REDD in the news: 23-29 January 2012

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REDD in the news: 23-29 January 2012

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.

Conserve or convert? Pan-tropical modeling of REDD–bioenergy competition

Focali, no date | Martin Persson has written an article about the competition for land between bioenergy plantations and forest carbon conservation. The article is published in the journal Biological Conservation (doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2011.10.038)… The land competition between tropical bioenergy plantations and payments for forest carbon conservation (e.g., through an international scheme for Reduced emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, REDD+) is modeled using spatially explicit data on biofuel feedstock (oil palm and sugar cane) suitability and forest biomass carbon stocks. The results show that a price on the (avoided) carbon emissions from deforestation at the same level as those from fossil fuel use makes clearing for high yielding bioenergy crops unprofitable on about 60% of the tropical evergreen forest area. For the remaining 40% deforestation remains the most profitable option.

REDD+ & Biodiversity e-Newsletter – Volume 18

CBD, January 2012 | CBD SBSTTA 16 will be held in Montreal, Canada, from 30 April to 5 May 2012 and will discuss advice on REDD+ biodiversity safeguards, and indicators to assess the impacts of REDD+ on biodiversity and on indigenous and local communities. Relevant SBSTTA documents on REDD+ safeguards are now online for peer review at http://www.cbd.int/sbstta16/peerreview/. New Assessment of Biodiversity and Forest Management in REDD+: The “Global Forest Expert Panels” (GFEP) initiative of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF) established an Expert Panel on Biodiversity, Forest Management, and REDD+. Led by IUFRO, the new Panel will comprehensively assess the linkages between biodiversity, carbon and forest management in the context of REDD+ and provide the results to CBD COP 11, UNFCCC COP 18 and UNFF 10.

[India] Forest Bump

By Charley Kenny, The Morung Express, no date | A tool developed by my colleague David Wheeler at the Center for Global Development called FORMA (or Forest Monitoring for Action) allows close tracking and analysis of global deforestation trends. FORMA covers 27 countries that accounted for 94 percent of clearing in the first half of the last decade. Every month, the FORMA software examines NASA data all across the tropics, 1 square kilometer at a time, to look for fires and changes in vegetation color — telltale signs of loggers at work. Wheeler’s work suggests that, between December 2005 and August 2011, the rate of monthly tropical forest clearing dropped by 42 percent. That change was largely thanks to a considerably slowed rate of clearing in Indonesia and Brazil, which between them account for over three quarters of tropical deforestation. At the same time, the data suggests that among the 27 countries covered by FORMA, clearing increased in 14 of them over the last six years.

23 January 2012

The blue carbon strategy

By Mico Tatalovic, Cosmos Online, 23 January 2012 | Mangrove forests, seagrass beds and salt marshes cover only around 0.5% of the seabed, but account for some 70% of the ocean’s carbon storage capacity. These three marine environments soak up and store carbon dioxide in their biomass and sediments, where they keep it locked up for centuries. Together with the carbon held in the rest of the ocean, this is known as ‘blue carbon’… But one of the key problems with linking economics of blue carbon trading with marine conservation is a lack of comparable baseline data on blue carbon. This ‘data deficiency’ is a key barrier to effective planning and decision-making in the coastal and marine environment, according to a white paper prepared for the summit. It also hampers the inclusion of these environments into international conventions and financing mechanisms that exist for land habitats, such as forests through the U.N.’s Programme on REDD.

[Indonesia] Borneo Lumbung Pays Bakrie Group $1b for 23% Stake in Bumi

Jakarta Globe, 23 January 2012 | Indonesian coal miner Borneo Lumbung Energy & Metal has finalized a $1 billion deal to buy a 23.8 percent stake in London-listed Bumi Plc from two Bakrie Group companies. Borneo Lumbung, controlled by mining tycoon Samin Tan, bought the shares from two Bakrie Group investment holding companies, Bakrie & Brothers and Long Haul Holdings Limited. Scott Merrilees, the director of investor relations and corporate finance at Borneo, said the company had paid the two sellers on Friday. The deal, he said, is expected to “transform Borneo Lumbung into a leading natural resources company with a diversified portfolio of high-quality thermal coal, coking coal and mineral assets.” “The transaction has received all the necessary regulatory and shareholder approvals,” he said. Proceeds from the stock sale to Borneo Lumbung will be used to help refinance Bakrie’s mounting debt, which is owed to a number of overseas lenders, led by Credit Suisse.

24 January 2012

Forest Peoples Programme Comments and Proposals on the Draft UN-REDD Social and Environmental Principles (SEPC) and Benefit and Risk Assessment Tool (BeRT)

By Francesco Martone, Forest Peoples Programme, 24 January 2012 | Forest Peoples Programme submits these comments and proposals following the call for submissions and comments to the draft Benefit and Risk Assessment Tool, and the Social and Environmental Principles and Criteria. This submission is subdivided in two sections, the first providing comments on the BeRT based on the questions proposed in the cover note to the draft BeRT, and the second providing general comments and recommendations on the SEPC. More specific comments on the SEPC are provided in the enclosed form. We have focussed our analysis and attention on the sections that are relevant to indigenous peoples and indigenous peoples’ rights. In general terms both the BeRT and the SEPC drafts show significant improvements in terms of content and we commend UNREDD for having taken into due account our and other CSO’s recommendations…

‘Peak timber’ concerns in tropics

By Mark Kinver, BBC News, 24 January 2012 | Current tropical timber practices are not sustainable and nations should consider the “implications of ‘peak timber'”, a study has suggested. A team of researchers says the standard cutting cycle of 30-40 years is too short to allow trees to grow to a volume required by commercial loggers. As a result, they add, the pressure to harvest primary forests will continue, leading to ongoing deforestation. The findings have been published in the journal Biological Conservation. The scientists used logging on the Solomon Islands as an example because it was, in some respects, “a microcosm of the challenges facing sustainable forest management in the tropics”. They said the industry had been a major source of government revenue for a number of years.

From the Forest

By Andrew J. Marshall, Orangutan Conservancy, 24 January 2012 | Now, years later, I question how effective I have actually been. Like many of my colleagues, helping to protect threatened forests and animals is a major justification for my work. It is, however, often uncomfortably difficult to point to clear evidence that demonstrates our contributions. In part, this is because objective assessment of the effects of conservation research is difficult; conservation threats and opportunities are highly situation specific, so we must compare the results of our activities against the unknowable outcome if we had not intervened at all. Still, by most objective measures, conservation research has generally fallen short of expectations– precious forests continue to disappear, populations of endangered species continue to shrink… Do tropical forests need more scientific researchers, or … more lawyers, activists, economists, development workers, and forest rangers?

Media leaders: “Infrastructure projects in the Amazon, Rio+20 to lead Latin American forestry news in 2012”

By Gabriela Ramirez Galindo, CIFOR Forests Blog, 24 January 2012 | The impact of several large infrastructure projects in the Amazon rainforest and outcomes of the Rio +20 Earth summit will be the biggest environmental forestry news topics in Latin America during 2012, leading environmental journalists told CIFOR Forests Blog. “A major story could be the proliferation of infrastructure projects in the Amazon basin and their impact on forests and forests people,” said Barbara Fraser, an independent journalist whose work has been published by EcoAmericas, The Daily Climate, The Lancet, and Environmental Science & Technology and others. “Most of those projects – which include highways, dams, canals, railroads and pipelines — are not new but some, such as dams in Brazil and the controversial highway through Bolivia’s Isiboro Secure National Park have moved closer to fruition recently,” she explained.

[Guyana] President meets with Sithe Global officials . . . CEO Wrobel says President shows strong support for project

Guyana Chronicle, 24 January 2012 | Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Sithe Global, Bruce Wrobel, and Senior Vice-Presidents, James McGowan and Brian Kubeck yesterday met with President Donald Ramotar for the first time since he took Office, to discuss the way forward with regards to the Amaila Falls Hydro Project (AFHP). Wrobel, in a brief comment, said that the Guyanese Head of State showed very strong support for the project, and that his company is very encouraged by the steps that are being taken to see the completion of the access road so that construction of the hydro can commence in a few months. The Amaila Falls Hydropower Project, the brainchild of the former President Bharrat Jagdeo, will catalyse a seismic shift in the energy infrastructure of Guyana, in the environment for doing business and in the quality of life in Guyana.

[Indonesia] On the front line: Muara Tae’s last stand against big palm oil

EIA International, 24 January 2012 | The fate of a Dayak community deep in the interior of East Kalimantan demonstrates how Indonesia must safeguard the rights of indigenous people if it is to meet ambitious targets to reduce emissions from deforestation. The Dayak Benuaq of Muara Tae, in West Kutai Kabupaten, today face a two-pronged assault from palm oil companies aggressively expanding into their ancestral forests. Together with Indonesian NGO Telapak, the community is manning a forest outpost around the clock in a last ditch attempt to save it from destruction… EIA Forests Team Leader Faith Doherty said: “…The rhetoric from the President of Indonesia on curbing emissions by reducing deforestation is strong but on the front line, where indigenous communities are putting their lives at risk to protect forests, action is sorely missing.”

REDD+ Preparation in Mexico Crucial to Preserve Invaluable Resources and Curb Climate Change

Rainforest Alliance, 24 January 2012 | The governments of Mexico and the United States — through its Agency for International Development (USAID) — signed a memorandum of understanding on January 19, 2012, to establish the Climate Change Cooperation Mechanism that is the framework for the Mexico REDD+ (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation) preparation program — a five-year initiative aimed at setting solid climate change mitigation policies and strengthening those already in place. “Mexico’s forests are vital to its development and the wellbeing of millions of people, especially rural and indigenous communities whose livelihoods depend on small-scale agriculture and timber extraction,” said Álvaro Luna, program Chief of Party. “The Mexico REDD+ preparation program represents a vital opportunity to decrease greenhouse gas emissions while helping improve the quality of life for Mexicans.”

UN-REDD Philippines Programme’s Statement on the Manobo Corridor Carbon Project

Code Redd, 24 January 2012 | The UN-REDD Philippines Programme issues this statement to clarify that it is not involved nor does it support the initiative of Carbon Central Network (CCN) called the Manobo Corridor Carbon Project. REDD stands for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation. In a CCN Press Release, dated 16 November 2011, the company announces “a joint venture with indigenous land owners to work on validation, verification and issuance of REDD carbon credits under the Voluntary Carbon Standard (VCS) and Climate, Community and Biodiversity (CCB) standards.” The statement further claimed that the project is collaboratingwith and supported by three UN agencies –the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

[Tanzania] New Project: Mpingo REDD+ Pilot Project

LTS International, 24 January 2012 | LTS recently conducted a technical and financial feasibility assessment for the Mpingo REDD+ Pilot Project, financed by the Government of Norway and implemented by the Mpingo Conservation and Development Initiative, an NGO, and a number of village communities in Kilwa District, Tanzania. The project aims for carbon offset certification with the Verified Carbon Standard and seeks to achieve biomass regeneration of miombo forests, and to avoid biomass degradation, through fire management. The LTS and Value for Nature team developed a REDD feasibility report outlining baseline and project scenarios and an analysis of their implications for methodological issues such as the baseline quantification approach; stratification; monitoring; leakage; and project emissions, among others.

25 January 2012

New Emissions Data Dampen Global Warming Fears

By James Taylor, Forbes, 25 January 2012 | U.S. carbon dioxide emissions continue to track lower than year 2000 levels, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported on Monday, extending this century’s downward trend in U.S. emissions. The new data rebut assertions that the United States needs to impose new restrictions on coal-fired power plants and other sources of carbon dioxide emissions. Interestingly, EIA reports U.S. emissions rose more than 15% during the eight years of the Clinton-Gore administration but have declined since. The primary reason for emissions remaining on a downward trajectory this century is the increasing number of natural gas-fired power plants. Recent discoveries of immense amounts of natural gas trapped in shale rock, coupled with the development of new technologies to capture and produce such shale gas, are driving natural gas prices down. U.S. power plants currently produce 50% more power from natural gas than during the year 2000.

Time to Brandish the Green Card?

By Andrea Hotter, Wall Street Journal, 25 January 2012 | Could the environment prove to be the next over-sized “debt” to plague the world’s policy makers? Environmentalists, food agencies and resource firms attending the 2012 World Economic Forum at Davos say it already is. “The global challenge around carbon is that we actually need global solutions that can be carried out over 20-, 30-, 40-year periods, and if the mood around carbon continues to be as fickle as it has been – for two years everyone’s serious about it, then for two years everyone’s pretty blasé about it – we’re not go going to be able to embark on the large scale projects that are necessary to solve the problem,” says Tom Albanese, chief executive of global miner Rio Tinto PLC. “It’s like a debt crisis evolving over decades.”

Logging of primary rainforests not ecologically sustainable, argue scientists

mongabay.com, 25 January 2012 | Logging is expected to figure prominently in a climate change mitigation measure known as reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD), which is currently under discussion in international climate talks. The concept originally aimed to fund relatively conventional forest conservation, but has since been expanded to REDD+ to include activities that degrade forests and therefore produce carbon dioxide. REDD+ may involve logging in two ways: providing funds to prevent it outright in a project area or acting as a form of subsidy to shift conventional logging practices toward less damaging ones (REDD+ compensation is based on reductions in emissions relative to a predetermined baseline). The authors make the case that because any form of logging degrades tropical forest, “REDD+ funds should be directed at initiatives designed to keep loggers and their associated road networks out of forests, rather than merely modifying logging operations.”

Can carbon finance protect forests and prevent climate change?

By Jonathan Shopley (The CarbonNeutral Company), Eco-Business.com, 25 January 2012 | Some of our clients will remember that The CarbonNeutral Company started business in 1997 trading as Future Forests, and will know that our services have always recognised the central role played by ecosystems in maintaining a stable climate. Planting and protecting forests makes perfect sense because “trees suck up carbon dioxide and turn it into wood and oxygen”. However, 15 to 20 per cent of global carbon emissions still arise from deforestation. So let’s look at the important issues of what is carbon finance’s ability to protect and enhance forest ecosystems, and what would make it more successful.

Save the Apes and You Save the Forests: Scientists

By Ronna Nirmala, Jakarta Globe, 25 January 2012 | Developing primate conservation projects, particularly for great apes, can contribute toward the long-term health of forests and to carbon sequestration schemes, scientists contend. Ian Redmond, a tropical field biologist and conservationist, said primates and other fruit-eating animals were crucial to forests because of their role in seed dispersal. “Fruit-eating animals have been long known to play a very important role in the life cycle of tropical forests, with between 75 to 95 percent of tree species having their seeds dispersed by such animals,” he said… He is pushing for efforts to save the animals to be included in schemes to reduce carbon emissions through deforestation and forest degradation, known as REDD Plus. That way, he says, money for these projects can also go toward primate conservation schemes. “Conservation is not an optional extra that you might add on if it’s convenient,” Redmond said.

Understanding Community-Based REDD+

Natural Justice, 25 January 2012 | As REDD+ programmes begin to be implemented at the community level by UNREDD and the World Bank, it is critical that communities are fully informed about the projects and the rights and protections mandated under REDD. In this complex context the International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA) and the Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP) have produced a fantastic resource for communities, ‘Understanding Community-Based REDD+: A Manual for Indigenous Communities.’ The manual ‘looks at REDD+ at the project level and tries to provide some guidance to finding answers to questions like: How does REDD+ fit into the overall livelihood and forest management systems of indigenous peoples? How does REDD+ work on the ground? What are the typical activities of a REDD+ project? Who are involved in a REDD+ project? What are the particular knowledge and skills needed for implementing a REDD+ project?

[Guyana] Govt’s US$1.5M claim to Fip’s performance bond in jeopardy

Kaieteur News, 25 January 2012 | A claim that has been laid by the Government of Guyana in relation to the US$1.5M Performance Bond that had been issued to Makeshwar ‘Fip’ Motilall is now in jeopardy. This money, which on the surface seems payable to the government, is not automatic upon claim. This is according to a source close to the imbroglio. The source has confirmed that Motilall’s performance bond expired ever since July 2011. That bond was negotiated and brought into force when the contract with Motilall was signed in January 2010, with a duration of eight months. This means that for the latter half of last year, Synergy Holdings Inc. was operating with an expired bond, pursuant to its stipulations. The bond did carry a stipulation that claims could be made for six months following its expiration with that time line coming to an end last Wednesday.

Amaila Falls hydro project…Loans of $588M will cost Guyana US$187M in fees during construction alone

Kaieteur News, 25 January 2012 | The top brass of Sithe Global are currently in Guyana and met with several media operatives yesterday at the Pegasus Hotel to provide an update on the 165MW Hydroelectric Power Plant to be built at the base of the Amaila Falls to the tune of US$840.3M. Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Bruce Wrobel stated that he is optimistic that there will be financial closure for the project by June of this year. That development hinges on the go-ahead for the loan to the tune of US$175M from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). The officials—CEO Wrobel, Senior Vice President James McGowan, and Senior Vice President, Development, Brian Kubeck—explained that the main concerns of the IDB are with the Environmental Studies and the impact of the project, as well as the Guyana Power and Light (GPL)’s ability to manage the project and to make the necessary repayments, taking into consideration technical and commercial losses already incurred by the power company.

[Guyana] IDB vital for Amaila hydro $$ as World Bank says no

By Johann Earle, Stabroek News, 25 January 2012 | Executives of Sithe Global, the developer of the Amaila Falls Hydro Project, are counting on the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to provide critical financing for the project. This follows the decision by the World Bank not to participate, which stupefied officials of the hydro project developer, who said that the institution has always thrown its weight and funds towards similar projects around the world and they cited the most recent case in a project in the Philippines. The officials are now hoping that financial closure comes soon –by June this year—since further delays could see this present window of locking in a fixed price being closed and increasing the… [R-M: Subscription needed.]

[Guyana] Norway $$ sought for Cunha canal

Stabroek News, 25 January 2012 | The rehabilitation of the Cunha canal on the East Bank has been added to the list of projects to be funded with money garnered through Guyana’s forest agreement with Norway, a senior government official confirmed on Monday. Following Stabroek News’ enquiry a statement was issued by the Office of Climate Change, Office of the President on Monday confirming the Cunha inclusion and addressing other matters. “It was one of the projects submitted in terms of getting possible funding,” the official said. [R-M: Subscription needed.]

Indonesia sets aside 45% of forest-rich Kalimantan to be world’s lungs

By Leony Aurora, CIFOR Forests Blog, 25 January 2012 | Following a moratorium on new logging concessions last year, Indonesia has allocated 45 percent of Kalimantan, the country’s part of Borneo island, to remain as conservation and forested areas and serve as “the lungs of the world.” The move was part of Presidential Regulation no. 3/2012 on Kalimantan’s spatial plan, signed by Indonesia’s leader, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, early in January and announced last week. A calculation by this writer would suggest that the regulation may, in effect, protect 24.6 million hectares of mostly land in Kalimantan, seven months after the government announced a two-year moratorium on new logging concessions nationwide. According to an analysis published last year by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), the moratorium protects 16.1 million hectares of Kalimantan’s forests and peatlands.

[Thailand] How I learned to stop thinking about REDD+ and love forest restoration

By Erica Pohnan, Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies Blog, 25 January 2012 | But here’s the really strange part. At the restoration workshop where I met Dr. Lamb, we made a field visit to a reforestation project in northeast Thailand (pictured above), where a national wildlife NGO had worked with the local community to restore a vast swath of Imperata grassland into a verdant hillside. This project became my field site for my thesis research, and I returned last summer to dig deeper into the story behind the success. I found that the restoration project had successfully rehabilitated a population of gaur, which had in turn catalyzed the development of a wildlife-based tourism industry that has since spiraled out of control to the point where the ecological integrity of the reforested area is threatened by waste, water, lights, and noise from resorts.

26 January 2012

World Bank sees carbon finance role for years

By Jeff Coelho, Reuters, 26 January 2012 | The World Bank’s carbon finance initiatives will likely be needed for at least five years, as the United Nations struggles to create a self-sufficient, international carbon market, the manager of the bank’s carbon finance unit told Reuters. Negotiators at December’s U.N. climate talks in South Africa agreed to extend the 1997 Kyoto Protocol – the only global pact enforcing carbon cuts on developed nations – for at least five years beyond its first commitment period at the end of 2012. But the uncertainty over how Kyoto’s existing market-based mechanisms should or could be included in a future pact that includes all major emitters means the World Bank is years away from ending its development role for carbon finance. “There was a time a few years ago when we were thinking that shortly after 2012 we may not be needed,” the World Bank’s Joelle Chassard said in a telephone interview.

Uncertainty stalks climate science

By Gerard Wynn, Reuters, 26 January 2012 | If public interest in climate change can be measured by political speeches, the issue has fallen on hard times haunted by uncertainty in the science and a continuing economic downturn which demands attention. In his 7,000-word, annual State of the Union address, U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday mentioned the words “climate change” once, while some Republican contenders for the November national election deny the problem exists. In Europe only a handful of 27 European Union member states supports a shift to tougher climate targets. Urgency to address climate science is hobbled by uncertainty in the underlying science, which has been exploited by sceptics in a sometimes brutal debate with activists which has added to the confusion. Climate science deals almost exclusively in probabilities which are less likely to grab people burdened with financial worries and governments battling to shore up their economies.

International investments in agriculture: Do the negative impacts outweigh the benefits?

By Pablo Pacheco, CIFOR Forests Blog, 26 January 2012 | A trend in recent years of international investors snapping up land in developing countries for agriculture has captured the attention of academics, policymakers, media and civil society groups. Their interpretations of the possible implications vary, due as much to ideology as to evidence. Defenders emphasise that foreign investments contribute towards overcoming technological constraints, fostering agricultural modernisation and linking local economies with global markets. Critics highlight concerns about equitable access to food, protection of local tenure rights and enhanced benefit-sharing from land development. For their part, environmentalists often have mixed feelings: on the one hand, investors are seen as among the main players causing forest destruction, but on the other hand, they are also perceived as having an important role to play in conservation.

World’s giant trees are dying off rapidly, studies show

By John Vidal, The Guardian, 26 January 2012 | The biggest trees in the world, known as the true ecological kings of the jungle, are dying off rapidly as roads, farms and settlements fragment forests and they come under prolonged attack from severe droughts and new pests and diseases. Long-term studies in Amazonia, Africa and central America show that while these botanical behemoths may have adapted successfully to centuries of storms, pests and short-term climatic extremes, they are counterintuitively more vulnerable than other trees to today’s threats. “Fragmentation of the forests is now disproportionately affecting the big trees,” said William Laurance, a research professor at James Cook University in Cairns, Australia. “Not only do many more trees die near forest edges, but a higher proportion of the trees dying were the big trees.”

[Indonesia] REDD : Opportunities to alter deforestation

By Agus Purnomo and Yani Saloh, Jakarta Post, 26 January 2012 | The recent Durban climate talks had mixed results and different implications for each country, including Indonesia. On the main issue of reducing emissions from deforestation and peat land conversion, known as REDD, Durban made progress in setting reference emissions levels, measuring emission reductions (including agreements on measuring), reporting and verifying (MRV) of achieved REDD+ outcomes, and the implementation of safeguards to mitigate negative impacts of REDD+ projects. Agreements on REDD+ are good news, although a decision on REDD+ financing remained elusive. The debate centered on whether REDD financing should come from markets, public funds or a combination of both. Indonesia opted to for a combination of public and private funds, because neither can achieve the necessary mobilization of funds in the next several years on its own.

[Indonesia] REDD Scheme Gives Little Aid To Kalimantan Forest

Jakarta Globe, 26 January 2012 | Indonesia’s kudos as a world leader in trialing reducing emissions from deforestation and Norway’s credibility as a funder and proponent of the scheme are under threat as oil palm and mining expansion threatens forests in Kalimantan. Ironically, Norway stands to gain from the conversion of the forests into plantation lands. [R-M: Subscription needed.]

[Tanzania] Involving villagers in efforts to mitigate climate change vital

The Citizen, 26 January 2012 | To what extent have Tanzanians benefited from Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) funds? We are still at the initial stage of the project. Our focus is still on training institutions on how to implement REDD projects. Our task here at Institute of Resource Assessment is to prepare the National REDD Strategy and Action Plan. When will preparation for the National REDD Strategy and Action Plan be complete? The Strategy and the Action Plan must be finalized by the end of this year. It must be noted that initially the government had formed a task force comprising members from the Vice President’s Office, ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism and the Zanzibar government.

27 January 2012

No chance for climate deal unless firms join push: UN

By Hui Min Neo, AFP, 27 January 2012 | The world has no chance of sealing an emissions cut deal unless companies lobby their governments for an accord, the UN climate chief told the global business elite in Davos on Thursday. “Even though governments have said in Durban ‘yes we’re going to dedicate the next three years to negotiating and agreeing by 2015 a new legally binding agreement’, let’s be very clear, that is not going to happen,” said Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. “That is not going to happen merely from the top down perspective. That is only going to happen if it’s bottom up, if the private sector moves in. “Unless you have this from the bottom up, unless you have very powerful pressure from consumers, from private sector, from civil society to governments to say yes, this is what we want, as a humankind this is what we want, it’s not going to happen because it’s just too big,” she added.

Small Island Developing States And Climate Change: Effects, Responses And Positions Beyond Durban – Analysis

By Raúl I. Alfaro-Pelico, Eurasia Review, 27 January 2012 | This working paper begins with an overview of the climate change impacts on Small Island Developing States (SIDS), providing a brief analysis of regional climate scenarios and their expected consequences. Reference is also made to sea-level-rise predictions in various islands, to highlight specific details about their vulnerability. The analysis moves on to reviewing policies implemented by SIDS in response to climate threats. The paper mainly uses the framework of the Bali Roadmap (mitigation, adaptation, technology, financing) and considers areas of priority identified in the Barbados Programme of Action. The role that Spain has played in support of these measures is also underscored. The paper concludes with an assessment of the negotiating position of SIDS in the aftermath of the Durban climate conference.

A Birdseye View Of Biodiversity In 3D

redOrbit, 27 January 2012 | In yet another triumph of modern technology, scientists say they’ve been able to use an advanced system of lasers to study the biodiversity and structure of Amazonian rainforests in unprecedented detail. Over three miles above the Peruvian rainforest, a team of scientists crammed themselves into a small research aircraft along with a laser-emitting device known as a Lidar (Light Detection and Ranging). The Lidar was used to bounce laser beams off the lush green canopy below at a rate of 400,000 times per second, allowing the researchers to reconstruct dazzlingly colorful three-dimensional maps of the forest below. The images were created by channeling the returning light into a spectrometer kept at -204 degrees Fahrenheit which records the optical and chemical characteristics of the forest miles below.

Amazon rainforest mapped in unprecedented detail

By Dan Collyns, The Guardian, 27 January 2012 | Five thousand metres above the most biodiverse corner of the Amazon, tropical ecologist Greg Asner and his team see a kaleidoscope of colours among a mass of green. Huddled in a twin-engine Dornier 228 aeroplane called the Carnegie Airborne Observatory, the scientists are capturing multicoloured images of the Peruvian rainforest canopy that verge on the psychedelic. Inside the plane, a machine known as a Lidar (Light Detection and Ranging) bounces a laser beam off the forest canopy 400,000 times per second – the result is a three-dimensional map of the forest showing unprecedented detail… The data could prove critical to the United Nation’s Redd (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) initiative, which will be the biggest future source of funding to protect the planet’s tropical forest.

Ecosystem Marketplace’s Forest Carbon News

Ecosystem Marketplace, 27 January 2012 | Indonesia’s President continued to make the environment, or at least pledges to the environment, a central issue during his remaining time in office. This time, he’s pledged to set aside 45 percent of Kalimantan, the Indonesian territory on the island of Borneo, establishing stronger environmental regulations and pushing the extractive industries to become sustainable. That’s in addition to the “7/26 objectives” and last year’s moratorium. Critics have already pointed out that it will be difficult to adequately protect the land when the region is intended to become a coal and energy exporter, and that only 30 percent of the island is forested. As one commenter on the Jakarta Globe website remarked, “For the next 2 years, we will expect (the president) to give more of these over-committed illogical unreasonable promises… his mind is simply to do everything it takes to be the next Secretary-General of the United Nations!”

[Indonesia] ‘That’s my river you’ve taken! Go away, this is our land!’

By Faith Doherty, EIA International, 27 January 2012 | “If you walk down through the forest, you will walk past our nursery and then you will see the river. You can take a bath there and we can eat dinner afterwards,” said Pak Asuy, a village elder of Muara Tae. Deep in the interior of East Kalimantan, we were there to meet up with our partner Telapak and to find out from the Dayak tribe what was happening to their land, forest and community. You’re going to hear a lot about Maura Tae, because it represents everything in Indonesia that is right and wrong, and more than anything it is a community literally fighting for its existence.

28 January 2012

29 January 2012

Political insurance for PE funds

By Cosmas Butunyi, The East African, 29 January 2012 | A new insurance product has been launched to cover private equity fund investments in Africa and other emerging markets against political risk. The political risk insurance has been developed by Overseas Private Investment Company (OPIC), the US government’s development finance institution. It aims at shielding investors from the political uncertainty that characterises doing business in the emerging markets and damages arising from violence related to political activity. East Africa has, in recent years, witnessed several incidents of politically instigated chaos leading to destruction of property… “For example, OPIC is developing insurance products for the renewable resources sector, specifically to protect investors against a government’s change in the feed-in tariff that the investor has relied upon to structure its project; and to cover investment in forestry projects, including REDD projects,” OPIC said in a statment.

[Guyana] ‘Fip’ Motilall secures US$12M for selling hydropower licence to Sithe Global

Kaieteur News, 29 January 2012 | Makeshwar ‘Fip’ Motilall will receive at least US$12 million in profit from the entire affair. Synergy Holdings was originally awarded the contract to construct the Amaila Falls Hydro Power Plant but after failing to secure financiers to back the project, was forced to sell his licence to Sithe Global. A recent visit to Guyana by the top brass of Sithe Global, including its Chief Executive Officer Bruce Wrobel, afforded a chance for an answer to be had to the cost of the licence to Sithe Global. Apart from disclosing Sithe Global’s rate of return on its US$152M investment in the hydroelectric project is 19 per cent, Wrobel also disclosed that Motilall will be walking away with some US$12M for flipping his licence to that company.

[Guyana] Amaila Falls Hydro

Kaieteur News, 29 January 2012 | The road to the Amaila Falls Hydro-Electric Project (pun intended) has been a long and harrowing one. And it still has not been completed – neither the road nor the project. We do not even have the financing for the project in place. In our Thursday edition, we published the timeline of the project that began in 1998, with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the government of Guyana and Synergy/Hazra. Like an old Cecil B. DeMills biblical production, before we are through, electricity from Amaila would have been “decades in the making.” We would like to make one point most pellucid, before we proceed with our review. We have always agreed with the principle that electricity for our national grid that is generated from our naturally occurring hydro potential is a positive initiative for our national development.

[Guyana] Some questions for Bruce Wrobel

By GHK Lall letter to the editor, Stabroek News, 29 January 2012 | I refer to SN’s article titled, ‘IDB vital for Amaila hydro $$ as World Bank say no‘ (January 25), and KN’s parallel coverage on the same date in the item captioned, ‘Loans of US$588 million will cost Guyana US$187 million in fees during construction alone.‘ In both of these news stories, Mr Bruce Wrobel, CEO of Sithe Global, is reported to have explained that the cost of the (Amaila Falls) project increased significantly because of rising commodity prices, unfavourable currency movements, and political risk insurance costs. First, I thank Mr Wrobel for the courtesy of his time and explanation(s). Second, I agree with the CEO that significant movements have occurred in the price of commodities, and in the currencies he identified. Now, I have some questions for him.

[Guyana] The IDB should not finance the Amaila Falls project unless certain conditions are met

By Neville Quelch letter to the editor, Kaieteur News, 29 January 2012 | Based on Demerara Waves article of January 24, 2012 “Amaila Hydropower cost could climb again – Developer” The IDB should not provide financing unless certain conditions are met. To anyone who has been involved in the management of capital projects, the Amaila Falls Hydroelectric project started out on the wrong foot and is continuing along that path. In the first place, the contract for the design and construction should never have been signed without the financing being in place; whatever the final cost turns out to be, it will be saddled on the taxpayers and should be up front knowledge. Secondly, it is fine to give a design and construction contract but not without project management. It is project management that is responsible for project control (which includes Scope identification, Schedule and Cost control, Progress monitoring, Problem identification and mitigation, Project Status reporting and Progress.


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