REDD in the news: 13-19 February 2012

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REDD in the news: 13-19 February 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.

Is the “Green economy” the new Washington consensus?

International Viewpoint, February 2012 | This text was presented by the Working Group on the “Green Economy” at the Porto Allegre Social Forum in January 2012… [T]he “Green Economy” is not a fiction of the future: it is already here. As the zero draft states, “We support policy frameworks and market instruments that effectively slow, halt and reverse deforestation and forest degradation”. This is referring to REDD, an initiative of the UNFCCC which consists of isolating and measuring the capacity of forests to capture and store carbon dioxide in order to issue certificates for greenhouse gas emission reductions that can be commercialized and acquired by companies in developed countries that cannot meet their emission reduction commitments… Indeed, this “Green Economy” is the new Washington Consensus which is to be launched at Rio+20 as the next stage of capitalism to recover lost growth and profits.

Managing forest resources for sustainable development: an evaluation of the World Bank Group’s experience – approach paper

The World Bank, no date | Forests are home to some of the world’s poorest people. Forests also provide environmental services important to the agriculture sector such as hydrological regulation and pollination. Forests and trees on farms are an important source of fodder and enhance soil fertility. Forested watersheds, wetlands and mangrove ecosystems support the freshwater and coastal fisheries on which many communities depend. Worldwide, the demand for forest products is expected to continue to grow. Forests also provide important global public goods, such as biodiversity and carbon sequestration. Appropriate policy and institutional responses are required to manage forests in a sustainable manner by balancing competing interests, addressing underlying failures in forest governance and clarifying tenure issues. The World Bank Group’s response has been most recently expressed in its 2002 Forest Strategy, sustaining forests…

Working paper: Map of SBSTA Submissions: REDD+ Safeguard Information System

ClientEarth, February 2012 | In December 2010, as part of the language agreed to by Parties to the United National Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Cancun, it was determined that the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technical Advice (SBSTA) should develop guidance relating to paragraph 71(d) by COP-17. Paragraph 71(d) refers to the development of a system to provide information on how the safeguards in Annex 1 of the Cancun Agreements are being addressed and respected (also referred to as the “safeguard information system” or SIS). In June 2011, Parties to the UNFCCC discussed the development of a guidance document that would outline what information should be included in the SIS to track how safeguards referred to in Appendix I to decision 1/CP.16 are addressed and respected. SBSTA subsequently invited Parties and accredited observers to submit their views on such methodological guidance.

13 February 2012

Ignoring forests won’t bring Rio+20’s ‘future we want’

By Louis Verchot, The Conversation, 13 February 2012 | In June 2012 around 40,000 participants are expected to attend one of the most important environmental gatherings in a generation – Rio+20. A draft agenda has been released, bearing the slogan “The Future We Want”. It identifies seven critical issues for new sustainable development goals that will be released in Rio: jobs, energy, cities, food, water, oceans and disasters. But with forests only mentioned briefly in the text and in isolation to other key issues, will Rio+20 really help develop a future we want? … The absence of forests from this year’s agenda is remarkable. The first Rio meeting put a very big emphasis on forests and subsequently set the stage for all major international environmental agreements, such as the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the UN Convention on Biodiversity.

Emissions trading: Cheap and dirty

By Joshua Chaffin, Financial Times, 13 February 2012 | Beneath the international uproar lurks an inconvenient truth: the carbon market, the world’s largest, and the linchpin of Europe’s effort to lead the world in the fight against global warming, is in turmoil at home. Johannes Teyssen, chief executive of Eon, the German energy group that is one of Europe’s largest, stunned an audience in Brussels last week when he pronounced the market broken. “Let’s talk real,” he said. “The ETS is bust, it’s dead.”

U.N. postpones decision on Ukraine CO2 suspension

Point Carbon, 13 February 2012 | Ukraine, a major supplier of international carbon credits, will need to wait until at least next month to return to the carbon market, after a U.N. panel postponed a decision to lift a ban preventing the country transferring carbon credits. [R-M: Subscription needed.]

6 eco-woes and 6 green balms for 2012

By Martin Leggett, Earth Times, 13 February 2012 | [T]rees in many of the world’s most-threatened forests may not have picked up on that message. Last year saw the rates of deforestation pick up markedly in parts of the Amazon, as Brazil moved towards a law which would pardon landowners, for cutting down swathes of forest. And west Africa forest’s are rapidly heading towards ground-zero – no trees – with Nigeria and Togo posting the highest deforestation rates in the world… After a decade of tortuous plodding towards making forest-protection pay – through the UN-sponsored REDD+ scheme – 2012 may see results. The framework for channeling money, to save forests, may finally be put in place. And Costa Rica has already shown the way forward, when the ecological benefits of forests for the wider community are properly valued… Giving the green light to accelerating REDD+ in 2012 could eventually see the same happen across the globe.

A deep dive into climate finance

By Ari Huhtala, blogs.worldbank.org, 13 February 2012 | What does climate finance really mean? Do we mean dedicated funds mobilized by donors in the carbon market, or do we mean funds actually used for mitigation and adaptation action? Definitions and publications abound, but the Climate Policy Initiative (CPI) has now taken the bull by the horns and launched two initiatives with an attempt to lend clarity. Last week, Director of the CPI Venice office, Dr. Barbara Buchner, was a guest speaker at the World Bank’s Washington DC office. There have been a plethora of reports on climate finance by UN agencies, IFIs and think-tanks, but by far the most comprehensive attempt is a report The landscape of climate finance, launched by CPI last October. It describes the flows of finance, including the sources, intermediaries, instruments, channels, and end-users.

Major Corporates Come Clean on Forest Risk; Big Oil Doesn’t

By Steve Zwick, Ecosystem Marketplace, 13 February 2012 | FFD [Forest Footprint Disclosure project] Director James Hulse says BA’s experience is typical of what companies find when they start to take a hard look at where their materials come from. “BA moves 20 million people per year, and a lot of those people eat chicken that was raised on soy that was grown on recently-deforested land,” he says. “That’s the kind of indirect exposure you don’t know you have until you begin to look beyond your tier-one suppliers – and down to your tier-two and tier-three suppliers.” … “Wood is the most important raw material for Stora Enso, and responsible forestry is the cornerstone for our operations,” said Antti Marjokorpi, Senior Vice President of Sustainability for Finnish materials groupo Stora Enso Oyj, which earned top marks in the materials sector. “The way we see it, only sustainably-managed forests and plantations can bring real value to all our stakeholders, including our customers.”

Tanzania: Kondoa District to Get Redd Payments

Tanzania Daily News, 13 February 2012 | Only communities in Kondoa district in Dodoma region may get 80 percent of the payments from Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation for government forests when a post Kyoto Protocol carbon trading regimes starts next year. An official from Africa Wildlife Foundation, Godlisten Matilya told the Daily News on Sundday that the arrangement was still under negotiation between communities in Kondoa district and forestry officials under joint forest management arrangement. “In Kondoa district where communities are in the process of engaging into joint forest management for two specific forest reserves, there had been an informal discussion among JFM partners at the district level where District Forest Officer from Kondoa accepted to allow 80 percent of benefits to go to local communities,” Mr Matilya said.

[USA] Uncertainties cloud state’s carbon offset opportunities

By Tim Hearden, Capital Press, 13 February 2012 | Forestry’s recognition as a carbon-friendly industry could provide lucrative opportunities for timberland owners in the emerging world of carbon credits. However, uncertainties in California’s upcoming cap-and-trade regulations could make it costly and risky for companies to sign up with forest projects, industry insiders told a gathering here. Critical details of the program set up by Assembly Bill 32, the state’s global warming law, have yet to be worked out, they say. The state may skim as much as 10 percent off the top of carbon-offset fees paid by emitters, with some money perhaps going toward a controversial high-speed rail project. And enrolling a swath of forest land in the program to offset emissions elsewhere could cause the land to be tied up for as many as 150 years – a major disincentive for small landowners, said Ed Murphy of timber giant Sierra Pacific Industries.

14 February 2012

Lessons from the Durban Conference

By Sandeep Sengupta, The Hindu, 14 February 2012 | You know your negotiating strategy is in trouble when countries ranging as far as Norway in the developed world to partners like South Africa and neighbours like Bangladesh start quoting Gandhi and Nehru back to you. Two months ago, this was the unfortunate situation Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan had to face at the Durban conference on climate change. That she managed, through a passionate last-minute speech, to ensure that all was not lost for India goes to her credit. But the fact that India found itself outwitted and cornered at the endgame of these negotiations, with no option but to resort to an angry ministerial plea, is an indication of how far New Delhi has lost its way on the issue. As the dust from the conference settles, and a new United Nations deadline approaches for countries to submit their formal views on the subject by the month end, it is time to reappraise India’s performance at Durban…

Nations Slam Canada’s Withdrawal From Kyoto Protocol

news.outlookindia.com, 14 February 2012 | Four emerging economies, including India and China, today condemned top carbon emitter Canada’s decision to withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol saying such steps by developed countries “seriously questions their credibility” in dealing with the threat of climate change. Canada, a major energy producer, had quit the Kyoto Protocol on climate change within a few days after the Durban Conference, saying the 1997 accord was an ‘impediment’ on cutting global carbon emissions. According to the Kyoto Protocol, developed countries should reduce their annual carbon emissions below 1990 levels and provide financial assistance to developing countries to encourage them to cut greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change. Canada decided to quit the Kyoto Protocol in order to save the country an estimated USD 14 billion in penalties.

Private sector corruption

By Sarah Bracking, theafricareport.com, 14 February 2012 | the European Union oversupplied permits at the beginning of the recession, so industry doesn’t need any credits, while the supply of them just keeps growing under the Carbon Development Mechanism (CDM) and Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+), leaving their price languishing and approaching zero. Indeed the European Carbon Trading Scheme was recently declared ‘dead’ by EON CEO Tayssen. But firms in the South are still fighting to get a slice of the carbon market through CDM accreditation.

To Alleviate Poverty, Biodiversity Conservation is Critical

By Will Turner (Conservation International), Huffington Post, 14 February 2012 | Markets and financial mechanisms that compensate local populations who take on the responsibility of protecting and sustainably managing nature at its source — such as Payments for Ecosystem Services or Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) — have the potential to provide a 50 percent increase in benefits to poor communities — delivering up to an additional US$ 500 billion per year to the people who need it most, many of whom earn less than one dollar a day. This last finding is particularly important. To begin with, it captures the idea that developed and developing economies cannot continue to ask the world’s poor to shoulder the burden of protecting these globally important ecosystem services for everyone else’s benefit without compensation in return.

How to cut climate change in half

By Mario Molina and Durwood Zaelke, The Hill’s Congress Blog, 14 February 2012 | What will it take to get the U.S. to take climate change seriously? Climate change threatens the world with powerful and potentially very costly impacts, such as increasingly severe droughts and floods, the die-off of forests and damage to agriculture, as well as rising sea levels. The U.S. is not exempt from these impacts. The answer is that the U.S. can make progress even in a dysfunctional political climate, by focusing on reducing two local air pollutants, black carbon (soot) and ground-level ozone, alongwith hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), man-made chemicals used in refrigerators, air conditioners, and insulating foams. Indeed, recent science shows the U.S., with Mexico and other willing nations, can help lead a global effort to reduce these three warming agents and thereby cut the rate of global warming in half for the next three or four decades.

[Australia] Forest waste plan slammed

ABC, 14 February 2012 | A peak north coast environmental group has slammed a plan to give renewable energy status to native forest waste used to fuel power stations. Lyne MP Rob Oakeshott plans to support the move to make native forest waste eligible for renewable energy credits. The North Coast Environment Council says it’s throwing a lifeline to the industry by subsidising unsustainable practices. NCEC spokeswoman Susie Russell says it would lead to more clear felling if forest managers are to decide what constitutes ‘waste”. “We’re extremely disappointed that Rob Oakeshott has moved to allow native forest material to be burnt in power stations and classed as a renewable energy,” she says. “That would mean that the wholesale devastation of forests occurring all around Australia would be able to continue under the guise of a green energy programme.”

[Australia] Tasmanian forest deal on the rocks

By Felicity Ogilvie, ABC AM, 14 February 2012 | FELICITY OGILVIE: Tim Birch is the chief executive of one of the groups that’s been doing the lobbying – Markets for Change. TIM BIRCH: It is absolutely clear that these forests … are still being logged to supply Ta Ann with wood products. And yet Ta Ann are advertising this wood product on the international market as being eco friendly and coming from plantations. That’s simply not true. FO: Greg Hickey from Ta Ann says it’s a misunderstanding. GREG HICKEY: There isn’t as we understand a word for regrowth in the Japanese culture. And so what they’ve tended to do is call that plantation. But the story from us has been consistently that it is regrowth and plantation. FO: But if you’re telling the Japanese buyers that it’s regrowth but that’s being translated as plantation, isn’t that misininformation? GH: No it’s a misinterpretation of the term.

[Guyana] The Amaila project should be comprehensively reviewed by professional engineering and financial experts

By Ramon Gaskin, Stabroek News, 14 February 2012 | There has been a significant upsurge in interest in the Amaila Road Project (Motilall’s road) and the Amaila Hydro Project, no doubt occasioned by the termination of the contract and the visit of Sithe Global representatives to Guyana.This upsurge in interest is understandable given the recent disclosure by the Sithe representatives, and the accelerating costs of the hydro electricity project. I had an opportunity to meet with the Sithe representative on his recent visit and I now wish to share some information I obtained from that meeting which allowed me to compute the true cost of this 20 years Build/Operate and Transfer (BOT) project. In essence, this means that within the 20 year period, the promoters and owners have to be repaid the amount invested together, with interest on borrowings and dividends on capital invested.

[India] Foresters facing climate change challenges

The Pioneer, 14 February 2012 | Foresters must face various tough challenges in the current scenario of global climate change, Forest Survey of India director general AK Wahal said while chairing the valedictory session of a two-day workshop on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation plus (REDD +) for Indian Forest Service officers organised by the Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE) on Tuesday. Addressing the gathering on the occasion, Wahal elaborated the role of Forest Survey of India in creating a forest inventory which will help in developing REDD+ projects. The current report of FSI contains forest carbon estimates which will help the authorities to project REDD+ strategies. Foresters will have to learn new techniques, adapt and capitalise on available resources to meet challenges facing them due to the global climatic changes, he added.

Super high-resolution carbon estimates for endangered Madagascar

Carnegie Institution for Science press release, 14 February 2012 | By combining airborne laser technology, satellite mapping, and ground-based plot surveys, a team of researchers has produced the first large-scale, high-resolution estimates of carbon stocks in remote and fragile Madagascar. The group has shown that it is possible to map carbon stocks in rugged geographic regions and that this type of carbon monitoring can be successfully employed to support conservation and climate-change mitigation under the United Nations initiative on Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD). Madagascar has unique flora and fauna found nowhere else on Earth, but habitat destruction has transformed its tropical forests, leaving a patchwork of different landscapes. The rugged and remote terrain has made it very difficult to measure vegetation carbon content via traditional plot sample methods.

[Tanzania] Bulk of REDD payments will benefit communities

Legalbrief, 14 February 2012 | The Tanzanian Government has agreed to let 80% of payments made under the Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) scheme go to communities which protect forests. A Tanzania Daily News report notes that an official from Africa Wildlife Foundation, Godlisten Matilya, told a Climate Change Impacts, Adaptation and Mitigation Programme meeting held in Dar es Salaam last week: ‘It’s communities that guard these forests because the government has inadequate forest officers to patrol these forests. Hence it’s logical that REDD payments should benefit them.’ Experts estimate that when the REDD regime kicks in next year (after the Kyoto Protocol expires), the country may earn up to $300m from carbon credits bought by industrialised countries. ‘These payments will greatly encourage communities to conserve forests as they have done for several years,’ the report quotes Matilya as pointing out.

[USA] Carbon storage of headwater riparian zones in an agricultural landscape

7th Space, 14 February 2012 | In agricultural regions, streamside forests have been reduced in age and extent, or removed entirely to maximize arable cropland. Restoring and reforesting such riparian zones to mature forest, particularly along headwater streams (which constitute 90% of stream network length) would both increase carbon storage and improve water quality. Age and management-related cover/condition classes of headwater stream networks can be used to rapidly inventory carbon storage and sequestration potential if carbon storage capacity of conditions classes and their relative distribution on the landscape are known. Results: Based on the distribution of riparian zone cover/condition classes in sampled headwater reaches, current and potential carbon storage was extrapolated to the remainder of the North Carolina Coastal Plain stream network.

15 February 2012

Hot Air: The EU’s Emissions Trading System Isn’t Working

By Alexander Jung, Spiegel, 15 February 2012 | In the perfect world of economic liberals, every commodity has its price. Limited supply makes goods more expensive and vice versa. That’s how markets work — at least in theory. In practice, things often look different, and this is especially true when it comes to emissions trading, a business subject to a very different mechanism: laws dictated by the European Union. Economists have generally praised the trading scheme as a nearly ideal instrument for reducing harmful carbon dioxide emissions. In this system, businesses purchase pollution permits, with prices determined according to supply and demand, in an efficient and self-regulating process. Companies that invest in environmentally friendly technology need to buy fewer certificates, or may even have some left over to sell. But for the last half year, prices for CO2 certificates have dropped almost continuously, decreasing by about half, to around €8 ($10.60) per metric ton.

Lawmakers back move to prop up EU carbon market

EurActiv, 16 February 2012 | EU parliamentarians have agreed a compromise text ahead of a vote this month that should increase pressure on the European Commission to remove carbon allowances to prop up prices on the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS), which have plumbed record lows. The news helped carbon prices, with the benchmark contract price rising nearly 4% to €8.68 per tonne within hours. The compromise wording, as expected, does not specify how many carbon allowances might be withheld to tackle a huge surplus in the market. Instead, it calls on the Commission to amend the regulation on auctioning carbon permits and to implement measures, which may include “withholding the necessary amount of allowances,” a parliamentary source said. “The good thing is it is giving the Commission a mandate to act before the third phase [of the carbon market, from 2013]. However, we lost the numbers. It was just not possible to get broad support,” Dutch Green MEP Bas Eickhout said.

Carbon Traders Group Urges Overhaul of EU Cap-and-Trade Plan

Bloomberg, 15 February 2012 | While the world’s biggest cap-and-trade program is working as intended, fragmented policies are undermining its price signal at the time when an economic slowdown weighs on the market, IETA said in a statement today. EU carbon allowances lost 46 percent from a year ago amid oversupply and concerns that the crisis will erode demand for pollution rights. “IETA wants a system to change caps, as soon as possible, consistent with stakeholder engagement and full understanding of what’s being proposed,” the associations’ president Henry Derwent said in a phone interview. “What we’re asking for is a reexamination of a system which would essentially index the baseline and make this more like an indexed system.”

Revealed: How fossil fuel reserves match UN climate negotiating positions

By Duncan Clark, The Guardian, 16 February 2012 | Want to understand why we’re not solving climate change? Then follow the money – which in this case means following the carbon. I’ve spent much of the past 24 hours crunching data and it turns out there’s a very striking – and oddly overlooked – correlation between fossil fuel reserves and national negotiating position on climate change. First, though, some background. Last year I wrote about the emerging concept of a “carbon bubble” and the risks for investors of putting money into companies that hold fossil fuel reserves. After all, if the world is to meet its stated 2C target for limiting global warming, most of those fuels will need to be left in the ground. Months later, during the Durban climate talks, I found myself wondering how all that unburnable fuel was distributed globally – and how this might be affecting the negotiations.

New Forests Announces Launch of Forest Carbon Partners: Investment fund to supply Californian carbon market

New Forests press release, 15 February 2012 | New Forests Inc. (“New Forests”) is pleased to announce the launch of Forest Carbon Partners, L.P. – an investment vehicle for California-compliant forest carbon offset projects – and the close of the fund’s first two transactions. Forest Carbon Partners offers forest carbon offset project finance and development services to private forest landowners nationwide. The fund manages all aspects of project evaluation, development, registration, and credit sales. Through its portfolio of projects, Forest Carbon Partners will deliver carbon market revenue to landowners and a reliable supply of high-quality offsets to California compliance buyers. In its first two transactions, Forest Carbon Partners has partnered with a family forest owner and a Native American tribe to develop forest carbon offset projects on over 11,000 acres of forest land in the western United States.

Biomass isn’t carbon neutral, study finds

UPI.com, 15 February 2012 | Burning wood for electricity instead of using fossil fuels might increase levels of atmospheric carbon, a study of the U.S. Southeast determined. A study conducted for the National Wildlife Foundation and the Southern Environmental Law Center concluded that using wood for large-scale power plants could lead to higher levels of atmospheric carbon for the next half century. “This study brings us to the crux of the matter regarding biomass electric power and atmospheric carbon, which is that consideration of near-term tipping points versus long-term carbon reductions must be assessed as we develop climate and energy policy,” Andrea Colnes, policy director for the Biomass Energy Resource Center, said in a statement.

China makes hefty forestry investment since 2006

China Daily, 15 February 2012 | The central government has invested 461.1 billion yuan ($73.19 billion) in forestry over the past six years, the State Forestry Administration said Wednesday. The investment averages out at 76.85 billion yuan per annum, up from 41.53 billion yuan in 2005. A large part of the investment was spent on key shelterbelt construction in northern China and along the Yangtze River, conversion of farmland to forests, natural forest conservation and planting to control sandstorms in Beijing and adjacent port city Tianjin, according to the administration. The increased investment came amid the country’s efforts to increase its “forest carbon sink capacity,” the use of its forested areas to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, thereby helping to address global climate change. The country’s forest coverage reached 20.36 percent in 2010, up from 18.2 percent in 2005, and is expected to further increase to 21.66 percent by 2015.

SCS Validates Anthrotect’s Colombian Carbon Offset Project to Climate, Community and Biodiversity Standards

SCS press release, 15 February 2012 | Scientific Certification Systems (SCS) has validated Anthrotect’s Chocó-Darién Corridor carbon offset project to the Climate, Community and Biodiversity (CCB) Project Design Standards. The project, located in northwestern Colombia near the Panama border, was awarded CCB Gold Level status for its exceptional social and environmental benefits. These include measures for adapting to climate change, empowering globally poorer communities, and conserving one of the world’s most unique ecosystems. The project will help local Afro-Colombian and indigenous landowners generate income from carbon credits through the payment for ecosystem services through a program called REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation). The sale of these credits will provide an alternative source of income to logging and agriculture.

[Guyana] $780M eco-system protection fund launch

Kaieteur News, 15 February 2012 | The Surinamese government has warned donors to stop treating the issue of eco-systems as mere handouts. John Goedschalk, of Suriname’s Climate Compatible Development Agency, made the call on Monday during the launch of the Guyana Shield Facility, a fund to protect the ecosystems in the Guyana Shield region which includes Guyana, Suriname, Colombia and Brazil. Talks are also underway to have French Guiana and Venezuela sign up. Already, the European Union and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) have allocated almost 3M Euros and are now inviting proposals for funding. According to the Surinamese official, the protection of the ecosystem should not be considered “Charity”, rather it is an investment into the protection of the globe.

‘Indonesian Avatar’ Fights Miners in East Nusa Tenggara

By Emmy Fitri, Jakarta Globe, 15 February 2012 | Environmental activist Aleta Baun, better known as Mama Aleta, is tougher than she looks. The petite, fragile-featured woman has spent her life protecting her ancestral lands near Kupang, West Timor, from destruction by big mining and forestry companies. In activist circles, Aleta is known as the “Indonesian Avatar,” a reference to a fantasy film about war waged between indigenous people and an army of outsiders intent on reaping the forest’s wealth. Its a fanciful analogy that rings alarmingly true. Since the mid-1990s, Aleta has led an effort to expel mining companies from East Nusa Tenggara. With her fellow activists, she has successfully driven away at least three marble interests from her land. In her bold, clear tone, Aleta matter-of-factly recalls her years of seemingly impossible struggle against mining and timber companies.

[Indonesia] APP certifiers distance themselves from sustainability claims

WWF, 15 February 2012 | Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) claims of independent sustainability certification for its operations aren’t supported by the certification schemes and assessors it has nominated, a WWF survey has found. None of these certifications cover the most controversial operations of the APP’s wood suppliers – mass clearing of native forests which are home to critically endangered tigers, elephants and orang-utans and clearing and drainage of peat areas which result in massive greenhouse gas emissions. The certification schemes cited by APP cover some, but far from all, supplier timber plantations – but none considered whether plantation establishment involved the clearing of high conservation value forest or whether traditional forest owners had given their “free, prior and informed consent” to forest clearance or plantation establishment.

[Indonesia] Illegal Logging Unlikely to End Unless All Companies Follow Rules

By Fidelis E. Satriastanti, Jakarta Globe, 15 February 2012 | Efforts to stem illegal logging by requiring Indonesian timber exports to be certified will prove futile if cheaper, uncertified wood continues to be available on the market, officials said on Tuesday. Diah Raharjo, director of the Multistakeholder Forestry Program, a collaboration between the Indonesian and British governments, said progress was being made in getting logging firms to comply but there was still much work to do. “We’ve been pushing for the 27 countries in the European Union to close down the illegal market for timber products because it would be useless if we have these products certified but they still keep on buying cheap [uncertified] wood and timber products,” she said. Diah was speaking during a media visit to several sustainable certified logging concessions in East Kalimantan.

Japan eyes support for Lao forest protection

Vientiane Times, 15 February 2012 | Japan is interested in helping in the area of protection forests in Laos, as part of its long-term assistance to the forestry sector until 2020. Director General of the Fore stry Department of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Dr Silavanh Sawathvong, spoke to Vientiane Times after holding a workshop with Japanese experts, development partners and NGOs in Vientiane yesterday. Dr Silavanh explained that the discussion was only at the initial stage and that more talks were needed. Japanese experts presented their ideas at the workshop, called “Introduction of Japan’s cooperation and possible future direction,” saying that forest protection should be the focus of Japan’s assistance to the Lao forestry sector. Forest cover in Laos declined from more than 70 percent in 1940 to only 42 percent in 2002 due to rapid population growth and economic development.

[Pakistan] Gilani launches Spring Tree Plantation

Associated Press Of Pakistan, 15 February 2012 | Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani on Wednesday inaugurated the Spring Tree Plantation campaign by planting a tree here at the PM House and made an impassioned appeal to the nation to make Pakistan green.Gilani planted a “Chir Pine” on the green slopes of the Prime Minister House, an extension to the towering trees that adorn the slopes of Margallas.The Prime Minister prayed to Allah Almighty to help the government achieve its goal of making the country green. He was informed that 50 million saplings would be planted during the campaign that generally has around a 70 percent success rate. The Prime Minister advised the Ministry of Environment, the provincial forest departments and related departments for concerted efforts to achieve the target. He hoped the tree plantation campaign would help keep the environment clean, bring down pollution levels and help the country reverse the depletion of forests.

California cap-and-trade law spurs U.S. forest carbon projects

mongabay.com, 15 February 2012 | Now that California’s carbon market has arrived, an Australian-based company that specializes in forest carbon offsets has jump started two forest projects with private landowners in the western U.S. The new company, Forest Carbon Partners, will make the projects available as carbon offsets for California polluters. “As the California carbon market comes online, New Forests believes that forest carbon projects will become a critical source of offset supply. Forest Carbon Partners brings together a sophisticated understanding of both forestry and carbon markets to meet the demand for high-quality carbon credits that ensure important co-benefits for family forest landowners and the environment,” says managing director, David Brand, in a press release. Forest Carbon Partners is a subsidiary of New Forests Inc., headquartered in Sydney.

16 February 2012

Gore Likens Carbon to Subprime Debt in Plan to Repair Capitalism

By Simon Clark, Bloomberg, 16 February 2012 | Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore said investors in oil and gas companies who ignore the cost of emitting carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are making a mistake similar to those who invested in subprime mortgages. “The value of the subprime mortgages was based on a false assumption,” Gore said yesterday in an interview. “In almost exactly the same way, the value of all of these carbon fuel reserves is based on a similarly absurd assumption.” Gore made the analogy as Generation Investment Management LLP, the asset manager he founded with former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. executive David Blood, published a five-point plan titled “Sustainable Capitalism” to reform the investment industry. They want the proposals to help combat climate change and poverty as well as boost profit in the long term.

Global Climate Change Deal Ignores CO2 Emissions, Critics Argue

By James Gerken, Huffington Post, 16 February 2012 | A recently announced climate change agreement between the United States and several other countries aims to reduce pollutant emissions, but it is drawing some concerns from a conservation group that claims it doesn’t go far enough. Introduced Thursday by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the multinational partnership – between the U.S., Bangladesh, Canada, Ghana, Mexico and Sweden – is designed to reduce emissions from “short-lived climate pollutants.” These pollutants, which do not remain in the atmosphere for as long as carbon dioxide, include methane, black carbon (soot) and hydroflurocarbons, explains Politico. Environmental nonprofit WWF released a response statement Thursday saying they “welcomed a ‘black carbon’ initiative,” but with reservations. The organization argues that the agreement “shifts the focus” to developing countries and continues the U.S. and Canadian trend of doing “very little” to reduce CO2 emissions.

Coal-Power in China Makes Electric Vehicles More Polluting

David A. Gabel, ENN, 16 February 2012 | China produces electricity for its burgeoning economy with its ample coal reserves. A full 80 percent comes from coal-burning power plants, and new plants are being constructed all the time. The country’s reliance on coal power, while causing very dirty pollution, also has an interesting side effect. It takes away the “greenness” of electric vehicles. A new study from a team of University of Tennessee researchers has found that the power generated to fuel electric cars produces much greater emissions of particulate matter (PM) than gasoline-powered cars. Perversely, this also makes driving an electric car in China a greater public health hazard than driving a gasoline car.

COP 17 Durban: Key outcomes for REDD+ and ClearSky Climate Solutions

Carbon Offset News and Information, 16 February 2012 | Implications for Forests and REDD+ Two sets of negotiations were held in Durban with regard to REDD+: (1) a technical discussion, (under the auspices of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice, SBSTA), which focused on safeguards and reference levels and (2) a broader discussion regarding the overall architecture of the agreement (Ad Hoc Working Group for Long-term Cooperative Action, LCA 63-73), which revolved around the private sector and market mechanisms, and whether these would have a role to play in financing REDD+. Key advancements were made in both areas that were stronger than most observers expected, and which served to reinforce the community-oriented approach at ClearSky.

“Unjustly condemned” slash and burn agriculture found essential for forest regeneration

By Jeremy Cherfas, CIFOR Forests Blog, 16 February 2012 | Slash and burn agriculture practiced by smallholder farmers results in the best regeneration of valuable tropical timber trees, according to new research by Bioversity International. “Banning the use of fire, which many governments are doing in the name of protecting the environment, can reduce the options if you want to maintain a diverse, valuable, and above all sustainable, resource for people to use,” said Dr Laura Snook, Bioversity’s programme leader for forests. This conclusion is based on years of work in Quintana Roo state in Mexico, where local communities manage the largest remnant of tropical forest in Mesoamerica for timber harvesting. “This adds yet another fascinating piece to a body of evidence that much slash-and-burn agriculture — like many other locally developed systems of resource use — has been misunderstood and unjustly condemned,” said Christine Padoch, Director of the Livelihoods Program at CIFOR.

Busting the Forest Myths: People as Part of the Solution

By Fred Pearce, Yale Environment 360, 16 February 2012 | Some forest campaigners have been saying it for years, but now they have the research to prove it: Local communities are the most effective managers of their forests, best able to combine sustainable harvests with conservation. A series of studies unveiled in the past year have skewered the long-held view — still espoused by many governments and even some in the environmental community — that poor forest dwellers are the prime culprits in deforestation and that the best conservation option is to combine strict ecosystem protection in some areas with intensive cultivation elsewhere.

Ethiopia pushes for green economy ahead of Rio+20 — forests a major player

By Rachel Rivera, CIFOR Forests Blog, 16 February 2012 | A green economy that prioritises forest conservation to boost development in one of Africa’s poorest nations is at the heart of a recent initiative launched by the Ethiopian government ahead of the Rio+20 summit. “Forestry is a central pillar of the strategy so the plan will definitely have a significant and positive influence on forests and agro-forests,” said Habtemariam Kassa, a CIFOR scientist based in Ethiopia. The Rio+20 summit in June aims to renew political commitment and progress on developing a global green economy. While forests are notably absent from the seven issues to be discussed at the summit, Ethiopia intends to raise the spotlight on the vital role forests can play in Ethiopia’s transition to a green economy, Habtemariam said. The word ‘forest’ is mentioned 345 times in the strategic document, he noted.

Fip Motilall’s failure costs Guyana . . . Amaila Falls road will cost much more than US$15.4M

Kaieteur News, 16 February 2012 | The cost of building the road to the Amaila Falls will cost more than the original contract price of US$15.4 million, Dr Roger Luncheon, the government’s chief spokesman said yesterday. On January 12, the government cancelled the controversial contract that was won by Synergy Holdings under the Bharrat Jagdeo presidency. The new Donald Ramotar government terminated the contract from Fip Motilall’s Synergy Holdings and moved to seize all of his equipment. The government further determined that the contractor will pay US$120,000 in liquidated damages. Yesterday, Dr Luncheon said that even if costs are recovered maximally from Synergy Holdings, the cost will still be more than the original contract. He said that the Ministry of Transport and Hydraulics is currently reviewing those contractors who had bid along with Motilall for the project, to award contracts for various sections of the road.

More than 1 million acres of New Guinea forest cut from Indonesia’s forest moratorium

mongabay.com, 16 February 2012 | More than 400,000 hectares (1 million acres) of land — including 350,000 hectares of peatland — in Indonesian New Guinea lost their protected status during a November 2011 revision of Indonesia’s moratorium on new forest concessions, reports a new analysis by Greenomics-Indonesia, a Jakarta-based NGO. The report, Peatland and forest at serious risk from Merauke food and energy estate development, focuses on The Merauke Integrated Food and Energy Estate (MIFEE), a giant agricultural project in southwestern New Guinea. Backers say the 1.2 million hectare project will improve food and energy security in the region, but critics contend the scheme will primarily enrich agribusiness developers. MIFEE will result in the conversion of large areas of peatlands and forests for industrial farming and plantations.

Kenya’s pastoralists reach out for carbon cash

By David Njagi, AlertNet, 16 February 2012 | If the promise of earning carbon credits is realised, Nixon Parnisa counts himself among hundreds of pastoralists likely to profit from a new revenue stream. The herder already has an anaerobic digester at his home in Kitengela, about 120 km (75 miles) northeast of Lake Magadi, in southern Kenya. The machine uses livestock waste to produce biogas for cooking and lighting. But now Parnisa is looking beyond saving money on fuel. He hopes to increase his income by joining a scheme to adapt herding practices to the needs of grassland conservation. Recently, 2,200 square kilometres (850 square miles) of the Kitengela–Kipeto area near Nairobi National Park were subdivided and fenced, with portions for grazing assigned to individual herders. The community is now charged with ensuring the conservation of the land within the fenced area.

[USA] New Forests closes California forest carbon fund

Environmental Finance, 16 February 2012 | Asset management firm New Forests has closed a fund that will supply forest carbon offsets into California’s emerging carbon market. The Forest Carbon Partners fund will “deliver carbon market revenue to landowners and a reliable supply of high-quality offsets to California compliance buyers”, the company said. Sydney-based New Forests has not disclosed how much it has raised into the fund, which was closed last year but only announced today. Neither has the company revealed who has invested in the fund. However, Brian Shillinglaw, San Francisco-based manager of carbon investments and policy, said that the fund expects to finance offset projects on more than 100,000 acres of forest land in the continental US. “We plan on developing large volumes of offsets for California and the [Western Climate Initiative] market,” he told Environmental Finance.

17 February 2012

EU Politicians Agree Compromise Text On CO2 Allowances

By Barbara Lewis, Planet Ark, 17 February 2012 | European parliamentarians have agreed to compromise wording ahead of a vote this month that is expected to increase pressure on the Commission to remove carbon allowances to prop up prices on the EU Emissions Trading Scheme which have plumbed record lows. The news helped carbon prices, with the benchmark contract up nearly 4 percent at 8.68 euros per tonne at 1250 GMT. The compromise text, as widely expected, does not specify how many carbon allowances might be withheld to tackle a huge surplus in the market. Instead, it calls on the Commission to amend regulation on auctioning carbon permits and to implement measures, which may include “withholding the necessary amount of allowances,” a parliamentary source told Reuters.

Can Logging and Conservation Coexist?

By James Fahn, New York Times, 17 February 2012 | But if natural forests are to be protected, it is becoming increasingly vital to calculate precisely those values of ecosystem services, and the wider conservation value of protecting intact and biodiversity-rich habitats. As Hurd concludes: There is a compelling case to be made for natural forests for another reason. Increasingly, investments are being made in fast-growing plantations which compete for land with both natural forests and oil palm. Increasingly products can be made from engineered woods that use more fast growing soft wood (e.g. rubber) and less tropical hardwood (e.g. dipterocarps). If natural forests cannot be part of the economic equation then they will be converted to plantation timberlands. Products derived from natural forests have the potential to be relegated to ‘boutique items.’ In other words, use them or lose them.

[Indonesia] Traditional livelihoods decline in Borneo forests as communities rely on mining, logging jobs

By Rachel Rivera, CIFOR Forests Blog, 17 February 2012 | Forest communities in Indonesia’s East Kalimantan province are turning to jobs in mining, agriculture, construction and other sectors, as increasing tracts of forest are lost to logging and mining operations. While tropical forests still cover more than 90% of the region, district authorities during the last decade have allocated most of the land to logging and mining concessions, resulting in a considerable decline in the role of forests in local livelihoods. A new study by the Center for International Forestry Research has found that villages along the Malinau River, an area rich in valuable timber and mineral resources, are relying less on traditional livelihoods — typically a mixture of hunting, fishing, cultivating fruit gardens, collecting eaglewood and bird’s nests.

[Indonesia] Rescuing orangutans in Aceh

By Hotli Simanjuntak, Jakarta Post, 17 February 2012 | Rampant illegal logging and land reclamation for estates are seen as considerably disturbing the habitat of orangutans in the areas adjacent to the Leuser zone. The activity also increases the intensity of conflict between wildlife like tigers and elephants and man. “In the last two to three years we’ve been informed of the orangutans frequently trapped in estates particularly in Aceh or North Sumatra border areas or asked to evacuate them,” said Ian Singleton, director of the SOCP.

18 February 2012

19 February 2012

[Guyana] Iwokrama, Canopy Capital forest deal collapses

Stabroek News, 19 February 2012 | Iwokrama is no longer receiving money from the British Investment group Canopy Capital after their ecosystem services agreement collapsed. The United Kingdom-based Canopy Capital signed a ground-breaking agreement in March 2008 with the Iwokrama International Centre (IIC) to purchase the rights to environmental services generated by Iwokrama’s 371,000-hectare rainforest reserve… [R-M: Subscription needed.]


PHOTO Credit: Image created using wordle.net.

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