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REDD in the news: 5-11 March 2018

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

5 March 2018

Conservation easements as a tool to implement REDD+
By Sahan T.M. Dissanayake, UN-REDD Programme, 5 March 2018
Over the last few decades there has been growing recognition of the importance of nature and ecosystem services. This has spurred hundreds of efforts at local, national and global levels to protect and restore forest and other ecosystems. At the same time, because of the lack of price signals and comprehensive information in the standard economic markets, we tend to see an exploitation and destruction of nature. One solution to ensure that the value of nature is incorporated into decision making is to provide incentives and create policies that allow protection of valuable private and public lands.

Amazon forest to savannah tipping point could be far closer than thought (commentary)
By Tom Lovejoy and Carlos Nobre, Mongabay, 5 March 2018
In Brazil during the 1970s, when the first deforestation was spreading along the route of the Belém-Brasília highway, the Amazon forest seemed endless and eternal. It was mostly a place of resource extraction – rubber, Brazil nuts and more – and a place for science.
In the middle of that decade, Brazilian Scientist Eneas Salati published some extraordinary results. By analyzing isotopic ratios of oxygen in rainwater collected from the estuary all the way to the Peruvian border, he was able to demonstrate unequivocally that the Amazon makes half of its own rainfall. The moisture recycles five to six times as the air mass moves from the Atlantic until reaching the Andes. There the uplift caused major rainfall, creating the greatest river system on Earth, holding 20 percent of all river water globally.

Corruption fueling deforestation in Cambodia
By Kris Janssens, DW, 5 March 2018
The Aoral Wildlife Sanctuary in Kampong Speu province is just a three-hour drive from Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh. But the scenery here couldn’t be more different than in the sprawling metropolis — even a military outpost in the reserve is peaceful and picturesque. A traditional stilt house has hammocks, chickens and ice-cold beer. Outside, a few soldiers are playing pétanque as a black pig snuffles the earth.
But behind this idyllic scene in the Cardamom Mountains, a billion-dollar black market is thriving.
Loggers are illegally felling rare and valuable trees to sell in China and Europe, making Cambodia’s deforestation rate among the world’s worst. And the army itself has been implicated in the illegal trade, which has also been linked to murder.

Melanesian Delegates Visit Nepal to Learn About REDD+ and Community Based Forest Management
ICIMOD, 5 March 2018
Delegates from Pacific Island countries—the Solomon Islands, Fiji, Vanuatu, and Papua New Guinea—visited Nepal from 5 to 7 September 2017 to learn about Nepal’s successful community forest management, and the benefit sharing mechanism and safeguards system adapted by Nepal. The visit was organized by the Deutsche Gesellschaft fuer Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH and ICIMOD’s Regional REDD+ Initiative with the objective of fostering transboundary exchange and learning. Twenty-four participants from the four countries visited two forest sites—a community forest in Chitwan and a collaborative forest in Nawalparasi.

Nigeria Commended On Efforts In Reducing Emission From Deforestation
PM News, 5 March 2018
Officials of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) have commended Nigeria for its strides toward becoming a full-fledged ‘‘Reduced Emissions from Deforestation’’ (REED) and forest project nation.
Marieke Sandker, FAO Forest Officer and Forest Reference Level (FRL) Technical Officer in Rome, gave the commendation at a workshop on ‘‘Reference Emission Level, Methodology and Submission’’ in Abuja on Monday.

6 March 2018

Cost of Cambodia’s carbon credits must be raised: study finds
By Yesenia Amaro, Phnom Penh Post, 6 March 2018
A new study has found that increasing the cost of carbon credits is required to make tropical forest conservation a viable alternative to the spread of rubber plantations in Cambodia.
Researchers in the new study argue that increasing payments for carbon credits is needed to create incentives for the protection of tropical forests in Southeast Asia, including in Cambodia, against further deforestation to make way for rubber.

[Cambodia] Agreement signed to protect Prey Lang forest
By Pech Sotheary, Khmer Times, 6 March 2018
The Environment Ministry, partner organisations and a Japanese company expect that implementation of a $1.5 million forest conservation project for three years will help prevent forest crime, biodiversity loss and improve the livelihoods of community members in the Prey Lang Wildlife Sanctuary.
The statement was made yesterday during a signing ceremony for the project between the Environment Ministry, Conservation International, and Mitsui & Co Ltd.

Cambodia tops region for fires detected from space
By Alessandro Marazzi Sassoon, Phnom Penh Post, 6 March 2018
Yet again, the Kingdom this year burns brighter than its neighbours, with fires in Cambodia being detected from space at a much higher rate than any other country in the region, according to a NASA report published last week.
It’s likely a product of both naturally occurring blazes and also those caused by land clearing, especially on concessions.

In Colombia, a national park’s expansion announced as deforestation progresses
By Esteban Montaño and Semana Sostenible, Mongabay, 6 March 2018
“I ordered Minister Murillo to return to Guaviare tomorrow with Mindefensa (Ministry of Defense) and Prosecutor’s Office to control deforestation outbreaks,” President Juan Manuel Santos wrote on his Twitter account upon his return from Chiribiquete National Park, where he had just made a crucial announcement for the future of the sanctuary located in the heart of the Colombian Amazon.
The announcement came in late February 2018.

Fiji climate lead challenged consultants’ influence before losing job
By Megan Darby, Climate Home News, 6 March 2018
Fiji’s presidency of the UN climate talks was an unprecedented opportunity for the Pacific island state to make its mark internationally.
But the sudden removal of chief negotiator Nazhat Shameem Khan last week, despite praise for her leadership, revealed a rift between the Geneva-based diplomat and capital Suva.
At the centre of the fight is a group of Australian and European consultants brought in to assist the Fijian government to deliver its biggest diplomatic challenge. Shameem Khan had increasingly objected to the prominent role these outsiders had within Fiji’s presidency.

[India] Karnataka saw 350% more forest fires in 2017 than three years ago
By Chethen Kumar, Times of India, 6 March 2018
Last year, a guard in Bandipur died in a forest fire. On Saturday, a forest officer was killed by an elephant when he was inspecting a blaze in the DB Kuppe forest range near Kabini.
In the first 34 days of this year, fire alarms from Karnataka forests went off constantly, with 60 such alerts sent to the Forest Survey of India (FSI) every day.
According to FSI data, Karnataka is among the top five states in terms of alerts, along with Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Odisha.
In all, 3,704 alerts went out from Karnataka between January 1 and March 4 this year. Over the past seven days, there were 1,841 alerts, that’s 263 every day.

7 March 2018

Analysis: the Brazilian Supreme Court’s New Forest Code ruling
By Sue Branford and Maurício Torres, Mongabay, 7 March 2018
The Supreme Court ruling on 28 February on the constitutionality of Brazil’s New Forest Code, described by some as “the most important environmental ruling in Brazil’s history,” is being met with dismay by many of the nation’s environmentalists. That’s because – despite the contrary views of high court ministers – environmentalists feel the ruling places the economics of commercial agribusiness above environmental protections.
The ruling, say conservationists, also serves as a major setback at a time when many scientists and environmentalists are calling on Brazil to take firmer measures to stem increasing deforestation, particularly in the Amazon, and to meet the country’s Paris Agreement carbon cut pledge.

Forests are crucial in salvaging the Paris goals – EU must lead the way
By Carlos Zorrinho and Heidi Hautala, Euractiv, 7 March 2018
The leaked draft of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) 1.5 degrees report offers a stark warning:unless we drastically cut carbon emissions we will fail to meet the Paris Agreement’s goal of keeping global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius. The prognosis is even grimmer than that: at the current rate, we will pass 1.5 degrees temperature limit in the 2040s – within less than a generation.
Even reducing our emissions as fast as possible will not be enough. But there are solutions – and forests have an essential role. By reducing forest loss, we can suck carbon out of atmosphere and fight climate change. The principle is actually as simple as that.

The return of Indonesia’s forest fires
By Pamela Victor, The Asean Post, 7 March 2018
Late last month, Indonesia saw the return of its infamous forest fires that occur each year producing toxic, choking smog in the form of haze as the rainy season trails off. The fires this time have broken out in the four provinces of South Sumatra, Riau, West Kalimantan and Central Kalimantan.
Twenty-three of the 90 hotspots recorded across the country were in West Kalimantan, where thick smoke blanketed the provincial capital Pontianak and disrupted flights. In Riau, one of the hardest-hit regions during the particularly disastrous 2015 season, fires have destroyed 6.4 square kilometres of land, an area double that of New York’s Central Park.

8 March 2018

Up in Smoke
By Eric Holthaus, Grist, 8 March 2018
Each year, the Earth’s trees suck more than a hundred billion tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. That’s an impossibly huge number to consider, about 60 times the weight of all the humans currently on the planet.
Our forests perform a cornucopia of services: Serving as a stabilizing force for nearly all of terrestrial life, they foster biodiversity and even make us happier. But as climate change accelerates, drawing that carbon out of the air has become trees’ most critical role.

Tropical deforestation: the need for a strategy adjustment (commentary)
By Dan Nepstad, Mongabay, 8 March 2018
We are in the midst of the greatest global effort in history to end tropical deforestation, driven largely by the importance of tropical forests for tackling climate change. An exciting new dimension of this effort is the announcement by hundreds of businesses that they intend to shift to “zero deforestation” sourcing of the commodities they import from the tropics.
Unfortunately, progress has not been as rapid as many had hoped; the chances of avoiding catastrophic climate change are smaller as a result.

Carbon credit prices too low to protect forests from rubber, study finds
By Morgan Erickson-Davis, Mongabay, 8 March 2018
Rubber plantations cover around 86,000 square kilometers (33,200 square miles) in Southeast Asia and conservationists worry they are posing an increasingly major threat to the region’s rainforests. A new study published recently in Nature Communications finds rubber profitability far exceeds carbon credit prices designed to discourage deforestation, and urges credit price hikes are needed to protect forests from industry expansion.

NGOs seek suspension of forest-related funding to DRC in response to proposed end to logging moratorium
By John C. Cannon, Mongabay, 8 March 2018
More than 50 conservation and human rights organizations have called on international donors to halt funding aimed at economic development and forest protection in the Democratic Republic of Congo after the country’s leaders announced their intention to end a 16-year-old moratorium on new logging licenses.
“Any moves to lift the moratorium could see forests become the next victim of a scramble to make a quick profit from DRC’s natural resources,” Jo Blackman, a campaign leader with the NGO Global Witness, said in a statement from Rainforest Foundation UK.

Environment chief: Why we’re prioritizing climate governance in Liberia
UN Development, 8 March 2018
Climate change poses significant risks to Liberia in reaching its goals for sustainable development and climate action. Strong governance will be a key in building the enabling and transformative institutions necessary to protect the people of Liberia from sea level rise and other climate impacts, propel development gains to reduce hunger and poverty so that no one is left behind, and protect peaceful climate-resilient economic and social development.
Madam Anyaa Vohiri is a climate hero from Liberia. Her work as the Executive Director of the Environmental Protection Agency provides unique insights into how least developed countries can plan for climate change and build for the future.

Norway’s $1 trillion sovereign wealth fund may extend emissions blacklist to include more companies
By Gwladys Fouche, Independent, 8 March 2018
The ethics watchdog for Norway’s $1-trillion sovereign wealth may blacklist more companies that produce too much greenhouse gas by scrutinising more industry sectors, including shipping and power.
Carbon emissions became a criteria for exclusion from the fund in 2016 and last year the watchdog recommended that “a small handful” of firms be excluded from the fund for producing too much greenhouse gas emissions in either the oil, cement and steel industries.

9 March 2018

Opinion: We can do better to achieve zero deforestation and low-carbon development
By Augusto Castro-Nuñez, Marcela Quintero, Matthias Jäger, and Mark Lundy, Devex, 9 March 2018
Recently, Unilever made an announcement that can be considered unprecedented. It decided to open to the public its data about where it sources palm oil, an ingredient used in many of its food and personal care products.
Unilever said the step aims to improve transparency of its supply chain, and by doing so, could help transform the palm oil industry. The palm oil sector has been the subject of sharp criticisms, partly due to its strong link to deforestation in developing countries, such as Indonesia and Malaysia.

Colombian land defenders: ‘They’re killing us one by one’
By Taran Volckhausen, Mongabay, 9 March 2018
Community leaders in Colombia’s western Chocó are calling on the government to provide security after receiving ongoing threats from individuals they accuse of working for local and national industrial agricultural business owners. They say those business interests are occupying and invading their land, and they refuse to say silent despite recent violence in the area.
In November and December 2017, two land defenders in nearby communities were allegedly killed by paramilitary hitmen within about ten days of each other: Mario Castaño and Hernan Bedoya.

Philippines: Distressing terrorist accusations against UN expert on indigenous peoples’ rights and indigenous leaders
IWGIA, 9 March 2018
Indigenous leaders and UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Ms. Tauli-Corpuz have been put on a terror list, issued by Philippines State Prosecutor, February 21st.
“The Government of the Philipines regularly and increasingly threatens and harasses indigenous peoples. But this is taking it to a whole new level” says IWGIA’s Executive Director, Julie Koch. Several of the organisation’s long-term partners are labelled on the list.

10 March 2018

Why indigenous people are key to protecting our forests
By Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, World Economic Forum, 10 March 2018
There’s a first time for everything: in its preamble, the Paris Agreement on climate change recognized the intrinsic relationship between indigenous people and their environments. Whether they’re in Taiga, the Sahel or the rain forests of Africa, America or Asia, what all indigenous people have in common is a deep connection to the natural environments in which they live.
I like to think of nature as our supermarket: it produces the grass we use to feed livestock, the food we eat, the water we drink, and also the medicine we need.

[India] From compulsory consent to no consultation: How the government diluted Adivasi rights to forestlands
By Kumar Sambhav Shrivastava,, 10 March 2018
The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change has drafted new rules that dilute the rights of Adivasis and other forest dwellers to independently decide how their traditional forestlands are used.
The new rules, formulated in February, give the forest bureaucracy across the country the power to grow plantations on the traditional lands of Adivasis and other forest dwellers without their prior consent or even consultation in most cases.

11 March 2018

[India] Soaring temperature ignites forest fires
The Hindu, 11 March 2018
Last week, three small fires broke out at one of the last remaining urban forests in Bengaluru city. After battling the blaze, forest officials placed six persons to guard the porous borders around Turahalli forest. Since then, not one fire has broken out, despite temperatures remaining high.
In the past week, over 1,000 instances of fires — as recorded by the Forest Survey of India’s Forest Fire — have been recorded in the State’s forests. While much of them remain small, or perhaps not severe enough to be considered a forest fire, what is of concern is that a majority of them are set by humans, accidentally or otherwise.

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