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REDD in the news: 17-23 March 2014

REDD-Monitor’s weekly round up of the news on REDD, organised by date 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.

CIFOR Reports on USAID-funded REDD Project in Zambia

Forests Policy & Practice (IISD) March 2014 | The Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) published a brochure that reports on the implementation of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) funded Nyimba Forest Project in support of REDD+ in Zambia. CIFOR underscores that Zambia currently has one of the world’s highest deforestation rates, driven by a high reliance on forest wood fuel and charcoal, as well as forest encroachment. To address such challenges, the CIFOR-led project has: supported the development of Zambia’s national REDD+ strategy; researched rural livelihood strategies and forest management approaches; suppored community-based forest monitoring; and developed forest models linked to satellite data. The brochure takes particular note of the engagement of local communities through the training of representatives from chiefdoms in village-based forest research.

17 March 2014

Impact evaluation: Toward a body of evidence on effective forest conservation

By Imogen Badgery-Parker, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 17 March 2014 | Forest conservation could benefit from more, and better, impact evaluation to understand what works and what not, but evaluation efforts must account for the complexities inherent in the sector. This was the conclusion of experts in impact evaluation and conservation following a three-day international workshop on Evaluating Forest Conservation Initiatives, held in Barcelona in December. The workshop brought together about 40 researchers, practitioners and policymakers. “It’s a healthy process for us to think about the impacts of these programs — what works, what doesn’t,” said Jan Börner, Associate Scientist at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and affiliated with the Center for Development Research (ZEF) in Bonn (Germany), and a member of the workshop organizing committee.

Making forest carbon finance fair: Q A with Transparency International

By Michelle Kovacevic, Forests Climate Change, 17 March 2014 | Corruption has long beset the forestry sector, with many of the world’s most densely forested countries struggling to implement good governance and transparent practices. Add forest carbon to the mix – an intangible commodity that is difficult to quantify – and a whole set of new governance challenges within REDD+ emerges: accounting mistakes and manipulation, difficulty in verifying emissions saved in remote project sites, and profits and decision making powers further removed from forest communities. Transparency International has been conducting in-depth assessments of REDD+ governance arrangements in Indonesia, Vietnam and Papua New Guinea. They have also just released assessments of the anti-corruption performance of seven multinational climate funds. Claire Martin, Programme Manager for Transparency International’s Climate Finance Integrity Programme talks to…

17 nations authorised to swap UN offsets for EU carbon

Reuters, 17 March 2014 | The European Commission on Friday gave approval for companies in 17 EU member states to exchange United Nations-backed offsets for EU Allowances under the bloc’s carbon market. The move will allow participants in the EU’s Emissions Trading System (ETS) to use cheaper Certified Emissions Reductions (CERs) or Emissions Reduction Units (ERUs) to meet emissions targets ahead of an April 30 compliance deadline. Governments had been required to outline exactly how many offsets each power plant, factory and airline covered by the ETS is allowed to use between 2013 and 2020. The Commission said it approved so-called International Credit Entitlement (ICE) tables for Austria, Croatia, Cyprus, Estonia, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Spain and Britain.

Will zero deforestation commitments save Indonesia’s forests?

By Rhett A. Butler,, 17 March 2014 | Skirting the Malacca Strait near the Indonesian city of Dumai the air is thick with haze from peat fires burning below. As the sky clears, a landscape of sharply-cut geometric shapes becomes apparent. What was once carbon-dense peat forests and rainforests are today massive oil palm and wood pulp plantations. The conversion isn’t limited to Sumatra. Since the mid-1980’s more than 5 million hectares of rainforests and peatlands have been destroyed across Indonesia for industrial plantations, making palm oil, timber, and pulp and paper production among the biggest drivers of deforestation and largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions in the Southeast Asian nation.

Kenya: All Evictions Must Be Within the Law

By Santeto Ole Tiampati, The Star, 17 March 2014 | When Kenya promulgated the new constitution in 2010, there was optimism of breaking with the disorder and impunity of the past and joining the community of law abiding nations. But based on recent developments it is cause for worry when those charged with the responsibility of defending the constitution and the people of Kenya tend to flout this oath that binds them with the citizenry and the supreme law. The case of the Sengwer is one such incident. This is a minority community with a population of a paltry 33,187 according to the 2009 national census. The Sengwer have inhabited the Cherangany hills for centuries and the nature of their livelihood systems is such that their daily existence is fundamentally linked to land and natural resource use which are managed through intricate traditional decision making mechanisms.

[Zimbabwe] Let’s exploit benefits in REDD+ initiatives

BizDay Zimbabwe, 17 March 2014 | The second National Consultative Workshop on an international plan to limit carbon emissions from forests loss and degradation was held in Harare a week ago, as Zimbabwe seeks strategies for tapping into the growing lucrative market for carbon trading. In September 2008, the UN established the Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) Programme as part of the wider global goal of cutting production of climate change-causing gases. Zimbabwe joined REDD last year… Although Zimbabwe loses an unsustainable 50 million trees per year, according to the Forestry Commission, no public REDD+ projects are running, missing out on benefits that save forests, limit emissions and improve livelihoods for communities that depend on forests. Now, the country has begun steps to build capacity and improve readiness for implementing REDD+ initiatives.

18 March 2014

Scientists Sound Alarm on Climate

By Justin Gillis, New York Times, 18 March 2014 | Now, at 70, Dr. Molina is trying to awaken the public to an even bigger risk. He spearheaded a committee of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world’s largest general scientific society, which released a stark report Tuesday on global warming. The report warns that the effects of human emissions of heat-trapping gases are already being felt, that the ultimate consequences could be dire, and that the window to do something about it is closing. “The evidence is overwhelming: Levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are rising,” says the report. “Temperatures are going up. Springs are arriving earlier. Ice sheets are melting. Sea level is rising. The patterns of rainfall and drought are changing. Heat waves are getting worse, as is extreme precipitation. The oceans are acidifying.”

Do Trees Grow on Money? The Problem of Attribution

By Frances Seymour and Nancy Birdsall, Center for Global Development, 18 March 2014 | How can donors know if their aid is making a difference? This question is tougher than it seems. Attributing results to donor inputs seems straightforward if the donor pays for progress on a measurable outcome, as CGD has proposed for Cash on Delivery Aid (COD Aid). If the desired results are achieved—say an increase above an agreed baseline in the number of kids completing primary school and taking a competency test—then the program has demonstrated value for money, no? In fact even an outcome-driven, pay-for-performance approach doesn’t make attribution easy—or even necessarily appropriate.

How To Unlock Agricultural Finance To Save Forests And Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions On Farms

By Sarah Lowery, Ecosystem Marketplace, 18 March 2014 | Large consumer-facing companies such as those in the Consumer Goods Forum have committed to remove deforestation from their supply chains by 2020. Individual companies such as Unilever and Nestle also have ambitious targets for zero deforestation sourcing of raw materials. This should be good news for forests and forest carbon because agriculture is the biggest driver of deforestation. If buyers demand deforestation-free agricultural commodities, then supply chains – including those of producers – will need to keep forests standing in order to sell their products. Right? Well, yes. But there are real impediments to moving commodity production and supply chains overall from extensive, forest-clearing practices to sustainable, forest-conserving production and processing.

Amazon Inhales More Carbon than It Emits, NASA Finds

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, 18 March 2014 | A new NASA-led study seven years in the making has confirmed that natural forests in the Amazon remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than they emit, therefore reducing global warming. This finding resolves a long-standing debate about a key component of the overall carbon balance of the Amazon basin. The Amazon’s carbon balance is a matter of life and death: living trees take carbon dioxide out of the air as they grow, and dead trees put the greenhouse gas back into the air as they decompose. The new study, published in Nature Communications on March 18, is the first to measure tree deaths caused by natural processes throughout the Amazon forest, even in remote areas where no data have been collected at ground level.

[Australia] Find out about making and trading carbon credits

The Gladstone Observer, 18 March 2014 | Primary producers, rural advisors, and agribusinesses are invited to join Ben Keogh from Australian Carbon Traders for the latest on making and trading carbon credits through the Carbon Farming Initiative. Proudly hosted by the Burnett Mary Regional Group, Ben is an engaging and dynamic speaker who will give a presentation at the Brothers Sports Club over breakfast, on Monday, March 31. Ben Keogh works at the coalface of the carbon market and is highly experienced in brokering on-ground Carbon Farming Initiative projects. He has an intimate, practical and contemporary understanding of the issues facing landholders, service providers and investors in a growing carbon market. He will share his learnings and insights about the current carbon market and policies, and provide expert advice on what opportunities there are for those wishing to get involved.

The dark side of Brazil: Amazon Indian protests at World Cup trophy tour

Survival International, 18 March 2014 | Nixiwaka Yawanawá, an Amazon Indian from Brazil, greeted the World Cup trophy on its arrival in London with a T-shirt saying ‘BRAZIL: STOP DESTROYING INDIANS’. Sporting his tribe’s headdress and facial decorations, Nixiwaka drew attention to Brazil’s attacks on the rights of its indigenous population. Coca-Cola and FIFA prevented Nixiwaka from displaying the full message on his T-Shirt while standing next to the trophy. In the run-up to the FIFA World Cup in June 2014, Nixiwaka and Survival International are highlighting that five hundred years after colonization, Brazilian Indians are still being killed for their lands and resources. While Brazil is presenting itself as a multi-cultural democracy and claims to host a World Cup ‘for everyone’, the government and landowners plan to open up Indian territories for massive industrial projects.

Norway May Use Oil Fund To Provide Renewables With $40 Billion Boost

CleanTechnica, 18 March 2014 | Norway Prime Minister Erna Solberg has confirmed plans to increase the exposure of its $920 billion sovereign wealth fund – the world’s largest – to renewable energy, part of its stated plans to use its vast wealth to combat climate change. Norway currently invests only a fraction of its sovereign wealth fund (built up from mostly oil revenues) to green investment. Solberg says this will be expanded, but she will not say how much until April 4. The government has already appointed independent experts to evaluate whether the fund should exit its coal, oil, and gas investments, which currently make up around 10 per cent of its value. However, Solberg has not yet indicated whether she will support this.

[UK] Pensioner warns others about ‘boiler room’ fraud after losing £5,000 savings in scam

By Toby Wadey, Bournemouth Echo, 18 March 2014 | A pensioner who ploughed his savings into shares that never existed has warned others about the dangers of ‘boiler room’ frauds. Anthony Boothby, of Winton, received a cold call in spring 2011 from a man claiming to be a stockbroker and offering him the opportunity to buy shares in a bio-technology company. The 74-year-old said he was convinced to invest £5,000 in the company after the well-spoken caller talked him through the details and sent glossy brochures outlining various facets of the business. “He asked me about my current investments and said I would receive a much better return,” said Mr Boothby. “They sent me share certificates and a shareholder information pack. I looked them up on the internet too and it all looked very professional and legitimate.”

19 March 2014

Can REDD work without land and carbon rights?

By Andy White (RRI), Thomson Reuters Foundation, 19 March 2014 | REDD+, or reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, was conceived by the international community as a way to protect forests by allowing the sale of carbon in standing forests to polluters seeking to meet their emissions targets. But for some forest communities, like the indigenous peoples of Panama, REDD+ felt like another top-down project that would ultimately weaken their control over the land, and open up their forests for exploitation. Their decision to pull out had serious implications beyond Central America. If REDD+ couldn’t deliver without conflict in Panama, a country with stronger local land rights than many of its counterparts, what would this mean for other low and middle income countries with weaker legal protection of the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities?

Plan to curb deforestation needs to prevent land grab: report

By John McGarrity, RTCC, 19 March 2014 | A UN-led initiative to slow deforestation – including a possible carbon offset market that would pay people not to cut down trees – will fail unless indigenous peoples are given ownership of credits generated from their lands, a new report said today. The report, by a coalition of US green and human rights groups, said host countries had yet to clarify who is the rightful owner of lands that would be protected under a future worldwide forest market, part of a UN initiative also known as Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+). “Countries have not made sufficient progress in clarifying tenure rights. This presents a risk for communities, governments, investors, to the forests – and therefore is a risk to the global viability of REDD+ – as a goal or as a carbon market,” said the Rights and Resources Intitiative, which co-ordinated the report.

Unilever issues £250m green bond

By Scheherazade Daneshkhu and Andrew Bolger, Financial Times, 19 March 2014 | Unilever, the world’s second largest food producer by sales, has issued a £250m “green bond” – a development that could open a new chapter for this form of financing. The market for green bonds that finance environmentally friendly projects increased more than fivefold last year, with Dealogic recording 29 deals worth a total of $11.2bn. Most such bonds have so far been issued by supranational organisations such as the World Bank and the European Investment Bank. But in November EDF, the French power group, raised $1.9bn in the first euro-denominated green bond issued by a large corporate.

[Australia] Soil carbon storage added to Coalition’s Direct Action policy

By Mike Foley, Farm Weekly, 19 March 2014 | Producers will be able to get cash for increasing the carbon content of their soil by July this year, following an announcement from federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt to the National Carbon Farming Conference. The Coalition will add soil carbon storage to the list of approved projects under the Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI), which allows land managers to earn carbon credits by storing carbon which are then sold to companies that need to offset their emissions. Current projects approved by the CFI include activities that avoid emissions of methane from livestock, rice fields, burning grasslands, crop stubble and methane or nitrous oxide from soil. The CFI is funded through the Emissions Reduction Fund, which in turn is part of the federal government’s Direct Action policy. The upshot is $300 million, $500m and then $750m have been committed to fund carbon farming over the next three years.

[China] Chongqing’s draft carbon market plan calls for cuts from 2014

By Kathy Chen and Stian Reklev, Reuters, 19 March 2014 | A draft plan for a carbon market in Chongqing proposed that around 250 of its biggest companies be required to cut their carbon dioxide emissions by more than 4 percent per year starting in 2014. China, the world’s biggest carbon emitter, aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions 40-45 percent from 2005 levels by 2020. Chongqing is one of seven cities and provinces picked to set up pilot carbon markets ahead of the launch of the nationwide scheme later in the decade. The draft plan, drawn up by Chongqing International Consulting Company and set to be approved by the city government next week, outlined detailed rules for its carbon market, expected to launch next month.

[Indonesia] Photos: Forests, peatlands, plantations, and deforestation in Riau

By Rhett A. Butler,, 19 March 2014 | Indonesia’s Riau Province on the island of Sumatra has experienced rapid deforestation since the early 1990’s, with primary forest cover plummeting by 85 percent in twenty years. Most of this forest loss has been driven by plantation development for timber, woodpulp, and palm oil production. In February 2014, Mongabay participated in an overflight along the Malacca Strait and back to Pekanbaru. Below are some pictures from the flight, including timber concessions that supply Asia Pulp & Paper (APP), oil palm plantations, logging concessions, and natural forests.

20 March 2014

Forest Peoples at risk from ‘carbon grab’

By Oliver Tickell, The Ecologist, 20 March 2014 | A new ‘carbon grab’ is under way as governments and corporations seize valuable rights to the carbon stored in standing forests, with UN and World Bank support. But there’s no benefit for forest communities – who even risk expulsion to make way for ‘carbon plantations’. As the United Nations and the World Bank prepare to develop world carbon markets as a tool to halt deforestation under so-called REDD+, new research warns of a new ‘carbon grab’ in the making. And the grab could prove highly destructive to forest communities and indigenous peoples. First the process offers them no benefits. Worse, it may actually force their explusion, as natural forests are turned into intensively managed ‘carbon plantations’.

Carbon-Cutting Initiative May Harm Indigenous Communities

By Bryant Harris, Inter Press Service, 20 March 2014 | The World Bank plays an active role in REDD+ through its Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) and the Forest Investment Programme (FIP), both of which are designed to encourage better forest conservation and stewardship. However, watchdog groups say Latin American, African and Asian indigenous communities living in forests have yet to receive any REDD+ revenue streams from their respective governments. “There has been no transfer of funds to the [indigenous] communities through the governmental REDD processes,” Khare told IPS. “And therefore, in most of these countries … no money has been transferred to the communities through these two major bodies [REDD+ and FCPF], which are actually piloting REDD in the world.”

Feisty Debate on Carbon Rights Raises More Questions Than Answers

By Allie Goldstein, Forest Carbon Portal, 20 March 2014 | Though the weather outside the Newseum in Washington D.C. on Wednesday was dull, the mood inside was spirited and at times contentious at the Fifteenth Dialogue on Forests, Governance & Climate Change, hosted by the Rights and Resources Institute (RRI). About 100 panelists and audience members came together to discuss the issue of ‘carbon rights’ in the wake of the recently passed Warsaw Agreement on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation of forests (REDD+). “For the large trade to take place and large flow of money from developed countries to developing countries to take place, it’s extremely important that two things are very clear,” said Arvind Khare, Executive Director of RRI. “Who is the seller and who is the owner? And what is the commodity you are trading?”

Ban hails impact of UN climate change treaty, urges renewed commitment to ideals

United Nations News Centre, 20 March 2014 | Hailing the twentieth anniversary of the Convention (UNFCCC) and commending all those who made it possible, Mr. Ban emphasized that the accord’s landmark Kyoto Protocol established the world’s first greenhouse gas reduction treaty, with binding commitments for industrialized countries, and set the stage for the establishment of the world’s carbon markets. Further, the clean development mechanism and joint implementation initiatives have enabled emissions trading and carbon offsets in the developing and developed worlds. The expanded UN Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (REDD+) programme is helping to place value on carbon stored in forests and reduce emissions from deforestation and land degradation.

Annual Investment of US $30 Billion in Tropical Forest Conservation Can Support Green and Sustainable Economic Growth

UNEP press release, 20 March 2014 | An investment of US $30 billion per year – under seven per cent of the US $480 billion paid in annual global fossil fuel subsidies – in the REDD+ forest conservation initiative can accelerate the global transition to green and sustainable growth and ensure the long-term wellbeing of tens of millions in developing countries, a new report released today said. Building Natural Capital: How REDD+ Can Support a Green Economy, a report by the International Resource Panel (IRP) and the UN REDD Programme, outlines how integrating REDD+ programmes into a Green Economy approach can conserve and even boost the economic and social benefits forests provide to human society.

EU leaders to set October deadline to agree 2030 climate goals

By Barbara Lewis and Ben Garside, Reuters, 20 March 2014 | European Union leaders are preparing to set an October deadline for agreeing on the bloc’s 2030 climate and energy goals, a draft document seen by Reuters shows. At a meeting this Thursday and Friday, according to the draft, “The European Council will take stock of progress made on these issues at its meeting in June … with a view to taking a final decision on the new policy framework as quickly as possible and no later than October 2014.” … But EU diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity, have for months played down the chances of an agreement before June. Poland and other east European countries with heavy reliance on carbon-intensive coal want to wait until China and the United States unveil their proposals, which all nations have agreed must be ready by April 2015.

21 March 2014

March 21: The International Day of Mourning for Destroyed and Stolen Forests

By Jeff Conant, Friends of the Earth, 21 March 2014 | The United Nations has declared March 21 the International Day of Forests: a day, in the words of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, “dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of all types of forests and trees to our economic, social, environmental and cultural well-being.” But a close colleague of Friends of the Earth’s forest program, Wally Menne of Timberwatch, South Africa, suggests that the day should more likely be named “the International Day of Mourning for Destroyed and Stolen Forests.” “We should weep in solidarity with the millions of displaced, dispossessed and now poverty stricken, formerly forest dependent local communities and indigenous peoples around the world,” writes Menne.

Global study of forests and livelihoods shakes up the terrain

By Mark Foss, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 21 March 2014 | In the most comprehensive study on the links between forestry and livelihoods to date, researchers have challenged conventional wisdom about key areas, including the importance of environmental income, the roles of men and women in forest-product use, and the function of forests as safety nets. “It’s easy to create stereotypes about what the world is like,” said Arild Angelsen, an economics professor with the Norwegian University of Life Sciences and coordinator of the global study. “Within certain established narratives, there are a lot of nuances and variations.” The global study is the product of the Poverty and Environment Network (PEN), a collaborative effort led by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).

$30b Annual Investment in Forest Conservation can Support Green Growth – UNEP

By Augustine Aminu, Daily Times Nigeria, 21 March 2014 | An investment of 30 billion dollars per year can accelerate the global transition to green and sustainable growth and ensure the long-term well-being of tens of millions in developing countries, the UNEP said. The UNEP quoted a new report as saying that the amount represented less than seven per cent of the 480 billion paid in annual global fossil fuel subsidies in the REDD+ forest conservation initiative. The report was entitled “Building Natural Capital: How REDD+ Can Support a Green Economy”, was compiled by the International Resource Panel (IRP) and the UN REDD Programme.

Finding a Place for REDD in Sustainable Landscapes

Landscapes for People, Food, and Nature Blog, 21 March 2014 | The Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+) initiative has a potentially large role to play in international actions to combat climate change. Sustainable management of forests and forest carbon stocks does more than just preserve the world’s forests and sequester atmospheric carbon – it provides long-term sustainability and economic development built upon stabilized and enriched soils, increased biodiversity and heightened food, water and energy security. So, where do REDD+ and green economy fit into the conversation on integrated landscape management? REDD+ represents a tangible approach to climate change mitigation that is already being implemented by some progressive governments and businesses around the world. This initiative is one way to transition towards an economic development model that takes environmental sustainability and ecosystem services into consideration.

Rich nations to start fund to help cut methane emissions abroad

By Ben Garside, Reuters, 21 March 2014 | Nations including the United States and Sweden are advancing plans to launch a new fund this year to pay for methane emission reduction projects in the developing world. The countries are aiming to set up a so-called Methane Abatement Facility with pledges of $100 million under the auspices of the World Bank to buy and cancel carbon credits, initially from projects that cut emissions at landfill waste sites. The aim is to deliver fast-acting cuts to greenhouse gas output blamed for climate change ahead of a U.N. pact to bind all nations to cut greenhouse gas emissions from 2020.

Chemonics International Awards Second Contract for Colombia Redd Project Development to Consortium of Ecopartners, Offsetters and Clearsky

Chemonics press release, 21 March 2014 | Offsetters Climate Solutions Inc. is pleased to announce that international development company, Chemonics International LLC, has awarded the consortium of Ecological Carbon Offset Partners LLC, ClearSky Climate Solutions LLC and Offsetters, a second contract (“Phase Two”) to develop project documentation for their ongoing BioREDD+ program in Colombia, South America. Under the terms of the new Phase Two contract, the team of ecoPartners, ClearSky and Offsetters will be responsible for developing and writing complete Project Design Documentation for four additional REDD+ projects being undertaken by Chemonics and its partners in Colombia. REDD – Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation, is a carbon market mechanism that incentivizes land owners to leave forests standing, thereby increasing carbon stocks over time.

[UK] Matthew Ames, conman who used James Middleton to promote bogus scheme, jailed

By Chris Pleasance, Daily Mail, 21 March 2014 | A ‘green finance’ boss who hired the brother of the Duchess of Cambridge to promote a bogus rainforest protection scheme was jailed today. Matthew Ames, 38, cheated ethical investors out of £1.6m through fake green projects to fund his luxury lifestyle, including buying a Lamborghini sports car, Isleworth Crown Court heard. His business Forestry For Life, which netted over £400,000 by claiming to protect the Amazon rainforest, was represented by Kate Middleton’s brother James at a trade fair in London in 2010. Ames also hired England World Cup winner Jack Charlton and sport supremo Sir Rodney Walker to promote Forestry for Life and his other firm, the Investor Club, at events.

22 March 2014

Indonesia’s forest fires feed ‘brown cloud’ of pollution choking Asia’s cities

By John Vidal, The Observer, 22 March 2014 | High above the vast Indonesian island of Sumatra, satellites identify hundreds of plumes of smoke drifting over the oil palm plantations and rainforests. They look harmless as the monsoon winds sweep them north and east towards Singapore, Malaysia and deep into Cambodia, Laos and Thailand. But at ground level, south-east Asian cities have been choking for weeks, wreathed in an acrid, stinking blanket of half-burned vegetation mixed with industrial pollution, car exhaust fumes and ash. From Palangkarya in Borneo to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, the air has been thick, the sun a dull glow and face masks obligatory. Schools, airports and roads have been closed and visibility at times has been down to just a few yards.

23 March 2014

New monitoring tool consigns deforestation to the past

By Warief Djajanto Basorie, The Jakarta Post, 23 March 2014 | Tesso Nilo is purple. More than half of this 167,000 hectare forest in Riau province, Sumatra, has a reddish hue on the digital map. Purple denotes forest loss. Blue indicates forest gain. The satellite-aided image delivered in near-real time comes courtesy of the Global Forest Watch (GFW) website of the Washington-based World Resources Institute (WRI), which was launched on Feb. 20. This free service, accessible to anyone with an Internet connection, is a groundbreaking tool to track deforestation and forest degradation worldwide. Armed with this information, authorities can act quickly. GFW, however, is unable to distinguish tree-based plantations, like oil palm plantations, from natural forests. Nevertheless, it says it is now working on a “plantation forest map” for tropical regions to determine the location of plantations. Indonesia and Malaysia have large areas of oil palm estates.

[Malaysia] Forests key to sustainable development, existence of humans

Malaysia Sun, 23 March 2014 | A new study has warned that the destruction of forests, that made earth habitable for mammals in the first place, will lead to the decline of all mammals, including humans. The value of forests and tree-based ecosystems extends far beyond carbon sequestration; they are the foundation of sustainable societies. A new report, launched in Jakarta, Indonesia on 21 March – the International Day of Forests – promotes REDD and the Green Economy as together providing a new pathway to sustainable development that can benefit all nations. It claims this approach can conserve and even boost the economic and social benefits forests provide to human society. Building Natural Capital – How REDD Can Support a Green Economy outlines how REDD can be integrated into a Green Economy to support pro-poor development while maintaining or increasing forest cover.

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