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REDD in the news: 4-10 April 2011

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REDD in the news: 4-10 April 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.

Governing and Implementing REDD+

Edited by Esteve Corbera, Heike Schroeder and Oliver Springate-Baginski, Environmental Science & Policy, Volume 14, Issue 2, Pages 89-230, March 2011 | REDD+ [is] emerging as a central policy instrument to halt land-use related emissions from developing countries. In this article we introduce a special issue dedicated to understanding the governance and implementation dimensions of REDD+ at international, national and local levels… we highlight three main pillars for a future research agenda, namely (1) the politics of REDD+ in international and national negotiations; (2) the interplay between REDD+ policies and measures and other developments in land-use related processes; and (3) the examination of the environmental and socio-economic outcomes of REDD+ activities, integrating locally informed monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) techniques and using robust counterfactual assessment methods.

IISD-ASB Workshop (Vietnam): Building REDD-plus Policy Capacity for Developing Countries

Partnership for the Tropical Forest Margins, no date | On May 10-12 2010, the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) and The ASB Partnership for the Tropical Forest Margins will hold a REDD+ capacity building workshop for negotiators and land managers in Asia. The theme of the regional workshop to be held in Hanoi, Vietnam will be REDD+ after Cancun: Moving from negotiation to implementation. The IISD-ASB workshop is supported by the Norwegian Agency for Development Corporation and targets countries within the UN-REDD and the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility programs.

Indonesia: On forestry – safeguards, REDD and financing

Climate Change TV, April 2011 | Agus Sari from the Indonesian delegation and CEO of Sustainable Conservation discusses forestry, REDD and related issues. He explores the developing countries concerns over the safeguards currently proposed over financing and alludes to the responsibilities of industrially developed counties.

4 April 2011

Colombian community prepares to sell forest carbon credits

By Maria Luz Ayala, AlertNet, 4 April 2011 | More than 1,000 families in the municipality of Acandi, on the Panama border, are aiming to become one of the first Colombian communities to sell carbon credits generated by their forest conservation activities on the international voluntary market. The initiative, led by North American anthropologist Brodie Ferguson, aims to cut 50,000 tonnes of carbon emissions annually, while protecting the rainforests of the Serrania del Darien. At the same time, it hopes to provide education, employment and direct financial rewards to participating families, who own half the project. The Acandí effort is part of the Choco-Darien Conservation Corridor, a regional initiative that seeks to protect 5 million hectares of forest in the Colombian Pacific, and prevent up to 20 million tonnes of carbon emissions each year through strengthening resource management by local communities.

German aid agency donates 4 million euros for Lao reforestation

DPA, 4 April 2011 | The German International Cooperation Agency donated 4 million euros (5.7 million dollars) to a reforestation project in Laos, which has vowed to restore 70 per cent forest coverage by 2020, state media reports said Monday. The grant covers a seven-year implementation period in the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) project, the Vientiane Times reported. ‘The purpose of the project is to demonstrate the technical and economic feasibility of pro-poor REDD approaches in national protected areas in Laos,’ forestry department Director General Sawathvong Silavanh said. Laos previously received 20 million dollars from Japan and 14 million euros from the German government for the project… Land clearing, logging and forestry degradation account for 70 per cent of carbon emissions in Laos, Sawathvong said.

Germany funds forestry protection project

By Khamphone Syvongxay, Vientiane Times, 4 April 2011 | A project agreement was signed in Vientiane on Friday by Department of Forestry Director General Dr Silavanh Sawathvong and GIZ Country Director Dr Petra Mutlu at a ceremony also attended by Ambassador of Germany to Laos Dr Peter Wienand and Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Mr Sitaheng Rasphone. The purpose of the project is to demonstrate the technical and economic feasibility of pro-poor REDD approaches in national protected areas in Laos, said Dr Silavanh. Climate Protection through Avoided Deforestation has two cooperation modules. One is the financial module, amounting to 10 million euros, for which an agreement was signed in December last year. The project is in line with the national forest policy and national socio-economic development plan, Dr Silavanh said. “This will contribute to the improvement of the socio-economic living conditions of the resident rural populations.”

ERA Announces Signing of a 17.5 Million Tonne Carbon Offset Agreement With the Democratic Republic of Congo

ERA Carbon Offsets Ltd. press release, 4 April 2011 | ERA Carbon Offsets Ltd. through its 100% owned subsidiary ERA Ecosystem Restoration Associates Inc., (ERA) is pleased to announce the signing of a Carbon Rights Agreement (CRA) with the Minister of Environment for the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The CRA supports a landscape-scale integrated Avoided Deforestation project. Project highlights include: Initial crediting period: 25 years; Project size: 299,685 hectares; Carbon offset annual generation (approx): 700,000 – 1,000,000 tonnes; Reported average carbon price per tonne in 2009: $6.50 USD.

Need to consistently address safeguards in Guyana’s REDD+ LCDS activities

Stabroek News, 4 April 2011 | There is a need to “very consistently” address the issue of safeguards in Guyana’s REDD+ and LCDS activities with lack of clarity on the part of government leading to many questions, according to a report commissioned under the Guyana-Norway forests’ saving pact. The Rainforest Alliance report on ‘Verification of Enabling Activities in Guyana’ covered last year – the first year of the agreement in which Guyana and the Scandinavian country are partnering in a pact worth potentially up to US$250M by 2015 for results achieved by Guyana in limiting emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. The US-based NGO report was made public last week and a revised Joint Concept Note (JCN) of the Guyana-Norway agreement also released last week, committed Guyana to the establishment of a dedicated website “containing an overview of all committed international funding for activities relevant to REDD+ and LCDS efforts in Guyana.”

Are climate change measures corruption-proof?

Transparency International, 4 April 2011 | On 30 April 2011 in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Transparency International launches the Global Corruption Report: Climate Change, a comprehensive guide to corruption risks in measures to combat climate change. As efforts to combat climate change become grander in scale and sophistication, the risks will only grow. The report outlines how to strengthen governance mechanisms in order to reduce future corruption risks, and ultimately make climate change policy more successful. With no less than US$100 billion per year earmarked for climate change mitigation and adaptation from 2012-2020, this landmark publication highlights potential corruption red flags for policy makers and civil society. It includes more than 50 articles by experts on a variety of issues, including: … How the REDD+ system is supposed to work to keep forests clean and green.

Curb on forest use may cost Indonesia 3.5m new jobs a year

By Rangga D. Fadillah, Jakarta Post, 4 April 2011 | International aid programs intended to curb the expansion of forest-related industries in Indonesia will likely deprive the country of an opportunity to create 3.5 million new jobs annually and reduce export revenues, a new report claims. A report by the NGO World Growth released Thursday concluded that programs backed by international aid agencies including USAID and high-profile environmental groups such as Greenpeace and the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) aimed at curbing forest conversion for commercial purposes would significantly hurt Indonesia’s economy.

5 April 2011

World Bank ignoring forest communities?

Bretton Woods Project, 5 April 2011 | The World Bank has come under fire for its Inspection Panel’s decision not to investigate its forestry sector programme in Liberia, while new reports from civil society groups add to the backlog of criticism over the Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF). In February, the Bank board approved an Inspection Panel recommendation not to investigate evidence that the Bank’s technical assistance programme for the Liberian forestry sector is causing harm to forest-dependent communities. The Inspection Panel instead supported the Bank management’s action plan to deal with the issues raised in the request… A recent report by European NGOs FERN and Forest Peoples Programme (FPP) states that “what we see emerging is a game of ‘smoke and mirrors’, with the World Bank and recipient governments seemingly colluding with each other to mask the defects in FCPF operations.”

Forest Protection: REDD or Dead

By Michael Grimm, Allianz Knowledge, 5 April 2011 | Might people see REDD more as a CO2-escape route rather than a true commitment to save forests? Of course there will be some black sheep which will embark on a project only to distract from their emissions. Companies really dedicating themselves, however, first have to measure their carbon footprint and stick to a carbon reduction strategy before committing to offset their own emissions. For example, since 2006 the Allianz Group has reduced its CO2-emissions by 15 percent and plans to reduce emissions by 20 percent by the end of 2012. Nevertheless, starting a project even without vigorously reducing your own carbon footprint can still have a positive effect. Because if we don’t protect the forests right now, no matter the motivation, they will be gone forever.

A Scientist Extols the Value Of Forests Shaped by Humans by John Carey

By John Carey, Yale Environment 360, 5 April 2011 | Susanna Hecht didn’t set out to make waves in the conservation community when she traveled to El Salvador in 1999 to help the government with its environmental plan. At the time, the conventional wisdom was that the country was an environmental wasteland, a cautionary example of the devastating effects of deforestation. But Hecht, a professor of political ecology at the University of California, Los Angeles, didn’t see a ruined landscape. Instead, she saw luxuriant “living fences” between properties, ribbons of forest along rivers, coffee plantations shaded by forest canopies, and whole new woodlands springing from abandoned fields. But were these forests merely overlooked, or were they making a true comeback?

GEF Project in Komi Republic Saves Emissions by Reducing Fires and Illegal Logging

Climate-L, 5 April 2011 | A Global Environment Facility Project is reported to be helping the Government of Komi (Russian Federation) to improve the sustainability of the national protected area system and measure carbon stocks and reduced emissions from deforestation. To increase the institutional capacity for protected area management, the project is developing a public-private partnership and diversifying income streams. For example, business plans for two federal PAs – Yugyd va National Park and Pechoro-Ilychsky Nature Reserve – have already been elaborated. The non-commercial public-private partnership for PAs will oversee the implementation of the priority measures identified under these business plans, thus facilitating revenue generation activities.

Cameroon’s Hidden Harvest

By Charlie Pye-Smith, CIFOR Forests Blog, 5 April 2011 | Timber traders in Bertoua, the provincial capital of Cameroon’s East Region, face two main problems, according to Amadou, a local trader. The first – and you’ll hear the same complaint in markets throughout the country – is the shrinking supply of timber. During the past two decades, several local sawmills have closed down, which means that he and his colleagues have become increasingly reliant on timber supplied by small-scale chainsaw millers, most of whom are operating illegally. “But the biggest problem we face,” says Amadou, “is harassment by government officials and their demand for informal payments.” This is a polite way of saying ‘bribes’. Some of the timber which passes through Bertoua’s Kano market is sold to buyers in Yaoundé, the national capital, but most is destined for Chad, more than 1,250 kilometres to the north. It’s an expensive journey.

Cameroon’s secret domestic timber underworld exposed

By Charlie Pye-Smith, CIFOR Forests Blog, 5 April 2011 | CIFOR began researching illegal logging in Cameroon in 2003. Originally, the focus was on the industrial timber sector, including comparing export figures with production on large-scale forestry concessions. However, it soon became apparent that something was missing from the reams of data gathered by MINFOF. ‘There was absolutely nothing about the domestic supply of timber, although you only had to travel around Yaoundé to see that this was significant,’ Cerutti says. ‘Roadside timber markets were springing up and expanding all over the city to satisfy the con-struction boom.’ CIFOR’s research also revealed discrepancies between harvesting and export figures. Exports frequently exceeded documented harvests.

Mangroves key to climate change

By Daniel Cooney, CIFOR Forests Blog, 5 April 2011 | A new study has just been published showing that mangroves store exceptionally more carbon than most tropical forests, but they are being destroyed from coastlines at a rapid rate causing significant emissions of greenhouse gases. Deforestation and land-use change currently account for 8% to 20% of all global carbon emissions, second only to the use of fossil fuels. Figures now suggest that destruction and degradation of mangrove forests may be generating as much as 10% of all the global deforestation emissions despite accounting for just 0.7% of tropical forest area.

6 April 2011

Africa: Scanning REDD+ with a lens of a forest worker?

Building and Wood Worker’s International, 6 April 2011 | As countries are working towards formulation UN REDD national programs, questions are being asked as to whether the REDD+ based projects are able to increase participation of variety of stakeholders including trade Unions? And also whether forest workers and communities are effectively participating in the design, monitoring and evaluation of national REDD+ programs? Trade Unions need to join the broad range of stakeholders in strengthening linkages within the existing UNREDD national programs in the areas of governance, poverty reduction, food security and sustainable forest management. Under the UNREDD Program, countries already receiving support to national Programs in Africa include Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania and Zambia, while partner countries targeted include Central African Republic, Gabon, Kenya, Nigeria, Republic of Congo and Sudan.

Blue carbon’s climate impact undervalued

carbonpositive.net, 6 April 2011 | The destruction of mangroves may be generating as much as 10 per cent of global deforestation emissions despite accounting for less than 1 per cent of tropical forest area. That’s the conclusion drawn by researchers after a landmark study to measure the amounts of carbon stored in mangroves on the fringes of the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Researchers from the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and the USDA Forest Service say mangrove carbon levels have never been quantified across such large tracts such as the 25 sites examined across southern and south-east Asia. Mangroves occur on a vast expanse of coastline worldwide and the researchers say 30 to 50 per cent of mangrove area has been destroyed over the past half-century.

Implications on Indigenous Peoples of the Decision on REDD Plus in the Cancun

Tebtebba press release, 6 April 2011 | After several years of negotiations on REDD in the UNFCCC, the 16th COP of the UNFCCC held in Cancun in December 2010 finally came up with a decision on REDD Plus. This decision includes the social, environment and governance safeguards which we have long fought for since the 2007 Bali COP. Aside from recognizing the need to protect the rights and knowledge of indigenous peoples and members of local communities, it also urges Parties to ensure their full and effective participation in the development, implementation and evaluation of REDD Plus. In addition to these, it requests Parties to address the drivers of deforestation, land tenure issues, forest governance and gender considerations.

Europe’s last bison pose a question: what is truly natural?

By Damian Carrington, The Guardian, 6 April 2011 | “To feed or not to feed, that is the main question,” says scientist Tomasz Kaminski, as we stand a few dozen metres from Europe’s largest surviving animal. Through the trees, the huge chocolate-brown bison are nibbling at the first green shoots of spring, their breath steaming in the cool air. Kaminski’s question is also the question which underpins the arguments over the whole Bialowieza forest. Put frankly, this last significant fragment of the primeval forest that originally covered all of lowland Europe looks a mess. Dead wood litters the ground, offending the foresters who think nature needs a helping hand to thrive but delighting ecologists who say this alien beauty is in fact what nature truly looks like.

Poland’s environmentalists fight foresters for heart of primeval forest

By Damian Carrington, The Guardian, 6 April 2011 | The Białowieża forest is a time capsule, protected for centuries by Polish kings and Russian tsars as a royal hunting ground. To walk among the giant, slender trees – the tallest in Europe – is to glimpse the primeval forest that once blanketed all of the continent’s lowlands. “It began about 8,000 years ago and has existed since then without any meaningful interference from people,” says Korbel. But Białowieża is the last significant fragment of that vast forest, and while a 10 sq km wood is fully protected, a mighty battle is being fought over the 84% of the forest that lies outside the national park.

Indigenous group claims Ecuadorian government complicit in ‘genocide’

By Jeremy Hance, mongabay.com, 6 April 2011 | Ecuador’s paramount indigenous organization has filed a legal complaint against the government, including President Rafael Correa, for allegedly participating in ‘genocide’ against indigenous people in the Amazon. The Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE) is arguing that expanding oil exploration and mining is imperiling the lives of uncontacted tribes that have chosen voluntary isolation known as the Tagaeri and the Tarmenane, reports the AFP. The legal complaint argues that industrial exploitation of the Amazonian region in Ecuador is causing a “cultural and physical disappearance [of indigenous tribes], which amounts to the crime of ethnocide or genocide”. The move by CONAIE is unprecedented in Ecuador. The complaint targets President Rafael Correa as well as other top officials connected to the environment and industry. Correa has dismissed the organization, saying that no one pays attention to CONAIE.

Biodiesel Demand Fuelled by Policy, Not Oil Prices

By Angela Dewan, CIFOR Forests Blog, 6 April 2011 | World media have reported a renewed interest in biofuels as unrest in the Middle East pushes crude oil prices to near $120 a barrel. Reports suggest that oil prices have driven demand for biofuels, prompting speculative investment in biofuel feedstocks, such as oil palm and soy. The idea that high oil prices pushes biofuel demand has been overstated, says George Schoneveld, a scientist with the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR). The numbers, he says, simply do not add up. “You have to look at two different markets that have an effect on biofuel demand: the food market and the fossil fuel market,” Schoneveld says. “Crude oil at the moment is about $120 per barrel, which translates to about 75 cents per litre. Soy oil at the moment is selling for more than $1 per litre.

7 April

McKinsey Work Lets Congo, Guyana Get Aid, Cut Trees, Greenpeace Says

By Alex Morales, Bloomberg, 7 April 2011 | McKinsey & Co. is helping rainforest nations such as Indonesia and Guyana safeguard their logging industry while gaining access to millions of dollars in funds intended to protect trees, Greenpeace said. Forest management plans by Guyana and the Democratic Republic of Congo based on McKinsey advice include inflated projections for logging rates, allowing them to claim aid for undershooting those levels while increasing the number of trees they chop down, Greenpeace, an environmental pressure group, said in a report today. McKinsey said it stands behind its work and disagrees with Greenpeace’s findings. The report raises questions about a program that aims to allow developing nations to tap at least $4.6 billion of forest protection aid from donors including Norway and Britain. Negotiators from more than 190 nations agreed to develop the program, called Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, in December in Mexico.

McKinsey accused of driving deforestation with poor REDD+ advice

By Jessica Shankleman, businessGreen, 7 April 2011 | Greenpeace has now launched a campaign urging McKinsey to publish data, assumptions and analysis underlying its cost curve, and to update its methodology. “McKinsey can make amends, salvage its reputation and help put rainforest countries on the right path to forest protection and emissions reduction by reviewing and revising their findings,” said Greenpeace activist Tracy Frauzel in a blog posting… “When rainforest countries employ McKinsey to apply its trademarked cost curve to their REDD+ prospects, few, if any, of the resulting plans meet basic standards of accuracy, rigour, utility or ethical acceptability,” said Greenpeace’s report. “If implemented in their current form, these plans could actually result in an increase of deforestation and carbon emissions.”

Greenpeace says McKinsey’s REDD+ work could encourage deforestation

mongabay.com, 7 April 2011 | One of the world’s top consultancies, McKinsey & Co., is providing advice to governments developing “Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation” (REDD+) programs that could increase risks to tropical forests, claims a new report published by Greenpeace. The report, Bad Influence – how McKinsey-inspired plans lead to rainforest destruction, says that McKinsey’s REDD+ cost curve and baseline scenarios are being used to justify expansion of industrial capacity in Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Guyana. “While McKinsey’s cost curve has been extremely influential in government policy decisions, it has a number of fundamental flaws,” states the report. “These include data deficiencies and dubious baseline calculations, as well as basic mathematical errors and distortions within McKinsey’s carbon accounting method.

McKinsey defends its climate costs slide rule

By Gerard Wynn, Reuters, 7 April 2011 | McKinsey said its estimates should not be taken out of context because they missed out lots of additional factors that governments would consider before making decisions. “Anyone who sat down with a real policy decision-maker would quickly identify many other factors that they need to take into account before introducing a new law,” said Per-Anders Enkvist, a partner at McKinsey, referring to competitiveness, job creation and equity issues. “You cannot mechanically translate any abatement cost curve into policy implications, and we have been clear about that in our publications.” … The Rainforest Foundation’s Simon Counsell said that governments may fail to account for the extra context missing from the cost curves. “Governments do tend to take these studies literally, and they will rarely have the expertise to unpick them,” he said.

RFUK leads NGO push highlighting threat to rainforests and indigenous peoples from McKinsey & Company

Rainforest Foundation UK press release, 7 April 2011 | In November last year, Rainforest Foundation UK published a briefing showing how the influential management consultants McKinsey & Company had given advice to rainforest nations that could lead to destruction of natural forests and have negative impact on forest peoples livelihoods. At the time, McKinsey disputed Rainforest Foundation UK’s research and defended their approach, however, this week a new document has come to light which shows they have done an about-face and now recognised that the main points of RFUK’s briefing were correct.

EU ETS: failing at the third attempt

Corporate Europe Observatory, 7 April 2011 | Emissions trading is the European Union’s flagship measure for tackling climate change, and it is failing badly. In theory it provides a cheap and efficient means to limit greenhouse gas reductions within an ever-tightening cap, but in practice it has rewarded major polluters with windfall profits, while undermining efforts to reduce pollution and achieve a more equitable and sustainable economy. The third phase of the scheme, beginning in 2013, is supposed to rectify the “teething problems” that have led to the failures to date… Put simply, the third phase of the ETS will continue the same basic pattern of subsidising polluters and helping them to avoid meaningful action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

EU plans to link emissions trading scheme with California

By Felicity Carus, The Guardian, 7 April 2011 | Europe’s commissioner for climate action on Tuesday confirmed for the first time plans to link the EU emissions trading scheme (ETS) with California’s carbon market which opens next year. Connie Hedegaard met with California’s governor, Jerry Brown, and Mary Nicholls, who chairs the Californian Air Resources Board, in Sacramento to discuss how future co-operation might work to join the world’s largest and second largest carbon markets. She said: “We told Governor Brown that we would very much like to co-operate with them so that no matter how California constructs their scheme, it is linkable to the way we do things in Europe. It doesn’t have to be identical, just compatible.”

Disney caught up in carbon offsetting controversy

By William McLennan, The Ecologist, 7 April 2011 | Disney avoids emission cuts by investing $15.5 million in carbon offsetting schemes criticised by campaigners, including projects soon to be banned in the EU… Disney’s offsetting investments are part of their plan to achieve a 50 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by next year and, in the long-term, ‘zero net direct greenhouse gas emissions’. Its corporate website says the company only uses ‘high-quality offsets’ but several of the projects it uses are contentious. For example, $7 million was spent on forest conservation in Peru and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which campaigners believe may not lead to overall emissions cuts. ‘It is difficult to work out the extent to which investment is creating emission reductions beyond a business-as-usual situation. Would the forest have been cleared without the extra money to protect it? …’ says Jane Burston, founder of Carbon Retirement, a campaign group…

Well-known Indian coffee-maker taps Guyana’s furniture wood

Demerara Waves, 7 April 2011 | V G Siddhartha, best known for his Cafe Coffee Day (CCD) chain, has taken 1.85 million hectares of Amazonian forestland on a 30-year lease from the Republic of Guyana in South America to start a furniture business in India. The idea is to transport cut logs on chartered ships from the Guyanese capital Georgetown to the Mangalore Port and then carry them via road to the Coffee Day Group’s furniture plant in Chikmagalur. The Amazonian hard wood varieties coming to Indian shores through this route will include Greenheart, Purpleheart, Wallaba and Bullet Wood. The royalty that Siddhartha will pay the Guyanese government is not clear. Siddhartha declined to comment on the matter. A couple of years ago, the Coffee Day Group had started a furniture unit to capitalize on the huge depository of full-grown silver oak, teak wood, rose wood and mahogany trees grown in its 15,000-acres of coffee gardens in Chikmagalur.

Government mulling changes to Barama’s investment agreement

By Johann Earle, Guyana Chronicle, 7 April 2011 | Barama Company Limited yesterday gave assurance that it will recommence plywood operations for local consumption in June and for overseas by December, as it seeks to re-employ some of the displaced workers sent home after the closure of the plywood plant. Further, the company is meeting with the Government of Guyana with a view to revisiting the investment agreement signed between them, given that new realities have changed the shape of the industry. The company is looking at producing in excess of 2,400 cubic metres of plywood per month from June this year. Minister of Agriculture Robert Persaud was a part of a guided tour of the company’s Land of Canaan operations, where they inspected the newly rehabilitated boiler plant and plywood factory. In October last year there was an explosion at the boiler plant which put it out of commission.

Barama looks to supply local plywood market by June

Kaieteur News, 7 April 2011 | Barama Company Limited, located at Land of Canaan, East Bank Demerara, is aiming to restart its plywood operations to facilitate the local market by June. It also is hoping to ensure that exportation of plywood to other countries will resume by December. During a tour of the work site, Minister of Agriculture, Robert Persaud, yesterday held discussions with senior management staff of Barama and the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) about the reopening of the plywood operations. General Secretary of the Guyana Labour Union (GLU), Carvil Duncan, who was also present, stated that the GLU is satisfied with this result especially since the workers who no longer had jobs due to the shutdown in October, last, were unsure of their future at the company. Duncan said, “Barama had met its obligation to its workers.” Most of the old workers were very “enthusiastic” with this outcome, he added.

If Govt refuses, Norway will provide details on projects

Kaieteur News, 7 April 2011 | The Alliance for Change on April 1, met with Norway’s Environment Minister, Erik Solheim, and his team during his visit to Guyana to express their concerns. The meeting was described as very fruitful. Alliance For Change Presidential Candidate, Khemraj Ramjattan, yesterday told media operatives that the Norwegian Minister has committed to providing the opposition parties with information related to the projects associated with the US$250M that country will provide to Guyana over the next five years. Ramjattan said that the Minister indicated that all of the AFC’s concerns will be met. The opposition along with other stakeholders in the process must ask the relevant questions, he said.

Low fertilizer use drives deforestation in West Africa, imperils REDD implementation says new study

IITA press release, 7 April 2011 | Low-input farming for cocoa, cassava and oil palm has resulted in widespread deforestation and degredation of West Africa’s tropical forest area, according to a new study by researchers at the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR). The study was published online this week in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Management… The findings should be taken into consideration in discussions around efforts to reduce emissions from deforestation, say researchers. Instead of considering complicated strategies involving monetary or in-kind transfers to farmers or communities for altering their land use behavior, REDD funds could be used to incentivize and promote agricultural intensification efforts that would lead to higher rural incomes, greater food security, and avoided emissions through the achievement of higher agricultural yields.

Measuring carbon from space

Natural Environment Research Council, 7 April 2011 | Understanding changes in the global atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) is as much a political imperative as a scientific one. But are these demands realistic with the instruments available? Paul Palmer, Hartmut Bösch and Andy Kerr explore the science and politics of measuring CO2 from space. For both scientists and policy-makers, one of the biggest challenges is finding out where and how CO2 is released and absorbed by natural and human-influenced land and ocean processes. Inventories of emissions from each country suggest that approximately two thirds of human-induced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions arise from fossil-fuel emissions, and one third from agriculture, forestry and other changes in how land is used. This includes around 18 per cent from deforestation.

UN-REDD collaborates on new forest-carbon finance report with UNEP FI

UN-REDD Programme blog, 7 April 2011 | Registration is now open to attend the launch of a new report “REDDy – Set – Grow: Opportunities, Risks and Roles for Financial Institutions in Forest-carbon Markets”, led by UNEP’s Finance Initiative (UNEP FI), in collaboration with the UN-REDD Programme, happening on 6 May in London, UK. Senior representatives from the financial sector (Bank of America Merrill Lynch, BNP Paribas and Allianz), government, and several agencies of the United Nations will discuss risks and opportunities associated with this nascent market, and explore the role responsible financial institutions are expected to play in seizing the vast opportunities, both environmental and economic, offered by forest ecosystems.

First Tasmanian Projects Validated

reddforests, 7 April 2011 | Redd Forests, the Australian based carbon project developer, has achieved validation of its Tasmanian Improved Forestry Management projects, the first such projects in the world. Working with Tasmanian landowners, Redd Forests has registered the first of multiple projects, all of which protect native Tasmanian forests from being logged, on the international Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) Register today. Climate Friendly, the Australian based global leader in voluntary carbon markets, has agreed to be the first buyer of carbon credits from these projects. The first project will generate 40,000 voluntary carbon units per year for the next 25 years. It covers an area of some 7,000+ hectares of privately owned forest that, historically, has been logged for, predominantly, woodchips.

Two of Earth’s Ocean Carbon Sinks Shrinking, Studies Show

Reuters, 7 April 2011 | It is well known that deforestation is shrinking the carbon storage capacity of tropical forests, one of the world’s great land-based carbon sinks. Now a pair of studies confirms that two key marine CO2 stores – mangroves and kelp forests – are also in peril from human activity. The findings, scientists say, highlight the need to protect carbon- and biodiversity-rich ocean forests from development and global warming by including them in existing forest-conservation programs. Mangrove forests – trees and shrubs that thrive in brackish waters – have declined 30 to 50 percent in the past 50 years, according to one study out this week in the journal Nature Geoscience.

Tragedy and transformation in Brazil’s Xingu River Basin

By Steve Schwartzmann, EDF Blog, 7 April 2011 | The Xingu Indigenous Park area of the basin alone is home to 18 indigenous communities and features 16 languages… One of these groups is the Panará community. Thirty years ago I lived among the Panará while doing anthropological field work. One of their leaders, Krentom, is a friend to this day. When I think about what’s happened (and happening) in the region, I think about it through the experience of Krentom. The story of indigenous communities in Brazil since the last half of the 20th century is one of tragedy and transformation. They went from having generic constitutional rights, but almost no land, to enjoying full recognition under the law and extensive forested territories. They’re now stewards of 20% of the Amazon – an area of forest twice the size of California –and are at the core of the Brazilian government’s forest protection efforts. None of this came easily.

Demand for chocolate drives deforestation in West Africa

By Michelle Kovacevic, CIFOR Forests Blog, 7 April 2011 | Rampant deforestation and degradation of West Africa’s tropical forest area is occurring due to the expansion of smallholder cocoa farms that depend on environmentally destructive practices like slash-and-burn and land clearing. According to a new study by researchers at the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), farmers could have achieved the same outputs through the intensified use of fertilizer and improved crop husbandry. And this will have significant impacts on REDD+ implementation in the area.

8 April 2011

Revealed: scandal of carbon credit firm

By Ben Cubby, Sydney Morning Herald, 8 April 2011 | A Sydney carbon credits company thought to have been running some of the world’s biggest offsets deals appears to be a fake, shifting paper certificates instead of saving forests and cutting greenhouse emissions. Shift2neutral says it has made high-profile events such as the Australian PGA golf championship and the Sydney Turf Club’s world-first ”green race day” carbon neutral. But deals to generate more than $1 billion worth of carbon credits by saving jungles from logging in the Philippines, the Congo and across south-east Asia do not seem to exist. The global network of investors and carbon offset certifiers supposed to be brokering deals with foreign presidents and the World Bank can be traced to a modest office in a shopping village in Westleigh, staffed by shift2neutral’s founder, Brett Goldsworthy.

Snake find shows biodiversity

Phnom Penh Post, 8 April 2011 | Cambodian forests are a potential haven for undiscovered animal species, highlighted by the recent discovery of a new type of pit viper, yet scientists claim illegal logging and environmental hazards threaten the Kingdom’s biodiversity. Dr Anita Malhotra, a professor at Bangor’s School of Biological Sciences in South Wales, United Kingdom, said yesterday that Cambodian forests “almost certainly hold the potential for a wide variety of undiscovered species” after her students were part of a research team that discovered the green pit viper in the Cardamom Mountains.

Japan, Russia Won’t Take on New Kyoto Targets, UN’s Climate Chief Says

By Daniel Ten Kate and Alex Morales, Bloomberg, 8 April 2011 | Japan and Russia reject new targets under the Kyoto Protocol climate treaty, whose current goals expire in 2012, the top United Nations climate diplomat said. “What they’re saying is they will not participate in a second commitment period” of Kyoto, UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres told reporters today in Bangkok as a week of climate talks concluded. “They have not said, ‘none of you can do a second commitment period.’”

REDD+ climate challenge: Confusion over who owns forested lands

By Angela Dewan, CIFOR Forests Blog, 8 April 2011 | With billions of dollars on offer for developing nations to protect their forests because of their role in slowing climate change, renewed attention is being paid to who owns the land on which the trees sit – and who owns the carbon in the trees and the ground. In many developing countries, it is not clear who owns forested land – private individuals, indigenous groups, other local communities or national governments. Rights – and particularly, claims to rights – are emerging not only from formal legal systems, but also from customary systems or from the simple assertion of a claimant. Fixing the clarification of rights to forest land, resources and carbon stocks is one of the key challenges to get REDD+ off the ground, said William Sunderlin, Principal Scientist at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).

Opposition building to Great Green Wall

IRIN, 8 April 2011 | What’s green, controversial, 15km wide, 7,775km long, cuts across 11 African countries and is designed to reduce livestock deaths and boost food security for millions of people? Nothing yet, but the Great Green Wall project, a pipe-dream for decades, was recently endorsed by a swathe of African states stretching from Senegal to Djibouti. An estimated 10 million people faced severe food shortages due to recurrent drought and climate change in the Sahel region last year. In Niger alone, the famine in 2010 left half the country’s population needing food aid and one in six children suffering from acute malnutrition. Some villagers in Niger described 2010 as worse than the 1973 drought that killed thousands of people, according to Malek Triki, West African spokesperson for the World Food Programme (WFP).

Obama’s Radical Climate Change Agenda Driving U.S. Foreign Aid Policy

Heritage Foundation, 8 April 2011 | A case in point was President Obama’s announcement of a new economic growth initiative during his Indonesia state visit last November. The President pledged a significant portion of the potential $700 million in future MCC aid to Indonesia to address deforestation in that country. Yet, as demonstrated by REDD, these efforts will impose stifling regulations on economic development in order to advance an extreme environmentalist agenda – using funding from an agency (MCC) tasked with supporting poverty alleviation through economic growth. Furthermore, as the allocation of funding within USAID demonstrates, many Western environmental NGOs, such as the World Wildlife Fund, will receive a large portion of this funding. A global ideological effort is at play to impose a radical climate agenda on the developing world at the behest of “green” environmentalist groups. But the excesses of the Obama Administration’s environmentalist agenda do not stop there.

Verified Carbon Standard

carbonpositive.net, 8 April 2011 | The VCS is the most popular standard across the breadth of the international voluntary market, offering project developers carbon credibility, ease of use and medium-range credit prices. It enjoys a high degree of acceptance in the carbon market place, enjoying the official backing of The Climate Group, the International Emissions Trading Association and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, as well as other NGOs. It appears to have the support of brokers too, who would prefer to deal with a smaller number of widely-accepted standards.

Slow-onset climate change a huge risk to food supply

AlertNet, 8 April 2011 | Failure to prepare for the impact of slow-onset climate changes could have catastrophic effects on food production, according to a new study by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). “Currently the world is focused on dealing with shorter-term climate impacts caused mainly by extreme weather events,” said Alexander Muller, FAO’s assistant director-general for natural resources. “This is absolutely necessary.” … The report urges that countries begin to improve food security as a way of lessening the severity of coming climate change impacts. Efforts such as creating biofuels and implementing REDD+, an initiative on reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, also will be key in easing problems associated with slow-impact climate change, the report said.

Rich, poor nations feud at UN climate talks

AFP, 8 April 2011 | The first UN climate talks for the year entered their final day with negotiators still trying to hammer out a deal after familiar feuds between rich and poor nations flared. The four days of talks had an apparently modest main goal of sorting out an agenda for the rest of the year’s negotiations that would lay the foundations for agreements at an annual UN climate summit in South Africa in November. But delegates said the agenda had still not been decided by Friday morning, with one key point of dispute an insistence by many poorer countries for a greater focus on actions developed countries must take to fight global warming. “Nothing has been decided. It’s not a very good signal,” one European negotiator, who asked not to be named, told AFP. Delegates said a compromise could still be reached by the end of the talks on Friday evening.

A global partnership to fight climate change

By Wahjudi Wardojo (TNC) and Duncan Marsh (TNC), Jakarta Post, 8 April 2011 | While the Cancún Agreements alone will not solve the climate challenge, they did lay down important foundations for strengthened global cooperation… Progress within the negotiations on other important sources of emissions has been much slower. REDD+ is a refreshing case of common ground between developed and developing countries. Although a strong system for REDD+ could ultimately attract billions in public and private funding to keep tropical forests healthy, there is a lot of hard work that needs to get done, both in individual countries and at the international level, before financial incentives begin to flow. Fortunately, REDD+ is not our only tool. Other drivers like market demand for ecologically and socially responsible wood products, and tougher, more credible policies to combat illegal logging, are strengthening the business case for improving management of production forests.

9 April 2011

Deep divisions, loads of work as nations move toward climate change summit

By Denis D. Gray, Associated Press, 9 April 2011 | Nineteen years after the world started to take climate change seriously, delegates from around the globe spent five days talking about what they will talk about at a year-end conference in South Africa. They agreed to talk about their opposing viewpoints… “I believe that we now have a solid basis to move forward collectively and that governments can deliver further good results this year, provided every effort is made to compromise,” the U.N.’s top climate change official Christiana Figueres said… “We are not prepared to go forward with the binding obligation for ourselves which would not apply to the other major economies,” chief U.S. delegate Jonathan Pershing told a news conference.

Bangkok summit adopts road map

By Apinya Wipatayotin & Piyaporn Wongruang, Bangkok Post, 9 April 2011 | A road map for this year’s UN climate change negotiations was adopted in the last minutes of six-day talks that have now ended in Bangkok. “Parties to the UN Climate Change Convention agreed to an agenda to work towards a comprehensive and balanced outcome at the UN Climate Change Conference in Durban at the end of the year,” said Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). “Governments agreed that this outcome will address the implementation of the Cancun Agreements and issues that were not resolved at Cancun but which are part of the comprehensive Bali Action Plan that governments agreed in 2007.” The agenda will serve as a guideline for a working group on long-term cooperative action under the UNFCCC and a discussion at the Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC to be held in South Africa later this year.

10 April 2011

Forest initiative raising suspicions

By Piyaporn Wongruang, Bangkok Post, 10 April 2011 | Kriangkrai Cheechuang is a young Karen whose family has lived in the protect forest area of the Mae Nam Phachi Wildlife Sanctuary… He is anxious to hear news on Thailand’s possible implementation of the REDD scheme, and is worried that his community will come under a World Bank-funded pilot programme. Like their counterparts in Cambodia, the villagers have been kept in the dark, but are fighting back through REDDWatch, a group established to monitor the progress of the scheme. ”We have no idea how all our livelihoods will be affected, and we are quite worried about that,” said Mr Kriangkrai… Rawee Thaworn, a forestry expert studying the impact of the scheme in Thailand, said indigenous rights would be the most critical point to decide the scheme’s fate here. In Thailand, such rights are still vaguely defined and very often overridden by the state’s interests, said Mr Rawee, who is the Country Program Officer for RECOFTC.

Audit Office turns a Nelson’s eye to Office of the President

By Christopher Ram, Stabroek News, 10 April 2011 | The Office of Climate Change cannot be identified at all in the Estimates under Office of the President. One therefore wonders about the accountability of the money that is being spent in running this office which we are told is responsible for managing the whole LCDS process. Indeed, the head of the unit, Mr Shyam Nokta claims that he is working for the unit and the country without remuneration, a claim which may be surprising but which surely does not apply to everyone else. The law requires that all public expenditure should be accounted for, even where it is grant-funded, but this it seems is not being done. This lack of transparency does not encourage and inspire confidence over the substantial sums that are likely to flow from the Norwegians and the more secretive Chinese and Indians.

Facts as stated in open letter to Norwegian minister do not justify delaying payment of funds

By Clinton Urling, letter to the editor Stabroek News, 10 April 2011 | Recently, a private group of citizens signed their names to an open letter addressed to Erik Solheim, Norway’s Minister of the Environment and International Development. The letter was intended to highlight widespread concerns about transparency, governance and unfulfilled commitments by Guyana’s government as they pertain to a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed by the Governments of Guyana and Norway about key environmental issues – namely, REDD. Of direct concern, the open letter’s authors urged that funds already in the Guyana REDD+ Investment Fund (GRIF) not be released to the Guyana government and that any such future transfers from Norway to the existing fund not go forward until government officials publicly guarantee good practices of fiscal transparency and broader citizen stakeholder involvement that facilitate the objectives outlined in the MOU.

US$7M to boost LCDS project management

Stabroek News, 10 April 2011 | Guyana will spend US$7M from its forests’ agreement with Norway in the next two years to strengthen crucial institutions to coordinate and execute key components of the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS), according to a Project Concept Note released recently. Guyana will be working with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) on this project, which has to be approved by the Steering Committee of the Guyana REDD+ Investment Fund (GRIF) that oversees the forests’ fund. The project will see the training of staff and the recruitment of qualified local and international personnel and consultants in the drive to build a “low carbon economy.”

What are the long-term benefits of the forestry concession to Siddartha?

By Andaiye, letter to the editor Stabroek News, 10 April 2011 | Guyanese are indebted to Stabroek News and the Times of India for the news that some months ago, the Jagdeo administration signed away more than one million eight hundred thousand acres of land to an Indian businessman who plans to cut and ship logs to India to make furniture. As a Guyanese with no expertise in any of the related fields a number of questions immediately spring to my mind and I therefore write to outline the facts as I understand them and to ask the Government of Guyana to urgently confirm or deny them…

Forestry deal with India’s coffee maker raises questions

Kaieteur News, 10 April 2011 | In what is being considered one of the largest local deals of its kind, Guyana has awarded some 1.8 million acres of forest lands to an Indian coffee making company, but government yesterday said that the process is still ongoing with no harvesting permission granted. Yesterday, the Alliance For Change (AFC) described the deal as a shady one and said that it will be demanding answers. While the deal with India’s Café Coffee Day was made last year, they were no announcements in the local media. India’s coffee maker mogul, V. G. Siddhartha, has acquired 1.8M hectares of Guyana’s forest. The 1.8M acres would be less than half of the Barama Company Limited, a Malaysian-owned logging and plywood manufacturing company, which has been here since the 90s and which controls more than 1.6M hectares of forest lands.

Nigeria earns emission credits amid high potential

By Michael Simire, Daily Independent, 10 April 2011 | Indications have emerged that a viable prospect lurks for the Nigerian sustainable development sector, which was last week grouped among major international players. However, indigenous financial industry practitioners seem indifferent to the venture. Within two years of participation and with four operational Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) projects, the West African country has been ranked ninth in anticipated global certified emissions reduction (CER) projects. Statistics released last week by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) reveals that Nigeria has an expected average annual CER of 4,693,552 units, which is the highest in Africa and forms 1.03 percent of the world’s total.

The 9 billion people question: Food security & why biodiversity is important

By Terence Sunderland, CIFOR Forests Blog, 10 April 2011 | Food security has become one of the most important issues of our time. In February, The Economist published a special report on the “the future of food.” Entitled “The 9 billion-people question,” the report maintains that more food can be grown on existing land through further intensification and calls for a second “green revolution” – the development of high-yielding crop varieties and increased breeding for drought and disease resistance. The report also asserts that high crop prices stimulate demand and reduce waste. The report comprehensively outlines the complexities related to food security and proposes some compelling solutions to achieve it, including increasing funding to the Consultative Group of International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), which led the first Green Revolution. However, on one issue it falls short: it fails to recognise the importance of biodiversity to sustainable agriculture.

Study calls for REDD+ to subsidize agrochemicals in West Africa

mongabay.com, 10 April 2011 | Small-scale agriculture – including cocoa, cassava, and oil palm farming – has driven large-scale conversion West Africa tropical forests, reports new research published in the journal Environmental Management. The study found that most cocoa expansion in West Africa’s Guinean rainforest region occurred at the expense of forests. While production in the region doubled between 1987 and 2007, low-input smallholder agriculture accounted for much of the expansion. The researchers say some deforestation could have been avoided had farmers adopted chemical fertilizers and agrochemicals instead of using organic farming techniques.

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