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REDD in the news: 28 October – 3 November 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.

28 October 2013

Sub-National REDD Projects Examined by CIFOR

Climate Change Policy & Practice (IISD), 28 October 2013 | The Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) has released a report on the implementation of sub-national initiatives related to forest carbon in Brazil, Cameroon, Indonesia, Peru, Tanzania and Viet Nam. The report examines the intended and potential outcomes of such sub-national REDD+ projects as well as conditions for success and the role of stakeholder engagement. Overall, the report notes that land and tenure issues are one of the most significant determinants of levels of success. In particular, the report states that clear tenure rights are critical. However, this often requires national action, which may be difficult to catalyze through sub-national projects.

CIFOR Summarizes Global REDD Study Findings

Forests Policy & Practice (IISD), 28 October 2013 | The Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) released a series of factsheets on the research findings and goals of the ‘Global Comparative Study on REDD+,’ which is being implemented to identify challenges and enabling conditions for REDD+. The factsheets focus on the first phase of the study, which began in 2009 and considered REDD+ policies, REDD+ sub-national initiatives, measurements of carbon emissions, synergies between climate change adaptation and REDD+, and REDD+ benefit sharing. The factsheet also notes that the first and second phases of the project will examine multi-level governance, carbon management and land use decisions, and knowledge sharing.

CIFOR Report Investigates REDD and Deforestation Drivers

Forests Policy & Practice (IISD), 28 October 2013 | The Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) has published a report, titled ‘Governing the Design of National REDD+: An analysis of the power of agency,’ which investigates how policies, media coverage and policy networks affect REDD+ outcomes based on studies in Brazil, Cameroon, Indonesia, Nepal, Papua New Guinea and Viet Nam. The report reveals that much of the discourse surrounding REDD+ ignores the root causes of deforestation despite the fact that these causes are typically well known. In fact, according to CIFOR, the most significant driver of deforestation is agriculture, followed by timber extraction, fuelwood collection, infrastructure development, urban expansion and wildfires. However, CIFOR notes that many of the REDD+ related documents fail to include a complete analysis of the drivers of deforestation.

Local communities produce high-quality forest monitoring data, rivals that of professional foresters, 28 October 2013 | As global forest and climate experts gather at the Oslo REDD Exchange 2013 to ramp up international efforts to protect carbon-storing forests in the developing world, a recent study by researchers at the Nairobi-based World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) and European and Southeast Asian institutions finds that local communities—using simple tools like ropes and sticks—can produce forest carbon data on par with results by professional foresters using high-tech devices. At the same time, the study found that nearly half of official REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) projects, which pivot on the accurate measurement of carbon trapped in forests, do not engage communities in this data gathering, despite assertions by the United Nations that these projects must ensure communities’ “full and effective participation.”

[Fiji] Women creative in communicating climate change and REDD

Islands Business, 28 October 2013 | 40 iTaukei women in Fiji expressed their appreciation and delight in participating in a training workshop on climate change and REDD+ (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation and forest conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of carbon stocks). On Wednesday 23 October 2013, the women from the Provinces of Naitasiri, Tailevu, Rewa, Namosi and Serua received their training certificates from the Permanent Secretary of the Fisheries and Forests, Inoke Wainiqolo after 3 days of active participation and learning.

[Indonesia] Demands to Scrutinize Forestry Crimes

By Novianti Setuningsih, Jakarta Globe, 28 October 2013 | An antigraft watchdog has urged Indonesian law enforcement institutions to strengthen their fight against crimes in the nation’s forestry sector. The call came after Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW) released a report that showed potential state losses from such crimes totaling Rp 691 trillion ($62 billion) between 2011 and 2012. Lalola Estele, a researcher with ICW, said the total losses had been calculated from 124 cases of forest crimes recorded by the watchdog from 2011 to 2012. “The crimes vary from forest conversion, for example the one million hectares of palm oil projects. The second is the illegal use of forest products. The third is tax evasion, for example in the case of Asian Agri,” Lalola said at the ICW headquarters in Jakarta on Sunday. Lalola emphasized that the problem pointed to the weak law enforcement efforts in charging the corporations involved in the foul play.

29 October 2013

How science is telling us all to revolt

By Naomi Klein, New Statesman, 29 October 2013 | In December 2012, a pink-haired complex systems researcher named Brad Werner made his way through the throng of 24,000 earth and space scientists at the Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union, held annually in San Francisco. This year’s conference had some big-name participants, from Ed Stone of Nasa’s Voyager project, explaining a new milestone on the path to interstellar space, to the film-maker James Cameron, discussing his adventures in deep-sea submersibles. But it was Werner’s own session that was attracting much of the buzz. It was titled “Is Earth F**ked?” (full title: “Is Earth F**ked? Dynamical Futility of Global Environmental Management and Possibilities for Sustainability via Direct Action Activism”).

Indigenous Leaders Say Stronger Land Rights Helped Slow Deforestation

Forest Carbon Portal, 29 October 2013 | A delegation of leaders from indigenous and community organizations in Mesoamerica will today tell an international conference in Oslo, Norway, focused on REDD+ that one of the keys to combating climate change can be found in their region, where strong land rights are enabling their people to fend off the agents of deforestation and reduce greenhouse gas emissions that lead to climate change. Findings to be presented in Oslo by PRISMA, a research institute in El Salvador, and the Mesoamerican Alliance of Peoples and Forests (AMPB), suggest that countries in Mesoamerica have been handing back rights to indigenous peoples in recent decades, and a pattern of improved forest protection is emerging. Those local communities in Mesoamerica with strong land rights are outperforming governments and industry in conserving the forests under their care.

Rhetoric or action in global efforts to protect forest communities?

By Jaspreet Kindra, IRIN Global, 29 October 2013 | A UN mechanism that purports to involve forest-dependent communities in preventing forest loss to curtail greenhouse gas emissions is failing to do so, finds a new study. The study, released days ahead of UN climate change talks in Warsaw, has prompted the authors and environmental activists to call for the international community to define and develop the role of these communities at the talks… The study, Community Monitoring for REDD+: International Promises and Field Realities, reviewed 50 REDD+ projects, all at the pilot stage. The study found that 48 percent of the projects had no planned involvement of communities, while 52 percent plan to involve the communities in monitoring the projects in some way.

Forest people ‘can gather carbon data’

By Alex Kirby, Climate News Network, 29 October 2013 | You don’t have to be a sophisticated scientist equipped with all the latest gizmos in order to work out just how effective a particular forest is as a carbon sink, a critical way of soaking up greenhouse gases. The job, researchers believe, can be done just as accurately by the people who live in the forests, most of whom probably have neither modern instruments nor scientific training. And the forests themselves will probably gain as well, because the local people will have more reason to feel they are buying into the trees’ conservation and so will have an incentive to protect them and work with conservationists from outside the forests. The study, Community Monitoring for REDD+: International Promises and Field Realities, was published in a special issue of the journal Ecology and Society and was carried out by researchers at the Nairobi-based World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) and colleagues from Europe and south-east Asia.

Communities can monitor forests ‘as well as experts’

By Mark Kniver, BBC News, 29 October 2013 | Communities living alongside the world’s tropical forests can estimate an area’s carbon stocks as effectively as hi-tech systems, a study has shown. An international team of researchers found communities using sticks and ropes obtained the same results as data gathered by satellites. They added that the study showed that projects aimed at halting deforestation needed to use these people’s skills. The findings have been published in the journal Ecology and Society. “For the first time, we have shown that local communities are able to monitor forest biomass up to the highest standards of the [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change], even in the most species-rich forests on Earth,” explained co-author Finn Danielsen, senior ecologist for Denmark-based NGO Nordic Foundation for Development and Ecology.

With training, local communities can accurately and cost-effectively measure forest carbon, 29 October 2013 | Provided two to three days of training, forest communities can accurately and cost-effectively measure biomass and other data needed to assess REDD+ projects, finds a new study published in the journal Ecology and Society. The research was conducted with communities living in lowland rainforest in Indonesia, mountain forest in China and monsoon forest in Laos and Vietnam. It found that local communities using simple tools can gather forest carbon data “on par” with professional foresters using advanced, high-tech gear. The study also argued that community forest monitoring is cheaper than professional monitoring in the long-term.

Former Irish President, Climate Justice Advocate Mary Robinson Urges Divestment of Fossil Fuel Firms

Democracy Now!, 29 October 2013 | As the New York region marks the first anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, hurricane-strength winds are battering northern Europe today. At least a dozen people have already been killed across Britain, Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark and France. Amidst an increase in extreme weather and storms, we discuss the movement to confront climate change with Mary Robinson, former Irish president and U.N. high commissioner for human rights. She now heads the Mary Robinson Foundation–Climate Justice, where her efforts include campaigning for the divestment from fossil fuels. “We can no longer invest in companies that are part of the problem of the climate shocks we’re suffering from,” Robinson says. “To me it’s a little bit like the energy behind the anti-apartheid movement when I was a student. We were involved because we saw the injustice of it. There’s an injustice in continuing to invest in fossil fuel companies that are part of the problem.”

On Landscapes – Part 2: What are landscapes?

By Peter Holmgren, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 29 October 2013 | My previous “why” question was all but rhetoric – everyone I have spoken with agrees that landscapes are hugely important, and also agrees that they are essential for human well-being at large as well as life on our planet. Asking “What are landscapes?” is more delicate and requires some thought as to where we are aiming with landscape approaches. The way we use “landscape” should be determined by the context we want and solutions we aim for, not the other way around. The word landscape has been used for hundreds of years to encompass aspects of art, laws and geography. It is not often I quote Wikipedia but, I found this article on “landscape” enlightening, particularly the etymology with several references to landscapes as a social construct.

[Burkina Faso] West African lake a field laboratory for long-term landscapes research

By Thomas Hubert, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 29 October 2013 | Every year, the long queues of vehicles, donkeys and pedestrians that form at impassable river crossings around Lake Bam after rainstorms become less frequent. Is it because of better road infrastructure? Is it because of receding water levels in the lake? What role is climate change having? It is difficult to determine, in part because there has been little research looking at all those factors, according to a scientist with the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR). So many natural and human factors influence the environment in the Lake Bam area in northern Burkina Faso that fragmented, short-term approaches to research there and in other forested landscapes have largely failed to address the big picture, said Michael Balinga, regional scientist for CIFOR in West Africa based in Ouagadougou, the capital.

Extent of Peruvian Amazon lost to illegal goldmines mapped for first time

By Dan Collyns, The Guardian, 29 October 2013 | The area affected by illegal gold mining in Peru’s south-eastern Amazon region increased by 400% from 1999 to 2012, according to researchers using state-of-the-art mapping technology. Using airborne mapping and high-satellite monitoring, researchers led by the Carnegie Institution for Science also showed that the rate of forest loss in Madre de Dios has tripled since the 2008 global economic crisis, when the international price of gold began to rise to new highs. Until this study, thousands of small, clandestine mines that have boomed since the economic crisis went unmonitored, according to the research team, which was led by Carnegie’s Greg Asner and worked with Peru’s environment ministry.

30 October 2013

Forest breakthrough is key to 2015 global climate deal

By Lord Deben and Alejandro Encinas Rodríguez (Globe International), The Guardian, 30 October 2013 | With November’s annual UN climate change conference approaching, it is clear that the next two years are crucial if we are to reach a global climate deal in 2015. Reducing emissions from forests is a crucial step with deforestation representing up to 20% of global carbon dioxide emissions – more than that of the entire transport sector. But international efforts to tackle deforestation can only succeed if they involve national parliaments, which will lay the groundwork for a global deal in 2015. This is the main message of a study released by the Global Legislators Organisation (Globe) ahead of the Redd Exchange Conference, currently taking place in Oslo. Securing a global climate deal has always faced multiple obstacles. But one aspect of the international climate negotiations that was first viewed as a relatively easy win has gradually emerged as a major stumbling block: REDD.

Investors, UN panel call on Warsaw climate talks to support CDM

By Susanna Twidale, Retuers Point Carbon, 30 October 2013 | Investors and the panel overseeing the U.N.’s carbon market for developing countries have called on delegates at next month’s climate meeting in Warsaw to rescue the ailing scheme, which the U.N. estimates has provided $315 billion in funding to low-carbon projects to date. Papers tabled by the Executive Board of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and the Project Developers Forum, a group that represents investors in the scheme, urged countries at the talks to agree measures to boost demand for the carbon credits created under the scheme, which at 50 cents each are valued near record lows. Prices have slumped by 97 percent over the past five years due to a lack of demand globally, leading both bodies to repeat calls to governments to take action and save the scheme.

[Australia] Emission reductions: Coalition appears determined to ignore the experts

By Lenore Taylor, The Guardian, 30 October 2013 | So, Australia is going to have to cut greenhouse emissions by more than the bare minimum 5% target and it would be cheaper if we bought overseas carbon permits to help us do it. Who knew? Well, we all did – really. The Climate Change Authority’s first draft report joins a bookshelf full of previous reports to governments saying much the same thing – such as the Shergold report to the former Howard government and the two Garnaut reports to the Rudd government. But the Coalition government appears determined to ignore all of them. It is determined to ignore evidence that the rest of the world is starting to act on climate change. It is determined to confuse means and ends – to insist that since the US Congress refused President Barack Obama’s plans for a cap and trade emission trading scheme and China is introducing only modest pilot schemes there is no reason to keep Australia’s emission trading scheme or explain a long-term policy.

[Nepal] Hard lesson

By Jagadish Chandra Baral, República, 30 October 2013 | Receiving carbon credits in return for emission reduction from deforestation and forest degradation? The very idea sounded incredible when I read the letter from the World Bank (WB) one day in early 2008. This was during my tenure at the Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation (MFSC) in the capacity of a senior officer. The Secretary at the ministry had attached notes, asking us to expedite the process. I eventually realized that this was part of the global interest which intended to encourage the developing countries to accede to Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) framework. It appeared to be an attractive means to reduce climate change. The attached ‘carbon credit’ incentives were supposed to prompt developing nations to contain their rate of forest depletion: an important source of atmospheric CO2.

31 October 2013

Biodiversity “hotspots” more likely to have greater ecosystem co-benefits — study

By Barbara Frser, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 31 October 2013 | Areas that are “hotspots” of biodiversity can carry higher value for other important ecosystem services, including carbon storage, water conservation and scenic beauty, according to a new study from Costa Rica. In areas that provide high carbon storage, however, benefits from the other services are slightly lower. That means land-use planners can reap maximum benefits from various environmental services if they emphasize protection of areas of high biodiversity, said Bruno Locatelli, lead author of a paper published in the journal Environmental Conservation. “Biodiversity hotspots are more likely to be hotspots of multiple ecosystem services, but the same is not necessarily true of hotspots for other services,” said Locatelli, a scientist with the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and Agricultural Research for Development (CIRAD).

[Canada] Grassy Narrows Chief rejects new clearcut logging plan

Idle No More, 31 October 2013 | Grassy Narrows rejects Forest Management Plan for the Whiskey Jack Forest 2012 – 2022 on the basis of failure to consult and infringes on Aboriginal and Treaty Rights. Today Grassy Narrows Chief and Council sent an open letter to Premier Wynne rejecting Ontario’s Forestry Management Plan 2012 – 2022 for another decade of clear-cut logging on Grassy Narrows Territory. The Forest Management plan for the Whiskey Jack Forest 2012-2022 is in the final stages of approval and is currently posted for public comment. The plan sets out a schedule to clear-cut much of what little mature forest remains on Grassy Narrows Territory after decades of large scale industrial logging. This will further erode the Aboriginal, Treaty Rights and the ability of the community to sustain their families and to practice their culture through fishing, hunting, trapping, medicine harvesting, ceremony and healing for all generations.

Emission admission: New Zealand to fail carbon target

By Michael Slezak, New Scientist, 31 October 2013 | Talk about a wrong turn. New Zealand’s carbon emissions are set to be three times as high as its target, despite the country having an emissions trading scheme. The government wants to cut emissions to half of 1990 levels by 2050. But projections it released last week show that they are likely to be 50 per cent higher than 1990 levels by 2040. The Emissions Trading Scheme has a low carbon price of NZ$3.70 (US$3) a tonne, but under the Kyoto protocol companies can buy cheaper carbon credits from developing nations. That means the emissions cuts are happening elsewhere, says Ross Garnaut of the Australian National University in Canberra. “New Zealand’s legitimate abatement comes mainly in other countries rather than at home.”

Poland, Wedded to Coal, Spurns Europe on Clean Energy Targets

By Danny Hakim, New York Times, 31 October 2013 | This month, a United Nations conference on climate change will be held in Poland, a location many environmental activists consider the least appropriate choice they could imagine. And while the European Union has mapped out ambitious clean-energy goals intended to reduce the greenhouse gases linked to global warming, Poland has been its fossil-fuels holdout. Within the European Union, Poland has been increasingly active in trying to block more aggressive regulations to curb climate change, in contrast to Germany, for example, which has bet its energy future on clean, renewable technologies like wind and solar. Poland has also sought to beat back proposals against hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, a means of unearthing natural gas that much of the European Union — with the notable exception of Britain — warily regards as an environmental hazard.

1 November 2013

To impact climate policy, researchers should think short-term, expert says

By Angela Dewan, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 1 November 2013 | Scientists could have a greater influence over climate change policy if more research showed how communities are already adapting to changes, rather than focusing solely on long-term projections, a scientist from the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) has said. As policy-makers study the recently released fifth assessment by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and consider measures to adapt to more extreme weather projected to occur by the end of the century, they are neglecting communities that are already confronting drought, floods, fires and shifting seasonal patterns, said Lou Verchot, CIFOR’s director of forests and environment research.

Costa Rica aims to sell 16 mln tns carbon credits on new exchange

By Zach Dyer, Reuters, 1 November 2013 | Costa Rica expects to sell 16 million tonnes of carbon credits over eight years on its new carbon exchange, Latin America’s first, a venue that allows polluters to offset their emissions with permits they can buy. Launched last month, the exchange provides a forum for tradable certificates that confer the right to emit one tonne of carbon dioxide. The approach attaches a cost to pollutants and seeks to reduce greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. “It will be a common base to fight climate change and help the country reach its goal of carbon neutrality,” Environment and Energy Minister Rene Castro told Reuters. The Central American country aims to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2021. The new BANCO2 market verifies and regulates the sale of Costa Rican Carbon Units, or UCCs, but the exchange faces the challenge of saturated international carbon markets and low prices for the credits.

Wildlife Works Acquires JV Partner’s Interest in Mai Ndombe, Congo Basin’s First and Largest REDD Project

Wildlife Works press release, 1 November 2013 | Wildlife Works Carbon LLC announced today that effective Oct. 22, 2013 it has entered into an agreement to acquire Offsetters Climate Solutions Inc.’s 50 percent interest in Mai Ndombe, the Congo Basin’s first and largest forest conservation project that Reduces Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) located in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Prior to this agreement, Offsetters, through its subsidiary company ERA Ecosystem Restoration Associates Inc., and Wildlife Works were 50/50 joint venture partners in the Mai Ndombe REDD+ project. Under the agreement, Wildlife Works will assume sole management of the project and the joint venture agreement will be terminated. Wildlife Works will own 100 percent of the Mai Ndombe REDD+ project in partnership with the government of the DRC and the local forest community.

2 November 2013

On Landscapes – Part 3: Defining objectives and measuring progress

By Peter Holmgren, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 2 November 2013 | The ultimate objective of a landscape approach is to support those that make a difference on the ground. This happens in many different ways, tailored to the specific needs and ambitions of each landscape. It would be wrong and inefficient to try and impose top-down or one-size-fits-all solutions. It would also undermine the definition I suggested in my previous blog – that a landscape is “a place with governance in place” – which implies that a landscape should be managed at the landscape level, by its stakeholders.

[USA] Obama signs order on response to weather disasters and climate change

By Matthew Daly, The Washington Post, 2 November 2013 | A year after Hurricane Sandy devastated the East Coast, President Obama signed an executive order Friday to make it easier for states and local governments to respond to weather disasters. The executive order establishes a task force of state and local officials to advise the administration on how to respond to severe storms, wildfires, droughts and other possible effects of climate change. The task force includes governors of seven states — all Democrats — and the Republican governor of Guam, a U.S. territory. Fourteen mayors and two other local leaders also will serve on the task force. All but three are Democrats.

3 November 2013

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