REDD-Monitor’s round-up of the week’s news on forests, climate change, and REDD. For regular updates, follow @reddmonitor on Twitter.
15 May 2017
Ongoing forest destruction has put Asia-Pacific at risk of missing global development targets – UN agency
UN News Centre, 15 May 2017
The destruction of forests in many Asian countries continues apace, threatening the realization of global sustainable development goals by the 2030 deadline, according to the United Nations agricultural agency.
“While forests are critical to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), they continue to be degraded and lost at a rate of 3.3 million hectares per year,” warned Patrick Durst, the Senior Forestry Officer at the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific.
[Guyana] CANU in timber cocaine bust at Zeelugt
Stabroek News, 15 May 2017
Following a bust of over 84 kilogrames of cocaine on Friday at Zeelugt in dressed lumber, the Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU) yesterday said it had arrested race car driver Nazim Gafoor and was looking for well-known biker, Stephen Vieira among others.
It added that it has a truck driver and porters in custody and will soon seek wanted bulletins for Vieira and others in the bust which has a street value of $550m.
[India] Burn notice: Telangana, Andhra Pradesh among states worst hit by wildfires
By V Nilesh, The New Indian News, 15 May 2017
Nothing destroys a forest quite like a bushfire. They cause huge damage to flora and fauna.
Forest fires are a major environmental hazard in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, affecting large portions of wooded area every year. As per a recent study by Hyderabad’s National Remote Sensing Center (NRSC) scientists, AP stood second among all states and Telangana stood seventh, for the forest area that was affected by fires in a year.
[Peru] Leveraging peat to beat the heat
By Yoly Gutierrez, CIFOR Forests News, 15 May 2017
Peruvian peatlands are of huge environmental importance, not only locally but also globally. They not only house enormous stores of carbon, but are home to diverse flora and fauna, and provide essential ecosystems services that support local livelihoods.
Located in Amazonia, the Pastaza Marañon Basin stores an amount of carbon in peat soil equivalent to more than 100 years of the country´s anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG).
[USA] California governor wants cap-and-trade deal by June
Argus, 15 May 2017
California governor Jerry Brown (D) says there is a “very good chance” state lawmakers will pass legislation next month to extend the state’s greenhouse gas cap-and-trade program.
The number of supporters of California’s carbon market is growing as lawmakers realize that funding for local projects is at stake, Brown said yesterday after releasing his revised 2017-18 budget plan.
“I do not think we should turn our backs on the low-income communities in California by destroying millions and millions of dollars they are now slated to get,” Brown said.
16 May 2017
Unlocking investment in sustainable landscapes is critical for inclusive green growth, according to new report
IUCN, 16 May 2017
Business participation and investment in sustainable landscapes is critical for achieving inclusive green growth, according to a new report released here today at the Forest and Landscape Investment Forum.
The report, Business for Sustainable Landscapes: An action agenda for sustainable development, underscores the numerous benefits that business can realise by investing in landscapes – from reducing their environmental and social risks to protecting their assets or sourcing area by supporting vital ecosystems, such as forests, rivers and freshwater.
Indigenous Leaders Find Voice In Global Climate Talks
By Ciro Calderon, Ecosystem Marketplace, 16 May 2017
For years, it seemed that Juan-Carlos Jintiach was the lone indigenous voice speaking for the people of the Amazon at global climate talks. As leader of an indigenous organization called COICA (Coordinator of the Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin), he seemed to be on every panel that needed indigenous participation.
Today, he’s one of many indigenous voices at mid-year climate talks in Bonn – along with Jorge Furagaro Kuetgaje and Josien Tokoe of COICA and Roberto Espinoza of AIDESEP, which stands for Asociación Interétnica de Desarrollo de la Selva Peruana, or “The Interethnic Association for the Development of the Peruvian Rainforest”.
The Amazon Rainforest: A Report Card
Mrs. Green’s World, 16 May 2017
What can I say? This one might be an emotional one for me as my journey to starting Mrs. Green’s World began deep inside the Amazon Rainforest. I would say, without hesitation, that Leila is a warrior through and through. Leila is also a mother; proud Chicana-Latina woman; and passionate defender of Mother Earth, the Amazon, indigenous rights and climate justice. Since 2015 she has served as the Executive Director of Amazon Watch, leading this organization in its work to protect and defend the bio-cultural and climate integrity of the Amazon rainforest by advancing indigenous peoples’ rights, territories, and solutions. It is an endless challenge and Leila is up to the task. For 20+ years she has worked to defend the world’s rainforests, human rights, and the climate through grassroots organizing and international advocacy campaigns at Amazon Watch, Rainforest Action Network, Global Exchange, and Green Corps.
REDD+ in Brazil – The right moment to attend discussions and seek opportunities
By Jonathan D. Cocker (Baker McKenzie), Lexology, 16 May 2017
Following the discussions on the terms of the Paris Climate Change Agreement (PCCA) agreed upon in December 2015, Baker McKenzie will be an event partner and will exhibit at the trade fair called “Innovate4Climate”. The event will be held in Barcelona from May 22 to May 25 with the aim at creating a new global dialogue of government, business, banking and finance leaders focused on shaping the next generation of climate finance and policy instruments. Among the many subjects included in the agenda of the event is a market analysis and jurisdictional implementation (pitfalls and opportunities) concerning REDD+ projects.
‘Narco-deforestation’: cocaine trade destroying swaths of Central America
By Matthew Taylor, The Guardian, 16 May 2017
Cocaine traffickers attempting to launder their profits are responsible for the disappearance of millions of acres of tropical forest across large swaths of Central America, according to a report.
The study, published on Tuesday in the journal Environmental Research Letters, found that drug trafficking was responsible for up to 30% of annual deforestation in Nicaragua, Honduras and Guatemala, turning biodiverse forest into agricultural land.
Preserving precious peat in the Congo Basin
By Bill Hinchberger, CIFOR Forests News, 16 May 2017
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has long been known for the biodiversity and carbon storage capacity of its vast forests. Now, there is a need to explore the potential of newly-discovered peatland to help further keep a lid on its carbon emissions, according to Denis Jean Sonwa, a senior scientist at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).
Scientists recently discovered what they call ‘the world’s largest tropical peatland’ in a remote part of the Congo Basin. The 145,000 square-kilometer area, larger than the size of England, is believed to hold the equivalent of three years’ worth of global emissions. Known as the ‘Cuvette Centrale’, the area straddles the DRC’s border with the Republic of Congo.
[Indonesia] Forestry Ministry hopes no forest fire this year
ANTARA News, 16 May 2017
The Ministry of Environment and Forestry (KLHK) said it hopes that this year there would be no forest fire in Indonesia.
Forest fires have left a scene of destruction almost every year in a number of Indonesian regions such as Riau, West Kalimantan and Central Kalimantan.
Secretary General of KLHK Bambang Hendroyono said the government has issued a regulation PP No 57/2016 revising PP No 71/2014 on protection and Management of Peat Ecosystem after the devastating forest fire in 2015.
“We want to be better than in 2016, when forest and bush fires were reduced up to 20 percent,” Bambang said addressing “Global Peatlands Initiative” here on Monday, adding more effective measures have been made to prevent forest fires in 2017.
[USA] The ‘ancient carbon’ of Alaska’s tundras is being released, starting a vicious warming cycle
By Joe Romm, Think Progress, 16 May 2017
The Alaskan tundra is warming so quickly it has become a net emitter of carbon dioxide ahead of schedule, a new study finds.
Since CO2 is the primary heat-trapping greenhouse gas — and since the permafrost contains twice as much carbon as the atmosphere does today — this means a vicious cycle has begun that will speed up global warming.
“Because it’s getting warmer, there’s more CO2 coming out which means it’s going to get warmer which means there’s more CO2 coming out,” explained Harvard researcher and lead author Roisin Commane. “And it will just run away with itself.”
17 May 2017
The wooden skyscrapers that could help to cool the planet
By Jeff Tollefson, Nature News, 17 May 2017
One building stands out in the old logging town of Prince George, Canada. Encased in a sleek glass facade, the structure towers above most of its neighbours, beckoning from afar with the warm amber glow of Douglas fir. Constructed almost entirely from timber in 2014, the 8-storey, 30-metre building is among the tallest modern wooden structures in the world. But it is more than an architectural marvel. As the home of the Wood Innovation and Design Centre at the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC), it is also an incubator for wooden buildings of the future — and a herald for a movement that could help to tackle global warming.
Bill Laurance on the “infrastructure tsunami” sweeping the planet
By Mike Gawarecki, Mongabay, 17 May 2017
In this episode of the Mongabay Newscast, we feature Bill Laurance, a Distinguished Research Professor at James Cook University in Cairns, Australia as well as the founder and director of ALERT (Alliance of Leading Environmental Researchers & Thinkers) and a member of Mongabay’s advisory board.
We recently heard Bill argue that scientists need to become more comfortable with expressing uncertainty over the future of the planet and to stop “dooming and glooming” when it comes to environmental problems. We wanted to hear more about that, as well as to hear from Bill about the “global road map” he and his team recently released to help mitigate the environmental damage of what he calls an “infrastructure tsunami” breaking across the globe, the subject of a recent Q&A published here on Mongabay.
Africa calls for funding to restore degraded forests, land
By Emmanuel Ntirenganya, The New Times, 17 May 2017
Investing in forest and landscape restoration as well as ensuring their sustainability will improve livelihoods of African people, experts have said.
Speaking at a two-day Forest and Landscape Investment Forum in Kigali, yesterday, the experts called for investments to make green cover of more than 100 million hectares of degraded forests and land on the continent.
The forum is in line with the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 15 – that calls for halting and reversing land and natural habitat degradation; and the Bonn Challenge – to restore 350 million hectares of the world’s deforested and degraded land by 2030.
Forest and climate-smart development in the Democratic Republic of Congo
By Daniela Goehler, World Bank, 17 May 2017
The Democratic Republic of Congo’s efforts to shift to sustainable land use is producing first results in the Mai Ndombe province- an encouraging model for other countries seeking to reduce deforestation and forest degradation.
As I look out the window of our small propeller plane heading toward Inongo, the capital of the Mai Ndombe province in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the difference in landscape is jarring. The areas around Kinshasa, the sprawling capital city with a population over 10 million, are marked by degraded lands with barely a tree in sight. As we fly further north and east, we pass over scattered patches of green on savannahs, but when we cross over into the Congo Basin, there are suddenly forests as far as the eye can see. Mai Ndombe, my final destination, spans more than 12 million hectares, most of which are forest, and is part of one of the most important tropical ecosystems left on earth.
The EU: What happened to climate’s poster child?
AFP, 17 May 2017
The 28-member European Union, the third-largest emitter of planet-warming greenhouse gases after China and the United States, has long been held up as the poster child of efforts to save Earth’s climate.
But after years of taking the lead in talks for a global climate pact, and making tough policy and investment choices to lessen fossil fuel reliance at home, the bloc’s resolve now seems to be flagging, analysts say.
Europe is responsible for about 10 percent of global emissions.
EU has opportunity to seize global leadership on forests and climate
By Hannah Mowatt, EURACTIV, 17 May 2017
As climate talks in Bonn wrap up, it is time to take stock. It’s no surprise that the looming prospect of the US ditching the Paris Agreement cast its shadow over proceedings – the question won’t be resolved until after the G7 meeting in Italy later this month.
We’ve been here before. Hardened veterans of climate talks will remember when former President Clinton failed to get Senate approval to ratify the climate agreement in 1997. It was up to the EU to keep the show on the road – and they did.
Now the EU’s climate leadership – questioned of late – is being put to the test once again. Their influence is particularly needed in the prickly area of emissions from land and forests. This is because, unlike the Kyoto Protocol, the Paris Agreement also applies to developing countries, where carbon dioxide from land and forests dominate their emissions profile.
Peatland restoration work on track despite slow progress: Indonesia
By Saifulbahri Ismail, Channel NewsAsia, 17 May 2017
Palm oil farmer Agus Misman recalled how forest fires in 2014 swept through his plantation and destroyed his crop.
The fires also affected many of the other farmers’ land in Tambusai village, which is about three hours’ drive from Pekanbaru, the capital of Riau province.
The incident led to the community to brainstorm for ideas, and they decided to implement a canal-blocking system to keep the peatland wet especially during the dry season.
[Indonesia] People and peat
By Rose Foley, CIFOR Forests News, 17 May 2017
Deep in the forests of Central Kalimantan, Indonesia, the murmur of a paddle sliding through water joins the mesh of bird song. Lined on all sides by clouds of vegetation, Adam is maneuvering his wooden canoe through the peat-soaked river. Light begins to sift through the leaves. The day’s fishing has begun.
Adam catches up to ten kilos of sheatfish, kissing gourami and giant mudfish a day, making roughly 50,000 Indonesian rupiah (USD $4). His family has lived in Parupuk village for decades. As fishermen, they exist in close relation with the peat and the waters that flood it.
Vietnam’s logging scandal: Times for an international boycott
By Jeremy Hance, ALERT, 17 May 017
On Thursday, the European Union and Vietnamese officials signed a forest-law agreement (known as a Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade pact) that would theoretically ensure that all the wood exported from Vietnam to the E.U. has been legally felled.
But the E.U. must be intensely vigilant going forward — and should walk away if Vietnam doesn’t quickly address its illegal logging epidemic.
The reason for caution is a new report by the Environmental Investigation Agency, which finds that Vietnamese companies have been shelling out millions in bribes for logs cut from national parks and community areas in Cambodia.
18 May 2017
Debate over fossil fuel lobby heats up at UN climate talks
By Vaidehi Shah, EcoBusiness, 18 May 2017
Are fossil fuel industry representatives a necessary part of global climate change negotiations, or does their presence at these talks represent a conflict of interest and undermine global progress?
This question, which has been brewing in United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) discussions since last year, reached a critical point at ongoing talks in Bonn, Germany on Wednesday 9 May when the UNFCCC secretariat agreed to enhance the “openness and transparency” of the talks, and accept suggestions on how it can do so.
ASEAN ministers warn against complacency in tackling haze
By Melissa Goh, Channel NewsAsia, 18 May 2017
Indonesia has told its neighbours at an ASEAN meeting on Thursday (May 18) that the haze situation in the region will be like it was in 2016.
Ministers and senior officials from Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and Brunei met in Kuala Lumpur for the sub-regional steering committee on transboundary haze pollution – and said the roadmap towards achieving a haze free region by year 2020 is on track.
[Canada] ‘Pollution isn’t free’: Catherine McKenna makes her case for pricing carbon
By Aaron Wherry, CBC News, 18 May 2017
Environment Minister Catherine McKenna arrived at the podium in the foyer of the House of Commons and promptly told reporters what is apparently already understood.
“Canadians realize that polluting isn’t free,” she said.
The minister has said this before: she made the observation last October, for instance, a day after the Liberal government dramatically announced that a price on carbon would be applied in all provinces.
[Indonesia] Living in a toxic haze
By Bjorn Vaughn and Rachel Carmenta, CIFOR Forests News, 18 May 2017
Peatland fires in Indonesia push scale-topping figures. Kalimantan alone produced greater levels of carbon emissions than the entire European Union over the most intense burning months of September and October in 2015. Besides the cost of emissions and hectares burned, research is ongoing into the political economy of the fire and haze, as well as the health impacts and the economic burden the fires present.
The word ‘haze’ is misleadingly benign — in reality, peatland fires produce toxic smoke, containing noxious components such as carbon monoxide, cyanide, ammonia and formaldehyde, in concentrations far beyond safe limits. People breathing this toxic smoke on a prolonged and daily basis during the burning months face serious hazards to their health, food security and well-being.
19 May 2017
U.N. climate talks wrap up under threat of U.S. exodus
AF-JIJI, 19 May 2017
U.N. climate talks concluded in Bonn Thursday with envoys putting on a brave face despite the threat of an American exodus from the global pact to stem global warming.
“We are all vulnerable and we all need to act,” said Fiji’s Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama, who has repeatedly urged U.S. President Donald Trump to keep America on the right climate track.
First world coastal cities such as Miami and New York face serious threats from climate change-induced sea level rise, just like low-lying islands like Fiji, said Bainimarama, who will preside over the next round of ministerial-level climate negotiations in November.
Bonn talks reveal uncertainty over Paris Agreement
By Susanne Götze and Christian Mihatsch, Chinadialogue, 19 May 2017
Climate negotiations are a highly complex undertaking with one simplifying factor that everything happens in one place. But for the current round of negotiations in Bonn, Germany, even this isn’t the case.
While diplomats have come together from around the world try to hash out a “rule book” for operationalising the Paris Agreement, the potential success of the agreement has been called into question by the Trump administration.
Event highlights: Global Landscapes Forum – Peatlands Matter
By Gabrielle Lipton, CIFOR Forests News, 19 May 2017
It may seem counter-intuitive to put human interests first when tackling an environmental issue as complex and technical as peatlands. The Global Landscapes Forum: Peatlands Matter event, however, sought to prove that local experiences are a crucial component to paving the best way forward for these landscapes that cover less than 3-5 percent of the Earth’s surface, but contain more than 30 percent of soil-stored carbon worldwide.
“I think it’s time to calibrate this discussion, starting with local voices,” said Peter Holmgren, Director General of the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR). “When we put people first, then we can make progress on climate as well.”
[Indonesia] Forest fires hit Sumatra again, causing smog
Jakarta Post, 19 May 2017
The Indonesian climate agency detected 18 hot spots on Friday, indicating forests and lands were burning in regions on Sumatra Island, as happens each year, resulting in pollution and upsetting neighboring countries.
The Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) said that fires had been found in Jambi, South Sumatra, Riau and Riau Islands, which are in the dry season.
“The hot spots have been recorded over the past week,” said Slamet Riyadi, head of the data and information division of the BMKG’s Pekanbaru branch in Riau.
Climate Hangs Over Trump Like
Sword Of Damocles Ahead of G-7
By Steve Zwick, Ecosystem Marketplace, 19 May 2017
Next Friday, US President Donald Trump will be parachuted into the deep end of a swamp that shouldn’t exist, and one he won’t even know he’s in – let alone how to drain it, or whether he should.
Specifically, he’ll land in the Sicilian village of Taormina for the 43rd Meeting of the Group of Seven Industrialized Nations (G-7), and he’ll be handed an agenda that focuses on “energy and climate change…the Paris Agreement, the role of green finance, energy security, gas markets and renewables.”
The swamp is the unnecessary confusion he’s creating at a time when the world is uniting to meet the climate challenge, because the G-7 meeting isn’t an isolated event. It’s a culmination of three weeks of mid-year meetings designed to turbocharge the Paris Climate Agreement – meetings that began with formal negotiations in Bonn, Germany and continue this week at the World Bank’s Innovate4Climate Summit in Barcelona, which is part of the Bank’s effort to “activate trillionaire investments” in climate-safe technology. To do that, the bank is bringing together entrepreneurs, financiers, and regulators together for two days of workshops and two days of presentations focused on renewable energy, green jobs, and de-risking supply chains, with an overlapping three-day “marketplace” to help green entrepreneurs find finance.
20 May 2017
[Fiji] Naikatini: Dry forest research ‘lagging’
By Kalesi Mele, Fiji Times, 20 May 2017
Invasive species and forest fires have reduced Fiji’s tropical dry forest to less than 1 per cent.
University of the South Pacific Institute of Applied Science senior technical officer Alivereti Naikatini said while degradation of dry forest was extensive, research in this field was “lagging”.
He made these comments at the launch of the Mamanuca Environment Society’s seed source and afforestation project at Solevu Village, on Malolo Island on Thursday.
Indonesian governor asks president to let timber firms drain peat in his province
By Lusia Arumingtyas and Philip Jacobson, Mongabay, 20 May 2017
The West Kalimantan governor wants to exempt timber firms in the Indonesian province from a national ban on peatland drainage, drawing the ire of green groups who say such a policy shift could spell the end of one of the Bornean orangutan’s last strongholds, the Sungai Putri rainforest.
Governor Cornelis, who like many Indonesians goes by one name, outlined his request in a letter to the president dated Apr. 25 — days after the Ministry of Environment and Forestry sanctioned a plantation firm for building an illegal drainage canal through Sungai Putri.
21 May 2017
Doughnut Economics – Grab a pencil, draw a doughnut!
By Bad Voracek, The Minsky’s, 21 May 2017
You should be weary of people who seek to get the “first lick” on a young impressionable brain. Paul Samuelson knew that by writing a successful economics textbook, he could influence how students frame the economy, and thus the world. From the 50’s to the 70’s, his textbook was the most widely used in introductory economics courses. Today, that role has been given to Gregory Mankiw’s “Macroeconomics” (see the Open Syllabus Project). Both view the economy in the same narrow way, with the same simple pictures that don’t seem useful today. Raworth’s Doughnut Economics breaches the pattern and envisions a new economics, for a new generation with clearly defined challenges and scant tools to solve them.
A burning issue for Singapore: Indonesia readies for haze battle
By Jeffrey Hutton, South China Morning Post, 21 May 2017
Almost every year around this time – during the dry season – haze descends on Riau. And every year Jois Marfu’ah suffers.
Villages and some businesses across Riau, on the island of Sumatra, slash and burn shrub land to make way for crops. The flames belch out a toxic mess that is dangerous to breathe. Ear, nose and throat infections are common. Day becomes night as visibility drops to 50 metres or so, Jois says. Schools close. Trips to see relatives – already arduous on Indonesia’s woeful roads – become torture. And all this goes on for months.
“I want to cry,” says Marfu’ah, 30. “It’s so uncomfortable and scary.”