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REDD in the news: 8-14 January 2018

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

8 January 2018

Lessons on forest governance and REDD+: Learning from regional convening in Africa
Yemi Katerere, Rights and Resources, 8 January 2018
As a first-time participant in RRI’s annual planning efforts, I had a unique opportunity this past October to better understand the work of and emerging lessons from the RRI Coalition during the 2017 Africa regional planning meeting. The meetings—attended by RRI Partners, Collaborators, Affiliated Networks, and Fellows from eight countries in Central, East, and West Africa—provided space to share and distill lessons from the previous year, as well as develop strategies for 2018.

Is that tropical forest in your coffee cup?
By Helen Burley, Global Canopy, 8 January 2018
Proposals for a “latte tax” in the UK have focused attention on the growing mountain of disposable cups ending up in landfill. While this is clearly an important problem that must be tackled, less attention has focused on the resources used to make the cup, and the environmental risks associated with sourcing paper products.
Disposable coffee cups are just one of the multitude of throw-away containers that have become ubiquitous in modern life. Takeaway coffees, snacks and ready-made meals all need packaging — and often that packaging is paper based.

[Bolivia] Amazon biodiversity hotspot to suffer even more losses after contentious law passed
ScienceDaily, 8 January 2018
In August 2017, the Bolivian government passed a contentious law that paved the way for construction of a new 190-mile road cutting through one of the country’s most iconic and biodiverse protected rainforests. But a report in Current Biology on January 8 shows that the Isiboro-Sécure National Park and Indigenous Territory (or TIPNIS, as the area is commonly known) has been subject to alarming levels of deforestation within its borders for many years, a reality that is too often overlooked.

German coalition negotiators agree to scrap 2020 climate target – sources
By Markus Wacket, Reuters, 8 January 2018
Germany’s would-be coalition partners have agreed to drop plans to lower carbon dioxide emissions by 40 percent from 1990 levels by 2020, sources familiar with negotiations said on Monday — a potential embarrassment for Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Due to strong economic growth and higher-than-expected immigration, Germany is likely to miss its national emissions target for 2020 without any additional measures.

Study on economic loss from Indonesia’s peat policies criticized
By Hans Nicholas Jong, Mongabay, 8 January 2018
Experts and officials have taken issue with a new study that warns of hefty economic losses as a result of the Indonesian government’s policies to protect peatlands from being cleared by the palm oil and pulp industries.
The study by the University of Indonesia’s Institute for Economic and Social Research, or LPEM, pegged the losses over the next five years as a direct result of the policies at $5.72 billion — a figure that critics say fails to account for the massive disruptions to economic activity, public health and climate change as a result of fires on peatlands and the attendant toxic haze and carbon dioxide emissions.

Malaysian palm oil giant FELDA achieves RSPO certification despite continued risk to forests and workers
Greenpeace press release, 8 January 2018
The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil has recertified 8 palm oil mills belonging to FELDA, the world’s largest palm oil grower. FELDA voluntary withdrew more than 50 of its palm oil mills from the certification scheme in May 2016 after the Wall Street Journal documented systemic abuse of plantation workers in its Malaysian plantations. FELDA is also responsible for considerable forest and peatland destruction in Indonesia.

40 years of restoration in Nepal
By Gabrielle Lipton, CIFOR Forests News, 8 January 2018
On a clear day, reflections of snow-capped peaks shine like a vivid oil painting on the surface of Phewa Lake. Trees and shrubs blanket the ridges tumbling down to the water, and beyond, villages dot the landscape among the fields of tea and coffee. Some 500,000 tourists visit this area in Nepal just south of Pokhara annually, using it as a base to conquer the nearby 2,508-meter peak of Panchase, as a gateway to the Annapurna Circuit, or simply as a place of quiet contemplation.

The Future of Uganda is in Danger: Stop Land Grabbing!
Slow Food, 8 January 2018
After the press conference held today in Mukono (Uganda), Slow Food has officially launched the campaign “Our Future is in Danger: Stop Land Grabbing!” The campaign aims to raise awareness about land grabbing* and its consequences among the population and stimulate political debate at all levels, from civil society to local authorities and Parliament. The campaign will run for several weeks in the first quarter of 2018 in different districts of Central and Eastern Uganda, and its program will be regularly updated on the Slow Food Uganda website and Facebook page.

9 January 2018

[Cambodia] Military clearing claims dismissed as outdated
By Yesenia Amaro, Phnom Penh Post, 9 January 2018
A REDD Programme representative yesterday said it would be concerning if recent claims of the military systematically clearing protected forest in Oddar Meanchey province covered under the scheme proved true – though a third-party company has dismissed the claims as outdated.
Florian Eisele, with the UN REDD Programme, yesterday said if the claims made by a UK-based environmental organisation, Fern, are correct, it would be “concerning”, but the UN program “does usually not work with individual projects nor are we in a position to comment on them”.

[Cambodia] Group defends findings of logging in REDD-protected forest
By Yesenia Amaro, Phnom Penh Post, 9 January 2018
A UK-based environmental organisation, which carried out a study that claimed the military was involved in systematically clearing forest area that was meant to be protected under a carbon credit scheme, has defended its findings following a broker’s dismissal of the claims as outdated.
Julia Christian, with the conservation group Fern, which published its report in November, said claims that the information in the study was based on information two to four years old were a “strange critique”, adding that “it just doesn’t ‘work’ to say that”.

Carbon Pricing and Markets Update: Year Closes on Chinese Carbon Market Launch
IISD, 9 January 2018
Over the month of December 2017, carbon pricing and market news was dominated by the launch of China’s national carbon trading system, which was first announced at the Paris One Planet Summit by Chinese Vice-Premier Ma Kai.
The One Planet Summit, convened by French President Emmanuel Macron on 12 December 2017, in Paris, France, to mark the second anniversary of the Paris Agreement and raise ambition, delivered several announcements related to carbon pricing and markets.

[India] Compensatory Afforestation- An exercise in the discretionary power of the Forest Department
By Arpitha Kodiveri and Manasi Karthik, POLLNet, 9 January 2017
The Rules, Laws and guidelines that govern Compensatory Afforestation (CA) are many. They regulate various aspects of the CA process. This fragmentation of the process causes a strange interplay of forest laws which increases the discretionary power of the Forest Department whilst reducing demands of accountability from them. The primary check and balance embedded within forest laws for curbing such discretionary power is the need to consult or obtain the consent of the Gram Sabha (GS). The box below defines the role of each law in governing the different aspects of the CA process.

The Great Indian Land Grab
By Manasi Karthik and Arpitha Kodiveri, POLLNet, 9 January 2018
On October 13th, 2017 villagers in Jhadutola, Jharkhand were slapped with cases for violating law and order. Villagers alleged that local police forces coerced them into allowing plantations for ‘compensatory afforestation’ on their land. However, portions of this land belonging to descendants of a local Zamindar were exempt from the plantation. Rumour also had it that this land had previously been ‘purchased’ by a Chaibasa based iron ore company with the suspected connivance of local government officials.

[India] Missing the Forest For the Trees (Part 3)
By Manasi karthik and Arpitha Kodiveri, POLLNet, 9 January 2018
On Nov 8th, 2017 the government allocated non-forest lands into land banks. The order clarified that using forest land for compensatory afforestation would not suffice. It offered wide scope for land ‘banking’ by directing that land around Protected Areas, ‘wildlife corridors’, and catchment areas of rivers or hydro-projects should all be acquired for compensatory afforestation.
The order targets a curious anomaly in India’s forest classification: ‘non-forest land that comes under the Forest Conservation Act (FCA).’

For carbon sink target, India looks at catchment area plan
By Sowmiya Ashok, The Indian Express, 9 January 2018
Having committed a target of creating an additional carbon sink the equivalent of 2.5 billion to 3 billion tonnes carbon dioxide by 2030, India now anticipates that it might not be able to meet that through forests alone. It is now looking at the soil of catchment areas as an additional alternative; the Ministry of Environment and Forest is working on a landscape-based catchment treatment plan to bridge the gap.
A carbon sink is a system that absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

10 January 2018

Climate Change Series Part 4: The Unique, Cyclical Relationship between Climate and Tropical Forests
By Alyssa Wiltse-Ahmad, Rainforest Trust, 10 January 2018
As previously discussed in our climate change series, there are multiple ways that tropical forests affect our global climate from carbon sequestration and deforestation emissions to cloud and precipitation formation. However, the relationship is not one-sided. Global climate, and more specifically the drastic changes we are causing, will also significantly impact our tropical forests.

To fly or not to fly? The environmental cost of air travel
By Arthur Sullivan, DW, 10 January 2018
When was the last time you traveled by plane? As little as three percent of the global population flew in 2017, and at most, only about 18 percent have ever done so. But things are changing.
According to International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) estimates, there were 3.7 billion global air passengers in 2016 — and every year since 2009 has been a new record-breaker.
By 2035, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) predicts a rise to 7.2 billion. Like the planes themselves, the numbers just keep going up. And given the damage flying does to the planet, that is food for thought.

Elections may be a catalyst for deforestation, new research suggests, 10 January 2018
Democratic elections may be a catalyst for deforestation, according to new research. A study that examined deforestation rates during election years found that competitive elections are associated with higher rates of deforestation. The reason? Politicians are trading trees for votes, according to the researchers.
In the new study, researchers examined satellite images of forest cover and data on the national elections of every country in the world between 1970 and 2005. They found that rates of forest cover loss are substantially higher during election years, especially when the outcome of the election is uncertain.

Why chop the Amazon rainforest in half?
By Bill Laurence, ALERT, 10 January 2018
ALERT researchers released today a one-minute video that shows how a massive development scheme in Brazil could effectively chop the Amazon — the world’s greatest rainforest — in half.
Brazil is currently working to complete a dramatic upgrade to the BR-319 Highway, an 870 kilometer-long road segment running between the city of Manaus in central Amazonia to Porto Velho in southern Amazonia.

How happiness impacts forestry (and vice versa) in Bhutan
By Gabrielle Lipton, CIFOR Forests News, 10 January 2018
In the country of Bhutan, a small Buddhist kingdom in the Himalayas, it is often the middle road that is chosen.
There’s the middle path of the country’s religion and its emphasis on spiritual balance, symbolized in the prayer flags and pagoda tops that peek through the mountain trees. Then there’s the Lateral Road, the main highway that runs east to west through the middle of the country, where Robin Sears, CIFOR consultant and an Assistant Professor at Hampshire College, rides her bike when she visits to research forests, villages and governance.

[Cambodia] Virgin ‘stops purchases of Oddar Meanchey REDD credits’
By Yesenia Amaro, Phnom Penh Post, 10 January 2018
A Virgin Atlantic representative yesterday said that the British airline is no longer purchasing carbon credits from an area of Oddar Meanchey province set aside for a UN REDD+ program after a report describing widespread problems.
Meanwhile, the UK-based environmental organisation that published the findings in November defended its research yesterday after criticism. The report found deforestation had actually escalated in the area since the REDD+ scheme had been set up.

[India] Vanishing act: Teak no more in Telangana’ top five tree species
By V V Balakrishna, The New Indian Express, 10 January 2018
Teak (Tectona grandis) no longer figures in the top five tree species in Telangana. The felling of timber tree species has increased so much that the inventory indicates that teak no longer figures among the top five species. This is revealed by the latest report “State of Environment Report-TS”, sponsored by the ministry of environment, forests, climate changes. The report has recently been released in the state.
The report also says that the forests of Telangana are subjected to relentless anthropogenic pressure due to increase in the human population over the past few decades.

[India] Fires in state’s jungles increased by 20% from 2015
By Sonali Telang, The Asian Age, 10 January 2018
The number of forest fire cases in Maharashtra increased by 20 per cent, as per the latest report of 2016-17 by the state forest department. Fire incidents in Maharashtra forests during the period were 4,675 against 3,888 in the preceding year’s report of 2015-16.
Forest department officials have claimed that, particularly in Mumbai and Thane, fire incidents are largely from deliberate attempts though the report suggests that a large number of fire cases over the state were due to either natural causes or accidents.

[USA] California’s climate fight gets harder soon, and the big culprit is cars
By Julie Cart, CALmatters, 10 January 2018
By most measures, California has earned the right to brag about how much it has cleaned up its environmental act. The air in much of smog-shrouded Southern California has been scrubbed. A passenger car for sale here today is 99 percent cleaner than one on offer in the early 1970s. The fossil fuels required to power the state’s economic engine have decreased by a third since their peak in 2001, while economic activity has expanded in that time by an equal measure.

11 January 2018

With greater forest knowledge, sustainability is within reach – if we act quickly
Profor, 11 January 2018
For forests, 2017 could be seen as a tale of discouraging superlatives. We learned that global forest loss is at a record high since data collection started in 2000. Damage from wildfires in the United States was the costliest in the country’s history. And in Brazil, September 2017 saw more forest fires than any other month on record.

The world according to Lykke – natural capital and blockchain
Hubbis, 11 January 2018
Swiss company Lykke is a key advocate of cryptocurrencies, blockchain technology and tokenisation. Why? Because, as Lykke director Seamus Donoghue explained to the audience at the Hubbis Digital Wealth Asia event on November 9, blockchain is where wealth management collides with the digital world to create a new transactional universe.

In China, paying farmers to restore forest landscapes
By Suzanna Dayne, CIFOR Forests News, 11 January 2018
Massive flooding in 1998 along China’s Yangtze River killed thousands, left millions more homeless and caused billions of dollars worth of damage. Much of the flooding has been blamed on upland deforestation – where land was cleared to grow food to feed the country’s huge population.
China’s response was just as massive. Just a year later, an initiative known as ‘Grain for Green’ — or the Conversion of Cropland to Forest Program (CCFP) — was launched. Today more than 28 million hectares of land have been restored, making it the largest reforestation project in the world.

Indonesia’s Jokowi Seeks to Slow Forest Fire Devastation
By Muhammad Zulfikar Rakhmat and Dikanaya Tarahita, Asia Sentinel, 11 January 2018
Over the past two decades, forest fires have become a seasonal phenomenon in Indonesia, destroying some of the most diverse flora and fauna on the planet and blanketing Southeast Asia with a choking haze as smallholders and large corporations both have put millions of hectares of old-growth to the torch.
The fires, to clear land for plantations of palm oil, which has become one of the world’s most widely-used oils, have catapulted lightly-industrialized Indonesia into the top five countries in the world producing greenhouse gases that are responsible for climate change, destroying a distressing and growing share of one of the world’s most important so-called green lungs.

[USA] Westfield Businessman, Partner Hope to Save Rain Forests and Improve Lives with Global Ecology Corp.
By Joan Lowell Smith, TAP into Westfield, 11 January 2018
Joe Battiato and Charlie Cacici are on a mission to save the rain forests and improve the lives of people living in developing nations.
Cacici, a Westfield resident, founded Global Ecology Corp. in 2012 with Battiato, who lives in Woodbridge.
Both men are 63 and have spent 35 years on Wall Street — Cacici with Solomon brothers and American Express and 12 years leading RMG, a credit risk management/due diligence firm in the residential mortgage sector. Battiato worked for Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley and is a Hedge Fund Manager with Ellington Management Group.

12 January 2018

[Cambodia] Virgin drops controversial forest project from carbon offset program
By Kerry Reals, Runway Girl Network, 12 January 2018
Virgin Atlantic Airways has stopped selling credits related to a controversial forestry project in Cambodia under its passenger carbon offsetting program, after an environmental organization raised ethical and ecological concerns about its legitimacy.
Brussels-based Fern alleged in November that a forest in Oddar Meanchey, Cambodia – which forms part of a portfolio of carbon offsetting projects used by Virgin Atlantic to allow its passengers to pay extra to offset the carbon dioxide emissions of their flights – was being “clear-cut” and local people were being “exploited and kicked off their land”.

Fighting corruption in forest conservation: Kenya’s multi-stakeholder task force
By Psamson Nzioki, Transparency International, 12 January 2018
Corruption and climate change are arguably the defining challenges facing the world today. Both problems — and their solutions — are interlinked. In particular, corruption is one of the driving forces behind deforestation and forest degradation, a major cause of climate change (according to the UN, deforestation and forest degradation account for around 17 cent of carbon emissions worldwide).
Interventions to reduce deforestation and forest degradation therefore have to take corruption risks into account. There have to be robust anti-corruption mechanisms and sound governance systems in place to ensure that forests are preserved transparently and accountably.

13 January 2018

[Uganda] Notice from Ministry of Water
New Vision, 13 January 2018
The Government of Uganda has received financing from the World Bank towards the cost of the REDD+ Readiness Preparation Support and intends to apply part of the proceeds for consulting services.
The consulting services (“the Services”) providing off-site (combined with on-site missions) technical assistance to the National REDD+ Focal Point/REDD+ Secretariat and targeted advice on the ER Programs design will be the liaison between the consultant firm and the REDD+ Secretariat.

14 January 2018

Turbulent times in the Amazon
By Bill Laurence, ALERT, 14 January 2018
Sometimes conservation controversies explode so fast in one place that it becomes almost white-hot.
That’s what’s happening right now in the Amazon—with a cyclonic mix of good and bad news.
We summarize here some of the key highlights.

Carbon credit: A lesson from Kenya
By Kennedy Nyavaya, The Standard, 14 January 2018
By definition, a carbon credit is a generic term for any tradable certificate or permit representing the right to emit one tonne of carbon dioxide or the mass of another greenhouse gas with a carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e) equivalent to one tonne of carbon dioxide.
In basic terms, this means the planting of trees or maintenance of forests to offset emission of toxic gases to the atmosphere, especially through industrial activities in line with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

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