By Chris Lang
This week’s REDD notes. Follow @reddmonitor on Twitter for more links to news about forests, the climate crisis, natural climate solutions, the oil industry, greenwash, carbon offsetting, etc.
Reuters reports that in the first ten months of 2020, fires in Brazil’s Amazon increased by 25% compared to 2019.
In October 2020, there were more than twice as many fires as in October 2019. In the first ten months of 2020, there have been more fires than in the whole of 2019.
Mongabay reports that forest fires are “seriously threatening” the territories of uncontacted Indigenous groups:
Particularly threatened by fires in 2020 are the isolated Ãwa people who live on Bananal Island in Tocantins state; the uncontacted Awá inhabiting the Arariboia Indigenous Reserve in Maranhão state; and uncontacted groups in the Uru Eu Wau Wau Indigenous territory in Rondônia and Ituna Itatá Indigenous territory in Pará, the Brazilian state with the highest deforestation and land conflicts rates.
Thomson Reuters Foundation reports that dozens of wildfires are destroying savannah grasslands, forests, and agricultural areas, mainly in the east of Boliva. Earlier in October, the government declared a state of disaster.
According to the government 1.1 million hectares have burned so far this year. The Bolivian NGO Friends of Nature Foundation (FAN) estimates that the area burned is twice as big. FAN runs the Noell Kempff REDD project, along with The Nature Conservancy. Fires have also broken out inside the Noel Kempff Mercado National Park, burning more than 8,500 hectares of forest.
Last year, more than 6 million hectares burned in the Bolivian Amazon. “The vast majority of Bolivia’s fires are the result of human activity involving uncontrolled burning to prepare previously deforested land for agriculture on a big scale,” Thomson Reuters Foundation writes.
James Temple, writing on the MIT Technology Review website, reports on Amazon’s offsets projects in the Appalachian Mountains. Last year, Amazon launched a US$10 million Right Now Climate Fund, in partnership with The Nature Conservancy. Amazon will us the Fund to invest in natural climate solutions.
Temple writes that,
The biggest red flag for Barbara Haya, a research fellow at the Center for Environmental Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley, is how the program deals with what’s known as “leakage.” This occurs when reduced timber harvests brought about by offset projects simply lead to increased harvesting elsewhere.
And he quotes Sam Davis at the Dogwood Alliance as saying that,
“You are essentially giving these large corporations a license to continue doing business as usual. If we really need and want to address climate change from a corporate perspective, then we can’t just pay the debt with fancy carbon credits and greenwashing.”
Biofuelwatch’s Gary Hughes commented on Twitter, “The real problem with offsetting is the perpetuation of the myth that forests can sponge up the pollution from burning fossil fuels. It is an erroneous assumption that the land sector can neutralize fossil fuel emissions.”
A US company called NIHT Inc. has launched a new REDD project in East New Britain, Papua New Guinea, the Post Courier reports. (The Post Courier gets the company name wrong twice: “Night Incorporate” and “Night Company”. NIHT stands for New Ireland Hardwood Timber.)
According to the Post Courier the Central Inland Pomio local-level government “has preserved 60 000 square kilometers of land for reforestation under this project”.
In September 2020, NIHT Inc. signed an agreement with the landowners (Kagenal Incorporated Land Group), and the East New Britain provincial government. Under the agreement, East New Britain will get 8% share of the revenue from carbon credit sales, Kagenal Incorporated Land Group will get 52%, the Climate Change and Development Authority will get 7%, and NIHT Inc. will get 33%.
On 16 October 2020, Hele Pierre, the Minister of Environment, Nature Protection and Sustainable Development and Clotilde Ngomba, Director of WWF Cameroon, signed an agreement to “Institutionalise the facilitation of the REDD+ process” in Cameroon, Meyomessala reports.
Between December 2013 and August 2019, the World Bank has handed over US$3.6 million to Cameroon under the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility. In the Completion Report, the Bank notes a “very low pace of implementation. The majority of activities are pending after 5-6 years of implementation.” Even with two extensions, “all activities were not completed as planned by the grant closing date”.
WWF was involved in setting up the Lobéké, Boumba Bek, and Nki National Parks as well as the Ngoyla Wildlife Reserve in Cameroon. A 2019 report by the Forest Peoples Programme notes that protected areas in Cameroon “have long been created with no or little regard to the customary rights of indigenous peoples and local communities to their lands and natural resources.”
Our research also shows that past and present abuses of indigenous peoples by the protected areas’ eco-guards have left communities fearful of entering the forest to carry out their traditional livelihoods and cultural practices. Many Baka now spend most of their time in villages, disconnected from the forest, which has a profound effect on inter-generational transmission of cultural and ecological knowledge, their culture and livelihoods.
In January 2020, the US cut trade benefits for Cameroon because of the human rights situation in the country. The US government has also stopped funding WWF because of human rights abuses associated with WWF’s brand of fortress conservation.