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.
11 July 2011
By Laura Middleton, Climate Action Programme, 11 July 2011 | A growing focus on mitigating climate change by reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD and REDD+) is prompting the creation of a new form of private property – the ‘carbon right’ – that can be bought and sold in domestic or international markets. But to make REDD+ work for the poor, carbon trading schemes will have to ensure that a wide range of forest-dependent groups and communities benefit. In part, this means carefully assessing how carbon rights are assigned – to ensure they support the rural poor who rarely hold formal land ownership or tenure rights but who are key players in putting sustainable forest management into practice on the ground. It also means rethinking eligibility criteria for REDD+ projects so that they include economic, social and environmental standards and co-benefits.
By Jan Willem den Besten (IUCN), AlertNet, 11 July 2011 | Many remote forest dwellers in these areas manage to emerge from poverty over more than one generation by migrant labouring and educating their children. But the vital support role forests play for families left at home within this strategy tends to be overlooked because it is invisible, and therefore easily threatened. Communities hold important information that needs to be captured and considered when making decisions about key elements of REDD+ programmes, including the rights to tree tenure and building systems to distribute benefits. Using the forests-livelihoods toolkit helps draw out valuable insights that can be introduced to REDD+ policy makers. Decision-making processes informed in this way should lead to the development of REDD+ interventions that support and strengthen the livelihoods of the poor who depend on forests.
12 July 2011
nfpfacility (on youtube), 12 July 2011 | Business risks and opportunities to invest in the forest sector. 17-18 May 2011. Congress Centre Hof van Wageningen, Netherlands.
LIVElihood and SUstainability Research, 12 July 2011 | CartONG (http://cartong.org/) is developing an E-Learning platform on how to conduct a participatory REDD+ process in terms of fieldwork, Carbon modelling, GIS and Remote Sensing applications supporting the process with Open Source Tools. It is envisaged to feature this platform and modules on Planet Action and based on the REDD+ pilot we conducted in Vietnam.
UN-REDD Programme blog, 12 July 2011 | Watch UNEP FI’s latest video, talking to experts on the role of the private sector in REDD+ at the recent launch of their new publication “REDD-y, Set, Grow.”
Rights and Resources, Press Release, 12 July 2011 | New research released today at a high-level forestry conference in Indonesia—opened by Vice President Boediono—suggests that Asia’s largest forest nation is paying a high price for failing to give local communities enforceable rights to contested forests, causing significant economic losses owing to its highly undervalued forestland, and leading it to lose out to regional competitors. “There is ample evidence that communities are reliable managers of natural resources and forests, yet for some reason Indonesia has yet to embrace the concept of local tenure rights with any seriousness,” said Dominic Elson, an independent consultant for Trevaylor Consulting. “Until addressed, it will be hard to make more than token progress on the pressing issues facing the land use sector, such as deforestation, conflict and misguided investments that undermine development.”
By Rhett Butler, mongabay.com, 12 July 2011 | Indonesia will “recognize, respect and protect” the rights of traditional forest users, including indigenous people, as it works to slow deforestation, reports the Rights and Resources Initiative, a coalition of NGOs. Speaking at a forestry conference in Lombok, Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, head of the Indonesian President’s REDD+ Task Force, said the government would immediately work to implement a decade-old law that requires recognition of adat or customary rights. The effort will include developing a land tenure map so government agencies can better understand how communities are using land and delineating the legal status of the Indonesia’s forest area. Only 12 percent of the Indonesia’s forest area has been legally delineated, according to Kuntoro.
IRIN Asia, 12 July 2011 | More and more Asian governments are giving indigenous people greater control over their natural resources and habitat in a bid to stem deforestation, a new report states. Countries such as China, India and Vietnam are making “dramatic” progress, not only in stopping deforestation, but also in expanding their forests, thanks to reforms that include giving more rights to communities and indigenous groups, according to the report by the Washington-based Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI) released on 12 July. “The state remains the predominant actor in the region’s forests, but the trend towards increased and legally recognized local control now emerging is incredibly important,” Andy White, coordinator of RRI, a global coalition of groups advocating forest land tenure and policy reforms, said in a statement accompanying the report.
By Michael Tobias, Forbes, 12 July 2011 | If the dollar amount awarded seems somewhat shy of serious money, it’s important to note that of the total dollar figures in the UN and World Bank-backed REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation), which has global agreements with nearly 30 countries, less than $150 million has been committed thus far (though less than $100 million disbursed), and over 80% of that amount has come from one nation, Norway. But, as Mark Rowe describes in his piece “REDD+ or dead?” the Norwegian Government has also committed US$1 billion on the basis of a two-year Indonesian moratorium on any for-profit timber extraction. The money to help save the planet is there. It’s the mechanisms and agreements that have thus far proved frustratingly elusive.
13 July 2011
By Soumya Karlamangla, AlertNet, 13 July 2011 | Indonesia’s government made some big promises Tuesday: to resolve land tenure conflicts that plague the country while also protecting the rights of people in forest-based communities. Both of these steps could help pave the way for the country to achieve its goals of limiting deforestation and adapting to climate change, said Konturo Mangkusubroto, head of the Indonesian President’s special delivery unit, at a global forestry conference this week. To applause from policy-makers and researchers in the audience, he said that Indonesia’s president supports protecting the land of indigenous communities and that “this is our chance to untangle our convoluted past and make a lasting difference.”
mongabay.com, 13 July 2011 | Researchers have launched a new tool to help policy-makers, NGOs, and landowners evaluate the potential benefits and costs of Indonesia’s reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD+) program at provincial and district levels. The REDD calculator, developed by Lian Pin Koh of ETH Zurich, Holly K. Gibbs of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Peter Potapov and Matthew Hansen of South Dakota State University, generates emissions reductions estimates and associated opportunity costs for different REDD+ implementation scenarios, including Indonesia’s two-year moratorium on new logging concessions in primary forest and peatland areas. “The tool basically allows anyone to explore how an indicative forest map might look under various scenarios,” Koh told mongabay.com via email. “It also calculates the carbon and opportunity cost implications.”
Uni-Bros, 13 July 2011 | Hanoi-based Vietnam Carbon Exchange Limited (VCE) and its partner Australian Voluntary Credits Limited (VCL) told VIR they completed a site survey and were implementing project document design, for a carbon-absorbing Reduced Emission from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) project in Bach Ma National Park in central Thua Thien-Hue and Quang Nam provinces. VCE said it was also conducting site surveys for its other two REDD projects at Xuan Son and Ba Be national parks based in northern Phu Tho and Bac Kan provinces, respectively. The three new projects, which are expected to be the first REDD projects in Vietnam to be implemented by a local private company, came after VCE and VCL successfully implemented the first REDD project in northern Tam Dao National Park.
14 July 2011
DG Environment News Alert Service, 14 July 2011 | Under international pressure to reduce emissions from agriculture and land use, some UNFCCC non-Annex I countries, such as China, Vietnam and Costa Rica, have significantly increased their proportion of forested areas. However, recent research suggests that more than 50 per cent of the reduction in CO2 emissions in the last five years attributable to reforestation is cancelled out by the increase in overseas trade needed to meet the continuing demand for forestry products. This ‟loophole„ is being called „Emission Embodied in Trade‟ (EET) and means that national GHG inventories may only account for use of forest resources in their own country but that the carbon „footprint‟ of some products consumed is much higher, since the responsibility for production is shifted elsewhere. This is the only way that developing countries can meet strict UN REDD+ standards for emission reductions through reforestation, according to the researchers.
Climate Connect, 14 July 2011 | The number of member nations in the UN REDD programme has now reached 35. The programme’s policy board approved addition of Ivory Coast, Pakistan, Honduras, Ethiopia, Peru and Mongolia.
Ecosystem Marketplace, 14 July 2011 | Is cap-and-trade a rose which by any other name would smell as sweet? Australia will be finding out shortly. A carbon tax is in the process of being unveiled down under against the country’s top 500 emitters, with an initial fixed price of A$23 per tonne that by 2015 ceases being a tax when the price will be allowed to float and voila, there’s your emissions trading scheme… Indonesia’s moratorium on clearing primary forests in concession areas drew more fire last week as the area of forests protected by the regulation appears to be shrinking even as the forest boundaries already mapped for protection continue to show indications of moratorium violations from inspection of satellite data.
Verified Carbon Standard, 14 July 2011 | New methodology developed by Brazil’s Sustainable Amazonas Foundation & World Bank’s BioCarbon Fund. An important new methodology to quantify the greenhouse gas benefits of activities that reduce unplanned deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) has been approved for use under the VCS Program. Developed by Brazil’s Amazonas Sustainable Foundation (FAS) and the World Bank’s BioCarbon Fund, the new methodology can be used to estimate the greenhouse gas emissions from areas where unplanned deforestation is taking place and to quantify the emission reductions that occur when deforestation is curbed.
By Rhett Butler, mongabay.com, 14 July 2011 | Between 1990 and 2007 global forests absorbed nearly one-sixth of all carbon released by fossil fuel emissions, reports a new study published in Science. The results suggest forests play an even bigger role in fighting climate change than previously believed. The research, conducted by an international team using field data and statistical models across 95 percent of global forests, estimates that forests absorbed a net of 1.1 billion tons of carbon per year from 1990-2007. Forests’ total carbon uptake of 2.4 billion tons per year was offset by deforestation, which released an average of 2.9 billion tons of carbon, but augmented by forest regrowth, which sucked up 1.6 billion tons. Global emissions from fossil fuels averaged 6.9 billion tons per year between 1990-2007, reaching 8.5 billion tons in 2007, according to the Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center.
NCN, 14 July 2011 | Reforming forest tenure systems and securing forest ownership rights can significantly improve peoples’ livelihoods and enable them to gain income from forest products says a new United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) report . The FAO’s chief policy officer Eva Muller says the continuing demand for land, weak governance and emerging global challenges such as climate change increase the urgency of addressing forest ownership reform. The guide was launched at the ongoing forest tenure, governance and enterprise conference currently taking place in Indonesia. In recent years, FAO has carried out extensive assessments of forest tenure systems in Africa, Southeast Asia, Latin America and Central Asia and its impact on sustainable forest management and poverty reduction. Based on these analyses, the guide offers practical guidance for policy makers involved in forest tenure reforms.
Survival International, 14 July 2011 | A small group of Borneo hunter-gatherers have scored a major victory over a giant oil palm firm that was targeting their rainforest. Survival revealed last month that the Malaysian firm Shin Yang was clearing forest and planting oil palm in an area where members of the Penan tribe were due to be resettled, to make way for the Murum dam. Now the company has announced that it has halted work in the area ‘pending verification from the authorities’ that the land has been designated for the Penan.
Guyana Chronicle, 14 July 2011 | Engineer attached to the Ministry of Works and Communications, Walter Willis, gave a positive update on the progress of the Amaila road project that Synergy Holdings Inc is undertaking to make way for the commencement of the hydro facility’s construction. Speaking to the newspaper recently, Willis said that government is trying to find sub-contractors for the bridges. Further, he said the main contractor purchased more heavy equipment and machinery with a view to continuing the road compacting work. According to Willis, the contractor is presently working to clear section 7 of the road in order to have four-wheel drive access by the end of this month.
15 July 2011
By Unna Chokkalingam and S. Anuradha Vanniarachchy, Forest Carbon Asia, 15 July 2011 | Most commercial REDD+ projects are applying for ecosystem restoration licenses for 60 years plus an additional 35 year extension period given the clear legal framework. “However, registering such a concession is a complex process involving multiple endorsements from different levels of government,” says Mr. Frank Momberg, Development Director of the NGO Fauna and Flora International‘s (FFI) Asia-Pacific Programme. FFI has been working with the private sector to develop forest carbon projects in Indonesia. “It can take two years or more. So far no forest carbon projects have obtained tenure and at least five projects are waiting for approval by the Ministry of Forestry. Once tenure is obtained, they then have to apply for a carbon trading license which could again take a substantial amount of time. All in all the formal and informal costs in this process are very high.”
By Joanna M. Foster, New York Times, 15 July 2011 | The world’s forests are magnificent palaces of biodiversity, teeming with wacky and wonderful creatures and plants that seem otherworldly. But they’re also something far more mundane although useful: they’re giant sponges, soaking up vast amounts of carbon dioxide. According to a study published online on Thursday by the journal Science, the world’s forests absorb 2.4 billion tons of carbon dioxide each year, or about one-third of the carbon dioxide released through the burning of fossil fuels. The lead author, Yude Pam, a research forester at the Forest Service, describes the study as the most comprehensive analysis of the global carbon budget to date. It shows that forests are a far more significant carbon sink than previously thought. At the same time, the report emphasizes the devastating effects of tropical deforestation and the need to protect trees that perform an enormous global service.
World Bulletin, 15 July 2011 | The world’s forests can play an even greater role in fighting climate change than previously thought, scientists say in the most comprehensive study yet on how much carbon dioxide forests absorb from the air. The study may also boost a U.N.-backed programme that aims to create a global market in carbon credits from projects that protect tropical forests. If these forests are locking away more carbon than thought, such projects could become more valuable. Trees need large amounts of planet-warming carbon dioxide (CO2) to grow, locking away the carbon in the trunks and roots. But scientists have struggled to figure out exactly how much CO2 forests soak up in different parts of the world and a global total for how much is released when forests are cut down and burned.
By Sounya Karlamangla, AlertNet, 15 July 2011 | The process of creating “carbon rights” – ownership of carbon stored in tropical forests – risks excluding the poor and landless who depend on forests if it is not done properly, a new briefing warns. “We’ve got this very narrow definition of carbon rights,” said Essam Mohammed, a co-author of the paper by the International Institute for Environment and Development, and a sustainable markets researcher at the institute. “It’s very timely now, I think, to recognize the importance of this, of having a better look at carbon rights and having more focus on a pro-poor nature of the scheme.”
By Zoe Ryan, Flora and Fauna International, 15 July 2011 | Understandably, I was feeling a little anxious upon commencement of field verification of the Danau Siawan peat swamp forest REDD project. This is Fauna & Flora International’s (FFI) first project to undergo verification to the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS), and also the first verification under FFI’s partnership with Macquarie/BioCarbon. The stakes are higher than Rupert Murdoch’s legal bills: If we pass the audit, we will be able to sell our carbon in the voluntary carbon market, which will finance our conservation activities on the site. If we fail the audit, well…. the project will likely fail, and this high biodiversity site will almost certainly be converted to an oil palm plantation. A critical orang-utan habitat will be lost, and millions of tons of greenhouse gases will be emitted to the atmosphere. In short, it’s a very important step in our project, and myself and the field team feel on-edge and eager to impress.
16 July 2011
Forestry Research Associates press release, 16 July 2011 | Australia’s Macquarie Group has announced that it has raised A$25 million for its range of new forest carbon projects in developing countries, which it is undertaking with the World Bank and Global Forest Partners LP. Forestry Research Associates (FRA), a research and advisory consultancy, has welcomed the news of the new carbon projects as another major move towards helping reduce deforestation in the world’s poorer nations.