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REDD in the news: 21-27 March 2011

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REDD in the news: 21-27 March 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.

Uncertainty of C Emission Estimates in the Brazilian Amazon: implications for REDD projects

Wageningen University, no date | Dr. Carlos Souza Jr. will present his work on: Uncertainty of C Emission Estimates in the Brazilian Amazon: implications for REDD projects. The Lunch presentation will take place on March 28 from 11:45 until 12:45 in Lumen room 1&2, Wageningen. The negotiation under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) for the financial mechanism proposal to compensate tropical forest countries for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) is advancing. However, the effectiveness of the REDD mechanism to mitigate C emissions – and associated climate change impacts – may be compromised due to high uncertainty of information about deforestation and forest degradation emissions.

REDD+ politics in the media: a case study from Vietnam

CIFOR, 2011 | Since 2009, CIFOR has initiated the Global Comparative Study of REDD+ in six countries: Bolivia, Brazil, Cameroon, Indonesia, Tanzania and Vietnam. In analysing national REDD+ policy arenas and emerging strategies, CIFOR researchers have developed five areas of work for each country. These include a country profile, media analysis, policy network analysis, strategy assessment and a fifth area of specific policy studies, to be determined by emerging research results. In 2010 we are publishing the first country profiles and media analyses.

Impacts of REDD-plus in Southeast Asia

University of East Anglia, no date | This project will analyse how REDD-plus mechanisms may reduce carbon emissions and maintain or enhance existing stocks of carbon in vegetation and soil of various land cover types. It will also examine the impact of REDD-plus on the livelihoods and welfare of local farming communities, its contribution to rural poverty alleviation and on biodiversity conservation in the region. The project aims to develop a realistic framework for monitoring, reporting and verification of the REDD-plus mechanism, including the importance of governance and accountability at multiple levels. Whereas other REDD-plus projects have a strong focus on the humid tropical lowlands, this project will focus on the upland forest-agriculture frontiers of Southeast Asia…

21 March 2011

Interest buoys State

By Samisoni Nabilivalu, Fiji Times, 21 March 2011 | A government department is buoyed by many landowners being interested in the REDD-plus (reducing emission from deforestation and degradation) policy. Department of Fisheries and Forests director Jope Davetanivalu said they were happy despite it having taken a while. “An important exercise in our consultations with them was the identification of the drivers (human causes) of carbon stock change, deforestation and degradation. “It was necessary for developing an effective REDD-plus strategy and for establishing the appropriate monitoring systems for these drivers.” Scientists estimate that deforestation and forest degradation account for 20 per cent of the annual greenhouse gas emissions that fuel climate change.

Government To Come Down Hard On Illegal Loggers

Bernama, 21 March 2011 | Illegal loggers beware! The Natural Resources and Environment Ministry is getting more aggressive in its war against illegal logging in the country. And, it is to be armed with tougher legislation by way of an amendment to the National Forestry Act 1984, which seeks prove of the source of suspected illegal timber, doubles the penalty to RM1 million, and increases the minimum mandatory jail sentence from one year to five years. “We hope that with the more deterrent provisions in the Forestry Act, we would be able to decrease illegal logging which continuously degrades our forests,” said Minister Datuk Seri Douglas Uggah Embas. He spoke to reporters after the 40th World Forestry Day celebration and the launch of the national-level International Forestry Year 2011 by Johor Menteri Besar Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman at Taman Wilayah Nusajaya, here, Monday.

PNG PM found guilty of misconduct

By Ilya Gridneff, AAP, 21 March 2011 | Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Michael Somare has been found guilty of 13 charges of misconduct in office for submitting annual financial statements late or incomplete. A three-member tribunal sitting in Port Moresby handed down its decision on Monday afternoon and will reconvene on Tuesday to hear recommendations for an appropriate penalty. Somare, 74, who has been at the forefront of PNG politics for 40 years, will remain in the top job and is expected to be punished only with a small fine. Tribunal chairman Roger Gyles told the packed courtroom Somare was guilty of eight charges relating to filing incomplete financial statements as is required under PNG’s leadership code. Somare was also found guilty on five charges related to providing late records, Mr Gyles said. But Somare escaped the three more serious charges of failing to provide any statement at all.

World Forestry Day reflections – what next for REDD+?

Climate & Development Knowledge Network, 21 March 2011 | The Cancun Agreement on REDD+ sought to safeguard the multiple uses and benefits of forests, and discuss the challenges of integrating forests and REDD+ into broader low-carbon development strategies… Throughout its development, the REDD+ mechanism has been criticised for focusing too heavily on the role of forests in the carbon cycle, to the exclusion of other values. The safeguards (Annex 1) in the REDD+ agreement recognise and promote these broader values, suggesting that REDD+ activities should take into account the ‘multiple functions of forests’ and be ‘implemented in the context of sustainable development and reducing poverty’. The safeguards also underline how the knowledge and rights of indigenous people and local communities, as well as full participation of local stakeholders, should be promoted and supported when undertaking REDD+ activities.

Climate change: UN parties complete inventory of pledges

AFP, 21 March 2011 | Developing countries have submitted their plans for tackling greenhouse-gas emissions under the UN flag, completing a double inventory decided in Mexico in December, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change said on Monday. The listing of voluntary, “nationally appropriate” actions follows an inventory of emissions reduction targets by developed countries, the Bonn-based secretariat said. The documents form the basis of a system of “mutual accountability”, a planned confidence-building mechanism to let countries know what counterparts are doing in the fight against climate change. The 194 UNFCCC parties also agreed in Cancun to establish a Green Climate Fund (GCF) with the potential to channel hundreds of billions of dollars in aid from rich economies to poor, vulnerable nations. They rallied around a call to cap warming to two degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) and on ways to fight deforestation, a leading cause of climate change.

Nigeria: Systematic Use of Fertilizers Can Save Forests, Fight Climate Change – Study

Leadership (Abuja), 21 March 2011 | As the world grapples with the challenges of feeding an ever-growing population, findings from a recent research by International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA), showed that science-based farming methods integrating the systematic use of fertilizers by farmers can significantly reduce the need to clear forest land for agriculture. Findings of the research, published in the latest issue of Environmental Management Journal, also showed that the use of fertilizers and improved cocoa varieties by smallholder farmers could have averted the destruction of some 2.1 million hectares of the Guinean forest of West Africa and the subsequent emission of 1.4 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere valued at over $1.6 billion.

Where does the future lie for forestry?

By Neil Bird, ODI Blog, 21 March 2011 | Three myths have taken hold about the nature of tropical forests: That these sylvan expanses are a sustainable resource upon which social and economic development can be built. That these renewable natural resources can provide a viable economic route for many of the world’s poor to escape the desperation of poverty. And that forests – and in particular tropical forests in the poorer countries of the world – should be preserved as a reservoir of irreplaceable biodiversity. The latest manifestation of this global consensus is the huge attention now being given to reducing deforestation within the climate change policy arena, with the creation of yet another international acronym: REDD (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation).

Malaysia: Precedent-Setting Land Deal In Palm Oil Expansion Zone In Borneo

Forest Peoples Programme press release, 21 March 2011 | A new oil palm plantation being developed in Indonesian Borneo (West Kalimantan) has relinquished community lands to which it had gained a government permit. The company PT Agro Wiratama, a member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and subsidiary of the giant Musim Mas group, agreed to relinquish more than 1,000 hectares of its 9,000 hectare concession back to the community, following interventions by community representatives and NGOs. In the context of a pattern of development whereby millions of hectares of large-scale oil palm plantations have been established without consent on indigenous peoples’ land, this is a breakthrough, said Marcus Colchester, Director of the international human rights group, Forest Peoples Programme. We spotted PT Agro Wiratama’s plans to open up this area on the RSPO website and were able to alert our partners in Borneo.

World Water Day: Global outrage over Ethiopia mega-dam

Survival International, 21 March 2011 | Almost 400 organizations have signed a petition against Africa’s tallest dam, which will be delivered to Ethiopian embassies across Europe and the United States to mark World Water Day on Tuesday 22nd March. At least eight tribes in Ethiopia and about 300,000 people living around the famous Lake Turkana in Kenya are threatened by the Gibe III dam on the Omo River. Copies of the petition will be delivered in France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, the UK and the USA. The dam, which the Ethiopian government reports is 40% complete, will destroy the natural flood patterns so vital for the Omo tribes’ cultivation methods. Although the government claims an ‘artificial flood’ will solve the problem, the dam constructors last year revealed plans for the tribes to ‘switch from flood-retreat agriculture to more modern (sic) forms of agriculture’ following a ‘transitory period’.

Sharing experiences implementing REDD

Voice of Vietnam, 21 March 2011 | A seminar is being held in Da Lat City from March 21-23 to share experiences and technical initiatives in implementing the “Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD)” programme. The seminar attracted nearly 100 delegates from many countries around the world and many citizens participating in the REDD programme in Vietnam. They shared information and experiences implementing the programme in Vietnam as well as in other regions in the world. They also discussed related issues, such as the role and importance of REDD for coping with global climate change, how citizens will benefit when they join the programme, and managing REDD in localities. The initiatives proposed by delegates from Vietnam, the US, Norway, Indonesia and Cambodia were highly praised at the seminar because they are important for every country, locality and citizen that wants to achieve the best results from the REDD programme.

Climate crisis hurting indigenous peoples

By Vincent Cabreza, inquirer.net, 21 March 2011 | Indigenous Filipinos are hurting from a growing “climate crisis,” evidenced by stronger typhoons and other calamities, so the government must grant them access to information, provide them control over ancestral domain and promote the use of indigenous species in government reforestation. This was the substance of a synthesis of two international summits last year written by the Baguio-based Tebtebba (Indigenous Peoples’ International Center for Policy Research and Education)… But the log ban imposed recently by President Aquino responds to a basic recommendation that came out of the Indigenous Peoples’ Regional Summits on Climate Change and REDD Plus on Sept. 26-28, 2010, and on Nov. 25-27, 2010, the Tebtebba report said. It said the government should “stop the issuance of permits on logging, mining and other development projects or extractive industries,” at least, without obtaining the IP’s free, informed and prior consent (FPIC).

REDD+ monitoring and information overview

By Peter Holmgren (FAO), 21 March 2011 | Outline 1. Monitoring and information for REDD+ 2. Links to the UN-REDD strategy and actions 3. Monitoring requirements 4. Proposed next steps.

Global Witness’s role on the UN-REDD Policy Board

Global Witness, 21 March 2011 This page contains further information on the UN-REDD Policy Board and documents relating to UN-REDD, including Global Witness’ reviews of proposed national REDD+ programmes and reports from Policy Board meetings… Global Witness is one of four civil society organizations elected to the UN-REDD Policy Board in September 2009 and represents developed country non-governmental organisations. The other three organisations represent each of the three UN-REDD Programme regions: Africa, Asia-Pacific, and Latin America and the Caribbean.

22 March 2011

Gambia nominated for world forestry awards

By Kebba Ansu Manneh, Today Newspaper, 22 March 2011 | The Gambia has nominated for the Community Forestry Management Awards under the Future Policy Award 2011, being organized by the World Future Council, a Hamburg-based charitable foundation which brings the interests of future generations to the centre of policy-making across the world. Through the Future Policy Award, the Council celebrates the world’s most exemplary national policies that create better living conditions for current and future generations and that produce practical and tangible results. According to a press release from the Council, The Gambia has been recognized for its sustainable forestry policies and good practices, which it notes are cognizant of the needs of future generations.

Deutsche Bank to pay damages over swaps

By James Wilson, Financial Times, 22 March 2011 | Deutsche Bank suffered a blow on Tuesday when Germany’s top civil court ruled that the bank was in breach of its duties when it sold a complex interest rate product to a corporate client. Germany’s largest bank by assets will have to pay €541,000 ($770,000) in damages after the judgment, which could set a precedent for similar claims against the bank. Deutsche was sued by Ille Papier, a maker of hygiene products, which bought a “spread ladder swap” from the bank in 2005. As interest rates moved adversely, the company lost money on the swap deal and paid Deutsche to terminate its contract early. The verdict from the federal court of justice, the highest appeals court in Germany, is the first in a series of cases outstanding against Deutsche and other banks from clients that bought similar products on advice from their lenders, hoping to minimise interest payments.

In-depth probe needed into cocaine in timber – Sattaur

Stabroek News, 22 March 2011 | Commissioner General of the Guyana Revenue Authority Khurshid Sattaur yesterday said that only a detailed investigation could identify at what point the several hundred million dollars of cocaine, which Jamaican authorities found among timber on board a ship from Guyana was placed in the container. “…The logs and the containers were handled by several persons and agencies starting with the exporters and ultimately ending with the shippers. A breach could have taken place at any point in that chain and only a detailed investigation would identify… [R-M: subscription needed]

The mystery cocaine shipment

Kaieteur News, 22 March 2011 | There can be no reasonable explanation for the recent cocaine find among lumber shipped from Guyana. At present the authorities are pointing fingers in every direction except at themselves. Each individual who had something to do with either the logging industry or with the shipping of goods out of Guyana. The international community is serious about fighting drugs that are headed for their ports. Indeed, the drugs fetch big dollars once they land in North America and even more when they land in Europe. Because of this local dealers target those ports and there is a widely held view that most of the major constructions being undertaken are from the proceeds of the drug deals in Europe and North America. Because of this there are continued efforts to get the drugs to these ports.

Blame it on the Rain!

Kaieteur News, 22 March 2011 | The Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) and the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) have been both trading exchanges about who did what and who was supposed to do what. This is quite mystifying considering that each has a specific role in relation to exports and neither can be said to be duplicating the role of the other. There is a difference between the certification of lumber exports for quality control and other regulatory purposes and the checking of exports to ensure that there is no illegal substances secreted within. The exchanges started with the boast by one official of knowing who was behind the shipment and indicating that the nation would be surprised when they learn the identity. Then the blame game started with each side attempting to indicate that it was the responsibility of the other to check the container and then later that the container was switched from one ship to other.

GRA, GFC clash over shipping procedures

Kaieteur News, 22 March 2011 | Following the seizure of a large stash of cocaine last week by Jamaican authorities in a container of logs from Guyana, the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) has denied that it is responsible for the clearing or packing of items for export. But the state’s revenue agency, the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) said that GFC is responsible for ‘clearing’ forestry products for shipping while the Customs is responsible for ‘processing’ the declaration. GRA also said that it is too early to point fingers since there are discrepancies in the manner the logs were handled at different times while being cleared in Guyana. Last Wednesday, Jamaica’s Customs announced that it had seized 122.65 kilos of cocaine at Port Bustamante in Kingston with a street value of more than $700M.

GFC has no responsibility for packing, sealing export containers

Guyana Chronicle, 22 March 2011 | The Ministry of Agriculture says the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) has no responsibility for the packing of forest produce into containers, or the examining and sealing of any container destined for export. Further, it says the GFC is actively collaborating with the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA), the Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU) and the relevant Jamaican and other counterparts to identify and bring the perpetrators responsible for this criminal act to justice. In a release sent to media houses yesterday, the Ministry of Agriculture said the GFC notes with great concern, an article appearing in the Stabroek News of Saturday, March 19, 2011, captioned ‘Cocaine container wasn’t on shipping record – cleared by forestry, not customs’.

The Commissioner General and the Vega Azurit incident

Stabroek News, 22 March 2011 | In the matter of Customs officers’ responsibility for inspecting incoming and outgoing vessels [Commissioner General of the Guyana Revenue Authority Khurshid] Sattaur said: “I’m not making excuses. But this aspect of law enforcement has been challenging even the CANU. Can you imagine what the implications mean to us here in Revenue?” Of course we understand, Mr Sattaur. We understand too that the vulnerabilities of training and resources limit the effectiveness of Customs in the execution of this particular responsibility, and that those deficiencies work to the advantage of drug traffickers. What we do not understand are official responses to incidents which might result from those vulnerabilities that often appear to be characterized by cover-ups rather than candidness.

‘Cocaine with logs’ – govt.’s primary responsibility for legality verification

By Janette Bulkan, letter to the editor, Kaieteur News, 22 March 2011 | It is no doubt a coincidence that the discovery in Jamaica of 122 kg of cocaine inside a container of logs was reported just one day before the article, “Guyana reviews system to ensure that logging meets international standards” (Kaieteur News 18 March 2011). The Efeca consultancy report to the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) and the Forest Products Development and Marketing Council will take some time to finalise, but the cocaine episode shows a number of weaknesses in the command-and-control approach to government. Guyana has been intermittently developing a legality assurance system since 1999, when SGS proposed a timber tracking system. The partial implementation of that proposal by the GFC created opportunities for corrupt malpractices (www.illegal-logging.info).

Amaila Falls Hydro Inc. Publishes Environmental and Social Impact Assessment Report for Public Comment

Sithe Global press release, 22 March 2011 | Amaila Falls Hydro Inc. (“AFH”) is pleased to release the updated Environmental and Social Impact Assessment Report (“ESIA”) on the proposed Amaila Hydropower Project (the “Project”). The ESIA can be found here on this site and should soon be available on the Guyana Environmental Protection Agency website at http://www.epaguyana.org.

Migration to Amaila Hydropower area to be managed

Demerara Waves, 22 March 2011 | The likely impact of Chinese workers and locals lured by the opening up of the areas surrounding the Amaila Falls Hydropower Project in Region 8 have garnered attention in the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) released on Tuesday. Investors are looking to control the likely influx of migrants to the surrounding forested areas as access increases with the construction of a new access road and the improvement of existing ones leading to the facility. Amaila Falls Hydro Inc. (AFH) on Tuesday released the ESIA update which stated that there is an increased risk with people looking to enter the forested areas to generate income from extracting activities.

Jatropha Biofuel Project: Emissions Up to Six Times Greater Than Fossil Fuels

Climate and Capitalism, 22 March 2011 | A biofuel currently considered a green, renewable alternative to oil could cause up to six times more carbon emissions than fossil fuels, a study by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, ActionAid and Nature Kenya has revealed. The report comes as petroleum once again climbs above $100 a barrel, pushing the demand for biofuel sky high. The study analysed whether biofuels made from jatropha grown at a proposed plantation in the Dakatcha Woodlands in Kenya would save emissions when compared to fossil fuels. Taking into account the emissions produced throughout the production and consumption process, the study found that jatropha would emit between 2.5 and 6 times more greenhouse gases, depending on how the land was used before the jatropha was planted.

23 March 2011

Aceh’s Logging Ban Up for Award Despite Flaws

By Fidelis E. Satriastanti, Jakarta Globe, 23 March 2011 | Hariadi Kartodiharjo, a forestry expert from the Bogor Agricultural University, said the moratorium [in Aceh] was not adequately researched and discussed. Most of the debate centered around conducting local patrols to prevent illegal logging, but overall forest management was not addressed, problems likely to arise had not been anticipated and the need for capacity building had not been recognized… Nevertheless, he said the moratorium was a “progressive” move, considering that most other provinces have not responded to forest destruction. He said another problem is implementation and enforcement, adding that most people think once logging licenses were revoked, the forests were safe. “Who could guarantee that? We are aware of how weak the government is in forestry management,” he said. Hariadi said stopping logging is only one part of the moratorium – it’s just as much about developing a sustainable system for forest management.

Amaila hydropower plant may face delays in financing – developer

By Mark McGowan, Stabroek News, 23 March 2011 | The developer of the Amaila Falls Hydroelectric Plant (AFHEP) yesterday admitted that there may be delays in securing financing for the project. The announcement was made by Senior Vice President of Sithe Global LLC Rafael Herz during a media briefing at the Pegasus Hotel, where he also said that the plant would generate an additional 11 megawatts (MW) of power, increasing the total capacity to 165 MW at possibly no significant increase in construction cost. Currently, Sithe Global is still in the process of finalizing funding for the project and Herz admitted that this is a complex undertaking: “We are currently foreseeing potentially also some delays in ultimately obtaining the financing because it takes [some] time and things have to come together.” He, however, noted that the release of the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) is an important part in advancing the process. [R-M: subscription needed]

Final price tag still open

By Gary Eleazar, 23 March 2011 | At what was described as a “historic milestone” Senior Vice President of Sithe Global, Rafael Herz, yesterday unveiled to the media and members of the public the updated Environmental and Social Impact Assessment Report (ESIA) on the proposed Amaila Falls Hydro Electric Project. Herz, for the first time since inking the deal with the government, fielded questions from the media and informed that the project has now been upgraded to a 165 megawatt (MW) plant. He pointed out that with the increased MW it will not revise the price tag upwards given that the increase came about as a result of a modification of the design of the hydropower plant. Herz pronounced that the price tag remains between US$650 and US$700M but could be revised either upwards or downwards in the future. He said that the actual hydropower plant to be built is estimated to cost just about $315M with the remaining costs primarily in the transmission line and the access road…

Rains could affect August deadline – ‘Fip’ Motilall

Kaieteur News, 23 March 2011 | With five months to go, rains could result in the August deadline of the access roads to the Amaila Falls Hydro Electric Project being pushed back. This is according to Chief Executive Officer of Synergy Holdings Inc., Makeshwar ‘Fip’ Motilall, who said that works are 25% complete, with government already paying 25% of the US$15.4M. Motilall was on hand yesterday as Sithe Global released its Environmental and Social Impact Assessment Update, a key document that will figure in the negotiations for finance. Motilall, who said he was an observer at the press conference at the Pegasus Hotel, disclosed that he is being paid according to every mile completed. The media had been finding it hard over the past year to contact him.

Weather stalling Amaila Falls road – Motilall

Stabroek News, 23 March 2011 | Contractor for the Amaila Falls access road Fip Motilall said that the prevailing La Niña conditions have affected work on the project, which is less than 25 per cent complete. Speaking to reporters yesterday after the launch of the Environmental Social and Impact Assessment (ESIA) for the Amaila Falls hydro-power project, Motilall said that if the weather was favourable the road would be passable by August. “I’m working with an August [deadline] to get you four-wheel access. If the rain continues I’m not going to hit it. No way,” he said. Motilall’s company Synergy Holdings Inc was awarded the US$15.4 million contract to build the access road to the proposed site for the Amaila Fall hydropower… [R-M: subscription needed]

Sithe Global commits to public consultation on impacts of hydro project

Kaieteur News, 23 March 2011 | Sithe Global, the US-based energy company executing the Amaila Falls Hydro Project yesterday committed itself to a public consultation to discuss the environmental and social impacts of the project. The company has released the updated Environmental and Social Impact Assessment Report (ESIA) on the project to be constructed in west-central Guyana. “The Environmental and Social Impact Assessment is a key element of our project development process. We look forward to consulting with interested communities and our partners to take advantage of their valuable input,” said Senior Vice-President at Sithe Global, Rafael Herz, who oversees the Amaila Falls Hydro Electric Project. The ESIA was prepared by Exponent, Inc., an internationally recognised environmental and social consulting firm, with support from JGP Consultoria e Paricipacoes Ltda., an environmental consulting firm from Brazil, with extensive experience in the Amazonian rainforest.

Cost of Amaila Falls project is US$700M – Sithe Global VP

By Johann Earle, Guyana Chronicle, 23 March 2011 | Hydropower developer Sithe Global Group is optimistic that financial closure for the 165 megawatt Amaila Falls project could be achieved, and that work could begin before the end of the year; but he warned that external factors could lead to changes in costs and final completion time. Speaking at a press conference at the Pegasus Hotel yesterday, Senior Vice President of Sithe Global Group , Rafael Herz, said that while the project is pegged to cost between US$650M and US$700M, it does not mean that this figure cannot increase or decrease. Further, he defended the cost of the project, saying that it is an unfair comparison to measure this project against the other Sithe Global venture, the Bujagali hydro project in Uganda, which is to be completed this year.

What is the current status of REDD+?

By Rhett A. Butler, mongabay.com, 23 March 2011 | The Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) mechanism is supposed to be the great hope for saving the world’s forests. Advocates say REDD — now known as REDD+ — could finally create financial incentives for keeping forests standing instead of chopping them down for timber, pulp and paper, cattle, palm oil, and rubber. At the same time, REDD could generate benefits for the rural poor, while safeguarding biodiversity and other ecosystem services. But the devil is in the details. Ensuring that REDD is properly designed, funded, and implemented means that progress has been slower than some supporters have hoped. A poorly designed REDD may be worse than no REDD at all. So where does that leave REDD now? Mongabay asked John-O Niles, the Director of the Tropical Forest Group … for his thoughts on the current status of REDD policy.

World Bank’s forest climate fund slammed

Forest Peoples Programme, 23 March 2011 | A new report launched today at the 8th meeting of the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) reveals that the Bank is not fulfilling its promises to protect the rights of forest peoples. Smoke and Mirrors: a critical assessment of the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility by Forest Peoples Programme (FPP) and FERN exposes the World Bank’s failure to uphold its commitments on human rights and its engagement in never-ending changes to its social and environmental policies, weakening its accountability to affected communities and the public.

Frances Seymour confirmed as plenary speaker for FSC Forest Frameworks 2011 conference

FSC press release, 23 March 2011 | FSC is very pleased to announce that Dr. Frances Seymour, Director General of the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) will be a plenary speaker at the FSC Forest Frameworks conference to be held at the General Assembly in Malaysia this June. Frances Seymour is Director General of the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), an international organization with headquarters in Bogor, Indonesia. At CIFOR, she has led the formulation and initial implementation of a new strategy for the organization focused on six priority research domains. She is a co-author of the CIFOR report Do Trees Grow on Money? and contributor to Moving Ahead with REDD and Realizing REDD+.

PUMA goes carbon neutral by protecting lions in Kenya

mongabay.com, 23 March 2011 | PUMA, the sporting goods brand, and its parent company PPR will offset their 2010 carbon dioxide emissions by purchasing carbon credits generated through conservation of wildlife habitat in Kenya. The deal, announced Tuesday, means that PPR is the first luxury products company to offset emissions by buying Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) credits certified under the Voluntary Carbon Standard. PPR will offset 98,729 tons of carbon through the deal, which was signed with Wildlife Works Carbon, a carbon conservation outfit.

Peru ready to approve R-PP but issues continue unresolved

Bank Information Center, 23 March 2011 | Peru submitted its 4th version of the R-PP today in Da Lat, Vietnam. Several issues that interest many stakeholders, including civil society and indigenous communities, are still outstanding. These issues are critical to ensure sustainable environmental and social development under the REDD+ strategy.

New REDD-plus paper for Bangkok climate change meeting

FIELD, 23 March 2011 | FIELD has prepared a new briefing paper on REDD-plus ahead of the next UN climate change meeting which will take place on 5-8 April 2011, in Bangkok. The aim of the paper is to assist developing country negotiators who are working on REDD-plus. This paper has been prepared with support from the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad).

California’s bid to curb global warming could soon get back on track

By Margot Roosevelt, Los Angeles Times, 23 March 2011 | California’s effort to curb global warming, which was put on hold by a court decision, will be able to proceed on schedule once officials conduct a new environmental review, according to attorneys analyzing the case. A San Francisco Superior Court judge ruled that the California Air Resources Board failed to properly evaluate alternatives to the so-called cap-and-trade program, which would allow industries to purchase pollution allowances rather than cut their own carbon emissions. The court said that measures such as a carbon tax or direct regulation of greenhouse gases were not given enough consideration.

Hundreds rally against Australian carbon tax

AP, 23 March 2011 | Hundreds of Australians are protesting government plans to tax industrial polluters for the carbon dioxide gas they pump into the atmosphere. The carbon tax is part of Australia’s bid to cut its greenhouse emissions. The protesters say the tax will add to their household bills and damage the economy. Most of the more than 1,000 protesters outside Parliament House on Wednesday were over 60 years old and many said they had never before taken part in a public demonstration. Rally organizer Chris Johnson says an election should be called to test the government’s mandate for a carbon tax. But Prime Minister Julia Gillard has ruled out delaying action on climate change.

Stock trades to exploit speed of light, says researcher

By Jason Palmer, BBC News, 23 March 2011 | Financial institutions may soon change what they trade or where they do their trading because of the speed of light. “High-frequency trading” carried out by computers often depends on differing prices of a financial instrument in two geographically-separated markets. Exactly how far the signals have to go can make a difference in such trades. Alexander Wissner-Gross told the American Physical Society meeting that financial institutions are looking at ways to exploit the light-speed trick. Dr Wissner-Gross, of Harvard University, said that the latencies – essentially, the time delay for a signal to wing its way from one global financial centre to another – advantaged some locations for some trades and different locations for others. There is a vast market for ever-faster fibre-optic cables to try to physically “get there faster” but Dr Wissner-Gross said that the purely technological approach to gaining an advantage was reaching a limit.

24 March 2011

Financing Emissions Battle Beyond the Multilateral Maze

By Agus Purnomo, Jakarta Globe, 24 March 2011 | Existing mechanisms of financing to mitigate climate change are inadequate to provide support for our vibrant national plans to reduce carbon emissions. As we look to the future, we need to learn from the past experiences on climate change financing and overseas development aid practices. In Indonesia, we are searching for a finance mechanism custom-tailored to the country — one that uses the existing legal system while delivering support in the most efficient and rapid way to activities on the ground. While financing models often are developed with the best of intentions, in practice many don’t deliver.

Local workers to make up less than half of Amaila plant labour force

Stabroek News, 24 March 2011 | Construction of the Amaila Falls Hydroelectric plant is likely to require an average workforce of approximately 700 persons and a peak of about 1,200 workers, but only about 40 per cent of these workers are likely to be Guyanese, the recently released Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) says. “Approximately 40% or more of the workforce may be semi-skilled and unskilled labourers who may be hired from within Guyana,” the ESIA says. According to the document, a significant portion of the necessary workforce will be technical and professional staff required for design and management of the construction operations and many of these workers may be Chinese. China Railway First Group Ltd would most likely build the plant. This company would also be responsible for retaining staff. [R-M: subscription needed]

The road to Amaila Falls – trick or treat?

By Janette Bulkan, letter to the editor, Kaieteur News, 24 March 2011 | There seem to be some inconsistencies and/or curious payment practices in the latest information from Synergy Holdings Inc… The specification for the access road to Amaila Falls hydropower dam site has been repeatedly published by Kaieteur News and includes: “some 110km of virgin road through the forest as well as 85km of road where trails already exists… “Makeshwar ‘Fip’ Motilall, who said that works are 25% complete, with government already paying 25% of the US$15.4M. Motilall, who said he was an observer at the press conference at the Pegasus Hotel, disclosed that he is being paid according to every mile completed… So, if I understand correctly, Synergy Holdings Inc. is being paid as if it were completing the road to full specification while it is actually only building a track suitable for 4WD access. Mr. Editor, could you ask the payment office of the Ministry of Finance, to clarify the story?

RIO+20: Toward a new green economy – or a green-washed old economy?

By Jim Thomas (ETC), Grist, 24 March 2011 | Far from cooking up a plan to save the Earth, what may come out of the summit could instead be a deal to surrender the living world to a small cabal of bankers and engineers — one that will dump the promises of the first Rio summit along the way. Tensions are already rising between northern countries and southern countries over the poorly defined concept of a global “Green Economy” that will be the centerpiece of the summit… We can move from a brown economy to a green economy by investing more greenbacks in the white heat of technology and PINC (Proactive Investment in Natural Capital) including innovative market mechanisms such as REDD+ (Reducing Emissions through Deforestation and Degredation). Just to round off the color palette, ocean states are further arguing that the green economy also needs to be a blue economy. Confused? The key words to focus on here are “markets” and “technology.”

Borneo tribes: 30-year regime ‘has destroyed everything’

Survival International, 24 March 2011 | Tribespeople in Sarawak, in the Malaysian part of Borneo, say the 30-year rule of Chief Minister Taib Mahmud has ‘raped’ their land, destroyed their rainforests and brought ‘hardship and suffering’. This Saturday, March 26, will mark Taib Mahmud’s 30th anniversary as head of the rainforest state. Malaysia’s longest-serving Chief Minister, he has faced widespread and persistent allegations of corruption. Taib Mahmud will face hotly contested elections on April 16. He has announced that he will retire after the polls, but observers are skeptical as no date has been given. The Penan tribe have seen logging companies, licensed by Taib Mahmud’s government, devastate huge tracts of the forests they rely on.

Involving communities in forest governance boosts biodiversity, local income

mongabay.com, 24 March 2011 | Involving local communities in the governance of forest resources boosts economic returns and biodiversity relative to areas where locals have little participation, report researchers writing in Science. The findings have implications for efforts to protect and sustainably manage forests under the reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD) mechanism. Analyzing data from 84 villages across Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, India, Nepal and Bhutan, Lauren Persha of the University of Michigan and colleagues found that livelihoods of forest-dependent communities and forest biodiversity were higher when local populations are directly participate in rule-making aspects of forest governance.

Mesoamerica: Designing A REDD+ Program That Benefits Forestry Communities In Mesoamerica – Synthesis Report

Rights and Resources Initiative press release, 24 March 2011 | This report demonstrates how generalized the REDD readiness process is in Mesoamerica. In addition to the enormous challenges regarding information, participation, and consultation, readiness processes are also facing serious challenges regarding greater openness and commitment to authentic processes that include the strategic participation of fundamental stakeholders, especially in the case of indigenous peoples and forestry communities. The preparation process for REDD in Mesoamerica is recent and is evolving with important celerity, but it reflects the urgent need for commitments decided through greater openness and the inclusion of stakeholders who are fundamental for greater legitimacy of this process.

Budget 2011: Carbon tax is only green from a distance

By Dominic Maxwell, The Guardian, 24 March 2011 | We all want a glimmer of hope amid the gloom – and some think that the government’s new tax on carbon may be the gem in an otherwise tough budget. They have been taken in. Three tests should be set for this policy – and it fails them all. Recognising that the current price of carbon, set through the market, is too low and insecure, the proposal is for an extra tax: something to buttress the price of carbon when it falls, and provide a clear minimum trajectory out to 2030. So first, will it reduce carbon emissions? It will not. British power stations are all covered by the EU’s cap-and-trade regime: clamping down harder in one country is like squeezing a balloon, forgetting that it will just bulge elsewhere. The government is levying a carbon tax that will not prevent one breath of carbon reaching the atmosphere.

Kenyans Soft-Launch New Carbon Exchange

By Henry Herman, Ecosystem Marketplace, 24 March 2011 | As Europe’s carbon registries slowly reopen after the more vulnerable among them were hacked in January, a new exchange – the African Carbon Exchange (ACX) – was soft-launched here on Thursday. Like any soft launch, this one is still testing its wings. The trading platform, for example, was demonstrated for reporters but won’t be open for trading until security concerns are worked out – a point that may be moot since it has only one registered member, Carbon Self. ACX says other brokers such as Carbon Africa and Carbon Assets are in the process of joining, but major names are not among them. That’s not necessarily a bad thing.

25 March 2011

Kenya Opens Africa’s First Carbon Exchange

By Beatrice Gachenge, Reuters, 25 March 2011 | Kenya opened Africa’s first climate exchange platform on Thursday, expected to unlock trade in carbon credits on the continent and benefit small scale projects. Carbon markets are intended to cut the cost of fighting climate change by giving companies the flexibility either to reduce their own greenhouse gases or buy emissions permits. The Africa Carbon Exchange in east Africa’s biggest economy will provide holders of carbon credits with easier access to global markets and information, which in turn is expected to increase foreign investor interest in the region. “The exchange will pull a lot of foreign direct investments through development of more carbon projects. We will start with a futures market in May and progress to spot once more projects are registered,” said Tsuma Charo, chief executive officer at Africa Carbon Exchange (ACX).

Palm oil giants target Africa in ‘land grab’ following Indonesia deforestation ban

By Tom Levitt, The Ecologist, 25 March 2011 | Indonesia’s move to bring in a two-year moratorium on new palm oil plantations to protect its remaining rainforests has seen agribusiness giants like Sime Darby switch expansion plans to Cameroon, Ghana and Liberia. The sudden upsurge in land deals by palm oil companies in Africa could lead to large-scale deforestation and loss of farmland by local communities, NGOs and environmental groups in Africa have told the Ecologist.

Sithe Global executive insists company can build plant

Kaieteur News, 25 March 2011 | Senior Vice President of Sithe Global, Rafael Herz, insists that his company can successfully build the Amaila Falls Hydro Electric Plant. He was responding to the fact that “Sithe Global” has never completed a hydropower plant and its only hydro electric project is the controversial Bujagali plant in Uganda. According to Herz, Sithe has a history and has existed since the early 1980s, but has gone through many mergers, acquisitions and name changes. He said that the immediate predecessor of Sithe Global was called Sithe Energies, and had completed a very challenging hydroelectric plant in the Philippines. Herz said that a colleague of his, who has worked with him on the Amaila Falls Plant, was project manager for the construction of the plant in the Philippines.

Timber millers’ in peril

By Samisoni Nabilivalu, Fiji Times, 25 March 2011 | Fiji Saw Millers Association has revealed many logging companies feel threatened by the REDD-Plus policy recently endorsed by Cabinet. The association met with the Ministry of Fisheries and Forests on Tuesday after missing out on the consultation process prior to the document’s endorsement. Association president Jay Dayal expressed disappointment saying they did not know the document existed until they read about it in The Fiji Times. “We already have protected forests which we cannot log,” he said. “Those which are available will obviously come under this policy and with companies or countries offering landowners big money for carbon credits, many logging companies will not be able to compete.”

Presidential Regulation on Forest Moratorium to be Issued this Month

By Eko Ari Wibowo, Tempo Interactive, 25 March 2011 | Cabinet Secretary Dipo Alam said that the presidential regulation on forest conversion moratorium will be issued this month. The policy that is linked with the Indonesia- Norway cooperation on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) has been hampered by questions on the scope of the moratorium, such as whether it will only include primary forests or also secondary forests. The Head of Palm Oil Entrepreneurs Association, Joefly Bachroeny, hoped that the moratorium will not impact on land expansion for palm oil, which is Indonesia’s premium product. “I think the government is also aware of the moratorium’s consequence.”

Govt to Issue Long Overdue Forests Decree

By Camelia Pasandaran and Fidelis E. Satriastanti, Jakarta Globe, 25 March 2011 | A much delayed presidential decree to enforce a moratorium on new forest concessions will be issued next month, an official said on Thursday… In order for the moratorium to be legally binding from its Jan. 1 start date, it must be backed by a presidential decree, which will be issued in April, according to Cabinet Secretary Dipo Alam. “It is still being processed, hopefully early next month,” he said on Thursday. Environment Minister Gusti Muhammad Hatta confirmed he expected the decree to be signed next week. “It’s now being finalized,” he said. “The president said the decree would be issued soon. Once it’s been signed, we can implement the moratorium and there will be no more permits issued for clearing primary forest.” He added that despite the lack of a decree, the moratorium had been in effect all year.

PUMA purchases VCS certified REDD forestry credits

Climate Connect, 25 March 2011 | PPR group, a French multinational holding specializing in retail shops and luxury brands, has offset its 2010 global CO2 emissions from PPR’s Luxury group, PUMA and PPR’s headquarters of 98,729 tons to achieve carbon neutrality in Scopes 1 & 2 of the Greenhouse Gas Protocol and purchased carbon credits from Wildlife Work’s leading Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation(REDD) offsetting project in Kenya.

Participatory mapping workshops underway in Congo

Woods Hole Research Center press release, 25 March 2011 | Many of the mapping and monitoring efforts associated with REDD focus on the big picture of carbon stock and of deforestation trends throughout the tropics. A research expedition just underway, led by scientists at the Woods Hole Research Center, is focusing on the third piece necessary to inform a global REDD mechanism – namely, how do people use the land? Through a series of participatory mapping workshops with indigenous peoples in the Congo Basin, scientists and participants are discussing land tenure, forest inventory techniques, and baselines that could help secure lands for local populations. Outcomes will include training in the use of GPS for mapping and a report from interviews done in the field… The team is chronicling their expedition in a Field Notes Journal, with near-daily updates. For more information, please visit www.whrc.org/education/capacitybldg.html

26 March 2011

SBY vows to protect palm oil interests

By Adianto P. Simamora, Jakarta Post, 26 March 2011 | While preparing to enforce a moratorium on forest-clearing, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said palm oil plantation firms could venture into deforested lands to expand their businesses. The President made the statement during a meeting on Thursday with business leaders from the Indonesian Palm Oil Producers Association (Gapki) to discuss issues surrounding the forest-clearing moratorium. Gapki secretary-general Joko Supriono told The Jakarta Post after the meeting that Yudhyono said he did not abide by foreign countries asking palm oil companies not to touch Indonesian forests. President Yudhoyono pledged to accommodate the interests of palm oil companies in order to allow them to expand their businesses during the moratorium period, Joko said. “[Yudhoyono] doesn’t want [palm oil industries] to become victims of the moratorium since the sector has provided ample contributions to the country,” Joko said.

UN approves $4 Million funding for forestry REDD in Ecuador

Climate Connect, 26 March 2011 | The UN-REDD Programme has approved US$4 million in funding for Ecuador’s National Programme for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+), bringing the total amount of approved funding for UN-REDD National Programmes to US$55.4 million.

27 March 2011

Chief suspended

By Elizabeth Jackson, ABC, 27 March 2011 | A special leadership tribunal punished Sir Michael for official misconduct with a two-week suspension from office, without pay. Earlier in the week it had found him guilty of 13 counts of filing late or incomplete financial returns to the corruption watchdog, the Ombudsman Commission. The prosecution had called for the 74-year-old to be dismissed from office altogether. One of the three foreign judges on the tribunal agreed. In his minority decision Sir Robin Auld described Sir Michael’s attitude towards the charges as “disregard bordering on disdain for his constitutional obligations.”

OCC dismisses open letter to Norway’s minister by anti-government elements

Guyana Chronicle, 27 March 2011 | The Office of Climate Change (OCC) in Guyana issued a statement last night, saying it has seen an open letter addressed to the government of Norway that was sent by a group of persons well known for their anti-government and destructive politics. According to the OCC, the letter is clearly written with the express intention of undermining the joint commitments of the governments of Guyana and Norway to an international effort to combat climate change through the funding of a low carbon development strategy for Guyana… “The letter is woefully short on facts and long on political rhetoric and, sadly, reveals a fundamental ignorance of the REDD+ model and its mechanisms,” the OCC stated… The OCC also pointed out that “the letter offers nothing new and nothing constructive”. “It does not deserve to be taken seriously,” declared the local climate change body.

Amaila hydropower project

Guyana Chronicle, 27 March 2011 | A major step has been taken towards completing the process for financing the construction of the Amaila Hydropower project. Last week, Amaila Falls Hydro Inc., a member of the Sithe Global group, announced the posting on their website of the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) update on the project. The 2,500 page ESIA has been posted on www.amailahydropower.com and on the website for the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) www.lcds.gov.gy. Further, it is anticipated that the ESIA will also be posted on the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) website shortly. The ESIA was commissioned to satisfy the environmental social health and safety policies and requirements of the major financial lenders who may provide financing for the project and provides a framework for implementing the project while managing and mitigating the project’s environmental and social effects.

Amaila Falls project should be halted until after the elections

By Emile Mervin, letter to the editor Stabroek News, 27 March 2011 | On reading your news article, ‘Local workers to make up less than half of Amaila plant labour force,’ (March 24), and harking back to a related article, ‘Chinese workers for Amaila road building (SN, July 24, 2010), I am compelled to suggest that work on the Amaila Fall Hydroelectric Project (AFHEP) be immediately postponed until after the 2011 elections to give a potentially new government an opportunity to do a thorough and transparent appraisal of this bungling and very costly project before continuing… I feel deeply uncomfortable that the government may have saddled Guyanese with a process and a project riddled with political, financial and logistical questions, and this is why this project should be shelved until after elections.

Huawei US$50,000 ‘gift’ raises question of ethics

By Mark McGowan, Stabroek News, 27 March 2011 | Is it legitimate for governments to receive gifts from companies that have been awarded contracts? The US$50,000 “thank you gift” from Chinese company Huawei to the Guyana government after being awarded a US$14 million contract to lay fibre-optic cables here, has raised questions about the propriety of such transactions. “It is unethical. In some countries in Europe and North America, the company could be prosecuted,” Professor Clive Thomas told Stabroek News recently. “What they [the company] can do through their corporate exercise [after winning the contract] is to make a contribution to a particular programme; to help persons with disabilities or contribute to sports but they can’t [directly] give the government a gift,” Professor Thomas said.

Ecuador, not Nigeria, grabs $4m UN-REDD fund

By Michael Simire, Daily Independent, 27 March 2011 | Nigeria’s high expectations at accessing funds to effectively kickstart its National Programme for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) were somewhat dashed last week in far away Da Lat, Viet Nam, where a gathering of experts took stock of the climate change mitigation strategy. But an innovative interim funding grant to the nation along with hopes for a better tomorrow seems to serve as a welcome consolation to the beleaguered delegates. Upon the completion of a Draft National REDD Readiness Programme (DNRRP) last month in Abuja and Calabar, officials of the nation’s REDD Programme were optimistic that the document would scale through at the forthcoming UN-REDD Programme’s (URP) Policy Board Meeting (PBM). However, during its sixth PBM that held from Monday to Wednesday, last week, the URP instead approved $4 million in funding for Ecuador, apparently after the country’s sixth presentation.

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