REDD in the news: 27 September – 3 October 2010

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A round up of the week’s news on REDD, in chronological order with short extracts (click on the title for the full article). REDD-Monitor’s news page (REDD in the news) is updated regularly.

REDD+ Partnership

reddpluspartnership.org, September 2010 | The website of the REDD+ Partnership is the entry point for essential information on initiatives to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) in developing countries. Through this platform REDD+ partners share documents, including the outcomes of the Oslo Climate and Forest Conference, and the International Conference on the Major Forest Basins (Paris) – both held in 2010.

Sustainable Forestry: In Honduras, REDD Projects Hold Real Potential for Communities and the Environment

Rainforest Alliance, no date | In July, Honduras held its first national workshop on climate change and forests, called “Opportunities for Honduras to Participate in the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) Mechanism,” with support from the Rainforest Alliance, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and a coalition of allied organizations and donors. One key outcome of the workshop: a promising new commitment to begin building a platform for REDD — a commitment that could help the country to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, alleviate poverty among rural, forest-dependent communities and promote improved governance in the country’s forestry sector… “The Honduran forestry sector faces systemic problems which have resulted in high rates of deforestation,” said Omar Samayoa, a project coordinator for the Rainforest Alliance’s Training, Extension, Enterprises and Sourcing (TREES) program.

Concerns over expansion of the Red List

ITTO, Tropical Timber Market Report, 16-30 September 2010 | A recently published study by the IUCN reports that over one-fifth of the world’s plants are under threat of extinction. The IUCN study suggests that three species; keruing, meranti and kapur from three different genera Dipterocarpus, Shorea and Dryobalanops may also be threatened. The species are not on the IUCN Red List yet as they need to undergo a lengthy verification process. For more information: http://bit.ly/cL6nOs The Sarawak Timber Association (STA) stated that inclusion of these three major commercial tree species into the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species would severely impact Sarawak’s timber trade. These three species account for up to 62% of total log and 24% of sawnwood exports from Sarawak respectively. In the period from January to August this year, Sarawak exported 2.71 million cu.m of logs worth RM1.32 billion, compared to 3.78 million cu.m and RM1.79 billion for the entire 2009.

Global Seminar Workshop: Indigenous Women, Climate Change & REDD+

IWDA, October 2010 | Date: 18-19 November 2010. Location: Philippines. In the light of promoting and ensuring the effective implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Tebtebba, is organising the Global Seminar-Workshop on Indigenous Women, Climate Change and REDD+. The Panel discussions will highlight indigenous women’s roles and use of traditional knowledge and practices as tools/strategies to mitigate climate change or adapt to its impacts. The workshop has also placed a call for presentations. For more information on presentations and attendance please visit Asian Indigenous Women’s Network. (http://bit.ly/9L17JG)

Fifth Redd Readiness Field Dialogue

The Forests Dialogue, no date | The Cambodia Dialogue will bring international and local participants representing different stakeholder groups to the first REDD project site in Cambodia, located in Oddar Meanchey Province. The dialogue will give participants a platform to exchange their experiences and offer their insights on Cambodia’s REDD Readiness process while allowing them to reflect on their own country’s experiences in getting REDD-plus Ready. The dialogue is hosted by IUCN Asia Office and sponsored by NORAD and IIED.

Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation in developing countries (REDD) Conservation Project in Tanzania

Tyndall Centre, no date | Since 2004 the Mpingo Conservation Project in Tanzania has been developing an approach to Participatory Forest Management (PFM) which focuses specifically on sustainable management of high-value hardwood timbers, working in the communal village lands of Kilwa District in the Lindi Region. Supported by the Norwegian Development Agency (NORAD), the project will now incorporate REDD payments as a catalyst to expand PFM and forest certification over a wider area, bringing substantial benefits to poor and natural resource-dependent rural communities and conserving greatly increased areas of forest. Esteve Corbera with colleagues Oliver Springate-Baginski and Adrian Martin at the School of International Development (UEA) will experiment with an approach to integrating PFM with a REDD payments system and test methods for the socio-economic assessment of such integration.

27 September 2010

McKinseys paid US$2.2 for 4 months work on REDD

PNGexposted Blog, 27 September 2010 | International consulting firm, McKinsey & Co, was paid US$2.2 million by the PNG government for four months work in 2009 to prepare a draft ‘National REDD and Climate Change Plan’ ahead of the global Copenhagen summit. McKinsey’s confidential memorandum to the PNG government, “Supporting the Development of PNG’s National REDD and Climate Change Plans”, reveals how PNG’s position for the Copenhagen summit was developed by a team of ‘international consultants’ – all from Australia, the US and Europe. Far from developing its own indigenous, Papua New Guinean plan, the PNG government was happy to pay almost K6 million for a team of foreign consultants to produce a plan offshore – just so the government had some glossy documents to present in Copenhagen in the hope of duping the international community to channel billions of dollars into its coffers.

Crime in the carbon markets

By Mark Schapiro, Center for Investigative Reporting, Carbon Watch, 27 September 2010 | Undercover wildlife agents met financial sleuths for the first time last week in Lyon, France at a conference sponsored by Interpol intended to highlight the increasing complexity of environmental crimes and the tightening of environmental regulations in developing as well as developed countries. “Governments,” said Bakary Kante, in charge of the United Nations Environment Programme environmental law division, “should start preparing for an onslaught of environmental court cases.” Two hundred agents who will be investigating those cases came here from some thirty countries for the week-long conference to coordinate strategies around global environmental crime networks.

Shift2Neutral Deal to Protect Millions of Hectares Against Deforestation in Solomon Islands

Shift2Neutral press release, 27 September 2010 | Shift2Neutral partners with the Solomon Islands Carbon Project by signing a Memorandum of Agreement in a move to protect millions of hectares against Deforestation in the Solomon Islands. Shift2Neutral will work closely with the Founder of the Solomon Islands Carbon Project, Mr Charles Stennett Kereau, to begin the key initiatives and drivers of the memorandum of agreement, in the protection of natural land and forests in the Solomon Islands, and to work together to cease the decline of the environment at local and national levels. In the Solomon Islands there is uncontrolled cutting of trees and the loss of soils rich in humus which has resulted in the release of carbon into the atmosphere contributing to green house gases and accelerating global warming.

Primary Accumulation and the Environment

By Sirisha C. Naidu & Panayiotis T. Manolakos, sanhati.com, 27 September 2010 | Forestland, however, is not only utilized for extractive purposes. The ability of forests to sequester carbon suggests that investments in afforestation and reforestation projects by Annex I countries [12] can be used to offset carbon emissions. Recently, these investments have been termed REDD (reducing emissions from deforestation and environmental degradation) and REDD Plus (combining REDD with payments for environmental services). The World Bank has been quick to jump on to this bandwagon. In India, the World Bank plans to develop 3,500 hectares of tree plantations in Orissa and Andhra Pradesh via the Bank’s bio-carbon fund. These tree plantations are situated on private agricultural land in the possession of medium, small and marginal farmers and would be in the form a buy-back contract for JK Paper Mills Ltd (JKPL).

Government to boost voluntary deals

By Adianto P. Simamora, Jakarta Post, 27 September 2010 | Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan said he saw no promising future for any deal regarding REDD ahead of the upcoming climate talks in Mexico, prompting his office to aim to forge voluntary pacts with rich nations. As of September, the ministry has signed voluntary agreements with several countries for a total of 45 projects dealing with REDD, which in the end aimed to slash emissions from the forestry sector. From these 45 projects, the Forestry Ministry, Indonesia’s focal point for forest affairs, would receive up to Rp 3 billion (US$336,000) in grants this year. In addition, Indonesia and Norway signed a $1 billion deal in May, which is also focused on emissions reduction through halting forest and peatland clearing. “More will come, including from the United States,” Zulkifli said. “We need to increase our voluntary deals, as I predict there will be no agreements on REDD reached in this year’s meeting in Cancun, Mexico.”

Gabon president talks sustainability at W&M

The College of William & Mary, 27 September 2010 | Located in west central Africa, Gabon covers a land of nearly 270,000 kilometers and includes a population of approximately 1.5 million people. Natural rainforests make up 80 percent of the country. In an effort to avoid deforestation, last year Gabon banned the harvest of four valuable hardwoods. And earlier this year, the country completely banned log exports as part of Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation REDD) program, an initiative that pays tropical forest nations for conserving forests as carbon sinks. Forest management efforts, the president said, can both protect the environment and improve the economic situation in Gabon. The challenge of fighting climate change is very real, Bongo said.

Green firms in limbo over carbon credits inaction

By Clancy Yeates, Sydney Morning Herald, 27 September 2010 | The Minister for Climate Change, Greg Combet, is under pressure from green firms to quickly resolve a policy bungle that is forcing businesses in search of carbon credits to head overseas. Companies that certify carbon offsets, such as forest plantations, have been unable to guarantee customers they are providing accredited offsets since the end of June, when the Greenhouse Friendly program lapsed. The carbon pollution reduction scheme was intended to fulfil this role, but its deferral has left offset companies in regulatory limbo. As a result, the industry says companies looking to offset their emissions voluntarily are heading to competitors overseas. The country’s biggest carbon sink provider, CO2 Group, has not signed a single new Australian customer for its voluntary programs since the CPRS was deferred in May.

Farmers march in Jakarta: Paving the way for genuine agrarian reform

Via Campesina press release, 27 September 2010 | Some 20-thousands peasants from all across Indonesia marked the 50th commemoration of the National Farmers’ Day on Sept. 24. Half of the number chooses to rally along Jakarta on that day, focusing to the Presidential Palace. These parallel actions all across Indonesia were organized by 44-organizations, mostly farmers’ organizations, to remind President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono that he made a speech on 2007 saying that the government was to pursue agrarian reform. “No implementation of the program whatsoever until now,” said Henry Saragih, chairman of the Indonesian Peasant Union. Meanwhile, there are 9.6 million hectares of unclaimed land ready to be redistributed to the people. The government seems only focusing on “market-led agrarian reform”, as advised by the World Bank from 1999 to 2004.

Could industrial interests ruin payments for environmental services?

mongabay.com, 27 September 2010 | One of the biggest ideas in the conservation world over the past decade is Payments for Environmental Services, known as PES, whereby governments, corporations, or the public pays for the environmental services that benefit them (and to date have been free), i.e. carbon, biodiversity, freshwater, etc. For example, Reducing Emissions through Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) is the largest such proposed PES concept, yet many others are emerging. However, a new study in mongabay.com’s open access journal Tropical Conservation Science argues that in order for PES to be effective—and not perversely lead to further harm—decision-makers must consider the danger of paying industrial and commercial interests versus financially supporting local populations, as originally conceived, to safeguard the environment… “If the polluter pays principle is abandoned for the industry, the door will be open to all sorts of blackmail…” the authos write.

Degradation is in the Eye of the Beholder

By Erik Meijaard, Mongabay Blog, 27 September 2010 | In the discussion about where oil palm and other plantations should go we talk so easily about degraded lands. But the concept is not straightforward. When the US and Europe cleared their forests a few centuries ago, they did so to “improve” the land. Forests were seen as a source of lumber, best to be cleared and replaced by annual crops with which a lot more money could be made. We have learned since then, and now understand the value of forests for biodiversity, ecosystem goods and services, and also because they are beautiful to us. Many of us now see deforestation as a negative thing, and call what is left “degraded”. Not everyone agrees though.What to us looks like hell, may to a Borneo-based farmer or plantation manager look like a good opportunity to earn some cash.

28 September 2010

Shell in row over Brazilian Indian land grab

Survival International, 28 September 2010 | Brazilian authorities have written to energy giant Shell expressing concern over the activities of its new Brazilian joint-venture partner, which is producing biofuels from land taken from an impoverished Indian tribe. Last month, Shell signed a $12billion deal to produce biofuels from sugar cane with Brazilian biofuels giant Cosan. But some of Cosan’s sugar cane is grown on land officially recognized as belonging to Guarani Indians. A Brazilian prosecutor with constitutional powers to defend indigenous rights in court, has written to Shell warning that its involvement in the joint venture ‘jeopardizes the company’s commitment to biodiversity and sustainability’.

Indonesia-Norway extends their climate and forest partnership to other governments

Norwegian Embassy Jakarta, 28 September 2010 | During the United Nations General Assembly in September 2010, Indonesia and Norway presented their partnership to other countries comitted to REDD+. Read the full press release from the Government of Indonesia below… Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd, US special envoy on climate change Todd Stern and representative for the UN Secretary General, Achim Steiner, were present, and expressed strong support to the partnership. Along with delegates from Denmark, Germany, Japan, Sweden, and the UK, and representatives from UNDP, FAO, UNESCO and the World Bank they discussed the opportunities presented by the partnership and the recent strides Indonesia has made in an effort to reduce emissions… [Todd] Stern [US special envoy on climate change] stated, “Indonesia and Norway have both shown great leadership, and I am confident that they have the vision and dedication necessary to meet the challenges ahead.”

Forestry gains momentum in voluntary carbon market

By Nina Chestney, Reuters, 28 September 2010 | Voluntary carbon market players could increase demand for carbon credits from the forestry sector after the first forestry investment was issued credits under an industry-backed standard last week. “It could trigger a boom. Everyone has been waiting forever so hopefully we finally see some forestry credits come to market,” said a market player, who declined to be named. The voluntary carbon market, which operates outside mandatory emissions cutting schemes, has been waiting for the news as players gear up for participation in a multi-billion U.N. deforestation emissions reduction mechanism. Last week, a Tanzanian reforestation project became the first forestry investment to earn carbon offsets under the Voluntary Carbon Standard (VCS), which will assure investors the emissions cuts are credible and long-term. The first batch of credits have been issued and placed in the VCS registry.

Bilateral deals mushroom as climate treaty falters

EurActiv.com, 28 September 2010 | As the prospects for swift closure of a global climate treaty cloud over, bilateral agreements to cut greenhouse gas emissions are gaining traction. But experts warn they are no replacement for an international treaty… The climate negotiations already came close to a deal in Copenhagen on a mechanism for Reducing Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) by making payments to poor countries for protecting their forests. But as disagreements about other aspects of the treaty have led the negotiations to drag on, donor and tropical countries have started to create their own systems for preserving forests. For instance, Norway launched in July a fund that is expected to deliver up to $250 million between 2010 and 2015 to Guyana for the South American state’s efforts to protect its 16 million hectare rainforests. The Guyana REDD+ Investment Fund is managed by the World Bank.

The Mexican Government Convenes a Ministerial Meeting on Climate Change in New York

isria.com, 28 September 2010 | As part of the high-level segment of the 65th ordinary session of the UN General Assembly, the Foreign Ministry held a ministerial meeting entitled “Where are we in the negotiations?” to review the state of the negotiations in the lead up to the Cancun conference… Foreign Secretary Patricia Espinosa also spoke, discussing the possible outcomes of Cancun, as well as key negotiating items that must be resolved during the conference… She stressed the importance of resolving global climate change through a multilateral system and invited her counterparts to focus on first solving substantive issues, highlighting the concrete progress that has been made so far in areas such as adaptation, technology transfer and quick-start financing for REDD+.

Harnessing forests for climate change mitigation through REDD+: challenges and opportunities

By Mery, G., Katila, P., Galloway, G., Alfaro, R.I., Kanninen, M. Lobovikov, M. and Varjo, J (eds.) (CIFOR), 28 September 2010 | We conclude that REDD+ as a climate change mitigation instrument will only be able to proceed at a pace that allows the meaningful participation of all relevant stakeholders in consensus-building. When the REDD+ enters the markets, the rights of local communities to forest land and carbon will need to be clarified and secured. Successful implementation of REDD+ will, in most cases, require strengthening the stake of local communities for managing their forest carbon assets and allowing them to benefit fully from emerging carbon markets and other funding schemes. Governments will need to renew their institutions and adopt new approaches to handle these challenges by including the role of forests in climate change mitigation as an integral part of their development plans and policies. [R-M: download the report here: http://bit.ly/9bAJ3N]

29 September 2010

Climate Accord loopholes could spell 4.2 º C rise in temperature and end of coral reefs by 2100

Institute of Physics, 29 September 2010 | A global temperature increase of up to 4.2 ºC and the end of coral reefs could become reality by 2100 if national targets are not revised in the Copenhagen Accord, the international pledge which was agreed at last year’s Copenhagen’s COP15 climate change conference. Just ahead of the next United Nations Climate Change Conference, which starts on 4 October in Tianjin, China, a new report published today, Wednesday, 29 September, in IOP Publishing’s Environmental Research Letters describes how, due to lack of global action to date, only a small chance remains for keeping the global temperature increase down to 2 º C as set as a target in the Accord. Looking at individual countries’ agreed targets for emission levels, the report shows that many developed countries such as the USA and the European Union have set their aims very low, aiming at reaching emission levels just a few percent lower than 1990 levels by 2020.

Conserving nature with economics

By Rhett A. Butler, mongabay.com, 29 September 2010 | While many factors come into consideration when the fate of forests are being determined, economics often play a key role in land use decisions. When the perceived value of forest land is higher as cattle pasture, cropland, or plantation, then trees fall. But what happens when economic assumptions underlying these decisions are wrong? Forests, including the services they provide and the biodiversity they shelter, are lost in vain, much to the detriment of society and the planet. Working to avoid these costly outcomes is the Conservation Strategy Fund (CSF), a California-based nonprofit that trains conservationists to use economics and strategic thinking as assets to conserve natural ecosystems in countries around the globe. CSF runs training programs that help emerging conservation leaders build and strengthen parks, influence policies, and avert damage from infrastructure projects.

An Evening with Evo

By Anne Petermann (GJEP), Climate Connections, 29 September 2010 | On Thursday, September 23rd, Global Justice Ecology Project co-Director/ Strategist Orin Langelle and I traveled to Manhattan for a meeting with Evo Morales Ayma, the Indigenous President of the Plurinational State of Bolivia and Pablo Salón, Bolivia’s Ambassador to the UN to discuss the preparations for the upcoming UN Climate Conference in Cancún… When the topic moved on to discussing the advancement of REDD–the UN’s hotly contested scheme to supposedly reduce deforestation by including forests in the carbon market–Pablo Salón explained that REDD will be a major focus of the negotiations in Cancún. He emphasized that the pro-REDD forces there are stacking the deck, hand picking who will be allowed to participate. Meanwhile the Mexican government is doing its best to legitimize REDD. “They are trying to manipulate the process to make it seem like Indigenous Peoples support REDD. REDD will be a crucial battle.”

REDD: management of the local commons and global market forces

By Felix Creutzig, environmentalresearchweb blog, 29 September 2010 | If you expect a global agreement on curbing greenhouse gas emissions, the upcoming climate negotiations in Cancun will certainly disappoint you… However, meanwhile negotiators focus on more tangible topics, such as REDD (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation)… One caveat with the market-based approach comes from the literature on managing the commons. Elinor Ostrom (Nobel Price 2009) and co-workers have accumulated massive evidence on how commons – such as forests – are successfully managed. They demonstrate that a decentralized just sharing of resources, monitoring and social sanctions are crucial ingredients of commons management. Inversely, a pure market-based approach, especially if it is top-down, can decrease acceptance of local stakeholders and increase the risk of gaming: Stakeholders could follow REDD literally but not in spirit…

Activists Call for Presidential Ban on Deforestation

By Ismira Lutfia, Jakarta Globe, 29 September 2010 | Environmental activists have called on the government to abandon its business-as-usual approach to granting forestry concessions and suggested an action plan to implement a moratorium on new concessions. Under an agreement signed by Indonesia and Norway in Oslo in May, Indonesia pledged to stop issuing new logging permits for peatland and primary natural forests between 2011 and 2013… On Tuesday, Giorgio Budi Indarto, coordinator of the Civil Society Forum for Climate Justice, said the government should use the implementation of the moratorium as an opportunity to re-evaluate its “inconsistent policies” between forest conservation and exploitation. “The government can begin by freezing the issuance of new logging and mining concessions, and appointing independent bodies to review previous concessions,” he said.

Avoiding Deforestation and Rewarding Forestry Investment

ABC Carbon, 29 September 2010 | A new project methodology – developed by Australia’s Carbon Planet – to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through Improved Forest Management has successfully completed a first independent assessment under the VCS Methodology Approval Process. Meanwhile, a Tanzanian reforestation project became the first forestry investment to earn carbon offsets under the Voluntary Carbon Standard (VCS), which will assure investors the emissions cuts are credible and long-term… Dave Sag, the founder and executive director of Carbon Planet, told abc carbon express this was a very significant development for Australia, which has pushed hard through the private sector, to gain recognition for avoided deforestation. He explained that much of the work leading to this VCS approval process has been done in Australia by Carbon Planet’s Dr Samuel Phua. This approach is a lot like taking a life cycle assessment of a product.

Trade-Climate Links to Figure Prominently at Tianjin UNFCCC Meeting

International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development, 29 September 2010 | Governments from around the world are set to review the intersection of trade and climate change as part of a United Nations-organized meeting in Tianjin, China next week. Margaret Mukahanana-Sangarwe, the Zimbabwean chair of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action (AWG-LCA) has highlighted for attention at the gathering a series of issues in the negotiating text that raise trade and competitiveness concerns… In the agenda sent to participants, Mukahanana-Sangarwe highlighted several issues for clarification under a heading called “international trade measures.” She noted that the draft text addressed trade in the context of “a shared vision,” “sectoral approaches”, “consequences of response measures”, “various approaches”, as well as more specific issues, such as agriculture. Also in the list were the complex discussions on forest conservation and management, known as “REDD-plus.”

Free availability of satellite imagery has boosted deforestation monitoring applications, but risk of data gap looms

By Rhett A. Butler, mongabay.com, 29 September 2010 | An interview with Dr. Matt Hansen, co-director of SDSU’s Geographic Information Science Center of Excellence. In recent years there has been an explosion in the number of satellite-based monitoring applications and technologies, which is perhaps best exemplified in the eyes of the public by Google Earth, which allows anyone with a decent internet connection to view overhead images of nearly any place on Earth. But these new applications are also helping scientists more effectively monitor environmental change, including the fluctuations in polar sea ice, shifts in oceanic plankton, and deforestation. An important factor in the expanded use of satellite imagery has been the U.S. government’s free Landsat Data Distribution Policy, which allows free or inexpensive access to data captured by Landsat satellites, which have been collected data on a regular basis since 1972.

September Issue of UNFCCC Newsletter Released

Climate-L.org, 29 September 2010 | The September issue of the UNFCCC Newsletter focuses on the last climate change negotiating session before the 16th session of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC in Cancun, Mexico, at the end of 2010. [R-M: the UNFCCC Newsletter can be downloaded here: http://bit.ly/blkzKw]

30 September 2010

Royal Society’s climate change guide cuts confusion out of the hard science

By Duncan Clark, Guardian, 30 September 2010 | The Royal Society, the UK’s leading scientific establishment, today publishes its own layman’s guide to the science of climate change, in the hope of countering the confusion and inaccurate claims that continue to surround the topic. The new guide – Climate Change: A Summary of the Science – seeks to cut through the confusion by summarising the degree of consensus and depth of understanding surrounding different aspects of the science of global warming caused by human activity. The report, written by a panel of prominent scientists and chaired by Professor John Pethica, Royal Society vice president, breaks down the subject into three sections: aspects on which there is “wide agreement”, “a wide consensus but continuing debate and discussion” and those which are “not well understood”.

Assessing data availability for the development of REDD-plus national reference levels

By Chisa Umemiya, Masahiro Amano and Suphawadee Wilamart, cbmjournal.com, 30 September 2010 | Data availability in developing countries is known to be extremely varied and is one of the constraints for setting the national reference levels (RLs) for the REDD-plus (i.e. ‘Policy approaches and positive incentives on issues relating to reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries; and the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries’) under the UNFCCC. Taking Thailand as a case study country, this paper compares three types of RLs, which require different levels of datasets, including a simple historic RL, a projected forest-trend RL, and a business-as-usual (BAU) RL… With the REDD-plus that involves widespread participation, there should be steps from which countries choose the appropriate RL; ranging from simpler to more complex measures…

Indonesia’s Climate Experiment

By Stephen Minas, The Diplomat, 30 September 2010 | Although it’s too soon to pass any firm judgment on the Ulu Masen project, all involved acknowledge that Aceh has become a testing ground for REDD. Ilarius Wibisono advises Aceh’s governor on the province’s sustainability programme. In the lobby of a hotel favoured by Aceh’s powerbrokers, Wibisono explains his hopes to show that the project is more than just ‘day dreaming.’ He says that although there are still gaps on some of the technical issues of implementation, that there have been some very good early results and that demonstrating the viability of REDD ‘is important not only for our community but for the whole world.’… Chris Lang, a Jakarta-based analyst who runs the REDD-Monitor website, questions the very principle underpinning such projects. ‘It’s a carbon trading project,’ he says. ‘No matter how good the project on the ground actually is, it’s trading carbon, which is allowing pollution somewhere else to continue.’

We’re back…

Duncan MacLeod, RECOFTC blog, 30 September 2010 | Next week’s Tianjin climate talks in China are the last stop before the COP train pulls in to Cancun, Mexico, for round 16. In contrast to this time last year, these latest negotiations seem to be quietly slipping under the radar… With less expectation and hype, perhaps negotiators can really knuckle down and get us a step closer to that much-needed but elusive global climate change agreement… Whatever happens, RECOFTC will be there to cover it. Our blog will be up and running at Tianjin and reporting daily from Monday 4th October. As usual, our focus will be on issues related to people and forests in the Asia-Pacific region. Also at Tianjin, under the Responsible Asia Forest and Trade (RAFT) program, RECOFTC is hosting a press event on forest conflict and climate change – take a peek at our three just-released media briefs. You can access these and our other latest climate publications on the right side column.

Climate won’t be solved by conferences alone

Globe and Mail, 30 September 2010 | Two months before it even begins, hopes are already fading that the next UN conference on climate change … will result in any tangible agreement… Luckily, voluntary agreements with enforcement mechanisms can help preserve some resources. For instance, trees, another renewable natural resource, have a new lease on life after nine environmental groups and 21 forest products companies (with governments on the sidelines) signed the Boreal Forest Agreement to protect 70 million hectares of northern Canadian forestland. Some of the best work in protecting the environment can come from the ground up. Yes, governments need to take a leadership role in climate change. But they cannot simply will international agreement into existence. Prof. Stavins concludes, “Because no single approach guarantees a sure path to ultimate success, the best strategy to address this ultimate commons problem may be to pursue a wide variety of approaches simultaneously.”

Key advances can be made at Cancun climate meet – Jagdeo

Stabroek News, 30 September 2010 | President Bharrat Jagdeo believes that there are key opportunities that can be had at the Cancun, Mexico meeting on climate change that would improve on commitments made in the Copenhagen Accord last year. He said this would ensure that capital to address climate change is allocated where it would have the biggest impact: to both adaptation and mitigation actions… According to Jagdeo, if the international community is prepared to be held accountable, “we will not be found lacking,” noting that functioning financial transfer and other mechanisms to address deforestation and forest degradation can inspire pro-gress in other areas such as technology transfer and energy efficiency. He said Guyana’s LCDS outlines how the country can save cumulative forest-based emissions of 1.5 gigatons by 2020, and the REDD+ deal with Norway, that created a climate finance fund which will amount to between US$300 million and US$500 million between this year and 2015.

First forestry credits issued under Voluntary Carbon Standard

By Will Nichols, Business Green, 30 September 2010 | An “historic milestone” in the forestry carbon market was reached this week as the first carbon credits from a land-use project were verified and issued under the Voluntary Carbon Standard (VCS). Credits from the Uchindile-Mapanda reforestation project in Tanzania were issued on the VCS registry system hosted by APX in a move that experts predict will further stimulate growing investor interest in forestry protection projects. Jonathan Shopley, managing director of The CarbonNeutral Company, which is currently the only carbon offset firm to make the credits available, said the new VCS-approved credits would bolster the credibility of forestry-related carbon credits. “Businesses that are committing to significant carbon reductions can now achieve this by purchasing and retiring high-quality, verified VCS Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use (AFOLU) carbon credits,” he said.

1 October 2010

Philippines to stop issuing logging permits in natural forests

Xinhua, 1 October 2010 | The Philippines will no longer issue new logging permits in areas which it describes as “second- growth forests” in line with the country’s climate change mitigation program. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) on Friday issued Memorandum Order No. 9 directing all field officials of the department to stop accepting and processing all forms of applications for new timber contracts “with logging component in the natural forests.” “I have already told my officials that I will no longer approve or sign new logging contracts with logging component in natural forest, but directed them instead to fast track the applications for the establishment of tree plantations in idle, denuded and degraded areas,” DENR Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje said. Under the country’s Forestry Master Plan, the department recommends the establishment of at least 550,000 hectares of timber plantations for the country to achieve self-sufficiency in its wood requirements.

Study: Genetically altered trees could help climate

This Just In (CNN blog), 1 October 2010 | Genetically altered trees could help reduce global warming, according to a study released Friday in the journal BioScience. The study, led by a team from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, analyzed ways plants process carbon dioxide and convert it into forms of carbon. The findings could one day lead to a forest of trees and other plants genetically engineered to pull in billions of tons of carbon from the air, counteracting the effects of global warming.

President Jagdeo announces first tranche of US$30M to be paid in GRIF in 10 days

By Wendella Davidson, Guyana Chronicle, 1 October 2010 | Guyana’s premier exposition and Trade Fair, GuyExpo, that offers a unique opportunity for local businesses to showcase their creative works , skills and talents, and creates linkages with international companies, opened last evening at the National Exhibition Centre, Sophia… President Bharrat, in his feature address, announced that within 10 days the first tranche of the US$30M will be deposited in the Guyana Redd + Investment Fund ( GRIF), the first payment of its kind anywhere in the world that represents the leading edge of the new global low carbon economy, even though it is six months late. And according to the President, the people of Guyana can feel genuinely proud that we are leading the way in addressing such profound global issues.

Guyana to receive Norway $US30M in 10 days – Jagdeo

By Gary Eleazar, Kaieteur News, 1 October 2010 | Guyana will be the first country to be paid for standing forests and the first tranche of US$30M will be deposited into the Guyana REDD+ Investment Fund (GRIF) account within ten days. This is according to President Bharrat Jagdeo who was at the time speaking at the opening ceremony of the GuyExpo 2010 which will continue over the next five days under the theme, “Expanding Investment in a Sustainable Environment.” Jagdeo said that the process for the depositing of the money is currently in the final stages of processing to receive the money which is being paid to Guyana as part of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed with the Kingdom of Norway to the tune of some $250M. Jagdeo said that the money will be used to invest in Guyana’s future, adding that some will be used for the access road to pave the way for the construction of the Amaila Falls Hydro Electric Plant.

Norway $$ in 10 days – Jagdeo

Stabroek News, 1 October 2010 | GuyExpo opened last evening with President Bharrat Jagdeo announcing that within 10 days Norway will deposit US$30 million into the Guyana REDD+ Investment Fund (GRIF), the first payment under the forest protection Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed between the two countries. “Since early 2009 we’ve been selling forest package services and though six months late the first payment of US$30 million is now being processed. It will be deposited in the Guyana REDD+ Investment Fund (GRIF) in the next 10 days,” Jagdeo said. “This is the first payment of its kind anywhere in the world,” the President said adding that it represents the development of a new global carbon economy. The first payment enables us to get started with removing our entire economy from fossil fuel dependence…and will form part of the government’s investment in the hydroelectricity plant at the Amaila Falls,” he said.

This Week in Forest Carbon

Ecosystem Marketplace, 1 October 2010 | Carbon standards are the cornerstone of any carbon market, because they define all the actions and outputs that constitute a bona fide emission reduction. They’ve also been front and center these past few weeks, with news coming in from China’s Panda Standard, North America’s American Carbon Registry (ACR), the UK’s Woodland Carbon Code, and the global Voluntary Carbon Standard (VCS).

2 October 2010

President lauds Japan’s support to Guyana

By Johann Earle, Guyana Chronicle, 2 October 2010 | With Japan playing a major part in helping Guyana meet the challenges of providing safe drinking water and ensuring that the East Demerara Water Conservancy is functioning the way it should, Guyana has recognised this developmental partner contribution in the fight against climate change and its leaning on the eastern country’s influence for a good agreement in Cancun. This was made clear during the commissioning ceremony of the Guyana Water Inc.’s water treatment plant at Queenstown, Corriverton. Japan’s Ambassador to Guyana, Tatsuaki Iwata, who is based in Venezuela, was in attendance, as were other officials from Japan… The President said that Japan now shares the chairmanship of the Interim REDD plus Partnership with Papua New Guinea. “And REDD plus is vital for us because our Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) rests on that basis. We believe that through our forests, we can earn substantial sums of money.”

U.S. energy expert advocates full support for LCDS

By Vanessa Narine, Guyana Chronicle, 2 October 2010 | Visiting Associate Director of UC Davis Energy Institute, in the United States (U.S.), Mr. Gerald Braun said, Guyana’s Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) “makes perfect sense and is a realistic offer.” Here on a speaking tour coordinated by the U.S. Embassy in Georgetown, he is focusing on changes in energy markets and the influence of climate change on them. In an interview with the Guyana Chronicle, Braun suggested that, in advancing the LCDS, this country should pay attention to other things that can go along and add to it. He said, primary among them is the local engagement of companies, expressly major foreign ones which are involved in distorting facts about climate change for economical reasons.

Team flies to China with low expectations

By Adianto P. Simamora, Jakarta Post, 2 October 2010 | Doubts on the fate of the Indonesian government’s main agenda for the REDD scheme linger ahead of the departure of the country’s negotiating team to a climate change meeting in China next week. Head of the team, Rachmat Witoelar said the outcome on reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, known as REDD, would depend on whether rich nations were ready to discuss their emissions cuts figures at the negotiation table. “REDD could be one area of the negotiations that fails at this year’s talks,” Rachmat, who was President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s special envoy on climate change, told The Jakarta Post on Friday. However, Rachmat said, in the event of failure, existing REDD projects in Indonesia would go on. Earlier, Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan also voiced his pessimism toward a REDD agreement being met this year, despite a string of international conferences.

Video: Forest report for Oct 1, 2010

Rhett A. Butler, mongabay.com, 2 October 2010 | The top forest news story of the week was the deepening conflict between Asia Pulp & Paper, an Indonesia based forestry company, and Greenpeace, an activist group. On Monday APP published a report claiming to exonerate it from charges that it illegally cleared rainforest and peatlands in Sumatra, an Indonesian island. The report was published by ITS Global, a consultancy tied to World Growth International, a lobby group that promotes conversion of natural forests for industrial plantations. World Growth International opposes forest conservation initiatives, including the proposed REDD program, which could compensate developing countries for protecting their forests. Greenpeace issued a response to the report, claiming that some of the charges levied by ITS Global are inaccurate or based on incomplete information.

Forestry sector is considered as the largest contributor to greenhouse gas pollution

By Muhammad Jusuf, allvoices.com, 2 October 2010 | The central government has committed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions nationally by 26 percent and 41 percent voluntarily with the support of international partners by 2020. Half of the expected target of 26 percent contributed from the forestry sector. According to Head of International Cooperation Ministry of Forestry Agus Warsito, the largest contribution to greenhouse gas emissions are in fact only occurs when the event fires in 1997-1998. “We continue to rehabilitate degraded forests with the target of 1.6 million hectares this year. But it is difficult because of constrained funding,” said Agus, as Kompas reported, today. On Thursday (09/30/2010), National Development Planning Agency (Bappenas) to coordinate the consultation process for the preparation of the national Strategy carbon emission reductions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD Plus) in DIY.

3 October 2010

$5,000,000,000,000: The cost each year of vanishing rainforest

By Matt Chorley, Independent, 3 October 2010 | British scientific experts have made a major breakthrough in the fight to save the natural world from destruction, leading to an international effort to safeguard a global system worth at least $5 trillion a year to mankind. Groundbreaking new research by a former banker, Pavan Sukhdev, to place a price tag on the worldwide network of environmental assets has triggered an international race to halt the destruction of rainforests, wetlands and coral reefs.

At least 50 forest activists held in capital

By Sabin Chandra Acharya, Himalyan Times, 3 October 2010 | Police held at least 50 activists from Federation of Community Forest Users Nepal (FECOFUN), the umbrella body of community forest users, after they tried to padlock the office of the Department of Forest to protest the government move to amend the Nepal Forest Act 2049, on Sunday morning. The protesters had reached the Depart of Forest at Babarmahal before office hours this morning. The police had to intervene after the protesters forcefully tried to padlock the office, said DSP Kedar Dhakal, at the Metropolitan Police Range, Hanumandhoka, Kathmandu. All those detained including FECOFUN president Apsara Chapagain have been kept at Metropolitan Police Sector, Singha Durbar. The FECONFUN has been protesting the government move to amend the forest act, maintaining that the amendment is against the interests of community forest users in Nepal.

Norway PM urges quick, cheap fix to save forests

By Alister Doyle and Wojciech Moskwa, Guyana Chronicle, 3 October 2010 | Norway favours more international action to slow deforestation in developing nations as the quickest and cheapest way to fight global warming, Prime Minister Jen Stoltenberg said on Friday. He also told Reuters that Norway, the world’s number five oil exporter, was on target to over-achieve its national goal for cutting greenhouse gas emissions until 2012 under the U.N.’s Kyoto Protocol… “To reduce deforestation is the way we can achieve the quickest, the biggest and the cheapest reductions,” he said. “That’s why Norway is pushing so much forward and is so active.” … “When it comes to forests, something is happening, we see progress, we see reduced deforestation,” he said. “We would like to see even more.” Norway’s main projects are in Brazil, Indonesia and Guyana… “I think Norway is the only country in the world which is over-fulfilling our Kyoto obligations,” he said.

Guyana begins to access funds from historic Norway accord

Guyana Chronicle, 3 October 2010 | Guyana is this month to begin accessing funds for its Low-Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) under the groundbreaking agreement signed with Norway just under a year ago. President Bharrat Jagdeo Thursday announced that within 10 days, the first tranche of the US$30M from Norway will be deposited in the Guyana Redd + Investment Fund (GRIF), opening the flow of funds for several vital development projects. This, he said, is the first payment of its kind anywhere in the world that represents the leading edge of the new global low-carbon economy, although it is six months late. Under the LCDS, Guyana is deploying its forests to mitigate climate change while also gaining financial and other support for doing so… It will also form part of the government’s investment in the hydro-electricity plant at Amaila Falls on the Kuribrong River in Region Eight, [Jagdeo] said.

Money could grow on trees, depending on carbon price

By Sara Schonhardt, eco-business.com, 3 October 2010 | Giving trees a value is one solution for halting deforestation, but deciding how much a forest is worth is proving challenging… “We’ve found some buyers that have been willing to pre-pay for credits,” said Todd Lemons, the CEO and chairman of for-profit conservation company Infinite Earth. But despite interest from investment funds that he says have earmarked “billions” specifically for REDD, none have invested in the company’s Indonesia project. Hong Kong-based Infinite Earth is part of the EnVision group, which develops natural resource projects for profit. The company was created in 2008 to develop the Rimba Raya Reserve, a 90,000-hectare peat swamp forest in Central Kalimantan… Since its start, Infinite Earth has pooled more than $3.5 million from international private investors, such as Shell Canada and the Clinton Foundation… Infinite Earth pre-sold around 2 percent of its expected offsets to Gazprom.

Workshop on Finn Funded Deforestation Project

ScandAsia.com, 3 October 2010 | A workshop to discuss a report aiming for technical assistance in the Development of the National REDD programme (United Nations Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries) for Vietnam was organised at the ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development on 27th September. The study was funded by the Finnish government through the Embassy of Finland in Hanoi and is hoped to form a basis for Vietnam to make decision related to REDD. Indirectly, the research project has also contributed to reshaping the national forest statistics in Vietnam.

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