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REDD in the news: 25 April – 1 May 2011

Helen Clark (UNDP) and Teras Narang (Governor of Central Kalimantan)

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

Forest Carbon Begins Partnership with New Asia Regional REDD News Outlet

Forest Carbon, no date | Forest Carbon has begun supporting a major new independent online REDD news initiative, ForestCarbonAsia.org, started up by Dr. Unna Chokkalingam, based in Vientiane Lao PDR and S. Anuradha Vanniarachchy based in Sri Lanka. One of PT Forest Carbon Indonesia’s Directors, Gabriel Eickhoff, will contribute regular submissions to the website regarding carbon market projects, sustainable carbon entrepreneurship and private sector opportunities for investment and credit acquisition in the forest carbon sector globally.

ASB and IISD Develop Platform for South-South Exchange on REDD+

Climate Change Policy & Practice, April 2011 | The Alternatives to Slash and Burn Partnership for the Tropical Forest Margins at the World Agroforestry Centre (ASB-ICRAF) and the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) have developed a platform for building capacity for REDD+(reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries, as well as conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of carbon stocks) negotiators and stakeholders in Africa and Asia. The project is focusing on countries with UN-REDD programmes. The project provides information on technical and policy experiences in the forestry sector that will contribute to more effective REDD+ implementation. The site includes information on REDD+ activities in Africa and Asia, providing context through lessons learned.

25 April 2011

Is Indonesia’s Program to Stop Deforestation in Meltdown?

By Robert Eshelman, The Investigative Fund, 25 April 2011 | Since December, Indonesia has clearly not turned the corner on deforestation. Implementation of its REDD program has lagged, corruption continues to cast a dark shadow over the forestry sector, and communities like Sungai Tohor remain threatened by expanding mono-crop plantations of oil palm and acacia trees, which are used to make paper. In other words, little has changed beyond the government’s public support for reigning in the logging sector and there’s scant evidence that this will change anytime soon. In exchange for a billion dollars in Norwegian aid, Indonesia was meant to impose a two-year moratorium on the issuance of new logging permits. The moratorium was set to take effect at the beginning of 2011. Yet, nearly five months later there is no moratorium in place and various government agencies are split on how to interpret what types of forests should be protected.

The challenges in communicating technical research

By Budhy Kristanty, CIFOR Forests Blog, 25 April 2011 | Breaking down the complexities of scientific research into digestible chunks is a difficult job for researchers and reporters alike. Working together to overcome this problem is critical for science to get out into the public space. How to convey scientific information simply, free from jargon and relate it to everyday life are the essential criteria that reporters consider when choosing stories to pursue. After hearing a presentation on the role of wetlands on climate change which made use of comprehensive data, one participant in a journalism training course arranged by CIFOR in conjunction with the Society of Environmental Indonesian Journalists (SIEJ) and Internews, asked how to choose which data would most interest the reader and how to translate it in terms of day-to-day life.

Dirty Loans and Dirty Hands: Is the World Bank Fit to Serve?

By Rebecca Harris, Huffington Post, 25 April 2011 | In light of its recent and sizable loans for large scale fossil fuel projects with questionable benefit to the poor, civil society asks, is the World Bank an appropriate steward of international climate finance?

Red book key to managing Vietnam’s forests

By Jenny Marusiak, Eco-Business, 25 April 2011 | Local communities provide the best hope of protecting Vietnam’s forests, but they need the right tools. That’s the message of a new film released last week by the NGO International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED). The villagers of Pho Trach are highly motivated to protect the sandy forest they depend on for food and fuel. The forest is an integral part of their lifestyle – they use it to feed their livestock and protect their reservoir for irrigation of their rice crops. In the rainy season, they retreat to the forest when the village floods. As a significant part of their ancestral heritage, the forest has been managed by the community for more than 400 years. The government has recognised their management cooperative since the 1970’s, but so far the village has no legal proof of their rights to the land.

Trade shifts help rich meet climate goals: study

By Alister Doyle, Reuters, 25 April 2011 | The shift in manufacturing to emerging nations is doing more to curb rich countries’ greenhouse gas emissions than measures they are taking to meet the U.N. pact to fight climate change, a study showed. Rich nations benefit from U.N. rules which record greenhouse gases – mainly from burning fossil fuels – as those coming from each country’s territory. Emissions to make a car in South Korea, for instance, remain South Korean even if the car is exported to the United States. So the transfer of the manufacture of goods such as televisions, fridges, steel or clothing to nations such as China or India has masked rising emissions since 1990 in developed nations where many of the products are consumed, the study said. “If you look at territorial emissions you are only looking at half the picture,” Glen Peters, lead author at the Center for International Climate and Environmental Research – Oslo, told Reuters of the study published late on Monday.

Mangrove Trees Top Candidates For Conservation

TinyGreenBubble, 25 April 2011 | A new paper published this month in Nature Geoscience shows that mangrove forests in the Pacific and Indian Oceans can store more carbon than scientists previously thought. Mangroves occupy less than 1% of tropical forest land, and this new study indicates that cutting down mangroves could mean a 10% increase in carbon emission globally. A team led by J. Boone Kauffman – an ecologist at the Northern Research Station of the US Forest Service in Durham, New Hampshire – went to 25 different mangrove sites across Micronesia, Indonesia and Bangladesh, an entire area that represents about 40% of the global area covered by mangroves. The team studied above- and below-ground carbon pools occupying estuaries and oceanic settings, and found that the underground “muck layer” of soil cause the mangrove forests to hold more carbon than temperate, tropical, or boreal forests.

Deforestation concerns in the delta

By Nay Thwin, Democratic Voice of Burma, 25 April 2011 | Locals in the Irrawaddy Delta’s Bogalay township have expressed concerns about the environment and their livelihoods due to an alleged increase in deforestation in the region. Retired school teacher Hla Myint, 70, and resident of Bogalay said the growing population in the region had led to a significant deforestation of large trees, leaving locals to cut down smaller palm-type trees for firewood which he said was “not a good sign.” “[Bogalay] township once flourished with trees but now most forests have turned into farmlands,” said Hla Myint.

Forest in new sugar concession

Phnom Penh Post, 25 April 2011 | An economic land concession encompassing 9,053 hectares and belonging to the wife of Cambodian People’s Party Senator Ly Yong Phat has been extended by 4,700 hectares and now includes part of a protected forest, according to a government document obtained by The Post late last week. The sub-decree, signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen on March 21 this year, reclassifies land that includes a portion of the protected Phnom Aural forest in Kampong Speu’s Trapaing Chor commune in Oral district as an economic land concession granted to Kim Heang’s Kampong Speu Sugar company. “The minister in charge of the Council of Ministers, the Minister of Economy and Finance, the Minister of the Environment, all ministries and the governor of Kampong Speu province have to implement this sub-decree effectively starting from the date of signage,” the sub-decree read.

The Vaitarna matter

Stabroek News, 25 April 2011 | A report by the Times of India earlier this month that an Indian company, Vaitarna Holdings, controlled 1.82M acres of Guyanese forest deservedly captured media scrutiny here. First, had there been a functioning Access to Infor-mation Act as promised umpteen times in the breach by the government the media might have been able to unearth much earlier and progressively, information on this transaction thereby helping to obviate concerns that the deal was secret and with dark underpinnings. After more than 18 years in office this government remains deaf to the manner in which agreements of this type ought to be publicized. The blackout was even stranger since Vaitarna is reportedly investing US$18.7M, the type of figure that the government is always keen to trumpet in view of the limited investments flowing into the country.

The gov’t should have written the Amaila roads contractor outlining the slippages and requesting a viable plan to get the project back on track

By Charles Sohan, letter to the editor, Stabroek News, 25 April 2011 | In an article which appeared in KN on April 21 on the above captioned subject, Dr. Roger Luncheon, Head of the Presidential Secretariat stated that the Amaila Falls Road project was ‘hopelessly behind schedule’ which in reality is an admission of failure by Contractor Motilall to perform in a timely manner. He further stated that the Government of Guyana (GoG) would ‘suggest and even demand that components of the contract be sub-contracted’ to speed-up construction and thus enable the project to be completed on time. In large contracts as this one, the prime contractor usually does not have all the necessary skills in-house to complete the project and sub-contracting is a norm. In some jurisdictions sub-contractors have to be registered and approved by the Client.

Grants for Amerindian village project ready for July

Guyana Chronicle, 25 April 2011 | President Bharrat Jagdeo is expected to meet with toshaos representing all Amerindian communities in July for another engagement at the Guyana International Conference Centre (GICC) where village grants will be distributed. The funds, which are being made available through priority projects under the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS), will be directed towards community development projects conceptualised and approved by Amerindians for their communities. The funds which are an addition to the presidential grants will be drawn from the $1.6B that has been generated through the Guyana Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) mechanism which Guyana established through partnership with the Norwegian Government. Guyana managed to acquire US$70M through the REDD mechanism, US$8M of which will be dedicated to the community development projects for the Amerindians.

Over 20 Rupununi villages receive mobile, ICT, agriculture equipment

Guyana Chronicle, 25 April 2011 | Toshaos in over 20 Amerindian communities in the Rupununi, Region Nine had their long awaited requests for assistance from the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs granted on April 23 corresponding with a visit of President Bharrat Jagdeo at St Ignatius. The assistance included tractor trailers, harrows, plows, sewing machines, laptops chainsaws, one solar panel, outboard engine, motorcycle radio set and microscope.

26 April 2011

UNDP Chief to Observe Indonesian Development

vivanews.com, 26 April 2011 | The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator, Helen Clark, will pay a three-day visit to Indonesia – starting on Wednesday – to highlight Indonesia’s development agenda over the next five years, with particular attention to its major initiatives and reforms to address environmental concerns. “High level meetings in the capital and site visits to Central Kalimantan will also focus on critical issues such as climate change, decentralization and growth with social equity,” said UNDP in its statement to VIVAnews. The trip to Kalimantan on her first day in Indonesia will include talks with local officials and a discussion with communities on their needs and involvement in Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) projects.

27 April 2011

Seeing REDD

Nature, 27 April 2011 | But forest-dependent communities and human-rights organizations fear that these provisions offer weak and ineffective protection. These concerns are starting to play out on the ground. A study by UK-based human-rights group the Forest Peoples Programme (FPP), which looked at nine REDD pilot projects in Cameroon, warns that forest communities there have not been adequately consulted on efforts to move on from the pilot schemes to develop national REDD plans. In addition, the national plans include no measures to protect the rights of these people – such as seeking their free, prior and informed consent to projects that may affect them – nor to ensure that they benefit. REDD was always going to have teething problems, and there will be opportunities to address these concerns.

How Goldman Sachs Created the Food Crisis

By Frederick Kaufman, Foreign Policy, 27 April 2011 | Demand and supply certainly matter. But there’s another reason why food across the world has become so expensive: Wall Street greed. It took the brilliant minds of Goldman Sachs to realize the simple truth that nothing is more valuable than our daily bread. And where there’s value, there’s money to be made. In 1991, Goldman bankers, led by their prescient president Gary Cohn, came up with a new kind of investment product, a derivative that tracked 24 raw materials, from precious metals and energy to coffee, cocoa, cattle, corn, hogs, soy, and wheat. They weighted the investment value of each element, blended and commingled the parts into sums, then reduced what had been a complicated collection of real things into a mathematical formula that could be expressed as a single manifestation, to be known henceforth as the Goldman Sachs Commodity Index (GSCI).

Neoliberal conservation: commoditisation, media and celebrity

By Terry Sunderland, CIFOR Forests Blog, 27 April 2011 | Is it possible to “eat one’s conservation cake and eat development desert too”? Food for thought indeed. Scholars Jim Igoe and Dan Brockington, well known for their extensive critiques of contemporary conservation, question the premise of such win-win scenarios and suggest that the increasing “neoliberalisation” of conservation is leading to the re-regulation of nature through increasing forms of commoditisation. In a [2007] paper, Igoe and Brockington define neoliberalisation as “a restructuring of society of enable the spread of free markets”… The embracing of capitalism by the BINGOs in particular has been enhanced by media representation of nature, usually with celebrity hosts supporting noble causes. As such, Igoe argues, the corporate approach usually the domain of for-profit companies adopted by conservation organisations means they are now able to generate substantial funding.

More community-based management key to forests survival

By Zachary Ochuodho, Africa Science News, 27 April 2011 | A collaborative partnership on forests, bringing together 14 international organizations working to protect and manage the world’s forests has Wednesday called for governments across the globe to increase communities’ role in forest management. Doing so could contribute to lifting close to a billion people out of poverty, as well as improve the health and vitality of forests. Experts within the partnership simply known as CPF say again and again, it has been shown that by increasing local people’s ownership in the management of forest resources, communities are frequently in a better position to start forest product-based business, from which they can derive better incomes. Such businesses include an array of activities, encompassing everything from processing and marketing of shea nuts and butter in West Africa, to community forestry enterprises managing forest concessions in Petén, Guatemala.

The global forest debate

Eco-Business.com, 27 April 2011 | The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) today launched the Living Forest Report which outlined the challenges and the urgency in saving valuable forest resources while meeting increasing demands for food and energy. “We are living globally as if we had access to 1.5 planets”, said WWF executive director of conservation Lasse Gustavson. Launched at today’s pre-summit conference for the B4E Global Summit in Jakarta, the report describes a model in which Indonesia could reach zero net deforestation by 2020. The alternative ‘do nothing’ scenario showed 232 million hectares of forest lost by 2050. A global shift in forestry policies to ensure good governance will be needed to achieve the target.

Governments, business must unite in joint action to stop forest loss

WWF, 27 April 2011 | Policymakers and business leaders must quickly back a bold target to stop forest loss as part of efforts to conserve biodiversity and fight climate change, according to a new WWF report. The first chapter of WWF’s Living Forests Report, released today, examines the drivers of deforestation and identifies the opportunities to shift from business as usual to a new model of sustainability, which can benefit government, business and communities.

Business has a new role to play in the Heart of Borneo’s forests

Eco-Business.com, 27 April 2011 | The World Wide Fund for Nature’s (WWF) Heart of Borneo project took the spotlight at the B4E conference on Wednesday, which held talks leading up to the two-day summit in Jakarta. The project is a collaboration WWF initiated with the three governments of Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei, along with businesses that have a vested interest in the health of Borneo’s forests. It aims to conserve 22 million hectares of intact natural forest in the centre of Borneo. Lessons learned from pilot projects from the Heart of Borneo will be used to inform new models for sustainable forest management that can be applied globally. One of these lessons is that businesses will need to play a new role in order to make the rapid changes necessary for sustainable development. Climate change has established a whole new playing field and the winners would be those who grabbed the opportunities offered by the new rules, said Ambassador for Norway, H E Eivind Homme.

Helen Clark visits REDD+ pilot initiative in Indonesia

UNDP press release, 27 April 2011 | On the first day of her three-day trip to Indonesia, UNDP chief Helen Clark traveled to Central Kalimantan, where she took a boat through parts of the province to see first-hand the forest cover and peat lands which face a real threat of deforestation. She met with local officials to discuss their plans for REDD+ pilot initiatives — Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation which also include the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks.

Govt committed to keeping Papua`s forest regions intact

Antara News, 27 April 2011 | Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan said his ministry remains committed to keeping Papua’s primary forest regions intact and not letting them be exploited by forest concession holders. The minister made the statement in a media dialogue on forestry policies held by ANTARA News Agency here on Tuesday. He said there had been requests for opening the forest regions in Papua for non-forestry activities but the government was resolved to keep intact the 7.3 million hectares of primary forests in the province. “Some 26 million hectares of forest areas in the country are already controlled by forest concession holders. We intend to keep this as it is, there will be no expansion of the forest concession area. Should there be parties intending to sue (the government for not issuing new permits), they are free to do so,” Minister Hasan said, adding the non-expansion policy was being implemented nationwide including in Papua.

Forestry minister pledges pro-people, pro-growth policies

Antara News, 27 April 2011 | In line with the International Forest Year`s theme, Indonesia has applied forestry policies which are pro-growth, pro-job, pro-people, and pro-environment, according to Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan. “The environmental preservation is not contradict to the economic growth, in fact, it is in line with the growth,” Forestry Minister Zulkifli said in a dialog with the media chiefs at Wisma ANTARA, here, Tuesday (April 26). The forestry ministry has allocated 700,000 hectares for the people`s and rural forest programs, an increase from around 600,000 hectares in 2010. The minister said it would be impossible to regreen Indonesia without the support of the people in general, he said. As part of the International Forest Year 2011`s activities, Indonesia plans to plant 1.5 billion trees this year. “Last year, we planted 1.3 billion trees of the target of one billion trees,” he said.

28 April 2011

A new mangrove management strategy?

By Budhy Kristanty, CIFOR Forests Blog, 28 April 2011 | Local communities on Nusa Penida and Lembongan in Bali are fighting back to save their wetlands by implementing local laws to protect their rapidly disappearing mangrove population. The movement began following a devastating incident in 1975 when seawater levels rose and destroyed many of the existing mangrove forests on the islands. The community have since banded together to protect this fragile ecosystem. “We worked together, beginning with planting the mangroves at the edge of the island beach,” says Wayan Sukirta, head of a local community group.

No binding climate deal at Durban, warn US, EU

AFP, 28 April 2011 | There will be no binding deal on emissions at this year’s UN climate summit as the South African hosts and other economic powers are simply “not ready,” the United States and Europe said on Wednesday. “It is not a necessary thing to have right away,” top US climate official Todd Stern said after European Union counterpart Connie Hedegaard admitted hopes of a breakthrough pact in Durban are already dead. “The good news is that there is a general recognition of the necessity of a legally-binding agreement,” EU climate action commissioner Connie Hedegaard said. “The bad news is no legally-binding agreement deal will be done in Durban.” The pair spoke after a two-day meeting of the so-called Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate (MEF), a gathering of the world’s 17 largest economies aimed at advancing efforts to cut greenhouse emissions, increase the supply of clean energy and mitigate global warming.

Is it time to overhaul Europe’s carbon trading scheme?

Ben Schiller, Yale Environment 360, 28 April 2011 | When it was launched in 2005, the European Union’s Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) was hailed as a major step forward in the fight against climate change. Covering 12,000 power plants, factories, and other industrial facilities – and nearly half of EU CO2 emissions – it was the world’s largest cap-and-trade project to date. EU officials saw it as the first of many carbon-pricing schemes that would eventually cover the globe. Six years later that vision is looking a little clouded. With the EU ETS accused of failing to reduce carbon emissions, countries outside Europe delaying companion cap-and-trade systems, and critics charging that the carbon-trading mechanism has opened the door to fraud, profiteering, and “gaming” by participants, serious questions have arisen about the future of the EU’s grand emissions plan.

Oslo urges more forest aid despite corruption risk

By Alistair Doyle, Reuters, 28 April 2011 | Environment Minister Erik Solheim also reiterated calls for Jakarta to impose a strict two-year moratorium on new forest clearing to help implement a delayed $1 billion deal to slow deforestation agreed with Oslo in 2010. Rich from offshore oil, Norway has dominated projects to safeguard rainforests as part of a U.N.-led goal of slowing climate change. Trees soak up greenhouse gases as they grow and release them when they are burned or rot. “Norway does not want to do this alone. If it ends up that we are the only — or by far the biggest — financial contributor, it will be a failure,” he told a seminar. Solheim said donors had to accept risks in hard-to-monitor projects, such as losses due to corruption in developing nations or that U.N. negotiations will fail to agree a pact to combat global warming that would create a forest carbon market. “If we wait until Congo is like Switzerland … there will hardly be a tree left,” he said.

Transcript of President Yudhoyono’s speech at B4E Global Summit

By MIchelle Kovacevic, CIFOR Forests Blog, 28 April 2011 | The President of Indonesia, Dr Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono today announced the opening of a program that grants access to degraded lands for expanding industries in Indonesia. “New policies and incentives will be on the table for those who would turn unproductive grasslands into high-yielding and productive assets…the success of this program is critical to our success in pursuing a green economy,” he said in his keynote address at the Business for the Environment global Summit held in Jakarta. Indonesia has more than 25 million hectares of degraded land and there has been debate over whether industrial-scale plantations should be allowed on lands that have been partially degraded. Find the President’s full speech transcribed below.

Agus Purnomo’s key messages for forest and climate change

By Daniel Cooney, CIFOR Forests Blog, 28 April 2011 | Indonesia’s chief climate change negotiator, Agus Purnomo today discussed the difficulties between balancing a growing economy and pushing for a strong commitment to environmental conservation. “To implement a grand scheme that is built of Government policies, international cooperation, market incentives, technological innovation, civil society participation, business and corporation, improvement in communication among stakeholders is a must,” Purnomo urged at today’s session of the B4E global summit in Jakarta. Find a full transcript of the speech below.

Illegal Logging, Mining Ravages Kalimantan, Costs Indonesia $36.4b

Jakarta Globe, 28 April 2011 | The Ministry of Forestry says illegal logging, land clearance, forest fires and mining has devastated Indonesian Borneo and cost the country an estimated Rp 311.4 trillion ($36.4 billion). Raffles Panjaitan, director for forest investigation and protection at the ministry, said an estimated 1,236 mining firms and 537 oil palm plantation companies were operating illegally in Central, East and West Kalimantan on the Indonesian half of Borneo. The companies had caused losses put at Rp158.5 trillion in Central Kalimantan, Rp 31.5 trillion in East Kalimantan and Rp121.4 trillion in West Kalimantan, he said.

Indonesia offers a laboratory for green investment

eco-business.com, 28 April 2011 | Indonesia’s Central Kalimantan province is shaping up to be a hotbed for attracting investments. It was held up as an example of how Indonesia is “walking the talk” in supporting sustainable businesses who want to tap into Indonesia’s large market. Rachmat Witoelar, the Indonesian President’s Special Envoy for Climate Change said in a panel discussion on Thursday at the two-day Business for the Environment summit in Jakarta that Indonesia was serious on scaling up investments in the country. “Any business that furthers environmental sustainability will be supported. Indonesia is aware that the world will look very kindly upon those businesses that practice environmentally friendly techniques. “We are walking the talk. Central Kalimantan is an example of this.” he said.

Climate Change Policy sent for formal approval

By Noor Aftab, thenews.com.pk, 28 April 2011 | Recently prepared National Climate Change Policy recommended necessary expansion of nuclear power for Pakistan’s energy security and promotion of renewable energy resources to cope with growing challenge of climate change and global warming… It was recommended to establish the National Climate Change Commission for coordinating all climate change activities at national and international level, develop monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) system for evaluation of emission reduction and change in land use system in order to make full use of UNFCCC REDD facility.

Industry players call for focus in forest management

GhanaWeb, 28 April 2011 | Participants at a workshop that sought to define the different roles of stakeholders in Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD) have underlined the need for a clear focus in the management of forest resources. They said it was important to look for efficient and effective ways of protecting the forest resources instead of relying on REDD whose future is not yet known. The workshop, which was organized by Tropenbos International Ghana, a forest conservation NGO in collaboration with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), was designed to share information on REDD and to strengthen stakeholder involvement in its implementation.

REDD in the Lacandon forest

By Silvia Ribeiro (ETC Group), Climate Connections, 28 April 2011 | The Mexican example shows what happens when a state governor (Juan Sabines) and cronies lay a foundation for market mechanisms. When consultants inflate statistics to justify claims of “biomass”, “less” deforestation, and “carbon absorption.” When Ecosur graduates, the national REDD committee and an alphabet soup of government agencies … and carbon traders provide “greenwash” for polluters to claim they are promoting conservation and biodiversity. Who loses? The indigenes, the forest, and the planet. Last but not least is remote-sensing technology, by a semi-military satellite that “indicates the capacity of carbon sequestration” combined with on-the-ground monitoring for which local men are already in training. All very clean and scientific, tracking not only wildlife but also the humans who live there – monitoring “Zapatistas” and preparing for the next generation of biopiracy.

Bolivia at UN: “We cannot command nature except by obeying her”

By Ambassador Pablo Solón, Climate and Capitalism, 28 April 2011 | To speak of equilibrium is to speak of rights for all parts of the system. It could be that these rights are not identical for all things, since not all things are equal. But to think that only humans should enjoy privileges while other living things are simply objects is the worst mistake humanity has ever made. Decades ago, to talk about slaves as having the same rights as everyone else seemed like the same heresy that it is now to talk about glaciers or rivers or trees as having rights. Nature is ruthless when it goes ignored. It is incredible that it is easier to imagine the destruction of nature than to dream about overthrowing capitalism. Albert Einstein said, “The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.” We have not come here to watch a funeral.

The prize, perils and price of China’s plan

By Nicholas Stern, Financial Times, 28 April 2011 | China’s 12th five-year plan for 2011 to 2015, finalised last month, will have a dramatic impact on the global economy and ambitions for managing the risks of climate change. In our preoccupation with shorter-run debt and finance issues, we risk overlooking medium- to long-term changes of profound significance… China has a much smaller history of emissions than the rich countries and produces for the consumption of others; but the arithmetic of the world’s carbon budgets, albeit grossly inequitable, is a fact of life. So it is vital for the safety of the world, and China, for China to find a way of increasing its ambitions for reducing emissions, with a view to peaking at 12bn or 13bn tonnes in the early 2020s, and returning to about 9bn tonnes by 2030.

This Week in Forest Carbon: A Big Name for a Little Country

Ecosystem Marketplace, 28 April 2011 | Guyana continues to find itself at the center of several REDD+ news stories… Guyana prepares to co-chair the REDD+ Partnership along with Germany in July. After the deposit of an additional $40 million from Norway to Guyana’s REDD fund, Rainforest Alliance’s recently released verification report describing the REDD+ readiness progress in Guyana is coming under fire from watchdog groups. And as the clock ticks towards Guyana’s upcoming Presidential election, incumbent Bharrat Jagdeo is in a race against the clock, hoping to shake money loose from the REDD fund in time to buy some support from Guyana’s Amerindian communities. Outside of Guyana, a raft of new research findings are emerging with interesting implications… a new manual for calculating REDD+ opportunity costs from the World Bank, and the scandalous synchronicity uncovered between Indonesian election cycles and deforestation rates…

AFC makes campaign pitch to private sector… Amaila Falls hydro to be re-examined

Kaieteur News, 28 April 2011 | The strengthening of the country’s Integrity Commission to tackle corruption among government official is one of the main priorities of Alliance For Change (AFC) party… if it wins the government in the coming General Elections… Ramjattan, however, warned that while there must be encouragement for large hydro-electric projects, the AFC is not optimistic that the Amaila Fall hydro will reduce business energy costs. “There will be serious cost overruns, and the dubious nature of the contract awarded to Fip Motilall will have serious cost implication that will have to be billed into the unit price of electricity. “This project must be thoroughly re-examined to clear up the suspicions surrounding it.”

These recently published GFC documents expose further incompetence over the Vaitarna concessions

By Janette Bulkan, letter to the editor, Stabroek News, 28 April 2011 | Without an explanatory article in the Press, the Guyana Forestry Commission has recently posted documents which appear to relate to the illegal and improper issue of two forest concessions to the Vaitarna (VHPI) subsidiary of the Indian coffee retailer, Coffee Day. As usual, the GFC documents are undated and unsigned. The documents summarise some of the procedures for the issue or allocation of forest concessions: State Forest Permissions, State Forest Exploratory Permits (SFEPs), and Timber Sales Agreements (TSAs) or Wood Cutting Leases. The documents include nicely-drawn flow charts to accompany the summary texts. So should we not welcome these quietly published documents? No – because they show how the GFC either does not know the forest legislation, national forest policy and relevant administrative procedures or the GFC is trying to bend the rules to sanitise the VHPI deals.

In discussing Vaitarna, Messrs Persaud and Singh failed to distinguish the State Forest Exploratory Permit from the TSA

By Christopher Ram, letter to the editor, Stabroek News, 28 April 2011 | When Agriculture Minister Mr. Robert Persaud held his press conference on April 12, 2011 to defend the permit/agreement over 1.82 million acres granted to the Indian company Vaitarna Holdings Private Inc., there had been very few letters and questions about the manner in which the two parcels of the land had been allocated to the company owned by Mr. Siddhartha, the coffee magnate of India. Mr. Persaud’s accusation of a “misinformation” and “sleazeball” campaign seemed therefore both inappropriate and disproportionate particularly since Mr. James Singh, Commissioner of Forests had spoken two days earlier on the matter. In seeking to dispel concerns about Vaitarna, Mr. Singh had raised in my mind some interesting questions which I had hoped to put to him in some form.

29 April 2011

Malaysian tribes fight to protect rainforests

By Azhar Sukri, Al Jazeera, 29 April 2011 | The long tussle over resources from rainforests in Malaysia’s Sarawak province has pitted strong logging and palm oil companies against the indigenous tribes in the area. Three tribes from the state, accusing the government of illegally handing out timber and palm oil licences to companies, have approached the country’s highest court over their rights on the land. The government says it is trying to alleviate poverty and bring the state’s natives into mainstream society and that forest management practices are helping the environment. But conservationists say 70 per cent of the rainforests have already been felled.

The Indonesia Mega Rice Disaster

By Ingrid Lobet, Living on Earth, 29 April 2011 | Nick Mawdsley has a background in biology and forestry. He and 40 experts in fields from hydrology to microlending drafted a master plan in 2008. Based on that, Mawdsley estimates that 700 million dollars would be enough to block up many of the canals, reflood land, and fight fire. MAWDSLEY: And if we can stop there being that level of fire, it means that people’s rubber plantations won’t get burnt. We will probably see the forest regenerating, and so maybe in five to ten years, we’ll begin to see something that looks more like a forest in these sort of really deep peat areas. LOBET: Just a few months after that master plan was finished, the Indonesian government pledged to cut more than a quarter of its carbon emissions from land. Then last year, Norway committed one billion dollars to help Indonesia reduce carbon emissions.

Indonesia has role in tackling climate change, development challenges

UNDP press release, 29 April 2011 | UNDP Administrator Helen Clark concluded a three-day visit to Indonesia today which highlighted the country’s increasingly prominent global role in addressing development and climate change challenges… Helen Clark traveled through parts of Central Kalimantan, which was selected as a pilot province for REDD+ projects, where she met with community members and officials. REDD – Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation – is a global effort that puts a price on carbon stored in forest, offering incentive, both financial and environmental, for countries to reduce emissions by better managing forest resources. REDD+ goes beyond deforestation and includes the role of conservation and sustainable management of forests. Norway has committed $1 billion for Indonesia’s REDD+ agenda. Indonesia plans to reduce Green House Gas emissions by up to 26 percent by 2020, as it has among the highest levels of emissions in the world.

Indonesia’s Yudhoyono promises incentives to develop degraded land

By Leony Aurora, CIFOR Forests Blog, 29 April 2011 | Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono promises incentives and renews calls for businesses to develop the country’s degraded land to secure growth of palm oil and forestry products instead of expanding by chopping down trees. The success of the program to bring companies to turn unproductive grasslands into high-yielding assets is “critical” to Indonesia’s efforts in becoming a green economy, Yudhoyono said in a speech in front of business people at the B4E Global Summit in Jakarta yesterday… “It is time for us to think a new of imaginative ways to resolve the monumental challenges that we face today and tomorrow,” Yudhoyono said. He didn’t specify what incentives the government will give to businesses, including palm oil producers, to use more than 25 million hectares of degraded land in Indonesia.

Businesses pledge support for Indonesian green economy

By Catriona Moss, CIFOR Forests Blog, 29 April 2011 | Indonesian businesses have announced their commitment to work towards a green economy by presenting the Coordinating Minister for the Indonesian Economy with a signed declaration aimed at improving environmental policy and practice. “A green economy has to be the solution. Our economic development must be based on sustainability which will improve well-being and social equity whilst at the same time reducing environmental risk,” said the minister, Hatta Rajasa.

Businesses and environmentalists need to ‘get real’ over REDD+

By Catriona Moss, CIFOR Forests Blog, 29 April 2011 | Business and environmental lobbies need to ‘get real’ over the importance of REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) and work together to ensure its success rather than pursue unrealistic agendas that will only delay negotiations, says one of Indonesia’s top climate change officials. “A contract is only as good as the people and institutions it binds, and to build real momentum for REDD+ we need both sides to communicate. This is the real world and to make things work you need compromise” said Agus Purnomo, special adviser on climate change to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono during a CIFOR luncheon at the ‘B4E – Business for the Environment’ meeting in Jakarta today.

Indonesian official: REDD+ forest conservation plan need not limit growth of palm oil industry

mongabay.com, 29 April 2011 | Indonesia’s low carbon development strategy will not impede the palm oil industry’s growth said a key Indonesian climate official during a meeting with leaders from the country’s palm oil industry. During a meeting on Thursday, Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, head of Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s REDD+ Task Force, asked industry leaders for their input on the government’s effort to shift oil palm expansion to degraded non-forest land. “It’s only through sustainable management of natural resources we can achieve the government’s target, with 7% economic growth and 26% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions,” Kuntoro said in a statement. “Providing Indonesia’s industry with access to degraded land is a cornerstone of our plans for sustainable economic growth and it’s one of the key areas the REDD+ Taskforce is working on.”

Business, political leaders back Indonesia’s sustainability commitment

By Sara Schonhardt, Eco-Business.com, 29 April 2011 | Business leaders attending a global environmental summit on Friday agreed to six pledges that will help move Indonesia toward its sustainable development goals, which include reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 26 per cent by 2020… The REDD+ agreement with Norway commits Indonesia to reducing its carbon emissions from deforestation in return for up to $1 billion in financial aid; and the adoption of a zero net deforestation model proposed on Wednesday by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) promotes forest-based enterprises that combine business growth with environmental sustainability.

Benefits of REDD+ remain elusive

By Sara Schonhardt, Eco-Business.com, 29 April 2011 | Businesses need to lead in the absence of government incentives for sustainability, but they must do so in a way that is efficient, effective and equitable, said participants on the final day of the Business for the Environment Global Summit. The conference brings together more than 700 people from business, government and NGOs to discuss ways they can contribute to environmental preservation. Key to those talks is a scheme to reduce emissions from deforestation and land degradation, or REDD… Speaking at the opening of Friday’s summit, Heru Prasetyo, REDD’s task force secretary for Indonesia, called the country the “world’s REDD pilot,” making it a potentially significant player in the development of future REDD initiatives. But the plan remains in its early stages, and often poses more challenges than solutions. Land-use policies are unclear, for example, and lax law enforcement has failed to stem forest encroachment.

Norway: rainforest protection efforts must work through corruption challenge

mongabay.com, 29 April 2011 | Corruption in poor countries shouldn’t deter developed countries from supporting initial efforts to save the world’s tropical forests, Norway’s environment minister told Reuters. Erik Solheim said rich countries must be willing to take risks in supporting initiatives to slow deforestation and urged them to follow through on their promise to spend billions to protect forests. “If we wait until Congo is like Switzerland – there is also corruption in Switzerland but much less – there will hardly be a tree left,” Solheim was quoted as saying by Reuters. “If we are not able to accept risks we should close down this program today.”

How Lasers Can Help Save the World’s Forests

By Carter Roberts (WWF US), Fast Company, 29 April 2011 | I’ll never forget a conversation I had 15 years ago with paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould. He told me and several colleagues that he was basically tired of environmentalists talking about “saving the planet.” He flung his arms wide and told us that “… if the history of the Earth is my wingspan, all of human history would represent a sliver of my fingernail.” His point? “The planet will be fine…it will just turn into something not so good for people.” So, we should stop talking about saving the planet and start talking about saving ourselves.

Options for REDD+ Voluntary Certification to Ensure Net GHG Benefits, Poverty Alleviation, Sustainable Management of Forests and Biodiversity Conservation

By Eduard Merger, Michael Dutschke and Louis Verchot, Forest Carbon Portal, 29 April 2011 | Our objective was to compare and evaluate the practical applicability to REDD+ of ten forest management, social, environmental and carbon standards that are currently active worldwide: Climate, Community and Biodiversity (CCB), CCB REDD+ Social and Environmental Standards (CCBA REDD+ S&E), CarbonFix Standard (CFS), Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), Global Conservation Standard (GCS), ISO 14064:2006, Plan Vivo Standard, Programme for Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC), SOCIALCARBON Standard and the Voluntary Carbon Standard (VCS).

30 April 2011

Corruption must be cut to protect climate -report

By Nina Chestney, Reuters, 30 April 2011 | Mechanisms to fight climate change need to be strengthened and made more transparent to reduce increasing risks of corruption, Transparency International (TI) said. The watchdog group released a report on Saturday, entitled “Global Corruption: Climate Change,” and based on contributions from more than 50 experts. It found that stronger oversight is needed in the countries most affected by climate change, which will ultimately make policies more effective. On the Berlin-based group’s ranking of nations according to corruption risk, where 0 is extremely corrupt and 10 is “very clean,” none of the 20 countries most affected by climate change, mainly in Africa and South Asia, scored higher than 3.5.

Global Corruption Report: Climate Change

Transparency International, 30 April 2011 | Part six of the GCR [Global Corruption Report] highlights good governance as a key factor in the success of financial incentives to conserve forests, especially the UN REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) programme that seeks to reduce emissions caused by deforestation and the subsequent use of forest lands for other activities like farming. Up to US$ 33 billion a year is expected to flow to countries receiving REDD support once it is fully operational. Yet the forest sector is notoriously corrupt and many of the countries that will participate in REDD suffer from poor governance. Addressing corruption and robust monitoring will be crucial to ensure that forests and local communities benefit from REDD.

1 May 2011

Green schemes are ‘wide open to major corruption’

By David Connett and Chris Stevenson, The Independent, 1 May 2011 | Corruption is threatening global steps to combat climate change, a new report from Transparency International (TI) warned yesterday. Billions of pounds will be plundered and wasted, it says, unless stronger measures are introduced against embezzlement and misappropriation… Illegal logging, an industry estimated to be worth more than $10bn a year, is fuelled by corrupted customs and other officials, the report says. Some countries have already claimed carbon credits for fictitious forest plantation projects. In Kenya, deforestation is exacerbated by corruption among under-resourced forest guards. TI estimates that in 1963 Kenya had about 10 per cent forest cover; by 2006, it was less than 2 per cent.

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