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REDD in the news: 31 January – 6 February 2011

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REDD in the news: 31 January - 6 February 2011

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.

Forest Carbon Partnership Facility Receives REDD Readiness Preparation Proposals – Climate Change Policy & Practice

climate-l.iisd.org, January 2011 | The Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) has received five REDD Readiness Preparation Proposals (R-PP) and four draft R-PPs from FCPF participant countries during the course of January 2011. Cambodia, Peru, Viet Nam, Ghana and Ethiopia submitted their R-PPs, while Nicaragua, Liberia, the Central African Republic and Uganda submitted draft R-PPs. The R-PPs will be evaluated by a Technical Advisory Panel and the FCPF Participants Committee. The R-PPs represent a step on the way to receiving readiness grants for up to US$3.6 million to implement the activities outlined in the R-PPs.

REDD for Conservation of Amazon Rainforest in the Surui Indigenous Territory, Brazil

katoombagroup.org, no date | The Surui REDD project aims to use REDD+ finance to support the Surui indigenous peoples of Brazil in their efforts to develop alternative livelihoods and protect over 240,000 hectares of forest. The Surui, after seeing their population and territories decimated by road-building and a massive influx of settlers in the 1970s and 1980s, have been able to largely halt the tide of deforestation that extends to the borders of their territories. However, pressures from logging, ranching and agriculture continue to mount, and likely to lead to growing deforestation in the years ahead. REDD could help to fund strengthened protection of these forests and improved livelihoods for the Surui, confirming the critical role that indigenous peoples play in protecting forests and combating climate change, as well as demonstrating that well-designed REDD mechanisms can improve local livelihoods and control over resources.

Forest Carbon and REDD+ Webinar series

Environmental Finance, no date | 07:30 PST / 10:30 EDT / 15:30 GMT (duration of each approx 90 minutes) Online, through your browser. REDDinar ONE: REDD+ “101” – developing land-use carbon assets. Thursday 24 February. REDDinar TWO: Policy and regulation – compliance markets for land-use offsets. Thursday 3 March. REDDinar THREE: REDD carbon accounting – technical requirements for methodology creation and development of the project document. Thursday 10 March. REDDinar FOUR: Investing in REDD. Thursday 17 March.

Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative (NICFI) – Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad): International Workshop – Oslo REDD Exchange 2011, Oslo, Norway

Congo Basin Forest Partnership, no date | The Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative (NICFI) and the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad) organize a workshop – Oslo REDD Exchange 2011 – 23-24 June 2011. The workshop will focus on safeguards and REDD+, with a particular emphasis on the exchange of experiences from the field.

31 January 2011

Organized Crime Blamed for Roiling $110 Billion Carbon Market

By Ewa Krukowska and Mathew Carr, Bloomberg, 31 January 2011 | Organized criminals are being blamed for stealing European Union pollution permits and sparking a police hunt across the continent, battering confidence in an 80 billion-euro ($110 billion) market. Thieves who steal CO2 permits try to sell them in the market before owners realize they are missing, according to Czech trader Nikos Tornikidis. The criminals may have exploited “negligent” security standards in some EU nations that participate in the world’s largest system for trading rights to discharge greenhouse gases, Jos Delbeke, director general for climate at the European Commission, said in an interview. “Sophisticated” computer attacks this month may be linked to last year’s outbreaks of “carousel fraud” and “phishing attacks,” the director of Europol said. Barclays Plc stopped buying futures from some clients, and a traders association said the market may become “untenable.”

Europe’s Carbon Emissions Trading – Growing Pains or Wholesale Theft?

By Nathanial Gronewald, New York Times, 31 January 2011 | The European Commission seems to be waking up to the seriousness of the problem, announcing last week that spot trading in EUAs would be suspended indefinitely until member governments could prove that their systems were impenetrable. It’s too little, too late, say critics, many of whom joke that once all you needed to trade in the ETS was a telephone number. Last year, Michael Dorsey, a professor of environmental studies at Dartmouth, stirred controversy when a research team he leads found that carbon market crime was spreading as the markets grew and matured. Though the researchers say they are still compiling figures on 2010 incidents, their initial study covering the entire run of Europe’s carbon market showed that 90 percent of fraud or theft cases occurred toward the end of 2009.

Report shows how secret land deals can fail to benefit African nations – and how to make them better

IIED, 31 January 2011 | African nations risk giving investors access to large areas of land in rushed, secretive and one-sided deals that fail to deliver real benefits or create new social and environmental problems, according to the first ever legal analysis of contracts which is published today (31 January) by the International Institute for Environment and Development. The report analyses 12 recent contracts through which investors have leased large areas of land in East, West, Central and Southern Africa for various agricultural activities. It found many problems with the contracts but also some signs of positive deals. A number of the contracts reviewed appear to be heavily biased in favour of the investors, granting them long-term access to land at very low costs while, in return, requiring little from investors in the form of benefits for local people and safeguards to protect the environment.

World Bank defends its role in climate finance

Deutsche Welle, 31 January 2011 | Andrew Steer is the World Bank’s special envoy for climate change… DW spoke to Andrew Steer about the Bank’s suitability for promoting sustainable development… DW: although the Bank has been greatly expanding its investments in renewable energies, it still invests more in fossil fuel projects. Isn’t this incongruous? Steer: Our view is that countries have to decide their own development paths. It’s not the job of any outsiders to impose development paths. What matters is that people have access to power and that businesses have sufficient energy to employ people. Just as rich countries continue to have a mix between conventional and renewable energy, so too do low income and middle income countries. Our job is to show the merits of newer technologies and support them as fully as we can.

Astonishing new photos of uncontacted tribe

Survival International, 31 January 2011 | New photos obtained by Survival International show uncontacted Indians in never-seen-before detail. The Indians are living in Brazil, near the Peruvian border, and are featured in the ‘Jungles’ episode of BBC1’s ‘Human Planet’ (Thurs 3 Feb, 8pm, UK only). The pictures were taken by Brazil’s Indian Affairs Department, which has authorized Survival to use them as part of its campaign to protect their territory. They reveal a thriving, healthy community with baskets full of manioc and papaya fresh from their gardens. The tribe’s survival is in serious jeopardy as an influx of illegal loggers invades the Peru side of the border. Brazilian authorities believe the influx of loggers is pushing isolated Indians from Peru into Brazil, and the two groups are likely to come into conflict.

REDD-plus goes beyond the ‘Norway deal’: United Nations

Jakarta Post, 31 January 2011 | The Jakarta Post recently talked to El-Mostafa Benlamlih, resident coordinator of the United Nations program in Indonesia… If we talk about low-carbon development, we are talking about the concept of development as a whole. REDD-plus is a mechanism to build capacity and an approach to making development less harmful to the environment and to people. It’s important for us to remember that we have the Kyoto Protocol. In the Indonesian context, REDD-plus clearly goes beyond the Norway deal, or anything else. After the Norway agreement is completed in 2016, Indonesia needs to think about other options. This is why we are all now talking about a low-carbon economy, which is part of the global commitment to coping with global warming.

Asia Pulp and Paper: why activists are wrong over destructive logging allegations

By Aida Greenbury, The Ecologist, 31 January 2011 | The paper giant has been accused by Greenpeace of destructive logging and green-washing. But campaigners are mistaken, says APP boss Aida Greenbury – the company is supporting REDD projects and putting sustainability at the centre of operations. The recent partnership between Indonesia and Norway, designed to reduce emissions from deforestation and degradation of forest and peatlands (known as REDD), is truly historic. For the first time, two countries, so different in geography and history, are working together to find a workable solution to the twin issues of tackling climate change and reducing poverty in the developing world. In 2011, we will see the implementation of the first stage of the Norway-Indonesia partnership: a two-year suspension on new concessions for conversion of natural forests and peat lands into plantations.

Forest Chumps

By George Monbiot, The Guardian, 31 January 2011 | State and corporate power have more in common than their partisans suggest. In both cases a small elite uses our common treasury to further its own interests. Sometimes these interests coincide with the interests of the public, sometimes they don’t. There’s a role for state power and there’s a role for private enterprise, but there are dozens of models of ownership in between, which are neglected by both governments and their critics.

Logging concessions will be taken back if production remains low- Forestry Minister

demerarawaves.com, 31 January 2011 | Agriculture Minister, Robert Persaud on Monday warned loggers, who are harvesting below the expected target, that government would take back their concessions and give them to others. “Those concessions that we continue to see persons not fully utilizing, we will have to have some discussions in having these returned and re-allocated,” Pesaud, who is also the Forestry Minister, told small loggers and large scale forest operators.

Suriname rep at UN: REDD+ program should complement sustainable forest management

devsur.com, 31 January 2011 | Raymond Landveld, the Counselor at Suriname’s Permanent Mission to the UN, discussing the progress made by the United Nations Forum on Forests, has said that perhaps the most important outcome of the deliberations thus far had been that delegations felt the REDD+ program should not be a substitute for sustainable forest management, but should instead complement it.

Approaches to classifying and restoring degraded tropical forests for the anticipated REDD+ climate change mitigation mechanism

Forest Carbon Portal, 31 January 2011 | Inclusion of improved forest management as a way to enhance carbon sinks in the Copenhagen Accord of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (December 2009) suggests that forest restoration will play a role in global climate change mitigation under the post-Kyoto agreement. Although discussions about restoration strategies often pertain solely to severely degraded tropical forests and invoke only the enrichment planting option, different approaches to restoration are needed to counter the full range of degrees of degradation. We propose approaches for restoration of forests that range from being slightly to severely degraded. Our methods start with ceasing the causes of degradation and letting forests regenerate on their own, progress through active management of natural regeneration in degraded areas to accelerate tree regeneration and growth, and finally include the stage of degradation at which re-planting is necessary.

Regional Consultation with Indigenous Peoples and Forest- Dependent Communities from Africa on UN-REDD Programme

By James Anaya (UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples), 31 January 2011 | From 24-27 January 2010, in Arusha, Tanzania, the Support Project for the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples participated in the final regional consultation carried out by the United Nations Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (UN-REDD) with indigenous peoples and other forest dependent communities. This workshop followed previous consultations in the Asia region in June 2010 and in the Latin American and Caribbean region in October 2010. The purpose of the consultation was to gather input for the development of guidelines on the principle of free, prior and informed consent in relation to the development of forest management projects in the context of the UN-REDD Programme. See UN-REDD Programme website.

1 February 2011

E.U. carbon fraud: Could it happen here?

By Eric de Place, Grist, 1 February 2011 | But the latest revelation — what appears to be wholesale theft of carbon credits from some European registries — is another animal. It is, indeed, worrisome, and it points to some of the more structural flaws in Europe’s trading system. The biggest problems are that the ETS system is overly sprawling, maintaining dozens of national registries of carbon credits that lack sufficiently clear central oversight. And the markets themselves permit an array of trading activities that seem to allow rouge traders to dupe other market participants. The good news is that virtually all of these problems are fixable (though news accounts suggest that European regulators are not moving toward reform terribly fast). Plus, while the alleged theft is certainly a black eye for the ETS, it’s hardly a refutation to the program, which really has accomplished most of its objectives.

Planters threaten Selangor peat swamp

By Tan Cheng Li, The Star, 1 February 2011 | One of the last tracts of peat swamp forest in Selangor now faces the axe. It is a wasteland. Nothing grows on it save for a single tree species, mahang. Those were the reasons cited by Selangor State Agriculture Corporation to back its proposal to turn Kuala Langat South peat swamp forest into an oil palm plantation. Many people have assumed the same of the tract of forest near Sepang, thanks to past press reports highlighting how it has been illegally logged, encroached upon by farmers and converted to oil palm estates. But nothing could be further from the truth. Recent surveys reveal Langat South to host huge, towering stands – some of rare and endangered species – as well as wildlife. Sure, this peat swamp forest is no longer in its original, pristine state but it has enough to warrant protection.

Cameroon creates national climate change observatory

AlertNet, 1 February 2011 | Faced with rising temperatures and advancing desert in the north and disastrous flooding in the south, Cameroon’s government will this year create a National Observatory on Climate Change, aimed at monitoring the effects of climate change on the country’s people, agriculture and ecosystems, and guiding work on climate action. The new body, to be made up primarily of environmental and climate change experts and civil society representatives, including grassroots groups, will aim to provide “unprecedented data and information for more improved climate change mitigation and adaptation action,” said Pierre Hele, the country’s minister of environment and nature protection, in a speech earlier this month… The project, backed by more than 3 billion CFA ($6 million) in funding this year… The so-called REDD effort is funded through the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Fund and a government of Japan programme…

Major ecological study on Borneo’s deforested landscapes launched

ScienceDaily, 1 February 2011 | The SAFE Project involves distinguished researchers from Imperial, the University of Cambridge and the University of Oxford. It is supported by the UK Royal Society’s South East Asia Rainforest Research Programme (SEARRP) and a generous donation of 30 million Malaysian ringgit (about £6.1 million) from the Sime Darby Foundation in Malaysia. Project leader, Dr Robert Ewers, from the Department of Life Sciences at Imperial College London said: “…The findings of this study will help scientists to design landscapes that maintain agricultural production at least cost to biodiversity.” In an area that has been gazetted for conversion to plantation for the last 20 years, the scientists will take advantage of a planned and government-approved oil palm conversion to make experimental changes to the forest, among the world’s most biodiverse tropical ecosystems, to create a fragmented forest that closely resembles recently developed land.

Malaysian palm oil producers destroying Borneo peat forests faster than ever before

By Rhett A. Butler, mongabay.com, 1 February 2011 | Peatlands and rainforests in Malaysia’s Sarawak state on the island of Borneo are being rapidly destroyed for oil palm plantations, according to new studies by environmental group Wetlands International and remote sensing institute Sarvision. The analysis shows that more than one third (353,000 hectares or 872,000 acres) of Sarawak’s peatswamp forests and ten percent of the state’s rainforests were cleared between 2005 and 2010. About 65 percent of the area was converted for oil palm, which is replacing logging as timber stocks have been exhausted by unsustainable harvesting practices.

Indonesia set to clear 3 million ha of rainforest in New Guinea

mongabay.com, 1 February 2011 | Indonesia’s Ministry of Forestry has approved conversion of some 3 million hectares of natural forest in Papua province, on the island of New Guinea, according to new analysis by Greenomics Indonesia, an environmental group. Data from Greenomics Indonesia indicates 17 companies have been granted concessions to clear natural forest in Papua. Roughly 1 million hectares is earmarked for industrial plantations that will supply the pulp and paper industry. Greenomics Indonesia alleges that six of the companies, which together hold 1.2 million hectares, have been exempted from the moratorium on concessions in natural forest and peatland areas. Greenomics Indonesia’s Executive Director Elfian Effendi says the plan could transform the heavily forested province. “It will be no different from what has happened in Riau Province,” Elfian said, referring to the province in Sumatra that has been largely deforested for palm oil and pulp and paper production.

Real or imaginary rates of deforestation?

By Janette Bulkan letter to the editor Kaieteur News, 1 February 2011 | Almost nine per cent of the Government’s planned expenditure in the 2011 national budget depends upon receipt of US$70 millions from Norway, under the MoU signed on the 9th November, 2009. That is surely a risky strategy because there appears to be no fall-back position if the Norwegian money does not come, or not in that quantity. So achievement of the progress indicators (‘enablers’ in Norwegian terms) is a major test. Some of these indicators are related to the amounts of intact forest and rates of deforestation, although Guyana has made no explicit commitment to reduce its emissions of forest carbon (which I estimated in 2009 at 11.4 million tonnes for 2007-8, using data from the Guyana Forestry Commission*).

Loggers threatened to up production or lose concessions

By Leonard Gildarie, Kaieteur News, 1 February 2011 | As demands for lumber grow, government yesterday threatened to seize forestry concessions granted to several large operators which are being under-utilised and re-allocate them. Increased governmental spending in housing and infrastructural works this year, to the tune of $63B, is expected to see demand for lumber locally climbing significantly. The budgeted amount is a 40 per cent rise over 2010 levels. A housing drive in the last two years has been fueling an unprecedented demand locally. Yesterday, several small loggers and large scale operators, including companies like Barama and another one from Bamboo Landing, Berbice River, were among those present for a meeting with the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) at Kingston. Speaking at the meeting yesterday, Agriculture Minister, Robert Persaud, warned that government is unable to tolerate any more of the low level of production in the large concessions.

Norway forest deal team to meet gov’t, civil society

Stabroek News, 1 February 2011 | A team from Oslo is here to meet with government and civil society representatives as part of the Guyana-Norway forest protection agreement. Agriculture Minister, Robert Persaud said that the visit is “routine” as part of the Joint Concept Note of the agreement between the two countries. The visit will be field-related, he said. [R-M: subscription needed.]

Vedanta fights back over Indian hill tribe’s sacred mountain

Survival International, 1 February 2011 | FTSE 100 mining giant Vedanta is challenging a ban on mining the sacred mountain of India’s Dongria Kondh tribe. The Orissa High Court will hear the case on Wednesday 2 February.
 The Dongria Kondh, whose plight has been compared to the fictional Na’vi in Hollywood blockbuster Avatar, won an historic victory against Vedanta last year. India’s Environment Ministry blocked Vedanta’s multimillion-dollar bid to create an open-pit bauxite mine on the Dongria’s sacred mountain, stating that Vedanta had shown ‘blatant disregard for the rights of the tribal groups.’


Wikileaks Peru: US Ambassador targeted Indigenous activists, promoted mining

By Brenda Norrell, Censored News, 1 February 2011 | The arrogance of the US and its cheerleading for corporate copper mining in Peru is obvious in two cables just released from Wikileaks. The diplomatic cables reveal the US promoting multi-national corporations, while targeting Indigenous activists and their supporters. The new cables reveal that a core group of diplomats formed an alliance with mining companies to promote and protect mining interests globally. The diplomats were from the U.S., Canada, U.K., Australia, Switzerland and South Africa. While rallying for copper mining in Peru, US Ambassador J. Curtis Struble failed to point out in the cables the torture and murder of Indigenous activists by mining companies, near the border of Peru and Ecuador. Struble failed to reveal the long-term destruction to Mother Earth and poisoning of the land, water and air from copper mining.

Better REDD Than Dead

By Rachel Sullivan, Fast Thinking, 1 February 2011 | “There have been a number of initiatives to protect tropical rainforests, but REDD is different,” says Oscar Venter, a biologist at the University of Queensland. “REDD projects offer the potential for participants to make a lot of money, so the carrot is very large.” … “REDD projects are different [from aid-funded forest conservation initiatives] because they are performance-based, that is, a community or organisation needs to prove that forest loss and associated carbon emissions are reduced before they are paid,” continues Venter. “Done right, this idea rewards everybody.” However, he cautions that there is a big difference in an idea put forward at policy level, and making it happen on the ground… The University of Queensland’s Venter is working on a different kind of REDD project, involving the development of a large-scale pilot program in the Berau District of East Kalimantan.

2 February 2011

International Year of Forests: Reason to be optimistic

By Frances Seymour, CIFOR’s blog, 2 February 2011 | This week the United Nations launches the International Year of Forests (IYF), and indeed 2011 begins with the future of the world’s tropical forests at a “tipping point”. Fortuitously, IYF is being launched at a moment when the stars are aligning for a step change in how forests are managed. When the idea of an international year dedicated to forests was first mooted years ago, no one had heard of the term “REDD” – reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation – nor would anyone have predicted that the link to climate protection would breathe so much life back into forestry discussions at national and international levels. Not since the world first became excited about tropical rainforests two decades ago have forests featured so high on the international agenda. Once again, heads of state are talking about forests, and making commitments of funding and policy change necessary to save them.

Romania probes carbon credits theft from Swiss Holcim

AFP, 2 February 2011 | Romanian prosecutors said Monday they had launched an investigation after the theft of 1.6 million carbon credits from the local branch of Swiss cement company Holcim. “A total of 1.6 million carbon credits, worth 24 million euros, have been transferred illegally,” the Department Investigating Organised Crime and Terrorism (DIICOT) said in a statement. About 600,000 credits have been recovered, a DIICOT spokeswoman told AFP. Late November, Holcim informed authorities about “10 unauthorised transfers of polluting rights from two of its accounts opened at the national registry of carbon credits.” Romanian prosecutors have requested rogatory commissions in Italy, Britain, Liechtenstein, Belgium and Israel. According to Romanian daily Gandul, the polluting rights were first transferred to Liechtenstein and then resold.

Indonesia Makes Startling Admission on Forests

AFP, 2 February 2011 | Indonesia admitted on Tuesday that hundreds of mine and plantation companies are operating illegally in Central Kalimantan, and promised to beef up law enforcement to protect forests and threatened species. The forestry ministry made the startling admission that less than 20 percent of plantation companies and less than 1.5 percent of mining firms had official operating permits in Central Kalimantan, on the Indonesian side of Borneo. “There are only 67 plantation companies out of 352 that operate legally in Central Kalimantan province, while there are only nine out of 615 mine units that operate legally,” the ministry said in a statement. The findings were released after an investigation by a task force set up by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to look into the “forest mafia” – networks of miners, planters and officials blamed for rampant illegal land clearing.

Forests Are More than Sinks that Inhale Carbon, Study Warns

By Catherine M. Cooney, Solve Climate, 2 February 2011 | “Forest governance, although it covers most of the issues, is very complex and badly coordinated,” Rayner told SolveClimate News. “And as a result, it is difficult to find a specific instrument that is forest-related, instead of forest-focused.” By “forest-focused,” Rayner is referring to international pacts that narrowly focus on forests as carbon sinks. Most of the well-meaning efforts intended to protect forests, including the Convention on Biological Diversity and the global boycotts of tropical timber, ignore forests’ contributions to agriculture, energy, medicine, and the livelihoods of millions of indigenous individuals, Rayner said.

REDD: Possibility of gaming the system is ‘massive’

Shub Niggurath Climate, 2 February 2011 | The Reuters report continues, quoting Bill Barclay of pressure group Rainforest Action Network, “Most of the places where REDD is going to be implemented have very high levels of corruption,” Barclay said. The greenhouse gas trading schemes in Europe have already been hit by scandals involving crime and speculative trading, he noted. “The possibility for gaming this thing is absolutely massive.”

If money grew on trees: business, rain forests and the failings of REDD

By Fiona Harvey (FT.com), 2 February 2011 | China Dialogue, Without a sturdy fundraising mechanism, REDD is worthless. It is a beautiful vehicle, lovingly crafted down to the last elegant detail, but without an engine; so it is doomed to failure. The engine that could have generated the cash is no longer there. Carbon trading is languishing. It could be revived, with a mighty effort of political will.

Forest Year warning of wrong solutions

Global Forest Coalition press release, 2 February 2011 | Critics from Global Justice Ecology Project, Global Forest Coalition, Dogwood Alliance, Timberwatch Coalition, BiofuelWatch, and Indigenous Environmental Network charge that the UN’s premier forest scheme: REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation), advanced amidst controversy at the recent UN Climate Summit in Cancún, will not protect forests or stop deforestation. “It is ironic that the UN is declaring 2011 the International Year of Forests considering that forests today are being destroyed and degraded faster than ever before,” said Blessing Karumbidza, researcher at the Timberwatch Coalition in South Africa.

The Ecosystem Marketplace’s Forest Carbon News

Ecosystem Marketplace, 2 February 2011 | Ecosystem Marketplace is pleased to announce an open call for organizations to contribute data to the State of the Voluntary Carbon Markets 2011 and State of the Forest Carbon Markets 2011 reports.

International Year of Forests launched

FAO press release, 2 February 2011 | The FAO report also stresses that urgent action is needed to protect the values of forests that sustain local livelihoods in the face of climate change. Recent decisions taken in Cancun in December 2010 on REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) should be aligned with broad forest governance reform and enable the participation of indigenous people and local communities. Their rights should be respected in national REDD+ activities and strategies, the report suggested. According to the report, countries will need to adopt legislation to clarify carbon rights and to ensure equitable distribution of costs and benefits from REDD+ schemes.

Under Forest Cover: Governance Risks And REDD+ Investment

By Lynann Butkiewicz, weathervane, 2 February 2011 | Colleagues at RFF have recently released an Issue Brief on Geographically Prioritizing Appropriations for the Sustainable Landscapes Program. It determines how the US should spend its $1 billion pledge in fast-start financing to developing countries to reduce carbon emissions from deforestation with key objectives to help countries prepare for REDD+ programs and to achieve cost-effective, sustainable net emissions reductions. The usual suspects of Indonesia, Brazil, and Mexico are listed as areas where Reducing Current Deforestation is needed the most and can be easily achieved. Following that is the Democratic Republic of Congo and Colombia among others in the Avoiding Future Deforestation camp. But what is surprising is the Potential REDD+ Investment group, accounting for an additional 15% of total forest carbon stock and 14% of total annual forest carbon emissions. This includes countries such as Argentina, PNG and Nigeria.

2011 International Year of Forests Creates Platform to Educate about Forests’ Value — Social, Environmental Costs of Losing Them, Secretary-General Says

iewy.com, 2 February 2011 | Following is the text of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s video message on the launch of the International Year of Forests, 2011, today, 2 February, in New York… By declaring 2011 as the International Year of Forests, the United Nations General Assembly has created an important platform to educate the global community about the great value of forests — and the extreme social, economic and environmental costs of losing them… The decision to move forward with REDD Plus will provide tangible results for the planet and the more than 1.6 billion people who depend on forests for sustenance and livelihoods.

Forest loss slows as UN marks ‘International Year of Forests’

mongabay.com, 2 February 2011 | Forests are a key part toward the shift toward a “greener” economy said a cadre of U.N. officials as the body officially launched its International Year of Forests to highlight the global importance of forests. “Every one of us, all seven billion people on earth, has our physical, economic and spiritual health tied to the health of our forest ecosystems,” said Jan McAlpine, the Director of the U.N. Forum on Forests, in a statement. “[Forests] are also cornerstones of our economies, whose real value has all too often been invisible in national accounts of profit and loss,” added Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the U.N. Environment Program.

Forest loss slows as Asian nations plant

By Richard Black, BBC News, 2 February 2011 | Forest loss across the world has slowed, largely due to a switch from felling to planting in Asia. China, Vietnam, the Philippines and India have all seen their forested areas increase in size. There are also gains in Europe and North America, but forests are being lost in Africa and Latin America driven by rising demand for food and firewood. The findings come in the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) State of the World’s Forests report. Environmental groups are warning that priority needs to be given to old forests and the biodiversity they maintain in the face of climate change and growing demand for resources.

Climate change talks in Cancun, Mexico: a step forward?

By Jan Anton Hough, Consultancy Africa Intelligence, 2 February 2011 | However, the Cancún conference on climate change did little to resolve key issues on climate change, such as providing new binding commitments for countries to reduce their GHG emissions post-Kyoto. At the same time, both the Copenhagen and Cancún conferences cast some doubt upon the UN’s ability to foster real commitment among world leaders to damp GHG emissions. Pilot forest conservation projects have been firmly established in countries in Africa. In the process, many opponents of these projects express fear that these will only entrench a sense of an old colonial-style ownership of these forests, marginalising local forest inhabitants’ rights to access. As key issues pertaining to REDD projects have not been resolved in Cancún, the author sees these projects currently to be fragile in their ability to really conserve forests in Africa.

Calif court tentatively rules AB 32 implementation unlawful

By Cara Horowitz, Legal Planet, 2 February 2011 | A California superior court has issued a proposed decision, not yet final, holding that ARB failed to comply with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) in its adoption of the Scoping Plan that is guiding its implementation of AB 32, California’s landmark climate change law. The ruling proposes to set aside ARB’s CEQA documentation and to enjoin “any implementation of the Scoping Plan” until ARB corrects the CEQA violation. Among other things, such a ruling would presumably affect the roll-out of California’s first-in-the-nation carbon cap and trade program, which is slated to take effect in January 2012.

US Fund Mines Carbon Gold in Arkansas Trees

By Hannah Kett, Forest Carbon Portal, 2 February 2011 | The United States may not have capped its national greenhouse gas emissions, but the US state of California did cap its state emissions – and voters there seconded the state’s decision when they rejected Proposition 23, which would have all but killed cap-and-trade. The end of Prop 23 could mean the beginning of a great experiment to see if people in the United States can make money by doing good. This carbon fund is betting on a positive outcome.

3 February 2011

Global Food Prices Continue Soaring, U.N. Says

By Neil MacFarquhar, New York Times, 3 February 2011 | Global food prices are moving ever higher, hitting record levels last month as a jittery market reacted to unpredictable weather and tight supplies, according to a United Nations report released Thursday. It was the seventh month in a row of food price increases, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, which put out the report. And with some basic food stocks low, prices will probably continue reaching new heights, at least until the results of the harvest next summer are known, analysts said. “Uncertainty itself is a new factor in the market that pushes up prices and will not push them down,” said Abdolreza Abbassian, an economist and the grain expert at F.A.O. “People don’t trust anyone to tell them about the harvest and the weather, so it has to await harvest time.”

Complacency over deforestation pushes orang-utan closer to extinction

By Jimmy Bond, The Guardian, 3 February 2011 | The destruction of the world’s rainforests continues at an alarming rate. Where I’m from in Borneo, illegal logging, coupled with hunting, is driving species such as the orang-utan ever closer towards extinction. There are three subspecies of orangutan in Borneo and we only have about 2,000 orangutans left in the wild in West Kalimantan province, and through deforestation and hunting their numbers continue to fall. Just last month I heard from villagers that some people are still killing and eating them even though they’re supposed to be protected by law. I’ve just been travelling around the region in this part of Indonesia as I’ve been running a series of summer schools as part of a WWF awareness campaign to highlight the problems facing the orang-utan.

Five EU national emissions registries to reopen Friday: EC

platts.com, 3 February 2011 | Five of the 30 national emissions registries in the EU Emissions Trading System are to reopen Friday, the European Commission said Thursday. The registries in France, Germany, the Netherlands, Slovakia and the UK are all to reopen after national authorities submitted reports to the EC showing they had adopted sufficient security measures to meet the minimum required.

Mass tree deaths prompt fears of Amazon ‘climate tipping point’

By Damian Carrington, The Guardian, 3 February 2011 | Billions of trees died in the record drought that struck the Amazon in 2010, raising fears that the vast forest is on the verge of a tipping point, where it will stop absorbing greenhouse gas emissions and instead increase them… “Put starkly, current emissions pathways risk playing Russian roulette with the world’s largest forest,” said tropical forest expert Simon Lewis, at the University of Leeds, and who led the research published today in the journal Science. Lewis was careful to note that significant scientific uncertainties remain and that the 2010 and 2005 drought – thought then to be of once-a-century severity – might yet be explained by natural climate variation. “We can’t just wait and see because there is no going back,” he said. “We won’t know we have passed the point where the Amazon turns from a sink to a source until afterwards, when it will be too late.”

Food, Egypt, and Wall Street

By Robert Alvarer, IPS, 3 February 2011 | The dramatic rise in food prices is fueling a great deal of discontent in Tunisia, Egypt and elsewhere. It’s a deep undercurrent propelling many of the poor, who face prospects of starvation to resort to the streets and to violence. According to the United Nation’s Food Agency (Food and Agriculture Organization – FAO) world food prices are up for the 7th month in a row and are likely to surpass the record high reached in December 2010… The media is reporting many reasons for this problem ranging from soaring demand, cuts in food subsidies, droughts, and government mandates to use more grain-based biofuel. But, another significant factor is at play: unfettered speculation by investment banks… At issue are the still deregulated commodity markets ushered in by the Clinton administration and the U.S. Congress with the passage of the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000.

UN report lauds India for adding 300,000 hectares of forest every year

Hindustan Times, 3 February 2011 | Asia is leading afforestation activity in the world with a significant contribution from India which is adding 300,000 hectares of forest every year, a senior UN official said. “I would highlight India, which still has important population growth. The forests in India are growing at 300,000 hectare per annum,” Eduardo Rojas Briales, Forestry Director of Food and Agriculture Organisation told journalists on Wednesday. According to the ‘State of the World’s Forests’ report, published by the Food and Agricultural Organisation, five countries – India, China, Australia, Indonesia and Myanmar – had the largest forested area in Asia and Pacific region. These countries accounted for 74% of the forest in the region, with China and Australia alone accounting for almost half the forest area of the region.

Norway forest $$ Steering Committee still to hold second meeting

Stabroek News, 3 February 2011 | Another meeting of the Steering Committee of the Guyana REDD+ Investment Fund (GRIF) has not been held since the first one in November last year. At that meeting, a tentative mid-January date had been set for the second Steering Committee meeting. The GRIF is the financial mechanism for the ongoing cooperation on climate change between Guyana and Norway… [R-M: subscription needed.]

World Leaders, Environment Experts Call for Sustainable Forest Management as United Nations Forum Launches International Year, 2011

mmdnewswire.com, 3 February 2011 | Environmental experts and world leaders called today for the sustainable management of forests in the interest of human development as the United Nations Forum on Forests began its High-level Ministerial Segment by launching the International Year of Forests, 2011, which was followed by discussions on people-centred forestry and financing for forest communities. “We have a chance to agree on how best to realize the full potential of forests – for sustainable development, economic stability, the fight against poverty and our efforts to ensure future prosperity for all,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said as he opened the proceedings via video message.

Free, prior and informed consent of Indigenous Peoples

Amazon Watch press release, 3 February 2011 | ndustrial resource extraction is posing grave threats to the survival of indigenous peoples in the Amazon Basin and there are serious moral, legal and financial reasons for corporations to stem the tide of abuse and respect indigenous peoples’ rights, Amazon Watch said in a briefing paper released today. The paper, entitled The Right to Decide: The Importance of Respecting Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC), makes the case that respecting indigenous peoples’ rights is not just a moral imperative, but also a business necessity for corporations to avoid financial risk, reputational damage, divestment campaigns, operational delays due to social unrest, multi-billion dollar legal liabilities, and loss of license to operate.

United Nations Forum Adopts Ministerial Declaration Expressing Commitment to Better Highlight Role of Forests in Economic, Social Development

un.org, 3 February 2011 | Niels Ellers Koch, President, International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO), said that given the continuing degradation and loss of the world’s forests, and factors that could increase the losses in the future, it was crucial to move towards an interlinked view of the problem. Many elements of the enhanced programme for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, the so called REDD-plus, already existed, he said, citing partnerships, dialogues, round tables, working groups, regional initiatives and collaborations. However, such efforts needed a different kind of coordination and support from that they were currently receiving, he said, adding that institutions and funding mechanisms must be used more effectively.

Communities not getting a say in how forests are managed

By John Vidal, The Guardian, 3 February 2011 | “This is a moment of government remorse, regret and mea culpas. There has been shockingly little progress since the … global forestry congress dedicated to ‘people and forests’ in Jakarta in 1978,” said Andy White, co-ordinator of the Washington-based Rights and Resources Initiative. “If governments had taken their agreements seriously then deforestation would not be a major cause of climate change, and contributing more carbon emissions than the entire global transport fleet, and northern governments would not be robbing their budgets for promoting health, education and poverty reduction to pay tropical governments and their industries to stop deforestation,” he added.

Amazon Drought Accelerating Climate Change

By Stephen Leahy, IPS, 3 February 2011 | Last year’s severe drought in the Amazon will pump billions of tonnes of additional carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere, a new report has found. Researchers calculate that millions of trees died in 2010, which means the Amazon is soaking up much less CO2 from the atmosphere, and those dead trees will now release all the carbon they’ve accumulated over 300 or more years. The widespread 2010 drought follows a similar drought in 2005 which itself will put an additional five billion tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere, Simon Lewis of University of Leeds in the UK and colleagues calculate in a study published Thursday in Science. The United States emitted 5.4 billion tonnes of CO2 from fossil fuel use in 2009.

International Year of Forests Begins – Deforestation Slows But Extent of What’s Lost Becomes Clear

By Matthew McDermott, Treehugger, 3 February 2011 | So according to the UN it’s the International Year of Forests (last year it was biodiversity, for those with short memories), which means that in coincidence with the official start of that year there are a number of reports released highlighting the state of the world’s forests. There’s good news and bad news. First the good news: Asia Overtakes Europe For Forest Expansion… And here’s the less good news: In 10 Hotspots There’s Under 10% of Original Forest Cover Remaining.

Environmental groups deny ‘conspiracy’ claims by Madagascar’s acting leader

By Rhett A. Butler, wildmadagascar.org, 3 February 2011 | Two environmental groups investigating the illegal rosewood trade flatly rejected claims by Madagascar’s acting president that they are involved in a campaign to undermine his rule. Andry Rajoelina, the former mayor of the capital city of Antananarivo who assumed power following civil strife in March 2009, claimed last month in an interview with Revue de l’océan Indien that the London-based Global Witness and the Washington D.C.-based Environmental Investigation Agency were attempting to sully his image through their undercover investigation into the rosewood trade. The groups found evidence suggesting that Rajoelina was involved in rosewood trafficking. The evidence included video footage of Chinese rosewood traders claiming to deal directly with Rajoelina.

International Year of Forests must bring paradigm change in global forest policies

Global Witness press release, 3 February 2011 | International plans to tackle deforestation include a proposal known as ‘Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation’ – or REDD whereby rich countries pay developing countries to reduce deforestation; the proposal could see over US$30 billion per year flow into some of the world’s poorest countries. This scheme could provide a way to tackle deforestation, but only if it prevents any subsidies for logging, and includes effective safeguards which protect biodiversity, ensure forest community rights are upheld and prevent corruption. Any further finance must be benchmarked against progress in these areas.

4 February 2011

Massive UN-Supported African Palm Plantations Leading to Oppression, Kidnapping and Murder

By Jeff Conant, AlterNet, 4 February 2011 | The region has been long marked by conflicts over land and land reform; but today in the Aguan Valley – prime real estate for plantations of African palm – the stakes have increased dramatically. With the global biofuel rush, and with the expansion of carbon markets, which can provide massive underwriting for projects that appear “green,” but in many cases may be anything but, the promise of carbon credits and free money from climate-financing schemes like the U.N.-backed Clean Development Mechanism, appear to be among the causes of renewed violence.

Catastrophic drought in the Amazon

By Steve Connor, The Independent, 4 February 2011 | A widespread drought in the Amazon rainforest last year caused the “lungs of the world” to produce more carbon dioxide than they absorbed, potentially leading to a dangerous acceleration of global warming. Scientists have calculated that the 2010 drought was more intense than the “one-in-100-year” drought of 2005. They are predicting it will result in some eight billion tonnes of carbon dioxide being expelled from the Amazon rainforest, which is more than the total annual carbon emissions of the United States. For the second time in less than a decade, the earth’s greatest rainforest released more carbon dioxide than it absorbed because many of its trees dried out and died.

European carbon market reopens but traders stay away

By Terry Macalister, The Guardian, 4 February 2011 | Attempts to end the chaos inside Europe’s emissions trading scheme (ETS) stumbled today when the market reopened, only for minimal trading to take place. Traders were said to be worried that business could remain polluted by the theft of carbon credits in Austria and elsewhere that forced a shutdown of the scheme on 19 January, at the estimated cost of £90m in lost business. The European commission has called on national carbon registries to beef up their IT security systems, but has upset traders by declining to publicly reveal the minimum standards now required.

Amazon’s uncontacted tribe: how media coverage can trigger action

By John Vidal, The Guardian, 4 February 2011 | Survival International, an NGO that is campaigning for the tribe’s protection, says that it has had nearly 1.2m page views on its website in three days, compared to an average of about 15,000 a day. Yesterday morning, less than 36 hours after the pictures were posted on websites, the Peruvian foreign ministry leapt into action, announcing it would immediately work with Brazil to stop the loggers entering the tribe’s territory along the joint border. “We will establish contact with Brazil’s FUNAI institute [National Indian Foundation] … to preserve these peoples and avoid the incursion of illegal loggers and the depredation of the Amazon,” said the government.

Drought aggravated Amazon closer to tipping point of collapse

Daily Kos, 4 February 2011 | Between 16 and 17 percent of Amazon rainforests have already been destroyed by deforestation, Mongabay reports. “Logging, clearing, fragmentation, and human-started fires are common occurrences in parts of Amazonian… Although deforestation has slowed recently, it has not stopped. Combined with climate change, these on the ground changes could further push some regions to large-scale forest die-off.” There has been an overall 25 percent decline in rainfall in the southeastern Amazon over the past four years, [Daniel] Nepstad [a tropical biologist at IPAM] said. The dryness has sparked huge forest fires that cover up to 3,860 square miles (10,000 square km) and the smoke inhibits rainfall, causing more drying the forests. “Forests diebacks are taking place all around the world. The evidence is quite sobering,” Nepstad said.

Satellite scan may improve forest watch

Jakarta Post, 4 February 2011 | Remote sensing through a radar satellite may advance monitoring on forest carbon, the focal point of the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) plus mechanism, experts say. By utilizing synthetic aperture radar (SAR) satellites, Indonesia could measure, report and verify activities in its forests and plantation areas more comprehensively and unhampered by difficult geographical and aerial condition in several islands. “We can measure more accurately the levels of deforestation and forest degradation by using a high-resolution radar satellite due to the fact that most of Indonesia’s area is covered by cloud,” Nur Hidayat, the National Aeronautics and Space Agency’s (LAPAN) Deputy Director of Remote Sensing, said on Wednesday. He said that several areas in Indonesia, especially Kalimantan and Papua, were blanketed by cloud all year long, making it difficult to sustain monitoring.

O le Siosiomaga’s view on Cancun

actforclimatejustice.org, 4 February 2011 | Fiu Mataese Elisara, the Executive Director of O le Siosiomaga Society Samoa attended the COP16 of UNFCCC in Cancun, Mexico. This is his report about the event: … I was concerned that Kevin Conrad from Washington USA continues to be driving the voice of the government of PNG and wonder it the two PNG nationals and government officials who flanked him really understand what this meant for the majority of the peoples of PNG. When this same USA adviser to the Prime Minister of PNG was allegedy the origin of REDD in the UNFCCC process, I find it hard to accept that the heavy focus on REDD in a Cancun outcome will ultimately generate REDD engagements in many of the countries in the South that will only result in the rich countries and their companies reaping profits from evictions of indigenous peoples, land crabbing of the worst magnitude, deforestation, and destruction of biodiversity.

Different approaches

Climate Connections, 4 February 2011 | The REDD system is under discussion at the UN climate negotiations. Real World Radio interviewed Tom Goldtooth, member of the Indigenous Environmental Network. The leader said that REDD is a market mechanism that “commodifies” forests. “In our opinion, it doesn’t address the true issues and concerns of climate change”, he said.

Amazon Drought Caused Huge Carbon Emissions

By Stuart Grudgings, Reuters, 4 February 2011 | A widespread drought in the Amazon rain forest last year was worse than the “once-in-a-century” dry spell in 2005 and may have a bigger impact on global warming than the United States does in a year, British and Brazilian scientists said on Thursday. More frequent severe droughts like those in 2005 and 2010 risk turning the world’s largest rain forest from a sponge that absorbs carbon emissions into a source of the gases, accelerating global warming, the report found… “If events like this happen more often, the Amazon rain forest would reach a point where it shifts from being a valuable carbon sink slowing climate change to a major source of greenhouse gases that could speed it up,” said lead author Simon Lewis, an ecologist at the University of Leeds.

5 February 2011

Illegal timber sold by British businesses putting world’s forests at risk

By Tracy McViegh, The Guardian, 5 February 2011 | British firms are still selling wood products that come from questionable sources in parts of the world where illegal logging is having a devastating effect, a new study has revealed. The report found that wood used in kitchen worktops, doors and decking, on sale in the UK, comes from parts of Indonesia, Malaysia and the Congo Basin where illegal felling is putting animals, plants and people under threat. Numerous species, including the orangutan, are under direct threat of extinction because of the black market trade in timber. The “What Wood You Choose?” study suggested British businesses aren’t checking their sources and in some cases are even misleading the public that the wood they are selling has ethical credentials where none exist.

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