Since my first visit to Peru in 2003, the amount of land that has been covered by oil and gas concessions has increased fivefold – almost 50% of the entire Peruvian-owned Amazon. This means that the government has effectively sold off half of the rainforest it owns for the specific purpose of oil and gas extraction in return for taxes, bonuses, royalties – 75% is forecast by 2020… Then there’s the ongoing damage caused by illegal logging, and of course the cocaine problem. Besides the loss of the trees themselves, it is the incursions and what follows that have the most impact. (Although it’s important to note that there has been a victory of sorts in Brazil – the mahogany trade, in particular, has been tackled.) … But it’s what the explorer, writer and Amazon expert John Hemming calls “the bloody mess of the dams” that is causing the latest round of acrimony, fear and dispute.

Norway forests deal will continue beyond 2015

Stabroek News, 3 April 2011 | Norway’s forest saving partnership with Guyana will “most certainly” continue after 2015 but exactly how will be worked out at the appropriate time, the Scandinavian’s state Minister of the Environment and International Development Erik Solheim has said. “That of course will be considered at that time, but we all understand that this is not any problem that can be solved in five years’ time. It will take many, many years to establish a growth path which is not destroying the forest so most certainly we will have to continue after 2015 but the discussions have to take [place] at that time,” he told Stabroek News in an interview on Friday.

Norwegian team given aerial tour of Amaila Falls

Guyana Chronicle, 3 April 2011 | A Norwegian team, led by Minister of Environment and International Development Erik Solheim was during a recent visit to Guyana given a fly-over of the Amaila Falls in Region Eight (Potaro/Siparuni) to have a view of the waterfall that is earmarked to be the source of clean energy for Guyana as the country advances along a low-carbon development path. A major portion of the US$70M granted to Guyana through its partnership with Norway for forest and biodiversity services during 2010 and 2011 will be invested in the Amaila Falls hydroelectric plant. The hydropower project is estimated to cost in the vicinity of $450M, which includes $305M for the plant, and approximately $140M for the transmission lines.

Opponents of progress

Guyana Chronicle, 3 April 2011 | It is sad to note that there are elements in the local media and a few organizations that, like the parliamentary opposition parties, seem to get all upset when they learn about the aid and investments being attracted by the government to maintain Guyana on the path of social and economic progress. If it is recognized that the job of the opposition parties is to make politics, including fanning the flame of social divisions, the question is: Why should certain sections of the media be so often misused to misrepresent, or worse, denigrate bold, enlightened initiatives by the government to secure foreign aid and investment for major development projects in Guyana?

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