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REDD in the news: 6-12 April 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.


6 April 2015

This startup wants to fight deforestation … with robots
By Liz Core, Grist, 6 April 2015
Former NASA engineer Lauren Fletcher has launched a new startup that would use drones to plant 1 billion trees a year. The startup, BioCarbon Engineering, is on a mission to balance the ravages of industrial-scale deforestation — which rips out roughly 26 billion trees a year — with industrial-scale tree planting. Y’know, machine vs. machine; Autobots and the Decepticons battling it out over global pine population. Um. Anyway. The U.K.-based startup won a Skoll Foundation award in 2014, and a prototype of its technology was featured at the United Arab Emirates’ Drones for Good competition. Though the team is still testing its prototypes in the lab, Fletcher hopes to move to outdoor field trials in the U.K., Africa, and Brazil within the next few months.

Subsidies for Deforestation-driving Commodities Dwarf Conservation Finance – New Report
By Allie Goldstein, Ecosystem Marketplace, 6 April 2015
The race against deforestation is being won or lost hectare by hectare in the tropical rainforest countries that also provide the majority of the world’s agricultural commodities. But subsidies for commodities that drive deforestation may be undermining the efficacy of financial incentives for conserving forests and their carbon content, according to a new working paper by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), a United Kingdom-based think tank. Agricultural subsidies worth at least $486 billion in 2012 dwarf the $8.7 billion total that developed countries have committed towards Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation of forests (REDD+) since 2006, the report finds. However, financial incentives for avoiding deforestation would be much more effective if countries address the heavyweights on the other side of the scale, the researchers, Will McFarland, Shelagh Whitley and Gabrielle Kissinger, argue.

Statement from Conservation International on its approval by the World Bank as the Global Executing Agency of the Dedicated Grant Mechanism
Conservation International press release, 6 April 2015
“Conservation International is honored to be named as the global executing agency for the first World Bank fund to be managed by indigenous peoples,” said Johnson Cerda, Indigenous Advisor for Conservation International’s Indigenous & Traditional Peoples Program. “It is a testament to our ability to work with local communities and indigenous peoples groups.” The Dedicated Grant Mechanism for Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities (DGM) is a global initiative that was conceived and developed under the Forest Investment Program (FIP) to provide grants to put funding and decision-making on project selection and funding directly in the hands of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities (IPLCs) to set their own priorities, enhance their capacity and support initiatives to strengthen their participation in FIP and other REDD+ processes at the local, national and global levels.

[Indonesia] More than 10,000 acres of forested deep peatlands lost on APP supplier concession
Greenomics press release, 6 April 2015
Spatial Monitoring by Greenomics Indonesia has revealed that more than 10,000 acres of forested deep peatlands have been lost on a concession belonging to one of the largest suppliers of APP, located in the province of West Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo. The loss of the said forested deep peatlands has been significant over the course of just three months, from late June to mid-September 2014 (see attachment). “APP needs to adhere to its association procedure policy so as to clean up its supply chain having regard to its “zero deforestation policy” and temporarily suspend its contract with the supplier as a result of this very extensive loss of forested deep peatlands on the concession of one of its suppliers in Indonesian Borneo,” said Vanda Mutia Dewi, Executive Director of Greenomics Indonesia.

Fighting fire with money: can finance protect Indonesia’s forests?
By Pek Shibao,, 6 April 2015
Five years on, how has the REDD partnership between Norway and Indonesia performed? Judging solely on the basis of reduced carbon emissions, the partnership has been a failure. Data from satellite imagery shows that Indonesian deforestation rates actually increased in 2011 and 2012, the years following the agreement… [T]he REDD agreement in Indonesia should be evaluated not in terms of how much it has reduced carbon emissions, but by how much it has laid the groundwork for future developments. Viewed in this way, the results appear more positive. Though the bulk of the promised $1 billion has not been disbursed, the prospect of money on the table has allowed progressive elements within the administration to rally for change. For example, the sum provided crucial political leverage for establishing a REDD Task Force and a REDD agency dedicated to overseeing reform.

7 April 2015

Traditional knowledge in the new climate agreement
By Annalisa Savaresi, BeneLex, 7 April 2015
As explained earlier in this blog, benefit-sharing in the climate regime has so far been used as a safeguard for the disbursement of climate finance, and, more specifically, as a means to compensate affected stakeholders for negative impacts associated with the implementation of climate change response measures. Only in limited instances has benefit-sharing been used as a means to reward stakeholders for contributing to climate change mitigation, as in the case of REDD+, where specific reference has also been made to traditional knowledge (see BENELEX blogpost, ‘The Operationalization of Benefit-sharing in REDD+’). The inclusion of references to traditional knowledge in the new climate agreement may open up a new horizon to consider benefit-sharing in the climate regime as a reward for traditional knowledge holders and a means to enhance their participation in adaptation-related decision-making.

Condition of tropical forests ‘worsening’, could become ‘critical’
By Rhett A. Butler,, 7 April 2015
World leaders are continuing to overlook the worsening condition of tropical forests despite the biome’s vast potential to help mitigate climate change, support local livelihoods and ecosystem services, and stabilize global agriculture, warns a comprehensive review published by a body founded by Prince Charles. Synthesizing a large body of reports and academic research, The Prince of Wales’s International Sustainability Unit’s Tropical Forests: A Review lays out the current state of tropical forests, their importance, the threats they face, and what will be needed to save and restore them. The report emphasizes the role tropical forests play in addressing pressing environmental problems, especially climate change. It makes the case that tropical forests could provide up to a third of greenhouse gas reductions if deforestation and forest degradation were cut to zero and damaged and degraded forests were allowed to recover.

Watchers of forests – what news from above?
By Peter Holmgren, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 7 April 2015
GFW is clearly taking global forest monitoring to a new level. The biggest gain with the GFW dataset is the consistency over time and space, as well as the complete cover. The biggest drawback remains the lack of depth in the remotely sensed data, which does not allow for reliable forest classifications or consistent estimates of gradual or fractional changes in the tree cover. Keep up the good work!

[Canada] Report touts provincial action as best way to tackle carbon emissions
By Shawn McCarthy, The Globe and Mail, 7 April 2015
Carbon pricing enacted by provinces, rather than federal regulations, will allow Canada to meet increasingly ambitious greenhouse-gas emission targets, a prominent group of economists urge in a report to be released Tuesday. As Ontario prepares to unveil its proposed cap-and-trade plan, the economists who make up Canada’s Ecofiscal Commission say provincial action, and not federal policy, is “the most practical way to move forward in achieving meaningful, low-cost reductions” in emissions. The group is chaired by McGill University’s Christopher Ragan and includes several former federal civil servants, including Mel Cappe, who was Ottawa’s top bureaucrat, and Don Drummond, who served as a senior official at Finance Canada. Its promotion of market-based climate policies – whether taxes or cap-and-trade – has the backing of such former politicians as Paul Martin, Jean Charest and Preston Manning.

[Ireland] Major carbon polluters ‘up to three times over limit’
By Caroline O’Doherty, Irish Examiner, 7 April 2015
Some of the country’s biggest carbon polluters arestill failing to rein in their greenhouse gas output as Ireland prepares to back plans to hike the cost of excess emissions. Figures released by the European Commission show almost all of the country’s large carbon emitters — companies emitting more than 10,000 tonnes of damaging carbon per year — exceeded their free allocation of carbon units last year. Most breached their allocation by between 25%-75% but, in some cases, the amount of carbon emitted was double or even treble the allocation which is intended as a guideline for acceptable emission levels. Such companies must buy carbon credits to make up the difference. While they pay bargain prices on the EU’s carbon trading market at present, the commission is proposing artificially creating a shortage of credits to force prices up.

Head of London-listed company linked to illegal clearing of Peru rainforest
By Dan Collyns, The Guardian, 7 April 2015
The CEO of a company listed on the London Stock Exchange, that aims to become the world’s largest producer of cocoa, is responsible for illegally clearing swathes of rainforest in the Peruvian Amazon, according to a report by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA). The website for the Cayman Islands-based company, United Cacao, implies the company could be a force for positive change in the chocolate business, mostly produced in West Africa, stating that it “seeks to provide a clear path forward for ethically-produced cacao to the world marketplace”. But the EIA investigation alleges the company’s founder and CEO, Dennis Melka, has illegally deforested about 7,000 hectares (17,300 acres) of mostly primary rainforest…

8 April 2015

If We Dig Out All Our Fossil Fuels, Here’s How Hot We Can Expect It to Get
By Michael Greenstone, New York Times, 8 April 2015
To understand the scope of this challenge, I’ve tallied the projected warming from fossil fuels extracted so far and the projected warming capacity of various fossil fuels that can be extracted with today’s technology. This accounting was done by taking the embedded carbon dioxide in each energy source and using a standard model for the relationship between cumulative carbon emissions and long-run temperature changes based on a 2009 Nature article. (More detail on the method is available here.) For those who don’t like suspense, here’s the total: an astonishing 16.2 degrees.

Forest degradation as bad for climate as deforestation, says report
By Sophie Yeo, Carbon Brief, 8 April 2015
Degradation of tropical forests could be as severe a problem as full-scale deforestation when it comes to their carbon emissions. While not as widely recognised within policymaking circles, the steady deterioration of forests across places such as the Amazon and Borneo could be responsible for 6-14% of all human-caused emissions. This is the finding of a new review into the state of the world’s tropical forests, conducted by the International Sustainability Unit, a charity backed by Prince Charles. The problem demands a re-evaluation of forest policy, which leans towards stemming deforestation as the key to curbing tropical forest emissions, says the report.

New iPad app puts REDD at users’ fingertips
Global Canopy Programme, 8 April 2015
The Alliance for Global REDD Capacity (AGRC) has announced an app-based version of its publication “The knowledge and skills needed to engage in REDD : A competencies framework”, a resource which can be found on the REDD desk, a project of GCP. The app format allows for frequent updates, enabling the content to keep pace with evolving REDD policy and financing. It also makes navigation simple, permitting users to interact with each topic. The app features a multi-language setting in English and Spanish and provides comprehensive information for designing and implementing REDD activities, helping users to understand key concepts, policy benchmarks, skills, tools and resources for ten specific REDD themes. In addition to covering these themes, the app provides guidance on designing REDD capacity building programmes for a variety of stakeholders, with case studies on existing REDD capacity building programs and links to web-based resources.

Bunge Plans to ‘Significantly’ Reduce Asset-Management Business
By Shruti Date SinghRupert Rowling, Bloomberg, 8 April 2015
Bunge Ltd., a global agricultural-commodity trader, has decided to “significantly scale down” its asset-management unit, including its Climate Change Capital subsidiary, as it seeks to boost returns from core businesses… Bunge bought London-based Climate Change Capital for an undisclosed amount in 2012. Bunge made the deal to help its financial-services group, which had been a trader of carbon credits and an adviser to other market participants, build a bigger presence in sustainability markets and advisory services. The process of scaling back Climate Change Capital has already begun. In July 2014, Climate Change Capital announced that the management of its property fund would move to Impax Asset Management Ltd. The fund was set up in 2008 to buy U.K. commercial buildings and work with occupants to improve resource efficiency.

[Australia] Clive Palmer’s Queensland Nickel company loses court challenge to carbon tax regulations
By Elizabeth Byrne, ABC News, 8 April 2015
The High Court has thrown out a challenge brought by Clive Palmer’s Queensland Nickel company to the now defunct carbon tax. Mr Palmer’s company said it had been disadvantaged by being forced to pay more tax for carbon emissions than its competitors in Western Australia. The case challenged a specific regulation which affected only nickel producers. At the heart of the case was the claim that regulations in the Clean Energy Act 2011 were unconstitutional because they favoured one state over the other. The formula used allocated fewer free carbon credits to Queensland Nickel than it did to the West Australian operations, driving up its carbon tax bill. Mr Palmer’s company argued that was unfair because it processed a different type of ore to the other companies, using a method which generated more greenhouse gases.

[India] 20 Shot Dead in Andhra Forests, Strong Protests in Tamil Nadu
By Uma Sudhir and J Sam Daniel Stalin, NDTV, 8 April 2015
Among the 20 alleged sandalwood smugglers who were shot dead in the sandalwood forests of Andhra Pradesh this morning, many were reportedly from across the border, provoking strong protests from Tamil Nadu, which wants an independent inquiry to determine how the men were killed. “Such high casualty raises concerns about police restraint,” wrote Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam to his counterpart, Andhra Pradesh’s Chandrababu Naidu, asking for an investigation into the encounter. “While police have every right to arrest and prosecute offenders, shooting them dead like birds is unacceptable,” said Vaiko, the chief of the MDMK party in Tamil Nadu.

[Indonesia] Losing the forest in Papua
By Nicole Crowder, The Washington Post, 8 April 2015
Papua New Guinea is the second largest island in the world. It is inhabited by diverse tribes that depend on nature to provide them with food and medicine. In ecological terms, the island has a rich array of botanical and animal species… Yet, as in the other parts of the world, global industry has started to penetrate remote areas of Papua New Guinea. Timber exploitation on the island has been occurring for decades… Many critics believe deforestation, industrial agriculture, mining and other mineral exploitation are major threats to the rich biodiversity in Papua New Guinea. Photojournalist Michael Eko Hardianto traveled to the island in late 2014 and early 2015 to conduct research along the Bird’s Head Peninsula, specifically the South Sorong Regency in the West Papua province of Indonesia. There, much of the natural biodiversity remains.

[Indonesia] Golden Agri-Resources still in violation of RSPO standards
Forest Peoples Programme, 8 April 2015
Golden Agri-Resources, which owns Indonesia’s largest palm oil conglomerate operating under the brand name Sinar Mas, is still in violation of RSPO standards, according to Forest Peoples Programme. FPP recently affirmed this in a follow up letter and detailed submission to the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, following a field review of the situation in one of GAR’s subsidiaries, PT Kartika Prima Cipta, carried out in February along with local partner LinkAR-Borneo. Among the shortcoming indentified by FPP and LinkAR-Borneo is that participatory mapping of community lands, which The Forest Trust is undertaking for GAR, remains very incomplete. There are still weaknesses in the revised HCV assessment, which was compiled in September 2014 but which should have been completed eight years ago.

Liberia: Sesa Ends Capacity Building W’shop
The NEWS (Monrovia), 8 April 2015
The Strategic Environmental and Social Assessment (SESA), a component of the Reduce Emission from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) has ended a three-day capacity building workshop in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County. SESA is coordinated by Mr. Zinnah Mulbah of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) while the Forestry Development Authority (FDA) coordinates the remaining programs that include the National REDD Strategy Option Consultation, National Reference Scenario, REDD Communication Strategy and Information Sharing, Liberia Land Cover and Forest Mapping, Feedback and Grievance Redress Mechanism, among others. During the workshop, participants discussed climate change mitigation, overview of safeguard approaches, update on the SESA and REDD processes in Liberia, safeguarding gender equity in REDD+, and understanding the application of Free, Prior, Inform Consent, among others.

9 April 2015

Closing the $70 Billion Climate Finance Gap
The World Bank, 9 April 2015
Seventy billion dollars is about one-third of the airline industry’s fuel bill in 2012, and less than the net worth of the world’s three wealthiest people. It’s also about one-third of the average economic losses from natural disasters every year, about one-third of the direct economic damage wrought by the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011, and two-thirds of the cost of damage caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. And it’s the gap in the amount of climate finance that developed countries have promised to provide to developing countries annually by 2020. The world’s developed nations agreed in 2010 to mobilize $100 billion a year by 2020 from public and private sources to help developing countries adapt to the impacts of climate change and reduce their emissions. Studies show that while climate change will affect everyone, the poorest with the fewest resources to adapt will be hit the hardest.

The French Man Who Built A $10 Million Carbon Trading Company In Africa
By Mfonobong Nsehe, Forbes, 9 April 2015
Fabrice Le Saché, a 32 year-old French national, is the founder of Ecosur Afrique, a leading environmental finance group operating in Africa. The Mauritius-based company is one of the most successful carbon trading companies on the continent. The company boasts more than 40 carbon reduction projects in 17 African countriesand an annual turnover in excess of $10 million… Such exchange of carbon credits is not a license to pollute, but a cost effective way to reduce CO2 emissions at a global scale; it is a tool for international solidarity that provides new and additional financial resources to support the transfer of clean technologies in developing countries; it does not attenuate the responsibility of industrialized countries whose obligations and efforts are, for a major part, focused on domestic actions; it is aimed at engaging companies, local authorities and non-governmental organizations and at providing flexibility and cost-effectivenes

Germany to Buy 1 Billion Euros of Green Bonds Through KfW Bank
By Stefan Nicola, Bloomberg, 9 April 2015
Germany will buy 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) of bonds linked to projects to curb climate change through the country’s KfW Group development bank. The buying program will start this quarter, helping fund work to boost efficient use of resources as well as developing renewable energy, waste and water management and biodiversity projects, KfW said in an e-mailed statement on Thursday. “The green bond market is an alternative capital market-based financing source for environment and climate protection measures that should be expanded,” Guenther Braeunig, a member of KfW’s executive board, said in the statement.

[Guyana] GGMC defends mining claims for Baishanlin director -says he’s now citizen
Stabroek News, 9 April 2015
Under scrutiny over a number of issues including the awarding of mining properties intended exclusively for Guyanese to a Chinese company, the Mines Commission yesterday said that a report on these matters contained “glaring inaccuracies” and a Baishanlin director who holds vast acreage of land had become a naturalized Guyanese citizen. The Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) also declared that at least 50% of shares of Bai Shan Lin Mining Development Company Limited are owned by Guyanese. The firm is part of a group of 11 companies operating in Guyana which are all part of the China Forest Industry Group (Hong Kong). The majority of the other companies under the group in Guyana including Baishanlin International Forest Development Inc. engage in logging and have attracted controversy on several fronts. [R-M: Subscription needed.]

Where Chocolate Meets Carbon: One Peruvian Project Finds The Sweet Spot
By Allie Goldstein, Ecosystem Marketplace, 9 April 2015
“What is so depressing is I came to Puerto Maldonado 31 years ago,” said Mark Meyrick, who heads Eneco’s carbon desk. “That town has not changed materially in terms of development in that time. It’s still pretty dusty, still pretty rundown, still doesn’t have much going for it, and yet there has been a huge amount of environmental damage done in that area and I ask myself, to what end? Who has got rich on this? And it’s very difficult to see that anybody has.” Meyrick’s company has invested in a program that might not make people rich, but will at least help them make ends meet while taking pressure off the valuable forest: the Tambopata REDD project… The project took about three years to get off the ground. Project developers first had to identify which portion of the forest was in danger and calculate the deforestation that would occur with and without intervention.

Canada and Russia beat tropical countries to top global deforestation list
By Andrew Freedman, Mashable, 9 April 2015 According to new data from Global Forest Watch, the deforestation story is becoming more complicated, which could be good news for those who have worked with governments of tropical nations to slow their deforestation rates, but bad news for the stability of the planet’s climate overall. Some of the new top players in deforestation are located thousands of miles north of the equator, in Russia, Canada and the U.S., Global Forest Watch found… When Global Forest Watch released its findings from 2012 data, the headline was that Indonesia had overtaken Brazil as the country with the largest amount of tree cover loss in the world. Yet in 2013, Indonesia’s annual tree cover loss dropped to the lowest point in almost a decade.

[UK] 24-year-old from Chingford arrested yesterday after early morning raid
By Natalie Glanvill, East London and West Essex Guardian Series, 9 April 2015
A man suspected of making £1.5million through a diamond investment scam has been arrested in Chingford. The 24-year-old was arrested by detectives from the City of London Police’s Fraud Squad on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud and money laundering following an early morning raid yesterday (April 8). He is suspected of carrying out a ‘boiler room’ investment fraud which involves high pressure, cold call sales techniques to induce people to buy worthless or bogus stocks and shares. In this case, up to 60 people are believed to have fallen victim to the £1.5million scam fronted by two companies parading as diamond investment brokers.

10 April 2015

Five reasons to be optimistic about the Paris climate talks
By Nick Rowley, Energy Post, 10 April 2015
Nick Rowley of the University of Sydney, who was closely involved in the failed Copenhagen Climate Summit in 2009, presents five reasons to be optimistic about the outcome of the upcoming Paris talks. Many countries now see a climate agreement as more than an end in itself, he notes. They regard it as a vital means to address other challenges as well. And he notes that the cast of characters in Paris looks much better than in Copenhagen. For three years leading up to the last significant United Nations climate summit, at Copenhagen in 2009, I was the strategic director of the Copenhagen Climate Council. The purpose of this group – which included chief executives of major global businesses headquartered in China, Europe, and the United States, as well as policy experts, scientists and other leading academics – was to shed light on the importance of reaching a global climate agreement, and to define what that agreement should include.

11 April 2015

[Guyana] What measures have been put in place to ensure loggers adhere to the law?
By Timothy M. Jonas, Letter to the editor Stabroek News, 11 April 2015
Easily one of the most memorable photographs printed in the media in Guyana during 2014 was the disturbing image on the front page of your competitor’s newspaper showing dozens of Bai Shan Lin trucks lined up loaded with fresh cut hardwood logs destined for the Georgetown harbour for export. That picture brought home to Guyanese the enormity of the logging industry, and the huge quantity of logs being harvested from our forests and exported. Thousands of logs leave our shores in open and closed containers, or loose in ships’ holds, via wharves at Demerara Shipping, John Fernandes, Guyana National Shipping Corporation and Muneshwars. The picture also reminded us that the profits derived from this great exploitation of our timber resource are going to foreigners; Guyanese seem to be enjoying little benefit.

12 April 2015

[Guyana] The Forestry sector is one of the most regulated
By Terence William, letter to the editor Kaieteur News, 12 April 2015
It is evident that the political season is here which gives some people the right to be silly. I note the recent letter penned by Timothy M. Jonas which was titled what measures have been put in place to ensure loggers adhere to the law?, which was published in the April 11, 2015 edition of Stabroek News. Editor, I am integrally involved in the Forest Sector and I can confidently say that it is one of the most regulated sectors, despite the politics some individuals and newspapers might want to play in besmirching the work of this well regulated sector. The information contained in the letter penned by Timothy M. Jonas is nothing more than what have been regurgitated over and over by some know critics of the forest sector and which have constantly been rebuked and clarified by the Guyana Forestry Commission.

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