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REDD in the news: 2-8 May 2011

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

 
The World’s Tropical Forests Are Already Feeling the Heat

By William Laurance, Yale Environment 360, 2 May 2011 | Two uncertainties scare me the most. The first is that vast expanses of tropical forest exist in marginally dry areas. Around half of the Amazon rainforest, for instance, is already at or near its physiological limits for moisture. For such forests, even small declines in rainfall – especially during the crucial dry-season months – might render them more vulnerable to destructive wildfires. To make matters worse, we are already making forests more fire-prone by logging and fragmenting them – ripping holes in the forest canopy and creating dry, flammable debris on the forest floor. Add to this the hundreds of thousands of fires lit each year by tropical forest colonists and farmers, and you have all the makings for an ecological crisis, especially if the tropics get drier.

The Kasigau Corridor REDD Project – Phase I Rukinga Sanctuary

VCS Project Database, no date | The Kasigau Corridor REDD Project – Phase I Rukinga Sanctuary. WWC’s first project at Rukinga, Kenya, has been operating since 2005 protecting local wildlife and forests. The aim of this project is to bring the benefits of direct carbon financing to surrounding communities, while simultaneously addressing alternative livelihoods. Human-wildlife conflict has been a problem in the past, as local agents are reliant on flora and fauna as a means for subsistence. The Rukinga project directly addresses such sources of conflict in a holistic, sustainable approach. An additional goal is to secure a contiguous wildlife migration corridor between Tsavo East and West National Parks.

2 May 2011

World Bank climate change envoy visits Indonesia

Jakarta Post, 2 May 2011 | World Bank special envoy for climate change Andrew Steer just completed a visit to Indonesia that saw him attend the recent Business for the Environment (B4E) Global Summit in Jakarta, and underscored the World Bank’s commitment to supporting Indonesia’s climate change agenda. “On both the regional and global stage, Indonesia is increasingly becoming a key player in the pursuit of environmentally sustainable development. Its target to reduce carbon development by up to 41 percent with 7 percent economic growth; its membership in the G-20 and UNFCCC are all indicative of the fact that emerging economies like Indonesia are leading the charge in green growth,” Steer said in a press release received by The Jakarta Post on Monday. “The World Bank is deeply committed to supporting the country’s development in a changing climate. The world is watching Indonesia, and if it succeeds, many other countries will follow,” he said.

3 May 2011

REDD project developer Carbon Conservation partly acquired by mining company

mongabay.com, 3 May 2011 | East Asia Minerals Corporation, an Asian mining company, has acquired a 50% stake in Carbon Conservation, a Australian company that developed one of the world’s first forest conservation projects funded by carbon credits, for $500,000, according to a press release from the mining company. East Asia Minerals, which is listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange, operates gold and gold-copper mines in Aceh Province on Sumatra and Sangihe Island off North Sulawesi. It also owns seven uranium properties and two phosphate properties in Mongolia. East Asia Minerals says the investment will fund a ‘green’ mining project. “The Company will develop a ‘green’ mining project which will use carbon and biodiversity offsets and the latest in environmentally friendly mining practices,” East Asia Minerals said in a statement.

East Asia Minerals Announces Acquisition of 50% of Carbon Conservation Pty Ltd.

Marketwire, 3 May 2011 | Through the acquisition of a 50% equity interest in CC, the Company will develop a “green” mining project which will use carbon and biodiversity offsets and the latest in environmentally friendly mining practices. In the process, the Company will participate in developing a “green” brand for its Miwah project which will potentially allow it to command a premium for its product in the market as well as to potentially facilitate a smoother process for approval of, and support for, mining permits. The Company notes that there are precedents of large retail jewellers boycotting gold taken from mines that are not engaged in environmentally friendly practices, or that extract gold from environmentally sensitive areas.

African, Asian officials gain skills and knowledge on REDD+

International Institute of Sustainable Development press release, 3 May 2011 | Over 120 African and Asian government negotiators, land managers, representatives of non-government organizations and climate change scientists are meeting this month to enhance their skills and understanding of the REDD+ implementation process at regional workshops in Cameroon and Vietnam, hosted by the International Institute for Sustainable Development and the Alternatives to Slash and Burn Partnership for the Tropical Forest Margins (ASB). REDD+ is a climate change mitigation mechanism under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. It goes beyond reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) to encompass sustainable management of forests, conservation and enhancement of carbon sinks in developing countries.

Book Review: Climate change and biodiversity conservation

By N. R. Krishnan, The Hindu, 3 May 2011 | The book, unmistakably a labour of love for the author, is a detailed study of the biodiversity of two national parks, Nagarahole and Bandipur, in Karnataka. The floral and faunal distribution, ecological setting, and the similarities and variations between the two are well documented and highlighted through tables, photographs, and satellite imagery. All of this covers 150 pages. But a chunk of the book — the first 92 pages — is, sadly, a hackneyed narration of the global climate change crisis interspersed with activist rhetoric like “Greening the Earth to Prevent Red”.

Community Forest Monitoring for the Carbon Market: Opportunities Under REDD

By Gabriel Thoumi, mongabay.com, 3 May 2011 | With over 200 million forested hectares in 60 countries transferred to community forest management over the past 20 years, this much needed book edited by Margaret Skutsch funded through the Kyoto: Think Global Act Local program (K:TGAL), provides not only various insights into how local communities and indigenous stakeholders can be engaged in community forest carbon project development and monitoring, it furthermore provides a valuable framework and models from which to discuss and analyze successful implementation of community forest carbon projects.

New study navigates forest standards maze

carbonpositive.net, 3 May 2011 | The growing maze of forest carbon and conservation certification standards facing project developers these days, while crucial for the credibility of any project activity, is proving a barrier to the financing and implementation of what is a critical component of the global climate change and sustainable development challenge. Not just project developers themselves, but the carbon offset buyers, investors and donors ultimately financing them having to navigate an array of certification standards, each with a different emphasis. Further, the emergence of a global mechanism for REDD+ will see its architects relying heavily on the lessons learned in the forest carbon space at the project level.

Report: Corruption could undermine global climate change efforts

By Jessica Shankleman, businessGreen, 3 May 2011 | Governments and businesses have been urged to step up efforts to prevent fraudulent practices undermining confidence in fast-expanding low carbon industries, after a new report warned that corruption poses a growing threat to green construction projects, the integrity of the carbon market, and wider environmental messaging. The wide-ranging report, released by Transparency International (TI) on Saturday, identified a number of green investment areas at risk of exploitation by corrupt organisations, and sets out recommendations to help decision makers tackle rising levels of fraud.

WWF – Position brief: REDD+ forest carbon credits from voluntary offsets

WWF, 3 May 2011 | REDD+ early action projects and programmes are one of the strategies WWF pursues in reducing CO2 emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. We are working with forest dwelling communities, governments, civil society and the private sector to establish systems for implementing REDD+ at scale. These programmes and projects provide an opportunity to pilot practical mechanisms on the ground to help inform and achieve national REDD+ programmes, build local capacity, and generate learning and knowledge. A forest carbon credit is a way to quantify the emissions that are saved through lowering the rate, or avoiding altogether, deforestation and forest degradation. This enables either verification (under voluntary schemes) or certification (under compliance regimes) of the amount of emissions reduced through REDD+.

REDD and Communities Task Force plans for 2011

IUCN, 3 May 2011 | The CEESP REDD and Communities Task Force has launched its plans for 2011 this month. The task force, which is formally incorporated under TGER, will continue to disseminate regular information on the development of national and international policies to Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation and enhance carbon stocks (REDD+). Moreover, in the course of 2011, the task force will analyze appropriate incentive systems for community-driven forest conservation and restoration initiatives, and the ” do’s” and ” don’ts” of supporting such initiatives. This analysis will focus in particular on the pro’s and con’s of payments for environmental services (including both market-based mechanisms and public payments) versus alternative mechanisms, and the rights, equity and governance aspects of different alternatives.

U.N. Forecasts 10.1 Billion People by Century’s End

By Jistin Gillis and Celia W. Dugger, New York Times, 3 May 2011 | The population of the world, long expected to stabilize just above 9 billion in the middle of the century, will instead keep growing and may hit 10.1 billion by the year 2100, the United Nations projected in a report released Tuesday.

Deadline passes for gov’t website on REDD+, LCDS funding

Stabroek News, 3 May 2011 | Government is yet to establish the dedicated website to show pledges of funding and disbursements of money for REDD+ and Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) projects despite committing to do this by the end of last month. Under a forests saving agreement with Norway, the government committed to establishing the website “by the end of April 2011” to facilitate transparency. Political parties and civil society members have consistently highlighted corruption fears in spending money earned under the pact worth potentially up to US$250M by 2015 for results achieved by Guyana in limiting emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.

IDB evaluation panel finalising report on Amaila hydropower project

Stabroek News, 3 May 2011 | The expert panel commissioned to evaluate the Amaila Falls Hydropower project is now finalising its preliminary report but no date has been set for the release of the final report, Head of the panel Erik Helland-Hansen says. Helland-Hansen, responding to an email sent to him by this newspaper, said that the panel is under contract with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Amaila Falls Hydro Inc to act as professional impartial advisors, according to the terms of reference established for the work. “We will provide our clients with two reports, the first one a ‘Preliminary Report,’ being finalised these days, and a ‘Final Report’ that is not yet scheduled,” he said. “Our professional assessments will be stated in these reports, which will eventually be made public,” Helland-Hansen said. He, however, declined to disclose further information about the project. [R-M: Subscription needed.]

4 May 2011

Lloyd’s Insurer Underwrites Policy to Cover Carbon-Credit Risk

By Matthew Carr, Bloomberg, 4 May 2011 | Kiln, a Lloyd’s of London insurer, underwrote its first policy covering carbon credit eligibility risk. Insuring against policy risk should bring greater liquidity to the market, Paul Culham, active underwriter at Kiln, said in a statement on the Lloyd’s website. The risk that a change in legislation by the European Union could render carbon credits, or Certified Emission Reductions, suddenly worthless is one of the factors holding back the market, according to the statement. “What we’ve done is used fairly conventional insurance products but applied it to a completely new area of industry,” Culham said. “We saw it as a very nice way of combining the skills we’ve got on the credit-and-political risk arena with the skills we’ve got in the green-energy type of arena.”

‘Rainforest bond’ aiming to monetise REDD+ credits

Carbon Finance, 4 May 2011 | A multilateral financial institution is understood to be poised to issue a first-of-its-kind ‘rainforest bond’ which would repay investors based on returns from the ecosystem services provided by the area of rainforest. Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BoAML) is structuring the transaction, which has been under development since last year. Abyd Karmali, the London-based global head of carbon at the bank, confirmed: “The carbon markets team continues to work with colleagues in fixed income structuring to commercialise an innovative rainforest bond.” The bond “would see institutional investors receive returns for monetised ecosystem services including REDD+ credits”, referring to credits awarded to projects that reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, and with the ‘plus’ denoting conservation, sustainable forest management and enhancing carbon stocks. Karmali declined to elaborate on the details of the bond. [R-M: Subscription needed]

Carbon project for Sierra Leone soon

By Saffa Moriba, awoko.org, 4 May 2011 | The Ministry of Agriculture Forestry and Food Security (MAFFS) in collaboration with Conservation Society of Sierra Leone (CSSL), the across the River Project (ARTP) and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) has ended a day information sharing session from the Feasibility of developing carbon projects in and around the Gola Forest in the East and Southern regions of the country. The project is funded by the EU and the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund. Speaking to key stakeholders, implementing partners and members of the civil society groups, the Deputy Manager across the River Trans-boundary Project (ARTP), Gilbert Koker, spoke about the importance of the project which is expected to kick off in 2012. He appealed to all to conserve their forests as they too stand to benefit from the project despite they are staying away from the Gola Forest Reserve.

RI told to implement forest moratorium before summit

By Adianto P. Simamora, Jakarta Post, 4 May 2011 | As leaders of ASEAN countries are set to hold a summit in Jakarta this week, activists renewed calls on President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to realize the planned forestry moratorium, which has now been delayed for four months, and encourage his ASEAN counterparts to do the same. In a theatrical press conference, activist Si Bawor Yono (SBY), who acted as President Yudhoyono, announced the start of the forest moratorium with calling all local administrations to stop issuing new permits to convert primary forests and peatland area… Association for Community and Ecology-based Law Reform (Huma) advocate Si Bawor Yono told reporters on Tuesday. Activists, including from the Indonesian Environmental Forum (Walhi), Greenpeace Southeast Asia and the Indonesian Center for Environmental Law (ICEL) joined the calls for President Yudhoyono to issue a presidential instruction to implement the forest moratorium.

Indonesia, EU Take Steps at Cutting Illegal Timber Out of Export Market

By Dessy Sagita, Jakarta Globe, 4 May 2011 | Indonesia and the European Union on Wednesday signed a long-awaited agreement aimed at curbing illegal logging by muscling suspect timber out of the European market. The Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade-Voluntary Partnership Agreement (Flegt-VPA) was designed by the European Union to identify and eventually exclude illegally logged timber products from EU markets in order to promote good forest governance in exporting countries such as Indonesia. Discussions on the agreement began in 2007 but were only concluded last month. Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan hailed the signing of the Flegt-VPA as a major step toward tackling illegal logging. “This is a very important step forward, where a tropical country like Indonesia shares responsibility with the consuming countries in addressing illegal logging and the illegal timber trade,” he said in a speech before the signing ceremony.

REDD: Indonesian forestry official sentenced to 3 years in prison

Shub Niggurath Climate, 4 May 2011 | Readers might recall the story of Wandojo Siswanto, ‘Advisor’ to the Ministry of Forestry, Indonesia and Indonesia’s lead negotiator at the Copenhagen UN conference, who was a ‘key architect of REDD’ in Indonesia. When we last left off (December last year), Wandojo was arrested and stood trial for a deal his division was involved in – the buying of Motorola communication handsets from a company PT Masaro for the Indonesian ministry, where it was alleged that he had recieved a $10,000 bribe. About ten days ago, Wandojo was found guilty of the crime and sentenced to 3 years in prison on charges of graft. Wandojo insists that he carried out the deal acting on orders from above, just as he did at the time of his arrest. It was he who turned over the $10,000 to the police, as well.

Timber trade transformation in Asia

By Jack Hurd and Dicky Simorangkir, Jakarta Post, 4 May 2011 | In September 2001, Indonesia welcomed countries from across the region to the Forest Law Enforcement and Governance East Asia Ministerial Meeting (Asia FLEG) and openly acknowledged for the first time that illegal logging was a significant problem that demanded focused attention. The meeting produced the Bali Declaration, which sparked numerous efforts over the past decade to combat illegal logging and promote improved forest management and transparent trade in legal and sustainable wood products. After the Bali Ministerial Meeting, in 2003, the Indonesian government launched a comprehensive, participatory and transparent process to develop a national timber legality standard to be applied to all forest management units and factories producing forest products for export and a system to ensure independent verification of companies’ compliance.

5 May 2011

McKinsey Again: The Consultants and the Congo

By David Ritter, Global Policy Journal, 5 May 2011 | Back in 2009, the global consultancy firm McKinsey was commissioned to produce a study of DRC’s REDD potential. Despite McKinsey’s nearest African outpost being more than 1500 kilometres away from the DRC’s capital, Kinshasa, the consultants quickly got to work, allegedly producing a report in a mere five weeks. That report is now forming the basis of the DRC’s approach to REDD. The DRC’s Environment Minister Jose Endundo recently confirmed that his government simply ‘adopted the McKinsey scenarios’ that were presumably put together in that five week period. The DRC is not only enormous – the twelfth largest nation on Earth – but is home to more than 200 ethnic groups, and has been the site of a bewildering array of internal and transnational conflicts over the last fifteen years, which are some times referred to as ‘Africa’s World War’.

Santander Bank suspends funding for controversial Brazilian dam

Survival International, 5 May 2011 | Europe’s largest bank, Santander, has suspended its funding for Brazil’s hugely controversial Santo Antonio dam, citing environmental and social concerns. The decision is a serious blow to the project, one of a series of dams planned for the Amazon that have prompted protests in Brazil and around the world. Earlier this year, three indigenous leaders from the Amazon traveled to Europe to protest against the dams.

Our limited forests of infinite value

By Bob Harrington, rabble.ca, 5 May 2011 | Key land use changes that would mitigate carbon emissions from the forest industry and provide many “green jobs” have been cited by the International Panel on Climate Change. These would include reduced deforestation and degradation, conservation of forests, reforestation and afforestation (providing forest cover on land not previously forested), and sustainable forest management. Indeed difficulties will occur in REDD implementations (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) because mankind, intent on unregulated development, will be difficult to bring to its senses, and to convince that we have no viable alternative other than to work mightily to repair what we have degraded. It is pertinent that a Sept. 2008 excerpt from the International Report on Climate Change states that “Even after taking new forest growth and replanting efforts into account, Earth’s forest loss is estimated at 7.3 million hectares per year.”

Nesting: How Isolated REDD Projects will – or will not – fit into an Emerging Global REDD Regime

Ecosystem Marketplace, 5 May 2011 | The Peruvian state of Madre de Dios is home to some of the most biodiversity-rich rainforest on the planet – much of which is also prime real estate for development. That will one day make it a an ideal choice for carbon offset projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) by saving endangered rainforest, as well as REDD combined with sustainable forest management, conservation, and enhancement of forest carbon stocks (REDD+). Such projects can help save the rainforest, but they won’t generate offsets beyond the voluntary market until Peru has its own REDD framework – and that won’t happen until valuable swathes have been deforested and degraded.

Protecting Indonesia’s forests: Logging off

The Economist, 5 May 2011 | An agreement signed this week by Indonesia and the European Union offers hope that Indonesia may begin to put its woeful mismanagement of its forests behind it. For environmental campaigners it is evidence of how the rich world can exert a benign influence on the developing countries that provide its resources. The agreement, a “voluntary partnership”, commits Indonesian producers of timber and timber products such as pulp and paper to meeting auditing criteria to certify that the products were not made from illegally felled trees. The agreement covers trade worth about $1.2 billion a year. But Indonesia has agreed to extend the process to all its timber-product exports – worth nearly $10 billion a year.

7 conglomerates control 9M ha of land in Indonesia

mongabay.com, 5 May 2011 | Efforts to slow deforestation in Indonesia should include curtailing further expansion of forestry holdings by giant conglomerates, says an Indonesian activist group. Analyzing data from the Ministry of Forest’s Production Forest Utilization Quarterly Report, Jakarta-based Greenomics-Indonesia found that seven conglomerates in Indonesia control more than 9 million hectares of land, including large forest concessions that will likely be exempt from any moratorium on forest clearing established under the country’s Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) program. The extent of holdings could complicate Indonesia’s efforts to reduce emissions from logging and plantation development. Two companies – Sinar Mas and Raja Garuda Mas – account for nearly 40 percent of the landbank. Both hold substantial areas of natural forest.

Indonesia readies for EU timber trade challenge

By Jenny Marusiak, Eco-Business, 5 May 2011 | Indonesia has signed a landmark trade agreement with the European Union that guarantees no illegal timber is exported from the country to the northern region from 2013 – a move that critics will be watching closely. Signed this afternoon in Jakarta by Indonesia’s Minister of Forestry, Zulkifli Hasan, and EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht, the voluntary agreement is both the first of its kind in Asia and the largest globally to date. EU Trade representatives welcomed the move as a promising way to promote trade and decrease deforestation at the same time.“This regulation will support our quest for a level playing field in the market, encouraging buyers to purchase legal and sustainable timber, and therefore supporting producers who act responsibly,” said Andre De Boer, secretary general for European Timber Trade Federation.

What does REDD+ mean for business?

By Michelle Kovacevic, CIFOR Forests Blog, 5 May 2011 | Frances Seymour, Director General of the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) discussed the challenges of adapting the ‘business as usual’ model at the ‘B4E- Business for Environment’ meeting in Jakarta last week. Frances covered key issues such as whether the change away from business as usual will be an opportunity or a threat to business and whether businesses can meet both REDD+ and their own business objectives.

Nurturing a growing green economy

By Michelle Kovacevic, CIFOR Forests Blog, 5 May 2011 | Agus Purnomo, Special Adviser on Climate Change to the President of Indonesia, discussed the difficulties between balancing a growing economy and pushing for a strong commitment to environmental conservation at the ‘B4E- Business for Environment’ meeting in Jakarta last week. As President Yudhoyono’s Special Assistant for Climate Change, Agus Purnomo’s main task is to update the President with the latest development on climate change negotiations and to deliver the President’s specific assignments on climate change issues. He concurrently holds the position of the Head Secretariat of the National Council on Climate Change (NCCC). Previously, Mr Purnomo served as Special Assistant to the Minister of Environment (2004-2009) and was also Executive Director of WWF Indonesia for seven years.

The Norwegian Ambassador encourages sustainable business in Indonesia

By Michelle Kovacevic, CIFOR Forests Blog, 5 May 2011 | At a special luncheon held by CIFOR at the ‘B4E- Business for Environment’ meeting in Jakarta, the Ambassador of Norway, H.E. Eivind S. Homme, congratulated Indonesia on its commitment to REDD+ initiatives. Mr Homme reassured Indonesian industry that a sustainable business model will provide a new playing field of opportunities as well as improve forestry governance, policies and practices. “There is no more time for ‘business as usual’ approaches to the environment and development, in the Heart of Borneo, or indeed anywhere else in the world. If we don’t fight climate change then the poor will suffer, and if we don’t fight it in partnership with business, government and civil society, it will not be sustainable,’ said Homme. Norway has pledged to support the development and implementation of an Indonesian REDD+ strategy, with up to US1 billion available over a period of six or more years.

Brazil’s forest code debate may determine fate of the Amazon rainforest

mongabay.com, 5 May 2011 | Brazil’s forest code may be about to get an overhaul. The federal code, which presently requires landowners in the Amazon to keep 80 percent of their land forest (20-35% in the cerrado), is widely flouted, but has been used in recent years as a lever by the government to go after deforesters. For example, the forest code served as the basis for the “blacklists” which restricted funds for municipalities where deforestation has been particularly high. To get off the blacklist, and thereby regain access to finance and markets, a municipality must demonstrate its landowners are in compliance with environmental laws. The blacklist approach proved highly effective in attacking the largest driver of deforestation in the Amazon: cattle ranching, which is now facing much stronger regulation than in the past. Several major meat processors now have huge fines hanging over their heads.

Synergy’s Fip Motilall in touch with sub-contractors – Willis

By Johann Earle, Guyana Chronicle, 5 May 2011 | Technical advisor to the Minister of Transport and Hydraulics, Walter Willis, says President of Synergy Holdings Inc, Makeshwar ‘Fip’ Motilall, is in the process of speaking with a pair of potential sub-contractors with a view to speeding up works on the Amaila Falls road, following Cabinet’s strong suggestion in this direction. Speaking to this newspaper yesterday, Willis said, “We advised him that he should sub-contract. He started discussions with a pile-driving entity and a transport entity to haul materials.” Motilall’s company Synergy Holdings Inc secured a US$15M contract for the construction of the road leading to the site of the Amaila Falls Hydroelectric Project. The progress of the works, however, has been dogged by rain earlier in the year and a shortage of materials and manpower, prompting Cabinet to consider the option of Synergy’s sub-contracting elements of the ongoing works.

6 May 2011

United Nations rallies private sector for forestry protection investment

By Jessica Shankleman, BusinessGreen, 6 May 2011 | The United Nations has stepped up its campaign to encourage businesses to deliver the billions of dollars of investment required to stop the destruction of rainforests and protect forest ecosystems. The UN Environment Program Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) released the first of a two-part report today designed to identify and tackle barriers to investment in forest-related projects, such as the UN-backed Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD) scheme. Speaking to reporters in London today, Abyd Karmali, managing director and global head of carbon markets at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, said that the success of REDD will depend on attracting private sector capital because, despite some progress, governments are unlikely to provide the massive investments required.

Forests May Spur Financial Rewards, Curb Climate Change, UN Says

By Chaerine Airlie, Bloomberg, 6 May 2011 | The world’s forests may spur financial rewards and risk management opportunities as a way to curb climate change, according to the United Nations. Tropical forests are disappearing at a rate of about 13 million hectares (32 million acres) each year, or an area the size of Greece, which is equivalent to the release of six billion metric tons of carbon dioxide into the air, according to a UN Environment Program report published today. That’s about 3.6 times the emissions of power stations and factories under the European Union cap-and-trade program last year. Financing tree projects that create carbon credits can be profitable, reduce risk portfolio diversification, and cheapen compliance costs for emitters, the UNEP said in the report entitled “Reddy Set Grow,” in a reference to Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation, or REDD. The document outlines the role of banks, insurers and investors in forestry carbon markets.

Forest could become win-win business out of climate change negotiations: report

Xinhua, 6 May 2011 | Better regulation on forest-carbon market out of climate change negotiations could provide a win-win business for the finance sector and governments, according to a report that has a UN background and was released in London on Friday. The report “REDDy-Set-Grow: Opportunities and roles of financial institutions in forest-carbon markets” was released by the United Nations Environment Program Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) , with banking, insurance and investment representatives expressing welcome at the event.

Indonesia ready for the VPA

Fordaq, 6 May 2011 | The Indonesian government is ready to sign the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade – Voluntary Partnership Agreement (FLEGT-VPA), with the European Union (EU) within the next two to three months, according to a joint statement. The Indonesian government noted that the VPA will be the first of its kind to be signed between an Asian country and the EU, with a significant implication for the US$1 billion annual timber trade between these two parties… Last year, the Indonesian president signed an agreement with the Norwegian government the purpose of which is to halt deforestation. One of the first steps Indonesia took on signing was to impose a moratorium on forest conversions from 2011 to 2013. However, disagreements between the Forestry Ministry and the newly established Presidential Taskforce on reducing deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) programmes has hampered the government’s efforts to implement a legal framework for the moratorium.

Commission underlines its commitment to helping world’s least developed countries out of poverty

By Mariah Jen, IEWY News, 6 May 2011 | Helping to preserve the countries’ forests by preventing deforestation and illegal logging is intrinsically linked with helping them to mitigate and also adapt to climate change. The Commission is therefore linking its Action Plan for Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT), which addresses the problem of illegal logging through improved forest management and governance structures, with Reduced Emission from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+) actions. REDD+ activities also build on good environmental governance and appropriate monitoring, verification and reporting systems being in place.

CBSP Enhancing Institutional Capacities on REDD issues for Sustainable Forest Management in the Congo Basin

GEF, 6 May 2011 | The World Bank as the Implementing Agency for the project entitled: Regional (Central African Republic, Congo, Cameroon, Gabon, Equatorial · Guinea, Congo DR): CBSP Enhancing Institutional Capacities on REDD issues for sustainable Forest Management in the Congo Basin under the Regional: CBSP: Strategic Program for Sustainable Forest Management in the Congo Basin , has submitted the attached proposed project document for CEO endorsement prior to final Agency approval of the project document in accordance with the World Bank procedures.

Amazonian Indigenous Organizations Define Position on REDD+

Rights and Resources Initiative, 6 May 2011 | A declaration released after a national workshop in Peru, “Climate Crisis, REDD+ and Indigenous REDD,” defines a clear position of the workshop organizers, COICA and AIDESEP, an RRI Collaborator … in regards to the financial mechanisms for mitigating climate change, specifically the reduction of emissions from deforestation and forest degradation with sustainable resource management (REDD+). The indigenous organizations which participated in the workshop published the document “Declaration of Iquitos: No REDD+ without Territories, Rights, and Autonomy of Indigenous Peoples,” defining their opinion about REDD+, which they say should only be implemented after the titling of indigenous lands and the recognition of their rights of autonomy over their lands, including rights to free, prior, and informed consent…

Papua New Guinea suspends controversial grants of community forest lands to foreign corps

mongabay.com, 6 May 2011 | The government of Papua New Guinea yesterday suspended its controversial Special Agricultural and Business Leases program which has granted logging and plantation development concessions to mostly foreign corporations across 5.2 million hectares of community forest land, reports the Courier-Post. The leases (SABLs) emerged as a hot political issue in Papua New Guinea, where 97 percent of land is communally owned. In some cases SABLs were granted without permission or knowledge of the local community, a direct violation of Papua New Guinea’s Lands Act. SABLs allow companies to clear forest without complying with existing forestry regulations. Acting Prime Minister Sam Abal said the government would immediately suspend leases and launch an official inquiry. He cited “concern” for the rights and interests of customary landholders.

Rainforest Alliance Statement on Guyana-Norway Forest Protection Agreement

Rainforest Alliance, 6 May 2011 | In late 2010 the Rainforest Alliance was selected as the independent entity to review progress reports prepared by Guyana as required by the Guyana-Norway forest protection agreement. Under the agreement Norway has provided Guyana with US $30 million to limit forest-based greenhouse gas emissions by protecting its rainforests. Recently the Rainforest Alliance completed its verification report. Several organizations have expressed concerns about the report’s contents. Here is our response.

Climate change tops agenda of new Swiss, Swedish ambassadors

Stabroek News, 6 May 2011 | New Ambassador of Switzerland to Guyana, Markus-Alexander Antonietti, has hailed the Guyana/Norway forest agreement as a model to be emulated worldwide. According to the Government Information Agency (GINA), Ambassador Antonietti on Wednesday presented his letters of Credence to President Bharrat Jagdeo at the Office of the President, where he said climate change is his top priority during his tenure as ambassador to Guyana. “The low carbon scheme which you are doing together with Norway is one of the leading examples now in the world,” Ambassador Antonietti stated. [R-M: Subscription needed]

Gov’t had tendered for an all-weather road to Amaila not a muddy track

Janette Bulkan, letter to the editor, Stabroek News, 6 May 2011 | This can be checked, Editor, if you would take up the offer from the Synergy CEO: ‘Motilall told this newspaper [KN] yesterday that other media operatives have been seeking to get to go to the site and he said as was promised during a recent interview that the company will allow media operatives to visit the location’ (Kaieteur News, Wednesday 16 March 2011 – Motilall offers to take media on site of Amaila Falls road project …). Please be sure that your journalists take a graduated rod with them to measure the thickness of the two compacted layers of the completed road at many different points along the allegedly completed 20 per cent plus of the 195 km of road line. And please can we have a good published photographic record of this visit.

7 May 2011

Land rights take centre stage at APA assembly

Stabroek News, 7 May 2011 | The Amerindian Peoples Association (APA) last evening elected a new executive committee and vowed to pursue land rights concerns and insist on adequate consultations on carbon initiatives. It charged that none of the 66 communities present at two days of deliberations felt that consultations by the government with them on the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) and Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) were adequate. The APA’s 8th General Assembly met at the St Paul’s Retreat Centre at Better Hope on the East Coast of Demerara to discuss a range of issues, following which the new committee, which over the next three years will be headed by Sharon Atkinson of the Moruca sub-region in Region One, was elected. The new body comprises 20 persons, who reside in indigenous communities throughout the country. [R-M: Subscription needed]

Gov’t releases LCDS, REDD+ funding details

Stabroek News, 7 May 2011 | As of April 30, US$70.8M was disbursed from donors to Guyana to support the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) and REDD+ efforts out of a total commitment of US$255.4M. US$70M in performance-based payments from Norway was deposited into the Guyana REDD+ Investment Fund (GRIF) but no cash has been released to Guyana yet. US$450,000 has been disbursed by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) while US$ 399,604 was released to Guyana from a Conservation International/German Development Bank (CI/KfW) grant, which committed US$627,257 for support to the Monitoring, Reporting and Verification System (MRVS)-related activities. The figures were posted on the LCDS website, days after Stabroek News reported that the government had failed to meet a deadline to establish a dedicated website to show pledges of funding and disbursements of money for REDD+ and LCDS projects.

US$3.8M paid over for completed Amaila road works

Stabroek News, 7 Mary 2011 | Up to last Saturday, Synergy Holdings Inc. had been paid US$3.8 million for the work done so far on the Amaila Falls access road project, and the company is in the process of finalising arrangements with local subcontractors to complete some aspects of the work, senior government engineer Walter Willis has disclosed. Willis, who is the government’s technical advisor on the project, told this newspaper that Synergy Holdings Inc. has so far completed about 25 percent of the US$15.4 million project. The payments, Willis said, were made following the measurement of the completed works by the supervising team. Synergy Holdings is badly behind on the project and last month the technical advisors had recommended to the company’s president Fip Motilall that he subcontracts aspects of the work and to increase the labour force on the site. At the end of March, with about 60 percent of the project time having elapsed, the project was only about 22 percent complete.

8 May 2011

Norway wants opposition included in LCDS process

Demerara Waves, 8 May 2011 | Norway wants Guyana’s main opposition party and rural poor to be included in deliberations on how to spend US$250 million over a five-year period that the South American country will earn for keeping its standing forests to help absorb greenhouse gases that cause global warming. The Real-Time Evaluation of Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative Contributions to National REDD+ Processes 2007-2010 Country Report: Guyana Evaluation Report cautions that excluding the Peoples National Congress Reform (PNCR) can affect the transition of the project should the incumbent Peoples Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) lose power. “Guyanese politics has been characterised by strongly divergent political views and a change of government could well impede progress at least in the short term,” said the report by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD).

Guyana to study concerns about excluding PNCR from LCDS committee

Demerara Waves, 8 May 2011 | Guyana on Thursday assured that concerns in a Norway-commissioned study that the main opposition party is being sidelined from the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) will be studied. “The report has now come and the report will have to be reviewed with the necessary clarification,” Forestry Minister, Robert Persaud told demwaves.com. He could not say how soon the review of The Real-Time Evaluation of Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative Contributions to National REDD+ Processes 2007-2010 Country Report: Guyana Evaluation Report would be done.

PNCR exclusion from LCDS steering committee ‘unsatisfactory’

Stabroek News, 8 May 2011 | The exclusion of the main opposition PNCR from the multi-stakeholder steering committee (MSSC) of the Low Carbon Development Strategy is “unsatisfactory,” according to a report on Norwegian development cooperation support to Guyana, which says a more solid bipartisan approach would be helpful. The first report from the ongoing real-time evaluation of Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative (NICFI), through which Oslo supports Guyana in Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD) in a partnership worth potentially up to US$250 million by 2015, had noted that the PNCR is excluded from direct engagement in the MSSC and hence in debate outside parliament. [R-M: Subscription needed.]

LCDS and REDD+ funding details appear incomplete

By Janette Bulkan, Stabroek News, 8 May 2011 | The table of donor contributions posted by the Office of Climate Change (OCC) on the LCDS website… and mentioned in your article ‘Gov’t releases LCDS, REDD+ funding details – dedicated website still to be set up’ (SN, 07 May 2011), appears to be quite incomplete. The OCC has not mentioned who paid for the McKinsey consultancy on avoided deforestation, which was summarized in the document issued by the Office of the President in December 2008 – ‘Saving the world’s forests today: creating incentives to avoid deforestation’ … That consultancy was co-funded by the Clinton foundation (a reputed USD 500,000) and the Caribbean regional office of the UK Department for International Development (DFID, a reported £300,000). Conservation International provided four named staff to prepare the REDD Readiness Plan Idea Note (February/May/ July 2008…) alongside Government of Guyana staff.
 

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