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REDD in the news: 25 April – 1 May 2016

REDD in the newsREDD-Monitor’s links to news on forests, climate change and REDD. Links are organised by date with the most recent first. For regular updates, visit REDD-Monitor’s “REDD in the news” page, or follow @reddmonitor on Twitter.

[Sierra Leone] Jailed for resisting Big Palm Oil: release the MALOA Six!
Rainforest Rescue, April 2016
February 4, 2016 was a dark moment for farmers in Sierra Leone, writes the environmental and human rights organization Green Scenery in Freetown. The High Court of the West African country sentenced five members of the Malen Affected Land Owners and Users Association (MALOA) to five months in prison. The organization’s spokesman is facing a six-month sentence.
Activists Sima Mattia, Kinnie James Blango, Musa Sellu, Foday Musa, Lahai Sellu and a former Member of Parliament, Shiaka Musa Sama, endured a show trial that had dragged on since October 2013. Their alleged offense: incitement and conspiracy to commit a crime and the destruction of 40 oil palm seedlings belonging to Socfin Agricultural Company Sierra Leone.
The six had tried to defend their rights to their land and their livelihoods against wholesale land grabbing by Socfin.
“The six have done nothing wrong, that’s why I cannot believe that justice was denied today. How can you pay a meagre two US dollars per acre of land per year and not expect people to speak up”, says one of the women who lost their land in Pujehun District.
Please sign Green Scenery’s petition to the president of Sierra Leone on behalf of the jailed activists.

25 April 2016

Reserved!: How to combine nature conservation and indigenous peoples’ rights ?
By Marine Gauthier, LinkedIn, 25 April 2016
Protecting the nature is a priority on the international agenda to combat climate change, especially following the COP21 focus on the importance of forests and the carbon trade. 7 to 10 billion dollars are invested each year in nature conservation, funding the creation of protected areas to keep the forest out of man’s destructive power.
Forest, including rainforest and boreal forests, host not only pristine fauna and flora. They are also home to millions of indigenous peoples who have been living there for millennia, protecting -and depending on- it. What is the best way to combine their rights to nature conservation ?
Through 3 different stories, and in partnership with local journalists, “Reserved!” aims at shedding new light on conservation: giving voice to the unspoken, hearing conservation stakeholders’s choices, analyzing conservation funding, illustrating new ways of protecting both bio- and cultural diversity.

[Australia] Charges dropped against pair accused of links to ‘boiler-room’ fraud
By Mark Solomons, ABC, 25 April 2016
A Gold Coast accountant and a business owner accused of involvement in a “boiler-room” fraud are no longer facing charges after a magistrate declined to proceed against them, citing a lack of evidence.
In September, the Commonwealth brought charges of dealing with the proceeds of crime against Anthony John Restaino, 43 and Graeme Dwyer, 67, as part of a major fraud investigation involving the Queensland Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) and Queensland Police, called Lima Violin II.
The charges replaced an initial one of money laundering. But a magistrate in Southport determined not to commit either man to trial earlier this month, finding there was insufficient evidence.
According to the CCC, 10 people remain before the court on a combination of various fraud and money laundering offences as a result of Lima Violin II.

[Guyana] Pivotal review of Amaila hydro project still to begin
Stabroek News, 25 April 2016
The review of the financial model of the Amaila Falls Hydropower Project (AFHP) is yet to begin but it will be completed by the end of the year, Minister of Natural Resources Raphael Trotman says.
“We’re at the stage of having Norway make the final determination and we have, in fact, settled the terms of reference about two weeks ago, IDB, Guyana and Norway,” he told Stabroek News on Thursday. “Norway will tell us when they’re ready to proceed but the ball is in their court now. But certainly before the end of this year, that review will be finished,” he said.
Trotman noted that Guyana had identified Norwegian firm Norconsult as the company that it is comfortable with to undertake the project but Norway, based on its own laws of transparency and bidding rules, did not want to just go with that choice. [R-M: Subscription needed.]

[Indonesia] Mixed Progress In Forest Governance, Says 2015 Assesment Report
UNDP, 25 April 2016
The Indonesia Forest Governance Assessment 2015 launched today at the UNDP Indonesia office is the third of this kind and is jointly conducted by UNDP and Indonesia’s Environment and Forestry Ministry.
The Assessment captures views from a large pool of forest governance experts from government agencies, civil society, the private sector, and academia. It looks at four key dimensions of forest governance, namely equity over forest resources, transparency of forest management, law enforcement, and certainty of forest areas.
“In Indonesia more than in any other countries, fighting climate change and reducing emissions is highly dependent on a strong forest governance. Assessing progress made and areas for improvement as the report does is therefore crucial for Indonesia to meet its emission reduction targets.” said UNDP Indonesia Country Director Christophe Bahuet.

[Mexico] Jurisdictional REDD+ Needs Clarity – Not Confusion – In Chiapas
By Felicia Line, Ecosystem Marketplace, 25 April 2015
While participating in a recent workshop on climate change and the role of forests in the Lacandon Forest in Chiapas, Mexico, I asked a participating member of the indigenous Lacandon community if he knew what REDD+ stood for. He correctly answered, “Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation”.
“And the ‘plus’?” I asked.
“Redd more… money!”
A friend of mine told a similar tale: while he was explaining REDD+ to people from the Tseltal community, an elderly man stood to speak.
“I don’t know about this REDD+ you’re talking about,” he said. “I only know about Red Cross!”
Another colleague of mine recalls his confusion when members of a different community in the Lacandon Jungle asked him when the “big net” was going to descend over the forest – but his confusion dissipated when he realized they had literally translated the Spanish word red into “net”.
Even government officials have got their terminology muddled, and one of them expressed relief after coming to a workshop and discovering that it was about forests and not computer networks.

UK envoy: Carbon pricing ‘too sluggish’ to meet climate goals
By Megan Darby, Climate Home, 25 April 2016
Carbon pricing is “too sluggish a weapon” against climate change, top UK envoy Sir David King said on Monday.
Speaking at a sustainability event in London, Sir David argued innovation to bring down the cost of clean technology would bring swifter results.
“I don’t think it [carbon pricing] is a fast enough driver for change,” he told Climate Home on the sidelines. “It needs to go hand in hand with other regulatory systems.”
His stance contrasts with the priorities of neighbouring France and indeed the UK government’s line within the EU.
Last week, France was among six countries calling for an expansion of carbon pricing to cover half the world’s emissions by 2030.

Bill Gates: Carbon tax not right for the US
By Devin Henry, The Hill, 25 April 2016
Microsoft founder Bill Gates says a carbon tax in the United States would not be an effective way of confronting climate change.
In an interview with the MIT Technology Review, Gates said the government and private sector should partner together to research more advanced and cleaner forms of energy. But a tax on carbon emissions — a move many Democrats and environmentalists have endorsed, which Gates has spoken about before — will not help the U.S. address climate change, he said.
“Some countries will do a pure carbon tax, and there’s a certain beauty to doing it that way,” he said in the interview. “But the consensus that I think people will reach here in the U.S. will be to focus more on supply side.”
Gates has made energy research a priority and worked with 26 other wealthy individuals last year to launch the Breakthrough Energy Coalition to fund clean-energy technology.

26 April 2016

Has big conservation gone astray?
By Jeremy Hance,, 26 April 2016
A few months after I began working full time as an environmental journalist in 2009, I found myself in Malaysian Borneo. I spent a day with a small group of conservationists and officials driving through a seemingly endless expanse of oil palm before coming to the lower Kinabatangan River. There, Borneo’s famous wildlife — orangutans, elephants, sun bears, and clouded leopards — was squeezed into ever-shrinking pockets of habitat in the Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary.
Frankly, after the miles of oil palm it was hard to imagine anything bigger than a house cat surviving there, let alone herds of elephants. That night, we met informally with some World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF) staff at a local guesthouse. They excitedly explained the ambitious plan of the world’s most recognizable conservation group to preserve wildlife in Borneo from an unprecedented onslaught of logging, mining, and oil palm.

Abandon hype in climate models
By Tim Kruger, Oliver Geden and Steve Rayner, The Guardian, 26 April 2016
The scenarios modelled for the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report assume the large-scale deployment of technologies that achieve negative emissions that draw down carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and permanently store it. But whether such proposed methods could be deployed at a material scale is unproven. It would be more prudent to exclude these techniques from mitigation scenarios used by the IPCC, unless and until we have sufficient evidence of their availability and viability to support their inclusion.

International forest conservation finance is flowing to Africa
By Mike Gaworecki,, 26 April 2016
International financing for forest conservation in three key African forest countries — the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Ghana, and Liberia — has increased steadily since 2009, but each country faces unique challenges going forward, according to a trio of new reports.
The Congo Basin in Central Africa is home to the second-largest tropical rainforest in the world after the Amazon. The Congo rainforest is famous for its gorillas, chimpanzees, and elephants, but is under severe threat from commercial agriculture, logging, and subsistence activities like small-scale agriculture and firewood collection.
The DRC contains more than half of the total area of Congo rainforest, so it’s no wonder that as the world has started to take climate change seriously, the DRC’s forests are receiving increased attention. International commitments to the DRC under the UN’s Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+) program grew to more than a quarter-billion dollars by the end of 2014, according to a new report by Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit Forest Trends.

Despite Historic Paris Climate Agreement, Southeast Asia Braces for Another Catastrophic Fire Season
By Adelaide Glover, Rainforest Action Network, 26 April 2016
Last week was critical for the world’s forests and climate. First, around 175 countries signed the historic Paris climate agreement which recognizes the crucial role forests play in the fight against climate change. Second, Indonesian political and community leaders announced a moratorium on new palm oil and mining expansion in the country, which is home to some of the world’s last pristine rainforests.
Critical to meeting national and international climate targets is the protection of carbon rich forests and peatlands. The announcement of a moratorium on new palm oil and mining concessions in Indonesia is a welcome move and, if enforced and extended to apply to forests in existing palm oil concessions, will help halt the destruction of forests and peatlands. Essential to achieving these goals, however, will be an end to the devastating fires that rage across Southeast Asia each year.
The 2015 haze crisis was the worst on record. At its peak, the haze in Indonesia released more global greenhouse gas emissions each day than the daily average of the US. It caused regional evacuations, school and airport closures, hundreds of thousands of cases of respiratory conditions and at least 19 reported deaths. Forest fires have already been reported this year as the 2016 dry season begins and without strong action by the international community, Indonesia’s emissions will continue to rise and yet another international emergency will ensue.

Cambodia’s environmental activists: Internationally awarded, but murdered at home
By Alexandra Demetrianova, Asian Correspondent, 26 April 2016
The Cambodian public and netizens cheered last week, when activist and human rights lawyer Ouch Leng was awarded the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize for his undercover investigations into the illegal logging trade.
Leng has done some admirable advocacy work with local communities, who have been affected by deforestation and land grabbing linked to illegal logging. He tried to expose the corruption behind Economic Land Concessions (ELCs) and founded the Cambodia Human Rights Task Force, an organization which leads the civil society fight against the country’s illegal logging and timber trade.

EU Market: EU carbon soars 13% on short-covering, energy in biggest rise for 3 years
By Mike Szabo and Ben Garside, Carbon Pulse, 26 April 2016
EU carbon prices surged to a three-month high in volatile trade on Tuesday, with traders attributing the gains to speculative short-covering and utility buying amid large gains in the wider energy complex.
Front-year EU Allowance futures trading on ICE ended up 75 cents or nearly 13% at €6.65, just shy of the day’s €6.71 peak, which was touched earlier in the afternoon on what appeared to be a brief but sharp spike in buying caused by triggered stop-losses.
The day’s rise was the largest in more than three years.
Volume on the bellwether contract was heavy at 43.7 million, with a further 7.3 million units changing hands along the rest of ICE’s EUA futures curve.
Prices initially dipped at the open to their intraday low of €5.87, but then marched higher throughout the morning before surging around midday in London after the futures breached a technical resistance level around €6.23-6.25.

[Guyana] New Govt. still to protect Guyana from crookish foreign companies – Lewis
By Abena Rockcliffe-Campbell, Kaieteur News, 26 April 2016
Malcolm X’s policy, “If you do not stand for something you will fall for anything” was brought to the fore last evening as President of the Guyana Trade Union Congress (GTUC), Lincoln Lewis stressed the need for Guyanese to stand together for the protection of the country’s patrimony.
Lewis told Kaieteur News that he is unimpressed by the APNU+AFC government’s handling of matters surrounding the operations of foreign companies in Guyana.
He said that like what was given during the reign of the PPP/C government, there is still to be a clear message to be sent out, that the loyalty of the Government of Guyana lies with the people of and not with foreign companies seeking to exploit the country’s resources.
The trade unionist said that he was very expectant that many wrongs would have been corrected under the wings of the change touted by the APNU+AFC administration. He said though, that the “proof is yet to be seen.”

[Indonesia] Switching swidden to agroforestry – a small intervention with big potential in West Java
By Kate Evans, 26 April 2016
Farming trees and crops together could be a win-win solution for rural farmers in West Java, a study has found – increasing incomes, enhancing land tenure security and reducing deforestation and forest degradation.
Farmers on the slopes of the imposing volcano Gunung Salak, near Bogor in Indonesia, traditionally practise swidden agriculture, growing rice, maize and cassava in the rich volcanic soil.
Swidden is a farming system in which land is cleared for agriculture, mostly using fire. In some cases a rotational system is used, where an area is farmed for a few years, then left fallow to regenerate; in others, the land is cultivated continuously.

NZ climate minister considers cancelling ‘dodgy’ surplus Kyoto credits
By Stian Reklev, Carbon Pulse, 26 April 2016
New Zealand’s Climate Change Minister Paula Bennett is considering cancelling 122.2 million surplus Kyoto units, a move that might also spur the government to impose tougher targets on ETS sectors.
It comes amid heightened public attention on New Zealand’s climate policy in the wake of a report released last week that said the reliance on ‘dodgy’ Eastern European carbon credits rendered the country “climate cheats”.
The credits are estimated to be left over from a total 495 million ERUs bought by the country and participants in its ETS, after 372.8 million were surrendered to comply with Kyoto’s first compliance period (2008-2012).
The report, published by the Morgan Foundation, said that even though New Zealand’s emissions are rising, it is estimated to have 93.6 million Kyoto units remaining after it retires what it needs to meet its 2020 emissions reduction targets.
The Greens support cancelling the 122.2 million unused ERUs, most of which were unilaterally created by the Ukraine and Russia and have been found to lack environmental integrity, saying the emissions rights related to them shouldn’t be used now or beyond 2020.
Bennett, who signed the Paris Agreement in New York on behalf of New Zealand last week, is currently weighing her options.
“She is taking advice but won’t be making any decisions in the next few weeks,” a spokesperson for Bennett told Carbon Pulse.

Palm oil industry group orders company to halt Peru planting
Reuters, 26 April 2016
A palm oil industry body on Monday ordered a member company with a 5,000 hectare (12,355 acre) concession in Peru to stop developing new plantations until it can prove it has not cleared any primary forest.
The dispute comes amid growing concerns from environmentalist and indigenous communities about the rapid expansion of oil palm plantations in the Peruvian Amazon in recent years.
The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) said Plantaciones Pucallpa S.A.C. might have violated its rules aimed at protecting the environment and the rights of local communities.
“It appears that Plantaciones has cleared primary forest progressively since 2011,” RSPO complaints coordinator Ravin Krishnan said in a letter to the company. He gave Plantaciones 14 days to respond.

27 April 2016

China still undecided on ICAO offset scheme
Argus, 27 April 2016
China has not yet taken a position on a global market-based measure (MBM) being negotiated by the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), the EU’s commissioner for transport, Violeta Bulc, has said.
“China has not clearly expressed its position yet,” Bulc said at the European Parliament’s Environment Committee yesterday as she updated MEPs on the ICAO talks progress.
The ICAO has undertaken to agree a global MBM to limit international aviation’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions at its general assembly from 27 September-7 October. The outcome of the negotiations will determine the treatment of intercontinental flights under the EU emissions trading scheme (EU ETS). Their emissions will again be included in the EU ETS at the end of 2016 when a temporary exemption expires — unless the ICAO agrees a robust deal.
The EU has pursued diplomatic efforts to help secure a deal and Bulc has held meetings with other countries, including at an ICAO gathering in Montreal, Canada, in February.

Airlines will be CDM’s lifeline, but expect CER price slump first, say analysts
By Ben Garside, Carbon Pulse, 27 April 2016
Demand for carbon offsets from airlines can provide a lifeline to the ailing CDM, which in return will be able to comfortably provide supply to an upcoming international market-based mechanism for civil aviation over the next decade, analysts say.
Just 40% of available CERs over 2020-2030 would be enough meet expected demand from airlines over that period, which is estimated at around 970 million tonnes, according to a study by Thomson Reuters Point Carbon analysts and seen by Carbon Pulse.
“It will be an exaggeration to say that the ICAO agreement can save the CDM. However, assuming the CDM will deliver most of the supply under the market-based mechanism, this will at least provide a lifeline to the mechanism,” the analysts said, adding that without ICAO, demand for CERs would dry up completely after 2020.
The analysts used assumptions based on the most recent negotiating text under consideration at UN aviation body ICAO, which is aiming to agree on global market-based measure later this year to help it achieve carbon neutral growth from 2020.

Can airlines help reduce deforestation?
By Chris Meyer, EDF, 27 April 2016
A window of opportunity may be opening to secure sustainable financing – from an unusual source – to support national, state, and provincial-level efforts to Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+).
The global airline industry is seeking international agreement on a program to cap the carbon dioxide emissions of flights between countries, and let airlines use a Market-Based Measure (MBM) to offset emissions above the cap. When the 191 governments that comprise the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) vote on the MBM at the end of September, that may decide whether airlines can use REDD+ to offset their emissions above 2020 levels.

[Guyana] Some Baishanlin forests back with state
Stabroek News, 27 April 2016
Two forest exploratory permits held by controversial logging company Baishan-lin covering 134 316 hectares of forest in Regions Nine and Six have reverted back to the State.
“Two SFEPs (State Forest Exploratory Per-mits) have not been renewed,” head of the Guyana Forestry Commis-sion (GFC) Board, Jocelyn Dow, confirmed to Stabroek News yesterday. “Technically speaking, they have expired,” she said noting that one expired yesterday. “Those lands are back under State control,” she said.
Stabroek News understands that the company had not moved to fulfill the requirements under the SFEP. [R-M: Subscription needed.]

[Guyana] BaiShanLin continues to operate through local logging companies
Kaieteur News, 27 April 2016
While BaiShanLin Forest Development Inc is all out of State Forest Exploratory Permits (SFEP), it continues to operate through its alliances with local companies.
The forensic audit report into the operation of the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) prepared by Anand Goolsarran exposed that BaiShanLin grabbed five major Guyanese companies in the forestry sector. These companies are Sherwood Forrest Inc, Haimorakabra Logging Co., Wood Associated Industries Co. Ltd., Puruni Woods Inc. and Kwebanna Wood Products Inc.
With all of the SFEPs expired, the company is depending solely on the local joint venture entities.
BaiShanLin had two SFEPs (01/2011 and 01/2013) covering 104,768 and 73,015 hectares respectively. Both have been extended on various occasions.
And this is even in the face of the fact that BaiShanLin was not qualified, in the first place, to be issued an SFEP because it failed a number of requirements, including audited financial statements for five years.
Goolsarran said that the very extensions were against the Forestry Act. Those extensions were given under GFC’s previous board.

[Guyana] New Baishanlin owner will face int’l due diligence
Kaieteur News, 27 April 2016
Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman is adamant that all foreign companies entering the natural resources sector will be subjected to a due diligence exercise. This refers to an investigation of a business or person prior to signing a contract, or an act with a certain standard of care.
Trotman told Kaieteur News yesterday that international support is available to assist with the due diligence exercises. China Longjiang Forest Industry (Group) will be no exception to this rule. This is the company that is to completely take over BaiShanLin Forest Development Inc. in Guyana. China Longjiang already has a 55 percent hold in BaiShanLin.
BaiShanLin, on numerous occasions, has been heavily criticized by the local authorities for its wanton abuse of Guyana’s forests.

Guyana, Norway set for forest partnership talks
Stabroek News, 27 April 2016
A Norwegian team was expected in Guyana yesterday as Oslo presses Georgetown to work on several aspects of the forests partnership between the two countries including a move to renewable energy.
In a statement last week, the Ministry of Natural Resources announced that government is preparing to host a technical team from the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation, and Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative, from April 26 to May 4. The focus of the visit is to work with the Ministry of Natural Resources, the Office of Climate Change, the Project Management Office, the Guyana Forestry Commission and other stakeholders to improve capacity in executing the Joint Concept Note and taking advantage of REDD+ opportunities, the ministry said. [R-M: Subscription needed.]

[Indonesia] Dentist wins ‘green oscar’ for using healthcare incentives to halt logging
By Jessica Aldred, The Guardian, 27 April 2016
As a dental surgeon, a successful career in conservation was not something Dr Hotlin Ompusunggu ever imagined.
But her work in Indonesia, where she has helped save orangutans by providing people with healthcare discounts if their villages stop logging, has clearly paid off. As well as cutting logging and improving health, this week she won second a “green oscar” prize and there are plans to replicate her model across south-east Asia.
“The idea is to save the lives of these people and also save the forest. A dentist is not a typical background, but I’m passionate about community development and I’m interested in health in the bigger picture. I have learned that to be a healthy human being, you also need healthy nature, and that’s how I came to find myself here,” she said.

[Indonesia] How KPK conserves natural resources
By Wiko Saputra and Asri Nuraeni (Publish What You Pay), Jakarta Post, 27 April 2016
For over two decades, most of Indonesia’s natural resources such as forests, plantations, minerals and fisheries have been over exploited; however the exploitation has not provided any great added value because they are raw materials.
This exploitation can certainly increase economic growth. In these two decades, Indonesia’s economic growth increased by between 5 percent and 6 percent per year, except when Indonesia suffered economic crises as in 1997-1998 ( Asian economic crisis ) and 2008 ( global financial crisis ).
Unfortunately, the economy is fundamentally fragile. A little global economic shock such as a decline in commodity prices has a direct impact on the Indonesian economy.
This economic system based on natural resources has caused unhealthy business behavior. Investors only focus on establishing dynastic power over natural resources.

[Indonesia] “Ngarung Aek” at Home
By Irma Tambunan, Kompas, 27 April 2016
The flooding this time around is unusual. Water has remained high for more than a month, including at the residence of Rahman (41). However, there is no sign that it will recede anytime soon. In past years, flood water came and went quickly in accordance with the high and low tides of the sea.
A number of local residents evacuated their homes and went to their relatives’ stilt houses. Only Rahman stayed behind with his wife and one child. A 50-centimeter flood water level inundated his house. “Every day, we are forced to ngarung aek [wade through the water] in our home,” said Rahman, a farmer in Pudak village, Kumpeh Ulu district, Muaro Jambi regency, on Saturday (23/4/2016).
In his cramped home, the air was stuffy and hot. Chemical fertilizer is mixed with the stench of rotting plants due to the prolonged flooding.
Rahmad said he stayed at his house because the water level was still below his bed. “There is still a gap of 20 centimeters. We can still rest inside,” he added.
Currently, the area surrounding his home resembles a sea. Thousands of hectares of land in eight villages in Kumpeh district are flooded. The eight villages are Pudak, Muara Kumpeh, Kotokarang, Lopak Alai, Kemingking, Talang Dukuh, Teluk Raya and Ramin. Vegetable crops have died because they were inundated for too long. Rice grains are empty. Almost nothing is left from the land that serves as the locals’ source of livelihood.
The disaster started to occur after three-meter dikes were established around the private palm oil plantations in Muaro Jambi. The dikes were built to prevent flooding in areas under commercial operation permit (HGU) concessions. This was then made worse by the draining of water out of the concession areas and onto locals’ land. As a result, the locals’ land was flooded. At certain parts, the flooding reached one meter in height.

[Malaysia] Same Rogues Same Land Grab Practices Condoned By Adenan – BALINGIAN LAND GRAB
Sarawak Report, 27 April 2016
A month ago the DAP State Assemblyman for Padungan, Wong King Wei was forced to write to the MACC to report evidence of a shocking theft from the state.
This theft had a very familiar pattern to it, of the sort that has been written about numerous times by Sarawak Report, characterised by all the Taib years of grand theft from Sarawak.
A massive chunk of land in Taib’s own backyard of Balingian (see the destruction above) had been signed over by the Land & Survey Department, which comes under the State Ministry of Planning and Resource Management, set up by Taib and now headed by his successor Adenan Satem.
The second minister in charge of the Department is the now hugely wealthy Awang Tengah.

How NZ should combat climate change
By Jamie Morton, New Zealand Herald, 27 April 2016
New Zealand can and must do more to fight climate change on the home front, say authors of a high-level report out today.
In the second of two major papers published by the Royal Society of New Zealand, researchers have laid out a range of actions they say the country could start taking now.
An initial report, issued last week, warned several degrees of temperature increase by the end of century would put the country further at risk of flooding, drought, storm surge and put even greater pressure on waterways and ecosystems.
A follow-up being launched in Wellington today provides a blueprint for shifting to a low-carbon economy through improvements in energy, transport, building, agriculture, industry and land use.
Massey University sustainable energy expert Professor Ralph Sims, who led the panel of authors, said there were already many options that were well understood, achievable and likely to have flow-on benefits.

[USA] California issues 315k new offsets
By Mike Szabo, Carbon Pulse, 27 April 2016
California’s carbon market regulator ARB issued nearly 315,000 offsets this week, lifting all-time supply by 0.8% to 39.5 million units.
Almost half of the credits, some 141,800, went to a new ODS project operated by EOS Climate Inc., the firm’s twenty-third facility to receive offsets for use in the state’s cap-and-trade scheme.
A further 116,000 units went to a new early action forestry project, while the remainder was split between three small projects.
ARB will on Thursday hold a public workshop to continue to evaluate the potential to allow the importing of international forest-based offsets into the California carbon market.
“Topics included for this workshop include how the linkage process would relate to sector-based crediting programs such as the program in Acre, Brazil, as well as potential approaches and criteria for ensuring that robust social and environmental safeguards are included in any sector-based crediting program ARB may consider for linkage,” the agency said.

[USA] Joining hands on climate change: Brazil, California
By Francisca (“Xica Arara”) Olivera de Lima, Capitol Weekly, 27 April 2016
Protecting our climate is very important to the indigenous people of the Amazon. In the Brazilian state of Acre, where I live, we’re already seeing terrible heat, floods and droughts that we never used to experience. That’s why cooperation with California to protect our forests is important to people here.
My father taught me when I was little that the forest tells us what’s coming – flood or drought, abundance or scarcity. This is why we are working hard to protect our forests – and not only for ourselves. We will survive in the forest no matter what, but imagine a city without water, or electricity. We believe that the people who work to protect the forest should be justly compensated.

28 April 2016

Climate finance must be based on science
By Tom Delay, Climate Home, 28 April 2016
You can do a lot with US$100 billion a year. You may even be able to solve the challenge of climate change.
At least this is the ambition behind the Green Climate Fund, the banner under which vast sums of public and private sector capital will be brought together to support green growth in developing countries, build low carbon infrastructure and support the most vulnerable countries to cope with the impacts of climate change.
This money has been pledged in good faith and will be delivered through strong and credible channels. It will be hugely important if we are to have any hope of following through with the commitments put on paper in the Paris Agreement.
However, as it stands it won’t deliver – other than by sheer chance – the scale or pace of carbon emission reductions that the science tells us will be required.

[DR Congo] War and Poverty Are Eating Away at Grauer’s Gorillas
By Jason Bittel, NDRC, 28 April 2016
Would you eat a gorilla? Probably not. Probably the thought has never even crossed your mind. But for people living in the Democratic Republic of Congo, eating bushmeat may be the least difficult decision they make on a daily basis.
Warfare has plagued this part of central Africa for decades. And with few ways to earn a living or feed a family in remote areas of the DRC, many people rely on working in illegal mines, which are often operated by armed militia groups. The mining takes place deep in the forest, so workers can’t exactly pack a lunch. Surviving requires finding nourishment where they can—and that means eating porcupines, Gambian rats, duikers, chimps, and Grauer’s gorillas….
A new report from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and Fauna & Flora International estimates that while there were 17,000 Grauer’s gorillas in 1995, only 3,800 individuals remain—that’s a 77 percent drop in the population. And every single wild Grauer’s gorilla left resides in the conflict-ridden DRC.

EU court declares invalid ETS free allocation for 2013-2020
By By Ben Garside, Carbon Pulse, 28 April 2016
Europe’s highest court has ordered a recalculation of free ETS allocations to 2020, a move expected to raise costs for heavy industry by cutting its share of Phase 3 allowances by as much as 105 million tonnes or 1.6%, while also having implications for the way the units are handed out in the future.
The European Court of Justice ruled that the European Commission’s Cross Sectoral Correction Factor (CSCF) calculations to decide free EUA allocation are invalid, supporting a November opinion by a court advisor that regulators had set too high a ceiling for distribution and thus handed out too many free units.
It gave the Commission 10 months to establish a new amount but that this would not affect annual allocations already handed out, the court said in its verdict released Thursday.
The ruling is a slap in the face of big emitters including Borealis, Dow Chemical and Esso – which brought the case against the European Commission claiming that they had been given fewer free allowances than they were entitled to.
Experts said it could result in a cut to the future free allocation for all ETS-regulated industry by up to 1.6% of its allocation of 6.6 billion EUAs for Phase 3 (2013-2020), with the allowances in question instead being put up for auction.

Tanzania’s forest conservation at risk as funds run out
By Kizito Makoye, Thomson Reuters Foundation, 28 April 2016
When the international forest conservation scheme known as REDD+ first came to Tanzania in 2008, it brought hopes of slowing deforestation and curbing climate change.
But according to a recent report, funding for the program is drying up, threatening the future of the East African country’s efforts to safeguard its forests.
REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) is a U.N.-backed push to reduce climate-changing carbon dioxide emissions through having developed countries pay poorer nations to protect their forests, which store carbon.
Richer countries buy credits for CO2 emissions reductions, and the money is used to keep tropical forests standing and to support forest communities.
But a report last month from a forest finance tracking initiative called “REDDX”, run by non-profit group Forest Trends, said financing to prepare for REDD+ in Tanzania had stagnated, with no new funding announced since 2010.
As a result, pilot REDD+ projects in Tanzania, including forest conservation activities and land-use planning, have been shuttered, it said.
“The lack of new donor funding is a matter of serious concern for the sustainability of the REDD+ initiative in Tanzania,” the report added.

[USA] Nigerian environmental and human rights advocate visits Sacramento to urge Air Board to reject international forest offsets for state Cap-and-Trade program
Friends of the Earth US, 28 April 2016
An environmental and human rights advocate traveled from Nigeria to urge the California Air Resources Board to reject a controversial proposal with wide-reaching implications for the global climate and for communities internationally and in California most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Fyneface Dumnamene Fyneface joined representatives of environmental justice and environmental organizations Thursday at a rally during the midday break from an Air Board hearing to protest expanding the state’s cap-and-trade plan to include offset credits generated under the United Nations’ Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation — REDD — program. This was the third in a series of recent workshops hosted by the Air Board to drive forward its proposal to expand the California Cap-and-Trade program to include an exceptionally risky REDD offsets scheme.
“We have seen that in Cross River State, Nigeria, REDD denies forest dependent communities’ access to their heritage,” said Fyneface, “REDD robs them of their livelihoods, violates their rights, and divides them along traditional and cultural lines. From our experience in Nigeria REDD is a false solution to climate change.”
– See more at:

[USA] Washington state readies revised CO2 market plan, mulls limiting use of external credits
By Ben Garside, Carbon Pulse, 28 April 2016
Washington state will next month unveil its revised CO2 market plan, with officials considering whether to put limits on the use of out-of-state credits, exclude power generators, and set intensity-based targets for heavy industries exposed to carbon leakage.
The state’s Department of Ecology aims to open a consultation once the plan is announced in mid-to-late May, hold webinars in late June, and adopt the measure in late summer, officials told a webinar on Wednesday.
The scheme is designed as the centrepiece of state efforts to force big emitters to cut their GHG output to help Washington halve its GHGs from 1990 levels by 2050.
An initial plan was tabled in January that restricted trade to operators but allowed unlimited use of allowances from RGGI and WCI, and US-based offsets, but was withdrawn after stakeholders clamoured for changes.

29 April 2015

The challenges of conserving tropical forests
By Tara Lohan, CIFOR Forest News Blog, 29 April 2016
Too often, the debate about forests in policy circles is reduced to two options: deforestation or total protection, according to Francis E. Putz.
Putz and Claudia Romero, both researchers at the University of Florida, chose to take a different approach.
“We looked at a large area of forests that falls outside these two existing options,” said Putz. “We are trying to inform decisions about forests that aren’t in protected areas.”
In a recently published study by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), Putz and Romero examined the different forest management and conservation options that exist today for the world’s tropical forests.
It is a subject that can be contentious.
“It’s a hard story to tell because we are not promoting logging,” said Putz. “We are saying that there are acceptable and unacceptable forest management methods and if you want to achieve the latter, there are several issues that need to be considered.”

[Indonesia] Entire process for new palm oil permits ended, confirms minister, 29 April 2016
Dr Siti Nurbaya, Indonesia’s Environment and Forestry Minister, has confirmed that as a follow-up to the directive of President Joko Widodo, the entire process for new palm oil permits under her authority has been ended.
Indonesia’s Environment and Forestry Minister has the authority to release convertible production forests located in state forest areas for development purposes outside the forestry sector, such as for palm oil plantations.
“I have put a stop to the entire process for new permits for palm oil expansion under my authority, from A to Z. This is concrete proof that we are following up on President Joko Widodo’s directive,” the minister told on Thursday (Apr 28).
As to existing palm oil permits outside of state forest areas, the minister explained that discussions were ongoing regarding the steps that need to be taken for reviewing these permits, bearing in mind that any reviews must be conducted with the relevant ministries and local governments, in particular in the case of concessions which retain good forest cover.

[Indonesia] Executive, legislative collusion
The Jakarta Post, 29 April 2016
For the Corruption Eradication Commission ( KPK ) and other antigraft watchdogs, the much-heralded regional autonomy seems to be a double-edged sword. On one hand it has sped up delivery of public services, thanks to the transfer of authority and a whopping amount of money from the central to local governments. But on the other hand, the development funds entrusted to regional governments, which this year alone account for one third of the state budget, are prone to embezzlement, often quipped as the “decentralization” of corruption.
One glaring example of the swing of the corruption pendulum from Jakarta to the regions is the recent KPK case implicating the political elite in the South Sumatra regency of Musi Banyuasin. On Tuesday the KPK detained six Musi Banyuasin legislative council members after naming them and 10 other local figures graft suspects. The hall of shame includes Regent Pahri Azhari and his wife Lucianty, council speaker Riamon Iskandar and his three deputies.

[New Zealand] Government climate fraud tolerance a toll on Maori, 29 April 2016
A Maori climate change campaigner says the Government’s failure to stop New Zealand companies including state owned enterprises buying fraudulent carbon credits has cost Maori forest owners hundreds of millions of dollars.
Proportional to its emissions, New Zealand was the largest purchaser of Ukrainian and Russian credits which did not represent true emissions reductions.
That crashed the price of New Zealand units, including those held by Maori forest owners.
Mike Smith from Greenpeace says it meant the Government has claimed it’s fulfilling its international obligations even though emissions of greenhouse gasses continue to rise.
“It’s obviously not moving in the right direction. We’ve got Paula Bennett going off to Paris to sign the climate change agreement and at the same time they’re opening up our country to fossil fuel extraction, so there’s a lot of smoke and mirrors going on, they appear to be doing things, but what they are doing is pretty much useless and in the meantime climate change just keeps ramping up,” he says.

What’s a Carbon Farmer? How California Ranchers Use Dirt to Tackle Climate Change
By Sally Neas, yes! magazine, 29 April 2016
For many climate change activists, the latest rallying cry has been, “Keep it in the ground,” a call to slow and stop drilling for fossil fuels. But for a new generation of land stewards, the cry is becoming, “Put it back in the ground!”
As an avid gardener and former organic farmer, I know the promise that soil holds: Every ounce supports a plethora of life. Now, evidence suggests that soil may also be a key to slowing and reversing climate change….
The institute also works with state and national policy makers to provide economic incentives for these practices. “If the U.S. government would buy carbon credits from farmers, we would produce them,” Poncia said. These credits are one way the government could pay farmers to mitigate climate change. “Farmers overproduce everything. So, if they can fund that, we will produce them,” he said. While he is already sequestering carbon, Poncia says that he could do more, given the funding.

30 April 2016

Bolivian deputy: ‘We seek a country that is more socialist every day’
Green Left Weekly, 30 April 2016
Valeria Silva is a deputy in the Bolivian Plurinational Assembly for the governing Movement for Socialism (MAS) party of President Evo Morales, and a leader within the MAS youth wing.
Denis Rogatyuk from Green Left Weekly interviewed her to discuss the future of Bolivia’s “Communitarian Revolution” that is bringing key sectors of the economy under state control, and redistributing wealth and power the poor majority. In particular, Silva discusses the aftermath of the February referendum to abolish term limits for the president and vice-president — the defeat of which means Morales will be unable to stand as president again….
We cannot talk about defending nature on the basis of, for example, what the gringos are proposing, which is carbon credits. Not when you have children in indigenous communities dying of hunger or dying because they have a tooth infection and there is no dentist to attend to them.

Firewood collection taking a toll on Uganda’s forests
By Michael Casey, CIFOR Forest News Blog, 30 April 2016
Protecting tropical forests in Africa often means directing conservation and law enforcement efforts towards fighting illegal logging, hunting and poaching.
But scientists at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) decided to take a closer look at a largely overlooked challenge – the collection of firewood.
In many parts of world, fuel wood is the main source of energy. That is especially the case in sub-Saharan Africa, where rural communities depend on wood and charcoal to cook meals, boil bathwater and heat their homes.
Much of that wood is collected from tropical forests, including from national parks that are home to endangered primates, elephants and big cats. Yet, until now, there has been very little research on the impact, if any, this wood collection is having on local flora and fauna.

1 May 2016

[Guyana] Baishanlin transactions should be reviewed before takeover by new firm – Ram
Stabroek News, 1 May 2016
All transactions engaged in by Baishanlin should be reviewed before any takeover by a new firm and the investment agreement should not automatically be allocated to the successor company, attorney Christopher Ram says.
“We need to review all transactions before any takeover by a new company,” he declared. Recently, Stabroek News reported that the Long Jiang Forest Industries Group, a Chinese state-owned company had acquired 55 per cent of the shares in Baishanlin and intends to fully take over the company this year.
Minister of State Joseph Harmon made this disclosure following a controversial trip to China during which he was photographed with officials of Baishanlin in a private jet.

Ashni Singh should be sanctioned for ‘crass’ investment agreement with BaiShanLin – Goolsarran
Kaieteur News, 1 May 2016
Forensic auditor, Anand Goolsarran, is convinced that former Finance Minister, Dr. Ashni Singh, did not have Guyana’s best interest at heart when he signed various concession and investment agreements with controversial Chinese logging company, BaiShanLin.
Goolsarran said that during his audit of the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC), it was noted that BaiShanLin received an extreme amount of concessions on equipment and vehicles under the pretence that it was for the establishment of a state-of-the-art wood processing factory.
The Chartered Accountant said, too, that the excessive amount of concessions would, beyond the shadow of a doubt, indicate that the company was using the said materials and vehicles it brought in for its interests in the mining sector.
He said that the investment agreement between the former administration and the Chinese logging company should not only be made public but that Dr. Singh should be made to face some form of disciplining for “his negligence and literally signing Guyana’s resources away.”

[Indonesia] Entire process for new palm oil permit issuance ends: Minister
The Jakarta Post, 1 May 2016
Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya confirmed that as a follow up to President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s directive, the entire process for the issuance of new palm oil permits under her authority had ended.
“I have put a stop to the entire process for the issuance of new permits for palm oil expansion under my authority, from A to Z. This is a concrete proof that we are following up President Jokowi’s directive,” she told, as quoted by Greenomics Indonesia.
The environment and forestry minister has the authority to release convertible production forests located in state forest areas for development purposes outside the forestry sector, such as for palm oil plantations.

Indonesia moves to ban new palm oil plantations to stop forest fires
ABC News, 1 May 2016
Indonesia is pushing to ban new palm oil operations after last year’s haze-belching forest fires were partly blamed on the industry’s expansion, but producers are warning the move could hit the economy and green groups are sceptical.
President Joko Widodo has proposed a halt on granting new land for palm oil plantations in the world’s top producer of the edible vegetable oil — a key ingredient in many everyday goods, from biscuits to shampoo and make-up.
In a statement, Mr Widodo said “palm oil concessions available at the moment are already adequate” and urged producers to concentrate on using better seeds to increase their yields.

Gold-mining in Peru: forests razed, millions lost, virgins auctioned
By David Hill, The Guardian, 1 May 2016
Three people in a motorised canoe on the mighty River Santiago in Peru’s northern Amazon some weeks ago saw something deeply alarming. It was one dredge and between 15 and 20 men mining for gold up one left-bank tributary.
Two of the people in the canoe were consultants for Lima-based NGO DAR, which has dubbed the River Santiago Peru’s “last frontier” for illegal mining. “In the Amazon gold extraction is only known about in the Madre de Dios and Puno regions in the south of the country,” Esteban Valle Riestra, one of DAR’s consultants, told the Guardian. “The shift to the north, where in the Santiago basin it started within the last three years, is something new.”
Valle Riestra and a DAR colleague were guided by indigenous Awajún man Edgar Montenegro Dávila, whose brother, Edwin, is president of the regional indigenous organization, ORPIAN-P. Edwin told the Guardian that the miners have been knocking down trees, destroying river-banks and putting mercury into the water – effectively putting an end to what was until recently a healthy river or stream he calls the Pastazio or Pastacillo.
Montenegro says that ultimately 70,000 indigenous Awajúns and Wampís are at risk from such mining operations because of the impacts on the forests, biodiversity and rivers, which they depend on for their lives and livelihoods.


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