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REDD in the news: 21-27 December 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.


21 December 2015

Paris Outcome – Yet Another Raw Deal for Africa
By Jeffrey Gogo, The Herald, 21 December 2015
The world eventually grinded out a climate deal on December 12 – the Paris Agreement – named after the city in which it was agreed, but Africa accepted the outcome reluctantly. Firstly, the 32-paged Paris Agreement moves away from the binary differentiation system as espoused under the failed Kyoto Protocol to, for the lack of a better word, a more inclusive system that compels all 195 countries party to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to commit to climate change mitigation. This is not what Africa was looking for, even when several countries from the continent had submitted to the UN national climate plans that formed the basis of the Paris Agreement. Africa expected developed countries to show in climate mitigation the kind of leadership they exhibited driving human-induced climate change and global warming since the industrial revolution 250 years ago.

22 December 2015

Paris treaty establishes new carbon trading mechanisms
Carbon Market Watch, 22 December 2015
Despite seemingly genuine fears amongst some negotiators that the role of carbon markets might not be mentioned in the final agreement, the Paris treaty created two different frameworks for market approaches that will be developed in detail over the next years. Parties put aside opposing views on markets to create new (non) market frameworks that accommodated all 195 countries. The result was Article 6 that creates the following three frameworks: i) one for cooperative approaches to allow the linking of emissions trading systems, ii) one for a new “mechanism to contribute to the mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions and support sustainable development” to replace the Kyoto’s flexible mechanisms, and iii) one non-market mechanism to promote “integrated, holistic and balanced non-market approaches”.

Nations urged to improve climate pledges by April 2017
By Alex Pashley, Climate Home, 22 December 2015
In a new global warming pact, countries set out milestones over the next five years in a bid to bridge the gap between national targets and what science recommends. Climate offers from 187 out of 195 countries fail to cap warming to the upper limit of 2C this century. Instead the planet is set to heat up at least 2.7C, according to the UN. That’s why a “global stocktake” of pledges to reduce greenhouse emissions or “intended nationally determined contributions” is slated for 2018. And by 2020, the pact encourages – but does not require – countries to submit updated plans. But instead of allowing the years to pass by, a group of researchers involved in drafting countries’ pledges is calling for action today.

A new course for the Congo
CIFOR Forests News Blog, 22 December 2015
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is home to 10 percent of the world’s tropical forests. Vast and varied, these forests have a value that extends far beyond the country’s national borders: They harbor an immense wealth of biodiversity, provide livelihoods for two-thirds of the population and contribute to the environmental stability of the entire planet. Maintaining these forests and managing them sustainably are essential for the wealth and health of the nation, both now and into the future. This video explores the threats to the forest and shows how solutions are being forged – in the classroom.

23 December 2015

Three areas to focus on to make REDD+ work
By Arild Angelsen and Louis Verchot, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 23 December 2015
First, REDD+ countries must assume a stronger role and ownership in the implementation of REDD+ and incorporate it into their INDCs and in their domestic emission targets. Second, corporate efforts—through the greening of supply chains—can play a major role, driven by consumer pressure and environmental watchdogs and complemented by domestic policy reforms. Third, international funding should nudge countries toward stronger commitments, support capacity building, and provide incentives for forest conservation through results-based mechanisms.

REDD+: missionaries, conservation fortresses and the politics of carbon landscapes in Africa
By Isilda Nhantumbo, International Institute for Environment and Development, 23 December 2015
Scholars, researchers, policymakers and practitioners from across the public, private and voluntary sectors have been contributing to understanding Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) and how it can be implemented effectively. A new book from Melissa Leach and Ian Scoones highlights the risk of ignoring these lessons in Africa. I argue that there is an urgent need to apply the lessons more widely. ‘Carbon Conflicts and Forest Landscapes in Africa’ reviews carbon projects in Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe, asking whether these bring the expected impact (a win-win for environment and people) in conserving or managing trees for carbon sequestration to offset emissions from elsewhere.

[Cambodia] ‘Edge effects’ harming forests
By Igor Kossov, Phnom Penh Post, 23 December 2015
Even comparatively small patches of human intrusion into contiguous forestland disproportionately saps forests’ ability to trap harmful carbon, a recent study has shown, a finding that suggests Cambodia’s government may be underestimating the environmental damage caused by logging and development. So-called “forest degradation” – unlike typical deforestation – occurs when forest cover is thinned or pockmarked by human development, but not entirely clear-felled. However, even this selective cutting down of forest trees not only releases carbon but dries out the remaining plants, lowering their ability to capture carbon, according to the new study, published in science journal Nature Communications on December 18. Human development increases the number of holes and edges a forest has, dramatically reducing its effectiveness as a carbon sink.

[Indonesia] Unitary map to rule land use
The Jakarta Post, 23 December 2015
The most important measure of the eighth reform package launched on Monday, though its effect may not be felt for two or three years, is its one-map policy that will harmonize all maps on land use and spatial planning, thereby making land ownership more transparent and reducing the risk of conflict. A comprehensive, transparent and centralized map on land use and ownership will provide clarity on the boundaries of land owned by companies, communities and the government. The absence of such a comprehensive and transparent map has been one of the main reasons for difficulties in pinpointing the source of the forest fires that have been hitting the country every year. It’s no wonder very few plantation companies have been brought to justice so far even though a massive wave of fires takes place annually in Sumatra and Kalimantan.

24 December 2015

Paris Agreement: Not perfect, but the best we could get
By Stephen Leonard, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 24 December 2015
COP21 in Paris delivered a part legally binding, part voluntary deal on climate change that has generated a mass of interest, global media coverage and a multitude of interpretations. Some argue that it weakens the notion of historical responsibility and provides inadequate certainty in terms of support for implementation, while others say that it puts in place the necessary foundations to avoid the full dangerous effects of climate change. Academics, environmentalists, economists, scientists, lawyers and political analysts will spend a long time interpreting and reinterpreting this document and, in doing so, will be unable to ignore that it has forests and other carbon-absorbing ecosystems at its heart.

25 December 2015

26 December 2015

27 December 2015

[Sri Lanka] India-based green energy firm gets green light for bamboo venture in Vavuniya
By Bandula Sirimanna, The Sunday Times Sri Lanka, 27 December 2015
Sustainable Green Energy (Pvt) Ltd, a Sri Lankan company headed by an Indian entrepreneur, has received the green-light from the government to launch its ambitious industrial venture of going green with a bamboo cultivation project in the North.The company has already started a massive bamboo cultivation and Dendro power project with an investment of US$20 million in a 2000-acre land in Nedunkulam, Vavuniya. The project components include policy framework, bamboo tissue reproduction, setting up of plantations, plantation operation, transfer of bamboo processing technology to Sri Lanka and pelletising.

[USA] The value of forests is recognized by Microsoft
By George Walter, The Olympian, 27 December 2015
In a first-of-its-kind transaction, Microsoft purchasing something called carbon credits from the Nisqually Land Trust. Among its many conservation holdings, the Nisqually Land Trust owns forest land in the upper Nisqually watershed, west of Mount Rainier National Park. As a result of the Microsoft transaction, the Land Trust will manage a 520-acre forest tract to allow the trees to grow older, much older than the usual timber management cycle. The trees will remove and store, or “sequester,” carbon. And, since the larger the tree the more carbon is stored, the entire deal provides for a more mature forest in the upper Nisqually watershed.


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Leave a Reply

  1. These comments are in response to the blog listed above entitled, ‘Three areas to focus on to make REDD+ work’ By Arild Angelsen and Louis Verchot, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 23 December 2015.

    Since COP21, every major blog & article I know of supporting REDD implied that indigenous peoples, tenure & rights are protected by REDD+(REDD). CIFOR corrects that misinterpretation of the agreement in their 12-23-15 blog above. It states, “REDD+ has moved issues of transparency, accountability, tenure and rights, and indigenous peoples onto domestic political agendas. The dramatic change in the global narrative and the political momentum generated are reasons for cautious optimism.” One might be not be so cautiously optimist if one were a forest person without human rights or resource tenure

    Jorge Furagaro Kuetgaje, climate coordinator for COICA, the Indigenous People of the Amazon Basin stated, “For us to continue to conserve the tropical forests … we need to have strong rights to those forests. Death should not be the price we pay for playing our part in preventing the emissions that fuel climate change. A Global Witness report found “that at least 116 environmental activists were murdered in 2014, and 40% of the victims were indigenous.”

    CIFOR continues, “International funding for REDD+ (and climate funding in general) should arguably focus on the poorest countries, rather than middle-income countries such as Brazil that have sufficient resources to cover the domestic costs of forest conservation.” Imagine, the poorest countries have even worse record on “transparency, accountability, tenure and rights, and indigenous peoples” than Brazil.

    Global Witness’s Nov. 30, 2015 Press release stated, “At least 640 land and environmental activists have been killed since the 2009 climate negotiations in Copenhagen – some shot by police during protests, others gunned down by hired assassins.”
  “According to Ninawa Huni Kui, the president of the Federation of the Huni Kui people in Acre, Brazil in the Brazilian Amazon, the community he is from, is no longer to fish in their own land, to cultivate food, or to practice agriculture. All of these activities are banned and have been declared illegal, and people are jailed if they participate in agriculture or go fishing. Leaders are being criminalized for opposing the [REDD] project.”

    Global Witnessed continued, “Most murders occurred in Latin America and Asia with far fewer reported in Africa, however this may be (due) to a lack of information…. …Justice is rarely given to murder victims. Killers are rarely brought to trial and often acquitted when they are. In Brazil, fewer than 10 percent of such murders go to trial, and only 1 percent see convictions.” The domestic politics of Tropical forested countries have very poor human rights & land tenure records.

    The promotion of REDD without requiring these rights makes these people & their forests much more endangered. The world’s unprotected forests and their peoples primarily exist because these forests were not profitable to exploit due to inaccessibility or danger.  REDD is creating an economic incentive to now make these forests and their peoples much more profitable to exploit but without requiring the enforcement of the rights that will protect forest peoples & create well regulated markets. Carbon credit entrepreneurs, Government entities and NGOs have started promoting REDD without the enforcement of required safeguards in the last remote forests.

    CIFOR states, “In terms of international funding, the Green Climate Fund, and other multilateral and bilateral arrangements (such as the GNU pledge) can provide funding for capacity building, upfront investments, concessional finance and direct payments for results (i.e. for reduced emissions).” The following studies indicate that recognizing and enforcing the land & resource tenure of forest people is a one of the best investments in REDD:

    A, Agrawal’s study “shows that the larger the forest area under community ownership the higher the probability for better biodiversity maintenance, community livelihoods and carbon sequestration.” “The growing evidence that communities and households with secure tenure rights protect, maintain and conserve forests is an important consideration for the world’s climate if REDD schemes go forward, and even if they do not.” Agrawal, A (2008) ‘Livelihoods, carbon and diversity of community forests: trade offs and win wins?’

World Bank SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT WORKING PAPERS Paper No. 120/December 2009 stated, “…the cost range of recognizing community tenure rights (average $3.31/ha) is several times lower than the yearly costs estimates for …. an international REDD scheme ($400/ha/year to $20,000/ha/year).” “…a relatively insignificant investment in recognizing tenure rights has the potential to significantly improve the world’s carbon sequestration and management capacity…, prioritizing policies and actions aimed at recognizing forest community tenure rights can be a cost-effective step to improve the likelihood that REDD programs meet their goals.”

    One of CIFOR’S Blog authors, Arild Angelsen’s wrote the following in his chapter “REDD+: What should come next?” in ‘Towards a Workable and Effective Climate Regime’: “To achieve significant reductions in forest emissions, the REDD+ countries themselves must take the driver’s seat with a focus on domestic policy reforms and enabling environments; the corporate sector should continue the greening of its supply chains, pushed by consumers, watchdogs and demand-side policies; and the international regime must gently nudge the countries to stronger pledges and provide finance to nudge and supplement domestic efforts in the poorest countries.

Living on Earth”(LOE) radio reported, that “governments own about 75 percent of the world’s forests, less than ten percent legally belong to communities. In Indonesia, 65 million people live off forests—most of them have no official rights to the land they consider theirs. In the eyes of the Forest Ministries, they’re squatters occupying a national resource.”

    Even Brazil has failed to adequately recognize & enforce resource & human rights. “Clear ownership records exist for less than 4 percent of the land in private hands throughout the Brazilian Amazon, government officials said. …In the state of Pará, officials have discovered false titles for about 320 million acres, almost double the amount of land that actually exists, according to federal officials.” NYT, December 26, 2009 by Alexei Barrionuevo.

Given the history of land tenure and conflict in most Tropical countries with large remaining forests, it is implausible and inefficient to believe that “nudging” for rights will be sufficient. After remote forests & their peoples are put on the REDD’s radar it will be a rearguard nightmare to try to stem the suffering. Either amend REDD to stipulate recognition & enforcement of resource and human rights prior to funding or do not increase interest in those forests by introducing REDD without rights.

    Abdon Nababan of Indonesia, Secretary General of Indigenous Peoples’ Alliance of the Archipelago told LOE: ” I think nothings wrong with REDD, if the implementations put indigenous peoples’ rights as a precondition. We have the same goals with REDD+, to reduce deforestation and forest degradation, but if they put that in a market scenario, if they put REDD into the hands of corporations, the REDD + will colonize our territory.”

    REDD could be amended, so that REDD+ would stipulate that forest communities’ resource customary rights shall be secured and enforced before more than 10% of REDD+ funding is granted solely for implimenting that legal tenure process. These rights of resource tenure should be secured for at least three times the life of the oldest tree species in the forest in question and 51% of REDD+ funds or carbon offsets received by the national or sub national Government should be matched by those entities and provided to the forest peoples for the enforcement of their rights.

    ?CIFOR or REDD supporters, what is the strategy to amend REDD to ensure the recognition and enforcement of customary resource tenure and human rights for forest peoples prior to REDD payment or funding?

    These comments were submitted twice to CIFOR starting on 1-12-16, but CIFOR has not posted them.