REDD-Monitor’s round-up of the week’s news on forests, climate change, and REDD. For regular updates, follow @reddmonitor on Twitter.
2 January 2017
Warming crushes global records again in 2016
By Joe Romm, Think Progress, 2 January 2016
2016 has crushed the record for hottest year, set way back in 2015, which itself smashed the previous record for hottest year that was set in 2014.
Such a three-year run has never been seen in the 136 years of temperature records. It’s but the latest in an avalanche of evidence this year that global warming will either be as bad as climate scientists have been warning for decades — or much worse.
The “much worse” case is especially likely if Donald Trump and his team of deniers and pro-Putin Big Oil shills follow through on his promise to destroy the Paris climate deal, the world’s last best hope to avoid climate collapse.
Soap maker finds cleaner way to fight Southeast Asia wildfires
By Shigeru Aoki, Nikkei Asian Review, 2 January 2017
A Japanese soap company has developed a fire-extinguishing agent that is both powerful and easy on the environment. It is looking to market the product in Southeast Asia and other places prone to forest fires.
Indonesia and neighboring countries are plagued by fires every year around September, after the dry season. The blazes are blamed mainly on slash-and-burn clearing of land for farming. Indonesia is particularly susceptible because it has vast peatlands: Once they catch fire, they can continue to smolder underground even after the battle appears to have been won.
The problem is said to have worsened in the 1990s, as the expansion of agricultural irrigation systems has dried out the peatlands. 2015 was the worst year since 1997, with the scope of the wildfires growing beyond Borneo and Sumatra to nearby islands. The resulting haze forced state-run airline Garuda Indonesia to cancel over 400 flights; in Singapore and Malaysia, elementary and junior high schools were shut down.
3 January 2017
How Tropical Deforestation and Land-Use Change Are Driving Emerging Infectious Diseases
By Mike Gaworecki, Truth Out, 3 January 2017
There’s already ample evidence of the ways environmental degradation can contribute to the spread of infectious diseases, and now a recent study provides an example of how the disruptions to an ecosystem caused by deforestation and other land-use change can help spread a bacterial pathogen.
There are about 250 known human emerging infectious diseases, which are those that have recently appeared within a human population or those with an incidence rate or geographic range that is rapidly increasing. Rapid urbanization in developing countries and human population encroachment are known to help drive outbreaks of emerging infectious diseases.
Mosquitoes that transmit the Zika virus, for instance, thrive in artificial habitats created by humans, including urban waste such as uncollected garbage piles or old cans, barrels, and tires that collect water and provide a breeding ground for the insects.
Deforestation: An Emissions Triple-Whammy
Rainforest Alliance, 3 January 2017
What, exactly, is the relationship between deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions? The Rainforest Alliance breaks down the numbers for you — and explains our innovative approach to keeping forests standing.
Among the many gifts forests give us is one we desperately need: help with slowing climate change. Trees capture greenhouse gases (GHGs) like carbon dioxide , preventing them from accumulating in the atmosphere and warming our planet.
A Topsy-Turvy 2016 Sets Tone For Turbulent 2017 In Forest Carbon
By Steve Zwick, Ecosystem Marketplace, 3 January 2017
Last year opened with the healthy tailwind of the Paris Climate Agreement and the role of forest carbon finance firmly embedded in it. We spent the bulk of the year examining the agreement’s development before looking at Plan B after the election of Donald Trump.
In “REDD+ In The Paris Climate Accord: A Summary”, we offered a clear and simple summary of the role within the agreement for forest-carbon programs that save endangered rainforest and promote sustainable land management (REDD+).
We then turned to the markets component of the agreement as Germany, Japan, and New Zealand began shepherding the world’s carbon markets towards compatibility with each other in a two-part series that began with “Building On Paris, Countries Assemble The Carbon Markets Of Tomorrow” and culminated with “The Road From Paris: Green Lights, Speed Bumps, And The Future Of Carbon Markets”, which waded into the accounting challenges of building cross-border carbon markets.
[Indonesia] Jokowi Hands Over Customary Forest to the Indigenous
Jakarta Globe, 3 January 2017
President Joko Widodo reiterates the hand over of more than 13,000 ha to 9 representatives of 9 indigenous communities serves as a fresh start in customary forest recognition by the state.
4 January 2017
Global 2C warming limit not feasible, warns top economist
By Ed King, Climate Home, 4 January 2017
Agreed by 195 countries in December 2015, the Paris climate deal was billed as an historic game-changer by UN officials when it came into force last November.
Not everyone is convinced, least of all the respected climate economist William Nordhaus, who dimisses the deal as “rhetoric” in a new paper.
The Yale academic – who has explored the implications of climate change since the early 1990s – ran the numbers through his economic model known as DICE and came up with some bleak answers.
“The international target for climate change with a limit of 2C appears to be infeasible with reasonably accessible technologies – and this is the case even with very stringent and unrealistically ambitious abatement strategies,” he writes.
“This is so because of the inertia of the climate system, of rapid projected economic growth in the near term, and of revisions in several elements of the model. A target of 2.5C is technically feasible but would require extreme policy measures.”
The cost of oversimplification
By Barbara Fraser, CIFOR Forests News, 4 January 2017
Let’s assume you want to conserve a large, widely-forested watershed by compensating people for not cutting down trees. Would it be more effective to choose the most threatened, erosion-prone areas first? Would it be best to offer higher payments for the most strategic spots? Or should you offer the same payment per hectare to everyone, to avoid jealousy and keep transaction costs down?
Einstein once said: “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” This quest for the right level of sophistication also applies to payments for environmental services (PES).
A recent meta-study of 55 PES schemes from around the world sheds some light on what payment strategies work best, under particular circumstances, to bring about optimal environmental impacts.
What to expect for rainforests in 2017
By Rhett A. Butler, mongabay.com, 4 January 2017
While 2016 lacked the drama of Indonesia’s 2015 fire and haze crisis, surging deforestation in Earth’s largest rainforest and ongoing destruction of forests for industrial plantations meant that it was far from a quiet year for the planet’s rainforests. So what’s ahead for 2017?
Below are eight things we’ll be closely watching in the new year.
[Indonesia] Jokowi grants first-ever indigenous land rights to 9 communities
mongabay.com, 4 January 2017
For the first time, Indonesia’s central government has recognized the rights of nine indigenous communities to the forests they call home, a milestone for a national indigenous peoples movement that is seeking to bring to a close an era of abuse and discrimination at the hands of the state.
That movement still has a long way to go. The nine “customary forests” — known as hutan adat in Indonesian — acknowledged by President Joko Widodo’s administration last week encompass a total of 13,100 hectares (32,370 acres). But the Indigenous Peoples Alliance of the Archipelago (AMAN) has mapped more than 8.2 million hectares of customary lands it says belongs to the nation’s adat groups, as those who practice ancient modes of knowledge, belief, community and economy are called here.
By point of comparison, Indonesia’s nine biggest oil palm firms in 2013 had planted nearly 2 million hectares.
The human cost of palm oil production in Myanmar
By Taylor Weidman, Al Jazeera, 4 January 2017
In 1999, when Myanmar was ruled by a repressive military regime, the government laid out a plan for development which included an aggressive expansion of palm oil in its southern provinces.
Since then, 44 large-scale palm oil companies have transformed 350,000 hectares of pristine jungle into a series of plantations.
Although the inception of the palm oil sector in Myanmar has provided regular jobs to unskilled labourers seeking regular employment and is increasing the internal supply of cooking oil within the country, the industry at large is being criticised on a number of fronts.
Environmentalists decry the ecological devastation and habitat loss associated with clear cutting rainforest and implementing a monoculture system of palm oil.
5 January 2017
Gender relations in forestry: beyond a headcount
By Kate Evans, CIFOR Forests News, 5 January 2017
The land boundary dispute with the neighboring village had gone on for years.
But Aditi*, the 60-something female president of her local Forest Rights Committee, used skillful negotiation to convince the neighboring chief that both communities, including members of different indigenous groups, could work together to protect the forest, and continue to collect forest products there – resulting in a positive outcome for all.
This recent story, from the Indian state of Odisha, highlights the role women can play as ‘critical actors’ in defending and managing their forests, says Ph.D. candidate and gender researcher Priyanka Bhalla from the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy in Singapore.
Forestry and Fashion: Apparel Brands, Retailers and Mills Looking to Combat Deforestation
By Alison A. Nieder, Apparel News, 5 January 2017
The impact of deforestation might initially seem like a minor concern to apparel and textile businesses, but a recent report finds a link between revenue and deforestation for nearly 200 companies, including several high-profile companies in apparel, retail and textiles.
The report, “Revenue at Risk: Why addressing deforestation is critical to business success,” issued by the international nonprofit organization CDP, included data from 187 companies regarding their deforestation risk-management strategies and highlighting the impact of four key deforestation commodities—cattle products, palm oil, and soy and timber products.
While most of the respondents were commodities companies such asArcher Daniels Midland or giant consumer-product and restaurant businesses such as Colgate Palmolive and McDonald’s Corp., the CDP report does include a handful of retailers and apparel manufacturers and brands.
Smoke Signals in the Amazon
By Alexandra Branscombe, EOS, 5 January 2017
In the world’s largest rain forest, forest fires have increased in recent decades. The great Amazon rainforest in South America is typically resistant to fire because of damp foliage and the humid environment. However, scientists are seeing a surge in burning in the Amazon region, increasing carbon emissions into the atmosphere and affecting water cycles downstream of the Amazon River.
Researchers estimate that about 15% of the Amazon was deforested between 1976 and 2010. In that time, humans converted tropical forests and savannas to agricultural lands, sometimes using the slash-and-burn method, which makes an environment favorable to fires.
In a new study, van Marle et al. looked into the recent history of burning in the region from 1973 to 2014. Calculating the emissions from fires in the Amazon during that time and how much was connected to deforestation could help researchers better understand the impact of deforestation in the world’s largest tropical rain forest.
[Cameroon] OECD opens investigation into WWF in world first
Survival International, 5 January 2017
In an unprecedented move, a member of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has agreed to investigate a complaint that the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has funded human rights abuses in Cameroon, beginning a process which until now has only been used for multinational businesses.
Survival submitted the complaint in February 2016, citing numerous examples of violent abuse and harassment against Baka “Pygmies” in Cameroon by WWF-funded anti-poaching squads. Survival also alleges that WWF failed to seek communities’ free, prior and informed consent for conservation projects on their ancestral land.
This is the first time a non-profit organization has been scrutinized in this way. The acceptance of the complaint indicates that the OECD will hold WWF to the same human rights standards as profit-making corporations.
Fiji needs to manage forest fires
By Luke Rawalai, Fiji Times, 5 January 2017
Fiji needs to seriously manage its forest fires before it gets out of control, says Forest Conservator Eliki Senivasa.
Speaking during an interview, Mr Senivasa said the Ministry of Forests would soon create a strategy concept paper to address the issue of forest fires.
Mr Senivasa said that forest fires continued to be a serious issue around the country adding that forest fires also contributed to landslides.
[Indonesia] Jokowi Praised for Returning Land Rights to Indigenous Communities
By Ratri M Siniwi, Jakarta Globe, 5 January 2017
International environmental group Rainforest Action Network has praised President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo for recognizing customary land rights.
The president has returned more than 13,000 hectares to nine indigenous communities in Sumatra and Sulawesi.
This marks a win for the Tano Batak community in Pandumaan-Sipituhuta, North Sumatra, after decades of encroachment by Toba Pulp Lestari, an affiliate of the country’s second largest pulp and paper producer Asia Pacific Resources International Holdings (APRIL) and Royal Golden Eagle Group (RGE).
“When customary rights are recognized, the communities can make the long-term decisions necessary for sustainable forest management,” RAN’s senior campaigner Brihannala Morgan said in a statement on Thursday (05/01).
6 January 2017
Amazon Indigenous REDD+: an innovative approach to conserve Colombian forests?
By Eliana Garzon, mongabay.com, 6 January 2017
Some indigenous communities in South America have been working on a way to participate in REDD+ (Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation) on their own terms. In 2009, Colombia began to create the National Strategy for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (ENREDD+), an offshoot of REDD+. Currently 64 countries use REDD+ as a national strategy for climate change mitigation. It aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions caused by deforestation in developing countries by offering financial incentives in exchange for the protection of forest resources and their sustainable use.
Some communities in Colombia didn’t agree to participate in the REDD+ process over fears of losing territorial sovereignty. Thus, the coordinator of the Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon River Basin (COICA) joined the ENREDD+ strategy and adapted it based on their ancestral knowledge. COICA opted to “adjust this initiative to our life without losing autonomy,” according to Mateo Estrada Córdoba, the Territory and Environment Coordinator of the Organization of Indigenous Peoples of the Colombian Amazon (OPIAC), and a member of the Siriano del Vaupés village.
[Malaysia] The Accidental Whistle-Blower: How a Retired London Journalist Uncovered Massive Corruption Half a World Away
By Nash Jenkins, Time, 6 January 2017
Clare Rewcastle Brown was a retired London TV journalist when she came across the biggest story of her life: 13,000 km away, in Malaysia, there was a staggering network of corruption that appeared to reach the top of the country’s political power structure. She’s not done reporting it yet
A week before she was to give a keynote address at an antifraud conference in Singapore, Clare Rewcastle Brown received an anonymous email. “Dear Madam, I want to thank you for exposing all the corruption and wrongdoing in Malaysia,” it read.
“I am writing to you urgently with regards to your upcoming trip to Singapore,” it continued. “The [Malaysian] Special Branch knows that you are coming and they have arranged with their Singapore counterparts to arrest you on arrival.”
7 January 2017
Ecuador’s leading environmental group fights to stop forced closure
By David Hill, The Guardian, 7 January 2017
Members of one of Latin America’s most well-known environmental organisations, Acción Ecológica, are fighting for their survival against a controversial attempt by Ecuador’s government to shut them down.
The move by the government came six days after violence between soldiers, police and indigenous Shuar people opposed to a Chinese-run copper development, Panantza-San Carlos, in the Cordillera del Condor region, and just two days after Acción Ecológica had called for a Truth Commission to be set up to investigate events there. The attempt to close the organisation has sparked severe criticism from UN human rights experts and outrage from numerous civil society organisations in Latin America and elsewhere.
[UK] One of Britain’s biggest carbon cheats is banned – and now Israel starts to crack down on binary options firms
By Tony Hetherington, Daily Mail, 7 January 2017
One of Britain’s biggest carbon credit investment cheats has been banned from acting as a company director for 12 years.
Gavin Manerowski, 36, of Redhill, Surrey, was a director of MH Carbon Limited, which under his management raked in at least £14.3million from investors who were told their certificates – allowing industries to emit carbon into the atmosphere – would increase in value and could be sold at a profit.
Insolvency Service investigators found no secondary market existed and that Manerowski knew, or ought to have known, that investors would be unable to turn their carbon credits back into cash at any price.
Promoting sustainable timber trade in Việt Nam
Viet Nam News, 7 January 2017
Việt Nam will be assisted with carrying out legal and responsible timber trade by the “Responsible Asia Forestry & Trade Partnership” programme that it signed yesterday with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), TRAFFIC and RECOFTC.
The project, which will help achieve sustainable afforestation and forest management and improve officials’ capacity and is funded by the Australian Government through The Nature Conservancy organisation (TNC), will run through March next year.
It is divided into two main components focused on promoting sustainable plantation management based on international standards and strengthening implementation of responsible and legal timber trade.
8 January 2017
Two Indian engineers have solved one of the biggest hurdles in the fight to making lower carbon-emissions targets a reality
By Akshat Rathi, Quartz, 8 January 2017
It’s a chemical engineer’s job to chase pipe dreams.
Unlike many of their fellow engineers though, Aniruddha Sharma and Prateek Bumb have something to show for their many years of toil. The company they founded in 2009, called Carbon Clean Solutions, has created a crucial technology the world needs to reach the low carbon-emissions targets set out in the Paris climate agreement.
The proportion of renewable sources in the world’s energy supply is increasing rapidly, but not fast enough to keep global temperatures from rising 2°C above the pre-industrial average, which is when climate change reaches a critical point of no return. This is why both the United Nations and the International Panel on Climate Change say we need a technology that allows us to keep burning fossil fuels—even as we wean ourselves off them—without releasing all of the carbon dioxide (CO2) produced.