REDD in the news: 19-25 March 2012

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REDD in the news: 19-25 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.

Assessing REDD+ performance of countries with low monitoring capacities: the matrix approach

By M Bucki, D Cuypers, P Mayaux, F Achard, C Estreguil and G Grassi, Environmental Research Letters, March 2012 | Estimating emissions from deforestation and degradation of forests in many developing countries is so uncertain that the effects of changes in forest management could remain within error ranges (i.e. undetectable) for several years. Meanwhile UNFCCC Parties need consistent time series of meaningful performance indicators to set credible benchmarks and allocate REDD+ incentives to the countries, programs and activities that actually reduce emissions, while providing social and environmental benefits. Introducing widespread measuring of carbon in forest land (which would be required to estimate more accurately changes in emissions from degradation and forest management) will take time and considerable resources.

Leyte piloted for forest resource assessment for REDD-Plus project

By Gerard Reyes, Leyte Samar Daily Express, March 2012 | The province of Leyte has been piloted by the Deutsche Gesselschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) for the Forest Resource Assessment Plot Establishment for REDD Plus Project. This was according to Gordon Ignacio of GIZ. Several barangays in different towns of Leyte were identified for the forest resource assessment (FRA) which will be conducted by a team of foresters. There are 50 plots in Leyte, 50 plots in Southern Leyte, 100 plots for REDD area. Of the 200 identified plots, 138 has been assessed. Of the 100 plots of REDD there are 42 LGUs within Southern Leyte, 15 plots in Energy Development Corp. (EDC) areas, and 17 LGUs in Northern Leyte. These areas may vary in characteristics, it is either forested areas, open canopy, close canopy, sparsely forested and kaingin.

Justice for Forests: Improving Criminal Justice Efforts to Combat Illegal Logging report

World Bank, March 2012 | The report shows how countries can effectively fight illegal logging through the criminal justice system, punish organized crime, and trace and confiscate illegal logging profits. The report underlines that to be effective, law enforcement needs to look past low-level criminals and look at where the profits from illegal logging go. By following the money trail, and using tools developed in more than 170 countries to go after ‘dirty money,’ criminal justice can pursue criminal organizations engaged in large-scale illegal logging and confiscate any ill-gotten gains. The new report provides policy and operational recommendations for policy makers and forestry and law enforcement actors to integrate illegal logging into criminal justice strategies, foster international and domestic cooperation among policy makers, law enforcement authorities and other key stakeholders, and make better use of financial intelligence.

19 March 2012

How best to monitor biodiversity in REDD+ projects?

By Jeremy Hance, mongabay.com, 19 March 2012 | If done well, REDD+ projects (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) may not only save carbon rich forests, but also protect embattled biodiversity. But what’s the best way to ensure both and carbon and species are preserved under REDD+, a program that proposes to pay nations to keep forests standing? A new study in mongabay.com’s open access journal Tropical Conservation Society (TCS) argues that a one-size-fits-all approach to monitoring biodiversity in REDD+ projects would not only be difficult to develop, but would likely fail given vast differences in forest ecology and threats worldwide. Instead local sites should develop monitoring programs based on a generally approved roadmap. “The impact of REDD+ on biodiversity could potentially be negative if low-carbon, high-biodiversity forests are replaced with high-carbon, low-biodiversity forests…”

Renowned Cairns-based researcher pleads to leave forests standing

The Cairns Post, 19 March 2012 | A Cairns-based researcher has won major international recognition for his work in studying the decline of the world’s rainforest habitats. Prof William Laurance, an Australian Laureate at James Cook University in Cairns, has received the 2012 Heineken Prize for Environmental Science valued at $141,000. The award recognises Prof Laurance’s research on the effects of habitat fragmentation, deforestation, hunting and fire on the Amazon, as well as his work as a science communicator, making an important contribution to public debate on the preservation of the South American rainforests.

[Australia] New Forests Buys Controlling Interest in Green Triangle

By Ray Brindal, Wall Street Journal, 19 March 2012 | Forestry concern Gunns has completed the first stage of a sale of the Green Triangle forest estate with funds managed by New Forests taking a controlling interest in the 46,000 hectare estate. The Australian softwood plantation includes the lands and trees of the estate which spans across 64 properties. New Forests managing director David Brand said institutional investors are increasingly seeking real assets such as timberland as part of their investment programs, particularly opportunities which offer steady cash yields from sustainable timber harvests. The group has more than A$1.25 billion in assets under management in Australasia, the U.S. and the Asia Pacific. Gunns’ equity interest in the estate following the sale is valued around 120 million Australian dollars (US$127.2 million), the company said in a statement.

[Australia] Forests agency sued for logging

By Tom Arup, The Age, 19 March 2012 | State-owned timber agency VicForests has been hit with court action by the Environment Department after it allegedly logged protected rainforest. The court battle relates to VicForests’ logging operations in the Orbost Forest District in East Gippsland, where the Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment says unauthorised harvesting of rainforest and buffer areas took place. A spokeswoman for the department confirmed the prosecution, saying charges laid on VicForests included “undertaking an unauthorised timber harvesting operation in a state forest”. VicForests has also been charged with directing its contractor to log rainforest against timber harvesting licence conditions.

Cambodia sells off national park for city-sized pleasure resorts

By Jeremy Hance, mongabay.com, 19 March 2012 | The Cambodian government has handed over nearly 20 percent of Botum Sakor National Park to a Chinese real-estate firm building a massive casino and resorts in the middle of pristine rainforest, reports Reuters. The city-sized resorts, costing $3.8 billion, will include a 64 kilometers highway, an airport, hotels, and golf courses. Botum Sakur is home to a number of endangered species including the pileated gibbon (Hylobates pileatus) and Asian elephant (Elephas maximus). “Cambodia is giving away 36,000 hectares to a foreign entity with little if any oversight or obvious benefit to the people,” Mathieu Pellerin, a researcher with Cambodian human rights group Licadho, told Reuters. Construction of the pleasure cities by Union Group is displacing local Cambodians, some who have lived there for generations.

[DR Congo] Oil exploration approved in Africa’s oldest park, Virunga National Park

By Jeremy Hance, mongabay.com, 19 March 2012 | Permits for controversial oil exploration in Virunga National Park have been released after request by NGO Global Witness. Oil company, SOCO International, has confirmed it has received two permits to undertake preliminary exploration, including seismic tests, in the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Located in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Virunga is famous for its population of the Critically Endangered mountain gorillas (Gorilla beringei beringei). “Undertaking oil exploration or exploitation on the ground in a UNESCO World Heritage site constitutes a breach of the Convention on World Heritage, as well as DRC’s own laws and constitution,” said Colin Robertson with Global Witness in a press release. Last year the DRC stated it would not allow oil exploration in the park until a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) was conducted.

[Guyana] $49M collected in royalties for mining in Amerindian communities from 2006-2011

By Adele Rampersaud, Guyana Chronicle, 19 March 2012 | The economic activities in Amerindian communities will be boosted with the transfer of royalties collected from mining in these communities. Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment, Robert Persaud, yesterday presented a cheque for $49M to Amerindian Affairs Minister, Pauline Sukhai, representing royalties for the period 2006 to 2011. The cheque was presented in the boardroom of the Natural Resources Ministry at its Shiv Chanderpaul Drive location. The money will be transferred to a fund which the minister, under the Amerindian Act is designated to name. Minister of Amerindian Affairs, Pauline Sukhai, stated that it is important to note that since February 2011, a mechanism was put in place to provide the protocol and procedures for the use of the funds.

[Indonesia] RI forestry minister to summons Greenpeace and APP over ramin accusation

Antara News, 19 March 2012 | The forestry minister will ask for clarification of Greenpeace`s allegation that Asian Pulp and Paper (APP) has used ramin wood as a raw material in its production, an official said. “We have asked Greenpeace and APP to meet with the forestry minister tomorrow (Tuesday, March 21),” said Darori, the director-general of forest protection and natural resource conservation, in Palembang, South Sumatra, on Monday. Darori said he had earlier asked the foreign nongovernmental organization to be a reporting witness at a hearing, but “regretfully, they would not do it.” According to forestry rules, the use of ramin is not illegal, he said. Ramin is also classified in Appendix II of CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species), which means it can be traded according to regulations and with notifications from the countries involved. “Therefore, we will prioritize clarification from Greenpeace,” Darori said in his comments about his next move…

[Indonesia] Indigenous Groups Gaining Support, Protection, Rights

By Labodalih Sembiring, Jakarta Globe, 19 March 2012 | The event was a prelude to the fourth Congress of Indigenous Peoples of the Archipelago, which will be held in Tobelo, North Halmahera, from April 19 to 25. Participants from different ethnic groups will discuss the steps needed to empower indigenous peoples to attain economic self-sufficiency and political rights. In 2011, AMAN sent the House of Representatives a draft for a law to protect indigenous rights. AMAN secretary-general Abdon Nababan said the move had yielded no significant result while conflicts that victimize indigenous communities, especially those related to land use and ownership, continue unabated. “The congress will also safeguard the contents of the draft,” Nababan said. “There needs to be a special committee or institution, which includes both the government and indigenous communities, that can resolve conflicts involving customary land.”

The Nigerian UN REDD+ University Programme

By Ogunyemi Bankole Taiwo, Nigerian Youth Climate Coalition (NYCC), 19 March 2012 | Today marks a great day for the Future of Forestry Conservation and the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) Processes in Nigeria as the federal Ministry of Environment has adopted the REDD+ practices via the inauguration of the NIGERIAN REDD+ University which is a short basic course on the REDD+ processes. The Programme started with an opening prayer from a Community Chief while the Chairman Cross River State Forestry Commission gave the opening speech indicating that this is the first if its kind conference here in Nigeria and the word ‘Calabar’ means “Come live and be at rest”. Contextually, he spoke about the need for introducing REDD to Nigeria, the benefits to communities and why Cross river has been passionate about conserving its forest reserves.

Fauna & Flora International launches REDD+ Community Carbon Pools Programme in Vietnam

By Leonard Reyes, Fauna and Flora International, 19 March 2012 | In February 2012, Fauna & Flora International (FFI) officially launched its REDD+ Community Carbon Pools programme in Vietnam, which will look at the practical implementation of REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation). Managed by FFI in partnership with the NTFP-Exchange Programme and PanNature, the programme will share knowledge gained from projects in Cambodia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam in order to overcome some of the core challenges associated with REDD+… FFI’s EU-supported REDD+ Community Carbon Pools programme aims to address this challenge by bringing together groups from neighbouring community forest areas under a common management and benefit sharing system.

[Zimbabwe] Investors sought for landmark African REDD project

IFCA, 19 March 2012 | South Pole Carbon is seeking upfront investment to help finance one of the world’s largest REDD projects to date, covering over one million hectares in Zimbabwe. The Lake Kariba project is being developed by South Pole and Carbon Green Africa to avoid three million tonnes of CO2 emissions from deforestation and forest degradation over the next five years. The project partners expect to generate a generous revenue flow in resulting VCU forest carbon offsets for the voluntary market under the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS). The project is also being verified to the CCB Standard’s Gold level for its social and environmental benefits. These co-benefits include improved livelihoods for up to 900,000 people in the project area and habitat protection for highly endangered and vulnerable fauna including the African wild dog, African elephant and lion while providing a wildlife corridor between several national parks and reserves.

20 March 2012

Turning to communities to protect forests

By Saleem Shaikh and Sughra Tunio, AlertNet, 20 March 2012 | Tackling climate change through sustainable forest management is being promoted as a way forward to fight greenhouse gases. Good management of forests practices can contribute to climate change mitigation and adaptation. It also can help strengthen food security, reduce poverty, and achieve economic development and sustainable land use – critical contributors to sustainable development. However, it is necessary that improved forest management practices for climate change mitigation and adaptation should be planned and executed in tandem, for they are intimately linked. Achieving sustainable forest management lies in helping forest-reliant community become aware of and adopt practices that can create enormous advantages for their lives and for the environment.

Chipping away at deforestation

By Rose Jacobs, Financial Times, 20 March 2012 | Ed Lascelles vividly remembers the first time he came across Helveta, a small Oxfordshire-based software company. As a venture capitalist, Lascelles sees two or three business plans every day. But Helveta’s stood out, thanks to some unusual details included in one pilot project. The company recruited pygmies in the Congo basin to use what they thought were “boxes of magic” to scan trees. The boxes of magic were, in fact, Motorola handsets, and the Baka pygmies were using them to scan barcodes affixed to trees. They then tapped picture icons to record whether a certain tree was sacred, or bore fruit on which the tribe depended.

Carbon investments: Would you credit it?

By Richard Clark, Financial Times, 20 March 2012 | Carbon credits are the new talk around the investment community, offering promises of huge returns along with the added bonus of saving the planet. But, looking beyond the hubbub on the trading floors, is the carbon market an over inflated bubble or is this really the beginning of a new, stable market? Contrary to the regurgitated scripts of some carbon brokers, there are no guarantees, there are risks and there are downsides. However, if done the right way, there is also the potential to make incredible returns.

Airline CO2 friction is hint of new climate politics

By Gerard Wynn, Reuters, 20 March 2012 | Threats of retaliation by China and India against a European Union plan to charge airlines for their carbon emissions is misplaced, given their weak legal case and a drift towards more such unilateral climate action. Countries in Durban at the end of last year topped off years of lumbering U.N. talks by agreeing that a new climate protocol should come into force by 2020, with more vagueness about exactly what that should be, leaving a vacuum in national action in the meantime. That slow rate of progress underscores how multilateral climate action has faded over the past decade. It also underlines why it would be madness to expect the U.N. body, the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), to galvanize global action to curb carbon emissions from passenger jets, as countries asked them to do 15 years ago.

World’s cloud forests ‘headed for destruction’

Physorg.com, 20 March 2012 | Many of the world’s rarest and richest forests – its high-altitude cloud forests – could be all-but obliterated by 2080 due to the combined impact of man-made climate change and habitat destruction. Writing in the journal Nature Climate Change an international scientific team has warned of the near-total loss of one of the world’s most delicate ecosystems, the Mexican cloud forest, along with 70 per cent of its plant and animal species, as a result of human pressures. “Cloud forests occur only at certain high altitudes and their species are exceptionally vulnerable to the loss of the cool, moist environment that sustains them,” explains lead author Rocio Ponce-Reyes of Australia’s ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions (CEED) and The University of Queensland. “Habitat loss and degradation by human encroachment are the main threats to cloud forests around the world at the moment,” says Ms Ponce-Reyes.

Female negotiators at Rio+20 must forge common front to give a voice to forest-dependent women

By Catriona Moss, CIFOR Forests Blog, 20 March 2012 | Female negotiators across all development sectors at this year’s Rio+ 20 conference must form a united front to push for recognition and polices that support women in the sustainable management of forests – an effort vital for the success of countries hoping to make the transition to a greener and more sustainable economy. “While women’s interests may differ across the development divide, many face very similar challenges. Women negotiators must forge a common front in order to champion and give a voice to all women, especially many rural women who live adjacent or within forests who lack access to decision-making forums,” said Esther Mwangi, scientist with the Center for International Forestry Research.

Deforestation rates double in the Congo Basin: Report

By Daniel Cooney, CIFOR Forests Blog, 20 March 2012 | Although the level of deforestation in the world’s second-largest tropical forest remains relatively low compared to similar regions in Asia and Latin America, the latest satellite-based monitoring data has revealed that the annual rates of gross deforestation in the Congo Basin have doubled since 1990, according to a new study. The report, State of the Forest, is the most recent comprehensive assessment of forest cover in the six-nation Congo Basin, Central Africa. It cites population growth, immigration, economic development and global demand for natural resources as the major pressures on the forests. While the report says the evaluation of threats to forests remains “a delicate exercise with many uncertainties,” it lists five primary drivers of deforestation: fuel wood extraction, agriculture, mining and oil extraction, expansion of biofuels and logging.

[Kenya] The rise and fall of biofuels and why they failed key test

By George Wachira, Business Daily, 20 March 2012 | An energy expert asked me the other day if I still believed in biofuels as feasible alternative transport fuels for Kenya. We had met at a biofuels conference in Dar-es-Salaam about four years ago where I presented a paper. Around the same time I was the vice-chairman of the National Biofuels Committee at the Ministry of Energy. My hesitant answer was that emphasis on biofuels has reduced, globally and here in Kenya, as priorities have definitely changed.

Belize enacts moratorium on rosewood

By Robin Oisín Llewellyn, mongabay.com, 20 March 2012 | The Belizean Government has banned the harvesting and export of rosewood with immediate effect, in response to the widespread clearing of the hardwood species for the Asian market. A government statement released on Friday, March 16th claimed the moratorium was necessary “to carry out an orderly assessment of the situation on the ground and as a first response to regulate the timber trade occurring in southern Belize.” The government would subsequently institute “a rigorous regulatory framework throughout the country.” Southern Belize had been the remaining stronghold of Honduran Rosewood (Dalbergia stevensonii) until it became subject to widespread felling for the Chinese market. The ruling United Democratic Party (UDP) had been criticized for overseeing a situation in which no effective control system was put in place.

21 March 2012

‘Global warming’ gets a rebranding

By Erica Martinson and Jonathan Allen, Politico, 21 March 2012 | Shhhh! Don’t talk about global warming! There’s been a change in climate for Washington’s greenhouse gang, and they’ve come to this conclusion: To win, they have to talk about other topics, like gas prices and kids choking on pollutants. More than two years since Democrats’ cap-and-trade plan died in Congress, the strategic shift represents a reluctant acknowledgment from environmentalists that they’ve lost ground by tackling global warming head-on. Their best bet now lies in a bit of a bait and switch: Help elect global warming fighters by basing campaigns on kitchen-table issues.

Treat Illegal Logging Like Organised Crime, Urges World Bank

By Jim Lobe, IPS, 21 March 2012 | With illegal loggers clearing the equivalent of a football field of the world’s most valuable forests every two seconds, local and international law enforcement systems should target the criminal operations that profit most from the trade, according to a new report released here Tuesday by the World Bank.Criminal justice personnel should deploy the same tools they use to fight drug trafficking and money laundering to investigate, prosecute and punish the kingpins behind large-scale illegal logging, according to the 56-page report… “While it is a step in the right direction for the World Bank to look at what actions are needed to curb illegal logging, what is really needed is for the Bank to look at its own role in financing industrial-scale operations that benefit from legal and illegal clearance of rainforests,” Lindsey Allen, forests programme director at Rainforest Action Network, told IPS.

Many Forests Feeling the Heat from Climate Change

By Elizabeth Freed, Environmental Protection, 21 March 2012 | As the climate gets warmer, many forests are feeling the heat. Impacts range from increased forest fire hazards and tree mortality to detrimental beetle outbreaks and alterations to leaf abundance and bloom. When forest cover or composition changes, there are impacts to the availability of wood products, clean water, recreational opportunities, and habitats for many plants and animals. In recognition of World Forestry Day, March 21, the U.S. Geological Survey reveals the fate of forests from climate change. To sustain the health and production of America’s forests, managers need sound science to guide their decisions. The USGS is involved in several initiatives across the nation and in other countries to provide science to understand climate change impacts to forests.

‘Genocide’ risk in Brazil despite UN push to end racism

Survival International, 21 March 2012 | Calls are growing to stop ‘a real situation of genocide’ inside Brazil’s Amazon, as the UN marks International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Experts warn Brazil’s Awá tribe will face extinction unless more is done to protect their land rights, which are being abused by illegal loggers and cattle ranchers. The UN wants the ‘dignity and rights’ of human beings to be respected globally, however many indigenous communities continue to suffer from ethnic hatred. The Awá are a small tribe of around 355, who have survived brutal massacres. They live in the eastern Amazon, and are one of the world’s last remaining nomadic hunter-gatherer tribes. Some members of the tribe remain uncontacted. The Awá depend on the forest for everything, but it is rapidly disappearing as intensive logging destroys their land.

Forest Carbon Credits from Northwest Cambodia

By Amanda Bradley (PACT), CSR Asia, 21 March 2012 | The Oddar Meanchey Community Forestry REDD project is the first of its kind in Cambodia. It was initiated in 2008 when international consensus crystallized around a mechanism called REDD (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) to compensate developing countries that could successfully protect their existing forests. The loss of forests is responsible for approximately 20 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions, and protecting existing forests is seen as a significant part of the solution to climate change. The key idea behind the Oddar Meanchey project is that if the thirteen participating communities can reduce deforestation in the 64,318 hectares of forest that they have been given rights to manage, they will earn carbon credits that can be sold in the voluntary carbon market.

Khat cultivation in Ethiopia fuels economy, reduces deforestation

By Rachel Rivera, CIFOR Forests Blog, 21 March 2012 | Khat — a leafy plant used as a natural stimulant in the Horn of Africa – has become the backbone of the region’s economy, providing the main source of income for farmers, as well as jobs for thousands of others employed in the value chain. “As households earn more income from khat cultivation, they have reduced their dependence on selling fuel wood – a major driver of deforestation in Africa,” said Habtemariam Kassa, CIFOR scientist and co-author of Khat and livelihood dynamics in the harer higlands of Ethiopia: Significance and challenges. In a region affected by frequent droughts and declining soil fertility, the rise of the farming population in the Harer highlands of Ethiopia over the last 40 years has presented additional challenges to farmers, further limiting arable land and shrinking land holdings for farming households.

Guyana is a ‘visionary pioneer’ in the area of climate mitigation

Guyana Chronicle, 21 March 2012 | Guyana is visionary pioneer in the area of climate mitigation, and has been applauded internationally for developing new and replicable models of ‘payment for forest services’ agreements, such as the MOU with the Kingdom of Norway which will see this country receiving approximately US$250M by 2015 for the carbon storage services of our forests. Additionally, Guyana is now in the final stages of developing the World’s first national level Monitoring, Reporting and Verification (MRV) System which is fully IPCCC compliant. And according to Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment, Mr. Robert Persaud, intensive work has also started on the valuation of the many other ecosystem services that Guyana’s forests have to offer the world. “As Guyanese, we are fortunate to have been blessed with over 18 million hectares of this precious, renewable natural resource.”

Kadin: Indonesian Timber Ready for New EU Rules

By Tito Summa Siahaan, Jakarta Globe, 21 March 2012 | The Indonesia Chamber of Commerce and Industry said the country’s certification system on timber would comply with a new regulation to be imposed by the European Union next year. The certification system would enable the country’s timber companies to gain global recognition, Suryo Bambang Sulistyo, chairman of the group known as Kadin, said on Wednesday. “It will give a competitive edge,” the chairman said at a forestry seminar. Julian Wilson, the EU’s ambassador to Indonesia, hailed the efforts to comply with the EU’s planned timber regulation. “The legality assurance of Indonesian timbers will give exporters the capacity to charge premium price, which will not only maintain its market share but also increase its presence in other markets where similar regulations are applied,” Julian said. He said the regulation known as Timber Legality Verification System (SVLK) would “augment Indonesian timber into a global brand.”

3 new private conservation reserves established by communities in Peru

By Rhett A. Butler, mongabay.com, 21 March 2012 | Three new private conservation areas in the Amazon-Andes region of Peru will help buffer the country’s national park system while offering new opportunities for local people to benefit from protecting ecosystems. The new private conservation areas cover 18,882 hectares (46,659 acres) of habitat ranging from high elevation grasslands to cloud forests to rainforests of the Andean foothills in the departments of Cusco and Madre de Dios. Two of the protected areas were set aside by communities: the 18,695-ha Ukumari Llaqta Private Conservation Area by the Q’eros indigenous community of Japu and the 164-ha Pumataki Private Conservation Area by the Pillco Grande community adjacent to Manu National Park. The third, the 23-ha San Juan Bautista Private Conservation Area near Tambopata Reserve, was contributed by a local family.

22 March 2012

India joins China in boycott of EU carbon scheme

By Anurag Kotoky, Reuters, 22 March 2012 | India joined China in asking its airlines to boycott the European Union’s carbon scheme on Thursday, confirming what a senior Indian government source previously told Reuters and stoking a diplomatic row over the issue. “Though the European Union has directed Indian carriers to submit emissions details of their aircraft by March 31, 2012, no Indian carrier is submitting them in view of the position of the government,” India’s civil aviation minister Ajit Singh said on Thursday. “Hence the imposition of a carbon tax does not arise,” Singh told lawmakers in a written reply. The European Commission was not immediately available to comment.

The world’s kidneys: Why forests matter for World Water Day and Rio+20

By Karin Holzknecht, CIFOR Forests Blog, 22 March 2012 | The fact that trees play a critical role in supplying clean water is a point yet to be fully grasped by many cities in the world. Not New York City, which is actively protecting a forest 100 miles away for the role its trees play in providing the Big Apple with a clean water supply. The surprising role of forests in supplying clean water for one of the most densely populated cities on the planet reminds us that forests also deserve applause for their vital role in sustainable water and food resources as we celebrate World Water Day and the 2012 theme, ‘water and food security’.

Greenpeace calls for zero deforestation globally by 2020

mongabay.com, 22 March 2012 | Greenpeace reiterated its call for an end to deforestation in Brazil by 2015 and globally by 2020 during its launch of an awareness-raising expedition down the Amazon River aboard the Rainbow Warrior. “Brazil is now the sixth largest economy in the world, the largest meat exporter and second largest grain exporter. Brazil’s rise to become the world’s sixth largest economy coincided with consecutive years of decline in deforestation in the Amazon,” said Kumi Naidoo Greenpeace International Executive Director. “Brazil must lead as an example of sustainable development without forest destruction for other forest countries like Indonesia and the Congo.”

Paving the Amazon: Study helps predict potential deforestation rates along major highways

By Fawziah Selamat, CIFOR Forests Blog, 22 March 2012 | CIFOR scientists are helping to estimate the extent of deforestation that accompanies road paving in the Amazon — even before such roads have been built — which could allow state planners to better assess the costs and benefits of development projects in the region. “Road paving is a huge shock to any socio-ecological system and it is important to understand the impact of this kind of infrastructural development so that steps can be taken to minimise the deleterious effects,” said Amy Duchelle, a CIFOR scientist based in Brazil, and co-author of Roads as Drivers of Change: Trajectories across the Tri-National Frontier in MAP, the Southwestern Amazon, published last year in the journal Remote Sensing.

[Guyana] Forester objects to Jagdeo’s appointment at IUCN

Stabroek News, 22 March 2012 | A forester with knowledge of forestry issues here has written to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature protesting its appointment of former President Bharrat Jagdeo as its high-level envoy for sustainable development in forest countries. John Palmer, Senior Associate, Forest Management Trust, Gainesville, Florida and who has written letters to the press here on forestry issues, said that during Jagdeo’s 12-year tenure the national forest policy of 1997 and the national forest plan of 2001 have been “comprehensively ignored” and exports of unprocessed logs to Asia have risen sharply. He added that illegal logging has increased together with gold mining in forested areas.

Palm oil case against ‘Green Governor’ in Indonesia heats up

mongabay.com, 22 March 2012 | Environmental activists have launched an urgent appeal calling for a “just decision” in a court case that has pitted Aceh’s “Green Governor” and palm oil developers against efforts to save endangered orangutans in a Sumatran peat forest. In letters directed toward judges weighing the case in Sumatra’s Aceh Provice, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, the country’s REDD+ authority, the World Bank, and the Governors’ Climate and Forests Task Force (GCF), a coalition of conservation groups says the outcome of the case could have substantial implications for efforts to conserve Indonesia’s remaining forests and peatlands. The case revolves around a recent decision by Aceh Governor Irwardi Yusuf to grant a permit to develop a 1,600-hectare (3,950-acre) oil palm plantation in the heart of Tripa peat swamp, which environmentalists say is a critical habitat for Sumatran orangutans.

[Indonesia] For peat’s sake, we need an overhaul of forestry aid

By Erik Olbrei and Stephen Howes, reneweconomy.com.au, 22 March 2012 | Our research, including fieldwork, from our new discussion paper available here, leads to three main findings. First, KFCP objectives have been quietly but drastically scaled back. The area expected to be re-flooded is now just above 10 percent of the original total… Second, progress on the ground has been slow. Four years on, blocking of major canals, essential for re-flooding, has yet to commence, and only 50,000 seedlings have been planted… Third, turning to the broader context, despite various policy announcements and initiatives, deforestation and peatland conversion continue at a rapid rate in Indonesia. In the broader “Ex Mega Rice Project” area within which KFCP is located, conservation objectives have been wound back, and oil palm plantations are spreading.

REDD+ Safeguards for Vietnam: Key Issues and the Way Forward

RECOFTC, 22 March 2012 | The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) defines safeguards for REDD+ in Decision 1/CP.16 made in Copenhagen in 2010. Decision 1/CP.17 (Durban, 2011) reaffirms the importance of REDD+ safeguards and requests all developing countries undertaking REDD+ actions to report against the safeguards in the future. They address a broad range of social and environmental concerns ranging from biodiversity conservation to forest people’s rights together with the goals to avoid displacement of emissions and reversals of emissions reductions.

23 March 2012

Popping the carbon bubble

By James Leaton, China Dialogue, 23 March 2012 | How much ‘unburnable’ carbon is there on the world’s stock exchanges? Last year, the Carbon Tracker Initiative (CTI) published an analysis asking this question. CTI compared the global ‘carbon budget’ needed to stay below a rise of two degrees Celsius in average temperatures (above pre-industrial levels) with the emissions potential of the proven coal, oil and gas reserves owned by listed companies. The results showed that listed companies own more fossil fuels than can be burned between now and 2050 if we are to have an 80 per cent chance of staying within the two-degree Celsius limit, the international climate-change goal agreed at UN-led talks in Copenhagen in 2009. The International Energy Agency’s (IEA’s) ‘World Energy Outlook 2011’ has since applied this thinking.

Ensuring forest benefits are about more than carbon

Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, 23 March 2012 | Some of the world’s leading environmental researchers meet at the University of Oxford this week to take stock of the United Nations’ policy for reducing deforestation. Called REDD in short, the UN scheme aims to limit global warming by putting a financial value on the carbon stored in trees to make it uneconomic to cut down forests in developing countries. REDD has evolved from its initial aim of reducing deforestation to store carbon to wider promotion of local conservation, livelihoods and poverty alleviation, now called REDD+. Called Beyond Carbon: Ensuring Justice and Equity in REDD+ the conference 23-24 March is focusing on the wider opportunities and benefits of forest protection. It is organised by the Environmental Change Institute and the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research where researchers will present new findings from around the world…

Belo Monte Dam: A spearhead for Brazil’s dam-building attack on the Amazon?

By Philip Fearnside, mongabay.com, 23 March 2012 | Brazil’s Belo Monte Dam on the Xingu River is now under construction despite its many controversies. The Brazilian government has launched an unprecedented drive to dam the Amazon’s tributaries, and Belo Monte is the spearhead for its efforts. Brazil’s 2011-2020 energy-expansion plan calls for building 48 additional large dams, of which 30 would be in the country’s Legal Amazon region. Building 30 dams in 10 years means an average rate of one dam every four months in Brazilian Amazonia through 2020. Of course, the clock doesn’t stop in 2020, and the total number of planned dams in Brazilian Amazonia exceeds 60. The Belo Monte Dam itself has substantial impacts. It is unusual in not having its main powerhouse located at the foot of the dam, where it would allow the water emerging from the turbines to continue flowing in the river below the dam.

Dominica Seeks Millions for Climate Change Strategy

By Peter Richards, IPS, 23 March 2012 | Dominica presented its “2012-2020 Low Carbon Climate Resilient Development Strategy” to donors including the World Bank on Wednesday in a bid to gain wider access to funding and position itself as a regional leader in renewable energy.”Dominica, the Nature Island of the Caribbean with an excess of 60 percent forest cover, has the potential to continue to be one of the few-carbon neutral countries in the world as we today explore the possibilities of harnessing our tremendous geothermal potential,” said Environment Minister Dr. Kenneth Darroux… Consultant George Romelli, who helped draft the document, said it is focused on low-carbon growth, sustainable development, poverty alleviation, and a range of other issues… Romelli warned that while Dominica is fortunate to be in a position of being carbon-neutral, it is losing forested areas because of natural and human events.

[Guyana] Forester objects to Jagdeo’s appointment at IUCN

Stabroek News, 23 March 2012 | A forester with knowledge of forestry issues here has written to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature protesting its appointment of former President Bharrat Jagdeo as its high-level envoy for sustainable development in forest countries. John Palmer, Senior Associate, Forest Management Trust, Gainesville, Florida and who has written letters to the press here on forestry issues, said that during Jagdeo’s 12-year tenure the national forest policy of 1997 and the national forest plan of 2001 have been “comprehensively ignored” and exports of unprocessed logs to Asia have risen sharply.

[Indonesia] On the trail of Ali Jambi: from timber baron to businessman

By Julian Newman, EIA International, 23 March 2012 | Let’s call him Ali Jambi, as that was his nom de guerre when EIA first came across his trail over a decade ago. He was born in Jambi, Indonesia, in 1969. In 2000, EIA was investigating rampant illegal logging of valuable ramin timber in Indonesia. Ramin is found in peat swamp areas, and the hotspots for illegal logging were Central Kalimantan and Riau Province, Sumatra. We began hearing rumours that one man – Ali Jambi – controlled the ramin smuggling trade, making a fortune by ferrying the stolen wood across the Melaka Straits to Malaysia and Singapore. Later in 2000, his name appeared on a list issued by the country’s Ministry of Forestry of the top 12 illegal bosses in Indonesia. By 2001, police in Riau claimed to have completed investigations into Ali Jambi’s ramin racket, but company records obtained by EIA show that by then he had decamped to Singapore…

Save Indonesia Peatland

The Globe Journal, 23 March 2012 | In May, 2010 Indonesia and Norway signed a Letter of Intent, in which Indonesia stated its intent to reduce emissions from forest and peatland conversions, including a 2-year moratorium on new concessions for converting peatlands and natural forests, while Norway would provide $1 billion to assist Indonesia with establishing REDD projects. The 2-year moratorium was established through Presidential Instruction 10/2011, and the first revision of the “Moratorium on New Permits” Map was issued by the Indonesian Minister of Forestry at the end of November, 2011. The map shows the areas of primary forest (in green) and peat lands (in pink) that are effectively off limits and protected from any new exploitation permits. In the new revised version of the map, an area in the Tripa peat swamps on the west coast of Aceh, shown as protected peat land in the first edition of the map issued in May, had been mysteriously removed from the areas under protection.

24 March 2012

Biodiversity monitoring for REDD+ – can a one-size-fits-all approach really work?

The Orangutan Tropical Peatland Project, 24 March 2012 | This very question is asked in an opinion paper just published in Tropical Conservation Science by an OuTrop-led research team. To provide a little background, the United Nations REDD+ scheme (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) is a financial incentive to reduce carbon emissions by conserving forests in developing countries. Because tropical forests are home to a high proportion of the World’s species, REDD+ also offers high hopes for biodiversity conservation. But unfortunately this anticipated co-benefit cannot be guaranteed, particularly if high-carbon, but low-biodiversity forests are favoured at the expense of low-carbon, high-biodiversity forests.

[Indonesia] All of Sumatra regions share hot-spots

Antara News, 24 March 2012 | NOAA-18 Satellite operated by Singapore managed to detect 114 hot-spots throughout Sumatra island, analyst of the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) of the Pekanbaru Meteorological Station Marzuki said here Friday. He said the number of hot-spots is dominated by Riau province with 42 spots, followed by the provinces of Jambi with 22 spots, South Sumatra 14, North Sumatra 10, West Sumatra 7, Bengkulu 6, Aceh 5, Lampung and Bangka Belitung three each, and Riau Islands only two spots. “Actually the number of hot-spots this time is less than those on Wednesday (Mar 21), where Sumatra had 169 hot-spots,” he said. However, the spread of the hot-spots, Marzuki said, was not even like at present. “Some of the provinces where hot-spots have just appeared are Bangka Belitung, Riau Islands and Jambi,” he said. He said the number of hot-spots in March 2012 may be growing rather rapidly…

25 March 2012

[Brazil] FUNAI’s clarifications about voluntary market REDD activities on Indigenous Land

Earth Peoples Blog, 25 March 2012 | (Non-official translation by Earth Peoples) The FUNAI (governmental Buerau of Indigenous Peoples Affairs, Brazil) reports that more than 30 indigenous ethnicities have been approached by companies and / or individuals to enter REDD initiatives, and to negotiate carbon credits under the voluntary market. Contracts and projects have been presented, but not all of them have been effectively closed (signed). The indigenous Peoples Surui, of Indigenous Reservation Sete de Setembro, did not sign a contract; they have conducted their project in coordination with us (FUNAI), and accepted the various recommendations as their specific process, including the certifications VCS (Voluntary Carbon Standard) and CCBA (Climate, Community and Biodiversity), receiving Gold. They have been cautious in the process, evaluating the risks and potential of the voluntary market and the signing of contracts in this context.


PHOTO credit: Image created using wordle.net.

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