REDD in the news: 26 March – 1 April 2012

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REDD in the news: 26 March - 1 April 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.

ITTO Supports Development of Forest Planning Model in Guyana

Climate Change Policy & Practice, March 2012 | The Reducing Deforestation and Forest Degradation and Enhancing Environmental Services in Tropical Forests (REDDES) Programme of the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) has provided support to Guyana to develop a high-level decision support model for forestry. The decision support model was developed under the project “Strengthening Guyana’s Capacity to Manage Forest Resources and Environmental Services through Resources Assessment and Monitoring Changes in Deforestation and Degradation.” It allows for planning and management of forest resources and monitoring of changes in deforestation and forest degradation. Also part of the project, a report was produced on the potential of a market approach to carbon sequestration and biodiversity related ecosystem services (specifically non-timber products and tourism services) in Guyana, which recommends that this approach be pursued if benefits outweigh the costs.

Cultivating REDD+ in Bhutan

By Tashi Samdrup, Ministry of Agriculture and Forests, March 2012 | Recognizing the growing needs for REDD+ scheme in Bhutan, it was recommended from the feasibility study on REDD+ scheme to form a National REDD+ Advisory Group and REDD+ Technical working group. The very reason for institutionalising the working group would be to guide the REDD+ readiness process. These bodies will develop a National REDD+ strategy, setting out the intention and possible pathways over time and formulate a REDD+ Policy. The Group will have the responsibility to give technical and policy guidance to the Bhutanese negotiators to the COPs and the representation in the UN-REDD framework. The Feasibility study On REDD+ has come up with several recommendations and following on from the set of recommendations from the feasibility study, the way forward for the Ministry is to productively engage in the REDD+ program at the national level.

On the Fast Track to Protected, Productive Forests: GEF-5 SFM/REDD+ projects

Global Environment Facility, no date | The Global Environment Facility has a strategy to invest up to $1 billion in the world’s forests in pursuit of multiple environmental and economic benefits from improved management of all types of forest to the strengthening of sustainable livelihoods for people who depend on forest resources. The program known as SFM/REDD+ presents developing countries with plans for sustainable forest management through the reduction of emissions resulting from deforestation and forest degradation. Sustainable forest management is a dynamic concept aiming to maintain and enhance the economic, social, and environmental values of forests for the benefit of both present and future generations. The program recognizes that forests have a range of uses that help achieve multiple benefits for forest users while addressing forest biodiversity, maintaining livelihoods, climate change and consolidating forests’ role in countries’ development projects.

REDD and Indigenous Peoples in Brazil

By Andrew Long, Social Science Research Network, March 2012 | However, the benefits of REDD for indigenous peoples remain deeply uncertain. REDD may undermine traditional indigenous forest activities unless it is carefully designed to preserve them. More difficult design challenges arise with regard to assuring equitable distribution of REDD benefits for tribes and, potentially, among members of a tribe. Most troubling, the bedrock of equitable implementation – free, prior, and informed consent – remains uncertain. Moreover, questions regarding cross-cultural communication and the ability of apparent leaders to legitimately bind tribal members persist for many tribes with limited exposure to nonindigenous society.

26 March 2012

The growing demand for sustainable forestry

By Peter Bowdler, Financial Times, 26 March 2012 | In these unprecedented times, it’s reassuring to know that some investments, such as sustainable forestry, are flourishing. Sustainable forestry investments ultimately produce valuable timber, a commodity constantly in demand and used globally on a daily basis as a building material, for paper manufacture and as a fuel source. The demand for timber is projected to rise in-line with the global population, thus implying an increase of up to 55 per cent by 2050. Basic economics tells us that this growing demand combined with a diminishing supply will make this commodity rise exponentially in value… Forestry investments are proving popular with a new wave of savvy green investors, who are adding forestry to their pension funds, savings plans and family trusts.

Land sharing or land sparing? Reconciling agriculture and biodiversity conservation

By Terry Sunderland, CIFOR Forests Blog, 26 March 2012 | The global human population is estimated to grow to 9 billion by 2050. Not only will there be more mouths to feed, but increasingly wealthy societies will demand a more protein-rich diet, which will require considerable land and investment. With much of the world’s productive land already under some sort of cultivation, policy makers are struggling to reconcile the need to grow additional food with the need to avoid encroaching on already threatened ecosystems. Some advocate a process of “land sharing”, whereby agricultural production takes place within complex multi-functional landscapes. Others favour “land sparing”, where agricultural production on already cultivated or marginal lands is maximised, so that other areas are set aside for the conservation of biodiversity.

UN-REDD Programme Launches 2011 Report

Tropical Forest Group, 26 March 2012 | Just released, this report provides a comprehensive look at the progress made in the last year by the 14 national programs and other partner countries connected to the UN-REDD Programme. UN-REDD has seven integrated work areas designed to address the following outcomes: 1. REDD+ countries have capacities to develop and implement MRV and monitoring systems. 2. Credible, inclusive national governance systems are developed for REDD+ implementation. 3. National systems for transparent, equitable, credible and accountable management of REDD+ funding are strengthened. 4. Indigenous Peoples local communities, CSOs, and other stakeholders participate effectively in national and international REDD+ decision making, strategy development and implementation. 5. Multiple benefits of forests are promoted and realized in REDD+ strategies and actions. 6. REDD+ strategies and related investments effectively catalyze shifts to a green economy. 7. Knowledge…

[Cambodia] Blind eye to forest’s plight

By David Boyle and May Titthara, Phnom Penh Post, 26 March 2012 | Rangers paid by an internationally funded conservation organisation have been directly profiting for years from the very trade they are supposed to be preventing in southwest Cambodia, documents obtained by the Post allege. Former Conservation International (CI) staff members say when they spoke up about endemic corruption that was facilitating the illegal logging of the Central Cardamom Protected Forest (CCPF), which stretches across three provinces, they were fired for doing so. Written complaints from the chief of a community management committee in the CCPF backed by CI detail how luxury timber confiscated by officials on the organisation’s payroll simply “disappeared”, and did so systematically.

[Guyana] Correcting a misleading article

By Peter Persaud, Guyana Chronicle, 26 March 2012 | I wish to refer to a Kaieteur News article under the caption, “Leading Forester slams Jagdeo’s IUCN’s appointment, says illegal logging increased under his Presidential watch” in its issue of Friday, March 23, 2012. Kindly allow me to state the following in relation to this misleading article in the Kaieteur News: 1. Mr John Palmer is not a Guyanese and is therefore not qualified to speak or write on matters pertaining to Guyana. 2. John Palmer who claims to be a Senior Associate of a Forest Management Trust of Florida, USA, has a close relationship with Janet Bulkan, a Guyanese, hence his objective to the IUCN appointment of former President Bharrat Jagdeo as ‘High Level Envoy for Sustainable Development in Forest Countries’ and ‘Patron in Nature’. In other words, John Palmer is basically expressing the views or hogwash of his partner who is also an unqualified critic of Guyana’s forestry management.

[Indonesia] Yudhoyono to Hold Three Bilateral Meetings on Sidelines of Nuclear Summit

Jakarta Globe, 26 March 2012 | Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was scheduled on Monday to hold bilateral meetings with the prime ministers of Pakistan, Norway and Denmark on the sidelines of the second Nuclear Security Summit in South Korea… Yudhoyono will then meet with Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, with partnerships on efforts to tackle climate change, including through Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation Plus (REDD+), high on agenda. Norway has pledged at least $1 billion to support forestry management in Indonesia.

Indonesia’s BGA Palm Oil Operator Aiming for $176m in Singapore IPO

By Joyce Koh, Jakarta Globe, 26 March 2012 | Bumitama Gunajaya Agro Group, which operates oil palm plantations and mills, may raise as much as 221.7 million Singapore dollars ($176 million) in a Singapore initial public offering, said a person with knowledge of the matter. The company, a unit of Jakarta-based Harita Jayaraya, plans to sell 297.6 million shares in the offering, according to a prospectus posted on the Monetary Authority of Singapore’s Web site on Monday. The shares will be offered at between 67.5 and 74.5 Singapore cents apiece, the person said, declining to be named as the information isn’t public. BGA has agreed to sell 124.8 million shares to so-called cornerstone investors including Target Asset Management and Wilmar International, according to the prospectus. It plans to use the IPO proceeds to expand its existing uncultivated land bank and oil palm plantations, as well as to repay loans.

Intl Meeting on Forest Protection Begins in Paraguay

Prensa Latina News Agency, 26 March 2012 | An international meeting on forest protection began in this capital on Sunday, summoned by the United Nations Organization and the Paraguayan government, with the participation of delegations from over 50 countries and organizations related to the environment. The meeting is being held in the framework of the United Nations Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (UN REDD Program) aimed at supplying resources to developing countries to support them to carry out that task as a way to reduce greenhouse effect emissions. The program includes the 8th meeting of the UN-REDD Policy Board and the analysis of the report on the main actions carried out to achieve its main goals.

27 March 2012

Alleviating poverty through forest conservation

By Rotimi Ajayi, vanguardngr.com, 27 March 2012 | Nigeria begins the journey to being part of the UN-REDD in the year 2010 and by 2011, using the Forest Management skill and Forest Resource of Cross River State as a model. The country completed the first of the three stages of REDD+ implementation through preparation of REDD readiness. It submitted it’s REDD+ readiness to UN-REDD Board and it was approved. The approval attracted a sum of 4 million dollars to the country to start a national REDD+ program. As it is today, only Cross River State is significantly ready for REDD+ implementation. However is Cross River the only state with natural Forest in the country? No. There are other states across the country. Ekiti, Ondo, Osun, Ogun, Edo, Delta, Kogi and Kwara State do have some chunks of natural Forest left but so far the States Government have not focused on the benefits that could accrue to their people through this promising UN program.

A Clearer Picture of Tropical Carbon

By Dylan Walsh, New York Times, 27 March 2012 | Tropical forests, alongside boreal forests and wetlands, are prime ecosystems for storing carbon. Now, researchers have created a new high-resolution map of carbon storage in tropical forests that could play an important role in effective forest management. Shades of russet, yellow and deep green between the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn circle the globe, providing the clearest picture yet of the world’s above-ground tropical biomass – essentially, plants and trees. The data are mapped at a resolution that is four times greater than any other previous measurements. Researchers led by Alessandro Baccini at the nonprofit Woods Hole Research Center gathered two years of laser satellite, or Lidar, data to develop the image. “Lidar is very good at telling you how tall and how complex the vertical structure of the forest is,” said Dr. Baccini, an assistant researcher at the center.

Public knowledge on environmental conservation ‘still too low’

By Gerald Kitabu, ippmedia.com, 27 March 2012 | This week Gerald Kitabu interviewed HAKIARDHI Senior Programme Officer Cuthbert Tomitho on public awareness and benefits accrued from the National Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD). Excerpts: QUESTION: I understand that last year Tanzania was implementing the National Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) readiness pilot projects from which the lessons learnt would be used to inform policy makers in developing a comprehensive national REDD strategy. How has the plan gone so far? ANSWER: Thank you, first of all we should understand the essence of carbon credit business which the REDD project is part of it. Climate change which has been fuelled by global warming forced the world to rethink strategies with regard to environmental conservation with increasing pressure from calamities such as drought, increasing sea levels due to melting of ice…

Debate: Neoliberalism in disguise in Bolivia?

By Federico Fuentes, Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal, 27 March 2012 | A useful starting point is the politics of the first TIPNIS march. Among the 16 demands of the protest were calls to support converting Bolivia’s forests into carbon credits (in line with the imperialist-sponsored Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation [REDD] scheme) and shutting down 90 percent of Bolivia’s gas industry. The consequences of these demands would have been to auction off Bolivia’s forests to capitalist interests while closing off the major resource in Bolivia’s efforts to industrialise. Far from representing an anti-capitalist programme, these demands could only pave the way for transnational capital to reassert its power over Bolivia. Of course, the international campaign against the Morales government made no mention or criticism of these issues.

Brazil: Munduruku chief clarifies REDD contract farse with Celestial Green Ventures

By Rebecca Sommer, Earth Peoples Blog, 27 March 2012 | It created waves of headlines around the world when the Munduruku, an indigenous nation of approximately 13000 living in the state Para, Brazil, signed a carbon credit sales contract (REDD) with Celestial Green Ventures. But it wasn’t the community, that signed the contract. I uncovered this fact during my 2 1/2 month visit in the state Para where I was investigating the Belo Monte dam issue and the human rights situation of the indigenous peoples that would be directly impacted. (Also the Munduruka are trying to combat a dam in their area).

[Brazil] Three Indigenous Nations in Altamira area, Para, signed REDD contracts with an untrustworthy individual, Benedito Millleo Junior, representative fromTopoGeo

By Rebecca Sommer, Earth Peoples Blog, 27 March 2012 | They were worried, the reason why they approached me with the contract. They trusted me enough to allow me to photograph it. They wanted to know what the contract actually said, as they admitted, it wasn’t exactly clear to them. The first thing that I spotted was that the contract was signed by an individual and not by a company. Benedito Milleo Junior. The chief showed me Benedito Millleo Junior’s business card… “He lives in a rather shabby house in Altamira, with no sign or logo of his company. We wondered about that. But he promised to pay us a lot of the money in June 2012.” said the young chief. But when we went to the location, the neighbors informed that the two carbon cowboys had vacated the house, and that we wouldn’t be the first ones to look for them. The neighbors said many small landowners would come every day, with the goal to sign “the contract that would make them rich.”

[Indonesia] APP’s double default on creditors

WWF, 27 March 2012 | Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) has been accused of a “double default” on international creditors, after an investigation revealed that the company has decimated tropical forests it promised to conserve under “legally binding” debt restructuring agreements. “APP Default on Environmental Covenant,” a new report from Sumatra NGO coalition Eyes on the Forest, shows that the company in 2004 agreed to protect high conservation value forest under debt restructuring agreements it made with taxpayer-backed financial institutions in nine countries. The debt restructuring agreements were negotiated after APP in 2001 defaulted on a massive $US13.9 billion of debt and was delisted by the New York and Singapore stock exchanges… “Even in legally binding agreements with government-backed credit institutions around the world, APP has demonstrated that its promises cannot be trusted,” said Rod Taylor, Director of WWF International’s Forest Programme.

Researchers warn delays thwart efforts to save Indonesia’s environment

By Tom Arup, Sydney Morning Herald, 27 March 2012 | A $47 million Australian government project to restore Indonesian forests and peatland to protect large carbon stores has been quietly scaled back and is failing to meet even its modest revised goals, new research has found. The findings follow an investigation by ANU academics Erik Olbrei and Stephen Howes into the progress of the Kalimantan Forests and Climate Partnerships project, launched in 2007 by the Howard government and since continued under Labor… A spokesman for the Department of Climate Change said they were working with the Indonesian government to deliver on the objectives of the Kalimantan project in as short a time as possible, but did not have any plans to increase funding. ”As an innovative project, the Kalimantan Forests and Climate Partnerships is trialling new approaches. ”There have been challenges during the project so far; we are using those to learn and improve our approaches,” the spokesman said.

[Indonesia] Australia-led peat conversation project in Borneo failing to deliver on hype

mongabay.com, 27 March 2012 | A $100 million peat conservation project launched in the heart of Indonesian Borneo by the Australian government has been dramatically scaled back and is largely failing to meet expectations, hampering efforts to develop an effective Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+) program in Indonesia, concludes a new analysis published by researchers at Australian National University. Launched in 2007 to much fanfare, the Kalimantan Forests and Climate Partnership (KFCP) aimed to protect 70,000 hectares of peat forests, re-flood 200,000 hectares of drained peat swamp, and plant 100 million trees in Central Kalimantan Province. Project organizers said the initiative would cut greenhouse gas emissions by 700 million tons over 30 years. But fast-forward to 2012, the project area has been scaled back nearly 90 percent and the plan to block off major canals draining the massive peat swamp has yet to be implemented.

[Pakistan] MoU between Forest department and Merlyn Woods rejected

Business Recorder, 27 March 2012 | Sarhad Awami Forestry Ittehad (SAFI), an alliance of private forests’ stakeholders of Malakand and Hazara divisions, has unanimously rejected the signing of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) between Forest Department of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Merlyn Woods, London and called for the immediate cancellation of the agreement. The meeting of the SAFI was held here with Mohammad Riaz, chairman SAFI in the chair was attended by forests’ owners from Malakand and Hazara divisions. The Department of Forest, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has signed an MoU with Merlyn Woods Company Pvt (London UK) for leasing out in excess of 300,000 hectares for 40 years with grant in aid of Pound Sterling 12 million at a ratio of 20:80 of Pakistan’s most important tracts of forests for carbon credit sales/purchase under the Reducing Emission from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) Programme.

Tanzania: Carbon Measurement Plan Succeeds

By Finnigan Wa Simbeye, Tanzania Daily News, 27 March 2012 | According to JGI ‘s REDD Project Director, Edwin Nssoko, the FMs have been trained by experts in forest carbon measurement from Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA), University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM), and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism. Mr Nssoko said additional training on forest carbon measurement was provided to the forest monitors by the National Forest Resources Monitoring and Assessment (NAFORMA) experts so that they can be able to continue undertaking the work when the project finally comes to an end. So far the JGI REDD pilot project has given one GPS gadget to each of the seven villages involved plus a set of supporting equipment to be used in the complicated exercise that many would think is the domain of graduate scientists. Additional GPS’s and supporting equipment will be provided to the villages later this year.

[USA] Here Come the First Greenhouse Gas Limits on Power Plants

By Brian Merchant, Treehugger, 27 March 2012 | Word is in that the EPA’s long-awaited rules on greenhouse gas emissions are finally going to be unveiled this week. The Washington Post reports: “The Environmental Protection Agency will issue the first limits on greenhouse gas emissions from new power plants as early as Tuesday, according to several people briefed on the proposal. The move could end the construction of new conventional coal-fired facilities in the United States.”

28 March 2012

REDD: The New Beast in the Forest Brings Hope and Threats to Indigenous Peoples

By Stephen Leahy, National Geographic, 28 March 2012 | “REDD is the new beast in the forest,” said Patrick Anderson of the Forest Peoples Programme in Indonesia here at Climate Change Mitigation with Local Communities and Indigenous peoples workshop in Cairns, Australia… “Everyone’s chucking money at Indonesia to get carbon credits,” said Anderson. “Its probably because it’s too hard to reduce emissions back home.” … “Indonesia doesn’t recognize the rights of its Indigenous peoples and grants logging concessions without involving them,” said Anderson. There are at least 40 REDD projects underway in Indonesia and not once were local peoples first asked if they want to participate, he said. While REDD can help protect forests and could bring local people much-needed income, the devil is in the details… or in this case the demands of the marketplace… The global community still hasn’t recognized our inherent rights, said Vicky Tauli-Corpuz, Executive Director, Tebtebba.

Farm focus for saving trees

By Jeff Tollefson, Nature News & Comment, 28 March 2012 | The principle is seductively simple: to reduce carbon emissions, leave tropical forests standing. But a widely heralded approach in which rich nations would pay poorer ones to keep their forests intact has proved trickier to deploy than many had hoped. Now a consortium of scientists, environmentalists and industries is expanding the focus from preserving forests to tackling the main driver of deforestation: agriculture… Where money has changed hands, it has happened mostly among governments, says Daniel Nepstad, a US ecologist who heads the international programmes for the Amazon Environmental Research Institute (IPAM), headquartered in Brasilia. As a result, he says, scepticism is rising among those who are supposed to benefit most. Nepstad and others involved in the latest REDD effort see potential for faster progress by merging REDD initiatives with a series of ‘commodity round tables’…

A new era for carbon, but clouds loom

By Sylvia Pfeifer, Financial Times, 28 March 2012 | [L]ast summer Norway celebrated the biggest oil find off its shores since the 1980s – one of the largest made anywhere in the world last year – with the Aldous South prospect. For Statoil, the government-controlled energy group that made the discovery, it offered vindication of the company’s faith in a region that most oil majors had written off as being in terminal decline. For many in the industry, the depletion of the North Sea has long been synonymous with that of fossil fuels. But around the world a string of discoveries and developments – oil in the deep water off French Guiana, unconventional oil and gas in the US, pre-salt fields in Brazil – have shown that the age of hydrocarbons is far from over. At a time when policy makers are focused on the need to combat climate change and promote investment in renewable sources of energy, fossil fuels are refusing to co-operate.

Lawsuit filed against California cap-and-trade offsets

Argus, 28 March 2012 | Two environmental groups have asked a California state court to block the state’s plans to allow offsets to be used for compliance in its greenhouse gas cap-and-trade program. The Citizens Climate Lobby and Our Children’s Earth Foundation filed the suit in the California Superior Court for the County of San Francisco. The groups say that offsets cannot meet the statutory requirements set under the state’s climate change law, AB 32. The law adopted in 2006 calls for the state to cut its greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 and requires the emissions reductions to be “real, permanent, quantifiable, verifiable and enforceable by the state board.” The lawsuit is limited in scope compared to many of the challenges to the program that have been anticipated. The plaintiffs are seeking a repeal only of the California Air Resources Board’s offset protocols that allow offsets as compliance instruments, rather than targeting the entire cap-and-trade program.

Forests becoming ‘human’s garden’, experts worried whether any truly wild places left

By Michelle Kovacevic, CIFOR Forests Blog, 28 March 2012 | Scientists at the Planet under Pressure conference in London have warned of humankind’s entrance into a new epoch of civilisation – the anthropocene or “a man-made world” – partly brought about by a dogged determination to artificialise vast forest landscapes with domesticated commercial gardens that threaten plant and animal biodiversity. “Our manipulation of living systems is nothing new. What is indeed unprecedented about the anthropocene is the scale and the intensity of our manipulation,” said Sandra Diaz, professor at Córdoba National University in Argentina in her keynote speech at the conference, which is regarded as a key event in the lead up to the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) to be held in Brazil this June.

UN-REDD Programme Approves US$8 million in Critical Funding for REDD+ in Republic of Congo and Sri Lanka

UN-REDD press release, 28 March 2012 | During its eighth Policy Board meeting 25-26 March 2012, the UN-REDD Programme Policy Board approved US$8 million in funding for Republic of Congo and Sri Lanka’s National Programmes for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+), bringing the total amount of approved funding for UN-REDD National Programmes to US$67.3 million. These critical funds support the capacity of national governments to prepare and implement REDD+ strategies with the active involvement of local stakeholders, including Indigenous Peoples and other forest-dependent communities… “The approval of Republic of Congo’s funding request is a way of recognizing the quality of our National Programme submission and encouraging sustainable forest management, biodiversity conservation and the enhancement of carbon stocks in Republic of Congo,” said Mr. George Claver Boundzanga, National REDD+ Coordinator for the Ministry of Sustainable Development.

Crippling bureaucracy keeps Congo’s chainsaw millers in legal quagmire

By Maya Thatcher, CIFOR Forests Blog, 28 March 2012 | Small-scale chainsaw millers in the Republic of Congo risk losing their livelihoods as crippling bureaucracy makes sawyers unable to obtain the logging permits needed to meet the conditions of a new forestry agreement with the European Commission. The Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) requires all forest products to be legal and traceable by 2013, but according to a CIFOR Occasional Paper, the Congo’s current system of issuing permits to fell trees for the domestic market does little to encourage “informal” sawyers to abide by the law. Instead, applicants are discouraged by the endless “administrative hassles” and high costs, leaving the sector open to corruption. “It is a typical trap that we found in all the countries we assessed: Cameroon; Gabon; the Republic of Congo; and the Central African Republic,” said Paolo Cerutti, CIFOR scientist…

Revealed: how Ethiopia’s plantations are killing vital waterway

Survival International, 28 March 2012 | New photographic evidence proves Ethiopia’s controversial plantations scheme is killing the Lower Omo River, a lifeline for 100,000 tribal people. The Omo River downstream from the notorious Gibe III dam is now being diverted into a newly-dug irrigation canal, one of several which will feed a massively ambitious plantations scheme for state and private investors. These manmade canals are key to Ethiopia’s plantations plan, which is already having a hugely negative impact on UNESCO’s Lower Omo World Heritage site. The government has revealed virtually nothing about the plantations program, but an official map obtained by Survival shows the enormous scope of the project.

Indonesia Invites More South Korean Companies for Investment

By Dion Bisara, Jakarta Globe, 28 March 2012 | President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono invited South Korean businesses to invest more in Southeast Asia’s largest economy by capitalizing on the archipelago’s plans to boost infrastructure development. Yudhoyono also said both nations would start negotiations on a free-trade agreement this year… Yudhoyono, who was in South Korea as part of a week-long overseas trip, hoped that South Korean business would take part in Indonesia’s economic master plan (MP3EI), a blueprint that includes spending on roads, seaports and airports to boost growth across the country… Investment by South Korean companies in Indonesia quadrupled to $1.2 billion last year from $328.5 million in 2010, according to data from the Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM). South Korea is the fourth-biggest foreign investor behind Singapore, the United States and the Netherlands, according to BKPM data.

Integrating National and Subnational Approaches to REDD+ in Vietnam

SNV, 28 March 2012 | This high-level workshop, organized by the Vietnam Administration of Forestry in collaboration with Forest Trends, JICA, SNV, Climate Focus and LEAF, brought together key policy makers, international experts and REDD+ practitioners in Vietnam and beyond to share experiences and ideas for integrating REDD+ across jurisdictions. The Government of Vietnam is actively developing a national REDD+ program and institutional frameworks, alongside of activities at the subnational level from civil society groups. Linking these different levels of REDD+ activity is important to ensure consistent accounting for emissions reductions and removals, and to mobilize multiple sources of public and private finance. A “nested” approach to REDD+ that integrates project, province, and national strategies and accounting has been proposed in a number of countries in various forums.

29 March 2012

British greenhouse gas emissions down 7 percent in 2011

Reuters, 29 March 2012 | Britain’s greenhouse gas emissions fell 7 percent in 2011, putting one of the European Union’s biggest emitters further ahead of its internationally binding target under the Kyoto Protocol, provisional government data showed on Thursday. While the country is ahead of the Kyoto timetable, the figures do not mean Britain has much scope to ease up its drive towards a low carbon economy as it also has ambitious, legally-binding domestic targets. In 2011, the UK emitted 549.3 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, a 7 percent drop from 2010 levels and down 28 percent from emissions in 1990, according to data from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC). DECC attributed the year-on-year decline in 2011 mainly to a decrease in residential gas use, combined with a reduction in electricity demand and greater use of renewable energy, such as wind and solar, and nuclear power generation.

Science under fire from ‘merchants of doubt’: US historian

By Jerome Cartillier, AFP, 29 March 2012 | Scientists are facing an uphill battle to warn the public about pressing issues due to dissenters in their ranks who intentionally sow uncertainty, says a US historian. These naysayers — some of whom are paid by interest groups — have helped undermine action on vital problems despite evidence of the need to respond, said Naomi Oreskes, a professor of history and science studies at the University of California at San Diego. They sap convictions by endlessly questioning data, dismissing experimental innovation, stressing uncertainties and clamouring for more research, she said. Over the last half-century, they have helped weaken legislative action or brake political momentum on tobacco, acid rain, protection of the ozone layer and climate change. “This strategy is so clever and effective,” Oreskes said in an interview this week in Paris to promote a French translation of “Merchants of Doubt,”…

Interpol demands crackdown on ‘serious and organised’ eco crime

By Stanley Johnson, The Guardian, 29 March 2012 | Environmental crime such as ivory poaching and illegal logging has become “a form of serious, organised and often transnational crime”, Interpol’s executive director of police services told an international law enforcement summit on Thursday. Bernd Rossbach told the Unep- and Interpol-hosted event in Lyon, attended by representatives of 80 countries, that there was increasing evidence that environmental crime was connected to other forms of serious and organised crime. Interpol is now carrying out the largest anti-elephant ivory poaching operation ever mounted. Wildlife agents in 14 African countries have been raiding outlets and pursuing traders, in a crackdown on the multimillion pound industry. Through its Operation Worthy, as it is being called, Interpol aims to stifle the increasing demand in illegal elephant ivory, mostly from Asian countries such as China.

Turning Forests Into Cash Without Cutting Them Down

By Michael J. Coren, Co.Exist, 29 March 2012 | Trees have historically been worth more dead than alive. But a new financial instrument is being created to reverse that equation by turning the value of tomorrow into cash today. Forest bonds–financial instruments that turn revenue associated with forests into a consistent financial return–allow investors to create investment vehicles by buying carbon credits generated by living forests, which ensures their protection by making it valuable to keep a forest standing. There is certainly the need. The Global Canopy Program estimates that the annual funding needs for tropical forest finance will amount to tens of billions of dollars by 2020. Even a fraction of the $100 trillion bond market would go a long way to stopping the 5 million square miles of forest lost each year.

[Australia] Farmers begin carbon trading

By Ken McGregor, Adelaide Now, 29 March 2012 | The Federal Government expects South Australian farmers to begin trading carbon credits within the next two months. Controlled burning, manure management in piggeries and planting extra trees have been ratified by a government committee, enabling farmers to build credits and sell or trade them for extra cash. Parliamentary secretary for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency Mark Dreyfus yesterday released a guidebook for trading in carbon credits. For every tonne saved, a farmer will get one carbon credit, which is expected to be worth about $23. “There has been some real enthusiasm for the Carbon Farming Initiative right across Australia,” Mr Dreyfus said. “A lot of farmers are keen to not only help the environment but to save money at the same time.”

REDD+ under fire from leading Brazilian scientist

scidev.net blog, 29 March 2012 | REDD+ … came under fire yesterday at the Planet under Pressure Conference. In a session on the subject, Gilberto Camara, director general of the National Institute for Space Research (INPE), Brazil, called REDD+ a mechanism ‘created by white men at the G8′ to shirk their responsibility in their own countries to reduce their fossil fuel use. “It was a great idea from someone sitting in Westminster … I can protect the world’s forests and I am still driving my Jaguar,” he said. Camara quoted a Guyanan government official who had threatened to sell forest to Malaysian logging companies if money they were not paid for biodiversity services. Making forests a commodity to sell to the highest bidder is simply bad for conservation, he said. It is the national rule of law, institutions and policies that will lead to sustainable development, he argued, citing his own country as a successful example of a nation that had cut deforestation through other methods.

100 orangutans estimated lost in Indonesian fires

Associated Press, 29 March 2012 | Fires raging in an Indonesian swamp forest may have killed a third of the rare Sumatran orangutans living there and all of them may be lost this year, conservationists warned Wednesday. The Tripa swamp forest in Aceh province is home to the world’s densest population of critically endangered Sumatran orangutans. About 200 still live there, out of a world population estimated at 6,600, the conservationists said. Cloud-free images from December show only 12,267 hectares (30,311 acres) of Tripa’s original 60,000 hectares (148,260 acres) of forest remains, said Graham Usher of the Foundation of a Sustainable Ecosystem. The rest has been broken up and degraded as palm oil companies drain the swamp, Usher said. He said a total of 92 fire hotspots were recorded between March 19 and 25 in several of the palm oil plantations in the area.

Implementation of Nigeria REDD+ programme begins

By Alex Abutu, Daily Trust, 29 March 2012 | A multi-stakeholders forum to articulate the implementation of the Nigeria REDD programme has met in Calabar following the approval last October of Nigeria’s REDD+ Readiness Programme and the subsequent release of the sum of $4 million for the programme. The meeting tagged the “Nigeria REDD+ University,” served as a public inception of the country’s REDD Readiness Programme, ahead of an official commencement ceremony scheduled for April in Abuja. The meeting had in attendance officials of the six participating bodies – Federal Ministry of Environment, Cross River State Government, United Nations Systems in Nigeria, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO).

UNEP Supports Sudan Climate Change Strategy: Robin Bovey

Sudan Vision Daily, 29 March 2012 | The speech of UNEF Sudan Manager Robin Bovey in the Workshop. I would like to thank FNC and the British Embassy for their supports and commitment to make this activity to be done. UN REDD is a joint programme between UNDP, UNEP and FAO as major UN agencies. However, it is actually a mutual programme that includes different stakeholders: donors, decision makers, nongovernmental organization and local communities. Reducing Emission from Deforestation and Forest degradation means a sustainable livelihood, forest management and ecosystem. We could not focus only on forest management and forget about the people’s basic needs and livelihoods or thinking about people livelihood and ignoring the forest and ecosystem conservation. We need to think out of the box and enhance co-benefits of the forest and mainstream the green economy to balance the divide between development and environment.

Sudan Strategy on Climate Change to be Presented to the UN in September

Sudan Vision Daily, 29 March 2012 | UNEP-Sudan and Forests National Corporation (FNC) with partnership with the British Council conducted a one day validation workshop on “Sudan Reducing Mission from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) strategy” on 7th March 2012, at FNC-Sahel Hall in Khartoum. The workshop was started by open remarks from UNEP Sudan Country Manager, MR. Robin Bovey that he welcomed the participants and partnership between UNEP, FNC and British Embassy on REDD+ consultancy, also stated the importance of multi- stakeholders and co-benefits on REDD programme, congratulated the FNC and HCENR commitments on REDD+ and Climate Change, and concluded his remarks by wishing the consultancy and coordination teams to achieve fruitful results on REDD+ in Sudan. Then the FNC- General Manager, Dr. Abedlazim Mirahani expressed his gratitude to UNEP and UNEP support on REDD and shed lights on the current Sudan status on forest degradation and REDD+ drivers in Sudan…

All Stakeholders Participated on the REDD Strategy, Interview

Sudan Vision Daily, 29 March 2012 | Sudan Vision Reporter Ms. Hanna Adel Hai met with the international and national expert on forests and environment and Chairman of the Board of the Forests National Corporation Prof. Hassan Osman Adel Nour and wrote the following report. The expert said that he is working as a national consultant with international consultants and national support team on what is known as REDD, he explained stand for Reducing Emission from Deforestation and Forest Degradation. It is an Initiative of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change , one of the many international Conventions that came out as a result of the 1992 United Nations Conference on the Environment and Development that was convened in Rio de Janeiro and well known as the Earth Summit. And in this year which will mark the 20th Anniversary of Rio Conference, the United Nations will convey a Conference in Rio in Brazil to review the progress made during the last two decades.

30 March 2012

Carbon ‘Like Titanic’ Sinking on EU Permit Glut

By Ewa Krukowska, Bloomberg, 30 March 2012 | The plunge in European Union carbon permits is putting prices on course for their longest-ever decline and shows no sign of ending as member states wrangle over curbing a glut in the market. EU allowances for December fell 5.2 percent this year, extending a streak of quarterly losses stretching back to March 2011. Prices may drop a further 50 percent and lawmakers will probably fail to cut supply in the world’s largest emissions market through a so-called set-aside process, according to UBS AG. For First Climate AG, an asset manager that advises the European Investment Bank’s carbon funds, emissions are unlikely to recover in the next quarter. “Unless EU governments come up with a surprise decision to strongly support the set-aside or ambitious mid-term emission- reduction targets, I don’t see prices moving up much over the coming months,” Tuomas Rautanen, head of regulatory affairs and consulting at First Climate in Zurich, said by e-mail.

Diversified forest gardens can reduce food security risks in Latin America

By Gabriela Ramirez Galindo, CIFOR Forests Blog, 30 March 2012 | Forest gardens within coffee plantations in Candelaria Loxicha, Mexico, play a vital role in supporting farmers’ livelihoods by providing basic food and cash income from diverse crops when coffee plantations provide insufficient yields, says a new study. “Forest gardens complement other land-use systems. They are common in places where land tenure is relatively secure and the locals depend on them for a combination of cash and subsistence,” explained Arild Angelsen, Senior CIFOR Associate and co-author of The emergence, persistence and current challenges of coffee forest gardens: A case study from Candelaria Loxicha, Oaxaca, Mexico.

New tree-planting and water-use methods boost soil carbon to aid food security in Africa

By Andrea Booth, CIFOR Forests Blog, 30 March 2012 | Innovative tree-planting techniques that amp up levels of soil organic carbon, an indicator of soil quality, are being encouraged on agricultural land in West Africa and the Sahel to strengthen food security in the region. “Soil carbon provides important support to food security by maintaining soil fertility for agricultural productivity,” said Johnson Nkem, the author of the recent CIFOR study on soil organic carbon’s role in improving agricultural product quality in West Africa. Yet the primary soil types in West Africa are the arable Alfisols and red-clay Ultisols, which have lower soil fertility levels compared to expanding clay-rich Vertisols. “[Alfisols and Ultisols] are unable to support high intensive and continuous cultivation, except if there is improvement in soil organic carbon, which will boost soil fertility,” Nkem said.

[Guyana] 2012 Budget Speech

Stabroek News, 30 March 2012 | Mr. Speaker, on the subject of climate change, Guyana has continued to provide leadership and advocacy on the international stage. In the international negotiations under the UN Framework Convention for Climate Change, Guyana played an active role in achieving a Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) decision at the Durban talks in December 2011. Under that decision, the UN Convention agreed that financing for REDD+ actions will come from both public and private sources, opening the door for continued negotiations in 2012 on the role of the carbon market in climate financing. In addition to this deliverable, we also saw the establishment of a Green Climate Fund with explicit eligibility given to REDD+ activities, and a platform and road map for a legal, global treaty on climate change. In 2012, Guyana will continue to advocate and negotiate for the disbursement of early grant-type financing for REDD+ actions…

[Thailand] Govt called for moving 2m pp from mountain zones

By Pongphon Sarnsamak, The Nation, 30 March 2012 | Forestry experts and environmental activists yesterday called on the government to move more than 2 million people out of mountainous areas, especially those in headwater forests, to protect forests from encroachment and prevent floods. Environmental groups also asked the government to set up a preservation fund to rehabilitate and restore degraded forest areas. The proposed fund would collect money from water-bill payments. The calls were made at a seminar titled “Headwater Forest Strategy and the Way to Prevent Flood and Drought” organised by the National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department. About 350 people took part, including forestry officials, forestry experts, environmental activists and members of civic groups. The department, along with the National Parks Association, Forestry Alumni Society and Forest and Water Crisis Management Network, has produced a draft national strategy on headwater catchment…

31 March 2012

1 April 2012

Our ability to transform commodity markets will determine nature’s fate

By Rhett Butler, mongabay.com, 1 April 2012 | The success of governments and big corporations in eliminating environmental degradation from the products we consume will play a critical role in determining the fate of the world’s remaining wild places, said a group of experts speaking at a panel during the Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship… Dan Nepstad, a scientist at the Amazon Environmental Research Institute (INPA) who participated in the discussion, said the world is moving toward standards that incorporate social and environmental externalities into pricing. “Brazil has achieved a 2 percent reduction in global emissions by cutting deforestation, as much as the Kyoto Protocol, but it wasn’t compensated,” he said. “This is a colossal market failure.” Andrew Mitchell of the Global Canopy Programme agreed. “The role of price signals is really important for saving forests,” he said.


PHOTO credit: Image created using wordle.net.

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