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.
International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development, July 2011 | Forests provide vital resources to humanity, both directly in the form of timber and non-timber products and indirectly in the form of ecosystem services, such as biodiversity, carbon storage, and soil and watershed management. But pressure on forests has increased dramatically in recent decades, due not only to timber harvesting but, increasingly, to land conversion for producing food, feed, and biofuel for a growing global population. Trade is a driving force behind the forest sector, but unless the right laws and policies are in place – and effectively enforced – the sustainable potential imbued in the world’s forests will never be realised. This issue of BioRes Review explores some of the issues underlying trade and sustainable development in the forest sector. It addresses global policy issues at a general level, and focuses on the palm oil industry as a special case.
By Hans Brattskar (NICFI), International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development, July 2011 | As the Indonesian governments REDD+ strategy makes clear, with sufficient political control and satisfactory land-use planning, forest-based industries such as palm oil and pulp-and-paper may continue to contribute to economic growth, without destruction of natural forests and peat lands. According to some estimates, Indonesia may have as much as 35 million hectares of degraded land, and has offered to allocate the expansion of plantations and other economic activities to already-degraded or low-carbon areas. This proposition raises new challenges in the form of the need to sort out land use rights in these areas – so there are no simple solutions – but they can be handled as part of a more comprehensive, less carbon-intensive approach to land use, tenure and spatial planning.
Saskia Ozinga (FERN), International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development, July 2011 | The need to keep forests standing has never been more urgent than it is now. However, as FLEGT advances, so do national plans to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD). Despite the lack of an international framework to define REDD, Northern governments are committing money to the process and international institutions such as the World Bank are pushing through national-level REDD plans. A recent study by FERN, an NGO working on forest and sustainability issues, and Forest Peoples Programme (FPP) -”Smoke and Mirrors” – shows that these REDD activities are not likely to lead to improved forest governance as they are not based on truly participatory stakeholder processes, re-affirm state ownership of land, strengthen international NGOs over local NGOs, and focus on counting carbon rather than on addressing the underlying causes of deforestation.
FERN, July 2011 | This special report outlines the main topic of discussions at the climate talks and concludes that the debate on reduced emissions from deforestation and degradation is increasingly refocusing from measuring ‘emissions’ to measuring forests and deforestation.
Indian Law Resource Center, no date | The Draft Guidelines on Stakeholder Engagement in REDD+ Readiness with a Focus on the Participation of Indigenous Peoples and Other Forest-Dependent Communities (the Guidelines) prepared by the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) and the UN-REDD Programme (UN-REDD), was produced to give the public sector a tool for engaging stakeholders in REDD+ readiness, with an emphasis on the participation of indigenous peoples and forest-dependent communities. On June 6, 2011, the Guidelines became public and open for comments until July 1st. This paper offers comments and recommendations on the Guidelines from a legal perspective addressing indigenous peoples’ particular human rights concerns.
18 July 2011
By James Maiden, CIFOR Forests Blog, 18 July 2011 | High income households are responsible for 30 percent more deforestation than low income households, according to preliminary results from the Poverty and Environment Network’s (PEN) global study, suggesting that it is wealth, not poverty that is driving higher rates of land clearing. The PEN study found that though each household clears an average of 1.3 hectares of forest annually, there is a strong tendency of higher forest clearing in the richer areas. Deforestation rates were found to be considerably larger in Latin America, which boasts some of the richest households surveyed.
By Duncan Macqueen, IIED, 18 July 2011 | Commercial forest rights that create incentives for Malawians to plant trees on farm for food and fuel are essential for REDD+ and climate change adaptation. Last month (23–24 June), I attended a meeting in Bunda College, Malawi to discuss the latest satellite maps of forest cover loss and biomass in Malawi. The title – “MRV in woodland nations 2011” – may have sounded somewhat academic for technophobes like myself, but the research findings presented were anything but. The latest work on monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) shows that Malawi is in deep environmental trouble. Maps of the net primary biomass production appropriated by humans indicate figures exceeding 100 per cent for much of South-West Malawi. In other words, Malawi’s biomass is starting to go into the red – demand is exceeding supply.
By Elizabeth Rust, Eurasia Review, 18 July 2011 | A string of recent events indicates that Amazonian deforestation and violence against environmental activists are on the rise. The Brazilian Congress’s lower house approves a bill that weakens protection of the rainforest – which may explain the drastic increase in deforestation, as land clearers anticipate amnesty for their crimes. Given Brazil’s historical disregard for the Amazon rainforest’s global importance, and the legislature’s evident lack of commitment to resolving the issue, a strong and long-term executive response is urgently needed.
mongabay.com, 18 July 2011 | Researchers have devised a model to anticipate drought and forest fires in the Amazon rainforest. The research, which used precipitation records dating back to 1970 and hotspots tracked by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA satellites, finds a strong correlation between sea surface temperatures in the tropical North Atlantic and subsequent drought in the western Amazon. Drought in the Amazon is increasingly associated with forest fires due to land-clearing fires set by agricultural developers and cattle ranchers.
By Bong Pedalino, 18 July 2011 | A ranking official of Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), a German government organization, sent an email to Philippine Information Agency (PIA)-8 last week and explained in detail the REDD-Plus program. “Under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC), reducing the emission and removal of greenhouse gases (GHGs) is a mitigation measure. One such approach to carry this is Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD),” said Bernardo Agawin, Jr., Senior Adviser, DENR-GIZ Climate-Relevant Forest Policy and Piloting of REDD Measures Project… Agawin was reacting to a July 7 feature article posted at the PIA-8 website, in which he corrected the REDD+++ stated in the report, saying it should only be REDD+, or one plus only. But the writer simply copied from a prepared program during the July 4 NGP provincial summit, in which three plusses were shown.
Jakarta Post, 18 July 2011 | The Forestry Ministry will dispatch 5,000 Muslim clerics in its latest move to campaign against deforestation, citing widespread cases of illegal logging by local communities. “Our forests don’t go up in flames on their own, but are intentionally burned because there is a tradition of burning the land after the harvest and before planting, which now also affects forest areas,” Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan said Sunday in Yogyakarta. He was speaking during the national working meeting of the propagation assembly of the central executive board of Indonesia’s second-largest Muslim organization, Muhammadiyah. Zulfikli called on Muslim scholars to support the campaign against forest burning, as well as to promote forest preservation and reforestation efforts. The 5,000 clerics are being recruited from a number of Muslim organizations. They will be trained and will receive a pay of Rp 2 million (US$234) per month.
By Wahjudi Wardojo and Greg Fishbein, Jakarta Post, 18 July 2011 | In September 2009, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono committed Indonesia to a 26 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, and up to a 41 percent reduction with international assistance, while growing the economy at 7 percent per year at the same time. As emissions from forests and peatland forests account for more than 60 percent of Indonesia’s overall emissions, the concept of Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+) is gaining traction as a critical effort to meet these goals.
Survival International, 18 July 2011 | Peru’s Indian Affairs Department has revealed plans to open up uncontacted tribes’ reserves to oil companies – just days before the country’s new government takes office. New laws would allow the state to grant oil and gas companies open access to the reserves, despite the extreme risk this would pose to the Indians’ lives. The proposal has generated a wave of criticism from indigenous organizations. Around 15 tribes have chosen to resist contact in the Peruvian Amazon; all face extinction if their lands are opened up. Critics have highlighted the timely coincidence of the proposal with plans to expand the massive Camisea gas fields in south-east Peru.
Climate Connect, 18 July 2011 | India’s first multi-million public afforestation scheme in Himachal Pradesh was registered for carbon trading scheme under the UNFCCC, Chief Project Director R.K. Kapoor informed Climate Connect. Mid-Himalayan Watershed Development Project worth $75.6 million aims to sequester 828,016 tons of CO2eq by 2026. Under the carbon trading scheme, 5,000 families settled in villages would receive carbon revenue for the next 20 years from the World Bank for providing green cover to 4,000 hectares of barren land in 10 districts of state.
By Eli Greenblat, The Age, 18 July 2011 | A company that specialises in forestry carbon credit projects in Asia, the Pacific Islands and Australia has collapsed. First Growth Funds which describes itself as an Australian investment company and listed on the Australian Stock Exchange since December 1986, was placed in administration by its secured lender Noble Investments Superannuation Fund last night. The company’s board includes Peter Mullins, a former chief executive of Greenpeace Australia Pacific. First Growth Funds’ website also says that Mr Mullins is a former Australian diplomat, with a “strong personal commitment to saving the tropical forests of Asia and the Pacific while, at the same time, securing effective development opportunities for local communities living in these forests.”
19 July 2011
carbonpositive.net, 19 July 2011 | The EU carbon market in recent weeks has registered some of its lowest prices in two years as the related issues of sovereign debt problems, slow recovery from recession and climate policy uncertainty combine to sap demand for EUA emissions permits while the flow CER offsets rises on the supply side. On Monday July 18, the benchmark EU carbon price, EUA futures for December 11 delivery, closed at €12.22 on the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE). The price for Dec 2013 EUAs, the first year of the third phase of the EU ETS, closed at €13.73. UN-backed carbon offsets have suffered in similar fashion, benchmark Dec 11 CERs slumping to just €9.90, below the cost of creating such offsets in many cases. Prices in this period have been more volatile than the general ups and downs the market sees under the day-to-day influence of energy prices. Dec 11 EUAs fell 17 per cent in the third week of June alone.
By John Roach, msnbc.com, 19 July 2011 | In a twist, a new study suggests that regularly logging forests can quadruple the amount of carbon dioxide soaked up from the atmosphere. The trick is to use the harvested wood in place of steel and concrete during the construction of new homes and buildings and replant the forest with fast-growing, carbon-soaking trees. “When you think about how you reduce your carbon footprint, you have to look at the whole system,” Elaine Oneil, a research scientist in the School of Forest Resources at the University of Washington, told me today.
Milyoni press release, 19 July 2011 | Milyoni, the leader in F-commerce, and Wildlife Works, today announced the launch of a new retail model that uses the power of Facebook® to enable consumers to offset their travel, home use and personal lifestyle events that contribute to global warming. The Milyoni-powered Wildlife Works Facebook store-front allows consumers to easily offset their carbon footprints as well as purchase carbon neutral apparel without leaving the 750 million-strong social network. Wildlife Works, the world’s leading REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) project development and management company, is the only destination on Facebook currently available for consumers to purchase carbon credits that protect threatened forests, endangered wildlife and help uplift impoverished communities at the same time.
Global Environment Facility, 19 July 2011 | The GEF Incentive Mechanism for Forests moves into a new phase with the first four projects, recently approved by the Council, that access the incentive funds available for SFM/REDD-plus projects. The projects in Azerbaijan, Belarus, Jamaica and Turkey use a range of locally appropriate approaches to achieve multiple global benefits in biodiversity, climate change and land degradation. By supporting a mix of policy revision and improved field-based management, together with piloting innovative ways to involve local communities and encourage uptake of sustainable management techniques, these projects will protect and maintain forests important for their biodiversity, ecosystem services and the livelihoods of local people.
By Angela Dewan, CIFOR Forests Blog, 19 July 2011 | “Indonesia needs to ensure the same issues aren’t covered by different sources of funding, and it’s the government’s domain to allocate the money to the right places,” said Bonie Dewantara of the Wildlife Conservation Society on Tuesday at a meeting between multilateral development banks, Forestry Ministry officials and civil society representatives… Adam Tomasek, who leads WWF’s Heart of Borneo team, said that overlapping of REDD+ readiness funds was a valid concern. “The REDD+ readiness funds that were pledged by world leaders in the 2009 Copenhagen summit are difficult to track. We have a global program, specifically looking at forests and financing. It’s extremely difficult to understand what is pledged and how much has reached the accounts,” Tomasek said.
By Leony Aurora, CIFOR Forests Blog, 19 July 2011 | Central Kalimantan government expects to complete a provincial strategy on Reducing Emission from Deforestation and forest Degradation, or REDD+ in two months, which may include a type of smallholder projects at the village level, said Alue Dohong, who heads the taskforce that is drafting the document. Owners of land as small as 2 hectares may be able to propose their area as a REDD+ project, Dohong said at a journalist workshop held by the Center for International Forestry Research in Palangka Raya, Central Kalimantan province on Borneo island, on 15-18 July 2011. “The model will bundle the smallholders in one village or several villages” into one project, he said.
Jakarta Post, 19 July 2011 | The government says it is finalizing a draft of a presidential regulation on a national action plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 26 percent by 2020. National Development Planning Minister Armida Alisjahbana said on Monday in Jakarta that she expected the regulation would soon be issued and that regional action plans would soon be drafted. “The deputy for natural resources and the environment is meeting right now with Cabinet Secretary [Dipo Alam] to finalize the presidential regulation. Next we hope there will be action plans for the regions,” Armida said during a working meeting with the House of Representatives’ Commission XI overseeing national development. Indonesia pledged in 2009 to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 26 percent by 2020, or by as much as 41 percent, with international funding. The National Development Planning Ministry submitted a draft regulation on the action plan to the Cabinet Secretary office late last year.
20 July 2011
By Arild Angelsen, CIFOR Forests Blog, 20 July 2011 | Most REDD+ cost estimates – including those of the Stern Review – focus on opportunity costs, which refers to the forgone profit from the best alternative land use, i.e. the lost benefits from not conserving forestland… So, what does REDD+ cost? The boring answer is ‘it depends’, but we are getting better evidence on what it depends on by articles such as the one by Fisher and coauthors. First, it depends on whose costs we look at: the society at large, the government, the local forest users, or commodity traders. Second, it depends a lot on what mix of policy instruments is chosen to implement REDD+. While REDD+ still can make a large contribution to the overall climate mitigation, we agree with the authors that it might not be as cheap as many thought just a few years ago.
GreenWorld press release, 20 July 2011 | GreenWorld BVI’s carbon credit investment focuses on a 50,000 hectare project in the West African nation of Sierra Leone, and is directly connected to the Gola rainforest (www.golarainforest.org), an internationally recognized area of bio-diversity and the largest lowland closed canopy rainforest remaining in Sierra Leone. The minimum investment in the project is £1,250 (or about $2,000 and 1,400 Euros). The investor actually owns the underlying plot of rainforest under a broad 45 year lease that has been taken out on the entire 50,000 hectare plot. The investment is a complete solution, as GreenWorld and its partners will arrange all of the steps necessary for the investor to have their carbon credits certified under the REDD standard propagated by the United Nations. There is a full money back guarantee should the certification for the credits not be granted.
Point Carbon, 20 July 2011 | A growing number of participants look set to leave the carbon market amid a lack of demand for EU allowances and uncertainty about the future of the U.N.-backed offset market. [R-M: Subscription needed.]
By Emma Diab, MediaGlobal, 20 July 2011 | In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, fuel wood represents 91.5 percent of energy consumption. That, along with agriculture, is the biggest cause of deforestation and forest degradation in the DRC. Currently, the United Nations Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (UN-REDD) is taking an active role in providing cook stoves as a way of promoting sustainability. A UN-REDD initiative is underway to bring cook stoves to 3 million DRC households. Meanwhile, the Global Alliance for Clean Cook Stoves, introduced by Hilary Clinton and led in part by the United Nations Foundation in September 2010, aims to have 100 million homes adopt clean cook stoves by 2020.
21 July 2011
By Amantha Perera, IPS, 21 July 2011 | After years of trying to manage vast stretches of forest the Indonesian government is now keen on replicating the successes at Sesaot and Kekait elsewhere. At the conclusion of the international forestry conference in Lombok, last week, the Indonesian government said it was willing to consider local community participation in forest management. “The policies we have now are not effective in solving the tenure problem, but at least we are committed to doing much better,” Pak Hadi Pasaribu, a high-level official with the ministry of forests, said… “With no clear tenure rights in 70 percent of Indonesia’s forests, the country is not producing value beyond export revenue and it is not meeting its food security and climate change goals,” said Andy White, coordinator for Rights and Resources Initiative, an international forestry research body.
mongabay.com, 21 July 2011 | Indigenous communities working to protect the Amazon rainforest got a boost last week with the launch of a “biocultural conservation corridor” initiative in two regions of Brazil. The initiative, coordinated by the Amazon Conservation Team (ACT) and partially funded by the Skoll Foundation, which contributed $1.6 million, aims to prevent deforestation across 46 million ha (114 million acres) in the northeastern and southwestern sections of Brazilian Amazon. The initiative will “strengthen the capacity of the indigenous communities and government agencies to monitor, manage and protect the indigenous reserves and adjacent areas while creating positive conditions for long-term financing of forest protection,” according to a statement from the Skoll Foundation.
By Sharada Adhikari, The Himalayan, 21 July 2011 | Sita KC with a team of field researchers and community forest users group of Dolakha has hiked through dense forests in Dolakha. Guided by the team of forest rangers and other experts, KC and representatives of different community forests in Dolakha have spent days in Charnawati Watershed area spread over 5,996 hectares of forest land to determine how much carbon is stored there. “Charnawati sequestered a total of almost 4.6 million tons of carbon dioxide in 2011,” said KC proudly. The watershed area was paid $45,535 for playing an important role in forest conservation .
22 July 2011
IUCN, 22 July 2011 | IUCN and The Forests Dialogue (TFD) organised three large stakeholder dialogues on REDD+ readiness over the course of 2010. The meetings brought together over 160 forest leaders ranging from community organisations and NGOs to private sector actors and government policymakers. The discussions focused on challenges and opportunities in countries that are building REDD+ national strategies as part of the readiness phase.
fordaq.com, 22 July 2011 | California-based Scientific Certification Systems (SCS) announced that they will be setting up an office in Jakarta in direct response to an increasing demand for verification and certification services from the Indonesian timber industry.
Climate Connect, 22 July 2011 | Two more REDD projects to be launched in Vietnam after the successful completion of examination phase of a REDD project in the National Park Bach Ma, Vietnam. The projects are being implemented by, Vietnam Carbon Exchange Limited (VEC) and its partner Voluntary Credits Limited (VCL-Australia). The ongoing project’s implementation started in 2009, covering 32,000 hectares of natural forests located in three provinces of Vietnam. Over 30 years, the project will create 15,500 tons of biomass, which will absorb 360,000 tons of CO2. Another similar project is underway in the Tam Dao National Park, also funded by VEC and VCL. It is expected that it will help create 50,000 to 60,000 tons of biomass and absorb 40,000 to 50,000 tons of CO2 each year, which corresponds to 1.2 to 1.5 million tons of CO2 over 30 years.
23 July 2011
By Terry Sunderland, CIFOR Forests Blog, 23 July 2011 | At the recent Poverty and Environment Network (PEN) Conference in London, “Counting on the Environment”, some interesting results related to the gender differentiation of roles related to rural livelihoods were presented. Aggregating global data from 36 long-term studies of forest proximate communities in 25 countries, representing more than 8,000 households, it was possible to determine just who does what in contributing to the family’s well-being and what value forest products represent in the livelihood strategies of local people.
By Colin Filer (ANU), East Asia Forum, 23 July 2011 | Conrad’s power to unite the logging industry, environmental groups, and numerous politicians and public servants in opposition to his own designs is partly based on his previous record of business dealings in PNG. This is now supplemented by a strong suspicion that he will find some way to turn REDD into a scam which benefits himself and his close associates. But he does not have many close associates among the people with vested interests in the conservation, management or exploitation of the national forest estate. Now that his principal patron, Sir Michael Somare, has departed the political scene, there is a big question mark hanging over Conrad’s ability to control the REDD-plus policy process, or even to ensure that McKinsey and Company’s bills get paid by the Finance Department.
By Patrick Bodenham and Ben Cubby, Sydney Morning Herald, 23 July 2011 | A new kind of businessman has now arrived in the jungle. The Australian property developer is not seeking rubber or gold, but the carbon dioxide locked up in millions of hectares of lush Amazon rainforest east of Iquitos… “This could be some kind of anthropology project – tribal people in the modern world,” [ ] told the Herald. ”I’ll get a good model set up and really pump the training into them. Not just pump it into them, but put them under contract and loan them the money to go to university.” … Daniel Manquid Jimenez, the leader of the Estiron community of about 130 people … said of : “I have never had this kind of friend … He has come from so far away looking to benefit from us. He wants our forest; our only riches.”
24 July 2011
By Valerie Volcovici, Point Carbon, 24 July 2011 | As U.N. talks keep failing to agree how to raise money to protect forests, private investors are testing a trade in credits to slow the deforestation that emits as much carbon as all the world’s cars, ships, trucks and planes. French bank BNP Paribas is one of a handful of financial institutions and investment funds entering the risky but potentially lucrative market for REDD “credits” – units representing one tonne of carbon dioxide not emitted because a forest was left standing. Last September, BNP’s commodities derivatives arm provided $50 million to Wildlife Works, a conservation project developer designing a portfolio of projects to reduce deforestation and degradation (REDD) in Africa. In that deal, BNP also acquired the rights to buy up to 1.25 million carbon credits over the next five years from Wildlife Works’ flagship project in Kenya’s Kasigau corridor.
UPDATE – 10 August 2011 This morning, REDD-Monitor received an email from its web hosting provider, bluehost.com, stating that they had received a “report of Terms of Service Violations”. Bluehost demanded that all images and references to the name of a certain “carbon cowboy”, who was recently reported to be operating in Peru, be removed from the website.
This seems to be a serious infringement on the right to freedom of expression. REDD-Monitor is currently discussing this issue with Bluehost.