REDD in the news: 20-26 February 2012

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REDD in the news: 20-26 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.

The Carbon Rush documentary trailer

By Amy Miller, carbonrush.net, February 2012 | Hundreds of hydroelectric dams in Panama. Incinerators burning garbage in India. Biogas extracted from palm oil in Honduras. Eucalyptus forests harvested for charcoal in Brazil. What do these projects have in common? They are all receiving carbon credits for offsetting pollution created somewhere else. But what impact are these offsets having? Are they actually reducing emissions? And what about the people and the communities where these projects have been set up? THE CARBON RUSH takes us around the world to meet the people most impacted. They are the least heard in the cacophony surrounding this emerging “green-gold” multi-billion dollar carbon industry.

[Zimbabwe] Case Study REDD+

South Pole Carbon Asset Management Ltd., no date | The Kariba REDD+ Project is located in northwestern Zimbabwe, along the southern shore of Lake Kariba. This large, community-based project reduces emissions associated with deforestation, benefits people and wildlife, and improves forests and wildlife habitat. The project aims to prevent deforestation of Mopane and Miombo woodlands and protect the fauna (e.g. African wolves, elephants and lions) that reside in the woodlands. Deforestation is driven by the expansion of subsistence agriculture and fuel wood collection and the spread of human-set wildfires.

Why we should continue to oppose the inclusion of agriculture in the climate negotiations

By Helena Paul, EcoNexus, February 2012 | At Durban, there was a major push for a programme on agriculture to be set up in the Subsidiary Body on Scientific Advice to the Climate Convention. Governments clearly do not want to commit themselves to reducing the energy consumption behind their emissions and so risk their chances of re-election. Thus government and private sector in many countries, together with the World Bank and other UN organisations advocate counting farmlands and forests as ‘offsets’ for many of their emissions and, furthermore, creating new carbon markets where they can purchase land-based ‘offsets’ from developing countries. Agribusiness is well positioned to profit from those. This article offers an analysis of the links between agriculture, forests and land-use in the negotiations, and the push to extend the carbon markets, led by the World Bank.

REDD+ overview: Portal for satellite remote sensing of the Congo Basin forests

Astrium and AFD, no date | In concrete terms, nations wishing to take part in REDD+ must start by preparing to enter the mechanism (phase 1, the so-called ‘preparatory’ phase), notably by identifying causes of deforestation, establishing a carbon inventory and explaining how they intend to model their future deforestation. Today, more than 40 tropical nations have signed up to REDD+ and are or have been supported during phase 1 with ‘fast-track’ funding, notably from the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) managed by the World Bank and from the UN-REDD programme, co-managed by the FAO, UNDP and UNEP. After this preparatory phase, nations can enter phase 2, which involves implementation of REDD+ policies and measures, again with dedicated REDD+ funding such as the Forest Investment Programme (FIP) or through bilateral agreements. Lastly, phase 3 is the full-scale implementation phase, which no nation has yet reached…

Preparedness for REDD+ climate finance – Vietnam, Mexico & Zambia

idlo.int, no date | The project purpose is to advance national and international knowledge and action for REDD+ development and climate change mitigation efforts, by assessing legal preparedness for REDD+ development across Zambia, Vietnam and Mexico, then distilling and sharing outcomes nationally and internationally. Developing country legal specialists were engaged and trained and assisted in the preparation of three Legal Working Papers on Legal Preparedness for REDD+ in Vietnam, Mexico and Zambia which review all relevant laws, regulations, policies and governance frameworks relating to REDD+, with inputs from in-country consultations with key stakeholders from government, civil society groups and local communities.

20 February 2012

Durban COP 17: UNFCCC fudges decision on climate finance and makes little progress on REDD+ safeguard implementation

Forest Peoples Programme, 20 February 2012 | Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) at their recent COP17 did not support performance indicators for reporting on the implementation of indigenous peoples’ rights in REDD+. However, they did recognise that REDD+ benefits have to go beyond carbon to include biodiversity conservation and support for local livelihoods. Forest Peoples Programme, with a delegation of indigenous peoples from Guyana, Kenya, Cameroon, Suriname and Peru, attended preparatory negotiations and the 17th Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC in Durban, South Africa, in late November/early December 2011. The main purpose of FPP’s attendance was to support the Indigenous Peoples’ Caucus and closely follow negotiations on REDD+ safeguards and finance.

Update on recent UN-REDD Social and Environmental Principles and Criteria (SEPC) and Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) Workshops

Forest Peoples Programme, 20 February 2012 | From 8–11 February 2012, indigenous peoples’ representatives, civil society, NGO and state representatives gathered in Geneva to discuss the draft UN-REDD Programme Social and Environmental Principles and Criteria and the draft UN-REDD Programme Guidelines on Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC). Forest Peoples Programme (FPP), along with a number of NGO, state, and indigenous organisations (including FPP’s local partners from Paraguay, Indonesia and Panama), submitted written comments to both documents in advance. At the meeting in Geneva they then provided significant feedback to United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) representatives facilitating the event and taking the lead in drafting and revising the documents. Forest Peoples Programme found the dialogues and exchanges to be very rich; reflective of an increasing understanding of indigenous peoples’ rights and the nature of human rights-based development.

Challenges and Prospects for REDD+ in Africa

By Cheikh Mbow, David Skole, Moussa Dieng, Christopher Justice, Dominick Kwesha, Landing Mane, Mohamed El Gamri, Vincent Von Vordzogbe, Hassan Virji, START, 20 February 2012 | While acknowledging the potential benefits of REDD+, several experts have raised concerns about the challenges of implementation and about its potential impacts on the livelihoods of forest-dependent communities. There is particularly strong apprehension about the ability of smallholder farmers to contribute to decisions made about the future of their agro-forestry systems, the conditions of their engagement through a more effective enforcement of existing policy and the influence of legislation at local, national and international levels. More importantly, it must be recognized that the REDD+ is not only about forest resources but also about agricultural practices. In Africa where more than 60% of population is rural, depending mostly on agriculture for survival, food security becomes a critical consideration.

Indonesia to form REDD+ agency

By Oleh Sepudin Zuhri and Arsyad Paripurna, Bisnis Indonesia, 20 February 2012 | The Indonesian government will establish a Reducing Emission from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) agency by end of this year to arrange the distribution of payment for emission cuts from the forestry sector. Chairman of REDD+ Task Force Kuntoro Mangkusubroto said the recently extended task force would function until the end of this year. A financing agency, which will be independent and not associated with any ministry, will be established by then. “The task force cannot keep extending its period, our task is to work only until December 2012. This means that the REDD+ agency must be established immediately. However, we are still reviewing several alternatives to decide on its form,” he said on the sidelines of a press conference entitled New Vision of Environmental Management with New REDD+ Task Force last week.

Indonesia counters climate change, carbon emissions

Kuwait News Agency, 20 February 2012 | Indonesia entered a new phase in countering climate change and limiting carbon emissions after the authorities approved a new approach to improve the conditions of forests and lands, known as the “project of Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD)”. The head of the project said, in press remarks Monday, that this project does not only aim to finance investors, but is also preparing the government to discover opportunities for improving the management of forests out of commitment to protecting the environment and commercial growth. Indonesia has the world’s third largest forestland, which emits 60 percent of the country’s overall greenhouse gasses. This project has a sustainable strategy, supported by a team of officials from various ministries, institutions, and international organizations interested in environment preservation.

REDD Task Force Calls for More Indigenous Rights

By Fidelis E. Satriastanti, Jakarta Globe, 20 February 2012 | One of the key challenges facing REDD, as schemes to reduce forest carbon emissions are known, is poverty among communities living in and around forests, said Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, a former minister who now leads the president’s REDD task force. “It’s not as simple as the destruction of forests by logging companies,” he said. “That certainly happens, but the real issue in REDD is poverty, and we must link the two together.” The issue of poverty relates to a failure to recognize indigenous land rights, he said. As an example, he cited the case of a conservation forest on Siberut island in West Sumatra that is home to a clan of indigenous people who want to continue living there. “But the central administration wants them out because the area has been designated a conservation area,” he said. “These sorts of anomalies must be handled properly. Forests are not just woods, but people’s livelihoods.”

21 February 2012

Ending Quarterly Capitalism

By Mindy Lubber, Forbes, 21 February 2012 | Quarterly capitalism – a system that drives far too many CEOs, directors, investors, and analysts to focus on short-term performance and return on investment – is on a collision course with reality. In the risk/reward equation that fundamentally drives capitalism, the majority is heedless to the long-term risks of climate change, water scarcity and other game-changing environmental and social threats that will also be financial game changers for the global economy. A new research paper issued last week by London-based Generation Investment Management, Sustainable Capitalism, has some alarming news about just how short-sighted this quarterly capitalism has become.

European Carbon Permit Price Rally ‘Won’t Last,’ UBS Says

By Matthew Carr, Bloomberg, 21 February 2012 | The current rally in European Union carbon permits will come to an end in April, said UBS AG. The “carbon crash” will continue because the market is oversupplied by 2 billion metric tons and companies may sell allowances once they realize how few they need, Per Lekander, an analyst at the bank in Paris, said today by e-mail. “Enjoy the carbon rally while it lasts – it won’t,” he said yesterday in a research note. EU allowances advanced 17 percent last week on speculation that policy makers will act to curb excess supply after political parties in the European Parliament committee on industry agreed to call on the bloc’s regulator to propose withholding some permits. “Many observers assume that the EU Parliament is about to set aside carbon allowances to prop up prices,” Lekander said. “We believe this speculation is flawed, at least in the near term.”

New study highlights need for REDD+ to look beyond carbon

By Zoe Cormier, CIFOR Forests Blog, 21 February 2012 | A new study on rubber plantations highlights the need for the REDD+ climate change scheme to further consider biodiversity and rural livelihoods. Agricultural policies worldwide have traditionally favoured the conversion of rotating crops to homogenous, permanent rubber plantations because they are often perceived to be more beneficial for local development and better sequesters of carbon. However, this needs to be reconsidered – especially if REDD+ is to be mainstreamed, says the study involving the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR). “Inclusion of agroforestry systems such as rotating crops into REDD+ schemes is essential because, beside their value in terms of carbon storage, they can retain about half of the biodiversity of dense natural forests and provide an essential livelihood basis for poor rural households,” said Jean-Christophe Castella, a scientist with CIFOR…

Take action to save Indonesia’s indigenous peoples in the Kalmantan Forest

By Priyanka Mogul, The Ecologist, 21 February 2012 | The Dayak Benua community of Muara Tae, Indonesia, are fighting to protect their ancestral forests from a mining company. The London-based Environmental Investigation Agency has now launched a campaign to assist. When a neighbouring community sold their land to major palm oil companies, the people of Muara Tae didn’t imagine that it would one day lead to the devastation of their own land, land that they are determined not to sell. However, after the clearance of surrounding land, the mining company started moving into the Dayak community territory and have claimed over half of the 10 thousand hectares of land. Backed by the police and army, the mining companies are stronger and more powerful than the tribe can handle.

Indonesia: Community Radio Helps Revive Forests

By Kanis Dursin, IPS, 21 February 2012 | Irman Meilandi unhesitatingly attributes the return of birds, wildlife and the forests around his hilly village of Mandalamekar in West Java province to conservation advice streaming in over community radio. “Thanks to Radio Ruyuk (meaning scrubland), the people of Mandalamekar have adopted a campaign to replant deforested areas and conserve forests around the village,” says Meilandi, referring to the yet to be licensed community radio station that specialises on environmental issues. Broadcasting on FM 107.8 megahertz, Radio Ruyuk goes on air at 6 p.m. and signs off at 11 p.m. Its programmes discuss organic farming, herbal plants and medicines and village infrastructure, all in the local Sundanese dialect.

Conservation is priceless for Kenyan forest

By Daniel Sitole, The Guardian, 21 February 2012 | The conservation of forests in Kenya has been a challenge to policy makers. The majority of the rural population rely on charcoal and firewood for domestic use. Illegal logging, land grabbing, and human encroachment are some of the challenges facing the whole country. There’s one area that is an exception: Arabuko Sokoke, where the people of Kilifi County have conserved the largest indigenous coastal forest in East Africa. Arabuko Sokoke is the remnant of the largest block of coastal indigenous dry forest on the continent, which once stretched from southern Somalia to northern Mozambique. The forest, which covers 420 sq km and measures 41,765 hectares, is in Malindi, 110km north of Mombasa. It borders the Indian Ocean. The forest was first declared a crown land in 1934.

GAF Awarded Contract for GIZ-SADC REDD Project

geocomm.com, 21 February 2012 | GAF AG in a partnership with Deutsche Forst Service (DFS) has been awarded by GIZ, a newly conceptualised REDD Project for the southern African region. The counterpart is the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Directorate (FANR). The project will add to the already well-established portfolio of REDD services that GAF offers. The current project aims to design a SADC regional Monitoring, Reporting and Verification (MRV) system which can be used by the Member States; in order to do this a prototype design will be tested and implemented in at least three SADC countries.

22 February 2012

Bunge to buy Climate Change Capital

Reuters, 22 February 2012 | U.S. agricultural commodity trader Bunge on Wednesday said it will buy UK-based investor Climate Change Capital (CCC) for an undisclosed price after the transaction was approved by the UK’s financial regulator earlier this week. The sale comes at a time when the balance sheet of CCC, a once high profile investor in carbon offsets, has been damaged by a plunge in the benchmark U.N.-backed carbon price to a record low below 4 euros ($5.31) a tonne late last year. The UK’s Financial Services Authority (FSA) approved the transaction on Monday, while CCC has obtained the required shareholder approvals for the deal to proceed, Bunge said in a joint statement with CCC. “The transaction is expected to close in the coming weeks; financial terms will not be disclosed,” the statement said. Last week, James Cameron, founder and vice chairman of CCC, told Reuters the company was being sold “at a low point” in its valuation.

Bunge Buys Climate Change Capital After C02 Prices Plunge

By Sally Bakewell, Bloomberg, 22 February 2012 | Bunge Ltd. (BG), the world’s second- largest oilseed processor, won approval to acquire Climate Change Capital, a London fund manager that manages the world’s largest private-sector carbon fund, after C02 prices slumped to a record. The deal is expected to close in the coming weeks after being cleared by the U.K.’s Financial Services Authority, the White Plains, New York-based company said today in a statement. Financial terms weren’t disclosed. Climate Change Capital, which manages a 750 million-euro ($992 million) carbon fund, said it has “obviously been impacted” by the 57 percent plunge in United Nations Certified Emission Reduction credits in the past year. Bunge has been active as both a buyer of carbon credits and as an adviser. “It looks like a fire sale,” said Laurent Segalen, the London-based managing director of the Euro Carbon Macro Fund. The carbon funds managed by Climate Change Capital have lost money…

Making the Most of a Second Chance: What Next for REDD+ Safeguards?

By Florence Daviet, WRI Insights, 22 February 2012 | This spring, Parties to the UNFCCC must decide whether or not to continue discussions on the REDD+ safeguard information system (SIS) guidance that started in Durban. In particular, Parties have the option of developing further guidance related to the “transparency, consistency, comprehensiveness and effectiveness of the information” in the SIS. Parties may not wish to reopen this discussion given the many topics that still need to be addressed to make REDD+ operational, but not re-opening the discussion may be a missed opportunity for REDD+ countries seeking to improve the effectiveness of the implementation of the REDD+ safeguards. In order for these conversations to move forward, Parties may wish to have informal discussions next week during the REDD+ Partnership meeting in London.

FRA Claims Protecting Indigenous Rights is Vital to REDD+ scheme

FRA press release, 22 February 2012 | Forestry Research Associates (FRA) claims that the REDD+ project is more than just about preventing deforestation and has backed a statement from a high profile member, who talks about the importance of helping those living in and around the forests. Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, one of the leaders of the REDD+ task force in Indonesia, has spoken out to highlight the fact that the campaign should be just as much about safeguarding the rights of indigenous people as preventing deforestation. He stated, “It’s not as simple as the destruction of forests by logging companies. That certainly happens, but the real issue in REDD is poverty, and we must link the two together.” FRA, which is a research and analysis consultancy, and Mangkusubroto, agree that poverty has become rife in some regions that have experienced a high level of deforestation due to the failure to recognise indigenous peoples’ land rights.

Survival uncovers shocking human rights abuses in Ethiopia

Survival International, 22 February 2012 | Survival has uncovered shocking new evidence of human rights abuses against tribes in Ethiopia’s Omo Valley, as government efforts to develop lucrative sugar cane plantations in the region intensify. Bulldozers are flattening land near a UNESCO World Heritage Site, destroying villages and forcing local communities to give up their pastoral way of life. Fear is growing as violence becomes commonplace and reports of beatings, rapes and arrests spread among tribes close to the Omo River. As recently as January 2012, Survival received reports of three Bodi men being beaten to death in an Ethiopian jail. The government is also ordering families to sell their livestock. One man told Survival, ‘My money is my cattle. My bank account is my cattle.’ Survival has exclusive photographs of a road Ethiopia’s government is building, which cuts straight through tribal land, to improve access to land clearance sites.

[Indonesia] Jasa Marga Ready for Trans-Sumatra Road

By Agustiyanti and Effendi, Jakarta Globe, 22 February 2012 | State toll road operator Jasa Marga has completed a feasibility study to build a 1,000 kilometer trans-Sumatra toll road that would link Aceh to Lampung. Adityawarman, the company’s president director, said it had signed agreements with 10 regional governments on Sumatra, and would meet with them next week to discuss the next step. “From the corporate side, we are ready. There has been a study. We will discuss the study,’’ he said in Sumatra this week. State Enterprises Minister Dahlan Iskan said there was an urgent need to develop a toll road traversing Sumatra, which is almost four times larger than Java, to help boost economic activity on the island… Construction on the project, which is forecast to cost Rp 150 trillion ($16.7 billion), is expected to start this year. Jasa Marga will cooperate with state plantation companies on the project because the road will pass through land they own.

Cooperation between Lao farmers needed to meet market demands for food

By Andrea Booth, CIFOR Forests Blog, 22 February 2012 | A recent report by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) urges farmers in Lao People’s Democratic Republic to form cooperatives to help meet market demands as the country transitions from practicing subsistence to commercial agriculture. “Farmers’ cooperatives are the missing link to enable family-based farming enterprises, which are active but not well organized, to respond to increasing market demand for quality products,” said Jean-Christophe Castella, a scientist with CIFOR and France’s Institute of Research for Development (IRD) and lead author of Managing the transition from farmers’ groups to agricultural cooperatives in Lao PDR. 2012 has been declared as the UN International Year of the Cooperatives which serve as “a reminder to the international community that it is possible to pursue both economic viability and social responsibility”, declared United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

[New Zealand] Carbon Copy

Fair Go, 22 February 2012 | Beware real estate ads which promise a Carbon Credit bonanza on rural property.

South Africa to introduce carbon tax

Reuters, 22 February 2012 | South Africa is looking to introduce a carbon tax next year to reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions, although nearly two-thirds of emissions will be tax-exempt until 2020 to lessen the impact on industry, the treasury said on Wednesday. In its 2012/13 budget, the treasury proposed a 60 percent tax-free threshold on annual emissions for all sectors, including electricity, petroleum, iron, steel and aluminium. All but electricity, where state-owned power utility Eskom dominates, would be able to claim additional relief of at least 10 percent. Companies have said a carbon tax that places too heavy a burden on the key energy, mining and manufacturing sectors – already under pressure due to rising power and wage costs – will hit profits and wider economic growth.

23 February 2012

World Bank Resumed Carbon Credit Sales After Fund Missed Higher Prices

By Matthew Carr, Bloomberg, 23 February 2012 | The World Bank, acting as trustee for the United Nations Adaptation Fund, resumed sales of UN emission credits at the start of this month after the fund missed higher prices at the end of last year. “The Adaptation Fund Board instructed us to restart sales on Feb. 1,” said Angela Gentile, a bank spokeswoman in Washington. “It was not based on Certified Emission Reduction (BNSCER) prices,” she said yesterday by e-mail in response to questions. The fund, with a secretariat based in Washington, uses proceeds from the sale of 2 percent of all CERs to help finance projects that help poor nations adapt to climate change. It stopped sales Oct. 5 after attempted thefts of CERs, according to a Feb. 3 report on its website. Its board instructed the World Bank on Nov. 22 not to sell any more CERs because they were “still below a defined price level,” which the report didn’t specify.

UN climate chief turns to business leaders for action

By Karl Ritter, NZ Herald News, 23 February 2012 | As Governments bicker over who should do what to slow the pace of global warming, the United Nations’ climate chief is increasingly looking to business leaders to show the way forward to a low-carbon future. Christiana Figueres said her efforts to reach out to executives from companies such as Coca-Cola, Unilever and Virgin Group represented “a deeper recognition of the fact that the private sector can contribute in a decisive way”. Since the year began the Costa Rican head of the UN climate agency has met corporate leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos and on a cruise to Antarctica organised by Nobel Peace Prize laureate and former United States Vice-President Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project. “I’m hoping to accelerate what I call the push and pull process,” she said.

Model airplane used to monitor rainforests – conservation drones take flight

By Rhett A. Butler, mongabay.com, 23 February 2012 | Conservationists have converted a remote-controlled plane into a potent tool for conservation. Using seed funding from the National Geographic Society, The Orangutan Conservancy, and the Denver Zoo, Lian Pin Koh, an ecologist at the ETH Zürich, and Serge Wich, a biologist at the University of Zürich and PanEco, have developed a conservation drone equipped with cameras, sensors and GPS. So far they have used the remote-controlled aircraft to map deforestation, count orangutans and other endangered species, and get a bird’s eye view of hard-to-access forest areas in North Sumatra, Indonesia. “The main goal of this project is to develop low-cost Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) that every conservation biologist in the tropics can use for surveying forests and biodiversity,” said Koh via email. “Drones are already being used for many purposes including the military, agriculture, and even in Hollywood for filming.

Tesco and Unilever beef up rainforest protection efforts

By James Murray, BusinessGreen, 23 February 2012 | Two of the world’s largest brands, Tesco and Unilever, have today launched major new initiatives designed to enhance rainforest protection and improve the sustainability of global supply chains. Supermarket giant Tesco has announced a partnership with the RSPB, dubbed Together for Trees, which is designed to raise more than £1m for rainforest protection projects around the world. Customers will be asked to donate to the scheme either directly or through the green Clubcard points they earn when re-using bags. Tesco has also said it will donate £75,000 from the sale of new Together for Trees reusable bags to the initiative, while funds raised through the mandatory Welsh plastic bag levy will now be handed to RSPB Cymru.

The Ecosystem Marketplace’s Forest Carbon News

Ecosystem Marketplace, 23 February 2012 | Ecosystem Marketplace is pleased to announce an open call for organizations to contribute data to the State of the Forest Carbon Markets and State of the Voluntary Carbon Markets 2012 reports.

Updated Jurisdictional and Nested REDD+ Technical Recommendations Released

Verified Carbon Standard, 23 February 2012 | The VCS Association today released updated technical recommendations for the integrated project and jurisdiction-wide accounting and crediting of activities that Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+). These recommendations will be used as a basis for forthcoming VCS requirements for Jurisdictional and Nested REDD+ (JNRI) activities. Draft requirements will be released for public comment in coming months. The updated technical recommendations provide flexible options for jurisdictions to develop REDD+ programs that may recognize and integrate project activities into jurisdiction-level accounting frameworks. Such flexibility will ensure the frameworks maintain environmental integrity while being adaptable to local circumstances.

Burkina Faso, DRC and Ghana to Attend Fip Pilot Country Meeting

African Development Bank, 23 February 2012 | On 2-3 April 2012, Burkina Faso, Democratic Republic of Congo and Ghana will join other countries from around the world participating in the Climate Investment Funds’ (CIF) Forest Investment Program (FIP) in Brasilia, Brazil, for their third annual FIP pilot country meeting. As an implementing agent of the CIF, the African Development Bank (AfDB) will also attend. The FIP aims to support developing countries’ efforts to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) by providing scaled-up financing for readiness reforms and public and private investments. As FIP implementation moves forward worldwide, countries will share their innovative approaches to REDD+ investments and working with the private sector, indigenous peoples and local communities.

Rush to acquire African farmland risks countries bearing costs of global resource scarcity, says study

By George Schoneveld, CIFOR Forests Blog, 23 February 2012 | The recent rush to acquire farmland in order to meet rising global demands for food and fuel is putting African countries at risk of bearing the social, economic, and environmental costs of global resource scarcity, says a new study by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR). Many of these costs threaten to arise from the rising direct competition between established land uses and plantation monoculture. At the local level, this can be manifested in environmental degradation, loss of access to socially and economically valuable land resources, and conflicts between subsistence and commercial agriculture. While much has been written on the opportunities and risks of this trend, reliable empirical evidence as to its magnitude, distribution and underlying drivers is scant.

Palm oil firm pays ‘precedent-setting’ fine for unauthorized land-clearing in Indonesia

By Rhett A. Butler, mongabay.com, 23 February 2012 | A subsidiary of agribusiness giant Cargill has paid a $1 million fine for clearing land for oil palm outside its concession, a move that could serve as an important example for palm oil developers operating in Indonesia, according to Greenomics-Indonesia, a Jakarta-based environmental group. The fine was levied on Cargill subsidiary PT Hindoli after the company notified local authorities and the Ministry of Forestry that it had accidentally cleared about 2,000 hectares of land beyond the boundary of its formally licensed area in South Sumatra Province. The clearing, which took place in 2005, involved agricultural land that was still zoned as “forest” by the Ministry of Forestry even though it lacked exploitable timber. “No forest clearing was involved in this situation,” Cargill told mongabay.com. “Cargill inadvertently planted palm beyond the boundary of our licensed area, on agricultural land.

24 February 2012

Forests: the fire next time

The Guardian, 24 February 2012 | Forest fires are a fact of life, and in some regions an important part of the natural ecosystem, but that does not make them welcome. Wildfire sears an astonishing 350 to 400 million hectares each year: this is an area of land greater than the surface of India. The economic costs of bushfires are prodigious – one sustained blaze in Texas in 2011 did damage estimated at $5bn – but the human costs, too, are cruel. A team led by Tasmanian and Canadian scientists has just made a careful estimate of the contribution of dioxins, soot and other tiny airborne particles from blazing scrub and foliage to global mortality; they have established an annual estimate of around 340,000 extra deaths per year from respiratory and other diseases, chiefly in sub-Saharan Africa and south-east Asia.

All that glitters is not gold: Precious metal mining in Congo should stay small for the sake of the forest

By Zoe Corner, CIFOR Forests Blog, 24 February 2012 | The harmful impacts of gold and diamond mining on the Congo Basin rainforest can be minimised by ensuring that operations stay small, so locals employed by the sector continue to be motivated to preserve the forests where they live and work, advises a new CIFOR study. In the landscape where small-scale artisanal miners operate, negative impacts on the forest do not occur because the scale is very small and dispersed, and harmful chemicals are not used to extract the precious metals from the soil. Artisanal miners typically also farm, fish, and hunt for their livelihoods, however it is gold and diamonds that provide cash. “Locals see the forest as bountiful and with a provisioning function – it is like a supermarket for them, providing food, water, meat, medicinal herbs, good soils and sacred spaces,”said Verina Ingram, CIFOR scientist based in Cameroon and co-author of Is the god of diamonds alone?

[India] Clampdown on sacred ritual as Vedanta mine appeal approaches

Survival International, 24 February 2012 | Security forces are cracking down on the Dongria Kondh tribe as they prepare for a religious festival this weekend at the top of India’s most contentious mountain. Hundreds are determined to attend the Niyamraja ritual in the sacred Niyamgiri Hills, which are at the center of a controversial mining project involving UK company Vedanta Resources. During the worship, the Dongria will take an oath pledging never to leave the mountain, which faces renewed threats as companies eye its valuable resources. The Dongria have fought hard to resist such advances, but speaking out against proposed mining continues to be dangerous. Survival has received reports of arrests and beatings, and in the last week alone, police have shut down six meetings where food supplies were being organized for this weekend’s festival.

25 February 2012

26 February 2012


PHOTO Credit: Image created using wordle.net.

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