REDD in the news: 27 February – 4 March 2012

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REDD in the news: 27 February - 4 March 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.

Reclaiming our future: Rio +20 and Beyond

Via Campesina, February 2012 | Small-scale farmers, family farmers, landless people, indigenous people, migrants – women and men – are now determined to mobilize to oppose any commodification of life and to propose another way to organize our relationship with nature on earth based on agrarian reform, food sovereignty and peasant based agroecology. We reject the “Green Economy” as it is pushed now in the Rio+20 process. It is a new mask to hide an ever-present, growing greed of corporations and food imperialism in the world. We oppose carbon trading and all market solutions to the environmental crisis including the proposed liberalization of environmental services under the WTO. We reject REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) which allows rich countries to avoid cutting their carbon emissions by financing often damaging projects in developing countries. We expose and reject the corporate capture of the rio+20 process…

Building REDD+ Policy Capacity for Developing Country Negotiators and Land Managers: Lessons learned (Task Force Meeting Report)

By Jessica Boyle, IISD, 2012 | The International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) and ASB Partnership for the Tropical Forest Margins at the World Agroforestry Centre (ASB–ICRAF) have partnered to deliver a third and final phase of the Building REDD+ Policy Capacity for Developing Country Negotiators and Land Managers project. Building on the establishment of the REDD Development Dividend (REDD–DD) Task Force in Phase II of the project, a small advisory group of experts was brought together on the margins of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP 17) in Durban, South Africa in December 2011. The goal of this meeting was to identify a thematic area (or areas), informed by the work of Phases I and II, under which to develop lessons learned and case studies. This report highlights the key messages that emerged from the discussions and provides an overview of the meeting proceedings.

Options for financing REDD+ in the context of EU climate policy: Status and opportunities

By Moritz von Unger, Charlotte Streck and Donna Lee, Climate Focus, February 2012 | Climate Focus, with the support of The Nature Conservancy, has evaluated options on how to mobilize funding to support REDD+ in the context of EU climate policy. The analysis focuses on mobilizing sustained support for emission reductions and removals from REDD+ that would complement the funding of readiness activities, forest governance programs and other direct policy support.

Rise and spread of national and sub-national forest carbon schemes

By U. Chokkalingam and S.A Vanniarachchy, Forest Carbon Asia, 2012 | In December 2011 at the international climate change negotiations at COP17 in Durban, there were further developments on the proposed REDD+ mechanism to reduce forest-based emissions and enhance forest carbon sinks. Various countries have initiated forest-related emission reduction and offsetting schemes within the last year. This policy brief provides an update on national and international REDD+ and other forest carbon policies from April 2011 to January 2012.

UN-REDD Programme’s February 2012 newsletter

UN-REDD, February 2012 | In this month’s issue, read more on Sri Lanka’s UN-REDD National Programme to be presented at the upcoming Policy Board meeting in Paraguay, as well as progress on Indonesia’s REDD+ Participatory Governance Assessments, and highlights from the Programme’s recent global workshops on FPIC and the Social and Environmental Risks and Benefits of REDD+.

Investing in Forest Carbon Projects

By OroVerde and Global Nature Fund, February 2012 | Tropical forest protection projects – a contribution to climate protection? The goal of the new joint project of OroVerde and the Global Nature is to ensure that projects related to climate protection in tropical countries observe the rights and interests of local communities and that attention is paid to the impacts on the regional biodiversity… The joint project of Oro Verde and the Global Nature Fund, which was launched on July 1st 2010, is dealing with these topics. Its goal is to provide information on the effects of forest climate projects for companies and the interested public. Guidelines for forest climate projects dealing particularly with the protection of the biodiversity and the interests of the local population shall be developed involving different actors (companies, NGOs, scientists etc.). An analysis of case studies as well as already existing standards for forest climate projects will serve as the basis for it.

Causes and consequences of shifting cultivation and its alternative in the hill tracts of eastern Bangladesh

By S. Rahman, M. Rahman and T. Sunderland, CIFOR, 2012 | Shifting cultivation, which is still prevalent in the uplands of eastern Bangladesh, contributes significantly to forest loss and is the main cause of land degradation. This paper presents the causes and consequences of shifting cultivation and its potential land use alternatives. The analysis presented is primarily qualitative with a supplementary quantitative analysis of the causes of forest loss by logistic regression. The results of the study show that traditional land practices, exacerbated by poverty and associated with a lack of technical knowledge is the main cause for the continuation of unsustainable shifting cultivation. Population pressure, inadequate land for cultivation, low education levels, policy planning and implementation without local participation are all factors that influence farmers’ decision to continue shifting cultivation.

27 February 2012

Big brother is watching: Forest surveillance systems could reveal new terrestrial animals

By Zoe Cormier, CIFOR Forests Blog, 27 February 2012 | A global network of remote cameras placed in the tropical forests of seven countries has the potential to discover unexpected land-dwelling mammals and species that are thought to be extinct, according to the results of a new study by a consortium of researchers. “There has never been this kind of monitoring across the globe,” said Douglas Sheil, Senior Associate with the Center for International Forestry Research and director of the Institute of Tropical Forest Conservation. “In the long term, this network has the potential to surprise us – in our forest, there are a couple of species which we haven’t seen for some time, such as forest hogs and otters – and who knows, we may see a couple of species that are thought to be locally extinct.”

Warming to Ignite the Carbon Bomb

By Stephen Leahy, IPS, 27 February 2012 | Rising temperatures are drying out northern forests and peatlands, producing bigger and more intense fires. And this will only get much worse as the planet heats up from the use of ever larger amounts of fossil fuels, scientists warned last week at the end of a major science meeting in Vancouver. “In a warmer world, there will be more fire. That’s a virtual certainty,” said Mike Flannigan, a forest researcher at the University of Alberta, Canada. “I’d say a doubling or even tripling of fire events is a conservative estimate,” Flannigan told IPS. While Flannigan’s research reveals forest fire risk may triple in future, a similar increase in peat fires will be far more dangerous. There are millions of square kilometres of tundra and peatlands in the northern hemisphere and they hold more than enough carbon to ramp up global temperatures high enough to render most of the planet uninhabitable if they burn.

South Korea Set to Vote on Last Hurdle for Emissions Trading

By Sangim Han, Bloomberg, 27 February 2012 | South Korean lawmakers are set to approve an emissions-trading system that gives companies more free permits and longer lead time than originally planned to cut back on pollution linked to climate change. The National Assembly plans to vote before the end of today on a bill that sets 2015 as the deadline for starting what would be the third cap-and-trade system in Asia. It was backed on Feb. 8 by ruling and opposition parties of the assembly’s committee on climate changes. The ruling Saenuri Party has a majority of 174 seats in parliament, indicating the legislation will pass its final hurdle, even without the backing of opposition parties. South Korea, which originally planned to start emissions trading in 2013, postponed it to 2015 after the nation’s largest companies opposed the plan, saying it will hurt their competitiveness in global markets.

Safeguarding REDD+ Finance: Ensuring transparent and accountable international financial flows

Global Witness, 27 February 2012 | Funding forest protection in developing countries poses numerous financial risks: from inefficient allocation through to mismanagement of funds, misappropriation and corruption. Financial flows from donors to developing countries under the REDD+ forest protection mechanism will need to increase significantly over the coming years if greenhouse gas emissions from forest loss are to be reduced. Detailed measures will be needed to ensure effective, transparent and accountable financial flows. In Global Witness’ new report Safeguarding REDD+ Finance: Ensuring transparent and accountable international financial flows we set out best practice lessons for future REDD+ finance, drawn from a review of existing international multilateral mechanisms that channel funding from donors to developing countries.

[Guyana] Delays and cost overruns at Bujagali should be a warning for Amaila

By M. Macwell, letter to the editor, Stabroek News, 27 February 2012 | I have researched and written extensively on this tragic Amaila Falls hydroelectric project fiasco that remains a harsh reminder of the scandal-tainted, incompetent and mismanaging deeds of the PPP administration. Sithe Global is also marked with serious questions about its handling of the ongoing Uganda’s Bujagali hydro project. The cost overruns and delays on the Bujagali project mirror Amaila. The Ugandan newspaper, The Observer, noted in a January 22, 2012 article titled ‘Shs 450bn lost in Bujagali delay‘ that Uganda stood to lose US$184 million in revenue because the dam was not finished in 2011 as scheduled. This figure was obtained from a report on Bujagali compiled by the World Bank, the International Finance Corporation, and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency in April 2007.

Amaila a suitable choice for hydropower to satisfy Guyana’s domestic needs

By Samuel A. Hinds (Prime Minister), Guyana Chronicle, 27 February 2012 | Please allow me to point out some inaccuracies and to shed some light on some of the questions raised in the article, ‘Greenidge questions suitability of Amaila Falls for Hydropower’ published in the Kaieteur News of Monday, 27th February, 2012. In summary, Guyana has not ignored the offers from Brazil but, rather, continues to aggressively work with Brazil as quickly as the procedures and processes of the two governments allow. Amaila has always been shortlisted as a good site for development. Current electricity generation in Guyana is based on the most up-to-date, medium-speed, HFO-fuelled diesel engines which best match our demand, in terms of the daily load curve and the off-service times of units for regular maintenance and rare emergencies.

[Guyana] Greenidge questions suitability of Amaila Falls for Hydro-power

Kaieteur News, 27 February 2012 | Former Minister of Finance Carl Greenidge, while lauding the derivatives of cheaper and competitive electricity, questions why the Government of Guyana ignored the Brazilian proposal a few years ago and settled on the Sithe Global option. With the Brazilian involvement there would have been an avoidance of a power glut given that the neighbouring country would have purchased a significant percentage of the power supplied by the proposed Hydro-Project. Greenidge, speaking with this publication recently, said that while hydro-power electricity will be a plus for Guyana one of the questions to be pondered on is whether the choice of the Amaila Falls location is the most suitable. Greenidge drew reference to the Brazilian proposal following a bilateral engagement with that country.

Indonesia’s moratorium will not significantly reduce emissions, but has other benefits, finds analysis

mongabay.com, 27 February 2012 | Indonesia’s moratorium on new forest concessions alone “does not significantly contribute” to its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 26 percent from a projected 2020 baseline, concludes a new analysis by the World Resources Institute (WRI). However the study says the moratorium does support the target in the long-term by creating a window for enacting governance reform needed to stop destructive business-as-usual approaches to forest management.

US biofuel policy excludes Indonesian and Malaysian palm oil amid industry protests

By Michelle Kovacevic, CIFOR Forests Blog, 27 February 2012 | Palm oil industry experts in Indonesia and Malaysia — two of the world’s largest producers — have criticised a recent analysis by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that biodiesel produced by palm oil does not qualify as a renewable fuel under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program. The EPA’s Notice of Data Availability (NODA) concluded that biodiesel and renewable diesel produced from palm oil do not meet the minimum 20 percent lifecycle greenhouse gas reduction threshold needed to qualify as renewable fuel under the scheme. However, the policy is not banning crude palm oil imports to the United States, assured Dennis Voboril from the Counselor Office of Agricultural Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta.

Spread of ‘human safaris’ threatens Peru’s uncontacted Indians

Survival International, 27 February 2012 | Peru’s uncontacted Mashco-Piro tribe is facing the very real threat of being exploited by ‘human safaris’, according to British newspaper The Observer. Last month, Survival released detailed photos of the tribe, to draw attention to the importance of protecting them from unwanted contact. The Mashco-Piro live in Peru’s Manú National Park, which is extremely popular with tourists, and sightings of the tribe have increased in the last year. Illegal logging and nearby oil and gas projects are forcing them out of the forest and closer to the riverbanks, where they are more visible to passing boats. Now, The Observer says the Mashco-Piro could fall victim to yet another threat – ‘human safaris’; a scandal first exposed by Survival in India’s Andaman Islands in 2010. An investigation by The Observer suggests that some unscrupulous tour-guides working in Manú Park are trying to profit from sightings of the tribe.

[Philippines] DENR-CAR reports increase in confiscated forest products, tools

By Carlito C. Dar, Philippine Information Agency, 27 February 2012 | The Department of Environment and Natural Resources – Cordillera Administrative Region (DENR-CAR) has reported a significant increase in confiscation of forest products, tools, equipment and conveyances in the region for 2011, in line with its mandate under Executive Order No. 23. The executive order, signed by President Benigno S.Aquino III on February 2011, declares a moratorium on the cutting and harvesting of timber in the natural and residual forests and creates an anti-illegal logging task force. DENR-CAR Forest Management Service Regional Technical Director Augusto Lagon reported that in 2011, the agency has recorded a total confiscation of about 137.49 cubic meters (cu.m.) of lumber and furniture all over the region. The record posted significant increase compared to the 11.25 cu.m. of illegal material confiscated in 2010.

Thai king: punish corrupt officials who allowed logging

mongabay.com, 27 February 2012 | Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej urged the Thai government to punish officials who allowed illegal logging which he blamed for worsening floods last year that left more than 1,000 people dead. “Hardwood forests that are destroyed are difficult to recover,” he told Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and members of the Strategic Formulation Committee for Water Resource Management last Friday, according to the Bangkok Post. “The blame lies with some civil servants who are greedy and crave money.” The King said replanting forests with both fast-growing pioneer species and slow-growing hardwoods could help buffer against severe flooding and landslides. Over the weekend Yingluck said she would follow the King’s recommendations.

28 February 2012

Why Creating a Systematic Approach to Forest Conservation Makes Sense

Redd Carbon Credits UK, 28 February 2012 | The Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFR) recently published an article on its blog about a forestry “wish-list” created by indigenous and community groups in Indonesia. According to CIFR, the list included the best practices that should be included in schemes aiming to reduce deforestation and forest degradation, so that these programmes can work to the best advantage of people living in and around forests. The list came in the aftermath of the UN Climate Change conference in Durban, South Africa late last year. Simone Lovera, Executive Director of the Global Forest Coalition, a worldwide network of more than 50 NGOs and indigenous peoples organisations, was quoted saying for the CIFR blog: “The main message of the [Durban] debate was the rejection of top-down policies that undermine community governance and community values.”

Carbon prices plummet despite favourable set-aside vote

Environmental Finance, 28 February 2012 | EU allowance (EUA) prices plunged today, despite a European Parliament committee voting in favour of measures to address the chronic oversupply of allowances in the market. As expected, the Parliament’s industry, research and energy (ITRE) committee voted in favour of amendments to the forthcoming energy efficiency directive which allow the European Commission to propose measures to compensate for a drop in emissions – and thus EUA demand – that may arise due to tighter efficiency targets. However, as previously reported, the amendments did not call for a set-aside explicitly nor whether any measures should be permanent or not.

“Designer plants” may help meet global demand for palm oil and avoid deforestation

By Michelle Kovacevic, CIFOR Forests Blog, 28 February 2012 | Malaysian scientists now have the ability to trace for high oil-yielding genes in the palm oil plant, allowing them to create “designer palms” with the capacity to control the amount and type of oil being produced. “We have finished sequencing the oil palm plant genome and so we can trace for high oil yielding genes. [With this approach] we also have the ability to produce low-saturated fat palm oil,” said Tan Yew Al from the Malaysian Palm Oil Board at the International Conference on Oil Palm and Environment (ICOPE) in Bali last week. The conference opened with new vision for sustainable agriculture: “By 2020, the aim is to increase oil palm yield by 20 percent, decrease carbon emissions by 20 percent and see a 20 percent reduction in poverty,” said Franky O Widjaja, Co-chair of Partnership on Indonesia’s Sustainable Agriculture, World Economic Forum.

Mesuji Violence Should Be a Warning: Indonesian NGO

By Farouk Arnaz, Anita Rachman and Ulma Haryanto, Jakarta Globe, 28 February 2012 | The police heightened security in the conflict-riven district of Mesuji in Lampung on Monday following weekend violence against a plantation company that activists say should be taken as a sign of things to come. Insp. Gen. Saud Usman Nasution, a spokesman for the National Police, said hundreds of local officers and Mobile Brigade (Brimob) members had been dispatched to secure the plantation. He said offices, employees’ dormitories, a warehouse and a security post of plantation company Barat Selatan Makmur Investindo were set on fire in the Saturday attack… Abetnego Tarigan, director of Sawit Watch, a palm oil industry watchdog, warned that more violent clashes over land disputes were likely unless the root cause was addressed.

29 February 2012

EU carbon lacks direction amid low volumes

By Susanna Twidale, Reuters, 29 February 2012 | EUAs were stable on Wednesday morning amid thin volumes as the market waited for fresh direction following a day of big price swings on Tuesday, when prices hit a 10-week high… Traders said yesterday afternoon’s price rise fall was expected as the bullish news had already been priced into the market. “The facts are still the same and today the market is still over-supplied. It will be a long time before we see any permits removed and we still do not have an amount (specified) so there is no reason to be bullish” a second trader said.

Sink to source – the loss of biodiversity’s greatest ecosystem service

By CJA Bradshaw, ConservationBytes.com, 29 February 2012 | Several years ago, my colleagues (Navjot Sodhi and Ian Warkentin) and I wrote a major review in TREE about the fate of the world’s ‘second’ lung of the planet, the great boreal forests of Russia, Canada & Scandinavia. We discussed how fragmentation was increasing at an alarming rate, and that although most species there are still relatively intact, we stand to lose a lot of its biodiversity if we don’t halt the fragmenting processes soon. We wrote more on the subject in a paper to appear imminently in Biological Conservation… Now Zhihai Ma and colleagues have just compiled a paper in PNAS indicating that the danger is well on the way to becoming reality in Canada… When they looked at the possible drivers, it turned out that mortality was the greatest contributor (with a lesser effect of reduced growth), and this resulted primarily from climate change-induced droughts in the west.

New Report Exposes Land Grabbing by the Extractive Industries & the Devastating Impact on Earth

Environmental Rights Action, 29 February 2012 | The rapid global expansion and acceleration of the extractive industries presents an unprecedented & devastating land grabbing threat, claims a new report being launched in Westminster today. The Gaia Foundation’s report, “Opening Pandora’s Box – A New Wave of Land Grabbing by the Extractive Industries and the Devastating Impact on Earth” has been produced in collaboration with GRAIN, the London Mining Network (LMN) and others. It looks at the global trends, dynamics and impacts of the extractive industries on the planets ecosystems and communities. “This report shows clearly how the game has changed over the last decade: the grabbing of land and resources is penetrating ever more deeply into the body of the Earth. Governments are becoming the shoe-shine boys for the extractive industries. We urgently need to set up an international system that holds those ravaging the planet to account…” Nnimmo Bassey, Environmental Rights Action.

Celestial Green Ventures to create 30 clean-tech jobs in Dublin

By Carmel Doyle, siliconreplublic.com, 29 February 2012 | Celestial Green Ventures, a Dublin-based sustainable forestry development company, is preparing to create 30 new jobs, as a result of the global growth in green investments. Ireland’s Green IFSC initiative has welcomed the news. Celestial Green Ventures develops REDD+ forestry projects from which carbon offsets are produced and subsequently traded. In 2010, the company listed on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. It has a paid-up share capital of €10.1m with an authorised share capital of €23.7m. Celestial Green Ventures is now also considering listing on the Enterprise Securities Market (ESM) of the Irish Stock Exchange. Right now, Celestial Green Ventures has 17 project areas in and around the Amazonian region of Brazil. In total, this equates to around 20m hectares to which the company owns the carbon credit rights.

[Brazil] The Story of a Real Life Lorax

By Alana Lea, Changents.com, 29 February 2012 | Right before leaving Brazil in January 2011, I met with representatives of The Nature Conservancy hoping they would want to buy thousands of organically grown trees from the small nurseries at a fair trade price to help keep the growers in business, as I had done. They said they liked how grassroots my reforestation project was, and they wanted to go visit the people of Cunha where I’d just given the first truckload of 1,000 trees. But my Brazilian project adviser resisted this meeting, and I only learned why when I got back to the US. It turns out that The Nature Conservancy had partnered with Dow Chemical and the state of Sao Paulo’s Water Supply Managers (SABESP) to do massive chemically-supported tree planting along the water ways there. It appears this was among the reasons they didn’t want to buy organically grown trees from the small growers.

[Guyana] The construction cost of Amaila is in the range that Gaskin suggests

Raphael Herz and Brian Kubeck (Sithe Global), letter to the editor Stabroek News, 29 February 2012 | We appreciate the thoughtful analysis provided by Ramon Gaskin in his recent letter in SN titled ‘The Amaila project should be comprehensively reviewed by professional engineering and financial experts‘ (February 14, 2012). We would like to thank him for this opportunity for an ongoing dialogue; however, we wish to clarify certain misunderstandings regarding the project.

Indonesian communities coping with crisis depend on forests

By Maya Thatcher, CIFOR Forests Blog, 29 February 2012 | Six years ago, hundreds of homes and rice fields in a number of small villages in East Kalimantan were hit by a devastating flood and buried under two meters of water. While no lives were lost, large amounts of property were destroyed — including houses, school buildings, livestock and rice stores – leaving the self-reliant villagers struggling to cope. Destruction wrought by the natural disaster meant that many villagers turned to their surrounding forest as a source of food, goods and marketable products, which could then be sold for cash to buy food or replace items lost in the flood. “Some experts have tried to down play the role of forests as a lifeline to communities after disasters but this study clearly shows that importance of this relationship and the mistake that can be made if it is neglected,” said Nining Liswanti, CIFOR researcher and lead author of Falling back on forests…

[Indonesia] Green Activists Seeing REDD Over Program’s Effect on Forest Tribes

By Tunggadewa Mattangkilang, Jakarta Globe, 29 February 2012 | Environmental activists have objected to plans to use Kayan Mentarang National Park as a pilot project for offsetting carbon emissions, citing the impact to the area’s indigenous residents. The Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) warned that the way of life of tens of thousands of forest dwellers would be threatened if the park, which straddles the districts of Nunukan, Malinau and West Kutai in East Kalimantan, was used in Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) schemes. “We reject any REDD+ programs taking place in the park, because there is so much at stake,” Izal Wardana, executive director of Walhi’s East Kalimantan office, said on Tuesday. “Such programs will further marginalize the indigenous people in the forest to the extent that they won’t be able to continue with their way of life.”

Indonesia investigates rainforest agreement breaches

By Michael Sandelson and Lyndsey Smith, The Foreigner, 29 February 2012 | Authorities in Indonesia are investigating what could be a violation of the forestry agreement held with Norway, reports say. The inquiry comes after the Aceh Province governor apparently gave permission for a palm oil plantation in one of the preserved parts. Following an agreement between Norway and Indonesia, Norway promised up to six billion kroner if the country could preserve their rainforests and peat bogs. The area became protected in May 2011. The deal stipulates maps for protected areas must be updated every six months, but the presentation of Decembers’ shows one protected area was no longer marked as so on the map. Ambassador Evind Homme has said the Indonesian government is still looking into the issue. “The moratorium is one of Indonesia’s chosen tools for reducing deforestation. Any violation of the moratorium is taken seriously, therefore.”

Habitat loss drives Sumatran tiger to verge of extinction

Zeenews.com, 29 February 2012 | The destruction of vegetation is driving the Sumatran tiger to the brink of extinction, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) researchers say. The Sumatran tiger, native to Indonesia, could be the fourth type of tiger to disappear from the wild thanks to deforestation and the loss of thick groundcover, also known as understory cover, said Sunarto, a WWF tigert expert, who led the study, the first to investigate the use of both forests and plantation areas for tiger habitat. Although tigers prefer forest to plantation areas, the study found that the most important factor was that availability of thick ground-level vegetation which apparently serves as an environmental necessity for tiger habitat, regardless of location, the journal Public Library of Science ONE reported.

DFID awaits audit report on WWF Tanzania

By Finnigan Wa Simbeye, DailyNews, 29 February 2012 | Britain’s Department for International Development (DFID) is eagerly awaiting an audit report on allegations of financial irregularities in the World Wildlife Fund for Nature Tanzania office before deciding the future relation with the local office. DFID Media and Communications Advisor Eunice Urio said in a statement in Dar es Salaam on Tuesday that the Britons have zero tolerance on corruption and in case of any hint of embezzlement, appropriate measures will be taken to safeguard UK taxpayers’ money and recover any lost cent… Norwegian Embassy suspended funds allocated to two projects including a REDD Readiness Project being carried out at Rufiji delta in Coast region last January following reports of financial irregularities.

Possible embezzlement halts WWF-run REDD project in Tanzania

By Jeremy Hance, mongabay.com, 29 February 2012 | Two conservation and community projects in Tanzania have been halted after the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) reported possible corruption. WWF is running the projects with funds from the Norwegian government. One of the projects is a pilot REDD project, a program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in tropical, developing countries. “We have had an issue with fraud in two programs in Tanzania and when we had a basis for acting, there was a firm response. We believe this is what we owe our many honest, committed staff and our donors and supporters,” Phil Dickie with WWF-International told mongabay.com. “We are continuing to investigate and have installed an interim management team.” In response to the WWF announcement the Norwegian government has suspended funding for the time being to the projects.

1 March 2012

Whatever Happened to the REDD+ Partnership?

By David Ritter, Global Policy Journal, 1 March 2012 | Little things can be telling: the co-chairmen of this week’s meeting were only ever introduced by their first names, and delegates were likewise only referred to by their first names. One delegate described the feeling of the gathering as ‘like a family’. Another privately cautioned on saying or asking anything too critical ‘because this is a partnership, it is meant to be friendly’. Politics, it seemed, was ostensibly to be left outside so REDD could be reduced to a seemingly technocratic and harmonious discussion among family and friends. There is little reason to doubt the earnest good intentions according to their lights, of the great majority of those in the room. But sadly absent is the level of political heft combined with the sense of dire urgency that was envisaged in May 2009.

Carbon Canopy: A Model for Solving Problems by Protecting Rather Than Destroying Our Natural Resources

By Robert Cabin, Huffington Post, 1 March 2012 | A consortium of forward-thinking environmental groups led by the Dogwood Alliance, major corporations such as Staples and Coca Cola, and large and small private landowners is demonstrating that even in today’s tough economic times and post-post partisan political landscape, it is possible to create a thriving economy by protecting rather than destroying our natural resources. Working as partners rather than foes, this consortium has launched a paradigm-shifting project called the Carbon Canopy that is attracting international attention. In February, the World Resources Institute, one of the largest environmental policy think tanks in the world, issued a brief highlighting the broader importance of the Carbon Canopy’s work in the Southern Appalachians. The Carbon Canopy is developing markets that advance forest preservation and sustainable management by compensating landowners for the environmental benefits created by healthy forests…

Bacteria may help oil palm decrease GHG emissions and improve carbon storage

By Michelle Kovacevic, CIFOR Forests Blog, 1 March 2012 | Bacteria introduced to palm oil seedlings could help reduce the harmful greenhouse gasses emitted by the plant and improve its carbon sequestration properties, says an environmental expert. “Microbes in the soil play a critical role in the breakdown of nitrogen from the fertilisers used to grow the plant. The problem is that after clearing the forest there is a large decline in soil microbial activity so the nitrogen accumulates and is released into the atmosphere as nitrous oxide – a GHG that is 300 times more powerful in heating the atmosphere than carbon dioxide,” said Neil Fuller, an environmental consultant with Agrinos in Indonesia, at the International Conference on Oil Palm and Environment (ICOPE) in Bali last week. Nitrogen plays a central role in plant development but crop demand for nitrogen far exceeds that which exists in the soil naturally, so farmers often supplement soil with nitrogen fertilisers.

[Guyana] 360 mining lots to be allocated by lottery

By Kwesi Isles, Demerara Waves, 1 March 2012 | Some 360 mining parcels are to be allocated by way of lottery this month in a move that authorities say is aimed at ensuring fairness and quelling suspicions that big mining companies will get the edge over their smaller counterparts. “The way it’s going in the lottery is to ensure that we have a very open and fair system and not any individual or the minister sitting down and awarding areas, rather it is done through a fair and a tested process,” Natural Resources and the Environment Minister, Robert Persaud told a news conference on Thursday. Also present were Commissioner of the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) Karen Livan and other GGMC officials. International and local mining companies as well as small-scale miners have been rushing to the ‘backdam’ for the precious yellow metal whose price continues to soar and stood at US$1,721 per ounce on the London Daily Fix on Thursday.

Guyana to seek mining investments at Toronto expo

By Kwesi Isles, Demerara Waves, 1 March 2012 | Investment opportunities available in Guyana’s mining and petroleum exploration sectors are to be showcased at a Mining Investment Show in Canada this weekend. Natural Resources and the Environment Minister Robert Persaud on Thursday said the March 4 – 7 event organised by the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada presents a very important opportunity for Guyana. “That convention usually attracts close to 30,000 delegates having about 2,700 companies not only from Canada but from outside of Canada and so for us an entire day has been dedicated and it would be on Sunday,” he told reporters at a news briefing. Persaud, who will be attending the Toronto expo, said they are eager to be part of the event and have meetings planned with investors, potential investors and representatives of the Canadian government particularly in the area of natural resources and environmental management.

EU ‘boycott’ of Indonesian palm oil is a lie, envoy says

By Linda Yulisman, Jakarta Post, 1 March 2012 | Debunking media reports and statements made by spin doctors, European Union (EU) Ambassador to Indonesia and Brunei Julian Wilson says Indonesian palm oil enjoys unrestricted access to the European markets and is growing at an annual rate of over 20 percent. “If there is a ban, how can the market be expanding at over 20 percent … If we do have a ban, it would be the most inefficient ban in history,” Julian said at a seminar on palm oil hosted by the Indonesian Agriculture Ministry, the EU and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in Jakarta on Wednesday. Julian said a boycott of palm oil imports from Indonesia would be impossible, not only because of high consumer demand for palm oil in food and cosmetics but also because the trade of palm oil is protected by the free trade practices implemented by the EU and the WTO.

Official report confirms presence of ‘hiding tribe’ at Paraguay ranch

Survival International, 1 March 2012 | In an official report, Paraguay’s Department of Indian Affairs INDI has confirmed that an uncontacted tribe is living on farmland in the northern Chaco region owned by a controversial ranching company. Signs of the uncontacted Ayoreo Indians have been found on land owned by Brazilian company River Plate. The investigation shows clear signs of the so-called ‘hiding tribe’s’ presence, detailing footprints, holes dug to capture tortoises and broken branches. INDI warned, ‘The Indians living in the area are forced to flee to other areas to avoid being discovered…to ignore the knowledge possessed by the original owners of the Chaco forest would be a foolish mistake.’ The evidence will have consequences for controversial cattle ranching companies River Plate and BBC S.A. who have already been accused of putting the lives of the Ayoreo at risk.

2 March 2012

Governments Embrace Carbon Voluntary Market: Report

By John McGarrity, Reuters, 2 March 2012 | A growing number of national and regional governments are likely to use voluntary carbon credits to meet mandatory climate targets, a report by U.S. research company Ecosystem Marketplace said on Thursday. The report said about 20 government programs had engaged with the voluntary carbon market, despite doubts by some companies, green groups, policymakers and consumers that carbon credits are an appropriate means of offsetting emissions. “In a few short years, governments have shifted from skepticism to acceptance of the voluntary carbon offset market as a valid complement to regulation,” said Ecosystem Marketplace’s carbon program manager Molly Peters-Stanley. She added: “Some voluntary programs are even writing the rules for regulated carbon markets as governments outsource a growing list of market functions to independent bodies – leaning on their accumulated experience with carbon offset projects.”

Voluntary carbon offsetting using forests on the rise despite climate risks

Energy and Environmental Management, 2 March 2012 | Voluntary carbon offset schemes using forest plantations are being increasingly used by governments and states despite an increase in drought and disease affecting forests that raises concerns about their reliability. A new survey of 15 national and sub-national government agencies around the world that have incorporated voluntary climate change offsetting into their strategies shows that their use is on the increase. Many of these schemes use the planting of woodland or forests to claim an amount of carbon dioxide sequestration equivalent to that emitted elsewhere. In Britain, the Forestry Commission last year set up the Woodland Carbon Code for this purpose, even though the Commission itself confesses that it is worried about the impact of climate change on its own forests.

UN support for soil carbon

By Matthew Cawood, Stock & Land, 2 March 2012 | The United Nations has thrown its support behind soil carbon, but Australian attempts to create a market mechanism to reward the building of soil carbon reserves are still mired in complexity. The United Nations Environment Program’s (UNEP) 2012 yearbook stated building the world’s soil carbon stocks was an urgent necessity. About 60 per cent of the carbon held in the soil in the 19th Century had since been lost to land use changes, UNEP estimated, with much more to come if forests, grasslands and peatlands continued to be destroyed. Destruction of soil carbon creates double trouble. The release of carbon into the atmosphere increases the potential for global warming, thus climate change, while reducing the capacity of soils to withstand the effects of climatic extremes like drought and flood. Both sides of Australian politics agree on the notion of building soil carbon, albeit with different mechanisms.

Clark Labs Releases New Video Demonstrating REDD Deforestation Modeling with Land Change Modeler

Clark Labs press release, 2 March 2012 | Clark Labs of Clark University is pleased to announce that a new video has been added to the video series on its website. This latest video, entitled REDD Deforestation Modeling with Land Change Modeler in IDRISI, introduces the new REDD modeling feature tool included in the latest release of IDRISI, the Selva Edition. This video demonstrates how to model baseline land cover change and to predict future “with project” scenarios, as well as how these scenarios will impact projected GHG emissions through the implementation of a REDD project. A REDD project proposal, or the Project Design Document submitted to the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) Organization, requires maps and statistics of GHG emissions, based on various scenarios and standards. The new REDD analysis tool within Land Change Modeler facilitates the creation of these VCS outputs at the specified reporting intervals.

EIB agrees loan for Chinese forestry projects

Argus Media, 2 March 2012 | The European Investment Bank (EIB) will provide China with a €250mn ($330mn) loan to help fund forestry projects for climate change mitigation, the bank said on 1 March. The framework loan agreement, which was signed by EIB vice-president Magdalena Arza and China’s minister of finance Li Yong, will finance up to eight pre-selected investment schemes in the country. The EIB will perform due diligence on each project to ensure its viability. “The bank is pleased to contribute to the efforts of the Chinese government to tackle the global challenges posed by climate change,” Arza said. “This loan also represents a further step in our commitment to abate greenhouse gas emissions and is the latest in a series of very successful operations with the Chinese authorities in this area.”

[Indonesia] Muara Tae videoblog: The death of a forest

By Tom Johnson, EIA International, 2 March 2012 | During the past year EIA, along with our Indonesian partner Telapak, has sought to draw attention to the fate of the Dayak Benuaq. For more than three centuries, they have used these forests sustainably and it is due to their careful husbandry that any still stands. Their fight for the right to maintain their traditional livelihoods pitches them against the might of the Indonesian Government, with its stodgy bureaucracy, and multi-million-dollar companies headquartered in Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur. In January this year, EIA travelled into the interior of East Kalimantan to meet the Dayak Benuaq, bear witness to their struggle and bring their story to the wider world.

Korea to Plant Trees in Indonesia for Carbon Emission Credits

The Chosun Ilbo (English Edition), 2 March 2012 | Korea plans to receive 100 million tons of carbon emission credits over the next decade in return for planting trees on a 200,000-hectare plot of land in Indonesia. That amount of credits would normally cost W2.2 trillion (US$1=W1,116), or $20 per ton, but Korea will save more than W1 trillion through the tree-planting deal. Park Jong-ho, an official at the Korea Forest Service, said, “Our government signed an MOU with the Indonesian government on Jan. 26 aimed at preventing deforestation.” This relates to a United Nations-led initiative called Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) in Developing Countries. Under the MOU, Korea will first plant tress in a 14,000-hectare area of rainforest in Indonesia’s Sumatra region at a cost of $10 million. “This is a pilot project, but we plan to expand the area of coverage to 200,000 hectares by 2020 and earn 100 million tons of carbon emission credits.”

[Indonesia] Greenpeace accuses paper giant of illegal logging

By Margareth S. Aritonang, Jakarta Post, 2 March 2012 | Environmental organization Greenpeace Indonesia has accused Sinar Mas Group-owned industry giant Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) of illegally exploiting protected trees. A year-long investigation carried out by Greenpeace’s activists on APP’s Indah Kiat Perawang mill in Riau province has identified that least 46 of 56 sample logs were allegedly from ramin trees (Gonystylus). The logs, which were up to one meter in diameter, were found mixed in with other timber from rainforest trees at the mill last year, Greenpeace alleged. “Our investigation has found that APP is breaking the Indonesian law, driving Sumatran tigers and ramin trees closer to extinction and undermining CITE, the international conservation agreement governing trade of protected species. This is contradictory to APP’s public claim to have a zero tolerance for illegal timber,” Bustar Maitar, head of Greenpeace’s Global Forest Network for Indonesia, said on Thursday.

Corruption allegations hit WWF programmes in Tanzania

By Kizito Makoye, AlertNet, 2 March 2012 | The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) in Tanzania is embroiled in a corruption scandal over the alleged misappropriation of Norwegian aid aimed at helping civil society organisations build capacity, Norwegian and WWF officials said… An external auditing firm, Ernest & Young, has been brought in to carry out an investigation into the problems, WWF officials said. The auditing firm’s initial report, seen by AlertNet Climate, suggests that a share of NOK25million (approximately $1.3 million) injected by Norway into a project called ‘Strengthening Capacity of Environmental Civil Society Organizations’ has disappeared… The director of WWF-Norway, Rasmus Hansson, confirmed that “per diem” expenses are central to the auditor’s investigation… In December, the Norwegian Ambassador in Tanzania, Ingunn Klepsvikse, visited WWF-Tanzania to ask for documented evidence on the use of Norwegian taxpayers’ money.

3 March 2012

Carbon prices: Breathing difficulties

The Economist, 3 March 2012 | European Union’s Emissions Trading System (ETS), the world’s biggest carbon market, has two main aims. One is to restrict the carbon-dioxide emissions of the 11,000 companies trading on it to an agreed cap. The other is to give these firms an incentive to invest in clean technology. On the first count, thanks to the economic malaise, the ETS is a success: its participants’ emissions are well below the current cap. On the second, for the same reason, it is failing wretchedly. Oversupplied with permits, the market has tanked. Having reached nearly €30 ($47) a tonne in 2008, the carbon price is now persistently under €10: much too low to prod firms to make their investment plans greener.

Guyana owes enhanced international image to LCDS

By Telesha Persaud, Guyana Chronicle, 3 March 2012 | Guyana has always been challenged by a negative image overseas, but since the Low-Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) came into being, a lot of that has changed. So said Advisor to the President, and Head of the Office of Climate Change, Shyam Nokta, when he spoke recently with this newspaper at his Office of the President, office, at Shiv Chanderpaul Drive in Georgetown. Nokta said that change in the overseas perception of Guyana came about especially in view of the country’s development over the last ten years. “No longer are we only known for Jonestown or the Omai spill, or for so many other negative things. Our country, because of its economic progress, is being seen as a good area for investment. With that, it’s opening up more interest. At the international level, Guyana is being known out there for more positive things,” he observed.

4 March 2012

[Guyana] Jagdeo tagged to be roving ambassador in lead up to Rio+20 conference and beyond

Stabroek News, 4 March 2012 | Former president of Guyana, Bharrat Jagdeo, could be playing the role of roving ambassador for the world’s rainforest countries in the preparations for the Rio+20 conference in Brazil in June this year. Rio+20 is the short name for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Develop-ment to take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in June 2012 – twenty years after the landmark 1992 Earth Summit in Rio. [R-M: Subscription needed.]


PHOTO Credit: Image created using wordle.net.

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