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REDD in the news: 19-25 December 2011

REDD in the news: 19-25 December 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.

IDLO publishes reports on legal preparedness for REDD+ in Mexico, Vietnam and Zambia

IDLO, no date | To advance legal knowledge and action for REDD+ development and climate change mitigation, IDLO, in collaboration with the UN-REDD Programme and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), prepared country studies on Legal Preparedness for REDD+. The first three Country Reports on Mexico, Vietnam and Zambia distill and share legal innovations and challenges for REDD+ nationally and internationally. REDD+ is a climate finance mechanism, agreed in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) 16th Conference of the Parties (COP17) in Cancun, Mexico, for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation. It seeks to foster conservation, sustainable management of forests, and enhancement of forest carbon stocks, while respecting indigenous and forest dwellers rights, providing for fair distribution of benefits, and other safeguards.

Modalities and Guidelines for REDD+ Reference Levels

By Michael Lesnick, Meridian Institute, December 2011 | In anticipation of the 17th annual UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP17) in Durban, South Africa, the Government of Norway commissioned Meridian Institute to undertake an options assessment effort focusing on modalities for REDD+ Reference Levels. This project follows on two previous Norway-sponsored options assessment activities (REDD-OAR and REDD+ IOA).

Participatory Forest Carbon Assessment and REDD+: Learning from Tanzania

By Kusaga Mukama, Irmeli Mustalahti, and Eliakimu Zahabu, Hindawi, December 2011 | Report on rewarding local communities for Participatory Forest Management (PFM) in Tanzania’s REDD+ experiences. Research initiatives and practical experiences have demonstrated that forest-related data collected by local communities can play an essential role in the development of national REDD+ programs and its’ measurement, reporting, verification (MRV) systems. In Tanzania, the national REDD+ Strategy aims to reward local communities participating in forest management under Participatory Forest Management (PFM). Accessing carbon finances requires among other things, accurate measurements of carbon stock changes through conventional forest inventories, something which is rarely done in PFM forests due to its high cost and limited resources. The main objective of this paper is to discuss experiences of Participatory Forest Carbon Assessment (PFCA) in Tanzania.

Giving REDD+ Heart: Integrating REDD+ with Broader Development Goals through Cross-sectoral Dialogue is a Key to Bringing it to Life

The Forests Dialogue, December 2011 | This report draws on The Forests Dialogue’s REDD+ readiness dialogue series, which took place in six countries — Brazil, Ghana, Guatemala, Ecuador, Cambodia and Switzerland — between October 2009 and March 2011. The series involved 240 key stakeholders from more than 30 countries representing governments, businesses, communities, non-governmental organizations, resource owners and managers and academia.

19 December 2011

Is the Russian Forest Code a warning for Brazil?

By Jeremy Hance,, 19 December 2011 | Brazil, which last week moved to reform its Forest Code, may find lessons in Russia’s revision of its forest law in 2007, say a pair of Russian scientists. The Brazilian Senate last week passed a bill that would relax some of forest provisions imposed on landowners. Environmentalists blasted the move, arguing that the new Forest Code — provided it is not vetoed by Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff next year — could undermine the country’s progress in reducing deforestation. Based on Russia’s recent experience, scientists Victor Gorshkov and Anastassia Makarieva say there may be justification for the concern. Although one deals with tropical rainforests and the other boreal forests, both nations manage some of the largest forest areas in the world, and one has implemented large-scale changes— Russia— while the other— Brazil— is on the verge of doing so.

Guyana forest carbon plan struggle to get off paper

By Brian Ellsworth, Reuters, 19 December 2011 | After decades of depending on bauxite, timber and gold for revenue, Guyana proposed five years ago that wealthy foreigners pay it to protect its tropical South American rainforests. The idea was hailed as an innovative way to spur economic development while helping prevent destruction of rainforests like the Iwokrama reserve – home to thousands of species of trees, a broad array of orchids and wildlife from caimans to rare tropical birds. The initiative even led the U.N. Environment Program to dub former president Bharrat Jagdeo “Champion of the Earth.” But today, Guyana is still struggling to get the projects off the ground.

[Indonesia] Running Out of Time, Again

Agus Purnomo & Yani Saloh, Jakarta Globe, 19 December 2011 | As for Indonesia, the $1 billion the country is receiving as part of a deal with Norway to reduce emissions from deforestation is nothing compared with the revenue that Indonesia could earn from forestry, mining and agriculture in forested areas. What Indonesia sacrifices is an example of following through on a moral obligation. In the global arena, Indonesia’s forests play an important role in a climate change solution. Indonesia has the opportunity to cut down its forests, to convert the land into food-producing farms to feed global demand — or to implement REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) schemes as a way to achieve productivity without cutting down the trees. But if recent history is any guide, money doesn’t, as they say, grow on trees. The province of Aceh has had a moratorium on logging for more than four years, but has still received no REDD money to compensate for its efforts.

20 December 2011

Climate change killing trees across the Sahel, says study

By Busani Bafana, The Guardian, 20 December 2011 | Trees throughout Africa’s Sahel region — vital to peoples’ livelihoods — are dying as a result of long-term drought linked to climate change, according to a study. It found that one in six trees in the region has died since the 1950s, whilst a fifth of species has disappeared locally, because of rising temperatures and lower rainfall linked to climate change. At some sites, average temperatures rose by 0.8 degrees Celsius and rainfall decreased by 48 per cent. Trees have shifted southward towards wetter areas. This shift in the vegetation zones could have a severe impact on the lives of the Sahel’s population warned Patrick Gonzalez, a climate change scientist from the University of California, Berkeley, in the United States, and lead author of the study, published online in the Journal of Arid Environments last week.

Durban’s Indaba Delivers a Deal that Might Just Work

Sustainable Business Forum, 20 December 2011 | What did Durban do for REDD+? COP17 adopted rules that open the door for a market mechanism that could allow private investors to finance projects that stop deforestation. This move could see billions of private sector dollars invested in forestry in poor countries. While the text was light on detail, it was the first time that market mechanisms and REDD have been mentioned in the same sentence. It recognises the transformative role that markets can play in driving REDD plus activity around the world, and bodes well for the Voluntary Carbon Market’s pioneering work in this area.

EcoSecurities co-founder launches Brazilian environmental exchange

By Mark Nicholls, Environmental Finance, 20 December 2011 | Carbon markets pioneer Pedro Moura Costa is helping to set up a government-backed environmental exchange in Brazil to host markets in carbon, recycling, water quality and forestry credits. His company, E2 Sócio Ambiental, is working with the city and state governments in Rio de Janeiro to set up the Bolsa Verde do Rio de Janeiro (BVRio), which Moura Costa told Environmental Finance would be open for business before the Rio+20 summit next May… The not-for-profit company, seed funded by E2, will at first operate as a think-tank, said Moura Costa, laying the groundwork for traded markets across a number of environmental commodities. “The objective is to transform environmental legislation into tradable instruments,” he said.

21 December 2011

Landscape-based certification scheme aims to lift poverty by engaging communities

By Maya Thatcher, CIFOR Forests Blog, 21 December 2011 | Conservation scientists are hoping to foster conservation outside protected areas and in production landscapes, such as India’s Kodagu district, by proposing changes to certification schemes that currently favour large landowners, reports a recent study by ETH Zürich, CIRAD and CIFOR. Landscape labelling is a new take on established land-based systems, which merges Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES), Geographical Indications and community participation. It awards payments to unique and diverse rural landscapes managed by community-based organisations, allowing for a variety of goods and services to be recognised and maintained. Most of the funds are then invested into social and community projects or initiatives, said Claude Garcia, scientist with the Center for International Forestry Research.

Undying flame: Replacing fuelwood with bamboo may help to combat Africa’s deforestation crisis

By Michelle Kovacevic, CIFOR Forests Blog, 21 December 2011 | Bamboo charcoal is a viable, clean and sustainable alternative to fuelwood and may be the key to combating soil degradation and massive deforestation in Africa while still meeting domestic energy needs, say experts. “Bamboo charcoal could provide an excellent alternative to hardwood charcoal production as bamboo biomass production is much greater and considerably more sustainable,” said Terry Sunderland, scientist with the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).

Durban leaves big REDD+ questions hanging

IFCA, 21 December 2011 | COP17 has left the forest carbon sector, hoping for significant progress towards an operational global REDD+ mechanism in coming years, with mixed results from the climate talks winding up in Durban earlier this month. The key questions needed for resolution to create a system for reducing deforestation and forest degradation and enhancing forest carbons stocks were how to finance it, what level of social and environmental safeguards are appropriate and how should they be checked, how to set forest emissions reference levels, and how to monitor, report and verify (MRV) the resulting actions to cut emissions.

COP17 Side Event: Republic of Congo REDD+ Day, 21 December 2011 | GAF AG in partnership with the Government of the Republic of Congo hosted a Side Event “Republic of Congo REDD+ Day” during the 17th meeting of the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties on 6th December 2011 in Durban. The Republic of Congo REDD+ Day had the main objective to enhance and intensify the international visibility of the Republic of Congo’s REDD+ process. The Event was officially opened by the Minister of Sustainable Development, Forest Economy and Environment, H. E. M. Henri Djombo who provided the rationale for the country’s adoption of the REDD+ process and reiterated the importance of the policy process both in the country and in the Congo Basin region.

Tobacco Farming Negatively Impacts Zimbabwe’s Indigenous Forests

By Peta Thornycroft, Voice of America, 21 December 2011 | Zimbabwe’s indigenous forests are disappearing at an unprecedented rate. Thousands of new tobacco farmers say they have to use wood to cure their crop because they cannot afford coal mined in western Zimbabwe.The forests were in relatively good shape, compared to some other countries in the region like Zambia, for example, where many forests were lost to charcoal production. But, in the last three years, Zimbabwe’s natural resource experts and the government estimate that more than 300,000 hectares of indigenous forests are now destroyed annually by new, mostly small-scale tobacco farmers, who use wood to cure the leaves. Zimbabwe is the world’s third largest producer of tobacco – an export industry that is attracting many. Four years ago there were about 3,500 small-scale tobacco farmers. This season there are at least 47,000 of them.

Indonesia grants exemption from logging moratorium for 3.6m ha of forest

By Rhett A. Butler,, 21 December 2011 | Indonesia exempted 3.6 million hectares of forests and peatlands from protected status under its two-year moratorium on forest concessions, according to a revised version of its moratorium map released near the end of climate talks in Durban. The new Indicative Map includes 10.7 million hectares of peatlands, down from 15.5 million hectares in the previous version of the map that defines areas off-limits for new concessions. Some 1.2 million hectares of previously unprotected “primary forest” has been added to the moratorium area, resulted in a net decline of 3.6 million hectares under the moratorium, according to analysis by Daemeter Consulting, an Indonesia-based forestry consultancy.

22 December 2011

[New Zealand] Carbon market driving new plantings – MAF

Radio New Zealand News, 22 December 2011 | The Ministry of Agriculture & Forestry says foresters seeking carbon credits through the Emissions Trading Scheme have been driving much of the increase in new tree plantings. MAF’s estimates, based on reports from commercial forestry nurseries, show that 67 million seedlings were planted during the year to April. That’s a 27% increase on the previous year. MAF says that would equate to 12,000 hectares of new plantings on top of what’s needed to replace harvested forest. Sector policy director Iain Cossar says the incentive provided by the carbon market is one of the main contributing factors, but others are the comparatively high prices being paid for logs and MAF’s own afforestation grants scheme and East Coast forest project.

Disappearing Cerrado: ‘Brazil’s great untold environmental disaster’ – audio slideshow

By Eric Hilaire, The Guardian, 22 December 2011 | Photographer Peter Caton talks about his visit to the Cerrado – the world’s largest savannah. It contains 5% of the world’s biodiversity, but is being destroyed at an incredible rate to make way for monocultures that may have devastating long-term effects. During his trip, Caton worked with local Brazilian environmental group ISPN and WWF on their campaign calling for UK supermarkets to source sustainable soya.

Booming trade: remnants of the Vietnam War still used as forest products

By Frank Swain, CIFOR Forests Blog, 22 December 2011 | Physical remnants of the Vietnam War are fuelling a trade that threatens to damage one of the world’s most ecologically-important environments but ensuring the income generation of those poorest and landless people, according to a new study by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) with the aid of Tropenbos International Vietnam. Scrap metal left behind following conflicts forms an important part of the local economy of some areas and should be factored into land management proposals alongside other non-timber forest products (NTFP) concludes the study. “The importance of scrap metal collection in local forest management and the link between war metal and other NTFP collection must be acknowledged,” said Manuel Boissière, scientist with the Centre de Coopération Internationale en Recherche Agronomique pour le Développement (CIRAD)…

Environment world review of the year: ‘2011 rewrote the record books’

By John Vidal, The Guardian, 22 December 2011 | The year 2011 was another ecologically tumultuous year with greenhouse gases rise to record levels, Arctic sea ice nearly equalling 2007’s record melt, and temperatures the 11th highest ever recorded. It was marked on the ground by unparalleled extremes of heat and cold in the US, droughts and heatwaves in Europe and Africa and record numbers of weather-related natural disasters. In addition, 2011 saw the world population reach 7 billion, the second worst nuclear disaster and record investments in renewable energy.

The ‘EU Must Remain Tough’ on Emissions Trading

Spiegel Online, 22 December 2011 | As of Jan. 1, 2012, all airlines that take off and land in Europe must purchase permits for the right to release carbon dioxide emissions. In a final ruling on the matter handed down on Wednesday, the European Court of Justice decided that including foreign airlines in the European Union emissions trading scheme (ETS) was permissible and that the new legislation did not infringe upon the sovereignty of other states and was compatible with international accords. Though the decision from the EU’s highest court was expected, some fear it may spark a trade war with international partners, such as the United States, China and Russia.

From REDD to Green: A Global Incentive System to Stop Tropical Forest Clearing

By David Wheeler, Dan Hammer and Robin Kraft, Center for Global Development, 22 December 2011 | In this paper, David Wheeler and co-authors develop and illustrate a prototype incentive system for promoting rapid reduction of forest clearing in tropical countries. Their proposed Tropical Forest Protection Fund (TFPF) is a cash-on-delivery system that rewards independently monitored performance without formal contracts. The TFPF incorporates both monetary and reputational incentives, calculated quarterly, and includes rewards for (1) exceeding long-run expectations, given a country’s forest clearing history and development status; (2) meeting or exceeding global REDD+ goals; and (3) achieving an immediate reduction in forest clearing.

Activities of Secretary-General in South Africa, 6-8 December

IEWY, 22 December 2011 | United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrived in Durban, South Africa, on the morning of Tuesday, 6 December, to take part in the seventeenth Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change… After closing a United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination event on the margins of the Conference of the Parties, the Secretary-General spoke at a high-level forum on international forest protection. He said that forests continued to disappear at an alarming rate, and more needed to be done with a greater sense of urgency. He called for the Conference of the Parties to have a decision on financing for REDD+ that week, and to use private-sector partnerships to implement the REDD+ agenda.

“REDD-plus” decision further shapes actions on forests

By Chee Yoke Ling, Third World Network, 22 December 2011 | The recently concluded Durban climate conference adopted two decisions on policy approaches and positive incentives that reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries; and the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests, and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries (REDD-plus).

Deforestation agreements – a climate change success story, sort of …

By Peter Kanowski, The Conversation, 22 December 2011 | Amongst the general brouhaha of the Durban Climate Change Conference, progress of sorts on REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation, plus measures to enhance forest carbon stocks) received little press. Yet for some, such as Norway’s Minister for the Environment and International Development, “REDD+ has been so far the biggest success story of the climate negotiations”… Only the Norwegian initiative seeks to significantly alter forest loss or degradation. Norway’s experiences are mixed. Its partnerships in the Americas are generally seen as more promising than that with Indonesia… Like the conference as a whole, progress on REDD+ at Durban appears to have been mixed. There were good outcomes on the more technical issues, balanced by a weakening in the language around safeguards and only interim agreement on finance.

23 December 2011

Guyana banks on Ramotar administration to draw down on Norway Funds

Kaieteur News, 23 December 2011 | Spearheaded by Former Head-of-State Bharrat Jagdeo, and after much ranting and raving on his part, the Guyana Government is still to spend a dime of the money from the Kingdom of Norway under a Memorandum of Understand signed in 2008. Two tranches from the US$250M promised to Guyana and payable over a five year period have been placed in a Bank Account but Guyana is still unable to spend the money until Norway is satisfied with the checks and balances are in place to ensure satisfactory transparency and accountability. Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr Roger Luncheon, following a post Cabinet Press Briefing, which unceremoniously ended by controversial. Office of the President personality Kwame Mc Coy, told this publication that there is a renewed sense of hope for an acceleration of the process under Donald Ramotar’s Presidency. Dr Luncheon told this publication that Guyana’s position on the matter is that, “the money is ours.”

24 December 2011

One pine beetle outbreak can affect forest carbon flux for decades

By Rolf Schuttenheim, Bits of Science, 24 December 2011 | But the precise effect of pine bark beetle plagues on the nitrogen cycle and carbon cycle is highly variable, says a research group led by the University of Idaho, who have used an ecosystem model to simulate outbreaks. Yesterday they published their findings in the Journal of Geophysical Research. “The fraction of trees killed, delay in snagfall, snagfall rate, and management decisions about harvesting killed trees will have major impacts on postoutbreak carbon fluxes for several decades and postoutbreak carbon stocks up to 100 years.”

25 December 2011

Tanzania: WWF Plans in Rufiji Delta Suffer Setback

By Finnigan Wa Simbeye, Tanzania Daily News, 25 December 2011 | A plan to start baseline survey in Rufiji delta by World Wildlife Fund for Nature which wants to help villagers get paid through REDD, has suffered a setback from the torching of farm huts and cutting down of coconut trees by Mangrove Management Project officials last October. Reduced Emission from Deforestation and Degradation is a United Nations programme which seeks to compensate communities for keeping their forest intact which helps absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and reduce global warming. Skeptical villagers from Salale ward at the delta have welcomed WWF’s offer cautiously saying they did welcome MMP over two decades ago in the same way but are now suffering the consequencies. “When Mangrove Management people first introduced their project to us, they made many promises of involving us in benefits sharing but today things have turned against us,” Jumanne Kinkumbi, Chairman of Nyamisati village, said.

Forest carbon stocks and fluxes in physiographic zones of India, 25 December 2011 | Reducing carbon Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+) is of central importance to combat climate change. Foremost among the challenges is quantifying nation’s carbon emissions from deforestation and degradation, which requires information on forest carbon storage. Here we estimated carbon storage in India’s forest biomass for the years 2003, 2005 and 2007 and the net flux caused by deforestation and degradation, between two assessment periods i.e ., Assessment Period first (ASP I), 2003-2005 and Assessment Period second (ASP II), 2005-2007. Results: The total estimated carbon stock in India’s forest biomass varied from 3325 to 3161 Mt during the years 2003 to 2007 respectively. There was a net flux of 372 Mt of CO2 in ASP I and 288 Mt of CO2 in ASP II, with an annual emission of 186 and 114 Mt of CO2 respectively.

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