REDD-Monitor’s round-up of the week’s news on forests, climate change, and REDD. For regular updates, follow @reddmonitor on Twitter.
23 July 2018
This is not the end of the Green Climate Fund, but its next steps are critical
By Laurence Tubiana, Eco-Business, 23 July 2018
Earlier this month a new July heat record was set in Africa. The Algerian city of Ouargla hit 124 degrees Fahrenheit (51 degrees Celsius).
It’s a reminder—if we need it—that the world’s hottest continent is getting hotter as a result of climate change, and the 1.2 billion people who live there need help to cope.
In Mozambique, a joint fight against climate change and forest loss
By Liza Fabbian, Mail & Guardian, 23 July 2018
From a distance, the Gile National Reserve in northern Mozambique is a vast, dense ocean of green that reaches as far as the horizon.
Bigger than Luxembourg, the 2 800-square-kilometre forest seems to be reassuringly preserved, its hardwood treasure placed by Mozambique under legal protection.
Close up though, the forest bears deep scars from bouts of rampant logging and relentless population growth — a testimony to the real-life challenge of how to shield this jewel.
Logs line the path leading into the reserve, while further along, trucks piled high with wood shavings, seized by the authorities, stand idle, rusting in the weeds.
Nepal Brings its Dalits into its Forest Preservation Plan
By Purple S. Romero, Asia Sentinel, 23 July 2018
The Nepal government, attempting to preserve its forests from illegal timber harvesting and villagers foraging for firewood, is struggling to come up with a plan to bring in its Dalits – the lowest rung of the Hindu hierarchy – who often don’t even know the funds exist.
In some cases funds have been siphoned away by other parties. The government must institutionalize the dispersal of funds to people who have never been involved and who are deeply discriminated against by higher castes.
[USA] NY Court grants US Govt request for stay of SEC action against Ponzi scammer Renwick Haddow
By Maria Nikolova, Finance Feeds, 23 July 2018
Judge Lorna G. Schofield of the New York Southern District Court has granted a request by the United Sates Government to stay a civil action against Ponzi scammer Renwick Haddow. The order, signed by the Judge late last week, directs that the case brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) against Haddow be stayed stay until the conclusion of the related criminal case, United States v. Renwick Haddow, 17 Mj. 4939.
The United States shall file a status letter on September 3, 2018, and every 60 days thereafter, updating the Court on the status of the criminal case.
24 July 2018
Rivers in the Sky: How Deforestation Is Affecting Global Water Cycles
By Fred Pearce, YaleEnvironment360, 24 July 2018
Every tree in the forest is a fountain, sucking water out of the ground through its roots and releasing water vapor into the atmosphere through pores in its foliage. In their billions, they create giant rivers of water in the air – rivers that form clouds and create rainfall hundreds or even thousands of miles away.
But as we shave the planet of trees, we risk drying up these aerial rivers and the lands that depend on them for rain. A growing body of research suggests that this hitherto neglected impact of deforestation could in many continental interiors dwarf the impacts of global climate change. It could dry up the Nile, hobble the Asian monsoon, and desiccate fields from Argentina to the Midwestern United States.
[Indonesia] Turning finance blue
By Gabrielle Lipton, CIFOR Forests News, 24 July 2018
The U.S. was uncooperative at the Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit in 1992, and President George H.W. Bush lost a healthy degree of popularity for not signing the proposed Convention on Biological Diversity. But politics often has a second story, and on the sidelines of the convention, Bush told Indonesia’s headshaking environment minister Emil Salim that his abstention stemmed from his congress’s inhibitions, not his own – and when he could, he would prove it.
The following year, Salim received a phone call from Indonesian President Suharto telling him that Bush, now retired from his presidency, had sent USD 16.5 million to Indonesia, with one stipulation: this money must go to support biodiversity.
25 July 2018
Once on the sidelines, carbon capture is now being touted as an economic win
By Akshar Rathi, Quartz, 25 July 2018
To fight climate change, the world needs to cut the amount of carbon dioxide dumped into the atmosphere—fast. One way to make a serious dent is carbon capture, a suite of technologies to trap carbon dioxide produced by industries and fossil-fuel power plants, and then either bury it underground or put it to some use.
Though carbon capture has been in commercial use since the 1970s, cost has limited progress on deploying it more widely. “The carbon-capture community is a dispirited community,” Rich Powell, director of ClearPath, an organization that lobbies for clean energy, told Quartz this past February. There are currently 17 large-scale plants in the world, mostly in the US, that put away about 40 million metric tons of carbon dioxide—roughly 1% of global annual emissions. (Quartz published an in-depth series on the technology in 2017.)
Deforestation skyrockets in the Amazon rainforest
Mongabay, 25 July 2018
Data from a Brazilian forest monitoring group suggests deforestation is surging in the world’s largest rainforest, with last month’s rate of forest loss in the Amazon hitting the highest level since monthly tracking began in 2007.
Imazon, an NGO that independently tracks forest trends in Brazil, this week released its monthly deforestation alert, which pegged June’s forest loss in the Amazon at 1,169 square kilometers, an area 343 times the size of New York’s Central Park. That represents a 108 percent increase over last June and tops the previous record of 1,112 square kilometers, which was set back in September 2007.
DRC: An Ebola story with a different ending
By Jim Yong Kim, World Bank, 25 July 2018
The 9th Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has officially ended today — 77 days and 28 deaths after an outbreak was declared on May 8. For the families of those 28 Ebola victims, the declaration comes too late — a loved one was lost to a disease that should be both preventable and treatable. That is always a needless tragedy.
Today is also a day to acknowledge that we have taken a momentous step forward in breaking the cycle of panic and neglect when it comes to outbreaks. Only two-and-a-half months ago, another pandemic seemed probable: an Ebola outbreak in three remote provinces, which spread quickly to the urban center of Mbandaka on the busy Congo River, appeared likely to spread rapidly around the country or even the region.
Three Years Since the Ecocide in the Río Pasión, Guatemala, Communities Still Struggle for Justice
By Jeff Conant, Friends of the Earth US, 25 July 2018
In the summer of 2015, a massive spill of toxic palm oil effluent overflowed into Río La Pasión, or the Passion River, a long, meandering river that runs through the tropical lowlands of the Petén region in northern Guatemala. For over a week, the surface of the river was carpeted with dead fish for 100 miles, devastating the health and food security of the Q’eq’chi Mayan communities living alongside it. These communities mounted an organized protest, forming themselves into a community-based organization to demand justice and restoration of their river.
‘Battery of Asia’: Laos’s controversial hydro ambitions
AFP, 25 July 2018
Mountainous and landlocked Laos, known as the “Battery of Asia”, is building dozens of dams at breakneck speed so it can sell energy to power-hungry neighbours as a fast track out of poverty.
But the communist country’s ambitious power plans are highly controversial.
Most energy is exported to neighbouring countries Vietnam, Cambodia and China, with the lion’s share going to Thailand — whose Bangkok mega-malls alone suck up huge amounts of power.
That leaves local communities with little of the revenue from projects that often require compulsory resettlement of hundreds of villages and reshape the landscape and river systems.
Liberian communities harassed after calling on banks to halt $1.5 billion loan to Wilmar over landgrabbing concerns
Inclusive Development International, 25 July 2018
Commercial banks that were lining up to join a $1.5 billion syndicated loan for the palm oil giant Wilmar International are apparently reconsidering the deal due to concerns about land grabbing and other human rights abuses connected to the company’s investments in Liberia. Communities affected by the Maryland Oil Palm Plantation in southern Liberia have called on banks to refrain from joining the loan unless Wilmar commits to remedial action to address their grievances.
Forest communities pay the price for conservation in Madagascar
By John C. Cannon, Mongabay, 25 July 2018
Local and indigenous communities seem to hold the key to protecting both forests and the massive amounts of carbon that they contain — and on which we all depend. But along with that responsibility can come outsize burdens on these communities, a recent study of a development initiative tied to a large conservation project in Madagascar has found.
“Conservation might have benefits that are important to many people, but there are private costs,” said Julia Patricia Gordon Jones, a conservation scientist at Bangor University in Wales and the lead author of the study. “These costs are also felt by some of the poorest people in the world.”
[USA] Carbon Tax Pushers & Tariff Advocates Share Much In Common
By Patrick Gleason, Forbes, 25 July 2018
President Donald Trump is taking criticism from both Republicans and Democrats for the White House’s new proposal, unveiled this week, to send $12 billion in taxpayer cash to American farmers to compensate for the harm inflicted upon them by recently imposed tariffs.
Yet many of the same people criticizing the White House for this and other policies related to trade are themselves supporting an equally dubious and similarly structured scheme; the imposition of a carbon tax on the American people and economy, coupled with the redistribution of taxpayer money to those most harmed by the new tax.
26 July 2018
Channelling capital into forest conservation
By Michael Hurley, Environmental Finance, 26 July 2018
As investor expectations grow on disclosure and management of climate-related risks, now is the time to scale up the level of private finance allocated to the conservation of forests, according to US-based NGO Conservation International (CI).
The current levels of public funding are inadequate to protect the world’s forests and their assets, and achieve the targets set out by the Paris Agreement. Greater private finance is required, the organisation said.
Along with multinational law firm Baker McKenzie and mining giant BHP, CI manages the Finance for Forests initiative, which co-hosted the roundtable.
The Finance for Forests initiative works to advance private sector support for conservation.
The role of the private sector in fixing the broken food system
By Kavita Prakash-Mani and Joao Campari, WWF, 26 July 2018
Like many of the systems which supply us with products and services and producers with jobs, security and income, the food system is extremely complex. There are many actors across the value chain from smallholder farmers tending land of less than two hectares through buyers, traders and distributers, to the shops and stores from which we buy. That’s not to mention governments, financial institutions, researchers, technologists and the many more individuals and groups involved. Everyone has a role to play in driving sustainable development– but it’s time for the private sector to take a leadership role.
Deforestation of Guiana Shield will have impact across South America, scientists warn
Heriot-Watt University press release, 26 July 2018
Deforestation of the ‘overlooked’ Guiana rainforests, at the northern boundary of the Amazon rainforest, will have ‘drastic impact’ on the rainfall patterns that support ecosystems and livelihoods right across South America, scientists have warned in a new report.
The Guiana Shield rainforests covers parts of northern Brazil, southern Venezuela, eastern Colombia, and all of Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana.
Despite comprising 1.3 million sq km of near continuous tropical forest, until now it has mostly been overlooked by climate researchers in favour of the Amazon Basin, and little climate data exists for the region.
China Reaffirms Paris Commitments Ahead of Global Climate Action Summit
By Lawrence MacDonald, World Resources Institute, 26 July 2018
China will adhere to its commitments under the Paris Agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and is on track to exceed key targets early, despite the U.S. administration’s intention to withdraw from the historic climate pact, a senior Chinese climate expert said.
Zhou Dadi, a member of China’s National Experts Panel on Climate Change, made this comment on July 17 after two days of discussions between U.S. and Chinese policy experts in San Francisco, which will be the site of the Global Climate Action Summit in September.
[Ghana] Before a landscape approach, an integrative initiative to try
By Mirjam Ros-Tonen, CIFOR Forests News, 26 July 2018
At the landscape level, tackling one problem invariably involves trade-offs with another. For instance, expanding smallholder oil palm production in Ghana can improve livelihoods, but also implies deforestation, biodiversity loss, and a threat to food security as land for crops became increasingly scarce.
To take a more holistic approach to problem-solving, integrated landscape approaches (ILAs) – often referred to simply as landscape approaches – are increasingly acknowledged as a way to address biodiversity loss, climate change, food insecurity, poverty and other issues in unison rather than in isolation.
Protecting mangroves in Kenya
By Tom Mwiraria, Daily Nation, 26 July 2018
Mangrove trees act as a form of natural coastal defence by reducing soil erosion and the impact of ocean waves, and they also reduce the height of storm surges.
They play an important role in reducing vulnerability to natural hazards and increasing resilience to climate change impacts. Mangrove soils are highly effective carbon sinks – reservoirs that have accumulated carbon-containing chemical compounds over a period of time.
Unprecedented wave of new dams could spell disaster far beyond Laos
By Stuart Orr, WWF, 26 July 2018
The scale of the catastrophe in Laos is still unclear. Dozens could be dead, killed by the man-made flash floods that swept through their villages after the collapse of a dam under construction in Attapeu province in southern Laos. Thousands are homeless, their villages and livelihoods destroyed. It is a tragic reminder of the inherent risks of major dam projects — just as the world finds itself in the middle of a headlong rush for hydropower as countries seek to produce extra energy while reducing carbon emissions.
27 July 2018
Forest and landscape restoration: a key to meeting global development goals
By Tim Christophersen, CIFOR Landscape News, 27 July 2018
The world urgently needs to restore its degraded forests and landscapes in order to preserve a productive and healthy environment in which humans can flourish. Over 3 billion of the world’s 7.6 billion people are already affected by land degradation.
Degradation fuels food and water insecurity, global warming and the loss of biodiversity. Restoration reverses the trend, making farms more resilient, forests richer in resources and the climate more stable – key elements in achieving the 2030 U.N. Sustainable Development Goals.
Combining aerial imagery and field data estimates timber harvest and carbon emissions
By Neha Jain, Mongabay, 27 July 2018
Selective logging—where specific high-value trees are cut—in tropical forests affects biodiversity, forest structure, and carbon storage. According to a 2009 study, timber was removed from over 20 percent of the area of humid tropical forests during the 2000s. Notably, more than half of the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from forest degradation in the tropics have come from selective timber harvests.
Forest laws determine the areas, volumes, and maximum and minimum diameters of trees that can be extracted from a concession in any given year. Unlike forest clearing, selective logging is not easily quantified using satellite imagery.
Small modular reactors have little appeal
By Paul Brown, Climate News Network, 27 July 2018
On both sides of the Atlantic billions of dollars are being poured into developing small modular reactors. But it seems increasingly unlikely that they will ever be commercially viable.
The idea is to build dozens of the reactors (SMRs) in factories in kit form, to be assembled on site, thereby reducing their costs, a bit like the mass production of cars. The problem is finding a market big enough to justify the building of a factory to build nuclear power station kits.
Brazil on track for costly failure on climate targets
By Rodrigo de Oliveira Andrade, SciDevNet, 27 July 2018
Brazil is abandoning deforestation-control policies and lending political support to agricultural practices that will make it “impossible” to meet global climate targets.
This is the main conclusion of a study published in Nature Climate Change this month (July 9), which looked at the costs of political backtracking in environment governance.
A team of Brazilian researchers write that the changes led by president Michel Temer in a struggle to retain power and avoid responding to corruption accusations, compromise the country’s greenhouse gas emission targets set out in the 2015 Paris Agreement.
Tree planting in Kenya is a class act
By Andrew Bilski, CIFOR Landscape News, 27 July 2018
The goal: to help increase Kenya’s forest cover from the current 7 per cent to the 10 per cent recommended by UN Environment.
The means: the Green Initiative Challenge, or GIC, a 10-year program that aims to enroll 1,000 schools to green a total of 460 acres with 324,300 tree seedlings as well as 113,956 fruit seedlings.
Imran Khan says Pakistan will plant 10 billion trees
By Megan Darby, Climate Home News, 27 July 2018
Imran Khan is aiming to plant 10 billion trees in five years as prime minister of Pakistan.
It is a scaling up of the “billion tree tsunami” his party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) carried out in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, restoring 350,000 hectares of forest.
The cricketer-turned-politician claimed election victory on Thursday, although PTI is expected to rely on coalition partners to govern. While his campaign focused on anti-corruption, it also promised several environmental initiatives.
28 July 2018
Heat is causing problems across the world
The Economist, 28 July 2018
Sodankyla, a town in Finnish Lapland just north of the Arctic Circle, boasts an average annual temperature a little below freezing. Residents eagerly await the brief spell in July when the region enjoys something akin to summer. This year they may have wished for a bit less of it. On July 18th thermometers showed 32.1°C (89.8°F), which is 12°C warmer than typical for the month and the highest since records began in 1908. But Sodankyla is not the only place that is sizzling.
[Ghana] Forestry: Workshop On REDD+ Held At Juaso
Modern Ghana, 28 July 2018
The Juaso Forest District has held a two-day capacity building workshop for stakeholders on the implementation of the Reducing Emission from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) project.
It is a global mechanism to mitigate climate change, while mobilizing financial resources for socio-economic development in developing countries including Ghana and funded by the World Bank (WB) and the African Development Bank (ADB).
29 July 2018
Bulk of timber exports from Papua New Guinea won’t pass legal test
By Ben Doherty, The Guardian, 29 July 2018
Millions of tonnes of illegally logged timber, felled from forests across Papua New Guinea, are being exported to China and from there to the world as finished wood products, a new report from Global Witness has revealed.
Global Witness’s investigation has found that the majority of logging operations in PNG are underpinned by government-issued permits, which are often illegally “extended” and which fail to enforce laws surrounding logging in prohibited and ecologically sensitive areas.