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REDD in the news: 13-19 August 2012

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 is updated regularly. For past REDD in the news posts, click here.

The context of REDD+ in Indonesia

By G.B. Indrarto, P. Murharjanti, J. Khatarina, I. Pulungan, F. Ivalerina, J. Rahman, M.N. Prana, I.A.P. Resosudarmo, E. Muharrom, CIFOR, 2012 | This country profile reviews the drivers of deforestation and forest degradation in Indonesia, sets out the institutional, political and economic environment within which REDD+ is being implemented in Indonesia, and documents the process of national REDD+ policy development during the period 2007 – early 2012. While Indonesia is committed at the national and international level to addressing climate change through the forestry sector, there are clearly contextual challenges that need to be addressed to create the enabling conditions for REDD+. Some of the major issues include inconsistent legal frameworks, sectoral focus, unclear tenure, consequences of decentralisation, and weak local governance. Despite these challenges, however, REDD+ opens up an opportunity for improvements in forest governance and, more broadly, in land use governance.

Forest Carbon and REDD+

Form international, no date | Form international provides forest carbon services for clients and investors that aim to contribute to climate change mitigation in an integrated manner with sustainable forest management. Our experience: Form international has been involved in forest carbon projects since 2001. We have provided advisory services to projects relating to feasibility, carbon balance, certification and marketing in Africa, South America and Europe. Since 2010, we have assisted Form Ghana with the design and implementation of a reforestation CO2 project. This project is currently being validated and verified for certification under the Voluntary Carbon Standard (VCS).

Community Forestry: Responding to both Adaptation and Mitigation

By Regan Suzuki, REDD-net, 2012 | Community forestry can and does play an important role in mitigation and adaptation to climate change. Until now, however, the ways it does so have received limited attention. Five community forestry sites across Asia were explored with a view to better understanding this relationship. Specifically, how can mitigation initiatives such as REDD+ enhance synergies with adaptation and how can trade-offs be avoided? This policy brief outlines the key points from the publication, “Linking Adaptation and Mitigation through Community Forestry: Case Studies from Asia.”

UN-REDD CSO Observer Self-Selection

Bank Information Center, August 2012 | The UN Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (UN‐REDD Programme) seeks to identify four Civil Society Organisation (CSO) Representatives to its Policy Board. Three positions are open to one CSO from each of the Programme’s three regions (Africa, Asia‐Pacific, and Latin America-Caribbean) and one position is open to a CSO from a developed country.

13 August 2012

Tracking REDD+ Finance: Separating The Payers From The Posers

By Kelli Barrett, Ecosystem Marketplace, 13 August 2012 | Developed nations have pledged more than $7.3 billion to help developing countries get up to speed on REDD+, and $4.3 billion of that is slated to be delivered by the end of this year. With four months to go, however, it’s not at all clear how much of that money has been delivered or how it’s being used. In an attempt to answer those questions through more efficient tracking of REDD+ finance, Forest Trends is implementing a project that will follow the REDD+ funding commitments made to 13 countries. Launched in December, 2011, with funding from the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety’s International Climate Initiative, the Skoll Foundation and the Rights and Resources Initiative, the REDD+ Expenditures Tracking Project aims to achieve greater transparency in REDD+ financial flows that will better inform governments and aid organizations as to where their donations are going.

[Ghana] Eight Million for Reducing Deforestation in Ghana

By Frederick Asiamah, Public Agenda (Accra), 13 August 2012 | There are indications that the country could be benefitting from an eight million Cedi (GHC8 million) monetary support from the Embassy of Switzerland for the implementation of anti-deforestation initiatives in Ghana. The support would partly fund seven pilot schemes designed to identify, and propose solutions to the main drivers of deforestation across the various ecological zones of Ghana, Robert Bamfo, Head of Forests and Climate Change at Ghana’s Forestry Commission (FC), confirmed in an interview on Tuesday. He also confirmed that the Swiss Embassy’s support is worth four million Swiss Francs (a bit more than $4 million or around GHC8 million) and would go to support, on a larger scale, the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation Plus (or REDD+) initiative in Ghana.

[Guyana] Issues to be addressed

Stabroek News, 13 August 2012 | As Toshaos from across the country gathered at the Liliendaal Convention Centre for the annual Toshaos Council Meeting last week, we asked them what were some of the difficulties faced in their community and what are their expectations coming out of the meeting… Gerald Edward- Karasabai, Region 9: `Our village is the gateway to Region Eight. Some of our main issues right now are our land demarcation for the entire Karasabai district. It was highlighted before and it is still to be done. The president has committed that land titling and the land demarcation process will continue and we are hoping that it would be on their agenda this year. We have proposed three community development programmes and have submitted those to the ministry with the hope of getting the funding and the president has said that this is on his agenda. We are entitled to a secondary school but we still have to wait, we need to have more trained teachers.’

[Indonesia] New government regulation threatens forest protection

Jakarta Post, 13 August 2012 | New central government regulations will allow mining and palm oil plantation companies with regional licenses to buy their concessions in state-controlled forests. The regulations, No. 60/2012 on forest conversions and No. 61/2012 on forest utilization, stipulate that mining and palm oil businesses that started operation before the enactment of the Law on Spatial Planning and Forest Utilization Permits in 2007 can own their concessions in state forests. “Plantation and mining companies that have the privilege to acquire forested areas are only those who already have licenses from local governments before the [law] was issued,” Tri Joko Mulyono, the director of spatial planning at the Forestry Ministry, said recently.

Burning forests in Southeast Asia increases mortality rates in the region, 13 August 2012 | Clearing forests and other vegetation with fire in Southeast Asia can kill, according to a new study in Nature Climate Change. The research found that fire-induced air pollution, including fine particulates and a rise in ozone, could be linked to thousands of deaths during El Nino years when dry conditions worsen human-set fires. The pollution was found to be worst over Malaysia and Indonesia, the latter where the vast majority of the fires are set. “Landowners ignite fires to clear land and manage agricultural areas and, although typically too wet to combust, deforestation and degradation have enhanced the susceptibility of peatland forests (with carbon-rich peat deposits) to human-ignited fire during droughts,” the scientists write. Peatlands in Indonesia have long been a target of environmentalists, since their destruction releases significant amounts of carbon.

[Liberia] Several Recommendations Advanced for Good Redd Policy

By Emmanuel Weedee, Heritage (Monrovia), 13 August 2012 | Several civil society groups and local community from across nine counties have called on the Government of Liberia (GOL) to institute a REDD program that would ensure the provision of community benefits such as funding for development initiatives… According to them, there are concerns that the promise of these funds could attract powerful elites, and exclude indigenous or rural people. The group’s call was contained in a resolution adopted following a five-day long workshop in Yarpa Town, River Cess County. The workshop, which covered several topics in the areas of Global Positioning System (GPS), bush hunting regulations, pit sawing regulation, climate change amongst others was held at the Yarpa Town Hall Central River Cess District, River Cess County. Liberia is a REDD country participant in the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF)…

Massive plans for oil and road development may threaten Peruvian Amazon

By Martha Cuba Cronkleton, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 13 August 2012 | Oil exploration and the planned construction of hydroelectric dams in the Peruvian Amazon may pose serious threats to biodiversity and indigenous tribes, some of whom have been living for centuries in voluntary isolation, a conservation specialist said. Clinton Jenkins, speaking at the Association of Tropical Conservation and Biology meeting in Bonito last month, focused much of his attention on Loreto, located in the Western Amazon basin. Boasting some of the greatest mammalian, avian, floral and fish diversity on the planet, the region is facing tremendous challenges amid record oil prices and rising global energy needs, he said. The national government has agreed to delimit specific geographic areas or “blocks” for hydrocarbon activities areas that may be leased to state or international companies for exploration and production.

[Soloman Islands] Westpac backs logging project

By Rory Callinan, Sydney Morning Herald, 13 August 2012 | Westpac has been revealed as the guarantor of a controversial new project to log thousands of acres of pristine rainforest in the Solomon Islands, despite saying it is winding back financial support to the nation’s logging industry. The logging area includes rare swamp rainforest that has previously been the scene of violent clashes involving logging interests and locals that left six women injured. Westpac’s association with the project has infuriated environmentalists and tribal elders who are trying to block the operation that involves logging about 1600 hectares of rainforest on tiny island of Vella Lavella. The plan was revealed as the Australian Greens have called for the bank to be stripped of a prestigious pro-environment award over long term financing of logging industry in the islands.

14 August 2012

SNV REDD+ and Agriculture: Meetings of Minds

SNV World, 14 August 2012 | The SNV REDD+ and Agriculture Teams met to identify opportunities for closer collaboration and develop joint work programmes. During the three-day workshop the team will look to develop new products and tools which support improved livelihoods as well as the REDD+.

REDD+ opens up new opportunities for forest product management in the Amazon

By Amy Duchelle, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 14 August 2012 | The emergence of subnational REDD+ projects in southwestern Amazonia is showing potential for multiple-use management of non-timber forest products, particularly Brazil nuts, and forest carbon. Multiple-use forestry, which includes NTFPs, timber and environmental services, has gained momentum among researchers, practitioners and policy-makers as a way to promote forest conservation and livelihood development in the tropics. While there have been a multitude of initiatives towards integrated management of NTFPs and timber, there has been less of a focus on environmental services in these multiple use systems. Recent strategies (REDD+) to reduce carbon emissions through avoided deforestation and forest degradation and enhancement of carbon stocks have opened up new opportunities for integrated management of NTFPs and environmental services.

Jaguars among species ‘virtually extinct’ in Brazil’s Atlantic forest

By Jonathan Watts, The Guardian, 14 August 2012 | Jaguars, tapirs, giant anteaters and spider monkeys have become “virtually extinct” in Brazil’s Atlantic forest, while other species are being lost faster than previously believed due to the fragmentation and emptying of the once dense canopy by farmers and hunters, according to research published on Tuesday. The authors of the study say their findings have global implications for conservation because they confirm the quantity of forest cover is an unreliable indicator of biodiversity – more important is the quality of the forest and the measures taken to protect the fauna within it. The two-year research project, which was led by the University of East Anglia, looked for signs of 18 mammal species in 196 fragmented areas of forest. They found little more than a fifth of the 3,528 possible mammal populations. White-lipped peccaries, a native pig species, were completely wiped out. Many others were on the brink of disappearing.

[Brazil] Belo Monte’s Latest Legal Challenge – Will It Stand?

By Maira Irigaray, Amazon Watch, 14 August 2012 | The construction of the Belo Monte Dam has been suspended again! What? Could it be true? My colleague Andrew woke me up early this morning with what could be the best news ever. I needed to confirm this news and understand it before getting too excited. I remember celebrating other court-ordered suspensions of the dam only to find out shortly after that these were overturned within a matter of days or even minutes. I just wanted to be more cautious this time before calling for celebrations. Reading the flurry of emails, I see that indeed the dam was suspended by a group of judges. I would like to acknowledge one judge in particular here, named Souza Prudente. He has a reputation for being good and fair. I was honestly pleased that the case ended up in his hands. This particular motion is one of the 16 different civil public actions filed highlighting many mistakes during all process for approving the license of this dam.

[Guyana] Second National Communication to UNFCCC launched – finds greenhouse gas emissions insignificant

GINA, 14 August 2012 | Guyana mits insignificant amounts of greenhouse gases, according to the second National Communication that the country will submit as part of its obligations to the Conference of Parties (COP) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The Global Environment Facility (GEF) funded preparation for the report which was launched Monday, at the Guyana International Conference Centre (GICC). It details Guyana’s role in the global effort to enhance carbon sinks (storage of carbon emissions). “This project has helped to place climate change as a priority on the national agenda…. more importantly it has supported Guyana to meet its reporting obligations to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in a timely manner,” Head of the Climate Change Unit of the Office of the President, Shyam Nokta, told the gathering at the launch.

[Paraguay] Exposed: Spanish tycoon’s role in destruction of ‘hiding tribe’s’ forest

Survival International, 14 August 2012 | One of Spain’s richest men has been implicated in the illegal bulldozing of a South American forest where the last uncontacted Indians outside the Amazon are hiding, following a recent raid by Paraguayan officials. Jacinto Rey González is President of ranching firm Carlos Casado SA, which is a subsidiary of Spanish construction and property giant Grupo San José. Mr Rey Gonzalez is also the President and controlling shareholder of Grupo San José. Two weeks ago, Carlos Casado SA was caught red-handed by Paraguayan forestry officials bulldozing forest, constructing buildings and reservoirs, and putting up wire fencing, in the large block of forest they own in the Paraguayan Chaco.

15 August 2012

Response to Monbiot: Valuation is not privatization

By Robert Costanza, Simone Quatrini and Siv Øystese, Responding to Climate Change, 15 August 2012 | That humanity depends on the essential goods and services provided by natural ecosystems seems too obvious to require restatement. The issue, however, is that many of these ecosystem services today are jeopardized by human-induced degradation. The root cause of this is that the incentives for private exploitation are at odds with the social good. Often, this is the result of excessive market demand and misuse of natural resources. In this context, valuing ecosystems in monetary units might appear at first glance as a wrong-headed strategy to cope with the environmental degradation caused by market-based capitalism.

A cap-and-trade climate policy success

By Robert N Stavins, Gabriel Chan, Robert Stowe and Richard Sweeney, Climate Spectator, 15 August 2012 | The sulphur dioxide allowance-trading program established under Title IV of the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments was the world’s first large-scale pollutant cap-and-trade system. (‘Allowance trading’ and ‘cap-and-trade’ are synonymous.) The stated purpose of the Acid Rain Program was to reduce total annual SO2 emissions in the US by 10 million tonnes relative to 1980, when total US emissions were about 26 million tonnes.

Carbon Taxes Cut Debt, Cool Planet

Bloomberg, 15 August 2012 | Absent some profound shift in our penchant for burning coal, oil and gas, the Earth is expected to warm as much as 11.5 degrees Fahrenheit over the next 100 years, causing more weather-related destruction. It’s only responsible to force a shift away from fossil fuels by enacting a carbon tax. The U.S., which accounts for about 19 percent of global emissions today, should take the lead in doing so as part of broader tax reform. The benefits of such a tax are clear: It would raise immediate revenue for a strapped nation, curtail the use of fossil fuels and, as a result, drastically lower emissions. A carbon tax of $15 a ton that rises at 4 percent above inflation annually would raise $310 billion by 2050 and cut emissions 34 percent (or 2.5 billion metric tons), according to a recent report by the Brookings Institution. The biggest hit would come from gas prices, which would initially rise by about 13 cents a gallon and increase gradually from there…

Comment: Why REDD+ development demonstrates innovation in conservation

By Tara O’Shea (Code REDD), Responding to Climate Change, 15 August 2012 | The Code REDD Campaign launched at Rio+20 with the mission of saving the world’s threatened forests by dramatically increasing demand for REDD+ verified emissions reductions through private sector purchases in the voluntary carbon market. Code REDD aims to scale the market for high quality REDD+ carbon credits, bringing together high-quality REDD+ project developers and prominent corporate buyers in a transparent manner to increase both the supply and demand for REDD+ verified emissions reductions. To join Code REDD, project developers must agree to abide by the Campaign’s Code of Conduct and must have their projects validated and verified by the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) and the Climate, Community, and Biodiversity standard.

BOOK REVIEW: Forests and Climate Change: The Social Dimensions of REDD in Latin America

By Janis B. Alcorn, IUCN, 15 August 2012 | Professor Anthony Hall presents an excellent analysis of REDD+ social dimensions, including detailed discussions of the roles of governance and institutional choices, nesting, economics (learning from PES, conditional cash transfers etc), and livelihoods — all aspects essential for REDD+ to raise the bar to achieve social development and carbon sequestration in diverse circumstances, rather than opting for the lower bar of incorporating social concerns into blueprint approaches aiming to prevent REDD+ harms through social safeguards. The book opens by laying out the background on conservation and REDD+, and then presents a critical, even-handed analysis of Latin American regional REDD+ activities through 2011. The second part of the book (50 pages) is dedicated to the analysis of social side of REDD+, and makes concrete recommendations for ways that REDD+ design and implementation could achieve social development in diverse circumstances.

Incentives slow rainforest destruction, researcher says, 15 August 2012 | Yeon-Su Kim, a Northern Arizona University ecological economic professor, is researching how economic incentives may slow the destruction of these important carbon-storing ecosystems and decrease the amount of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere. “We have a way of helping rainforest communities while slowing the process of global warming,” she said. This summer she is developing a partnership between NAU and Indonesia’s University of Mataram that involves teaching sustainable forestry, biodiversity and ecotourism, along with conducting climate change research. Kim also is studying the success of community forests where villagers can reap the benefits of the rainforests by gathering the bananas, cacao, coffee beans and other products that grow there naturally without cutting and burning trees.

Wall Street’s Frightening and Predatory Land Grab in Africa

By Imara Jones, Colorlines, 15 August 2012 | Wall Street is at again. The nation’s financial sector is on a crusade to dominate an irreplaceable African resource that the world increasingly needs: massive tracts of open land available for large scale industrial farming. The pace of land purchases is flying so furiously that it is now commonly referred to as “a land grab.” It’s the latest phase in Wall Street’s never-ending quest for profits at-any-cost, but this time the focus of finance’s predatory gaze is the world’s poorest region. The reason is simple: There’s an ocean of money to be made by doing so. The potential riches stem from the fact that the world needs more food. For Wall Street, scarce resources translate into massive profits, and U.S. financial firms are at the head of the pack to make them.

Food crisis strengthens EU biofuel critics, may hasten deal

By Barbara Lewis and Ivana Sekularac, Reuters, 15 August 2012 | Drought-stricken crops and record-high grain prices have strengthened critics of the European Union biofuel industry, adding fears of a food crisis to their claims that it does not ultimately reduce carbon dioxide emissions. The renewed anxiety adds to pressure on the EU’s executive Commission to forge a deal this year to help ensure that EU biofuels do not clash with food production or the environment. Such an agreement would remove some of the uncertainty that has hung over the multi-billion euro bioenergy industry during years of debate. The U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization last week called for a suspension of U.S. ethanol quotas as a response to the impact of the worst U.S. drought in more than half a century on corn supplies and prices.

[Australia] Move to clean fuels gives Flannery hope

By Stuart Rintoul, The Australian, 15 August 2012 | The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere hit higher levels this year “than at any time in the last 800,000 years”, there was “unprecedented melting” of the Greenland icecap and the US was experiencing a drought and heatwaves not seen since “the infamous Dust Bowl years” of the 1930s. But in an upbeat assessment, Tim Flannery yesterday declared 2012 might be remembered as the tipping point that began the “clean energy era”. Australia’s chief climate commissioner said his optimism came from four big shifts: advances in clean technologies, public support for clean energy, increasing global investment in renewable energy and a drop in the price of wind and, particularly, solar technology. Global investment in renewable power and fuels had increased sixfold since 2004 to $257 billion last year, while costs of renewable energy were dropping faster than expected. The cost of producing solar photovoltaic cells had fallen 75 per cent.

[Guyana] Miners’ assoc., GGMC object to Amerindian land extensions

By Kwesi Isles, Demerara Waves, 15 August 2012 | The Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association (GGDMA) on Wednesday lodged a formal letter of protest with the UNDP in relation to the extension of Amerindian lands and announced that it is exploring its legal options to address the issue. The development came even as Demerara Waves Online News learnt that the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) has also voiced concerns about the extensions. Representatives from the government, the GGDMA and the UNDP were meeting at the agency’s office on Brickdam Wednesday morning to review a GUY$360M project document which will cover land demarcation, titling and extensions. However, the GGDMA officials walked out shortly after airing their concerns. Speaking to reporters after exiting the meeting GGDMA President Patrick Harding summed up the Association’s concerns while noting that they were not against Amerindians receiving titled lands.

[Indonesia] Slash-and-burn practices lead to forest fires in S. Sumatra

By Ansyor Idrus, Jakarta Post, 15 August 2012 | Officials from the South Sumatra provincial administration have been puzzled by the insistence among local farmers in continuing their slash-and-burn practices to convert forests for the development of rubber and oil palm plantations. Such practices constituted the number one cause of forest fires in South Sumatra, said Indra Purna, head of information and observation at Palembang’s Climatology Station on Tuesday. Achmad Taufik from the South Sumatra Forestry Office’s forest fire control division also confirmed that most forest fires in South Sumatra were caused by slash-and-burn techniques, carried out by local farmers to prepare land for rubber and oil palm estates. “It is difficult to change the habits among farmers. Such practices have been conducted for years as it is a fast and cheap process,” Achmad said.

[Indonesia] Agriculture: friend or foe of the Moluccan cockatoo?

CIFOR Forests News Blog, 15 August 2012 | Efforts to prevent agricultural activity inside an Indonesian national park that is a stronghold for the endangered Moluccan cockatoo could backfire, negatively affecting the very species the park was created to protect, ongoing research by CIFOR indicates. “Moluccan parrots depend, to some extent, on the human modified forests contained inside the Manusela National Park. So a complete ban on human activity in this park would actually be detrimental to the parrot population,” said Masatoshi Sasaoka, a CIFOR postdoctoral research fellow who has been conducting field work in the park since 2003. The salmon-crusted cockatoo (Cacatua moluccensis) is endemic to the central Moluccan islands in east Indonesia. The 60,000-strong wild population can still be found on Seram Island, many located in the Manusela National Park. The puffy, salmon-crested cockatoo, a picture of which appears park’s logo, attracts bird watchers from across the globe.

[PNG] Projects on carbon emmission reduction in place

By Jason Gima Wuri, Post Courier, 15 August 2012 | The Office of Climate Change and Development (OCCD) is currently facilitating a number of carbon emission reduction projects or clean development mechanism (CDM) projects together with a number of key stakeholders… Besides these CDM Project OCCD is also facilitating REDD projecs like April-Salumei in Ambunti East Sepik Province together with PNG Forest Authority. And others together with Wild Life Conservation Society (WCS) and other NGOs. However, these projects have not yet been implemented, as were still in the processes of developing these projects as pilot projects to test REDD+ mechanisms in PNG and hoping to learn from these experiences to build better REDD+ projects in the future. Adaptation Team of OCCD are currently pursuing a million mangroves programme together with stakeholders.

Thai forces kill 38 Cambodian loggers in six months

Bangkok Post, 15 August 2012 | Thai forces shot dead 38 Cambodians in the first half of this year for illegally crossing the border to log for valuable timber, according to the Cambodian authorities. A further 10 Cambodians were injured in incidents with Thai border forces and 194 were arrested, though not all of them on suspicion of illegal logging, the Cambodia-Thailand Border Relations Office said in a report dated August 12. The number of fatalities dwarfs the toll last year when around 11 alleged Cambodian loggers were reported killed over a 12-month period, according to statistics collected by local rights group ADHOC. Nicolas Agostini, a technical assistant at ADHOC, blamed the spike in deaths on a growing number of frontier residents willing to risk their lives to escape poverty. “The levels of poverty in the border provinces are quite high and people are desperate,” he told AFP.

[USA] California city eyes carbon credit revenue from its trees

By Valerie Volcovici, Reuters Point Carbon, 15 August 2012 | California’s seventh-largest city may try to bolster its strained budget by maintaining its 393,000-tree urban forest and selling carbon credits to regulated greenhouse gas emitters in the state’s forthcoming cap-and-trade program. Long Beach Councilwoman Gerrie Schipske said Tuesday she will ask the city’s office of sustainability to review her proposal to enroll its urban forest as an offset project that can supply credits to California’s carbon market. Planting and maintaining forests in urban areas is one of four ways emitters can offset their greenhouse gas output, according to California’s cap-and-trade regulations.

16 August 2012

Climate change poses risks to food, beyond US drought

By Alistair Doyle, Reuters, 16 August 2012 | Downpours and heatwaves caused by climate change could disrupt food supplies from the fields to the supermarkets, raising the risk of more price spikes such as this year’s leap triggered by drought in the United States. Food security experts working on a chapter in a U.N. overview of global warming due in 2014 said governments should take more account of how extremes of heat, droughts or floods could affect food supplies from seeds to consumers’ plates. “It has not been properly recognised yet that we are dealing with a food system here. There is a whole chain that is also going to be affected by climate change,” Professor Dr John Porter of the University of Copenhagen said. “It is more than just the fact that there are droughts in the United States that will reduce yields,” he said. Like the other experts, he said was giving personal opinions, not those of the U.N. panel.

[Australia] Carbon rush ‘could harm wildlife’, 16 August 2012 | The rush to plant trees to offset carbon emissions could have a harmful impact on Australia’s native environment if it is not very carefully managed, some of the nation’s leading ecologists have warned. Professor David Lindenmayer of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions (CEED) and the Australian National University (ANU) says scientists are concerned that a poorly-planned plantation boom could cause needless land clearing, add to invasive species and damage natural ecological processes. “It’s what we term ‘bio-perversity’, meaning that something which is done for the right environmental reasons but not thought through, can end up having unintended adverse consequences – especially in Australia’s fragile landscapes,” he says. “Like it or not, the carbon economy has come to town – and putting a price on carbon is going to drive big changes in how we manage our landscapes, which will probably accelerate as climate impacts grow.

Belo Monte dam construction halted by Brazilian court

By Jonathan Watts, The Guardian, 16 August 2012 | Opponents of the world’s biggest new hydroelectric project – the Belo Monte dam in Brazil – notched up a rare victory this week, when a federal appeals court ordered construction to be suspended until indigenous groups are properly consulted about the project. The judgment on Tuesday may prove only a temporary reprieve but it is seen as a scathing verdict on the government’s efforts to rush forward with the Xingu River project in the Amazon, which – despite controversy – is one of the pillars of Brazil’s efforts to reduce dependency on fossil fuels. It is also a setback for developers, led by Electrobras, which now face expensive delays or daily fines of up to R$500,000 (£166,00) if they do not comply with the court order. About 12,000 construction workers are due to work on the dam this year, which is eventually expected to produce 11,000 megawatts of electricity…

German court document names 150 CO2 tax fraud suspects

Reuters Point Carbon, 16 August 2012 | German authorities have identified 150 suspects from Hong Kong to Canada and the U.S. in their crackdown on a 7 billion euro ($8.6 billion) tax fraud in the European carbon market, a court document seen by Reuters Point Carbon showed. [R-M: Subscription needed.]

[Indonesia] Palm oil need not come at expense of the environment, 16 August 2012 | Palm oil production need not come at the expense of the environment, says Greenpeace in a new campaign that highlights a smallholder approach used by a community in Riau Province on the island of Sumatra. The campaign — noted in July on Mongabay-Indonesia — looks at the village of Dosan, which manages an oil palm plantation and has committed to not expanding into forest areas. According to Greenpeace, the Dosan community is “moving to improved environmental management practices that include zero burning, no herbicide use and improved water management.” At the same time the community has boosted yields through better management practices. Greenpeace says the developments are helping Dosan maintain the health of a nearby peatland area. Generally peat forests are drained for oil palm plantations, releasing carbon and increasing the vulnerability of the area to fire.

Mozambique resists external pressures and drafts own REDD+ strategy

CIFOR Forests News Blog, 16 August 2012 | Mozambique has taken a “remarkable” approach to reducing deforestation, engaging local communities and other stakeholders that will be most directly affected and drafting its own forest conservation strategy rather than relying on external consultants. This has given the southern African nation ownership over the U.N.-backed process Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+), which seeks to reward developing countries that reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and land degradation. “Mozambique has made a good start in identifying its own way of realising REDD – in fact, this is key in order to ensure that REDD+ is not getting hijacked by different interests,” said Sheila Wertz-Kanounnikoff, CIFOR scientist and co-author of the study which examined the political and economic context in which REDD+ is emerging in Mozambique.

Proof ‘Death Road’ will destroy Peru’s uncontacted tribes

Survival International, 16 August 2012 | Controversial plans to build a ‘Road of Death’ through Peru’s Amazon have been dealt a severe blow after authorities confirmed uncontacted tribes do live along its proposed route. This latest evidence weakens the case of an Italian priest, whose relentless battle to build the road ignores the existence of uncontacted tribes in the area. Father Miguel Piovesan deems the road a ‘public necessity’, and despite widespread opposition, continues to lobby Peru’s Congress to rush the plans through. However, new findings by Peru’s Department for Protected Areas, and Amazon Indian organization Fenamad, prove the lives of uncontacted tribes will be directly threatened by the project. Characteristic signs, including barriers of broken branches across pathways close to the proposed route, show the uncontacted tribe’s clear desire to be left alone.

CO2 emissions in U.S. drop to 20-year low

Associated Press, 16 August 2012 | In a surprising turnaround, the amount of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere in the U.S. has fallen dramatically to its lowest level in 20 years, and government officials say the biggest reason is that cheap and plentiful natural gas has led many power plant operators to switch from dirtier-burning coal. Many of the world’s leading climate scientists didn’t see the drop coming, in large part because it happened as a result of market forces rather than direct government action against carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that traps heat in the atmosphere. Michael Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State University, said the shift away from coal is reason for “cautious optimism” about potential ways to deal with climate change. He said it demonstrates that “ultimately people follow their wallets” on global warming.

17 August 2012

Ecosystem Marketplace’s Forest Carbon News

Ecosystem Marketplace, 17 August 2012 | California’s new cap-and-trade scheme might be able to provide relief for a couple of forest owners when it comes to their financial woes. Councilwoman Gerrie Schipske of Long Beach, California – which is grappling with a projected deficit in 2013 – is pushing a proposal to register the city’s urban forest as an offset project, sales from which would help defray the city’s multimillion-dollar annual cost of tree trimming. Meanwhile, Arizona’s White Mountain Apache tribe has allocated a parcel of pine forest it hopes will be eligible for crediting within the California scheme, seeking carbon credit revenue to pay off the tribe’s debts. Coverage is out on knowledge-sharing workshops carried out between Guyana and Suriname, as well as among countries in Melanesia and the Himalayas. Mozambique scores high in capacity-building efforts, as a new study shines light on the country’s remarkable ownership over its REDD+ readiness process…

[Guyana] Region 7 toshaos upset over treatment at Amerindian conference

Stabroek News, 17 August 2012 | Toshaos of Region 7 (Cuyuni/ Mazaruni) have expressed “great displeasure” over the conduct of proceedings at the National Toshaos Council (NTC) Conference, which according to them have undermined their right to freely speak on issues affecting their communities. [R-M: Subscription needed.]

[USA] Hold Your Rejoicing About Those Falling CO2 Emissions

By Michael D. Lemonick, Climate Central, 17 August 2012 | The Associated Press is reporting a “surprise turnaround” in carbon-dioxide emissions. Based on a document from the federal Energy Information Agency, the AP points that CO2 emissions have fallen to their lowest level in 20 years — and it’s not because of any new government regulations, but rather because natural gas has replaced coal in many power plants. Gas emits much less CO2 than coal, and thanks to fracking, gas has become extraordinarily cheap and plentiful. Problem solved! Or at least as the headline more responsibly puts it, “some experts optimistic on global warming.” Really? These experts might want to think again. It’s true that natural gas emits about half as much CO2 as coal in producing a comparable amount of energy, but half as much isn’t zero, and zero, or as close to it as is humanly possible, is where the world needs to get in a big hurry.

18 August 2012

[Guyana] Woolford: Gov’t should prospect for gold recovery alternatives

Stabroek News, 18 August 2012 | Retired Head of the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) William Woolford yesterday said that government ought to pioneer alternative recovery systems for gold because miners would be reluctant to invest in the technology unless it has been proven. He was speaking at the second of three presentations on ‘Mining Policy Initiatives’ sponsored by the Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association (GGDMA) at the Sea Breeze Hotel last evening. The mining industry and its issues have been under the spotlight recently for various reasons, including an impending US ban on the export of mercury… [R-M: Subscription needed.]

[Guyana] Kurutuku being devastated by mining pollution, Toshao warns

Stabroek News, 18 August 2012 | Toshao of the Region Seven community of Kurutuku, Solomon Lewis says that an increase in mining since last year has created problems for the remote community and is appealing for demarcation of land to be done quickly, since the damage could cause the death of the village. “Our water was being polluted, destroying our fishes because I would say at the present moment, the fish that we love to eat we can’t find that now. They kill the fishes, they kill the animals. We can’t get to use any water anywhere,” Lewis said at an AFC press conference on Wednesday… [R-M: Subscription needed.]

UK Satellite Company to Combat Deforestation to Meet REDD+ Goals

By Wanda Archy, Earthzine, 18 August 2012 | The Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation program (REDD+) is an international partnership which seeks to prevent deforestation and forest degradation. This mission is aided by a multi-disciplinary consortium, called inFORm, which now includes the United Kingdom’s Disaster Monitoring Constellation International Imaging (DMCii) company. The consortium takes part in aiding the U.K. to work with the worldwide REDD+ partnership, which attempts to provide a financial incentive for developing countries to store carbon in forests to ultimately prevent forest degradation and deforestation. Without a financial incentive, developing countries rely on cutting down forests for timber and other products as a source of income. Trees, however, remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it. When felled for timber or cut using the “slash-and-burn” method, the carbon is released back into the atmosphere.

19 August 2012

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