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.
By Anne M. Larson and Ganga Ram Dahal, Conservation and Society, June 2012 | In Asia, Africa and Latin America, an important shift in forest tenure has occurred since 1985, with at least 200 million ha of forest recognised or legally transferred to local communities and indigenous people (White and Martin 2002). Though the portion of the global forest estate either owned or administered by communities is still small at only 11.4 per cent as of 2008, the changes are significant, and recent data suggests that the community share is growing. This section explores the origin, nature, goals and results of policies formally recognising or granting new community rights to forests, with particular emphasis on understanding the challenges they have faced in implementation and the extent to which they do, in fact, represent a livelihood improvement for the communities involved.
Climate & Development Knowledge Network, June 2012 | Viet Nam has a rich history of benefit distribution systems for decentralised forest management. This experience is being used to help build a benefit distribution system that will be compliant with the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) programme being developed under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Participating in international capacity building programmes is also helping to design an effective system. This brief highlights key lessons learned from the Vietnamese experience, outlines the process of preparing such a system in the country, and lists the challenges that remain.
2 July 2012
CMI Events and Multimedia, 2 July 2012 | Corruption makes it even more difficult to keep track of crimes connected to deforestation. One of the biggest challenges is linked to dishonest measurements and reporting. Participants in REDD+ get funding depending on how much forest land they protect. Therefore baselines have to be established. Donors need to know what the starting point is and keep track of the rate of deforestation or protection of forest resources. “These figures can be open to manipulation. Attempts may be made to control measurements and results in particular countries, and it is difficult to implement reliable control routines,” says U4-advisor Aled Williams. Forest land grabbing is also a complicating factor. The objective of REDD+ is to increase the value of forest land, replacing incentives to clear forests. If the forest is worth more standing than fallen, there is an incentive to grab forest land. That can involve corruption.
By Kate Evans, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 2 July 2012 | A movement aiming to preserve the earth’s last roadless areas hopes their new set of online maps will inspire policy makers to avoid building highways through places of high biodiversity, and find less destructive ways to connect isolated communities. The interactive online maps, developed by the European Environmental Agency, Google, the Society for Conservation Biologists, and a member of the European Parliament – and launched at the Rio +20 summit in Brazil – highlights parts of the world not yet penetrated by man-made thoroughfares. “It’s for the policy makers now to move ahead and use these interactive maps, make them tools for the protection of both biodiversity and the property rights of indigenous people – and make ‘no roads’ a road to the green economy,” said MEP Kriton Arsenis, the European Parliament’s Special Rapporteur on Forests and coordinator of the ‘roadless-ness’ campaign.
Point Carbon, 2 July 2012 | A project that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by preventing deforestation in a vulnerable section of Brazil’s Amazon rainforest issued its first batch of Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) credits on Friday, creating some of earliest available supply of forest offsets for use in future regional or national carbon trading schemes. [R-M: Subscription needed.]
By Naomi Tajitsu, Reuters, 2 July 2012 | New Zealand’s government said on Monday it would continue allowing carbon emitters to offset just half of their emissions until at least 2015 to avoid putting New Zealand firms under more financial pressure as the economy struggles to improve. In addition, the government will allow unrestricted use of cheaper, international carbon credits in the country’s emissions trading scheme (ETS) through 2015 and cap the price of each carbon-offsetting unit at NZ$25 ($20.09).
3 July 2012
Bretton Woods Project, 3 July 2012 | NGOs have called on governments to pivot away from funding the Bank-housed Climate Investment Funds (CIFs). Concerns have also been raised about private sector delivery of climate finance and that the Bank’s efforts to push carbon markets are undermining genuine reforms in the forest sector. Concerned about the lack of funding for the United Nations’ new Green Climate Fund (GCF, see Update 79), 117 NGOs, including the Beyond Copenhagen Coalition from India and Oxfam International, wrote to government funders of the CIFs in April calling on them to “adhere to the CIFs sunset clause and actively support the GCF as the primary international financial institution for climate finance.” The letter stated that “new contributions to the CIFs could create a disincentive for the early operationalisation of the GCF, encourage expansion of the CIFs, and prolong their operation.”
Ecosystem Marketplace, 3 July 2012 | Even as Rio+20’s formal activities wound down, issues of community forestry management and safeguards have continued to heat up in the forest carbon community over the last two weeks. The Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) recently produced a paragraph-by-paragraph critique of the Rio+20 text on forests. Meanwhile, Greenpeace has launched a consultation process over a newly released set of international safeguards (seeking comment through 9/2!). In Asia, countries are adapting international REDD safeguard frameworks at the national level. Also on the REDD front, the editor of CIFOR’s new book – Analyzing REDD – says that in order for REDD to succeed under pressure from “aidification” (Australia and Norway keep doling it out), REDD must evolve to build needed political support without losing the elements that made it so appealing and different from other forms of development assistance.
Survival International, 3 July 2012 | Dozens of British politicians are calling on Brazil to save Earth’s most threatened tribe by halting illegal logging and land invasions in their territory. Expressing their ‘concern’ and ‘alarm’ to the UK Parliament, the MPs say Brazil must take action before the Awá tribe are driven to extinction. In the parliamentary motion, the MPs ‘urge [Brazil] to bring a halt to illegal logging and stop invasions of the Awá’s land.’ Only 460 Awá live in Brazil’s north-eastern state of Maranhão, and their land is being destroyed faster than any other Amazon tribe. As nomadic hunter-gatherers, the Awá depend on their forest to survive. One Awá man told Survival, ‘The loggers are destroying all the land… This is Indian land… I am angry, very angry with the loggers, extremely angry. There is no game for me to hunt, and my children are hungry’.
ICIMOD, 3 July 2012 | The Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+): Preparedness Phase for Pakistan project was initiated with a presentation by Dr Abdul Wahid Jasra, Pakistan Country Representative, on 3 May in Islamabad. The project will build capacity, strengthen knowledge on REDD+, and develop an inclusive REDD+ forum in Pakistan, leading to a National REDD+ project document and preparing Pakistan for the implementation of REDD+ projects. ICIMOD is implementing the 12-month preparedness phase jointly with One UN Joint Programme on Environment (ONEUNJPE), the Office of the Inspector General of Forests in Islamabad, and WWF Pakistan.
By Katherine Rowland, The Independent, 3 July 2012 | The Spanish city of Valencia sits under a blanket of ash, as two converging fires continue to devour the eastern coast of the country. Since the blaze ignited last week, more than 45,000 hectares of land have been destroyed, forcing upwards of 2,000 people to flee their homes. The fires, which have not yet been controlled, are the worst the country has seen in more than a decade, and began as scorching temperatures made tinder of the earth… Commenting on the season’s disasters, Princeton University geosciences and international affairs professor Michael Oppenheimer said: “What we’re seeing really is a window into what global warming really looks like. It looks like heat. It looks like fires. It looks like this kind of environmental disaster.”
IRIN, 3 July 2012 | At least 2,500 farmers in the western districts of Uganda are earning extra cash to boost their livelihoods by planting trees alongside their crops in a scheme that is helping to sequester carbon dioxide. Trees process huge amounts of carbon dioxide because of their size and extensive root systems making them efficient carbon sinks. Under the Payment for Ecosystem Scheme, a farmer who plants one hectare of mahogany, prunas africana or maesopsis local tree species will on average earn US$700 a year, said Annet Ssempala, a programme officer with the Environmental Conservation Trust (Ecotrust). Ecotrust’s donors include the US Agency for International Development and the World Wildlife Foundation. Funding for this project is provided by Plan Vivo Foundation.
Point Carbon, 3 July 2012 | The UK is struggling to meet a pledge to spend around 580 million pounds ($909 million) on efforts to slow deforestation in poorer nations because of delays in ensuring the cash is spent effectively, officials said Tuesday. [R-M: Subscription needed.]
4 July 2012
By Louis Putzel, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 4 July 2012 | REDD+ implementation was supposed to be “big, quick and cheap”. So far, it is not one big thing, but many smaller efforts designed and implemented by many different donors and agencies, a collection of programmes that are slow to design and implement, and likely to be more expensive than at first expected. Is that all bad? In its first 5 years, REDD+ has grown increasingly broad and complex in many unpredicted ways, say Angelsen et al., the editors of a new collection of studies entitled Analysing REDD+: Challenges and choices. Partly due to a lack of reliable long-term financing and a huge diversity of interests, institutions, ideas, and information, the first REDD+ projects were established with development funds. They have not had the grounding and reliable financing that a new international climate change agreement may have brought.
5 July 2012
By Kate Evans, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 5 July 2012 | Until greater certainty about the future of a global scheme to reduce carbon emissions through avoided deforestation (REDD+) is achieved, priority should be given both to actions that build a foundation for REDD+, and to ‘no regrets’ policy reforms, according to a new publication from the Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR). CIFOR Director-General and contributor to Analysing REDD+ Frances Seymour discusses what must happen to move the scheme forward.
By Marcus Priest, Financial Review, 5 July 2012 | The federal government is struggling to find a way to implement a $15 minimum carbon price when emissions trading starts in 2015 and is negotiating with the Greens to redesign the complex scheme. Despite widespread opposition to the $15 floor price from the energy industry and carbon traders, Climate Change Minister Greg Combet yesterday denied the government was preparing to dump the commitment to a floor price that was made to win the support of Greens senators. The Australian Financial Review has been told by several sources there are considerable practical problems with the plan for a floor price through a “top-up” charge when the carbon scheme links to international markets in three years. Senior government sources said it would be “very difficult politically” to walk away from the commitment to the minimum price and it could have implications for the budget.
By Manipadma Jena, IPS, 5 July 2012 | As scientists increasingly label desertification as one of the most burning challenges facing the world today, a small village in China’s semi-arid Northeastern region of Inner Mongolia is fighting back. Chifeng City’s dry climate and sparse vegetation have given way to severe surface erosion and poor soil fertility. Agriculture and animal husbandry, the two economic cornerstones of Chifeng City’s nine counties and three districts, are increasingly threatened by the spell of desertification, though afforestation began as early as 1940. Chifeng City identified deforestation and plowing of hill slopes, continued overuse of sandified farmlands and intensive grazing as the main culprits of the problem, in a region low in plant density and productivity.
By Michael Bachelard, Sydney Morning Herald, 5 July 2012 | The carbon-rich peat forests of northern Sumatra are burning again as palm oil companies break Indonesian law to clear the land for their plantations. Environmental groups have warned that the local population of critically endangered orang-utans are ”doomed” unless the fires are stopped. Also, smoke from the burning is at times engulfing cities in Malaysia and Thailand, prompting doctors in Kuala Lumpur recently to warn residents with respiratory problems to wear masks. Photographs from the Tripa peat forest in Aceh show widespread burning, which the head investigator of the Indonesian environment ministry, Syarifudin Akbar, estimates now covers almost 2000 hectares. ”This is a criminal case because the law says it’s a crime to open a land by burning,” Mr Akbar told the Herald.
By Tamasin Ford, The Guardian, 5 July 2012 | More than half of Liberia’s forests have been granted to logging companies according to figures released to the Guardian from Global Witness – and all of the contracts have been issued during Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s government. “What we’ve seen over at least the past 18 months is an explosion of logging concessions,” said Jonathan Gant, policy adviser at Global Witness. More than 40% of the Upper Guinea rainforest is in Liberia. Rich, dense forest packed with rare and endangered species sprawls for hundreds of miles over the small coastal country. Sapo National Park, one of three protected areas in Liberia, contains more than 40 endangered species including the pygmy hippo, forest elephant, golden cat and western chimpanzee.
Television New Zealand, 5 July 2012 | Changes to the emissions trading scheme will stop investment in one of New Zealand’s most important sources of future carbon emissions reduction – forestry “carbon farming”, says Carbon Farm chief executive Murray McClintock. As a provider of forest management services to the fledgling industry, McClintock says “the net result of these changes will be there is very little incentive to supply New Zealand Units into the New Zealand carbon market.” “We are trapped now in a price-taking situation where the future pricing will be set by the price in Europe,” he said. European carbon prices have already collapsed and appear likely to stay low for at least the next four years while the 27 European Union member states agree on measures to undo a glut of carbon credits.
Survival International, 5 July 2012 | Amazon Indians in Peru have demanded the expulsion of a controversial Italian priest, accusing him of ‘racism and aggression’ over his role in promoting the construction of a new road, which the Indians have labeled ‘the Road of Death’. Father Miguel Piovesan, parish priest of the tiny town of Puerto Esperanza in Peru’s far south-east, has recruited a host of powerful allies to back his plan to connect the town to Peru’s road network, including influential Congressmen. But the region’s indigenous people are firmly opposed, fearing that if built, the road would open up the area to illegal logging and goldmining, already rampant in the region. The road would cut through three protected areas established to safeguard the province’s numerous uncontacted tribes.
6 July 2012
By Melati Kaye, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 6 July 2012 | A multidisciplinary research team led by a pair of CIFOR scientists has found evidence that the “Black Soil” of Indonesia’s Kalimantan province, like its Amazon analogue, is “anthropogenic” – a product of decades, if not centuries, of human cultivation. They make their case in a new paper in the journal Forestry. If borne out by further study, the sites in Kalimantan would be the first scientifically documented instance of Anthropogenic Dark Earths (ADEs) in tropical Asia. The phenomenon has been noted in Latin America from the early twentieth century. However, nearly 20,000 kilometres apart, both the Amazonian and Indonesian ADEs are thought to originate in the same style of farming: “Slash-and-char” cultivation rather than the more common slash-and-burn pattern.
60 minutes, 6 July 2012 | This has to be one of the most brazen and potentially disastrous scams Liam Bartlett has ever come across. David Nilsson was once accused in Parliament of selling non-existent plots of land in Queensland. Now he’s popped up in the Amazon jungle, of all places, where the fledgling carbon trading market has opened up huge opportunities for unscrupulous operators. It’s a multi-billion dollar industry that’s emerged now countries like Australia have introduced a carbon tax. Rainforests are suddenly worth big money. And the natives who own them are sitting on a fortune. Or at least they should be, but that all changes when David Nilsson comes calling.
7 July 2012
Sky Money, 7 July 2012 | On June 19 2012, Dayak Ngaju peoples in Katunjung, Indonesia held a protest to coincide with the global United Nations Rio+20 conference in Brasil – photos on this page. Local organisation Petak Danum Kalimantan Tengah released the statement below, calling on the Australian Prime Minister to act immediately to stop the REDD KFCP pilot project in Central Kalimantan. The Dayak Ngaju protest targetted the Australian government’s Kalimantan Forest and Climate Partnership REDD forest offset project in their community. It is intended as a pilot for the Asia-Pacific region to potentially create offsets for purchase by big polluters in Australia, enabling ongoing pollution.
VietNamNet, 7 July 2012 | Voluntary Credits Company’s representative David Bonnell said: “Voluntary Credits will do its best to cultivate and pursue more forest carbon credit projects in Vietnam.” He said besides its existing Reduced Emission from Deforestation in Developing Countries (REDD) projects in Vietnam, Voluntary Credits is carrying out similar pilot projects in northern Vietnam. “We are working well with owners of such forests via recovering the natural forests by reforestation of natural local trees. These projects have big prospects and are also well supported by local authorities,” he said. The firm is cooperating with Hanoi-based Vietnam Carbon Exchange (VCE) to effectively implement three carbon-capture forest projects under REDD in Bach Ma National Park situated in central Thua Thien-Hue and Quang Nam provinces, and in northern Tam Dao National Park situated in Thai Nguyen, Vinh Phuc and Tuyen Quang provinces, and in northern Cao Bang province.
8 July 2012
Sky Money, 8 July 2012 | REDD is type of carbon offset. The acronym REDD stands for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing countries. REDD projects seek to reduce greenhouse gas emissions over time, by securing the continued existence of land which is at risk of activities leading to deforestation and forest degradation. For example, logging and agriculture are one of the many drivers of deforestation and land degradation. REDD offsets might also be created from activities that increase carbon stores through changed land-use (this is why policy wonks now put a + sign after the acronym: REDD+. It means just about anything could count as a REDD offset now).
PHOTO credit: Image created using wordle.net.