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REDD in the news, 5-11 August 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.

5 August 2013

‘Intangible’ carbon markets are ripe for crime – INTERPOL

By Megan Rowling, Thomson Reuters Foundation, 5 August 2013 | Carbon markets are particularly vulnerable to criminal activity because the "commodity" being traded has no physical presence and is difficult to measure, INTERPOL has said. Criminals can target the fast-growing market through securities fraud, insider trading, embezzlement, money laundering and cybercrime, the world’s biggest international police organisation shows in a new guide to carbon trading crime. "The noteworthy potential for the carbon market to be exploited rests on a single significant vulnerability that distinguishes it from other markets – the intangible nature of carbon itself," says the guide.

Deforestation ban working in Costa Rica

By Rhett A. Butler,, 5 August 2013 | Costa Rica’s ban on clearing of "mature" forests appears to be effective in encouraging agricultural expansion on non-forest lands, finds a study published today in the journal Environmental Research Letters. The research, which was led by Matthew Fagan of Columbia University, is based on analysis of satellite data calibrated with visits to field sites in the lowlands of northern Costa Rica. The study found that since Costa Rica implemented its ban on conversion of mature forests in 1996, the annual rate of old-growth forest loss dropped 40 percent despite an agricultural boom in the region. The results suggest that Costa Rica is intensifying agricultural production while simultaneously sparing forests.

[Tanzania] Parties given one month to settle 18bn/- rent dispute

By Anne Robi, Daily News, 5 August 2013 | Implementation of the mechanism for REDD+ will officially start in 2016, a senior environmental officer in the Vice-President’s Office, Mr George Kafumu, has said.

[USA] Calif. proposal on deforestation credits due Oct.

Point Carbon, 5 August 2013 | California regulators are to publish guidelines that could see the state host the first carbon market to allow firms to offset emissions using CO2 credits from projects that prevent deforestation, a move some say could trigger investment in such schemes. [R-M: Subscription needed.]

6 August 2013

Large trees play key role in tropical forest biomass storage – study

By Mark Foss, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 6 August 2013 | A large-scale study has found that a handful of big trees store up to half the above-ground biomass in tropical forests, raising implications for forest management and climate change mitigation. Trees remove carbon from the atmosphere as they grow, storing it in leaves, woody tissue, roots and organic matter in soil, and playing a critical role in regulating the Earth’s climate and mitigating climate change. Calculating above-ground biomass — which comprises all living biomass, or organic material, above the soil, including stem, stump, branches, bark, seeds and foliage — helps scientists measure the role of forests as carbon sinks in mitigating climate change. The study was led by Ferry Slik, a scientist at the Centre for Integrative Conservation, Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences.

[Australia] The Tarkine needs jobs – and environmentalists don’t get it

By Simon McKenzie and Kye White, The Guardian, 6 August 2013 | The Tarkine, an expanse of extraordinary temperate rainforest in the north-west of Tasmania, is shaping up to be the state’s next great environmental battleground – especially as a second mine has been approved today by the federal government. It’s a region so controversial that even its name is a source of anger and division. In June, around 2,000 people gathered in Smithton, the major town in the far north-west – not to protest against the mine, but in support of it. Six months earlier, 3,000 people gathered in the city of Burnie, one of the two cities on the north-west coast, in another showing of support. Their catchcry? Unlock Tasmania, Claim Our Future. The protests are angry, passionate affairs: ministers get shouted down, abuse is hurled, and bumper stickers on utes and cars threaten violence against the Greens.

Advancing indigenous climate action in the heart of Ecuador’s Amazon

By Dylan Murray, EDF, 6 August 2013 | It’s not easy to reach the Cofán indigenous community of Dureno in northeastern Ecuador. First you have to travel 15 miles down a winding rural road from the nearest town. Then you have to ask permission to cross a river by boat to reach the reserve. Dureno’s isolation, in the midst of a great forest, made it a perfect, if somewhat inconvenient, place to hold a workshop for indigenous peoples on climate change. It was there, last month, that the Coordinating Body of the Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin (COICA) held the last in a series of multi-day workshops that focused on the effects of climate change on indigenous communities. The workshops are part of a larger project funded by the Inter-American Development Bank that counts Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and Woods Hole Research Center among its partners.

Conservation scheme delivers carbon cash to poor Kenyans

By James Karuga, Thomson Reuters Foundation, 6 August 2013 | For 14 years, Lalo Mwakupha played hide and seek with the authorities as he poached animals and burned charcoal in the 200,000-hectare Kasigau wildlife corridor separating Kenya’s Tsavo East and West National Parks. Today, dressed in green ranger fatigues, the 35-year-old patrols the jungles he once plundered, arresting those now doing the same. Since April 2011, Mwakupha has been employed as an unarmed ranger by Wildlife Works (WW), a company that partners with local people to protect the wildlife corridor from encroachment and poaching. WW also sells carbon credits on behalf of the communities and 4,800 land owners along the corridor in southern Kenya. The revenues from this trade are funding water projects and education bursaries that benefit some 116,000 people in six locations.

Peruvian ministers resign over Amazon gas project

Survival International, 6 August 2013 | At least three ministers have resigned in Peru, amidst increasing pressure to approve a controversial gas project in the Amazon. The plan to expand the existing Camisea gas project, which is within the Nahua-Nanti Reserve for uncontacted tribes, has been widely condemned, and in March the UN called for its ‘immediate suspension’. Peru’s Ministry of Culture, charged with protecting indigenous peoples’ rights, last week issued a report outlining the dangers the project would pose to uncontacted and isolated Indians’ lives. But the report disappeared just hours after it was published online, and both the Minister and Vice-minister of Culture have now stepped down. Amongst concerns outlined in the Ministry’s report are the risk of disease being spread amongst the isolated Indians, who lack immunity to common illnesses which may be brought in by oil company workers and outsiders.

[Thailand] ‘Goat masks’ protest in Chiang Mai

By Cheewin Sattha, Bangkok Post, 6 August 2013 | About 100 ‘goat-masked’ protesters from the Ban Porn Sawan community in tambon Kuang Pao converged at Chiang Mai Provincial Court on Tuesday afternoon to hear the ruling in the protracted court case that has been going on for more than 17 years and witnessed the changing of 10 prime ministers. Many protesters held placards demanding justice. One of the signs read "we are scapegoats". The group was led by Chamnian Dokboran, representatives from the Northern Farmers Federation and the People’s Movement for a Just Society (Pmove). Mr Chamnian said the forest department had granted the community partial use of the land in the Chom Thong forest reserve since 1974. He said the villagers legally paid the land-use fee imposed by the agency. However, a trespassing incident in the forest reserve on Dec 17, 1994, led the department to prosecute 23 villagers on charges of encroachment of state forest land.

7 August 2013

Signs of new climate ‘normal’ apparent in hot 2012: report

By Deborah Zabarenko, Planet Ark, 7 August 2013 | Last year was one of the 10 hottest on record, with sea levels at record highs, Arctic ice at historic lows and extreme weather in various corners of the globe signaling a "new normal," scientists said Tuesday in the 2012 State of the Climate report. Meant to be a guide for policymakers, the report did not attribute the changes in climate to any one factor, but made note of continued increases in heat-trapping greenhouse gases including carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide. "Our planet as a whole is becoming a warmer place," said Kathryn Sullivan, acting administrator of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The report was edited by NOAA scientists and drew contributions from 384 scientists from 52 countries. The report’s data indicate "new normal" conditions that can inform planning decisions, instead of relying on models that "count on the future being statistically a lot like the past," Sullivan said…

Negotiations: International climate talks could fail without more national actions – report

By Lisa Friedman, Climate Wire, 7 August 2013 | There will be no new climate change treaty in 2015 unless more nations develop domestic legislation to address rising greenhouse gas levels, a new study concludes. In reviewing countries’ laws to reduce carbon emissions, researchers with the Global Legislators Organisation (GLOBE) argue that domestic goals must come before, not after, an international deal. Focusing on developing national laws, they said, should be the goal for the next two years as countries gear up for a U.N. conference in Paris, presumably to sign a new global deal. "I don’t see a deal in 2015 unless more countries move down the national legislative path, and those who are keen to see an agreement that is high in ambition are of the same view," said Adam C.T. Matthews, secretary-general of GLOBE and author of the report.

Interpol warns of criminal focus on $176 billion carbon market

By Ed King, RTCC, 7 August 2013 | Carbon trading schemes are at acute risk from criminal gangs and fraud, a new report from Interpol warns. The police agency says uncertain regulations and a lack of oversight and transparency threaten the environmental and financial integrity of the world’s carbon markets, worth an estimated $176 billion. And it says that there is a risk that if financial instruments related to carbon trading become too complex, the world’s carbon markets could spark a financial crisis on par with 2008. The report says law enforcement agencies must be more aware of ‘carbon crimes’, improve communication between countries and impose tighter regulations on transactions and calculations of emissions reductions.

IUCN and The Forests Dialogue Latest REDD+ Benefit Sharing Discussion Summary Report Now Available

IUCN, 7 August 2013 | The Co-chairs’ summary report highlights key issues, questions, conclusions and next steps related to REDD+ Benefit Sharing mechanisms, discussed by an international group of experts at the latest scoping dialogue on REDD+ benefit sharing. The concise, seven-page co-chairs’ report entitled “Scoping Dialogue on REDD+ Benefit Sharing” provides a comprehensive overview of the major outcomes from The Forests Dialogue and IUCN’s latest two-day scoping discussion. The dialogue, which took place in March in Washington D.C., brought together 40 experts representing a broad range of stakeholders from national governments, NGOs, indigenous peoples and community groups, inter-governmental organizations and academia. The event was co-chaired by Chris Buss of the IUCN, Diji Chandrasekharan of the World Bank and Ghan Shyam Pandey of the Global Alliance of Community Forestry.

Could China lead the race to save tropical forests?

By Mike Davis (Global Witness), China Dialogue, 7 August 2013 | What would make China’s leaders care about their impact on tropical forests? The International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED)’s new ‘China-Africa Forest Governance Learning Platform’ report demonstrates the role increased dialogue can play. It showcases an innovative collaboration involving African civil society representatives and Chinese officials, aimed at ensuring that China’s demand for African timber brings benefits to local populations. The report notes that African timber currently accounts for around 4% of China’s forest product imports, worth around US$1.3 billion. This demand is rising, and China’s role in the timber trade, globally, is pivotal. A study published by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) last year estimated that China imported at least 18.5 million cubic metres of illegal logs and sawn timber in 2011, worth US $3.7 billion…

Japan, Laos ink carbon deal

By Hisane Masaki, Point Carbon, 7 August 2013 | Japan signed an agreement with Laos on Wednesday to launch a scheme that will allow Japanese companies to earn cheap carbon credits by helping the Southeast Asian nation cut carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, the Japanese government announced… The new carbon credit mechanism will be different from the existing Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) under the Kyoto protocol, which requires applicant companies to go through a lengthy screening process controlled by the United Nations. Under the new carbon credit mechanism proposed by Japan, such a U.N. process will be bypassed, as all necessary arrangements are made under bilateral pacts between governments concerned alone.

8 August 2013

Carbon cycle gets more extreme as climate changes

By Geoffrey Mohan, Los Angeles Times, 8 August 2013 | Forests in Earth’s northern latitudes have been thickened by migrating plant species and younger growth, driving a stronger gyration in the amount of carbon that cycles between land and the atmosphere each year, a new study suggests… Forests and vegetation absorb carbon dioxide through photosynthesis, and store the carbon in various compounds. But the same vegetation also respires, dies and decays, returning carbon back into the atmosphere. It’s that short-term, seasonal cycle that appears to be swinging more wildly than it did some 50 years ago, the researchers found. Although the northern vegetation areas likely are absorbing more carbon dioxide during growing season, the fluctuation can’t be explained only by a physiological response to warming and to the enriched carbon dioxide atmosphere.

Cameroonians See REDD

By Monde Kingsley Nfor, IPS, 8 August 2013 | Uncertainty over property rights and access to forest land is potentially a major stumbling block for implementing the United Nations collaborative initiative on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation in Cameroon. In Adjab, an indigenous village in the southern region of Cameroon, Chief Marcelin Biang told IPS he feels the present regulations are pushing locals to damage the forest in order to establish their claim to it. Following a land dispute between Adjab residents and a timber company, a piece of their land was given back to them – but on condition that the villagers "show proof" they are using the land to sustain their livelihoods.

Insight: are we losing primary forests in the Congo Basin?, 8 August 2013 | A new study by a group of scientists and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) reveals primary-forest degradation and loss within the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The researchers assessed primary-forest changes at the national scale and modelled potential changes assuming that population growth, logging activity and maintenance infrastructure will remain the same. The analysis was based on mid-resolution satellite imagery and results of forest cover/change detection assessment of intact forest landscapes – an approach that allowed the team to analyse intact and non-intact or degraded primary forests separately. The results show that almost 1% of primary forests have been cleared and that 2% of intact forests are degraded.

Laos, Japan agree to partner in low carbon growth

Asia News Network, 8 August 2013 | Laos has reached a bilateral cooperation agreement with the Japanese government for a Joint Crediting Mechanism (JCM)… The agreement was signed in Vientiane yesterday between Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment, Noulin Sinbandith, and the Japanese Ambassador to Laos, Junko Yokota, with representatives of both governments in attendance… The cooperation will also to help improve the skills of Lao technical staff, who will receive new lessons on technology use from Japanese experts, he said. Meanwhile, the Japanese side will benefit from the carbon credit project under the Joint Credit Mechanism, which is its own obligation to implement, on behalf a party of the UNFCCC… The Joint Credit Mechanism is a part of Clean Development Mechanism… As Laos is rich in forest resources, she hoped that with cooperation on the Joint Crediting Mechanism, they can help promote sustainable forest conservation and management in Laos.

World Bank supports Participatory Sustainable Forest Management in Lao PDR

The Financial, 8 August 2013 | The Government of Lao PDR and the World Bank signed today a grant agreement of US$ 31.83 million for the Scaling-Up Participatory Sustainable Forest Management (SUPSFM) Project, according to The World Bank Group… The Government of Lao PDR is developing a strategy and program for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+) to avoid the unnecessary loss of forests and increase carbon storage. The objective of the Scaling-Up Participatory Sustainable Forest Management Project is to support REDD+ activities through participatory sustainable forest management in priority areas and to pilot forest landscape management in four Northern provinces in Lao PDR, including Xaiyaboury, Luang Namtha, Oudomxay and Bokeo. “This grant supports the Government of Lao PDR to strengthen sustainable forest management and improve livelihood for rural communities,” said Mr. Khamphay Manivong, Acting Director General of the Department of Forestry…

REDD+ Finance: Lessons From The US

By Jeff Metcalfe, Ecosystem Marketplace, 8 August 2013 | The Tropical Forest Group has been tracking the REDD+ finance flowing from the U.S. in its U.S. REDD+ Finance Database (USRFD). This contains more than 800 data points for REDD or sustainable forestry reported by United States agencies with data transcribed from public documents. Although it is not linked to the US government, the USRFD is the only centralized way to assess US REDD+ finance from USAID, the Treasury Department and the US State Department. Different US agencies have different reporting styles and different ways for classifying expenditures, which presents a challenge when synthesizing and analyzing reports in the data base. For a variety of reasons, theTreasury and State Departments are required to provide detailed reports and a list of expenditures by country, while USAID provides more general overviews even though it often dispenses more money.

9 August 2013

Design benefit-sharing carefully, or risk undermining REDD+, researchers warn

By Imogen Badgery-Parker, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 9 August 2013 | Mechanisms for sharing the benefits from REDD+ must be well designed or they could create problems in the long term, researchers from the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) advise. Benefit sharing is an important component of REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation), a climate change mitigation scheme that aims to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by creating incentives to conserve, restore and sustainably manage forests. Since REDD+ is based on conditional rewards for reducing emissions, it requires a system—or mechanism—to designate who gets rewarded, why and in what proportions. “There’s a risk that REDD+ could end up having negative impacts if benefit-sharing mechanisms are not carefully designed,” said Pham Thu Thuy, CIFOR scientist and lead author of a comparative study on benefit sharing in 13 REDD+ countries.

REDD+ in cartoons

Transparency International, 9 August 2013 | Forests are like a playground for corruption – worth a lot of money but so vast and sprawling they are hard to police. The global appetite for products like wood, beef, soy, palm oil and paper is proving a far greater force than the efforts towards conservation, and is driving a thriving black market in many forest-rich countries. Companies collude with politicians to exploit protected zones, local officials doctor forest maps to cover up wrongdoing, illegal loggers bribe wardens to turn a blind eye, and developers throw forest communities off their land. Our new poster campaign is aimed at raising awareness among forest populations about corruption risks in REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) – a relatively new scheme that aims to combat climate change, essentially by paying forest-dense countries not to cut down trees.

Australia can achieve 25% emissions cut by 2020, concludes report

By Sophie Yeo, RTCC, 9 August 2013 | Australia can achieve a 25% cut in its carbon pollution by 2020 through its carbon pricing and emissions limiting schemes, according to new analysis by The Climate Institute. The study, which was conducted for the World Resources Institute’s Open Climate Network, found that Australia could meet its pledge under the Copenhagen Accord to reduce its emissions by 25% below 2000 levels by 2020. But, it says, this is only achievable if stable support for investments in clean energy and energy efficiency is forthcoming. The 25% target set out by the Copenhagen pledge only had to be achieved in the event of an ambitious global deal capable of stabilising levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere at 450 ppm or lower.

[Ecuador] BluForest Inc: See The Forest For The Trees

By Christopher Drose, Seeking Alpha, 9 August 2013 | BluForest, Inc. (BLUF.OB) is carbon offsets and renewable energy company. The stock is up over 700% this year due mainly to a stock promotion. I believe that this stock will soon crater and investors would be wise to avoid BluForest or sell any shares that they own before the stock collapses. BluForest owns 135,000 hectares of Ecuadorian forest which it plans to use to sell carbon offsets. BluForest’s business plan revolves around the sale of Verified Emission Reduction (VER) and Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) carbon offsets through restoration projects that protect rain forests and leave or return them to their natural state. The company currently plans to sell carbon offsets through its website to voluntary markets where no verification is required. This is what the carbon credits market looks like. It is essentially the "trade" part of Cap and Trade.

[Guyana] Sithe Global pulls out of Amaila

Stabroek News, 9 August 2013 | Sithe Global has pulled out of the Amaila Falls Hydro Project, Head of NICIL Winston Brassington, has confirmed to Stabroek News. According to sources, Sithe Global has informed President Donald Ramotar of its decision. The President is expected to make a statement on Sithe’s walking away from the project. Sithe Global’s President Brian Kubeck today said that the company will be making a statement in the press on Sunday. In an email to this newspaper, Kubeck said that his company’s position remained the same – that the project was too large to continue without national consensus. Kubeck had issued explicit statements that unless all three parties in Parliament backed two measures in Parliament for the controversial US$858M project his company which has been the prospective developer for a number of years would pull out.

Indonesia’s burning question

By Amy Chew, Al Jazeera, 9 August 2013 | Campaigners say that illegal slash-and-burn clearance by large corporations is causing rampant deforestation but persists because of widespread corruption among local officials. The dry season inaugurates a period of intense activity for Indonesia’s fire investigators, as large corporations and smallholders allegedly begin illegally burning their forests, a cheaper way to clear the land than chopping down trees. The burning leaves a choking haze over Riau province in Sumatra, a large island with nearly 50 million residents, and easterly winds take the stinging smog across the Strait of Malacca to Malaysia and Singapore. But while open burning is illegal in Indonesia, authorities often turn a blind eye to fires started on land leased by big plantation companies, according to Bustar Maitar, the head of Greenpeace Indonesia’s forest campaign.

NZ CO2 mkt rules trigger huge rise in deforestation, windfall profits

Point Carbon, 9 August 2013 | Rules that allow New Zealand firms to use U.N. carbon credits to meet government carbon caps have led to a vast increase in deforestation in the past 12 months and allowed landowners to book huge profits without taking any action to cut emissions, government figures showed this week. [R-M: Subscription needed.]

10 August 2013

11 August 2013

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