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REDD in the news: 14-20 March 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.

Almost Everything You Buy Is Killing Tropical Forests. Now What?
By Allie Goldstein, Ecosystem Marketplace, March 2016
Allie Goldstein of Ecosystem Marketplace spent a month avoiding the “big four” agricultural drivers of deforestation – palm oil, soy, beef, and pulp & paper – in a consumption experiment that was documented in The Washington Post. The article, which you can read here, concludes that the onus to break the link between everyday products and deforestation should not be on consumers; it should fall on companies that make the stuff and the governments that regulate them. In this Q&A, Goldstein talks with Scott Poynton, founder of TFT (The Forest Trust), who works with major companies to do just that.

14 March 2016

The private sector: an ally in securing indigenous land rights?
By Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, Thomson Reuters Foundation, 14 March 2016
After years of struggle, the nations of the world finally adopted the UN Declaration on the Rights of indigenous peoples in 2007, recognising the moral imperative to respect the rights of the world’s indigenous peoples and to seek their consent for developments on their land. Since then, there has been increasing recognition that secure land rights are not just a moral imperative, but are also key to mitigating climate change and ensuring sustainable development, as well as reducing reputational and financial risks for companies.
When companies look to developing countries for their next plantation, mine, oil drill, or hydroelectric dam, they are often handed maps displaying seemingly vast, empty tracts of land. It is in their interests to demand that these maps tell the full story: most of the “empty” wilderness in developing countries is in fact inhabited…

[Cambodia] More Evidence of Illegal Logging Goes Up in Flames
By May Titthara, Khmer Times, 14 March 2016
Another fire which destroyed evidence seized during investigations into illegal logging has raised eyebrows about the timing of such blazes, which have followed a recent crackdown on illegal logging.
The latest fire occurred on Sunday in Pursat province in a compound adjacent to a district Forestry Administration office.
Timber and 27 vehicles that had been seized by forestry officials as evidence of illegal logging went up in flames at the administration office in Prek 1 village, Samraung commune, Phnom Kravanh district.
No one was injured in the blaze, said Kheng Tito, commander of the provincial military police.
District military police chief Chan Sokha said a lack of water made it impossible to put out the fire.

EU falsely claiming it’s on a credible track to 2C Paris climate goal -Point Carbon
By Ben Garside, Carbon Pulse, 14 March 2016
The EU is falsely claiming it is on track to meeting its 2C long-term climate goal, and putting off aligning the post-2020 emissions cap reductions in its ETS with the required trajectory until after 2030 risks missing the target completely, according to analysts at Thomson Reuters Point Carbon.
In a white paper published on Monday, the analysts point out that the European Commission’s proposed post-2020 ETS review proposal falls short of putting the bloc on track to meeting its 2050 aim to cut emissions 80% under 1990 levels, a goal that has been calibrated to form the EU’s contribution to meeting the 2C global temperature goal.
“It is false to claim that the EU is on a credible or cost-effective track towards its self-determined contribution to the Paris Agreement,” the analysts said.

[Ethiopia/Kenya] Survival reports Italian corporation to OECD over dam disaster
Survival International, 14 March 2016
Survival International has reported Italian engineering giant Salini to the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) over its construction of a controversial dam which is set to destroy the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of people in Ethiopia and Kenya.
The dam has cut off the Omo river’s regular flooding, which 100,000 people rely on to water their crops and livestock and a further 100,000 depend on indirectly. According to experts, this could also spell the end for Lake Turkana – the world’s largest desert lake – and disaster for the 300,000 tribespeople living along its shores.
Salini did not seek the consent of local people before building the dam, but claimed that an “artificial flood release” would compensate them for their losses. However, this promised flood never came and thousands of people now face starvation.

[Indonesia] The environment gets its day in court
By Kate Evans, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 14 March 2016
The message was clear: Don’t think you can get away with it.
In 2012 Indonesian palm oil company PT Kallista Alam sent 1000 hectares of Sumatran peat forest up in flames so they could use the land for agriculture.
The fires in Aceh’s Tripa forest threatened wildlife and human health, and sent vast quantities of carbon into the atmosphere. They were also illegal.
Although the Acehnese provincial government had issued the company a permit, the area should have been covered by Indonesia’s national moratorium on new concessions. In addition, the Tripa forests are part of the Leuser ecosystem – a globally important biodiversity hotspot, and the last area worldwide where orang-utans, tigers, elephants and rhinos coexist in the wild.
Still, companies had done worse before with few consequences.
This time, it was different.

[Indonesia] Activists call for completion of indigenous rights bill
By Apriadi Gunawan, The Jakarta Post, 14 March 2016
Indigenous rights activists have called on the government to immediately complete the drafting of a long-awaited indigenous people’s rights protection (PPHMA) bill to prevent social conflict from arising as a result of disputes over land.
The chairman of the Alliance of Indigenous People (AMAN) in North Sumatra, Harun Nuh, said land disputes that claimed many lives were rampant in the province because there had not been any legal certainty for indigenous people about their rights over territory.
“Land disputes have been going on for so long and are still happening every day now. Often, the dispute ends with a clash between the indigenous people and the security officers of a company that is sometimes backed up by the authorities or thugs,” Harun said.
“If no serious measure is taken, the dispute can lead to a serious social conflict,” he said.

Expert warns C/River super-highway can deny Nigeria UN-REDD carbon credit
Naija247news, 14 March 2016
Nigeria would lose out on the United Nations Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD) Programme carbon credit under the Green Development Paradigm, with the construction of the Cross River Super Highway.
Dr Odigha Odigha, the former Chairman of Cross River Forestry Commission, gave the warning in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos.
NAN reports that REDD is a mechanism put in place by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) since 2005.
It has the objective of mitigating climate change through reducing net emissions of greenhouse gases through enhanced forest.

Nigeria Secures $7.8 Million For Forests Protection Programme
By John Bibor, The Tide News Online, 14 March 2016
Nigeria has secured a 7.8 million dollars credit from International Donors, for the implementation of the National Programme on the Reduction of Emmission from Deforestation and Degradation ( REDD) plus programme.
The programme is an initiative by the United Nations for the protection forests against destructions across the world.
The programme popularly known as cop 15 was initiated by the United Nations in 2009 at Copenhagen Denmark.
The Agreement was signed by Nigeria in 2012 and Cross River State was designated as pilot state, and in 2015, the programme was scale up in Nigeria with the addition of Ondo and Nassarawa States.
The project coordinator for Ondo State, Mr John Akinnuba told The Tide in an exclusive interview in Port Harcourt, that the money was second between 2012 and 2016.

[USA] Offset Sellers Learning To Appreciate Small Buyers
By Kelley Hamrick and Steve Zwick, Ecosystem Marketplace, 14 March 2016
The 29th annual South by Southwest Music Festival (SXSW) kicked off in Austin, Texas on Friday, and hundreds of thousands of concertgoers are flocking to the city. Most are coming by plane, bus, and automobile – emitting greenhouse gases in the process.
If they’re coming to speak on panel discussions, they’ll have their emissions neutralized by festival organizers, who are purchasing carbon offsets on their behalf from Green Mountain Energy Company. But eco-minded fans have been on their own – until now.
“We feel like the time is right to come at people with this solution,” says Marisa de Belloy, Chief Operating Officer at a nonprofit called Cool Effect, one of a small but growing number of initiatives aimed at identifying top-tier offsets and then marketing them to individuals and small businesses. “Research shows that people feel alone, and don’t feel like they can talk to anyone about these issues.”

15 March 2016

EU Industry Got $27 Billion Carbon Plan Windfall, Study Says
By Ewa Krukowska, Bloomberg, 15 March 2016 European Union industry landed a 24-billion-euro ($26.7 billion) windfall from an emissions cap-and-trade program that was intended to moderate emissions by putting a price on pollution, according to an environmental consultancy.
Companies in the cement, petrochemical and steel industries gained most from the emissions trading system, or ETS, from 2008 to 2014, according to a study by CE Delft which was commissioned by Carbon Market Watch, an environmental lobby. European industry received too many tradeable allowances from EU governments for free, according to the Delft, Netherlands-based consultancy.

E.U. biodiesels could be dirtier than fossil fuels, according to new report
By Melissa Cronin, Grist, 15 March 2016
Switching to renewable energy is meant to decrease the level of greenhouse gas emissions — a message that someone should really pass on to the European Union.
A new analysis conducted by the Ecofys Consultancy for the European Commission shows that biodiesel from palm oil can produce three times the emissions of conventional diesel oil and biofuel from soybeans can produce twice as many emissions as diesel. It’s an important finding for the E.U., where countries are pushing for 10 percent of transport fuel to come from renewable sources by 2020.
The land-use impacts of palm oil and soybeans biofuels had a major effect on their calculated footprints. The issue is twofold: Large tracts of carbon sinks, mainly forests and peatland, are clear-cut or drained to make way for giant palm or soy plantations; and new land must also be cleared to grow food that could have been planted on plots now being used for biofuels.

[Indonesia] Emergency declared as fires reappear in Sumatra, 15 March 2016
The number of hotspots across Indonesia’s forests and peatlands increased to 76 across Kalimantan and Sumatra on Monday as authorities prepared for elevated risks of widespread fires in the coming weeks.
Data from Global Forest Watch show a cluster of fires in the northeastern coastal areas of Riau, across the Malacca Strait from Singapore. Several fires have also burned in East Kalimantan in Berau and Kutai Kartanegara, two districts north of Samarinda, the provincial capital.
Indonesia’s meteorological agency (BMKG) said on Monday it expected particularly dry weather in March and April, increasing risks of a destructive early burning season just a few months after Indonesia suffered the worst environmental catastrophe since 1998. Last year’s fires burned through 2.6 million hectares of forest and peatland, causing devastating wildlife loss and sickening hundreds of thousands of people with respiratory illnesses.

Tanzania’s forests at risk as foreign aid dries up
By Alex Pashley, Climate Home, 15 March 2016
A six-year effort to slow tree-cutting in Tanzania has run into a drought of donor cash, NGOs are warning.
Norway and other governments funnelled US$76 million into conservation projects in the east African state from 2009-2014, according to a report by US group Forest Trends.
But a lack of fresh funds has stranded Tanzania’s fledgling REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) programme, heightening pressure on its dry forests.
“Following a jolt of funding from Norway that jump-started Tanzania’s REDD+ in 2009, progress has now come to a stand-still,” said Brian Schaap at Forest Trends’ REDDX programme. “Unless donors renew their commitments to support forest conservation in the country, the progress made early on will begin to erode.”

16 March 2016

Plants won’t boost global warming as much as feared: study
By Marlowe Hood, AFP, 16 March 2016
Vegetation will release far less extra carbon dioxide in a warming world than previously assumed, giving humans a bit more room in the fight against climate change, scientists reported Wednesday.
Despite this good news, efforts to curb greenhouse-gas emissions must still be stepped up to avoid dire climate impacts, the researchers cautioned.
Earth’s plants and soil microbes absorb and exude huge quantities of heat-trapping CO2, the main driver of global warming.
Over the course of a year, land-based flora emit — in a process called respiration — 117 to 118 billion tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere, six times as much as humans release by burning fossil fuels.
At the same time, through photosynthesis, they soak up about 120 billion tonnes.
This two-to-three billion tonne surplus makes the terrestrial plant kingdom a “net sink” for CO2 that removes up to 30 percent of human-generated carbon pollution from the air.
But there’s a problem: when air temperatures climb, plants start to “exhale” extra CO2 with no change in the amount absorbed.

Questioning its future role, the CDM continues to scour for demand lifelines

By Mike Szabo, Carbon Pulse, 16 March 2016
The CDM’s Executive Board is monitoring post-Paris developments to see how the Kyoto Protocol scheme could fit into a new international carbon market regime, while continuing to scour the global landscape for new sources of demand.
In its first meeting since countries agreed in December a new global pact to tackle climate change, the 20-member board, under the leadership of new chairs, agreed to monitor the development of the Paris Agreement’s Article 6, under which new international carbon markets will be born.
The board also considered new options to use the CDM as a “tool for other uses”, including tapping potential demand from South Korea’s ETS and non-carbon market sources including the Green Climate Fund and green bonds.
Demand for the CDM’s offsets has dried up in the wake of the global economic slowdown and as buyers in the EU ETS, the scheme’s largest source of demand, exhaust their usage limits up to 2020.

World’s Largest Mangrove Forest In Danger As Huge Coal Plant Comes To Bangladesh
By Katie Valentine, Climate Progress, 16 March 2016
The Sundarbans, as the world’s largest mangrove forest, is home to more than 300 species of plants, 200 species of fish, 315 species of birds and 49 species of mammals. And soon, the World Heritage site will sit just over eight miles south from two huge coal plants — planned developments that many worry will damage the air and water quality of the forest and destroy the livelihoods of the thousands in Bangladesh and India.
If environmental and human rights protesters have anything to do with it, however, that won’t happen. Last week, hundreds of activists marched more than 150 miles from the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka to the southwestern Bagerhat District, a four-day protest that ended over the weekend. The protesters called on the government to halt plans for the 1,320-megawatt Rampal coal plant and the 565-megawatt Orion coal plant, both planned for Bangladesh. The larger Rampal plant, which would take up more than 1,800 acres of land, is scheduled to go online in 2021.

Carbon traders Redshaw Advisors expand European ops with new hires, partnership
By Mike Szabo, Carbon Pulse, 16 March 2016
London-based carbon trading and advisory firm Redshaw Advisors has made two new hires and agreed a partnership with a Belgian energy consultancy, effectively doubling its efforts as it makes a concerted push to expand its European activities.
The firm has hired recent graduate Ruben Ortiz Hernandez and communications specialist Pier-Giorgio Parrini as risk management consultants, focussing on building Redshaw Advisors’ European client base, especially in Mediterranean countries.
In addition, it has joined forces with Belgium-based energy advisors Optiment, which was founded by former GDF Suez (Engie) head of environmental markets Lieven Bloeyaert.
“Bloeyaert is responsible for our activities in the Benelux region, while we are able to offer his extensive experience in the REC (renewable energy certificate) markets to our clients,” said Louis Redshaw, founder of Redshaw Advisors.

[Honduras] European Funders Suspend Support for Agua Zarca Dam

By Peter Bosshard, Huffington Post, 16 March 2016
On March 15, Nelson Garcia, an activist of COPINH, the Honduran organization Berta Cáceres had founded, was shot and killed when he helped a group of poor families resist a land grab in the small town of Rio Lindo. The brazen murder was not directly related to the conflict around the Agua Zarca Dam, but it showed that even under the international spotlight, powerful circles in Honduras have no respect for the lives of people who stand in the way of their economic interests.
In response to this “shocking news,” FMO, the Dutch development financier, decided to “suspend all activities in Honduras, effective immediately. This means,” FMO said in a statement, “that we will not engage in new projects or commitments and that no disbursements will be made, including the Agua Zarca project.” Finnfund, the second European financier involved in Agua Zarca, suspended its support as well.

Latin America’s biggest development bank overlooks widespread illegalities in financing of major highway project in the Amazon
Global Witness, 16 March 2016
Brazil’s National Development Bank (BNDES) failed to detect a raft of illegalities and serious social and environmental problems when agreeing to finance a controversial highway project through the Bolivian Amazon, according to an international coalition of organisations in a complaint published today.
The coalition argues that the development bank – the world’s third biggest, with a larger portfolio than the World Bank – is financing major infrastructure projects across the Amazon with insufficient analysis of whether or not they are legal, or of their social and environmental impacts. The coalition is calling on BNDES to urgently reassess its methods for selecting projects that pose significant risks to the world’s largest rainforest and its indigenous and traditional communities.

[New Zealand] Cheap emissions deal to be scrapped
By Eric Frykberg, Radio New Zealand News, 16 March 2016
Greenhouse gas emitters are about to lose a 50 percent subsidy.
A special 50 percent reduction on climate change obligations for New Zealand citizens and companies will be scrapped.
This has been hinted at for some time but Climate Change Minster Paula Bennett confirmed it in an address to the energy sector in Wellington this morning.
The so-called one-for-two scheme was introduced in the depth of the Global Financial Crisis to minimise the economic impact of fighting climate change.
It meant that people and companies such as petrol firms would have to pay for only half the value of their emissions via purchases of so-called carbon credits.
Typically, these came from forestry companies whose trees absorbed carbon, as they grew, and were sold on the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).
But Mrs Bennett told the audience this concession would go.

17 March 2016

Why ‘zero deforestation’ is only one piece of the sustainability puzzle
By Pablo Pacheco and Sophia Gnych, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 17 March 2016
In the midst of efforts to achieve ‘zero deforestation’, it’s important to remember that halting deforestation is not just about forests, and it is not always good for local people, depending on how it is done. Commitments should therefore also involve finding investment and production models that work for all stakeholders – public or private, big or small – and supporting the smallholder farmers who depend on agricultural commodities for their living.
We have entered an era in which governments and companies are heading in a similar direction: governments are actively putting in place policies and regulations aimed at reducing deforestation, while the private sector is increasingly making voluntary commitments to deforestation-free supply chains. At the same time, we are witnessing the rapid development of technologies and tools for monitoring impacts at scale.
It is crucial, in this context, not only to enforce any progressive regulations aimed at halting deforestation but also to monitor the efforts of companies to accomplish their own self-imposed commitments.

Global energy sector CO2 emissions flat in 2015: IEA
By Susanna Twidale, Reuters, 17 March 2016
Global emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the energy sector were flat in 2015, despite an uptick in economic growth, the IEA said on Wednesday.
The energy sector is the largest source of man-made greenhouse gas emissions and traditionally its emissions have only fallen or stayed flat during economic downturns.
Global energy CO2 emissions were almost unchanged at 32.1 billion tons last year, preliminary data from the International Energy Agency (IEA) showed, while the global economy grew by more than 3 percent.
“The new figures confirm last year’s surprising but welcome news: we now have seen two straight years of greenhouse gas emissions decoupling from economic growth,” IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol said in a statement.
The halt in energy emissions growth came largely on the back of a surge in renewable power production which accounted for around 90 percent of all new generation capacity in 2015, the report said.
“Coming just a few months after the landmark (climate) agreement in Paris, this is yet another boost to the global fight against climate change,” Birol said.

Cement maker LafargeHolcim posts big drop in carbon unit revenues
Mike Szabo, Carbon Pulse, 17 March 2016
Cement giant LafargeHolcim said it earned CHF 70 million (€63.8 million) less from global carbon unit sales last year compared to 2014, contributing to an 11% drop in full-year adjusted operating earnings.
In its first annual report since the firm was created through a 2015 merger between France’s Lafarge and Swiss-based Holcim, the cement conglomerate did not provide much in the way of specific data relating to CO2 emissions or carbon unit sales.
However, it said its 2015 EBITDA was CHF 5.75 billion, and excluding the impact of CO2 unit sales it was CHF 5.73 billion, implying the firm made around CHF 20 million from selling spare inventories last year.
That, in turn, suggests the newly-formed company’s carbon-related revenues dropped by upwards of 75% year-on-year.
LafargeHolcim added that Q4 carbon unit sales were CHF 46 million lower compared to the final quarter of 2014, but it did not disclose the actual revenue figures.
“Switzerland also recorded less gains from the sale of CO2 certificates which amounted to CHF 22 million,” it said, also without providing further details.

[Australia] Boiler room scams: No more former police officers expected to be charged as part of CCC’s investigation
By Mark Willacy and Josh Bavas, ABC News, 17 March 2016
Queensland’s corruption watchdog says it does not expect to lay charges against any more former police officers as part of its investigations into multi-million-dollar investment scams on the Gold Coast.
In July 2014, the Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) launched a joint investigation with the Queensland Police Service to look at serious organised investment fraud and money laundering rackets, otherwise known as boiler rooms.
Part of the investigation looked at how police responded to scam operations which have been prevalent on the Gold Coast for years.
So far, 11 people have been arrested as part of Operation Lima Violin II.

EU govts hand out a further 17.6m free EUAs to industry for 2016, no progress from Spain, Italy
By Mike Szabo, Carbon Pulse, 17 March 2016
EU member states have handed out a further 17.6 million free carbon allowances to industry over the past fortnight, with Italy, Spain and Finland as the only governments to have not yet started the annual process, updated data published Thursday by the European Commission showed.
The latest EUA issuances bring the number handed out by governments so far this year to 553.4 million, or roughly 74% of the total 750.9 million earmarked for heavy-emitting industrial manufacturers in 2016.
The data proves false claims from some corners of the market that Spain had completed its allocation of 2016 EUAs.
Italy’s 70 million and Spain’s 59 million make up the bulk of the still unallotted 197.5 million units, with Finland’s 19.4 million and Germany’s and Britain’s still unallocated 16.8 million and 13.7 million, respectively, representing most of the remainder.
The largest issuances made since the last Commission update on Mar. 3 came from Germany and Britain, which handed out 8.1 million and 4.5 million respectively, while Croatia allocated 4.6 million out of its 4.8 million-unit quota.

[Indonesia] Govt yet to grant rights to indigenous communities
By Tama Salim and Margareth S. Aritonang, The Jakarta Post, 17 March 2016
An extensive study by the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) has found that the absence of formal recognition by the State with regard to indigenous communities and their customary lands remains the root cause of customary land disputes, a problem that has seen a surge over the past few decades.
According to the Komnas HAM national inquiry results published on Wednesday, the absence of
state recognition counts among the five root causes of human rights violations against indigenous
communities throughout the archipelago.
Other root causes behind indigenous rights violations include a state development agenda that is strongly biased toward economic growth and the dismissal of indigenous communities’ rights as a mere issue of legality and administration.

Indonesia offers a cool million to whoever can help take the heat off its peatlands
By Budiman Minasny, The Conversation, 17 March 2016
Indonesia wants to restore its peatlands, which are important for biomass production, water supply, carbon storage and biodiversity conservation. But first it needs to know the extent and depth of its peatlands.
In early February, the Indonesian government, in partnership with the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, announced the Indonesian Peat Prize, a million-dollar competition to find an accurate and fast way to do this.
Never before has mapping soil been so attractive. Eager mappers around the world are seeking collaboration with Indonesian counterparts to enter the competition.

[Indonesia] Land Disputes Are Multiplying
By Ahmad Arif, Kompas, 17 March 2016
Land disputes in traditional communities throughout the country are rising in number and tend to persist without any possible resolution. The Human Rights National Commission (Komnas HAM) recorded 1,123 cases in 2013 and 2,483 cases in 2014, 20 percent of which were land disputes.
Moreover, the number of land dispute cases may get higher in the future. According to 2009 data from the Forestry and the Environment Ministry and Statistics Indonesia (BPS), 31,957 villages are part of state-owned forest land. This runs counter to the fact that 71.06 percent of their residents depend on forest products.
“This land dispute polemic has pushed Komnas HAM to set up a National Inquiry as our breakthrough contribution to addressing widespread and systemic human rights violations,” said Komnas HAM chief Imdadun Rahmat at the launching event of four books…

Norwegian forestry firm’s losses mount after Mozambique acquisitions
Zitamar News, 17 March 2016
Green Resources, the Norwegian forestry company that grows eucalyptus and pine in northern Mozambique, Tanzania, and Uganda, lost $48.1 million in the 2015 financial year despite a significant reduction in spending in Mozambique’s Niassa province.
The company’s biggest project in Mozambique is the Lurio plantation in Nampula province, but it increased the size of its portfolio in Niassa by merging with the Global Solidarity Forest Fund (GSFF) in 2014, and buying Florestas do Planalto (FdP) last year from the Uruguayan operation of Finnish forestry firm UPM. FdP had 1,210 hectares of eucalyptus, adjacent to Green Resources’ other Niassa plantations.
In its accounts for the 12 months ending 30 June 2015, published in March 2016, Green Resources says it reduced its valuation of the trees in the Chikweti plantation, the biggest project in the GSFF portfolio, by $19.2 million. It revised its valuation of the FdP plantation upwards, by $7.5 million.

18 March 2016

Not All Forestry Is Carbon Equal
By Justin Adams (The Nature Conservancy), National Geographic, 18 March 2016
The UN’s International Day of Forests is on March 21. While some people might see this as merely a day for tree-huggers to crunch their granola a little louder, this day is important for celebrating one of the most valuable ecosystems — not to mention commodities — that our planet has. Forests clean our air, enhance water security, support critical biodiversity and serve as the world’s oldest and most proven carbon storage technology.
But on this International Day of Forests, as the world continues to see significant forest loss globally, I want to spotlight one important issue: we can’t ensure a sustainable future for forests by simply striving to protect them from development. We must also engage the forestry sector in sustainable forest management.
We rely on these forest businesses to deliver products such as timber and paper that we use every day. And whether we like it or not, we also rely on them to safeguard our forest resources, and ideally enhance the environmental services these working forests can deliver. Too often this does not happen, as economic gain is put far ahead of the forest’s other crucial contributions to the environment and society. This is where we must focus our collaborative energy.

China’s rubber expansion could stretch biodiversity and livelihoods to the limit
By Kate Langford, Agroforestry World Blog, 18 March 2016
China’s insatiable appetite for rubber, to satisfy its rapidly growing car market, is pushing rubber plantations into higher elevations and onto steeper slopes where rubber cultivation is no longer profitable and poses a significant threat to biodiversity.
In a new study published in PlosONE, scientists from the Kunming Institute of Botany and the World Agroforestry Centre found that the area of monoculture rubber plantations in Xishuangbanna, the second largest rubber planting area in China, increased nearly five-fold between 1988 and 2010.
The researchers call for more sustainable rubber cultivation, such as intercropping rubber with timber trees and medicinal plants in agroforestry systems. There is an urgent need, they say, for local governments to develop long-term land use strategies that balance economic benefits and environmental sustainability.

Guatemala’s REDD+ program draws a range of opinions and results
By Carlos Chávez,, 18 March 2016
In a local indigenous language, Guatemala means “land of many trees”. However, today only 34.7% of its territory is still covered with canopy. In only 50 years, between 1950 and 2000, the area lost to logging has grown to the land size of Holland. Deforestation is still rampant in the largest, northernmost and most tropical region: Petén.
There, in Petén, the GuateCarbón program is meant to slow down deforestation throughout the world’s tropical forests.
“We’re looking to mitigate emissions and the effects of greenhouse gases through a REDD+ mechanism,” explains Sergio Guzmán, the project manager. The initiative was started in 2012 and for 30 years, it will bring together Guatemala’s government and 23 communities, some of them indigenous and all of them under the umbrella of the Association of Forest Communities of Petén, or ACOFOP.

Norway takes pathway to ethical investment with human rights policy
By Lars Løvold (Rainforest Foundation Norway), The Guardian, 18 March 2016
We may be on the brink of a real breakthrough in responsible investing thanks to a new policy on human rights adopted by Norway’s sovereign wealth fund.
Since 2013, a substantial segment of the palm oil industry and the buyers of their product have adopted strong forest conservation policies, often described as “No deforestation, no peat, no exploitation”.
NGO campaigns and consumer reactions have built up the pressure. But when the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund, the Norwegian Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG), withdrew its investment in 23 palm oil companies in 2012, the news sent shockwaves through the industry.
The decision also meant the fund’s policy on climate change would target tropical deforestation as a priority issue.
Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM), manager of the wealth fund, has since introduced a human rights policy called “Human rights – expectations towards companies”. It says all companies in which the GPFG invests are expected to respect human rights, integrate a human rights strategy into their operations and risk management, and report on their performance in a comprehensive and accessible manner.

[UK] Pair convicted of producing brochures used to con investors
By Richard Stuart-Turner, PrintWeek, 18 March 2016
The co-owner and director of an East Sussex-based print company and his business partner have been found guilty of overseeing the production of brochures that promoted fraudulent investment schemes worth £1.5m.
Stuart Still from Newhaven, East Sussex, was the co-owner and director of Zeta Colour, which was based in Seaford and closed in 2011.
Still produced the literature for overseas-based boiler rooms at Zeta Colour and was then paid thousands of pounds by the crime gang into accounts directly under his control.
City of London Police detectives uncovered how the brochures were sent to people who had been contacted over the phone by boiler room operatives in an attempt to convince them to put their money into fraudulent investment schemes.
One victim, who received and read one of the brochures, invested £100,000.

[UK] FCA continues action against Capital Alternatives
Financial Conduct Authority, 18 March 2016
The FCA is continuing its High Court claim for money to be returned to investors in the African Land and Capital Carbon Credits schemes. The FCA continues to maintain that the defendants made false and misleading statements to investors in these schemes.
The FCA launched legal action in July 2013 in respect of two investment schemes, promoted by Capital Alternatives Limited and a number of other firms:
African Land (also known as Agri Capital) which offered investments in rice farm harvests in Sierra Leone as run by African Land Limited
Reforestation Projects (also known as Capital Carbon Credits) which offered investments in carbon credits intended to be generated from land in Sierra Leone, Brazil and Australia and is run by Reforestation Projects Limited
The High Court decided in February 2014 that the above schemes were collective investment schemes which could not be lawfully operated by the defendants. Some of the defendants appealed, and in March 2015 the Court of Appeal rejected the appeal and also found that the schemes were collective investment schemes. On 28 July 2015, the Supreme Court refused to give the defendants permission to make a further appeal.

19 March 2016

[Indonesia] Government to maximize peatland economic development
By Hans Nicholas Jong, The Jakarta Post, 19 March 2016
In addition to its primary target of restoring 2 million hectares of peatland that had been degraded by the recurring forest fires, the Peatland Restoration Agency (BRG) is also seeking to boost the country’s agriculture sector in peatland areas.
BRG head Nazir Foead said on Friday that he had received instructions from the presidential office to also look at the economic aspect during the restoration project, where the agency, in response, would seek suitable methods to restore damaged peatland while at the same time increasing the livelihoods of local people.
“We are looking at plants that are suited to peatland, such as sago. Companies are also thinking about finding suitable trees to plant, so that their fiber could be used for pulp and paper,” he told The Jakarta Post on the sideline of the fifth International Conference on Oil Palm and Environment (ICOPE) in Bali.

[Ireland] Planting trees is good for the environment, right?
By Paddy Woodworth, The Irish Times, 19 March 2016
It was election day, and the subject of debate was climate change. After a political campaign in which environmental issues were generally so neglected it was refreshing to find Coillte, the State-owned commercial forestry company, bringing together forest managers, businesspeople, civil servants, scientists and NGOs for an open-minded conference on climate and Irish forestry at Farmleigh House, in Phoenix Park.
Refreshing but also perplexing, because forestry’s relationship to climate and the environment in general is not straightforward. As Oisín Coughlan of Friends of the Earth put it, we can’t simply adopt, as some vested interests in agriculture are doing, a simplistic attitude that he summed up as “Plant, baby, plant”.
Many speakers stressed that, in terms of climate benefits, there are still big question marks over what trees should be planted in what places, and over how best to manage them to meet diverse and sometimes conflicting economic, environmental and social needs.

[UK] SFO in court defeat over boiler room scam money laundering
By Christopher Williams, The Telegraph, 19 March 2016
The Serious Fraud Office has been branded incompetent and accused of major lapses after two men it prosecuted for money laundering on behalf of a $120m (£83m) boiler room scam were acquitted.
In the latest humiliation for the embattled agency, a jury took under four hours to find Jim Sutherland and Jack Flader not guilty last week after a nine-week trial and nine-year investigation.
The Hong Kong-based co-defendants were accused by the SFO of knowingly channelling money on behalf of share fraudsters through Zetland Fiduciary Services, a company providing transaction services to companies and wealthy individuals.
Prosecutors claimed that 67-year-old Mr Sutherland, Zetland’s owner and chairman, had received $5.25m for laundering around $120m for an Australian high-pressure share sales fraudster and his associates, who were convicted and jailed in two trials in 2013 and 2014.

Vanuatu National FCFP REDD+ program established Civil Society Organization (CSO) Platform
Vanuatu Daily Post, 19 March 2016
21 Civil Society Organization (CSO) leaders and stakeholders convened a workshop on Wednesday 16th March 2016 from 8.30am to
4.30pm to establish the National CSO Platform and elect Platform members representing Civil Society Organizations in all 6 provinces of Vanuatu. The meeting took place at the conference room of the Department of Forestry discussing the Readiness Preparation Proposal (R-PP) of the project on the Reduction on the Emissions from Deforestation and Land Degradation or REDD+. This is an initiative of the World Bank under the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) and implemented by the Government of Vanuatu through the Ministries responsible for Climate Change and Forestry.

20 March 2016

ICAO driving move for adoption of global climate agreement for air transport
By Joe Bates, Airport World Magazine, 20 March 2016
The aviation industry, represented by the Air Transport Action Group (ATAG), has been advocating for a market-based measure in the form of a mandatory global offsetting scheme.
ATAG executive director, Michael Gill, says that the global aviation dialogues are a vital tool to help build consensus amongst governments.
“In 2009, the aviation sector became one of the first to develop a global climate framework, based on three goals and underpinned by four pillars of climate action,” he says.
“The development of a global carbon offsetting scheme for aviation is crucial if aviation is to meet its climate obligations, whilst also continuing to meet the economic and connectivity growth desired by many countries around the world.
“The successful Paris Agreement on climate change provided positive momentum for discussions at ICAO, which already has its own mandate and well-established programme for addressing aviation and climate change.”

Uganda Secures Sh850m Grant For Forest Investment Plan
By Vivian Agaba, New Vision, 20 March 2016
The Forestry Sector Support Department (FSSD) under the ministry of Water and Environment has received a grant worth $250,000 about (sh850m) to help the sector develop the investment plan.
This was revealed by the Assistant Commissioner for Forestry, REDD plus National Focal point, Margaret Athieno Mwebesa, during the National Forestry Consultative Forum that took place at Hotel Africana in Kampala on Thursday.
“Uganda was requested by World Bank under the Climate Investment Fund project to prepare an expression of interest to participate in the investment forest plan. In this plan, we are required as a country to put a whole line of actions to reduce things like emissions, deforestation and ensure promotion and sustainability of the forestry resources,” she said
Adding; “The process of preparing the investment forest by different stakeholders has started and by November this year, we shall have submitted our action plan for which this money is meant.’
She noted that Uganda is one of the best six countries that were considered for the grant and though the sector has not yet received the money physically, it will do so soon.


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