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REDD in the news: 20-26 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.

Land tenure and fast-tracking REDD+: time to reframe the debate?

By Anna Bolin, Leonie Lawrence and Matt Leggett, The Global Canopy Programme, May 2013 | The authors of this Analytical Paper argue that policy makers in forest countries must look beyond reform of tenure laws to address the pressing need for REDD+ enabling conditions. A global agreement on REDD+ is needed by 2020 if the mechanism is to have a significant impact on mitigating climate change. However, legally defensible and enforceable land tenure rights, while a key enabling condition for effective and equitable REDD+, will not be achieved in most forest countries before this date. In addition, by drawing on examples from Nepal and Papua New Guinea, the authors demonstrate that limited enforcement and high cost can undermine the effectiveness of legal tenure reform, while forest-owning communities with weak legal rights may in practice exercise a high level of control over forest land.

20 May 2013

Amazon River exhales virtually all carbon taken up by rain forest

By Hannah Hickey,, 20 May 2013 | The Amazon rain forest, popularly known as the lungs of the planet, inhales carbon dioxide as it exudes oxygen. Plants use carbon dioxide from the air to grow parts that eventually fall to the ground to decompose or get washed away by the region’s plentiful rainfall. Until recently people believed much of the rain forest’s carbon floated down the Amazon River and ended up deep in the ocean. University of Washington research showed a decade ago that rivers exhale huge amounts of carbon dioxide – though left open the question of how that was possible, since bark and stems were thought to be too tough for river bacteria to digest. A study published this week in Nature Geoscience resolves the conundrum, proving that woody plant matter is almost completely digested by bacteria living in the Amazon River, and that this tough stuff plays a major part in fueling the river’s breath.

Mangroves under threat as Cameroonians move toward coast

By Andrea Booth, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 20 May 2013 | Mangroves that could protect Cameroon from rising seas may be subject to more pressure than they can bear, as people migrating to the country’s southwestern coast clear trees at a rate so fast they can’t regenerate, scientists at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) said. As the world grapples with the affects of climate change, it cannot afford to ignore these unique, watery worlds, said Bele Mekou Youssoufa, co-author of Vulnerability to coastal flooding and response strategies: the case of Cameroon mangrove forests. “Even if we negate all benefits of mangroves as forests, their value as the ‘shore-line protector’ should be enough to convince us to conserve them,” he said, noting the trees’ roots spread across a large area, soaking up water and encouraging sedimentation. That not only helps stabilise tidal and freshwater inputs, according to recent CIFOR research, but helps prevent soil erosion.

Top Indonesian official calls out misinformation in environmental campaign

By Rhett A. Butler,, 20 May 2013 | Indonesia’s top REDD+ official confirmed there is no plan to open 1.2 million hectares of protected forest in Sumatra’s Aceh Province, calling into question numbers used by environmentalists in their bid to stop reclassification of the province’s forest land. In a statement released Sunday, Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, head of the REDD+ Task Force and the President’s Delivery Unit for Development, Monitoring & Oversight (UKP-PPP), said that the 1.2 million hectare figure comes from the difference between a plan proposed, but never implemented, by former governor Yusuf Irwandi and the new spatial plan drafted by current governor, Zaini Abdullah. “Our mapping team had reanalyzed existing data and documents and we have not found any evidence of plans to convert up to 1.2 million hectares of forests as cited recently by a number of groups,” said Kuntoro.

[Indonesia] Lowly cop with vast wealth

Jakarta Post, 20 May 2013 | The case in point implicates Adj. First Insp. Labora Sitorus of the Sorong Police in West Papua, who is suspected of involvement in illegal logging and fuel smuggling and was found to have bank accounts containing billions of rupiah. The case against him was first raised by the Financial Transaction Reports Analysis Centre (PPATK), which filed a report with National Police chief Gen. Timur Pradopo in March stating that the low-ranking officer was linked to bank transactions totaling Rp 1.5 trillion (US$153 million) between 2007 and 2012… The Papua Police, under the direction of the National Police, is now building their case against Sitorus, who will be charged under the 1999 Forestry Law, the 2001 Papua Special Autonomy Law and the Money Laundering Law.

[Indonesia] Major police cover-up alarms in Labora case

By Margareth S. Aritonang and Yuliasri Perdani, Jakarta Post, 20 May 2013 | Antigraft and police watchdogs suspect that the sudden arrest by the National Police of Papua policeman Adj. First Insp. Labora Sitorus was part of plot to protect higher ranking officers who could be dragged into the mire of a major graft case. “It’s inconceivable that LS [Labora Sitorus] acted alone for five years. There have been reports of illegal logging and fuel smuggling that might involve members of the police in Papua, but it has all been ignored. “It’s impossible for members of the police to be involved in this kind of thing unless they have the support of their superiors,” Neta S. Pane, chairman of the Indonesian Police Watch told The Jakarta Post on Sunday. Labora was detained for holding suspicious bank accounts containing more than Rp 1 trillion (US$102 million), allegedly the proceeds of illegal logging and fuel smuggling.

[Indonesia] Cop with fat bank account returns to Papua

By Yuliasri Perdani, Jakarta Post, 20 May 2013 | Adj. First Insp. Labora Sitorus, a Papua cop with a suspicious amount of money in his bank accounts, was taken to the Papua Police’s detention center on Monday. National Police spokesperson Brig. Gen. Boy Rafli Amar said that Labora was flown back to Papua two days after he filed a report to the National Police Commission (Kompolnas) in Jakarta. The Papua Police have named Labora a suspect in illegal logging, fuel smuggling and money laundering cases. The investigation centering on Labora was in response to a Financial Transaction Reports and Analysis Center (PPATK) report, stating that Labora was linked to bank transactions totaling Rp 1 trillion (US$102 million) between 2007 and 2012.

Plague of deforestation sweeps across south-east Asia

By Dan Drollette, The Guardian, 20 May 2013 | The scope of the forest loss was highlighted earlier this month by the conservation group WWF, which noted that from 1973, near the end of the Vietnam War, to 2009, the greater Mekong region lost nearly one-third of its remaining forest cover. Vietnam and Thailand suffered the most forest destruction, each losing 43 percent of their forest cover, according to an analysis of satellite imagery by WWF.

US, EU timber import regulations could bankrupt Central Africa’s small-scale loggers: experts

By Babatope Akinwande, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 20 May 2013 | Loggers in Central Africa could be driven out of business due to the high operating costs needed to comply with timber trade policies in Europe and the US, said experts from the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR). “Loggers now have to now bear the costs of generating new forest management plans, verifying timber and issuance of a legality licence that meets the requirements of the EU and US,” said Richard Eba’a Atyi, CIFOR scientist and co-author of a new report on the impacts of international timber policies on Central Africa’s forestry sector. “This would amount to about US$5,000 per community forest – representing the average annual earnings of 10 community members.”

21 May 2013

Workshop “International Forest Protection and REDD+ Partnerships” – Summary

Climate Focus, 21 May 2013 | Climate Focus, in cooperation with the Moore Foundation and the Climate Land Use Alliance, is helping to catalyze new subnational partnerships in support of international forest protection and the Governors’ Climate and Forest Task Force (GCF). As part of an outreach effort to European subnational entities, Climate Focus together with the Forest Research Institute Baden-Württemberg (FVA) co-hosted a workshop “International Forest Protection and REDD+ Partnerships”. The workshop offered an opportunity for representatives of German states, researchers and private sector to discuss options for cooperation within the institutional framework provided by the GCF, and to develop concrete ideas for cooperation and partnerships. Discussions were focused on the potential role the German state (“Land”) Baden-Württemberg could play within the GCF. The event took place on 22 April 2013 in Freiburg, Germany.

China reveals details of first carbon trading scheme

By Leslie Hook, Financial Times, 21 May 2013 | High quality global journalism requires investment. Please share this article with others using the link below, do not cut & paste the article. See our Ts&Cs and Copyright Policy for more detail. Email to buy additional rights. Operating details of China’s first pilot carbon-trading scheme, in Shenzhen, have been released as it gets ready to launch next month, and as the country prepares to roll out seven pilot schemes by 2014. The world’s biggest carbon emitter, China is planning to experiment with carbon trading schemes during the next three years as it seeks to cut emissions. Beijing is targeting a 40 per cent reduction in emissions relative to economic output by 2020, from 2005 levels, but hasn’t identified what means it will use to reach that goal.

Can biodiversity and logging coexist in the Congo?

By Cristina Müller, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 21 May 2013 | Scientists are working with national authorities and local populations in the Congo Basin to develop multiple-use forest management systems, which sees forest resources optimized for sustainable production of forest products and services such as timber, water regulation, food production, cultural needs and energy demands. But Robert Nasi, Director of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry, says few governments enforce this mechanism. “The political culture is not about sharing resources, it is about each small section making it for itself,” he said. “There is a fear that by joining forces with another ministry, separate government autarchies will lose their power.”

[Indonesia] Papua cop gave ‘charity funds’ to bosses

By Yuliasri Perdani, Jakarta Post, 21 May 2013 | Adj. First Insp. Labora Sitorus, a Papua Police officer accused of owning fat bank accounts, has said he wired money for “charity-related programs” to several of his superiors. Labora, who allegedly controlled accounts through which passed over Rp 1 trillion (US$102 million) over a five-year period, made his statement during a closed-door meeting with National Police Commission (Kompolnas) members on Saturday, moments before his arrest. The officer was then transferred back to Papua, where he will be held at the Papua Police detention center until the end of the police investigation, when a decision will be made whether to forward the case to prosecutors. “He channeled some funds for social activities, but we are not sure about the motive,” Kompolnas commissioner M. Nasser said after meeting with officers from the National Police’s Criminal Investigations Division (Bareskrim) in Jakarta on Monday.

22 May 2013

World Bank Insider Blows Whistle on Corruption, Federal Reserve

By Alex Newman, The New American, 22 May 2013 | A former insider at the World Bank, ex-Senior Counsel Karen Hudes, says the global financial system is dominated by a small group of corrupt, power-hungry figures centered around the privately owned U.S. Federal Reserve. The network has seized control of the media to cover up its crimes, too, she explained. In an interview with The New American, Hudes said that when she tried to blow the whistle on multiple problems at the World Bank, she was fired for her efforts. Now, along with a network of fellow whistleblowers, Hudes is determined to expose and end the corruption. And she is confident of success.

Do REDD+ projects deliver benefits to local people?

UN-REDD, 22 May 2013 | Information on benefits (as well as risks) that REDD+ might bring remains scant. A recent article is trying to fill the knowledge gap through a review of initial outcomes and early lessons of 41 REDD+ related projects in Africa, Asia and the Pacific and South and Central America. In terms of opportunity benefits, which the authors define as jobs, payments, education and infrastructure, projects make only a modest contribution. The ways the benefits are provided also don’t appear much different from any integrated conservation and development project.

Reducing deforestation emissions in Cameroon demands variety of expertise

By Thomas Hubert, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 22 May 2013 | As the world grapples with implementing a U.N.-backed scheme aimed at slowing forest loss and degradation (REDD+), new research from Cameroon shows that the complexity of the scheme demands expertise from a variety of players within and outside government. “The variety of aspects covered by REDD+ means the Ministry of Environment can no longer be expected to lead the way on its own,” says Denis Sonwa, scientist with the Center for International Forestry Research and co-author of REDD+ policy strategy in Cameroon: Actors, institutions and governance. “It is critical that the state reinvent itself as a learning organization that takes advantage of the expertise offered by other actors in global networks so that it can perform the required leadership and coordination role in designing a national REDD+ strategy.”

Indonesia and environmental sustainability: Walking the talk?

By Satya S. Tripathi, Jakarta Post, 22 May 2013 | At a national workshop on Indonesia’s moratorium hosted by the United Nations earlier this month, noted Indonesian ecologist Sonya Dewi likened the moratorium to a durian. She spoke of its polarizing effect. People either love it or hate it. While at first glance, it may appear difficult and prickly, when broken apart, it can yield a nutritious and beneficial sustenance. Similarly, other participants noted that, in both Indonesian and global discussions on forestry and broader resource management, people often speak of “low hanging fruit” or “quick wins”. This refers to making short-term achievements that can maintain the momentum needed to institute long-term reforms necessary to achieve sustainability. Without a doubt, temporary gains in a positive direction are important.

23 May 2013

Cambodia REDD+ National Programme Launches its Website

UN-REDD Programme blog, 23 May 2013 | Mr. Timothy Boyle, Regional Coordinator to UN-REDD Programme said, “This website provides a one-step site to access all information about REDD+ in Cambodia. It does not supplant the web-sites of different partners, but rather serves to strengthen information flow for all partners. Few if any countries have established such a comprehensive national REDD+ web-site.”

Liquid cash or solid investment? Trees offer new approach for Cameroon’s farmers

By Valerie Gwinner, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 23 May 2013 | Smallholder farmers in Cameroon fell the trees in their fields simply to raise quick cash – but the practice could point to a new and sustainable way to make a living, according to forestry researchers. “What farmers don’t realize is that, collectively, they are now the biggest suppliers of the domestic timber market,” said Valentina Robiglio, lead author of a collaborative study by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and the Partnership for the Tropical Forest Margins (ASB) that looked at the ways Cameroonians integrate agriculture and small-scale logging. In selling timber from the trees in their fields, farmers are mainly just being opportunistic, despite having a good position in the value chain, Robiglio noted.

For DR Congo’s forests, legislation is only part of the solution

By Thomas Hubert, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 23 May 2013 | Legislation enacted in the past decade to slow forest loss in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is innovative, but implementing it remains a challenge according to a new report. Released today, a new publication by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and the Kinshasa-based Council for the Defense of the Environment through Legality and Traceability (CODELT) analyzed the legal framework for governing the world’s second-largest rainforest. They say that the DRC has made a major effort to get their forestry legislation in order.

[Fiji] Forest loss fight

By Ana Madigibuli, Fiji Times, 23 May 2013 | Fiji is looking at ways it could improve its logging practices so less harm is done to its forests. This was highlighted during the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) plus strategy workshop in Suva last week. "The workshop is to largely develop the Fiji REDD plus strategy which started in 2011," said Christina Fung, the German Technical Co-operation landuse planning and facilitation specialist, during the REDD plus stakeholders workshop in Lami last week. REDD is a concept that links financial incentives to forest conservation, sustainable management, and enhancing and increasing carbon stocks for credits for carbon emissions avoided and or carbon sequestered.

[Indonesia] Aceh defends deforestation plan

By Nadya Natahadibrata, Jakarta Post, 23 May 2013 | Aceh Governor Zaini Abdullah on Wednesday defended his plan to clear the province’s protected forests, saying it is necessary to develop the province and that it would not affect the 1.2 million hectares of forests that some environmentalists have claimed it would. “We have to clarify that the amount of 1.2 million hectares is not true,” Zaini told reporters following a meeting with a number of environmentalists at the Norwegian Embassy in Jakarta on Wednesday. The governor said that the spatial planning bylaw draft proposed by his administration said that it would only convert 119,202 hectares of the nature sanctuary area (Kawasan Suaka Alam), nature preservation area (Kawasan Pelestarian Alam), protected forest, production forest and limited production forest areas, into other utilization areas.

Addressing sustainability and justice in rural Indonesia

By Chip Fay, Jakarta Post, 23 May 2013 | Hundreds of customary communities have already submitted maps to BPN totalling millions of hectares. While these maps identify traditional lands and forests, BPN seems either unwilling or incapable of dedicating themselves to developing and administrating a process of registering these maps and building a national program around issuing ownership certificates to customary communities as a collective. When this happens, local government will be provided a framework for recognition and can proceed in a more systematic way to accelerate the recognition of customary rights to forest that is now firmly enshrined in Indonesian law.

[Uganda] Norway Pledges Funds for Forests

By Job Bwire, New Vision, 23 May 2013 | Uganda loses nearly 100,000hectares of forest cover annually through encroachment, exposing the population to the risks and costly consequences of climate change. It is therefore for this reason that the Norwegian Embassy has pledged continued support to Uganda in form of increased funding in forest restoration, environment management and conservation as part of their micro-development projects in the country. The Norwegian ambassador to Uganda, Thorbjorn Gaustadsaether, said his country is ready to offer more support to Uganda. The envoy urged Ugandans to demonstrate positive response towards their (Norway’s) effort in such projects.

South Korea goes it alone with the world’s most aggressive carbon market

By Todd Woody, Quartz, 23 May 2013 | With a belligerent, nuclear-armed neighbor led by a messianic millennial on its border, you’d think that reducing greenhouse gas emissions would rank low on South Korea’s to-do list. Yet the country plans to launch the world’s most ambitious carbon-trading market in a bid to cut its planet-warming spew 30% by 2020. The world will be watching not only to see if South Korea can fix the flaws that have plagued the European Union’s Emissions Trading Scheme but also avoid hurting the industrial conglomerates, or chaebols, that supply the planet with computer chips, flat-screens and smartphones. (Samsung, for instance, is responsible for 2% of South Korea’s greenhouse gas emissions subject to the carbon regulations.)

[USA] London Underwriter Becomes First to Insure California Carbon Credits

By Lynn Doan, Bloomberg, 23 May 2013 | Parhelion Underwriting Ltd. became the first insurer to offer a policy to protect companies from the invalidation of carbon offset credits sold as part of California’s cap-and-trade program. Parhelion, based in London, will sell insurance for permits originally issued by the Climate Action Reserve, an independent registry in Los Angeles, the companies said in an e-mailed statement today. California holds the buyer responsible for the costs of a project that’s invalidated because it didn’t produce the emissions cuts that it was originally credited for… “We hope to see, or we’re confident we’ll see, that those potential large buyers of offsets will now be able to participate in the offset market,” Parhelion Chief Executive Officer Julian Richardson said on a telephone call with reporters today.

U.S. carbon tax could boost revenue, curb climate change – report

Reuters, 23 May 2013 | A tax on carbon dioxide emissions could help the United States mitigate climate change while significantly increasing government revenue, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said this week. President Barack Obama supports plans to price carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, tailpipes and factories that have been blamed for worsening climate change. Levying a tax on such emissions would both curb carbon dioxide pollution and become a meaningful source of federal revenue, the report concludes.

24 May 2013

[Botswana] Bushmen face imminent eviction for ‘wildlife corridor’

Survival International, 24 May 2013 | Survival International has received disturbing reports about an imminent eviction of several hundred Bushmen in southern Botswana to make way for a ‘wildlife corridor’. The Bushman community at Ranyane has allegedly been told by the local government that trucks will arrive on Monday to remove them from land they have inhabited for generations. Their houses will be destroyed. The Bushmen’s land is in a proposed ‘wildlife corridor’ which American organization Conservation International, whose Board members include Botswana’s President Khama, has pushed for over a period of many years. The land lies between the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR) and the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park and is also occupied by some settlers and farms.

Wildlife group busts illegal loggers in Cambodia

ABC Radio Australia, 24 May 2013 | An illegal logger in Cambodia has dropped an address book during a bust, leaving behind details of corrupt government officials and spying rangers. An illegal logger in Cambodia has dropped an address book during a bust, leaving behind details of corrupt government officials and spying rangers. The man fled after being intercepted by police over an illegal haul of rare rosewood in Koh Kong province earlier this month. Beth Eisenstaedt from Wildlife Alliance helped coordinate the bust and has told Radio Australia’s Connect Asia the perpetrator left behind an address book of his clients and an accounts book including details of bribes. "We were able to confiscate the wood, and we stumbled upon this treasure trove of names and pay off amounts of all the people he had been dealing with, including some government officials," she said.

[Canada] Green, green grass of…

The Times, 24 May 2013 | Come on Government of Canada. Get off the political water-wasting pot and get onto the composting toilet. Give us a really good reason to change our ways and I’m not talking about switching out our light bulbs and caulking the holes in our lives. If it’s an incentive program, then make it a real, honest-to-goodness incentive. Give us a reason to insulate, conserve, compost, recycle and reuse. Crack down on the big polluters. The race shouldn’t be to squeeze the last drop of oil out of the earth, it should be to find a viable alternative to ravaging, raping and looting. Put the brakes on big polluters buying their way out of hell and nip the carbon offset buying and trading in the bud. Take a deep breath and make us and them clean up the dirty acts.

[DR Congo] Q&A: The challenges of monitoring a forest three times as large as France

By Thomas Hubert, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 24 May 2013 | As international donors consider funding programs targeting the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+), one of their key expectations is that beneficiary countries will provide sound monitoring and reporting on the state of their forests. A new study published by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) highlights the challenges facing the Democratic Republic of Congo in building capacity to manage international anti-deforestation assistance. With 180 million hectares of forested land spread across six countries, the Congo Basin rainforest is the second largest contiguous rainforest in the world. CIFOR’s regional coordinator for Central Africa, Richard Eba’a Atyi, previously worked as an expert on forest monitoring in Kinshasa, the DRC’s capital. Here he tells Forests News about his experiences.

Panama’s indigenous people see Redd over UN forest conservation scheme

By Jo Tuckman, The Guardian, 24 May 2013 | The national co-ordinating body of Panama’s seven indigenous groups, known as Coonapip, this year withdrew from negotiations on how to apply the scheme in Panama. The groups allege that the emerging plan was turning into an underhand effort to weaken indigenous control over their land and chip away at resistance to potential exploitation of resources, from wood to oil. "We thought Redd was going to help us strengthen our rights over our territories because no one looks after the forests like we do," says Coonapip leader Betanio Chiquidama, who on Friday will outline the reason for the withdrawal at an event in New York to coincide with the UN permanent forum on indigenous issues. "It sought to do the opposite and we have lost all trust in the UN."

25 May 2013

‘Indonesia is seeing a new corporate colonialism’

By John Vidal, The Observer, 25 May 2013 | Land conflicts between farmers and plantation owners, mining companies and developers have raged across Indonesia as local and multinational companies have been encouraged to seize and then deforest customary land – land owned by indigenous people and administered in accordance with their customs. More than 600 were recorded in 2011, with 22 deaths and hundreds of injuries. The true number is probably far greater, say watchdog groups. The Indonesian national human rights commission reported more than 5,000 human rights violations last year, mostly linked to deforestation by corporations. "Deaths of farmers caused by the increase in agrarian conflicts all across Indonesia are increasing," said Henry Sarigih, founder of the Indonesian Peasant Union, which has 700,000 members.

Forestry Programmes Bogged Down in Latin America

IPS, 25 May 2013 | Issues related to the ownership of forest carbon and to prior consultation mechanisms threaten to derail plans for the Reduction of Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation of Forests (REDD+) in some countries of Latin America, according to experts. The problems are hindering the design of Mexico’s plan in the framework of the United Nations Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (UN-REDD). In Panama, they have prompted the country’s indigenous peoples to withdraw from the programme. "The previous government let slip the opportunity of concluding the process for fear of social activism, especially on the part of indigenous people and campesino communities," Gustavo Sánchez, head of the Mexican Network of Campesino Forestry Organisations (Red MOCAF), told IPS.

26 May 2013

[Indonesia] ‘The Sumatran rainforest will mostly disappear within 20 years’

By John Vidal, The Observer, 26 May 2013 | Our small plane had been flying low over Sumatra for three hours but all we had seen was an industrial landscape of palm and acacia trees stretching 30 miles in every direction. A haze of blue smoke from newly cleared land drifted eastward over giant plantations. Long drainage canals dug through equatorial swamps dissected the land. The only sign of life was excavators loading trees onto barges to take to pulp mills. The end is in sight for the great forests of Sumatra and Borneo and the animals and people who depend on them. Thirty years ago the world’s third- and sixth-largest islands were full of tigers, elephants, rhinos, orangutan and exotic birds and plants but in a frenzy of development they have been trashed in a single generation by global agribusiness and pulp and paper industries.

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