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REDD in the news: 22-28 February 2016

REDD in the newsREDD-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.


22 February 2016

Airline manufacturers escape threat of big costs from new U.N. climate standards
By Allison Lampert, Reuters, 22 February 2016
After six years of negotiations over U.N. greenhouse gas regulations, the aerospace industry dodged the threat of spending billions of dollars to re-engineer airplanes. The industry got help from European and Russian negotiators, who successfully argued that the standards should not render newer, more efficient planes obsolete, according to three people familiar with the U.N. talks in Montreal this month. The latest planes from companies such as Boeing Co(BA.N) and Airbus Group SE(AIR.PA) – which cost tens of billions of dollars to develop – will meet the new emissions standards. European negotiators also led an effort to forge a compromise exempting older, fuel-guzzling aircraft from the standards until 2028 – five years longer than a competing proposal pushed by U.S. negotiators, according to U.S. and European sources with direct knowledge of the talks.

Blue carbon schemes: conserving coastal areas or commodifying nature?
By Carla McKirdy, The Guardian, 22 February 2016
At the Climate Action Zone, a space dedicated to sharing experiences on climate change actions, attendees raised questions about the solutions proposed by the UN, in particular the blue carbon initiatives put forward by United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Blue carbon refers to carbon dioxide stored in coastal ecosystems such as mangroves, coastal salt marshes and seagrass meadows. The concept was first introduced by a number of UN institutions in the 2009 report, Blue Carbon: the role of healthy oceans in binding carbon. Blue carbon initiatives aim to protect and develop these coastal ecosystems as they play a vital role in pollution filtration and carbon storage, which is crucial for mitigating global greenhouse gas emissions and combating climate change.

The coastal Kenyan villages bringing their mangrove forest back to life
By Anthony Langat, The Guardian, 22 February 2016
The community’s conservation efforts are aided by the development of a carbon offsetting project, launched in 2013. “Through the programme, the community must plant 4,000 seedlings – an equivalent of 0.4 hectares (1 acre) – every year at the degraded sites, in addition to conserving the existing forest,” says Njoroge. In return, Mikoko Pamoja has been verified to sell 3,000 tonnes of CO2 per year over 20 years. In the past two years, the community has made $25,000. The buyers of Mikoko Pamoja’s carbon credits include Earthwatch, the Nico Koedem research group, and MSc students from Imperial College London. The Association of Coastal Ecosystem Services connects the buyers to Mikoko Pamoja. “Money generated from the sale of carbon credits goes towards the support of development projects in the community,” says Salim Mmwarima, project coordinator for Mikoko Pamoja.

[UK] End game for Harlequin? High Court orders chairman to pay investors £1.3m
By Laura Miller, Professional Adviser, 22 February 2016
The chairman of investment scheme Harlequin Property has been ordered by the High Court to pay investors £1.3m to settle claims against him, after he tried to backtrack on the deal. The ruling against David Ames and his wife Carol was handed down by Judge Mrs Justice Cox at the High Court in London on Friday. The group of 24 Harlequin investors “are still entitled to the sum that the [the Ames’] agreed to pay in the settlement agreement entered into as long ago as 20 October 2014”, the judgement, seen by Professional Adviser, said. “This claim has all the hallmarks of an attempt by the [Ames’], made very late in the day, to avoid their obligations under that agreement,” Justice Cox added. Lawyers for the Ames’ had argued that an earlier out of court deal in which the couple agreed to pay £1.3m to the investors should be annulled.

23 February 2016

REDD+ in Paris: numerous announcements, little news
By Jutta Kill, German Climate Finance, 23 February 2016
Without the Coalition of Rainforest Nations and its co-founder Kevin Conrad (a former member of the Papua New Guinea delegation, currently Panama) the term “REDD” (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) probably would not have been a factor in the UN climate negotiations. But since the 13th UN Climate Change Conference in Bali in 2007, the coalition has been pushing relentlessly to have the reduction of deforestation enshrined in the UN climate agreement as a contribution to climate protection and to finance it through the sale of carbon credits. The latter demand in particular has been controversial from the outset. On the face of it, the coalition would appear to have achieved its goal in December 2015, as the Paris agreement specifically refers to REDD (Article 5.2). At the same time, however, the voices calling REDD+ over and done with are multiplying.

How Forest Loss Is Leading To a Rise in Human Disease
By Jim Robbins, Yale Environment 360, 23 February 2016
In Borneo, an island shared by Indonesia and Malaysia, some of the world’s oldest tropical forests are being cut down and replaced with oil palm plantations at a breakneck pace. Wiping forests high in biodiversity off the land for monoculture plantations causes numerous environmental problems, from the destruction of wildlife habitat to the rapid release of stored carbon, which contributes to global warming. But deforestation is having another worrisome effect: an increase in the spread of life-threatening diseases such as malaria and dengue fever. For a host of ecological reasons, the loss of forest can act as an incubator for insect-borne and other infectious diseases that afflict humans. The most recent example came to light this month in the Journal of Emerging Infectious Diseases, with researchers documenting a steep rise in human malaria cases in a region of Malaysian Borneo undergoing rapid deforestation.

Carbon Trade Exchange Expands Voluntary Carbon Business, Appoints Rachel O’Reilly
Carbon Trade Exchange press release, 23 February 2016
Carbon Trade Exchange (CTX), the largest electronic spot exchange for voluntary carbon credits, today announced the addition of Rachel O’Reilly as Senior Vice President, Americas. O’Reilly will work with the global CTX Executive Management Team to grow its North American voluntary carbon business. “We are excited to have Rachel join our team,” comments Ben Stuart, Chief Commercial Officer of CTX Global. “We are rapidly expanding our voluntary carbon business and Rachel’s unique background and experience in both the financial and environmental sectors make her an invaluable asset to continuing these efforts.” Before joining CTX, O’Reilly served as the Head of Business Development for the Americas and Pacific Rim at Wildlife Works, the world’s leading REDD+ project development and management company.

Africa’s forests ‘threatened by palm oil rush’
AFP, 23 February 2016
Africa’s tropical forests are threatened by a palm oil bonanza that has already razed millions of old-growth hectares in south-east Asia, Greenpeace France warned on Tuesday. The NGO called on European palm and rubber plantation giant Socfin, which controls vast tracts of tropical land in more than half-a-dozen African nations, to join other multinationals in adopted so-called “zero deforestation” policies. Dozens of global companies – GAR, Cargill, and Agropalma among commodity producers, and Nestle, Unilever and L’Oreal among makers of consumer products – have made pledges, though some are more stringent than others. So far, Socfin – majority controlled by Belgian businessman Hubert Fabri, with French billionaire Vincent Bollore holding 38.8% of the company’s shares – have failed to make similar commitments, Greenpeace said.

[Cambodia] Seeds of destruction?
By Shaun Turton and Phak Seangly, The Phnom Penh Post, 23 February 2016
At Think Biotech, re­forestation starts every morning to the buzz of chainsaws. Workers feed logs into the company’s sawmill, while excavators dump loads of timber into the surrounding lumberyard, which stretches for hundreds of metres. Behind the lumberyard the most mature acacia trees, already several metres high, overshadow the nearby newer saplings. Beyond lies an ash-covered expanse of land, littered with uprooted trees and piled-up hewn timber. Looming behind and between are the remnants of the tall, natural forest, vulnerable and exposed. But Think Biotech’s concession isn’t an economic land concession (ELC). It’s a joint large-scale reforestation project with the government, which granted it 34,000 hectares – over three times the limit for ELCs – between the Mekong River and Prey Lang forest, stretching from Kratie province to neighbouring Stung Treng.

Trade in China’s pilot carbon markets grew by 87% in 2015 -report
By Stian Reklev, Carbon Pulse, 23 February 2016
Trading volumes on China’s seven emissions exchanges increased by 86.5% last year, but the financial value of the transactions rose by just 50% due to falling prices, an annual report on China’s carbon markets said Tuesday. A total 24.5 million allowances worth 656 million yuan ($100 million) changed hands via exchanges in China’s seven pilot carbon markets last year, Richard Mao of consultancy Environomist said at an event in Beijing. The event launched the China Carbon Market Research Report 2016, which was backed by the South Pole Group and the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector arm of the World Bank. A further 8.5 million allowances traded OTC as so-called block trades, while 33 million offsets, known as CCERs, were bought and sold, taking total carbon trading volumes in China to 66 million for 2015, the report said.

EU Market: Carbon drops over 9% to fall back below €5
By Ben Garside, Carbon Pulse, 23 February 2016
EU carbon prices fell sharply on Tuesday, dropping below €5 to give back all of the previous week’s meagre gains and nearing their 22-month low. The Dec-15 EUA contract settled down 51 cents at €4.91 on ICE, near the bottom of the day’s €4.87-5.41 range, on brisk turnover of 25.5 million. Traders said carbon was dragged lower by falling oil prices and the drop was exacerbated by a weak auction result, stoking fears that the market would struggle to absorb this week’s heavy auction volume. “When oil turned south, it looked like an excuse to sell EUAs as well,” one said.

Plantation product processing zones along ‘Make In India’ lines mooted
By Vinson Kurian, The Hindu, 23 February 2016
There is an urgent need to initiate long-term measures to evolve an internationally competitive plantation sector in the country ensuring shared prosperity. This has to be complemented with short-term measures to bail out the growers from the current crisis, according to consensus emerging from a stakeholder consultation held here. The event was hosted by think-tank Centre for Development Studies and organised by the National Research Programme on Plantation Development (NRPPD) sponsored by the Ministry of Commerce… Claiming of carbon credits, ensuring good title deeds for land, and strengthening database were other issues flagged during the consultative session.

Malaysian Borneo’s air quality hits hazardous levels as forest fires rage
Thomson Reuters Foundation, 23 February 2016
Forest fires spread over 500 acres in the north of the Malaysian state of Sarawak in Borneo island have raised air pollution to hazardous levels on Monday in areas close to the inferno, government data showed. The fires have spurred an emergency response from the state fire and rescue department, which is at the same time scrambling to manage nearly 8,000 people displaced by floods in Sarawak’s southern region as of Monday morning, according to the Bernama newswire. Sensors located in the coastal town of Miri – which is closest to the fires – registered an air pollutant index reading of over 300 parts per million (ppm) as at 9 am, though it went down to 185 ppm as at 3 pm, the data showed. Readings above 300 ppm are deemed a health hazard.

[New Zealand] Meaningful carbon price is vital to future of forestry
New Zealand Forest Owner’ Association press release, 23 February 2016
New Zealand’s third largest export industry, forestry, is steadily shrinking. Ministry for Primary Industries figures reveal that only 3000 hectares of new forest were planted in 2015 and that the total area of planted forest fell by 16,000 ha. Forest Owners Association technical manager Glen Mackie describes the figures as predictable and says the area of forest is likely to continue to fall, until the cost of land can be justified by the income it generates. From 1955 to 2000, the area of New Zealand’s plantation forests grew from 344,000 to 1,769,000 hectares, an increase of 31,667 ha a year. Since then the planted area has declined to 1,720,000 ha, a decline of 3267 ha a year. In addition, in 2015 there were 9300 ha of harvested forest lying fallow, awaiting a decision from the land owner whether or not to replant.

Damaged Peru pipeline leaks 3,000 barrels of oil into Amazon region
Reuters, 23 February 2016
Ruptures in Peru’s main oil pipeline have spilled 3,000 barrels of crude into the Amazon region, polluting two rivers that native villages rely on for water. National environmental regulator OEFA said the oil from the broken pipeline has poured into the Chiriaco and Morona rivers in northwestern Peru. Edwin Montenegro, a local indigenous leader, said at least eight native Achuar communities rely on the rivers for water. Petroperu, the state-owned operator of the pipeline, said two breaks in the pipeline have stopped the transportation of 5,000 to 6,000 barrels of oil per day. Peru’s health ministry has declared a water quality emergency in five districts near the spill.

[USA] These Seven Firms Bear $3 Billion Brunt of California Cap-and-Trade
By Alex Nussbaum, Bloomberg, 23 February 2016
The bill from battling climate change is just about due in California, and for some oil companies that do business in the state, it’s in the nine figures. The Golden State’s biggest fuel suppliers, led by Tesoro Corp. and Chevron Corp., face the biggest costs under California’s carbon cap-and-trade system, among expenses that may top $3 billion a year for the whole industry, according to a Bloomberg Intelligence report released Tuesday. The emissions-trading program, the most extensive of its kind in the U.S., requires refiners, power plants and other polluters to pay for each ton of climate-changing carbon dioxide they release by buying “allowances” from the state. That may cost Tesoro, the state’s largest emitter, more than $700 million annually, about 20 percent of its current operating expenses, according to Bloomberg Intelligence.

24 February 2016

Earth is warming 50x faster than when it comes out of an ice age
By Dana Nuccitelli, The Guardian, 24 February 2016
Recently, The Guardian reported on a significant new study published in Nature Climate Change, finding that even if we meet our carbon reduction targets and stay below the 2°C global warming threshold, sea level rise will eventually inundate many major coastal cities around the world. “20% of the world’s population will eventually have to migrate away from coasts swamped by rising oceans. Cities including New York, London, Rio de Janeiro, Cairo, Calcutta, Jakarta and Shanghai would all be submerged.” The authors looked at past climate change events and model simulations of the future. They found a clear, strong relationship between the total amount of carbon pollution humans emit, and how far global sea levels will rise. The issue is that ice sheets melt quite slowly, but because carbon dioxide stays in the atmosphere for a long time, the eventual melting and associated sea level rise are effectively locked in.

AkzoNobel issues first carbon credits rewarding eco-conscious ship owners
By Madeleine Cuff, BusinessGreen, 24 February 2016
Chemicals giant issues credits worth $500,000 to ship owners who have switched to using environmentally friendly anti-fouling coating. Chemicals giant AkzoNobel has issued its first carbon credits under a pioneering scheme to reward ship owners for switching to its greener anti-fouling technology. The firm said today it has issued more than 126,000 carbon credits – worth more than $500,000 – to ship owners who converted their vessels from biocidal anti-fouling systems to AkzoNobel’s Intersleek hull coating, which lowers fuel consumption and, in turn, CO2 emissions from vessels.

[Australia] Former detective accused of laundering $15m in alleged ‘boiler room’ scams
By Joshua Robertson, The Guardian, 24 February 2016
A former Queensland detective is accused of laundering $15m derived from alleged “boiler room” investment scams on the Gold Coast. Michael Featherstone, a one-time drug squad detective turned private investigator, was one of six people, including his wife and son, who were charged on Tuesday after a 20-month investigation by the Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) and Queensland police. Guardian Australia understands investigators will allege that Featherstone laundered the money between 2010 and 2013 while providing “risk management” services and dealing with customer complaints against companies running cold-call investment frauds. Featherstone was separately charged in December 2014, along with Palmer adviser Andrew Crook and former AFL player Tony Smith, over an alleged plot to intimidate a banker into changing his evidence in a multimillion dollar court case to benefit Smith.

[Canada] Great Bear Rainforest deal expands carbon credits supply
By Derrick Penner, Vancouver Sun, 24 February 2016
For Harbour Air CEO Greg McDougall, there is a bit of symmetry in his company’s efforts to stay carbon-neutral. His airline’s float planes fly over large parts of British Columbia’s south coast, and the company buys some of the carbon offsets for their emissions from a program that generates carbon credits from preservation of the Great Bear Rainforest on B.C.’s central coast, “right in our backyard.” The credits come from the Great Bear Carbon Project, which wasn’t front and centre on Feb. 1 when the province and First Nations finalized a historic agreement preserving 85 per cent of the region’s remaining temperate rainforest, but it was a key plank in that deal’s foundation. Completion of the deal offers an opportunity to make a small, but measurable, expansion of the program, said Garry Wouters, a policy consultant for the organization Coastal First Nations, depending on how the market for such credits evolves.

[UK] Suspected Mastermind of Base2Trade Investigation Exposed by Finance Magnates Arrested
By Victor Golovtchenko, Finance Magnates, 24 February 2016
Detectives from the City of London Police have arrested an individual that authorities allege to be the mastermind of the massive scheme conducted by Base2Trade, which was exposed by Finance Magnates last summer in a series of articles. According to an official City of London police statement the individual was apprehended at City Airport while he was returning to the U.K. from Cyprus. While the City of London police does not mention the person by name, Finance Magnates can confirm that Clint Canning who has been tightly connected with the investigation has been residing in Cyprus as stated by his legal representative in a phone conversation.

[USA] California plays fast and loose with climate science and environmental justice
By Gary Graham Hughes, Friends of the Earth US – Medium, 24 February 2016
In the public relations bounce coming out of the high-profile climate meetings in Paris, backslapping and brand promotion abound as California trumpets its role as a global climate leader. California often touts the state government’s public and bi-partisan rejection of climate change denial along with the legislated commitment to climate action embodied in the landmark Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 as evidence of the leadership that the state offers. Now, a highly controversial proposal to expand California’s Cap-and-Trade system to include greenhouse gas emissions offsets based on tropical forest carbon credits raises new questions about the adequacy of the state’s climate change mitigation methodologies. The proposal also begs the question of why Southern forest communities must bear the brunt of harmful impacts of these offsets while California polluters rake in the benefits.

25 February 2016

Report: Paris Agreement sends ‘positive signal’ for carbon markets
By Madeleine Cuff and James Murray, BusinessGreen, 25 February 2016
The Paris Agreement “provides a new impetus for a dynamic global carbon market”, according to a new study released yesterday by the International Carbon Action Partnership (ICAP) that predicts the next few years will bring a proliferation of new policies that seek to put a price on carbon emissions. The campaign group’s latest annual report predicts that thanks to the Paris Agreement and its specific commitment to support expanding carbon markets enthusiasm for market-based mechanisms for tackling emissions is rising around the world, with a number of countries trialling new pricing systems. Writing in the foreword to the report, co-chair of ICAP Jean-Yves Benoit said the Paris Agreement sends a “highly welcome, positive signal” about the future of carbon markets.

What the Paris Agreement’s references to indigenous peoples mean
By Chris Meyer, EDF, 25 February 2016
The Paris Agreement and implementing decisions include: five explicit references to indigenous peoples, their rights, and their traditional knowledge. These appear in the preambles of both the Paris Agreement and the Decision text, and in specific topic areas of the exchange of experiences and adaptation. a reference to a topic important to indigenous peoples, non-carbon benefits in relation to Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+). Importantly, the references to indigenous peoples in the preamble to the Paris Agreement, and repeated in the preamble to the Decision text, say that countries need to respect indigenous peoples’ rights when taking action to address climate change. It’s significant that this rights language is included in the preambles, as it ensures these rights will be part of the framing of the whole agreement and implementing decisions.

Gas from thawing permafrost could add further to global warming, study says
By Ellen Wulfhorst, Thomson Reuters Foundation, 25 February 2016
Arctic permafrost that is thawing due to global warming is releasing greenhouse gases, further compounding the problem of climate change, according to a study released on Thursday. As the permafrost thaws, changes in the way its soil microbes function and the soil carbon decomposes add to the emissions of carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere, according to the study by U.S. and Chinese scientists. Carbon dioxide and methane are the main greenhouse gases that trap heat and contribute to climate change. Permafrost is the perennially frozen ground that covers a quarter of the land in the Northern Hemisphere, primarily in the Arctic, said the study published in the monthly Nature Climate Change journal. Working in Alaska, researchers warmed plots of tundra to thaw the permafrost and after 18 months found numerous changes in the soil microbes, it said.

Carbon budget is only half as big as thought
By Tim Radford, Climate News Network, 25 February 2016
Climate scientists have bad news for governments, energy companies, motorists, passengers and citizens everywhere in the world: to contain global warming to the limits agreed by 195 nations in Paris last December, they will have to cut fossil fuel combustion at an even faster rate than anybody had predicted. Joeri Rogelj, research scholar at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Austria, and European and Canadian colleagues propose in Nature Climate Change that all previous estimates of the quantities of carbon dioxide that can be released into the atmosphere before the thermometer rises to potentially catastrophic levels are too generous. Instead of a range of permissible emissions estimates that ranged up to 2,390 billion tons from 2015 onwards, the very most humans could release would be 1,240 billion tons.

The CDM re-engineered: this time with cash upfront
By Ben Garside, Carbon Pulse, 25 February 2016
The CDM should be re-engineered to ensure it or any new market mechanism can be a climate finance tool to provide upfront finance to carbon-cutting projects, UN agency UNEP DTU found in a paper published on Thursday. The paper aimed to guide governments, which this year at UN climate negotiations will craft rules on a new market mechanism and on how it and other schemes can work under the post-2020 Paris Agreement. It proposed two models to turn the CDM into a climate finance tool for use by the 80+ countries intending to use markets in their NDCs, or as “one of the easiest and immediately realizable instruments” for the Green Climate Fund. The paper found that the CDM hadn’t been able to function as properly intended up to now because banks viewed projects as too risky to provide finance upfront.

The Carbon Chronicle
Ecosystem Marketplace, 25 February 2016
The United States Supreme Court put a stay on the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan (CPP) on February 10, temporarily pausing implementation of the agency’s efforts to cut emissions from power plants 32% under 2005 levels by 2030. But the CPP didn’t dominate the headlines for long. Three days later Justice Antonin Scalia – who was on the majority side of the close 5-4 vote on the CPP – died at a West Texas ranch. A wave of speculation followed about what Scalia’s death would mean for the US’s landmark climate legislation and the market-based mechanisms that could develop in its wake. But perhaps not so much has changed. The EPA says it will continue to work with states moving forward on their implementation plans. And many are, with gusto.

[Canada] Ontario opts to give industry a free ride in ETS
By Stian Reklev and Mike Szabo, Carbon Pulse, 25 February 2016
The Ontario government has released a draft climate change law that would ensure manufacturers get all their allowances for free for at least four years under the emissions trading scheme the Canadian province plans to launch next year. Provincial Environment and Climate Change Minister Glen Murray on Wednesday released the draft law, which will provide the legal foundation for Ontario’s plan to launch a carbon market next January and join California and Quebec in the Western Climate Initiative cap-and-trade system. The move was praised by Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard, who said “Ontario is taking a leadership position in the fight against climate change and in positioning itself for the 21st century economy that will be based on innovation and decarbonisation.” The draft included a provision to hand out CO2 permits for free until the scheme is reviewed in 2020.

[Malaysia] Germany’s Save The Rainforest Campaign Tells Chainsaw Giant Stihl To Cut Ties With KTS
Sarawak Report, 25 February 2016
A major new petition and campaign launched by the German-based Rettet den Regenwald (Save The Rainforest) is calling on the German chainsaw manufacturer Stihl to immediately terminate all partnerships with Sarawak’s KTS Group over serious environmental and indigenous rights concerns. KTS, are a major logging and plantation concern owned by the Lau family. Boss Henry Lau is known to be a close crony of the present Chief Minister Adenan Satem and a key funder to the ruling party PBB. The conglomerate sells Stihl products through its subsidiary, KTS Trading Sdn Bhd, which has a dominant market share of the power tools market in East Malaysia. As the petition rightly points out, KTS have an abysmal record when it comes to environmental destruction and native land encroachment in Sarawak. The NGO highlights two cases of malpractice in particular, which Sarawak Report have previously reported on.

[New Zealand] ETS isn’t working, Contact Energy says
By Eric Frykberg, Radio New Zealand News, 25 February 2016
The scheme is supposed to use financial penalties to induce people or companies to emit less CO2 and other greenhouse gases. The ETS is up for review and submissions have closed on the substantial part of that review. In its submission, Contact said, as it stood, the ETS was not achieving its goal. The submission said the electricity sector had already greatly reduced its emissions by moving to renewable electricity, but the ETS had not played a significant role in that change. In another part of its submission, Contact argued all economic sectors should be covered by the scheme, echoing Z Energy’s view that agriculture should lose its exempt status.

[UK] FCA must do more to stop investment scams
By Julian Stevens, Letter of the week, 25 February 2016
I am writing in response to the story about the investment broker who was jailed for two and a half years for selling worthless carbon credits (FA, 18 February). What kind of sob story about “personal circumstances” can possibly have persuaded the judge to cut this guy’s sentence to just 30 months? With good behaviour, he will probably be out after just 15. That aside, once again one has to ask just why the FCA is not spending just a small portion of its huge budget on a public awareness campaign to highlight to vulnerable members of the public the manifest dangers of having any dealings whatsoever with some unregulated firm that calls you up out of the blue to talk you into some way off-piste investment proposition. This is especially so when nobody ever comes to conduct a factfind and nothing is said about the protection afforded by the FSCS. Such scams seem to be happening all the time…

26 February 2016

Time to see the forests — for the sake of the trees
By Patrick Durst (FAO), The Jakarta Post, 26 February 2016
Over-exploitation and mismanagement of Asia-Pacific’s forests have left nearly 400 million hectares of land cleared of trees or heavily degraded, according to a new report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). To put this into perspective, that’s a total land area nearly as big as the entire Indian Subcontinent. Southeast Asia alone has more than 65 million hectares of degraded lands in need of restoration. The Asia-Pacific region has paid a heavy price for the destruction and damage inflicted on its forests. Not only has their productive potential been lost, but stripping the protective functions of forests has led to massive soil erosion, deadly landslides, siltation of reservoirs and depletion of biodiversity. Reckless clearing and burning of trees has resulted in choking haze and release of huge quantities of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

Climate-smart landscapes: can REDD+ create them?
By Rob Finlayson, Agroforestry World Blog, 26 February 2016
‘In our work, we began to see that sometimes agricultural development could have a negative impact on forests and vice versa’, said Dr Richard McNally, global climate-change coordinator with SNV Netherlands Development Organization. ‘We realised we needed to understand how to balance the demand for agricultural products—especially with food demand predicted to increase by 70% by 2050—and local biomass-energy needs whilst also improving the livelihoods of local communities. We needed to know how to do this in a manner that did not continue the extensive clearing and/or degradation of forests and which was responsive to climatic change’. Accordingly, SNV set about examining more closely the trade-offs between intensification and deforestation, especially in relation to commodity booms, such as those of oil palm and rubber, through the REDD+ Energy and Agriculture Program, which was funded by the German government.

27 February 2016

Forest losses in Asia-Pacific alarm FAO
By Fatima Arkin, SciDev.Net, 27 February 2016
Access to technology and knowledge about forests is necessary for communities and smallholder farmers to achieve sustainable forest management and halt deforestation. A new report by the FAO (UN Food and Agriculture Organization), stressing the significance of forest monitoring and restoration, highlighted the Asia-Pacific Forestry Week (22-26 February) at the Clark Freeport Zone in Pampanga. It was the first major regional conference to discuss what the Paris Agreement under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change means for forestry in Asia-Pacific countries. “The Asia-Pacific is the only developing region of the world to be seeing an increase in forest cover but the performance record is uneven,” Patrick Durst, senior forestry officer at the FAO, tells SciDev.Net.

How the airline industry is managing the ‘good oil’
By Jamie Freed, Sydney Morning Herald, 27 February 2016
Carbon emissions will also become a more important factor in airline decisions amid global concern over climate change. The airline industry has agreed that after 2020, any growth will be carbon-neutral, with rising emissions to be offset through a market-based mechanism such as the purchase of carbon credits. Willie Walsh, the chief executive of British Airways’s owner, International Airlines Group, says his airline has not stopped investing in the development of new technologies such as sustainable fuels despite the fall in the oil price. “No one in the industry wants additional costs,” he says. “But we do realise that what will bankrupt this industry is an inability to grow. Growth is critical to the long-term survival of our industry financially.”

[Colombia] Conservation by another name: Traditions, taboos and hunting
By Barbara Fraser, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 27 February 2016
When Sara Armas Díaz goes hunting, she pauses before entering the woods and pays her respects to the forest spirits. “I carry a lighted branch and say the name of the animal I want, and within a short time, I see it,” says Armas, 51, a Cocama grandmother who learned the ritual from her grandparents when they took her hunting for the first time at age 10. In communities along the Loretoyacu River in the Ticoya Reserve or resguardo, a territory shared by Ticuna, Cocama and Yagua indigenous people, many hunters have stories of encounters with forest spirits that help them find game or keep them from hunting in a certain place. Those encounters, combined with practices related to preparing the meat for meals, are traditional ways of controlling hunting in the territory, according to researchers from the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).

[Indonesia] A world on fire
The Economist, 27 February 2016
It was one of the most important trips of his young presidency. Last October Jokowi and a bevy of advisers and businesspeople went to Washington, DC, to meet Barack Obama. They were due to go on to Silicon Valley to show off Indonesia’s burgeoning startups. But as his team flew west, Jokowi flew east, summoned home by a crisis: Kalimantan and Sumatra were blanketed by the haze of hundreds of thousands of fires. Such fires rage every year, but in 2015 a dry spell caused by the El Niño weather pattern made them especially severe. Smoke settled over Singapore for months and even reached Cambodia, Vietnam and the Philippines. At least 2m hectares of forest were burned. Dozens of people were killed and hundreds of thousands sickened. For much of last October greenhouse gases released by those fires exceeded the emissions of the entire American economy. The losses over five months of fires amounted to around 2% of the country’s GDP.

Indonesia’s antigraft agency strives to rein in the mining sector
By Fidelis E. Satriastanti,, 27 February 2016
A coalition of NGOs working with Indonesia’s antigraft agency has produced an index on mining practices and supervision in 12 provinces, part of an official effort to combat the prevailing state of illegality in the sector. Central Sulawesi scored the highest, 68. The province saw a dramatic reduction in the number of hectares in which a mining permit overlaps with a conservation forest, from 300,000 in 2014 to 5,000 in 2015. South Kalimantan scored the lowest, 32. More than half of the province’s mining licenses are not “clean and clear,” which means they are illegal in some way and should be revoked, according to the coalition. Hundreds of permits have been annulled since the initiative began in early 2014, when the 12 provinces signed an agreement with the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) which committed them to participate.

[Indonesia] Peatlands Not Good for Planting, World Bank Says
Tempo, 27 February 2016
Converting peatlands into plantation areas has been noted as one of the major cause of forest fire in Indonesia, which consumed 2.6 million hectares by the end of last year. “Peatlands are not good for planting [crops],” said Iwan Setiawan, Disaster Risk Management Specialist for the World Bank on Thursday, February 25, 2016. Iwan added that converting peatlands into plantation areas took a very long time and massive cost. For example, as Iwan explained, the converted peatland in South Sumatera took 30 years before it can be planted just like normal fertile land.

[UK] Bolton panto producer defrauded rugby fans by selling non-existent tickets for Lions tour of Australia
By Joanne Rowe, This Is Lancashire, 27 February 2016
A Bolton pantomime producer defrauded rugby fans out of tens of thousands of pounds selling non-existent tickets for a Lions tour of Australia. The scam was one of a string of fraudulent activities Michael Hizer involved himself in over a period of four years, Bolton Crown Court was told… Following his arrest he was bailed again only to involve himself in a third scam which saw people conned into paying for “insurance” on the sale of fictional carbon credits they believed they had bought.

28 February 2016

[Indonesia] Sumatran elephants poisoned, electrocuted
By Apriadi Gunawan and Jon Afrizal, The Jakarta Post, 28 February 2016
Sumatran elephant populations have been continuing to decrease mainly due to illegal hunting, which uses various methods to kill the protected giant mammal, from poisoning to electrocution. “Recently, we found many elephants dead from poisoning and electrocution. The illegal hunters consider those ways not too risky,” Doni Gunaryadi of the Indonesia Elephant Conservation Forum (FKGI) told The Jakarta Post on Saturday. Doni said almost every month an elephant was found dead in Sumatra due to illegal hunting that takes place in eight of the island’s nine provinces. He said that today there was no elephant hunting in West Sumatra because there had been no elephants in the province since 2007 when their habitat in Kota Panjang was used for the construction of a hydro power plant.


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