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REDD in the news: 2-8 October 2017

REDD-Monitor’s round-up of the week’s news on forests, climate change, and REDD. For regular updates, follow @reddmonitor on Twitter.

2 October 2017

Global warming ‘hiatus’ is over
By Tim Radford, Climate News Network, 2 October 2017
It is official. The world is warming according to expectations. The so-called and much debated “pause” in global warming is over. And the culprit that tried to cool the planet in spite of ever-rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere?
Blame it on the Pacific Ocean. It went into a not-so-hot phase, part of a long-term natural cycle, which has now come to an end. This explains the apparent slowdown in the rate of global warming.

Stark Evidence: A Warmer World Is Sparking More and Bigger Wildfires
By Nicola Jones, YaleEnvironment360, 2 October 2017
On a single hot, dry day this summer, an astonishing 140 wildfires leapt to life across British Columbia. “Friday, July 7 was just crazy,” says Mike Flannigan, director of the wildland fire partnership at the University of Alberta. A state of emergency was declared. By the end of summer, more than 1,000 fires had been triggered across the Canadian province, burning a record nearly 3 million acres of forest—nearly 10 times the average in British Columbia over the last decade. As the fires got bigger and hotter, even aerial attacks became useless. “It’s like spitting on a campfire,” says Flannigan. “It doesn’t do much other than making a pretty picture for the newspapers.”

[Guyana] Amaila Falls hydro canned – Harmon
By Marcelle Thomas, Stabroek News, 2 October 2017
An end has been declared by the APNU+AFC government to the 165 MW Amaila Falls Hydropower Project (AFHP).
In an interview with Stabroek News, Minister of State Joseph Harmon says that the government is focusing on an energy mix with natural gas as a prime component.
The US$858.1m AFHP had been the flagship project of the former PPP/C government but while in opposition, both A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and the Alliance For Change (AFC) had had deep reservations about it over cost, feasibility and other matters. This opposition had resulted in the main investor, Sithe Global pulling out of the project on August 9, 2013. The government’s decision now to abandon the project could have repercussions for its access to funding from Norway under a forest protection deal and other sources… [R-M: Subscription needed.]

[Indonesia] Getting a good price on good wood
By Catriona Croft-Cusworth, CIFOR Forests News, 2 October 2017
The advantages of timber certification are not out of reach for small-scale growers — but success depends to a large extent on how entrepreneurial, connected and informed they are as managers, a new study suggests.
Looking at three case studies in the district of Gunungkidul in Java, Indonesia, the study finds that smallholders can achieve the promised access to global markets and higher prices on exports through certification, so long as the right management practices are in place.

3 October 2017

First global pact backing indigenous land rights launched
By Marlowe Hood,, 3 October 2017
Indigenous peoples could soon regain some control of their native forests with the creation of a new global institution dedicated to securing their land rights.
The International Land and Forest Tenure Facility, formally launched in Stockholm on Tuesday, aims to help communities protect their land resources as well as combat climate change.
Funded by Sweden, Norway and the Ford Foundation, a US charity, the Tenure Facility has already provided grants and guidance for pilot projects in Peru, Mali, Indonesia and three other nations.

New study: clear land rights in developing world could avoid costly disputes
By Astrid Zweynert, Christian Science Monitor, 3 October 2017
More than half of land rights conflicts in the developing world have not been resolved, pitting companies, governments, and businesses against indigenous communities, researchers said on Tuesday.
The most common cause of these often violent and sometimes deadly disputes is the displacement of indigenous and local people from land they have lived on for generations but for which they do not hold legal title.
The research by TMP Systems and the Rights and Resources Initiative found that approximately 60 percent of nearly 300 land conflicts since 2001 have not been resolved, but in Southeast Asia that number rose to almost 90 percent.

Green Climate Fund approves historic $500 million for forest sector results-based payments
WWF, 3 October 2017
For their eighteenth meeting, the Board of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) met in Cairo, Egypt, from September 30 to October 2. Established in 2010 to support the developing countries’ responses to climate change, the GCF is part of the financial mechanisms of the UNFCCCC, and is guided by its principles and decisions, including those of The Warsaw Framework for REDD+ and the Paris Agreement.

Forest Update: National Initiatives Progress Legal Timber Trade, Sustainable Forest Management
By Elsa Tsioumani, IISD, 3 October 2017
A series of regional and national developments of relevance to forests and forestry highlight the importance of combating illegal logging and related trade, and developing the preconditions to promote legal timber trade and certification schemes. Sustainable forest management and restoration objectives have also received attention, including their potential to contribute to the achievement of several Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Why eating grass-fed beef isn’t going to help fight climate change
By Tara Garnett, The Conversation, 3 October 2017
Beef gets a bad press, environmentally speaking. We’re bombarded with reports highlighting its high carbon footprint accompanied by images of belching cows and devastated rainforests.
But is all beef bad? Some argue that beef from grass-fed cows has higher welfare, nutrition and other credentials than meat from animals that eat intensively farmed, high-protein feeds. Most cattle get a mixture of such feeds and grass. Many also argue that purely grass-fed cows not only produce less emissions than those fed soy or grain, but that they can even help absorb carbon from the atmosphere (grass uses up carbon from the air via photosynthesis). My colleagues and I have produced a new report for the Food Climate Research Network that shows the evidence suggests otherwise.

Carbon Pricing and Markets Update: EU Discusses ETS Reform, Aviation, Brexit
IISD, 3 October 2017
The International Carbon Action Partnership (ICAP) celebrated its tenth anniversary in September, which is both a cause for celebration and renewed discussions on how to strengthen existing and new carbon markets. Over the past weeks, several events provided opportunities to do so, including meetings of the EU Parliament, the European Commission, a meeting of members of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) Designated National Authorities (DNAs), and consultations between EU institutions and the private sector.

[Indonesia] Fire and haze: Community action
By Catriona Croft-Cusworth, CIFOR Forests News, 3 October 2017
Residents of Pekanbaru in Riau, Indonesia, have not forgotten the devastating fires and haze that darkened their skies for months over 2014-2015.
“We were surrounded by that suffocating smoke, it was hard for us to breathe,” says Zuli ‘Lulu’ Laili Isnaini, who joined volunteer relief efforts during the crisis.
“The greatest number of victims was found among pregnant women, children and the elderly. A number of schoolchildren died at that time.”

4 October 2017

Goodbye – and good riddance – to livestock farming
By George Monbiot, The Guardian, 4 October 2017
What will future generations, looking back on our age, see as its monstrosities? We think of slavery, the subjugation of women, judicial torture, the murder of heretics, imperial conquest and genocide, the first world war and the rise of fascism, and ask ourselves how people could have failed to see the horror of what they did. What madness of our times will revolt our descendants?
There are plenty to choose from. But one of them, I believe, will be the mass incarceration of animals, to enable us to eat their flesh or eggs or drink their milk. While we call ourselves animal lovers, and lavish kindness on our dogs and cats, we inflict brutal deprivations on billions of animals that are just as capable of suffering. The hypocrisy is so rank that future generations will marvel at how we could have failed to see it.

Why factory farming is not just cruel – but also a threat to all life on the planet
By Bibi van der Zee, The Guardian, 4 October 2017
The world desperately needs joined-up action on industrial farming if it is to avoid catastrophic impacts on life on earth, according to the head of one of the world’s most highly regarded animal campaign groups.
Philip Lymbery, chief executive of Compassion in World Farming (CIWF) and the author of Farmageddon and more recently Deadzone, said: “Every day there is a new confirmation of how destructive, inefficient, wasteful, cruel and unhealthy the industrial agriculture machine is. We need a total rethink of our food and farming systems before it’s too late.”

Alarm at rise in forest carbon
By Tim Radford, Climate News Network, 4 October 2017
Climate’s auditors – those carbon accountants who calculate how much fossil fuel may be burned before the planet warms to dangerous levels – might have to go back to the books and start again.
One team of US scientists suggests that the assumptions about the role of the forests could be wrong: overall, tropical forests in this century have released more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than they absorb, they conclude.

Forests with value for people, and the planet: the way forward for FSC
By Alistair Monument, WWF, 4 October 2017
Bold and innovative solutions are needed to make responsible forest management valuable for those who are best positioned to protect forests — local communities.
Forest conservation begins with people, whether it be consumers using wood products or communities living in them.
While there has been success over the past 25 years working with big companies, and on the global commodities that drive forest loss, we must urgently develop mechanisms to engage communities and smallholders to improve natural resource management in a way that brings about both conservation and delivers economic benefits.

New climate funding pays to protect forests
By Bruno Vander Velde, Conservation International, 4 October 2017
The fight against climate change just got a half-billion new reasons for hope.
On Monday, the Green Climate Fund (GCF) announced that it had dedicated US$ 500 million to help conserve forests and mangroves — a powerful recognition of nature’s role in solving climate change. Conservation International offered technical advice and analysis to the GCF ahead of the announcement. How will it work? Read on.

The day we witnessed wildlife rangers being gunned down in Congo
By Klaas van Dijken and Lisa Dupuy, The Guardian, 4 October 2017
Conflict is never far away in the Democratic Republic of Congo – a country rich in natural resources such as gold, diamonds, coltan and tin – and the country is on the brink of a new civil war. Tensions have been rising since December, when President Joseph Kabila postponed the elections.
As the situation gets worse, analysts point to the role of mining in the conflicts. Opposing groups fight for control of the country’s natural resources and use the proceeds to buy weapons in times of uncertainty. And all that is very bad news for the DRC’s precious wildernesses.

[Guyana] Norway still awaiting gov’t energy transition plan for release of US$80M
Stabroek News, 4 October 2017
The Government of the Kingdom of Norway has said the “ball is in Guyana’s court” to produce a renewable energy transition plan that is a prerequisite for the release of US$80 million in payments for forest services being held for the country by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
“Guyana needs to establish a credible pathway to a clean and renewable energy transition in line with its NDC [Nationally Determined Contributions] and our original agreement,” Director of the Norwe-gian International Climate and Forest Initiative (NICFI) Per Fredrik Pharo told Stabroek News, in response to inquiries about the delay in the release of the money. [R-M: Subscription needed.]

[Guyana] Forest Carbon Partnership Facility project has not completed a tangible activity
By Peter Persaud, letter to the editor Stabroek Times, 4 October 2017
The Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) project ‒ Guyana’s Redd+ Readiness activities ‒ is now in the close-off year without any tangible activity being completed. This was a 3 year project signed in 2014 by the former administration and was slated for completion in February 2017. Much to the disappointment of Guyanese and in particular indigenous people not a single activity has been completed. Less than 5% of the project budget of US $3.8M has been expended. This is totally unacceptable and reeks of poor implementation by the IDB and the executing agency.

[Indonesia] Fire and haze: Better business practices
by Catriona Croft-Cusworth, CIFOR Forests News, 4 October 2017
The damaging practice of clearing land by burning has spread across Indonesia since at least the 1990s, employed by large and small businesses alike. The devastating impact of this practice was brought to international attention when it sparked a regional environmental and public health crisis in 2014-2015.
Burning, especially on drained peatlands and peat forests, is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions, contributing to global climate change. The haze resulting from fires interrupts daily life, forcing school and business closures, and can even result in death. The damage done to biodiverse peat forests and carbon-rich peatlands is, in some cases, irreversible.

[Nepal] Nijgadh aerotropolis – 2.4 million trees could be felled, and 7,380 people displaced
by Rose Bridger, Global Anti-Aerotropolis Movement, 4 October 2017
An 80 square kilometre aerotropolis is planned in Nijgadh, Nepal. The projects entails displacement of 7,380 people and felling of 2.4 million trees.
A major aerotropolis is planned in Nijgadh, in the Bara District in southeastern Nepal, 175 kilometers south of Kathmandu. If the megaproject proceeds as planned as many as 2.4 million trees will be felled, and 7,380 people living in the Tangiya Basti settlement within the site will be displaced. The government has repeatedly stated that Nijgadh Airport with a 80 square kilometer site, will be the largest, by area, in South Asia. An airport city adjoining the airport is planned.

5 October 2017

Vast animal-feed crops to satisfy our meat needs are destroying planet
By Rebecca Smithers, The Guardian, 5 October 2017
The ongoing global appetite for meat is having a devastating impact on the environment driven by the production of crop-based feed for animals, a new report has warned.
The vast scale of growing crops such as soy to rear chickens, pigs and other animals puts an enormous strain on natural resources leading to the wide-scale loss of land and species, according to the study from the conservation charity WWF.

Soil holds potential to slow global warming, researchers find, 5 October 2017
If you want to do something about global warming, look under your feet. Managed well, soil’s ability to trap carbon dioxide is potentially much greater than previously estimated, according to Stanford researchers who claim the resource could “significantly” offset increasing global emissions. They call for a reversal of federal cutbacks to related research programs to learn more about this valuable resource.
The work, published in two overlapping studies Oct. 5 in Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution and Systematics and Global Change Biology, emphasizes the need for more research into how soil – if managed well – could mitigate a rapidly changing climate.

Farm animals can eat insects and algae to prevent deforestation
By Bibi van der Zee, The Guardian, 5 October 2017
Farm animals could be fed on insects and algae, potentially preventing significant amounts of deforestation and water and energy waste, according to environmental campaigners.
“We’re a bit squeamish about eating insects in the UK,” said WWF’s food policy manager Duncan Williamson at the Extinction and Livestock conference in London. “But we can feed them to our animals. We are going to need animal feed for the foreseeable future, but algae and insects are an alternative to the current system.”

Addressing the dangers of degraded land
By Terry Sunderland, Christopher Martius, Manuel R. Guariguata, and Cationa Croft-Cusworth, CIFOR Forests News, 5 October 2017
Up to 1.3 billion people are now living on degraded land, at risk of food and water shortages and worsening poverty, according to a new report from the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).
The Global Land Outlook, from the only legally binding international agreement on land issues, reports that one-third of the world’s land is now degraded, with another 15 billion trees and 24 billion tons of productive soil lost every year.

Global Greenhouse Emissions — A Good News/Bad News Story
By Jake Schmidt, NRDC, 5 October 2017
Since the beginning of the industrial revolution global emissions of carbon dioxide — the main contributor to climate disruption — have been growing and growing (and growing). This build-up of carbon dioxide is contributing to the extreme weather events we are facing today, and the damages which will get worse if the world isn’t more aggressive in shifting from fossil fuels towards clean energy. So, it is welcome news that global emissions of carbon dioxide have plateaued for the last three years. After all, to meet the objectives of the Paris Agreement it is critical that global emissions first stop growing and then decline significantly in the coming decades.

Veridium Labs to Bring Liquidity to the Natural Capital Market Through Blockchain
By Jocelyn Aspa, Investing News, 5 October 2017
If it seems like blockchain has dominated the year 2017–that’s because it has–and Veridium Labs is just one of the latest companies to adapt this new wave of technology.
Case in point, the company will look to use blockchain technology to bring liquidity to the natural capital market. Through this, the company’s Veridium Network will create digital records over blockchain of the exact square meters of natural capital used. In short, Veridium Labs looks “to create an entirely new asset class of commodities with net positive environmental impacts.”
The platform will include a range of environmental asset tokens, such as the REDD+ Credits, that may be tokenized and on-boarded to the blockchain via the Veridium Network. The first issued tokens will be TGRs, and are backed by Triple Gold REDD+ “as the underlying Natural Capital asset.”

Amazon forest fires pushing climate change ‘beyond human control’
By Fabiano Maisonnave, Climate Home, 5 October 2017
As in many parts of the world, the climate of the Amazon is undergoing dramatic changes. Droughts and floods happen more often, as well as forest fires.
But in recent years, Brazil’s government, which holds the largest swathe of the biggest tropical forest in the world, has privileged economic interests over preservation, according to one of the world’s leading experts on the region and its environment.

Brazil’s mega hydro plan foreshadows China’s growing impact on the Amazon
By Jonathan Watts, The Guardian, 5 October 2017
Crashing upstream through the São Luiz rapids, the churning river throws the speedboat around like a child’s toy. There is first a moment of fear, then relief and finally wonder at crossing a natural boundary that has held back the destruction of this corner of the Amazon for almost five centuries.
This is the gateway to a land that indigenous inhabitants call Mundurukania, after their tribe, the Munduruku, which has settled the middle and upper reaches of the Rio Tapajós since ancient times. The thickly vegetated shores, misty hills and untamed waters – breached at one point by a dolphin – mark it out as one of the few regions of the planet still to be explored and exploited by industrial commerce.

During peacetime, a sound strategy for saving Colombian forests? A new study points to collective land titling
By Maria Eliza Villarino, CIAT Website, 5 October 2017
A recent tweet by the Colombian government’s environmental information arm, IDEAM, piqued the interest of Dr. Augusto Castro. It mentioned two major reasons for deforestation in the country — expansion of the agriculture frontier, the area where agricultural and forest lands intersect, and praderización, or cultivation of cattle pasture primarily to lay claim to an area of land.
Castro and his research partners noted the effect of praderización (also known as potrerización) in prior research, which investigated the motivations of farmers to adopt forest conservation practices in areas affected by Colombia’s half-century-long armed conflict.

6 October 2017

Protect indigenous people to help fight climate change, says UN rapporteur
By Matthew Taylor, The Guardian, 6 October 2017
Global leaders must do more to protect indigenous people fighting to protect their land and way of life if the world is to limit climate change, according to the UN special rapporteur Victoria Tauli-Corpuz.
Speaking ahead of key climate talks in Bonn next month she urged politicians to recognise that indigenous communities around the world were the most effective custodians of millions of hectares of forest “which act as the world’s lungs”.

After spending €587 million, EU has zero CO2 storage plants
By Peter Teffer, EU Observer, 6 October 2017
Ten years ago, EU leaders said there were “huge possible global benefits of a sustainable use of fossil fuels”.
They said, after a summit in Brussels in March 2007, that a technology called ‘carbon capture and sequestration’, also known as carbon capture and storage (CCS), should be deployed with new fossil-fuel power plants by 2020.

Peru urged to ban oil firms from isolated indigenous peoples’ land
By David Hill, The Guardian, 6 October 2017
There are more indigenous peoples living in “isolation” in Peru than any country in the world except Brazil. All live in the Amazon – the majority in poorly-protected reserves, or areas where reserves have been proposed but never established, or “protected natural areas” such as national parks.
For years indigenous federations and other civil society organisations in Peru and abroad have worked for the territories of indigenous peoples in “isolation” to be made off-limits, citing Peruvian and international laws, emphasising their rights to self-determination, and stressing their vulnerability to contact because of their lack of immunological defences and the risk of epidemics and fatalities. The biggest dangers – in terms of outsiders entering their territories, exploiting resources and/or actively seeking contact – are oil and gas companies, loggers and logging roads, narco-traffickers, evangelical missionaries, Catholic priests, artisanal miners and highways.

7 October 2017

Madagascar plague: WHO in huge release of antibiotics
BBC News, 7 October 2017
More than a million doses of antibiotics have been delivered by the World Health Organization to fight an outbreak of plague in Madagascar which has killed at least 33 people.
The authorities have also banned prison visits in the two worst affected areas to prevent the spread of the disease.
The risk of contamination is high in overcrowded and unsanitary jails.
There has recently been criticism of the government’s perceived slow reaction to the outbreak.
The health ministry says the latest bout of plague has infected about 230 people – in addition to those who have died – in just two months. There are normally about 400 cases of plague every year in the country.

8 October 2017

Replanting the future of Fiji
By Sikeli Qounadovu, Fiji Times, 8 October 2017
I must admit I did not understand the work of the Fiji National REDD+ Program until an opportunity to travel to Draubuta in Navosa provided the enlightenment.
REDD+ is an effort by the Ministry of Forests backed by the German Government’s Society for International Cooperation or Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), the Pacific Community (SPC), World Bank and the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF), to reduce carbon emissions from deforestation and forest degradation and in the process foster conservation, sustainable forest management and enhancement of forest carbon stocks.

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