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REDD in the news: 27 June – 3 July 2011

REDD in the news: 27 June - 3 July 2011

With apologies for the lack of recent posts on REDD-Monitor (I’ve been on holiday), here’s a round up of the week’s news on REDD from three weeks ago, 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 (except when I’m on holiday…).

The Role of Parliaments in REDD+

Outreach, no date | As the REDD+ agenda progresses and finance begins to flow through large bilateral agreements and the pilot countries of the Forest Investment Programme (FIP), parliaments will need to play a central role in revising legal frameworks, accounting for finance and ensuring the rights of indigenous people and forest-based communities are recognised, writes Chris Stephens, Director of Forestry and Ecosystems, GLOBE.

[Kenya] Kasigau Corridor REDD+ Project

Carbon Neutral Company, no date | This pioneering programme in Kenya is the first Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+) project to gain Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) validation. Also validated to Gold Level of the Climate, Community and Biodiversity (CCB) Standard, it is implementing critical activities for reducing deforestation while creating local sustainable development opportunities and protecting valuable ecosystems.

27 June 2011

Indonesia, US Sign MoU for Environmental Cooperation

Jakarta Globe, 27 June 2011 | The Environment Ministry signed a memorandum of understanding with the United States’ Environmental Protection Agency on Monday aimed at strengthening environmental cooperation between the two countries. “The MoU is a positive step in our efforts to face the tremendous challenges in protecting our environment,” Environment Minister Gusti Muhammad Hatta said in a statement.

[Ecuador] Forest Conservation Partnership Program (Socio Bosque)

The REDD Desk, 27 June 2011 | The Forest Conservation Partnership Program (Socio Bosque) that began in Sept 2008 is an initiative of the Ministry of the Environment of Ecuador (MAE) that offers economic incentives to owners of land with native forests to guarantee its protection over the medium to long-term; to date, conservation agreements have been signed for 630,000 hectares. The Program gives priority to areas with a rapid dynamic of land use change, areas that are critical for the maintenance of ecosystem processes that generate benefits for society and areas with a high incidence of poverty. As well, the MAE has recognized the need to align this initiative within the proposed framework for a future REDD strategy at the national level.

CIFOR Director General gives overview of REDD+ research

By Michelle Kovacevic, CIFOR Forests Blog, 27 June 2011 | Constructing safeguards to protect against REDD-related harm, preventing corruption in REDD+-related finance, and addressing pushback from constituencies for business-as-usual, were highlighted by Frances Seymour, Director General of the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), as challenges which will indicate that REDD+ is assuming some reality on the ground. But the biggest risk of all would be for REDD+ to lose traction, she said in her speech at Oslo REDD Exchange 2011, dooming all of us to a future that is truly unthinkable.

[PNG] Pictures: Turquoise ‘dragon’ among 1,000 new species discovered in New Guinea

mongabay.com, 27 June 2001 | WWF says there is still time to protect New Guinea’s flora, fauna, and incredible cultural richness (New Guinea is home to 15 percent of the world’s spoken languages). It highlights the potential to boost the capacity of local communities to use legal mechanisms to protect their lands and resources from expropriation and expresses optimism that the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) mechanism could generate revenue to support conservation activities (although the report fails to note the widespread corruption associated with early REDD efforts in Papua New Guinea). Final Frontier concludes by arguing that certification schemes for timber and agricultural commodities could help maintain New Guinea’s biodiversity in the future.

[Philippines] EU pleased with funded projects in Palawa

By Pia Lee-Brago, Philippine Star, 27 June 2011 | The European Union is pleased that EU-funded projects for forest protection here is “well-spent.” EU Ambassador Guy Ledoux said the EU is encouraged by the substantial decrease in annual deforestation rate in the province from 19,000 hectares to 5,500 hectares years after the implementation of their two major programs. In a meeting with provincial officials led by Governor Abraham Mitra, Ledoux said he is “very pleased that European taxpayers’ money has been well-used by the province,” noting that “European citizens are very concerned about funds.”

28 June 2011

[Indonesia] France’s Fillon to meet SBY to boost bilateral cooperation

By Mustaqim Adamrah, Jakarta Post, 28 June 2011 | French Prime Minister François Fillon is scheduled to come to Indonesia for a state visit following Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s state visit to Paris in 2009. Fillion will visit in lieu of French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who was previously expected to come to Indonesia. Teuku Faizasyah, the President’s spokesman for international affairs, said on Monday that Fillon was scheduled to arrive in Jakarta on Thursday and to return to France on Saturday. Fillon was expected to go to Kalibata Heroes Cemetery, meet Yudhoyono and attend a dinner banquet on July 1, he said. “[Fillon] and the President will discuss… a strategic partnership agreement in numerous fields, with the main focus on strategic industries, trade and investment, including investment on the infrastructure sector through the MP3EI,” he said, adding that Yudhoyono and Fillon were expected to sign the partnership during the visit.

Fire detected in plantation that allegedly breached Indonesia’s moratorium

mongabay.com, 28 June 2011 | A fire is burning within a concession controlled by PT Menteng Jaya Sawit Perdana in Indonesian Borneo turning up the heat on its parent company, the Malaysia-based conglomerate Kuala Lumpur Kepong Berhad (KLK), which supplies “sustainably-produced” palm oil to companies like Cargill and is already under investigation for breaching Indonesia’s new moratorium on forest conversion, according to the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA)… The revelation comes just days after KLK’s plantations director Roy Lim was quoted as stating: “KLK has long abandoned using fire to clear land for new planting or replanting. Our policy and practice is zero burning for such activities.”

[Indonesia] New deal for orangutans in Kalimantan

By Jenny Marusiak, Eco-Business, 28 June 2011 | A new tri-party agreement on the protection of the Bornean orangutan in Kalimantan, Indonesia will give Singapore-based Wilmar International, one of the world’s largest palm oil producers, a chance to prove it can be part of a sustainable future for the apes. Details of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), signed by Wilmar, the independent non-profit Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation (BOSF) and the government of Central Kalimantan, were released in a statement last week. The three signatories agreed to a formal partnership aimed at long-term protection of the orangutans and their habitat. Wilmar’s head of corporate social responsibility, Jeremy Goon, said the company had been in discussions with BOSF for some time on how to address the plight of the orangutans.

[Indonesia] Challenges for better forest governance

Warief Djajanto Basorie, Jakarta Post, 28 June 2011 | Carbon-dense peatland. Carbon emission reduction. Low-carbon economy. These are key terms in Indonesia’s initiative to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) from deforestation and degradation of forests (REDD). President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has set a 7/26 target: 7 percent annual economic growth and 26 percent reduction of GHG, mainly carbon dioxide, as opposed to a “business-as-usual” scenario, by 2020. The effort to reach this goal is being helped by a May 20, 2011, presidential instruction to stop the issuance of new permits to convert primary forests and peatlands for two years. In this international year of forests, this is just one tool to arrest and reduce emissions of carbon dioxide in Indonesia’s REDD+ program.

UNFCCC Bonn negotiating session makes progress on REDD+

REDD Plus, 28 June 2011 | The meetings reached the following conclusions related to REDD+: By the COP 17 meeting later this year in Durban, parties under the LCA agreed to explore financing options for the full implementation of REDD+ results-based activities. While parties agreed that public financing should continue to play a lead role in the readiness phase, it was agreed that a basket of alternative financing options should be considered for the third, results-based phase of REDD. No agreement was reached on the potential role of carbon markets in financing REDD+. By COP 17, parties to the SBSTA agreed to develop approaches to reference levels and forest monitoring systems; to develop guidance relating to safeguards; and to develop modalities for monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) of anthropogenic forest‐related emissions, forest carbon stocks and forest area changes attibutable to the implementation of REDD+ activities.

[Brazil] Amazon: a tale of two economies

By Pavan Sukhdev, The Guardian, 28 June 2011 | Deforestation is often blamed on three vital groups of stakeholders: big local business, local people and consumers. These are the people who benefit from the fields and farms the Amazon rivers irrigate. Big local business can look after its own interests. Global governments representing foreign consumers of the Amazon’s services are beginning to put money on the table – Norway has set an example by committing a $1bn to Brazil for REDD+. That leaves the weakest stakeholders – local people – who clearly do need support, and this is beginning to be organised… At the FAS centre in Tumbira, Professor Virgilio Viana and his colleagues are running a state-wide scheme called Bolsa Floresta (forest fund). The idea is to sign up and reward forest dwelling communities for responsible, sustainable use of the rainforest.

Smarter food production key to curbing forest loss – study

By Soumya Karlamangla, AlertNet, 28 June 2011 | Developing countries aiming to curb greenhouse gas emissions need to create strategies that address the deforestation caused by agricultural expansion, which is the main cause of forest clearing in most nations, according to a report released this month. Proposals from 20 countries that are part of REDD+ – an effort led by the UN to encourage the conservation of forests with positive incentives and thereby lower carbon emissions – identify a connection between agriculture and forest degradation, but provide little in the way of detailed plans, according to an analysis by experts from the Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security of CGIAR, the Consultative Group on International Agriculture Research.

Forests in danger as study warns UN funding is unlikely

By Fiona Harvey, The Guardian, 28 June 2011 | The world’s forests are in greater danger than ever, as a United Nations mechanism intended to generate funding for their protection is unlikely to produce sizeable sums “for the foreseeable future”, according to new research. The research came as a prominent UK businessman called for an annual round of international talks devoted solely to forestry, in order to keep the world’s remaining forests standing and with the goal of ending deforestation entirely by 2020. “It’s time for a reality check. There is a danger that we are sleep walking to disaster,” said Ian Cheshire, chief executive of Kingfisher, the retail group. The Redd mechanism – standing for reduced emissions from deforestation and forest degradation – has been the cornerstone of international policy on forests for several years. In the past year, the first projects using the mechanism have started to come forward.

29 June 2011

Glacial Progress at June Climate Talks in Bonn: Public Frozen Out

CIEL Worldview, 29 June 2011 | Unlike a number of the other issue groups, the REDD+ negotiations were mostly open, which enabled us to actually follow the negotiations on forest monitoring systems. CIEL is particularly focused on the information sharing system that will be needed to ensure safeguards are addressed and respected. The open sessions saw a discussion of the system’s purpose, scope, and relationship to existing reporting processes, but progress slowed dramatically once the discussions went behind closed doors. That said, there are some baby steps. Subject to funding and availability, there is a plan to have technical expert meetings before COP 17 to further explore the issues. Both Parties and observers are invited to submit comments by September 19, 2011.

Assessing the Financial Flows for REDD+: the Pledge-Implementation Gap – Recent Analysis

IDEAcarbon, 29 June 2011 | Of the $200 million pledged for the FCPF Readiness Fund, $86.19 has been committed and $9.857 million has been spent in fiscal year 2009 and 2010, equating to an expenditure rate of 11.44%. Of the total $94 million that was deposited in the UN-REDD programme accounts, $26.7 million was transferred to the accounts of the country offices of the FAO, UNDP & UNEP, as of February 2011. It is unclear how much has been spent. Major implications of low expenditure rates and transfers are that implementation of REDD+ using the FCPF and UN-REDD is unlikely to curb deforestation any time soon, whilst private sector capital inflow is – and will remain – largely absent for some time. Somewhat more speculatively, REDD+ does not provide as much hope for multilateralism as is often purported, and the countries that are most in need of the finance risk being left behind in efforts to tackle deforestation.

Community connections may play a vital role in influencing REDD policy

By Catriona Moss, CIFOR Forests Blog, 29 June 2011 | Understanding the complex and overlapping forest-based relationships that exist within the isolated communities of Indonesia, Vietnam and Laos may shed new light on how these groups can influence national level decisions over REDD+, a new CIFOR study anticipates. “For too long we have looked at communities as isolated pockets that do not receive information about REDD+ from the outside. However, some of these forest-based communities have connections in urban areas or family in positions of government and therefore they have more influence and exposure to REDD+ than we think,” said Dr Christine Padoch, Director of the Forests and Livelihoods programme at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).

Wangari Maathai Calls on AU Leaders to Take Action on Climate Change

Press release, 29 June 2011 | On the eve of the Africa Union (AU) Summit in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, Nobel Peace Laureate Wangari Maathai is calling on African leaders to respond to the global climate change crisis – a crisis that disproportionately impacts Africans, particularly African women… Maathai, who was made Goodwill ambassador to the Congo Basin Forests in 2005 and is co-chair of the Congo Basin Forest Fund, points to the United Nations Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation in Developing Countries Programme (UN-REDD). REDD is an example of a programme that, if implemented well, could help empower Africans in addressing climate change and protect the natural environment on which all Africans depend.

30 June 2011

Terra Global Capital Signs Groundbreaking OPIC REDD Insurance Contract

Insurance News, 30 June 2011 | Terra Global Capital, the leading land-use carbon development and investment company, announces the signature of a groundbreaking agreement with OPIC, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation. The agreement provides Terra Global with political risk insurance covering its investment in an Asian-based reduced emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD) carbon project. This is the first time that a political risk insurance contract has been written by OPIC for a carbon project and it is believed to be the first REDD insurance contract executed globally. “The value of having political risk insurance as a mechanism to reduce investor’s risk cannot be overstated in this emerging sector,” said Leslie Durschinger, Founder, and Managing Director of Terra Global Capital. “Expropriation and political violence insurance lowers the risk of investing in REDD host countries, improving the investment profile for private capital investments in the sector.”

Habitat cleared in carbon sink forest

By David Boyle and Thet Sambath, Phnom Penh Post, 30 June 2011 | A forest in Oddar Meanchey province is facing environmental “disaster” after thousands of people destroyed up to 1,000 hectares of natural habitat, putting revenues from a carbon credit scheme worth tens of millions of dollars at risk… Long Ratanakoma, deputy director of department of forests and community forestry at the Forestry Administration, warned yesterday that revenues from a proposed 64,000 hectare REDD carbon sink area could be reduced if such deforestation continued – due to fewer carbon-absorbing trees and questions over conservation measures. He added the REDD project in Oddar Meanchey, comprising of 13 separate forests including the 6,016 hectare Romdoul Veasna forest, was perhaps four months away from being validated. When this was gained, the sale of carbon credits could commence, subject to a review once every two years, he said.

[Indonesia] Mt. Leuser National Park evictions on hold

By Apriadi Gunawan, Jakarta Post, 30 June 2011 | The eviction of people who have set up homes in Mount Leuser National Park (TNGL) in Langkat regency, North Sumatra, have been temporarily halted following a clash between locals and security officers on Monday. TNGL agency head Andi Basrul said his office decided to suspend eviction efforts in an endeavor to restore order and create a conducive climate after the clash. “But we will soon restart the operation. By next month at the latest they all have to leave the TNGL area,” he told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday. Thousands of illegal inhabitants of TNGL were involved in a physical clash with a joint eviction team comprising forest rangers, police and military personnel on Monday. No fatalities were reported but 15 civilians and three security officers were injured.

[Indonesia] RI still razing forests despite climate deal

By Adianto P. Simamora, Jakarta Post, 30 June 2011 | Less than two weeks after a moratorium on forest clearing, Indonesia has lost protected forest the size of Singapore that was awarded to palm oil planters and forest concession holders, a report by Greenomics Indonesia says. To make matters worse, the shifting status of primary forest is located in Central Kalimantan, which was appointed a pilot project site — a place other provinces will observe for how to execute President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s order to halt issuing new permits to raze forests in the country for two years. Greenomics said Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan was the first official to ignore the President’s order.

[Indonesia] Challenges in Communicating REDD+ Hamper Efforts to Save Forests

By Michelle Kovacekiv, CIFOR Forests Blog, 30 June 2011 | Some communities in Indonesia are currently facing a tough choice: sell their forests to logging or palm oil companies, or engage in a new forest-preserving scheme linked to climate change known by the acronym REDD+. Many have heard that REDD+ could pay them not to cut down trees, but they are skeptical.

[Brazil] Will the real land owner please stand up?

By Daniel Cooney (CIFOR), AlertNet, 30 June 2011 | A lack of progress in fixing a murky system of land ownership and land-use rules in Brazil may threaten the country’s ability to scale up a climate change initiative that would see it receive extensive international funding to save its forests. “There is a very highly undefined status of land tenure in the Amazon. A large proportion of the Amazon is actually untitled land. It nominally belongs to the Union,” said Peter May, who is working on a global REDD+ research project that is coordinated by the Center for International Forestry Research.

Public debate on REDD+ and forest justice, 20 July at UEA London – University of East Anglia (UEA)

University of East Anglia, press release, 30 June 2011 | A public debate about the potential for emerging conservation initiatives to make international forestry fairer for local communities in developing countries will take place at UEA London on 20 July. The event, ‘Does REDD+ make international forestry more just?’, has been organised by DEV’s Global Environmental Justice research group and is the first in a planned series of UEA London Debates on Environmental Justice and International Development.

Readying Africa for REDD+

By Brian Mantlana, Heinrich Böll Stiftung, 30 June 2011 | The potential for REDD+ in Africa is enormous. The continent has 635 million hectares of forest – about 16% of the world’s total – with the Congo Basin harbouring the world’s second largest block of rainforest. Moreover, a recent paper has shown a considerable increase in carbon stocks (the total amount of carbon stored in the forest ecosystem), even in some Sahel countries, such as Senegal, Mali and Guinea Bissau. This raises the possibility that countries with largely dry forests might also be able to participate in and benefit from the REDD+ mechanism. Currently, though, it appears that this vast potential remains underexploited. A thorough analysis of current REDD+ activities on the African continent is limited for two reasons: there is little information available in the public domain and the sector is highly dynamic.

The Ecosystem Marketplace’s Forest Carbon News

Ecosystem Marketplace, 30 June 2011 | The collection of stalled and wrecked policies accumulating on the shoulder of the road to meaningful climate action are not distracting project developers and market players who appear to be staying confident with eyes fixed directly ahead… On the sleepier international climate policy front, it came as little surprise when climate talks at Bonn ended with the post-Kyoto outlook gloomy as ever.With the EU being the only developed world constituency to agree to a post-2012 Kyoto-like agreement, many observers remain unconvinced that disagreements between developed and developing nations will be resolved between now and the Durban talks in December. At the same time negotiators continue punting on broader policy issues, REDD+ remains an enticing topic as negotiators move slowly forward evaluating financing mechanisms and options for forest emissions reference levels.

[Philippines] REDD PLUS carbon sequestration campaign in 5 So Leyte towns underway

PIA Press Release, 30 June 2011 | The foreign funded campaign Reducing Emission from Deforestation of Forest Degradation (REDD) Plus is now gaining ground as various activities by the participating local government unit are underway. Southern Leyte, one of the two pilot areas for the REDD Plus in the country while the other one is the Panay Island, has been tapping the people’s organizations (POs) particularly among the Community –Based Forest Management (CBFM) areas in the province, Community Development Assistant Inigo C. Malobo of the Provincial Environment Natural Resources Management Office (PENRMO) disclosed to PIA.

1 July 2011

Amazon Deforestation Rates Double as Farmers Anticipate Pardons

By Stephan Nielsen, Bloomberg, 1 July 2011 | Deforestation rates in the Amazon, the world’s biggest rain forest, more than doubled in May as Brazilian farmers become more confident they’ll be granted amnesty for illegal logging. Almost 268 square kilometers (66,200 acres) of protected rain forest were cut down in May, up from 110 square kilometers a year ago, the National Institute for Space Research said in an e-mailed statement. Brazil lawmakers are considering a bill that alters its forestry code and would forgive farmers who illegally cleared trees. The possibility that the government may ease these restrictions is encouraging more logging, said Marcio Astrini, coordinator of forest campaigns for Greenpeace International’s Brazil unit.

Voluntary REDD+ Database has a new look

UN-REDD Programme blog, 1 July 2011 | The new interactive interface for the Voluntary REDD+ Database is launched today at http://www.reddplusdatabase.org . The website offers access to maps, graphs and summary statistics on REDD+ financingthat has been reported to the REDD+ Partnership, as well as detailed information on individual agreements between countries and/or institutions. The Database is one of the key ongoing activities of the REDD+ Partnership, and will be frequently updated as Partners and Institutions provide additional information to the VRD team. The VRD database is managed by FAO and UNEP-WCMC on behalf of the UN-REDD Programme Team and the Facility Management Team of the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility.

Ghana has the Highest Rate of Deforestation

GhanaWeb, 1 July 2011 | A study, described by its authors as the most comprehensive analysis of tropical forests, has disclosed that Ghana has the highest rate of deforestation, out of 65 nations, apart from Togo and Nigeria. The illegal act of felling trees has become one of the commonest offences in Ghana today, some culprits are caught by the law, the fortunate ones are never caught, while others are sometimes deliberately let go by guardians of the law.

[Zambia] UN to monitor aid for climate change

By Ndinawe Simplewe, Sunday Post, 1 July 2011 | The United Nations says it will closely monitor all the funds it will give Zambia for climate change projects. And the UN has given Zambia US$4.5 million for the implementation of the UN-REDD plus project. In an interview, United Nations Development Plan (UNDP) environment finance advisor for Africa Josep Gari said corruption was undermining the country’s development.

3 July 2011

Guyana considers US an influential model in nation building process

NCN Inc, 3 July 2011 | The American Embassy in Guyana, hosted a reception in commemoration of the United States of America’s 235th anniversary since the signing of the declaration of independence on July 04, 1776. Prime Minister Samuel Hinds, performing the duties of President in his remarks said that occasions such as last evening’s provide an opportunity to reflect on the great strides that the US has made, which has led to the country attaining a very influential position in the global arena… As it relates to the issue of climate change, the Prime Minister said that Government is committed to achieving the objectives of the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS). On the international front, Guyana has been playing an integral role within the REDD-plus partnership of which it assumed the co-chairmanship.

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