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REDD in the news: 2-8 March 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.

Lima Call for Climate Action: Paving the Way to Revisit Central Africa’s Adaptation Agenda
By Denis J. Sonwa, Beahrs Environmental Leadership Program, Spring 2015
One of the main outputs of the UNFCCC COP 20 in Lima is the significant progress on recognizing the importance of adaptation when responding to climate change. The National Adaptation Plan (NAP) process had gained more interest and will be given more visibility in the UNFCCC website. How NAP can be supported by the GFC (Green Climate Fund) will be a subject of further discussions before Paris 2015. The Global Landscape Forum (GLF) organized by CIFOR (Center for International Forestry Research) and partners as a side event during this COP clearly states that adaptation and mitigation approaches can be combined and reinforced through landscape approaches. It is now time for countries and regions to turn the outputs of Lima into realities, both nationally and regionally.

2 March 2015

A Major Surge in Atmospheric Warming Is Probably Coming in the Next Five Years
By Nafeez Ahmed, Motherboard, 2 March 2015
Forget the so-called ‘pause’ in global warming—new research says we might be in for an era of deeply accelerated heating. While the rate of atmospheric warming in recent years has, indeed, slowed due to various natural weather cycles—hence the skeptics’ droning on about “pauses”—global warming, as a whole, has not stopped. Far from it. It’s actually sped up, dramatically, as excess heat has absorbed into the oceans. We’ve only begun to realize the extent of this phenomenon in recent years, after scientists developed new technologies capable of measuring ocean temperatures with a depth and precision that was previously lacking.

Brazil’s king of deforestation dethroned in drive to beat land clearers
By Jonathan Watts, The Guardian, 2 March 2015
For most of the past six years, Ezequiel Antônio Castanha had seemed a pillar of the community in the small Amazonian city of Novo Progresso. As the owner of a supermarket, hotel and car dealership, he provided more jobs than anyone else. Outside his municipality, few had heard of him. Neighbours described him as a “pessoa normal” (regular guy). Today, however, the thick-set, middle-aged man sits in jail with a notoriety across Brazil as a Tony Soprano-like character whose businesses were used to launder money from one of the biggest land clearance syndicates ever uncovered. Castanha was arrested last weekend, along with 15 associates, in what has been hailed as a major breakthrough for environmental enforcement. The local media have described the detainee as the “king of deforestation”. According to the environment ministry Ibama, he and his gang were responsible for about 10% of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon last year.

Members of €32bn Danish pension funds to vote on fossil fuel divestment
By Damian Carrington, The Guardian, 2 March 2015
Hundreds of thousands of academics, engineers and lawyers in Denmark are set to vote on divesting their €32bn (£23bn) pension funds from the fossil fuels that drive climate change. The first of a series of resolutions will be filed on Monday asking six funds to dump their coal investments by 2018 and exclude high-risk oil and gas projects such as tar sands extraction and Arctic drilling. Campaigners are hopeful of success after resolutions demanding divestment from all fossil fuels were only narrowly defeated in 2014. The pension funds, which Danish professionals are obliged to join, cover almost 5% of the nation’s workforce. “The Danish energy sector is obviously more green than elsewhere in the world, but even in Denmark we have a responsibility to do our absolute best to drive the [green energy] transition and part of that is moving out of black money,” said Prof Thomas Meinert Larsen, at Copenhagen University…

[USA] How an Oregon forest is helping Chevy meet its carbon goals
Wendy Culverwell, Portland Business Journal, 2 March 2015
Ecotrust Forest Management Inc. has closed on an agreement to sell the carbon credits for a 980-acre forest it manages on the Oregon Coast to General Motors’ Chevrolet brand. Chevrolet will retire the credits in connection with its 2010 carbon reduction initiative commitment to retire up to eight million tons of carbon emissions. Ecotrust Forest Management is a for-profit arm of Ecotrust, a Portland nonprofit established by Spencer Beebe to pursue business models that support people as well as the environment. Led by Bettina von Hagen, it manages and consults on forestry practices that improve forest health.

3 March 2015

[Indonesia] Sumatran road plan could spell a dark new chapter for storied ecosystem: study
By Laura Deal, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 3 March 2015
The current Aceh Spatial Plan—an expansion of the former Ladia Galaska road construction scheme—is slated to slice through highly sensitive areas of the Leuser Ecosystem in Sumatra’s Aceh and Northern Sumatra provinces. The plan has been brought under scrutiny in a recently published article in PLOS One that examines the threat posed to endangered terrestrial mammals in Southeast Asia by specific roads. “Having so many roads cutting through this big mountainous block of forest will completely fragment the area. And we’re already seeing it on the satellites,” said David Gaveau, a scientist with the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and a co-author of the study. Gaveau, who has been studying the Leuser Ecosystem for more than five years, worries that his most grave projections for the fate of the area—and the fabled mammals within—are coming true.

[New Zealand] Manuka trial has eye on the money
By Gerald Piddock,, 3 March 2015
Backers of a trial involving high performance manuka trees hope it will provide a credible land use alternative for farmers on marginal hill country land. The project aims to improve yields, output and value of manuka honey and grow exports of the product to $1 billion by 2028. The project’s co-investors include Comvita, Taihape beekeeper Don Tweeddale, Landcorp, Hawke’s Bay Regional Council, Aborex Industries, Nukuhau Carbon Ltd and Maori Trustee Te Tumu Paeroa. It is being run on 11 commercial sites on 470ha around the North Island including north western Waikato sheep, beef and dairy farm Limestone Downs. The C Alma Baker Trust, which owns the property, has contributed $32,000 towards the trials and it also receives funding from the Government’s Primary Growth Partnership programme. Comvita’s plantation manager John Burke outlined the project at Limestone Downs’ recent annual field day.

[UK] Pension freedom day? Pension fleecing day, more like
By Polly Toynbee, The Guardian, 3 March 2015
Some are about to be reminded that there’s no fool like an old fool. On “pension freedom day” – 6 April – watch the retired scramble to withdraw lump sums: a feelgood bonanza for those most likely to vote Conservative. Car manufacturers predict a sales jump, so do buy-to-let estate agents and travel firms. Some will be wise to take their cash: why not take a cruise with pension pots too small to make much difference. But there’s alarm that fraudsters will make off with colossal booty, and City scammers will cream off the rest. The insurance provider Phoenix Group says 45% of pension savers have already been contacted by outfits encouraging them to release their cash. Offers of phenomenal interest rates abound if they shift their pension into “amazing investment opportunities” – rare earth minerals and phoney carbon credits.

4 March 2015

Complicity in illegal logging goes far beyond the loggers
By Greg Norman, Greenpeace International, 4 March 2015
A welcome addition when it was introduced on March 3rd 2013, the European Union Timber Regulation (EUTR) prohibits the placement of any illegal timber or timber products on the European market. Yet two years on and Greenpeace continues to expose shipments of wood from companies involved with criminal and illegal activities in the Amazon and the Congo Basin finding their way to Europe. In November last year we forced Belgian authorities to impound six containers of Amazon wood from Rainbow Trading, a company known to be involved in a criminal timber laundering racket in Brazil, as it arrived in the port of Antwerp.

Ecosystem Marketplace’s Forest Carbon News
Ecosystem Marketplace, 4 March 2015
Even in the Amazon, you can’t escape PowerPoint. Last month, 80 members of the Gavião people met in their territory (called Igarapé Lourdes) in the state of Rondônia, Brazil to discuss their “Life Plan.” Dressed in a combination of traditional and western clothes – feathered headdresses, ceremonial beads, and jeans – the group hung shrouds around the open-air structure to block out sunlight for the presentations. Life Plans for indigenous peoples have been proliferating across the Amazon for the last 20 years, starting in Colombia in 1992. The plans are shared visions for the future, often built around spatial maps that identify important hunting and harvesting areas, sacred sites, and forested areas, detailed with the quality of cover and species. The Gavião’s Life Plan is based on low-impact agriculture and the sale of native crafts and non-timber forest products such as nuts and copaiba oil.

[Kenya] Can the Private Sector Replace NGOs in the Developing World?
By Elijah Wolfson, Newsweek, 4 March 2015
Vestergaard launched the Carbon for Water project in 2008 to funnel money from large corporations toward the purchase of family-size versions of the LifeStraw filter. It’s based on the idea that in rural parts of the developing world, families gather water from ground sources—streams, lakes, boreholes—and then boil it over wood fires to kill bacteria. The process emits greenhouse gases like carbon, which are terrible for the planet but valuable as a commodity if you can figure out a way to eliminate them—and quantify exactly how much you’ve removed. Working with the Gold Standard Foundation, an internationally recognized carbon credit accreditation organization, Vestergaard determined how much pollution they could eliminate with each family-size LifeStraw device. Once they did the math, they were able to sell carbon credits to big corporations like Land Rover and use that money to hand LifeStraw water filters to almost a million Kenyan homes.

5 March 2015

[Cameroon] Can Indigenous and Wildlife Conservationists Work Together?
By Lyndal Rowlands, Inter Press Service, 5 March 2015
Survival International is concerned that although conservationists have in recent years expressed a greater commitment to working with indigenous communities, this is not always reflected on the ground… Survival International has named specific international conservation organisations that they say provide funding to these anti-poaching squads, including World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in Cameroon. In a statement provided to IPS, WWF said, “On the ground, advancing the status and rights of tribal communities while also protecting the resources vital to them and the global community is extraordinarily difficult… WWF agrees that parks need people, and models such as Community Based Natural Resource Management being pursued by WWF globally over many years have ensured that many parks have people.

[USA] Carbon credits could generate $1.6 billion for Louisiana coastal restoration, study says
By Mark Schleifstein, The Times-Picayune, 5 March 2015
Louisiana could earn up to $1.6 billion for coastal restoration projects over the next 50 years by selling credits for storing carbon in wetland plants and soils, according to a new study by New Orleans-based Tierra Resources, Entergy Corp. and the ClimateTrust. The credits could be sold by private landowners and businesses in Louisiana that create their own restoration projects or participate in publicly-financed projects. Buyers would include businesses that must reduce carbon emissions in California under the nation’s first “cap and trade” program aimed at reducing greenhouse gases, said Tierra Resources president and chief executive Sarah Mack.

6 March 2015

EU’s contribution to global climate deal approved
BusinessGreen, 6 March 2015
The EU’s ambitious plans to cut carbon emissions by at least 40 per cent on 1990 levels by 2030 have been approved by ministers, paving the way for Brussels to formally submit its contribution to a global climate deal. The Environment Council today voted to support the EU’s intended nationally determined contribution (INDC), first unveiled last month, which will now be communicated to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Reversing deforestation in India
By Preetam Kaushik, Business Insider, 6 March 2015
Although India boasts of the tenth largest forest cover in the world, spread over 20% of its territory, it is unfortunately the world’s fifth highest carbon emitter. Of special importance is the encouraging fact that India has at last finalized its draft policy for implementing the REDD + program of the United Nations. Under the REDD program developing countries would be financially aided by developed countries in their efforts to reduce carbon emission.

[USA] Report: Carbon credits could help restore coastline
Shreveport Times, 6 March 2015
A new reports finds the ability of coastal wetlands to absorb, and retain, carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases could be a means to help restore parts of Louisiana’s disappearing coastline. Sarah Mack, one of the report’s authors and president and CEO of Tierra Resources, tells The Advocate ( she doesn’t see carbon fully funding a coastal restoration project, but it could help fund projects. The report finds the amount of carbon credits that could be generated by some coastal restoration techniques could produce between $400 million and $1 billion in revenue that could go toward coastal restoration in the state. An additional $140 million up to $630 million could be generated by preventing wetlands loss, which would stop carbon stored in these wetlands from being released.

7 March 2015

Climate summit’s pledges on carbon cuts ‘won’t avert global disaster’
By Robin McKie, The Observer, 7 March 2015
Pledges at this year’s climate summit to cut carbon emissions are likely to fall far short of the targets needed to avoid heating the planet by more than 2C. That is the stark conclusion of a report by a team led by British economist Nicholas Stern. The group, based at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change at the London School of Economics, concludes that action planned by countries – in particular the European Union, the US and China – will still leave the world emitting 10bn tonnes of carbon a year in excess of levels needed to prevent global warming from having devastating consequences. “Intended national contributions will not be consistent with the international goal of limiting the rise in global mean surface temperature to no more than 2C,” states the report, whose publication follows Saturday’s climate action march in London which organisers say was attended by 20,000 people.

Emissions Trading Scheme or Carbon Tax? The Australian experience and the lessons for New Zealand
By Suzi Kerr and Frank Jotzo,, 7 March 2015
Australia had an emissions trading scheme with a fixed price. It was one good way to encourage carbon cuts throughout the economy. But the opponents called it a carbon tax and won the political debate. The scheme has now been abolished, and an economically and environmentally inferior subsidy scheme has taken its place. There is a cautionary tale in this for New Zealand. The country needs to make some big decisions about climate change policy. The emissions trading scheme looked mortally wounded and now is limping along again. But policy settings for the future are still unclear.

Palm oil firms in Peru plan to clear 23,000 hectares of primary forest
By David Hill, The Guardian, 7 March 2015
Companies in Peru are planning to clear more than 23,000 hectares of primary rainforest in the northern Amazon in order to cultivate oil palm, according to NGOs. Operations on two plantations called Maniti and Santa Cecilia which would involve clearing more than 9,300 hectares of primary forest could start imminently following a recent government decision. “We’ve done an extensive analysis of satellite images of the project area and conclude that 84.6% of Maniti and Santa Cecilia is primary forest,” says a media statement from the Association for the Conservation of the Amazon Basin (ACCA), in Peru, and the Amazon Conservation Association (ACA), in the US. “That means deforesting 9,343 hectares – almost 13,000 football pitches – of primary forest!”

8 March 2015

Vietnam to establish carbon market
VietNamNet, 8 March 2015
The carbon market is an important tool for cutting greenhouse gas emissions and offering substantial economic benefits to participating countries. Speaking at the event, Head of the Agency for Hydro-Meteorology and Climate Change Nguyen Van Tue said that to date, Vietnam has not implemented specific projects to strengthen the capacity of designing and enacting policies and state management tools on the Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Action (NAMA). During the 10 th meeting of the Partnership for Market Readiness (PMR) Assembly in Santiago, Chile in early November 2014, Vietnam successfully defended its project to prepare a carbon market in Vietnam (VNPMR) with the aim to pilot the implementation of the NAMA to create carbon credits, also known as certified emission reductions, in steel manufacturing and solid waste management. The World Bank has allocated 3 million USD in aid to the VNPMR.

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