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REDD in the news: 13-19 May 2013

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 German Fast-Start Finance Contribution

World Resources Institute, May 2013 | Germany’s fast-start finance (FSF) contribution reflects a significant focus on financing climate action in developing countries. Germany exceeded its self-defined FSF pledge for the 2010-2012 FSF period, providing a total of EUR 1.29 billion, and also pledged to deliver EUR 1.8 billion in 2013. It is also one of the few countries to have published and adhered to a specific definition of what constitutes “new and additional” climate finance. This working paper provides policymakers and other climate finance practitioners with an assessment of German FSF project data. It examines characteristics of the finance such as channeling institutions employed and the extent of support for mitigation and adaptation activities. It also discusses innovative institutions for climate finance, Germany’s definition of additionality for FSF, and the degree to which the finance might be considered new and additional.

Tenure is the Central Feature of REDD+ Readiness

Land Tenure and Property Rights Portal, May 2013 | Global climate change cannot be addressed effectively through Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) without addressing land tenure and property rights systems. Critics of REDD+ initiatives fear that it could undermine indigenous and local claims as national governments enforce their central authority over forests. USAID’s issue brief on Land Tenure and REDD+ identifies land tenure as the foundation for REDD+ success. The brief identifies critical challenges to REDD+ readiness and key priorities to ensure that REDD+ contributes to tenure security. Critical challenges include defining stakeholders, defining rights, and establishing responsibilities.

Decision suport tool: Integrated REDD+ accounting frameworks: Nested national approaches

USAID-Asia and LEAF, May 2013 | This decision support tool provides overall guidance on establishing national-level REDD+ accounting frameworks within which nested or jurisdictional approaches are integrated. The tool complements information provided in the LEAF Technical Guidance on Development of a REDD+ Reference Level (Walker et al. 2012) and the Winrock/FCPF Decision Support Tool for Developing Reference Levels for REDD+ (Harris et al. 2012) to form a ‘package’ aimed at guiding countries through the REDD+ readiness process.

13 May 2013

Puma, Microsoft Call For Forest Protection To Combat Climate Change at REDD+ Talks

By Mike Hower, Sustainable Brands, 13 May 2013 | Corporate leaders and experts on global warming and climate change policy came together on Earth Day in Sausalito, California for REDD+ Talks, an inaugural event focused on how emissions from deforestation contributes to global warming and how this will affect the business world… “We need to go further than just having CSR,” said Puma’s General Manager Martyn Bowen at last week’s event, “We need to go further than just doing less bad. We need to start doing more good.”

Emerging REDD+ Programs Need Additional Emphasis on Land Tenure

By Lauren Goers Williams, WRI, 13 May 2013 | Since 2009, more than 30 countries have submitted proposals for REDD+ readiness grants to start addressing the social, economic, and institutional factors that contribute to forest loss. Many countries have made encouraging strides in defining their plans to become “ready” for REDD+. Yet, in a new WRI analysis of 32 country proposals, we identify the need for stronger commitments and strategies to address land and forest tenure challenges. While most countries identify secure land tenure as critical to successful REDD+ programs, relatively few outline specific objectives or next steps to address weaknesses in land laws or their implementation. Lack of clear strategies to address land tenure challenges could significantly hinder efforts to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.

Palm oil company violated RSPO standards, evicted from sustainability body, 13 May 2013 | The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) has evicted Indonesian palm oil giant Dutapalma Nusantara for violating key principles for sustainability. Dutapalma Nusantara, which is also known as Darmex Agro or Duta Palma, was found to have violated three RSPO principles: converting deep peat for a plantation, clearing forest without a high conservation value (HCV) assessment, and using fire to open land. The company repeatedly failed to address the issues, which were raised by the Indonesia Community Mapping Network via RSPO’s complaint system. "The Executive Board finds that PT Dutapalma Nusantara / PT Darmex Agro have not demonstrated commitment to address the issue nor acted in compliance with the Code of Conduct," said the RSPO in a statement posted on its web site. "Despite numerous directives from the RSPO to resolve the complaint, there was complete reticence and lack of response from the company."

Study Finds Loss of Rain Forests Can Deplete Hydropower

By Felicity Barringer, New York Times, 13 May 2013 | The loss of tropical rain forests is likely to reduce the energy output of hydroelectric projects in countries like Brazil that are investing billions of dollars to create power to support economic growth. That is the conclusion of a group of experts whose findings, released Monday, run counter to the conventional understanding of deforestation’s impact on watersheds.

Scientists aim to pinpoint role of forests in battle against “hidden hunger”

By Julie Mollins, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 13 May 2013 | The view that increased crop production is the strategy most likely to achieve global food security could in reality allow farmland to encroach on valuable ecosystems, have a disastrous impact on forests and might not solve food security and nutrition problems, scientists say. Further research is essential for understanding the full impact forests and tree-based agricultural systems have on dietary and nutritional needs for at least 1 billion people whose livelihoods are directly affected by forests, the scientists said in a discussion paper released ahead of the International Conference on Forests for Food Security and Nutrition hosted by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Rome. “A rampant increase in agricultural production as global population increases could encroach on nutritional food sources found in forests,” warned Terry Sunderland, a scientist at CIFOR.

Forests and food security: back on the global agenda

By Terry Sunderland, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 13 May 2013 | Recent news headlines, a plethora of scientific publications and the creation of new academic think tanks all reflect growing concerns over how to achieve global food security — a centerpiece of donor commitments and the focus of many research and development organisations. The renewed emphasis on global food security is stimulated by projections that show the global human population will grow from 7 billion to an estimated 9 billion people by 2050. Central to the current discourse on food security is the perceived need to increase food production to feed the 870 million people — one in eight worldwide, according to U.N. food agencies — who do not have enough to eat.

Indonesian palm oil giant cutting deforestation from supply chain

By Rhett A. Butler,, 13 May 2013 | Indonesian palm oil giant Golden Agri-Resources (GAR) is continuing to reduce deforestation under its 2011 forest conservation policy despite ongoing forest destruction by other palm oil producers in the sector, finds a new assessment by Greenomics, an Indonesian activist group. However the report finds GAR’s operations are not completely deforestation-free. Using a combination of satellite data and legal documents filed with the Ministry of Forestry, the Greenomics report [PDF] shows that GAR-owned companies are maintaining significant blocks of forest within their concessions in Indonesian Borneo despite having licenses to clear the land. The results indicate that GAR appears to be respecting elements of its commitment not to convert high carbon stock land for oil palm plantations. But the report also finds incidents of tree-cutting in some areas.

Hope for Indonesia’s tigers and orangutans?

By Graham Land, Asian Correspondent, 13 May 2013 | Indonesia, home to one third of the world’s remaining tropical forests, is set to extend a ban on forest clearing. Extending the ban is crucial for the survival of severely threatened species such as the Sumatran tiger and orangutan. A two-year moratorium on deforestation is set to expire and you can be sure that the palm oil, paper and timber industries are paying close attention. Some members have already vocally opposed any continuation of the deal. Fortunately, signs are pointing to president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono signing an extension. The government’s head of forestry sector reform also supports extending the ban.

Laos: REDD workshop provides clearer picture of deforestation

Vientiane Times, 13 May 2013 | A consultation workshop on REDD+ initiative was held in Vientiane recently to unveil the REDD+ country profile document, which was reviewed collectively. The workshop was held on May 7 in Vientiane, with about 40 participants in attendance, from institutions such as the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, National University of Laos (NUOL), National Economics Research Institute, National Agriculture and Forestry Institute, Souphanouvong University, Department of Investment Promotion and the Department of Forest Inspection. As part of the I-REDD+ project and in partnership with the Centre for International Forestry Research’s Global Comparative Study on REDD, the NUOL’s Faculty of Forestry has recently documented the progresses in REDD+ at the national level. This stock taking exercise led to a REDD+ Country Profile document that was reviewed collectively during the consultation workshop involving key national stakeholders.

Deutsche Bank and IFC accused of bankrolling Vietnam firms’ land grabs

By Kate Hodal and Chris Kelly, The Guardian, 13 May 2013 | Two Vietnamese firms bankrolled by Deutsche Bank and the International Finance Corporation – the World Bank’s private lending arm – are leading a wave of land grabs in Cambodia and Laos, causing widespread evictions, illegal logging and food insecurity, according to a report. The study, concluding a year-long investigation by the watchdog Global Witness, names two of Vietnam’s biggest companies, the privately owned Huang Anh Gia Lai (HAGL) and state-owned Vietnam Rubber Group (VRG), as the businesses behind the land grabs. It claims they are working with the explicit support of the Cambodian and Laotian governments, who have authorised the land developments. "We’ve known for some time that corrupt politicians in Cambodia and Laos are orchestrating the land-grabbing crisis that is doing so much damage in the region," said Megan MacInnes, head of Global Witness’s land team, in a statement.

South Korea on course to have the world’s highest carbon prices

Bloomberg New Energy Finance, 13 May 2013 | In a little over 18 months, South Korea will launch a scheme that will cap around 70% of its greenhouse gas emissions. A White Paper published today by research firm Bloomberg New Energy Finance, in cooperation with Ernst & Young, concludes that the design is the most ambitious yet proposed anywhere, and could result in the Korean carbon price reaching the penalty level of $90/tCO2 – exceeding that in any other emissions trading system (ETS) in the world. The predicted high prices in the Korean scheme reflect a combination of factors: ambitious reduction targets, the relatively high cost of reducing emissions within the country, and restrictions on the use of offset credits from abroad.

14 May 2013

The private sector could help tackle climate change. What a pity it’s left out in the cold

By Assaad W. Razzouk, The Independent, 14 May 2013 | Buyers use the carbon credits to offset their emissions while sellers receive new investments, technologies and jobs. According to a recent report co-authored by the Center for American Progress and Climate Advisers, the CDM succeeded beyond expectations, unleashing more than $356 billion in green investments. The CDM was on track to deliver $1 trillion in financing but is currently delivering none at all because the carbon price signal it is sending is zero: negotiators in Bonn are negotiating agreements and frameworks, while sending – via their own CDM system – a signal that pollution has no cost… If negotiators at UN climate change talks must insist on continuing to use such a flawed forum, they should at the very least significantly enhance dialogue with the private sector – as well as stand behind the international carbon markets they created.

The Ecosystem Marketplace’s Forest Carbon News

Ecosystem Marketplace, 14 May 2013 | At the recent REDD+ Talks in Sausalito, California – the first U.S. conference held on the critical role of REDD+ in the fight against climate change – Microsoft’s Tamara “T.J.” DiCaprio discussed her company’s game-changing internal carbon fee and the new wave of offset projects it is supporting with guidance from its new partner, The CarbonNeutral Company, whose clients have invested nearly $9 million in forest carbon projects in recent years. DiCaprio hopes Microsoft’s efforts can set a precedent for other companies looking to prioritize organization-wide environmental accountability through efforts like REDD+. A new Ecosystem Marketplace article forges deeper into Microsoft’s offsetting strategy as part of its broader drive toward carbon neutrality. “We are part of the problem,” says DiCaprio…

[Indonesia] Paper giant APRIL to restore peat forest in Sumatra, but green groups say it continues to deforest

By Diana Parker,, 14 May 2013 | Pulp and paper giant Asia Pacific Resources International Limited (APRIL) has launched a $7 million ecosystem restoration project to restore and protect over 20,000 hectares of peat forest in Indonesia’s Riau province, Mongabay-Indonesia reported last week. The company, through its subsidiary PT Gemilang Cipta Nusantara, has a 60-year ecosystem restoration license to carry out the project, which aims to restore and manage a 20,265-hectare degraded forest area on the Kampar Peninsula on the island of Sumatra. Restorasi Ekosistem Riau (RER), a non-profit organization started by APRIL earlier this year, will manage the Kampar Peninsula project in conjunction with international conservation group Fauna & Flora International; Bidara, a non-governmental organization focusing on social capital in rural communities; and Daemeter, a consulting firm that promotes sustainable management of natural resources in Indonesia.

[Malaysia] Oil palm firms team up with Sabah to protect Malua Forest Reserve

The Star, 14 May 2013 | Malua’s large sprawl and extensive boundary have stymied anti-encroachment efforts. Although incidences of tree-felling, gaharu theft, illegal cultivation and hunting have declined following protection efforts, rangers are still discovering snare traps, human trails and signs of hunters, especially where the reserve borders plantations. This has prompted a unique public-private collaboration which kicked off last November. The Malua Wildlife Conservation Agreement sees Sabah Forestry Department and Sabah Wildlife Department teaming up with four oil palm companies (IOI Corp, TH Group, Kwantas Corp and Selangor Agriculture Development Board) and New Forests (which manages investments in sustainable forestry) to stem the illegal activities, as well as assist the plantations to improve their environmental management.

Peru spares Amazon rainforest from oil and gas push

By David Hill, The Guardian, 14 May 2013 | Peru has announced a bidding round for new oil and gas concessions but, contrary to what was initially expected, none of them are in the Amazon rainforest. Nine concessions are to be auctioned, state company Perupetro declared recently, but all of them are offshore along Peru’s Pacific Ocean coast. This constitutes a significant change of plan by Perupetro which last September issued a statement that before the end of 2012 36 new concessions would be established. According to a presentation made to the World Heavy Oil Congress in Aberdeen in Scotland the same month, 27 of these concessions – totaling millions of hectares – would be in the Amazon.

15 May 2013

How Business and Society Thrive by Investing in Nature – An interview with Mark Tercek

By Mark Szotek,, 15 May 2013 | In 2008, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) surprised the conservation world when it selected Mark Tercek, an investment banker at Goldman Sachs, as its new president and CEO. For people familiar with Tercek, however, the move made perfect sense: he was a leading figure in Goldman’s efforts to pursue new environmental policies. In 2005, Tercek became head of the firm’s Environmental Strategy Group. In that role, he worked with ecosystem services science pioneers, including Gretchen Daily of Stanford University and President Obama’s chief scientific adviser, John Holdren. While at the helm of TNC, Mark Tercek has continued his focus on ecosystem services or attributing economic value to nature. In his new book, Nature’s Fortune, Mark discusses the fruit of this work. Mark Tercek, CEO of The Nature Conservancy, recently sat down with Mongabay.

What Can Bamboo Do About CO2?

By Tracy Li, Ecology Global Network, 15 May 2013 | Efforts to thoroughly study the role that plants play in climate change mitigation are increasing. Most researchers focus on the promise of large, leafy forest trees to help remove carbon from the atmosphere; for example Lal (1998) in India, Chen (1999) in Canada, Zhang (2003) in China, and Monson ( 2002) in the United States. This is because, generally speaking, the bigger the plant, the more CO2 it absorbs – and trees are the most obvious large plant species. However, there are some very large non-tree plants in the world and increasing evidence points to a surprising grassy climate change warrior: bamboo. One species of bamboo, the guadua angustifolia, found in Venezuela, Ecuador, and Colombia, has been shown to grow up to 25 meters in height and 22 centimeters in diameter, with each plant weighing up to 100 kilograms (Rojas de Sánchez, 2004).

The Status of the REDD+ process in the Democratic Republic of Congo

By Patrick Kipalu & Joelle Mukungu, Forest Peoples Programme, 15 May 2013 | The considerable threats faced by the forests of the Democratic Republic of the Congo continue to draw global attention because of the crucial role these large forests play in regulating the global climate. Estimates indicate that the forests of the Congo Basin as a whole capture and store about 10 to 30 billion tons of carbon, an increasingly significant ecosystem service in light of concerns about climate change. In recent years, projects aimed at the reduction of emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) have been developed to provide financial incentives based on performance to the owners of large areas of forests in order to reduce the loss of forests and promote the improvement of carbon stocks through conservation and tree planting.

[Indonesia] WWF delighted by moratorium extension

Jakarta Post, 15 May 2013 | World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Indonesia has welcomed the issuance of President Instruction (Inpres) No.6/2013 which continues the forestry moratorium for the next two years. WWF Indonesia’s CEO Efransjah appreciated President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s policy to improve forest and peatland management in efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. “The most important thing is the need to set clear work targets, including to create a single, unified forest map; to accelerate the completion of spatial planning bylaws in areas targeted by the moratorium; and to synchronize the central and local government regulations on natural resource management,” said Efransjah in a statement made available to The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.

Indonesia officially extends forestry moratorium

By Rhett Butler,, 15 May 2013 | The Indonesian government has officially extended its moratorium on new logging and plantation concessions in 65 million hectares of forests and peatlands for another two years. The move, which had been expected, was announced Wednesday by Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. The moratorium is the centerpiece of the Indonesian government’s push to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the vast majority of which result from deforestation and degradation of carbon-dense peatlands. The moratorium was signed after Norway pledged a billion dollars toward Indonesia’s deforestation-reduction plan. Norway’s largesse is contingent on Indonesia’s success in reducing forest loss.

Indonesia Extends its Forest Moratorium: What Comes Next?

By Kemen Austin, Fred Stolle and Araina Alisjahbana, WRI, 15 May 2013 | Indonesia’s President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono made a bold and courageous decision this week to extend the country’s forest moratorium. With this decision, which aims to prevent new clearing of primary forests and peat lands for another two years, the government could help protect valuable forests and drive sustainable development. Enacted two years ago, Indonesia’s forest moratorium has already made some progress in improving forest management. However, much more can be done. The extension offers Indonesia a tremendous opportunity: a chance to reduce emissions, curb deforestation, and greatly strengthen forest governance in a country that holds some of the world’s most diverse ecosystems.

Indonesia extends logging moratorium to protect rainforests

By Ben Bland, Financial Times, 15 May 2013 | Indonesia has extended its landmark moratorium on logging for another two years but environmentalists and senior officials say the government must dramatically improve governance if it is to protect the country’s remaining rainforests and reduce carbon emissions. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono unveiled a two-year moratorium on the issuance of new plantation and logging concessions in primary forests and peatlands in May 2011 as part of his plan to cut carbon emissions by 26 per cent from what levels are expected to be by 2020.

16 May 2013

EU carbon permit surplus doubles in 2012

By Joshua Chaffin, Financial Times, 16 May 2013 | The surplus of permits in the EU’s carbon market more than doubled last year to 2bn, according to fresh data that Brussels hope will rally support for its controversial plan to boost carbon prices. The data – released by the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm – reveal that free permits given over the past five years to makers of steel, glass, cement and other heavy industries exceeded their carbon emissions during that period by nearly 300m tonnes… The latest figures come amid a debate between Brussels and European industry about the merits of intervening in the carbon market – the world’s largest – to prop up prices that have fallen from more than €30 per tonne five years ago to less than €4 today. That price collapse has removed an incentive for companies to invest in clean technologies. It stems from a glut of free permits as well as an unforeseen economic crisis that has damped industrial activity across Europe.

REDD+ Training Supply and Needs Reports

RECOFTC, 16 May 2013 | REDD+ capacity building is fundamental to achieving REDD+ readiness, recognized as a priority area by the UNFCCC since COP 13 in 2007. There is little data, however, that describe the type of capacity building and the number of people that are reached with these initiatives in REDD+ countries. The lack of information makes it difficult to determine where additional investments in capacity building are needed. These reports are part of a multi-country assessment of REDD+ capacity building initiatives that were implemented in Cambodia, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Indonesia, Liberia, Madagascar and Papua New Guinea (PNG) between September 2010 and June 2012. It was funded with a grant from the Climate and Land Use Alliance (CLUA) to the Alliance for Global REDD+ Capacity (AGRC), which is a partnership between 16 organizations, including RECOFTC, that are committed to enhancing the quality and availability of training on REDD+ worldwide.

Can REDD+ drive change in DR Congo?

By Thomas Hubert, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 16 May 2013 | Implementing a U.N.-backed scheme to slow forest loss in the Democratic Republic of Congo will be difficult, a new study says, until the government addresses corruption, a lack of state authority in some regions, and intermittent fighting between rebels and government forces in the country’s east. Despite these challenges, the authors say that the scheme could actually help improve governance in the country. The report, The context of REDD+ in the DRC: drivers, agents and institutions (publication in French), to be launched at a forestry conference in Yaoundé, Cameroon, this week, contains an in-depth review of the governance, socio-economic and environmental situation in the central African nation.

NGO: conflict of interests behind Peruvian highway proposal in the Amazon

By Jeremy Hance,, 16 May 2013 | As Peru’s legislature debates the merits of building the Purús highway through the Amazon rainforest, a new report by Global Witness alleges that the project has been aggressively pushed by those with a financial stake in opening up the remote area to logging and mining. Roads built in the Amazon lead to spikes in deforestation, mining, poaching and other extractive activities as remote areas become suddenly accessible. The road in question would cut through parts of the Peruvian Amazon rich in biodiversity and home to indigenous tribes who have chosen to live in "voluntary isolation." If built, the Purús highway would run 270 kilometers (167 miles) from Puerto Esperanza in Ucayali to Iñapari in Madre de Dios, bisecting Peru’s Alto National Park, the Purús Community Reserve and the Madre de Dios Territorial Reserve. According to the Global Witness report, the road would violate "Peru’s laws on protected areas."

17 May 2013

Climate finance that makes sense to farmers

By Kristi Foster, World Agroforestry Centre, 17 May 2013 | Agricultural carbon projects involving smallholder farmers can take up to 16 years to generate a profit from carbon credits. Meanwhile, farmers’ direct income from poles, timber and fuelwood could be 50 times higher than the value of carbon revenue. These statements are just a snapshot of the evidence presented in a new World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) policy brief, Climate Finance for Agriculture and Livelihoods, which calls for an innovative and integrated approach to financing sustainable smallholder agriculture. The policy brief is a collaboration between ICRAF, the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) and experts from the public sector, private finance and civil society that draws on evidence from project experiences to date.

[Australia] Farmers land carbon credits

PSnews, 17 May 2013 | Changes to how land sector emissions are reported under the Kyoto Protocol are expected to benefit farmers and rural landholders who will gain greater access to Australia’s carbon markets. The changes announced in the 2013-14 Budget will see the Government formally account for cropland management, grazing land management and revegetation in its national greenhouse gas inventory. Parliamentary Secretary for Climate Change, Industry and Innovation, Yvette D’Ath said the decision meant when a landholder stored carbon in soils or vegetation, their efforts would count towards Australia meeting its national greenhouse gas reduction target.

Beyond carbon storage: the Congo Basin forest as rainmaker

By Denis Sonwa, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 17 May 2013 | Responses to climate change are grouped into two main categories: mitigation (reducing greenhouse gas emissions responsible for climate change) and adaptation (adjusting livelihoods and life styles due to the influences of climate change). Amongst adaptation strategies, ecosystem-based adaptation (EBA) is an approach that promotes ways to use natural resources and biodiversity to help develop adaptation strategies for vulnerable communities. In this context, recent studies highlight the role that the Congo Basin forests play in generating rainfall, both regionally and in the continent as a whole. Rainfall in an ecosystem originates from three main sources: moisture that is already in the atmosphere, moisture from outside the region, and evapotranspiration from surfaces within the ecosystem (forests and other land uses).

From forest harvest to bubbling businesses in the Congo Basin

By Thomas Hubert, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 17 May 2013 | There have been hunters and gatherers for as long as mankind can remember and members of many communities in the Congo Basin still extract their food, medicines, fuel and cultural artefacts directly from the forest. Should such long-established livelihoods be integrated into the modern economy? Abdon Awono, a Cameroon-based scientist with the Center for International Forestry Research, thinks so. “Can we recognise that local communities need things like televisions and modern healthcare? My answer is yes,” said the co-author of Guide for small and medium enterprises in the sustainable non-timber forest product trade in Central Africa. “If so, they need money. How can they get it? From their direct environment.”

In landmark ruling, Indonesia’s indigenous people win right to millions of hectares of forest

By Rhett A. Butler,, 17 May 2013 | In a landmark ruling, Indonesia’s Constitutional Court has invalidated the Indonesian government’s claim to millions of hectares of forest land, potentially giving indigenous and local communities the right to manage their customary forests, reports Mongabay-Indonesia. In a review of a 1999 forestry law, Indonesia’s Constitutional Court ruled [PDF – Indonesian] that customary forests should not be classified as "State Forest Areas". The move is significant because Indonesia’s central government has control over the country’s vast forest estate, effectively enabling agencies like the Ministry of Forestry to grant large concessions to companies for logging and plantations even if the area has been managed for generations by local people. In practice that meant ago-forestry plots, community gardens, and small-holder selective logging concessions could be bulldozed for industrial logging, pulp and paper production, and oil palm plantations.

Indigenous association to sue to shut down Panama’s REDD+ program, 17 May 2013 | Panama’s largest association of indigenous people will sue the Panamanian government to shut down the country’s Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+) program. The National Coordinator of Indigenous Peoples in Panama (COONAPIP) announced its intent after it failed to reach agreement with the United Nation’s REDD+ program, which has been working to establish a forest conservation framework in the Central American country. REDD+ aims to compensate tropical countries for cutting forest loss. The dispute dates back to 2009 and stems from COONAPIP’s view that indigenous peoples in Panama have not been properly engaged in the REDD+ process. Earlier this year COONAPIP said it was pulling out of negotiations with the UN-REDD Program over a financial dispute. COONAPIP alleged that UN-REDD failed to delivery on a $1.8 million payment to begin REDD+ activities.

18 May 2013

[Australia] Anger as green projects slashed, funds diverted to help cattle exports

By Heath Aston, Sydney Morning Herald, 18 May 2013 | Australia has all but dumped $75 million worth of projects regrowing forests in the developing world and shelved a $100 million forest carbon partnership with Indonesia… Aid/Watch spokesman James Goodman said it was a sign of ”bad faith” for Australia’s contribution to fall so dramatically even if other countries were backing away from climate change funding and a new global deal was yet to be brokered. ”Australia has the capacity to help others and we should,” he said. Dr Goodman said funding for the ”forest carbon partnership”, signed by former prime minister Kevin Rudd and his Indonesian counterpart in 2008, had disappeared from the budget. According to AusAID, part of the program which has raised 2.6 million seedlings to plant has been discontinued and others are under review.

[Indonesia] Government recognizes customary forests

By Nadya Natahadibrata, Jakarta Post, 18 May 2013 | Forestry Ministry secretary-general Hadi Daryanto said the ministry had launched a program in 2010 to allocate 2.5 million hectares of forest areas as village forests, as a substitute for customary forests for indigenous people. The program is slated to be completed in 2014. “With the annulment by the Constitutional Court, we will redefine the designated areas of village forests that are not located in state forests or private forests,” he said. Hadi added that customary forest areas could not be regulated by the central government as, according to Article 67 of the Forestry Law, customary forests were to be regulated under bylaws. “Article 67 of Law No. 41/1999 on forestry was not annulled by the MK [Constitutional Court] and currently, no regional administration has issued a bylaw on customary forests,” Hadi told The Jakarta Post.

[Indonesia] More Than a Million Support Petition to Stop Aceh Deforestation

Jakarta Globe, 18 May 2013 | Rudi Putra, an environmental activist, started another petition for the same cause on, which has garnered more than 1.2 million signatures in its first 11 days. “Aceh rainforests, home to endangered animals like orangutan and Sumatran rhino, have been destroyed by illegal hunters and loggers, but this new exploration will be an ultimate disaster,” he said. Rights groups say the plan will allow around 1.2 million hectares that were previously protected to be cleared… “Yudhoyono has the options: to leave an important legacy to protect the rich natural resources or to trash his own track record by allowing this disaster,” Avaaz’ campaign director Ian Baasin said.

19 May 2013

Cambodias great land grab

Bangkok Post, 19 May 2013 | Global Witness released a 49-page report on alleged illegal land grabs by two Vietnamese companies, state-owned VRG and privately owned Hoang Anh Gia Lai (HAGL) with investment backing from Deutsche Bank and International Finance Corp (IFC), a wing of the World Bank. It was released about the first anniversary of the death of Chhut Vuthy, a prominent environmentalist killed by security guards while investigating land grabs, and Heng Chanta, a 14-year-old girl shot dead not far from here, again by security guards during a village protest over land. The response from Prime Minister Hun Sen was typical. He announced more rubber plantations would be grown and on a vast scale _ seemingly indifferent to the plight of hundreds of thousands of impoverished people who have lost their land or been bullied into selling at rock bottom prices. ”In the next few years, we can have more rubber than Vietnam."

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