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REDD in the news: 9-15 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.

Do tree plantations support forest conservation?
By L. Dal Secco and R. Pirard, Center for International Forestry Research, 2015
Tree plantations potentially support natural forest conservation. The main hypothesis for this effect is that tree plantations substitute natural forests for production, especially when plantations achieve high productivity. An exhaustive review of the published literature shows a diversity of analytical approaches with theoretical modeling, econometrics or descriptive statistics as main categories. This diversity reflects the complexity of translating a simple assumption into models because of the many factors at play. The analysis is all the more necessary as the positive substitution effect is straightforward, but potential negative (as well as other positive) impacts resulting from feedback/indirect effects, e.g. displacement of deforestation or replication of successful policies elsewhere, require more sophisticated methods to be understood.

9 March 2015

What Lies Behind the Recent Surge of Amazon Deforestation
By Richard Shiffman, Yale Environment 360, 9 March 2015
Philip Fearnside: Deforestation went up a bit — they call it the hiccup — in 2013, but now in just the past six months there has been an explosion. Deforestation, as measured from images taken by Brazil’s DETER satellite system, far more than doubled from September 2014 through January 2015 over what it had been during those same months a year earlier. The government hid these figures before the recent election. The August and September data would normally have been released in October [before the October 26th presidential election]. But they sat on the data, and it was not disclosed until the end of November. It’s a scandal.

The Final Blow for Indonesia’s Forests?
By Erik Meijaard, The Jakarta Globe, 9 March 2015
The issue at hand is the Joint Regulation (Perber) between several ministries issued in October 2014 regarding the “Procedures for the Settlement of Land Tenure in Forest Estate Land.” This was meant to accommodate decisions made by the Constitutional Court, which essentially obligates the government to preserve existing land rights located in forestry areas… What the new law means is that all forest land, including protection forests and conservation areas, will be reconsidered in regard to local community land claims. Any forest estate land that has been “controlled and exploited” by the community for 20 consecutive years or more, has to be released from the forest estate. So what was previously land under the jurisdiction of the government can now be legally claimed as theirs by local communities.

10 March 2015

Google-powered map helps fight deforestation
By Marc Gunther, The Guardian, 10 March 2015
Launched a year ago by the World Resources Institute (WRI), the platform has brought an unprecedented degree of transparency to the problem of deforestation, pointing to ways in which big data, cloud computing and crowdsourcing can help attack other tough sustainability problems. Before Global Forest Watch came along, actionable information about forest trends was scarce. “In most places, we knew very little about what was happening to forests,” said Nigel Sizer, the global director of the forests program at WRI. “By the time you published a report, the basic data on forest cover and concessions was going to be years out of date.” Several technology revolutions have changed that. Cheap storage of data, powerful cloud computing, internet connectivity in remote places and free access to US government satellite images have all made Global Forest Watch possible. None were widely available even a decade ago.

Lessons Learned from REDD+
By Mayu MIshina, African Wildlife Foundation, 10 March 2015
AWF has implemented a number of climate change projects in Africa, including ones that involve Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD ). But if there’s one thing to know about REDD , it’s that it is an evolving science. AWF has learned a few lessons in the course of implementing REDD . Lesson 1: Consider the scale. The smaller the project area, generally, the less carbon available to sell. Larger-scale REDD projects provide more revenue and have greater conservation impact so are more cost-effective in the long run. Lesson 2: Co-benefits are important. With prices on the carbon market low, “Communities won’t get rich off of carbon,” says AWF’s technical director for climate change, Dave Loubser. AWF therefore uses the REDD framework to stack other benefits on top of the sale of carbon, such as helping to improve farming techniques to produce greater yields…

Study: As forests, grasslands gave way to farms, soil carbon emissions soared
By Mark Foss, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 10 March 2015
The conversion of pasture to agricultural land has released more carbon from the soil in several South American grasslands in the past 40 years than the conversion of forests to grassland during the three centuries before, according to a new report. Not only does lost soil carbon cause land degradation and undermine biodiversity, the carbon emissions also contribute to climate change. With 2015 named the UN International Year of Soils, the book in which the report is published, Soil Carbon: Science, Management and Policy for Multiple Benefits, is well timed. “We haven’t paid much attention to returning to soils what we take out,” said Christopher Martius, a principal scientist with the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR). “It’s much easier to maintain carbon in the soil than to build it up again.”

[USA] How a California rice farmer uses the market to protect wildlife – and boost profits
By Ann Hayden, Environmental Defense Fund, 10 March 2015
Meet John Brennan, a farm manager for the Knaggs Ranch in California’s Central Valley who is exploring the latest market incentives to boost farm profits while protecting his land. “Farmers are environmentalists, too,” Brennan says. “Programs like this will help us fulfill our responsibility to nature and to coming generations.” It’s all coming together on sprawling, water-soaked rice fields that are part of the 1,700-acre farm he has overseen for the past 10-plus years and co-owned since 2011. A project on Knaggs Ranch is helping to keep water on the fields during a time and at a volume critical to support salmon nurseries while providing beneficial habitat for water fowl and shore birds. By adjusting land management to benefit such species, Brennan is generating conservation outcomes that he hopes can be sold as a commodity to private and public investors through the Central Valley Habitat Exchange.

11 March 2015

Mind the ‘stick’: How ‘carrots’ can make conservation fairer in Brazil’s Amazon
By Angela Dewan, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 11 March 2015
Introducing more carrots to the policy recipe, researchers say, will require some tradeoffs in a system that so far has relied more heavily on the stick. “Part of the reason Brazil has relied so much on ‘sticks’ so far is that the laws are already in place, so essentially they just had to enforce existing laws to bring about this change,” said study co-author Jan Börner of the University of Bonn’s Center for Development Research and an associate researcher with CIFOR. CIFOR’s research builds on two earlier studies by the same authors: The first mapped opportunity costs in the Amazon and calculated how much of a financial incentive was needed through a payment-for-ecosystem services (PES) scheme to essentially buy out deforestation; the second analyzed the effectiveness of command-and-control measures.

[UK] Boris Johnson told to divest £4.8bn pension fund from fossil fuels
By Karl Mathiesen, The Guardian, 11 March 2015
Boris Johnson has been told by the London assembly to pull City Hall’s £4.8bn pension fund out of coal, oil and gas investments, after assembly members voted on Wednesday on a motion in support of the fossil fuel divestment movement. The motion calls on the mayor to publicly support the principle of divestment and to begin the process of dumping the fossil fuel portfolio of the London Pension Fund Authority (LPFA). But the vote is non-binding, meaning the mayor is bound only to consider its proposals and write a response. The motion was proposed by the Green party’s Jenny Jones and was unanimously supported by Labour and the Liberal Democrats. Six of the Conservative’s nine members were absent. Those who were present voted against.

[USA] Louisiana Wetland Restoration Projects Valued at $1.6 Billion
By Kasey Krifka, Triple Pundit, 11 March 2015
A two-year assessment of the potential to develop blue carbon projects on Louisiana’s coast estimates that carbon finance revenue can provide up to $1.6 billion in critical funding to assist with wetland restoration over the next 50 years. The study, supported by Entergy Corp. through its Environmental Initiatives Fund, and prepared in partnership by New Orleans-based Tierra Resources and Portland-based nonprofit The Climate Trust, examines existing wetland restoration techniques — river diversions, hydrologic restoration, wetland assimilation and mangrove plantings — identifying areas for future scientific investigation to support carbon offset programs. Findings from the report were shared by Tierra Resources and the American Carbon Registry at a free national webinar on March 5.

12 March 2015

Behind the climate negotiating text for COP21
By Pablo Solón, Focus on the Global South, 12 March 2015
Even with the failure of carbon markets, the debate is not if this mechanism should continue or not, but how to enhance the current ones and develop new ones. No country has submitted text to avoid carbon market mechanisms or REDD+. Carbon market mechanisms are mentioned 27 times and REDD+ 13 times. In the text there are mentions of an “enhanced Clean Development Mechanism (CDM+)”, the “Emissions Trading System (ETS)”, “REDD Plus”, “market mechanism in the land use sector”, “sub-national and regional emissions schemes” and “carbon pricing”. A reading of the text shows that COP 21 will open the door for new carbon market mechanisms but that the real development of them will be agreed at future COPs.

Norway Bets Cutting Pollution Abroad Is an Easier Battle
By Matthew Carr, Bloomberg, 12 March 2015
Norway is wagering it will be easier to cut carbon emissions overseas than at home. The nation may pay about 1.5 billion euros ($1.6 billion) for emission cuts in European Union nations, or if that negotiation fails, buy permits elsewhere under a planned global climate deal. Norway currently expects its own greenhouse gas levels to be about the same in 15 years, so will meet its 40 percent reduction goal by paying for curbs abroad. Rich nations from Japan to Luxembourg have bought emissions rights under the United Nations’ Kyoto Protocol, or from poorer countries that don’t have mandated targets. China, the biggest polluter, plans a national carbon market by next year after agreeing to limit emissions by 2030, and some U.S. states are considering their own programs.

13 March 2015

Restoring deforested landscapes means more than planting trees
By Barbara Fraser, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 13 March 2015
To stop the loss of the world’s forests, countries around the globe have set an ambitious goal of replanting 150 million hectares of deforested and degraded land by 2020. Latin American and Caribbean countries have pledged to begin restoring at least 20 million hectares by then. But there is more to meeting the target than just planting trees, according to a series of studies published in a special issue of the journal Forests. How countries govern their farmland and forests plays a large role in the success or failure of restoration programs, the authors say. Ecological restoration—“the process of assisting the recovery of an ecosystem that has been degraded, damaged, or destroyed,” according to the Society for Ecosystem Restoration—requires long-term commitment by all levels of government as well as landholders, corporations, researchers and others.

14 March 2015

Al Gore: 2015 Paris conference will spur global climate change policies
By Brittney Martin, Dallas Morning News, 14 March 2015
Former Vice President Al Gore told South by Southwest festival goers Friday that he expects the United Nations climate change conference at the end of the year will be a turning point in global policy. About 190 countries are slated to attend the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change conference in Paris at the end of the year. Though he called the 2009 conference in Copenhagen “an abysmal failure,” Gore said he believed they would find success in Paris because each country will be able to set their own goals and limits. “We heard a lot of ‘no’s’ in the struggle to give women the right to vote; we heard a lot of ‘no’s’ in the Civil Rights movement and the abolition movement before it, and the struggle for LGBT rights,” Gore said. “But eventually there comes a ‘yes.’ There will be a ‘yes’ in Paris.”

[Guyana] Greenidge moves to court to prevent illegal spending of US$17M IDB loan
Stabroek News, 14 March 2015
APNU Executive Carl Greenidge has lodged a writ in the High Court seeking to prevent the government from accessing a US$17M loan from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) outside of the Consolidated Fund and the required Appropriation Act. [R-M: Subscription needed.]

15 March 2015


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