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REDD in the news: 19-25 January 2015

REDD-Monitor’s weekly round up of the news on REDD, forests and climate. The links are organised by date (click on the title for the full article). REDD-Monitor’s news links on are updated regularly. For past REDD in the news posts, click here.


19 January 2015

A Carbon Offset Market for Trees
By Don Melnick, Mary Pearl and James Warfield, The New York Times, 19 January 2015
In recent years, accurate and inexpensive techniques have been developed to quantify and verify carbon emissions that would be avoided by not destroying forests. Credible mechanisms for indemnifying offset credits (meaning, an acre of forest will always be protected even if the specific acre behind the credit is destroyed) and returning the proceeds from the sale of the offsets to local communities have also been devised. A new system that combines all of those components and biodiversity conservation, known as the Rainforest Standard, which we and 60 other scientists, lawyers and businesspeople have developed, is now being tested in South America to safeguard a 1.6-million-acre forest.

Should we put a price on nature?
By Ben Goldfarb, High Country News, 19 January 2015
The scientific literature is strewn with ecosystem appraisals. Bats provide up to $50 billion annually by eating insects; insects offer $57 billion by disposing of waste, pollinating crops and feeding fish and game. Beavers in Utah’s Escalante River watershed have the potential to provide hundreds of millions of dollars in flood control and other services. The humble street trees of Corvallis put $4 million in Oregonians’ pockets. The Colorado River Basin is worth up to $500 billion every year. But do these astronomical figures help? In theory, sticker shock can influence hearts and minds — “a gee-whiz way to get people’s attention,” as Mary Ruckelshaus, one of NatCap’s directors, put it. Huge numbers are meant to convince folks who lack innate tree-hugging tendencies that beavers are more valuable as aquatic engineers than as, say, fur hats. In practice, however, such valuation has fostered more acrimony than consensus.

Ban Ki-moon appoints WWF’s Janos Pasztor as climate advisor
By Sophie Yeo, RTCC, 19 January 2015
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has appointed Hungarian WWF official Janos Pasztor to advise him in the run-up to the UN climate talks this year in Paris. Serving as assistant secretary-general on climate change, Pasztor will support efforts to sign off a new global climate deal in December, as well as help to mobilise climate action on the ground. Pasztor has been WWF’s leading expert on conservation, policy and science for the last two years. Between 1993 and 2012, he held various positions in the UN, including within its climate body (UNFCCC). Previous climate envoys chosen by Ban to spearhead climate change efforts include three former presidents and prime ministers: Ireland’s Mary Robinson, Ghana’s John Kufuor and Norway’s Jens Stoltenberg.
[USA] Save forests and get carbon credits
By Taryn Nixon, Energy Live News, 19 January 2015
A Californian forestry company has been rewarded with carbon credits for preserving a forest. The 4000 acres of coastal habitat south east of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina has been given the carbon credits as part of a Government scheme. More than 162,000 carbon credits have been awarded to the company. One carbon credit is equal to one tonne of carbon dioxide removed from the atmosphere. It’s a partnership between carbon offset developer Green Assets and Brookgreen Gardens, who own the land and is the first one to receive the credits. The California Air Resources Board is a compliance offset programme for U.S forests. The scheme issues offset credits to projects that meet emission reductions or improve efforts to reduce emissions.

20 January 2015

Greenpeace Names Activists Behind Its Epic Fail in Peru
By Mark Hertsgaard, Bloomberg, 20 January 2015
The action also gave Greenpeace, one of the world’s most recognized nongovernmental organizations and social brands, the worst public relations black eye in its 40-plus years of attention-grabbing protest… The mastermind of the Nazca Lines action was Wolfgang Sadik, a veteran campaigner with Greenpeace Germany, the Greenpeace report reveals. Two of the other three activists named in the report also work for Greenpeace Germany: Martin Kaiser, who was responsible for all of Greenpeace’s actions at the Lima summit, and Iris Wiedemann, Greenpeace’s chief communications officer at the summit. The fourth individual is Mauro Fernandez, a staffer with Greenpeace Argentina who served as an interpreter during the Nazca action.

[Bolivia] Putting a price on nature can benefit the poor if done right
By Simon Roach, SciDev.Net, 20 January 2015
A recent estimate of the planet’s ‘natural capital’ is US$125 trillion a year. [1] This figure attempts to capture the value of the ‘ecosystem services’ — essentially all the benefits of a healthy, natural environment — provided by such things as carbon-storing trees, drainage basins that prevent flooding and insect life that helps agriculture flourish. Natural capital is a controversial concept. Many feel putting a price on nature is either impossible or ethically unsound. But its supporters argue that without doing so ecosystem services are at risk of being left out of economic models and decision-making. “We’re degrading the natural environment and losing species at an alarming rate. So let’s put a value on nature and get it incorporated into these models so that we can start investing in the maintenance, protection or possibly even enhancement of those ecosystem services,” says Darren Evans, a conservation biologist…

[Guyana] Vaitarna’s timber processing facility still elusive
By Suraj Narine, Stabroek News, 20 January 2015
Logging company Vaitarna Holdings Private Inc (VHPI) is yet to begin operations at a long-delayed wood processing facility and company officials are tight-lipped on its status, though one official said that they would start operations within two weeks. Vaitarna’s Chief Execu-tive Officer (CEO) Chetan Narayan refused to speak on the matter during a visit by Stabroek News to the Indian company’s Wineperu concession on the Essequibo River on Thursday. He demanded that no pictures be taken and said that visits to the facility site were prohibited. Asked about the progress of the facility, Narayan declined to speak of it saying that it was not up to him to decide if the information was to be shared. After being pressed on the matter, another individual who was standing close to Narayan blurted out, “the plant is finished and we will start operations by next week or the other week.” [R-M: Subscription needed.]

[Indonesia] Forest damage ‘to blame’ for yearly flooding
By Apriadi Gunawan, The Jakarta Post, 20 January 2015
Environmental activists have blamed annual floods in Langkat regency, North Sumatra, on serious forest damage in the plateau area of Mount Leuser National Park (TNGL). Large-scale illegal logging has also led the lowland area’s mangrove forests to the brink of extinction, hindering its ability to absorb water, according to the activists. “Within the TNGL area there are now thousands of houses erected illegally by illegal loggers. But the authorities don’t do anything about it,” local environmental activist Tajruddin Hasibuan told The Jakarta Post recently. Hasibuan said that Langkat had been a flood-free region when both the forests in TNGL and the mangroves in the lowland area were left untouched. But now, with both upland and lowland forest seriously damaged, the regency is plagued by floods.

[Philippines] For indigenous voices in land use, a seat at the table isn’t necessarily enough
By Kate Evans, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 20 January 2015
Formalizing indigenous people’s participation in protected area management is not enough to ensure they can actually defend their interests against more powerful actors, a new study has found. If participation is to meaningfully include marginalized groups, we must examine how it happens on the ground, says the paper’s lead author, Tessa Minter, a post-doctoral researcher from Leiden University and the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR). That’s exactly what Minter and colleagues did, studying how a group of indigenous people in a Philippines protected area participated—or didn’t—in its governance. “All the promises of the participation of local populations in protected area management, in this case at least, do not mean much if the underlying power structures remain the same,” Minter said.

21 January 2015

The Ecosystem Marketplace’s Forest Carbon News
Ecosystem Marketplace, 21 January 2015
Seen from above, the indigenous territories in the Amazon’s “Arc of Deforestation” appear as solid green islands amid a sea of grey-green degradation. This bird’s eye view corroborates the studies that say indigenous peoples are the best guardians of the forest. But like all maps, they show just a snapshot in time. The reality is that these carbon-storing oases face daily threats, and indigenous peoples are not homogenous in their strategies for facing them. A ride down Brazil’s Highway 364 reveals three distinct approaches by neighboring groups: First, the Zoró. Though their territory along the border of the Brazilian states of Rondônia and Mato Grosso has achieved lower rates of forest degradation that their non-indigenous neighbors, the Zoró are actively logging their old growth teak and mahogany forests.

[Brazil] Uncontacted Amazon Indians ‘surrounded by loggers’ make contact
Survival International, 21 January 2015
Three isolated Awá Indians have made contact with a settled Awá community in Brazil’s north-eastern Amazon rainforest. Amakaria, the leader of the group, and several relatives, were reportedly contacted by a Brazilian government team some decades ago, but decided to return to an isolated life in the forest. It is unclear why the group has made contact in this instance. However, one settled Awá told the Brazilian NGO CIMI, “They were surrounded by loggers. We heard lots of noise from the chainsaws nearby and the tractors carving roads to transport the wood, and there were many trees marked for felling. So we said ‘Come with us, otherwise the loggers will kill you.’ And they came with us.” The uncontacted Awá, numbering around 100 in total, are at risk of extinction. They could be wiped out by violence from outsiders who steal their land and resources, and by diseases like flu and measles to which they have no resistance.

Interview with Chuck Hutchinson, Senior Technical Officer, WWF-Guyana
WWF, 21 January 2015 Guyana
has the first national scale payment for performance REDD+ system in the world. Norway and Guyana initiated this deal in 2009, when Guyana’s previous president, Bharrat Jagdeo, a leading proponent of REDD+ for high forest, low deforestation (HFLD) countries, offered Guyana’s forests as a REDD+ model. Most of the focus on REDD+ is about lowering deforestation rates, but Guyana already had one of the world’s lowest annual deforestation rates at about 0.03% and we want to keep it low. I believe Norway recognizes that Guyana is an important HFLD REDD+ model and Norway been very supportive of working thru the challenges to make REDD+ work here.

Nigeria: REDD+ in Nasarawa to Assess UN Forestry Programme Status
By Hir Joseph, Daily Trust, 21 January 2015
Nasarawa State may be selected as one of the few states in the country to be rewarded for their efforts in forest conservation, a programme run by the United Nations Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation plus for enhancing carbon stocks, sustainable forest management and the multiple benefits of forests (REDD ). REDD is a gateway for green development and economies, allowing countries to access climate funds, reports say. A few countries are engaged in REDD , with Nigeria joining in 2010. Cross River was selected a pilot state and, now with additional funding, there is provision for two more states to join. Presently, scoping missions are on in some states – Taraba, Nasarawa, Kaduna, Delta, Ekiti, Ondo and Lagos – which have applied to be included in the REDD .

[UK] Fox of Folkestone: Conman from Kent who modelled himself on Wolf of Wall Street
The Telegraph, 21 January 2015
A conman who posted photos on Facebook of him enjoying the high life – drinking champagne and posing with wads of cash and a Rolex watch – has been jailed for two years. Daniel Burgoyne, who posed as a “man with a Midas touch”, claimed he could make a fortune for clients by trading in diamonds, wine and carbon credits, tradeable certificates in rights to emit carbon dioxide. The 24-year-old compared himself to Jordan Belfort, the character played by Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street. He posted photos of flash cars, casino chips, holidays, a Rolex watch, wads of cash and of himself smoking cigars while enjoying champagne. Burgoyne claimed to operate from an office in central London to lure clients into his scheme, but in reality lived with his mother in Folkestone, Kent, and was a former trainee butcher. Canterbury Crown Court heard on Tuesday how Burgoyne conned 18 friends and clients out of £80,000, including one victim who lost £33,000.

[USA] California Ranchers Enticed Into Carbon Farming, 21 January 2015
Recently we wrote that carbon emissions can be significantly reduced through the widespread application of compost, and now California is providing incentives for ranchers to do it. They can get tradable greenhouse gas emission reduction credits, bringing them another revenue stream for sustainable land management practices that also improves the soil and its ability to hold water. Ranchers can sell them on California’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Exchange (GHG Rx), where polluters buy credits to be used in projects that benefit the state. So, ranchers can now benefit from the state’s cap-and-trade program. Research at University of California/ Berkeley shows that compost applied to 5% of the state’s grazing land would store a year’s worth of emissions from conventional farms and forestry operations there. If that’s increased to 25% of grazing land, the soil would absorb 75% of California’s total annual emissions.

Voices of REDD+: In Vietnam, payments alone can’t turn tide of deforestation
By Kate Evans, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 21 January 2015
REDD payments alone may not be enough to overpower the economics of deforestation in some cases, the proponents of a REDD pilot project in Vietnam found. Richard McNally, the REDD Global Coordinator for the Netherlands Development Organisation (SNV) was involved in the Cat Loc Landscape – Cat Tien National Park Pro-Poor REDD Project, located just north of Ho Chi Minh City, in one of Vietnam’s largest and best-known national parks. The Cat Tien REDD project is among those analysed in a new book, REDD on the Ground: A casebook of subnational initiatives, published by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR). The project began in 2009 and aimed to reduce the forest degradation and deforestation happening around the Cat Tien National Park. Early challenges included getting local communities—and national authorities—to understand some of the more technical elements of REDD.

22 January 2015

High-tech eyes on the forest seek to help curb climate change
By Sophie Furnival, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 22 January 2015
Remote sensing. Unmanned aerial vehicles. Spectrometry readers. When teamed with traditional forestry techniques, these high-tech approaches may revolutionize the way we monitor forests, experts believe. With the effects of climate change becoming ever clearer, advances in forest monitoring are vital. “The IPCC has established beyond reasonable doubt that climate change is happening and it’s man-made,” said Christopher Martius, a principal scientist at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR). “That means for us here in CIFOR that we are worried about how to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, because we know that this is responsible for between 10 percent and 25 percent of the overall global greenhouse gas emissions,” he said.

‘Nature Conservation Notes’ Bring Individual Investors into Climate Fund
By David Bank, Huffington Post, 22 January 2015
Investing in conservation has long been the province of development-finance institutions and philanthropic foundations. Now, wealthy individuals are starting to invest as well, opening a potentially huge new source of private capital for ecosystem preservation. Dozens of individual investors committed a total of 15 million euros, or about $17.5 million, to purchase “Nature Conservation Notes” through Credit Suisse, which appears to be the first major bank to offer non-institutional clients a conservation investment product that targets market-rate returns. The projects financed by the notes have been selected by the Althelia Climate Fund, based in Luxembourg, which calls itself a “sustainable land-use impact fund.” Althelia finances projects that create carbon offset credits through the protection of forests, and also generate revenues from sustainably certified products such as cocoa, coffee and wood.

[Guyana] Stanford scientists team with indigenous people to study carbon calculations of Amazon rainforest
By Bjorn Carey, Stanford News, 22 January 2015
When it comes to measuring the carbon storage potential of the Amazon forest, indigenous people might outperform sophisticated satellites. The results from a long-term collaboration between Stanford scientists and indigenous people in Guyana suggests that traditional remote sensing techniques might be undervaluing the region’s carbon storage potential by as much as 40 percent. The work could influence how indigenous people in Guyana and elsewhere manage their forests and lead to greater opportunities for these communities to engage in carbon offset programs. The project, led by Jose Fragoso, a senior scientist in the Department of Biology at Stanford, grew out of his earlier efforts to engage indigenous peoples to gain a better understanding of ecosystems relatively undisturbed by modern civilization.

[Guyana] Vaitarna to instal timber processing equipment in 1st quarter
Stabroek News, 22 January 2015
Logging company Vaitarna Holdings Private Inc (VHPI) says it expects to begin value-added production after equipment for its plant is installed in the first quarter of this year. “The structure for the first phase of (the) saw mill project is complete and electrical works are scheduled to begin within a month’s time,” Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Chethan Narayan said in a response to an article published in the Stabroek News on Tuesday. He said that the machines for the first phase of project have already arrived in Georgetown and will be moved to the Wineperu site on the Essequibo River for installation during the first quarter of this year. [R-M: Subscription needed.]

Opinion: Indonesia’s Flagship Forest Policy Must Do More To Meet National Climate Targets
By Jonah Busch, Ecosystem Marketplace, 22 January 2015
Indonesia’s flagship forest policy—a moratorium on new licenses to log or clear rainforests that started in 2011—has lowered the country’s greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation by an estimated 1.0–2.5 percent over four years. But unless the moratorium policy is significantly strengthened Indonesia is poised to fall far short of its national climate target of a 26–41 percent reduction in emissions by 2020. That’s because the new licenses that were the focus of the moratorium policy were responsible for only 15 percent of Indonesia’s emissions from deforestation from 2000–2010. The moratorium policy excluded the remaining 85 percent of emissions, most of which came from deforestation in areas with pre-existing licenses, or from unlicensed deforestation.

Nigeria: Imperatives of REDD Mechanism for Mitigating Deforestation
By Lillian Chukwu, The Guardian, 22 January 2015
Programme Officer for REDD , Ochuko Odibo described the journey of Nigeria towards REDD as it started in 2009 through multi-stakeholder policy dialogue, capacity building with support from the UN-REDD Program, preliminary assessments along with field surveys, UN missions and joint strategic planning between the Federal Government, UN and Cross River which is the pilot state in the country. Odibo stated that the “Nigeria’s UN-REDD National Program was signed on August 28, 2012, in Abuja. The UN-REDD Nigeria program has a timeframe from 2012 to 2015 and with a budget of $4 million which will allow Nigeria to craft the REDD mechanism, which is part of the set of policy and financial instruments of the UN climate change convention. “Nigeria’s REDD program has an innovative, two-track approach consisting of actions at both federal and state levels,” he added.

[Nigeria] FG seeks collaboration to tackle desertification in the North
Nigerian Tribune, 22 January 2015
The Federal Government had called on relevant stakeholders to support the Great Green Wall (GGW) programme, in order to prevent desertification, drought and climate change from affecting the northern part of the country. This was contained in a statement issued by the office of the National Agency for Great Green Wall (NAGGW), after a courtesy call on the Director-General of the agency, Mr Goni Ahmed, by representatives of World Bank and REDD+ Secretariat. According to the statement, Ahmed said “without support and assistance, the region could potentially witness debilitating levels of out-migration and instability, damaging the social fabric and confining them to a future of low productivity, limited economic growth and marginalisation.” He emphasised that the NAGGW is a holistic and integrated approach that considers all aspects of integrated projects that could key into Reducing Emission from Desertification and Forest Degradation (REDD+) programme.

23 January 2015

Financial Institutions Play Catch-Up in Deforestation Fight
By Katie Gilbert, Institutional Investor, 23 January 2015
But financial institutions stand out for their lack of real movement on the issue. “The financial sector in general is significantly lagging the agriculture and consumer companies in addressing deforestation,” says Glenn Hurowitz, managing director of Climate Advisers, a Washington-based consulting firm focused on climate change, and co-founder of sister firm Chain Reaction Research, which analyzes sustainability risk for financial institutions. “There’s a real risk that irresponsible actors in the financial industry are going to finance activities that could undermine the progress others have made,” warns Hurowitz, who is also executive director of Catapult, Climate Advisers’ campaign affiliate.

Setback for EU ETS reform after MEPs fail to find consensus
By Andreas Walstad, Interfax Energy, 23 January 2015
Supporters of early reform of the EU’s Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) faced a setback on Thursday after MEPs in the European Parliament rejected a draft opinion on the proposed Market Stability Reserve (MSR) in a non-binding vote. MEPs in the parliament’s committee for Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) blocked the opinion with 31 votes against, 28 for and seven abstentions. The parliament’s Environment Committee (ENVI), which has the legislative responsibility on the file, is expected to vote on 24 February. The MSR proposal needs backing from both the parliament and the European Council to come into force. ITRE’s vote was not a rejection of the MSR proposal itself, but of its timing and form of implementation. MEPs were divided on, among other things, whether the system should apply earlier than 2021 – which is the proposed deadline set by the European Commission.

Mapping forests’ carbon with lasers
By SciDev.Net, 23 January 2015
Measuring carbon emissions is crucial for planning a response to climate change. But scientists have so far struggled to keep track of the world’s carbon stocks and how they vary. “We want to pull carbon out of the atmosphere and put it into forests as a way of reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” says Greg Asner, an ecologist at the Carnegie Institution for Science based at Stanford University, United States. At the Carnegie Airborne Observatory, he has developed a lidar (light detection and ranging) system based on laser technology that is flown over the tropics to measure how much carbon is trapped in the forests, and where deforestation, illegal logging and mining activities are releasing it. This video shows what pilots can see from above the forest, and how the system turns aerial imagery into colourful, animated carbon maps.

Brazil’s worst drought in history prompts protests and blackouts
By Jonathan Watts, The Guardian, 23 January 2015
The taps have run dry and the lights have gone out across swathes of Brazil this week as the worst drought in history spreads from São Paulo to Rio de Janeiro and beyond. More than four million people have been affected by rationing and rolling power cuts as this tropical nation discovers it can no longer rely on once abundant water supplies in a period of rising temperatures and diminishing rainfall. The political and economic fallout for the world’s seventh biggest economy is increasingly apparent. Protesters in dry neighbourhoods have taken to the streets, coffee crops have been hit, businesses have been forced to close and peddle-boat operators have had to cease operations because lakes have dried up. In São Paulo – the most populous city in South America and the worst hit by the drought – a year of shortages has cut water use in the city by a quarter since last January…

[Indonesia] Open Up Papua to the Light of Truth
The Jakarta Globe, 23 January 2015
Our guess is that the unrest is deliberately perpetuated because it benefits the ruling elites in Papua and Jakarta. Another mystery is what is it the authorities are keeping hidden in Papua such that the news media, especially the foreign press, is denied a peek. Are they concealing the mass graves of native Papuans? Or crimes such as illegal logging and the destruction of the environment? If there are no human rights violations, environmental destruction or illegal logging taking place there, then why the fear of opening up? We got a glimpse of what really goes on there when in 2013 a low-ranking police officer, Labora Sitorus, was linked to Rp 1.5 trillion ($120 million) bank transactions. He was eventually convicted of illegal logging and fuel smuggling — rackets that could not have been carried out for years without his superiors being aware or involved.

[UK] Broker jailed for mis-selling
By Anna Dobbie, Bridging & Commercial Distributor, 23 January 2015
A broker has been put behind bars for collaborating with his colleague to misleading 30 victims.
Between 2007 and 2010, Alexander Pratt, 29, of Wimbledon and Mark Sisson, 35, of Chiswick [Both pictured] ran a fraudulent firm overseas which mislead individuals to purchase equity in companies for grossly inflated prices.
However, Pratt, who was acting as a broker, mis-sold the offerings to vulnerable victims, without warning them of the high legal fees they would incur if they attempted to resell, which were in fact higher than the price they had paid.
In total, the pair swindled £1.2 million from victims of the scam.

24 January 2015

[Guyana] Log production jumps 21 percent in 2014
Kaieteur News, 24 January 2015
Large-scale forest companies and operators were called upon to increase value added production and harvesting since most forest operations are not fully utilising their allowable cuts as approved by the sector’s regulatory agency, the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC). This call was made by the Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment, Robert Persaud, during an interactive meeting on Thursday with large-scale forest stakeholders. The meeting was to review the performance of the forest sector and to strategically place the sector to be more competitive in 2015. According to Minister Persaud, specific emphasis will be placed on improving the operations of the Forestry Training and Development Centre and simultaneously, that of the Forest Product Development Marketing Council. This year, the GFC will continue to enforce the rules and regulations of the sector.

25 January 2015

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