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REDD in the news: 30 April – 6 May 2012

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REDD in the news: 30 April - 6 May 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.

Bioenergy and REDD+: Opportunities and Challenges

UNEP Issue Paper No.7, 2012 | How do bioenergy policies relate to the REDD+ mechanism, is the subject of this new Bioenergy Issue Paper jointly authored by UNEP and the UNEP-WCMC. The potential contribution of bioenergy in reducing global emissions of greenhouse gases has been widely debated, both in terms of climate change mitigation potential and potential risk of increases in greenhouse gas emissions resulting from land use change. This has raised the question of how bioenergy policies relate to the REDD+ mechanism developed under the UNFCCC. This issue paper examines the complexity of this relationship and stresses the importance of ensuring policy coherence across the relevant sectors.

Soybean and oil palm expansion in South America: Trends associated with food, feed and biofuel markets

By P. Pacheco, CIFOR, 2012 | This paper examines trends associated with commercial agriculture expansion in South America. It emphasises soybean and oil palm expansion associated with food, feed and biofuel markets, paying particular attention to their economic, social and environmental implications. The paper assesses two cases in detail: expansion of soybean production in Brazil (with its epicentre in Mato Grosso) and oil palm expansion in Colombia. These crops generate economic benefits and multiplier effects for the broader economies in the two countries. Multiple factors drive the expansion of soybean and oil palm and their socio-economic and environmental effects, including policy incentives, market conditions, improved technologies, expansion of roads and changes in tenure. Together, these factors have led to a vigorous expansion of the agribusiness in South America under different business models, which present some interesting differences in these two cases.

Learning on REDD+ in South Asia

ICIMOD, May 2012 | Date: 30 May 2012 to 31 May 2012. Venue: ICIMOD, Kathmandu. Contact Persons: Bhaskar Singh Karky. Type: Workshops Programmes: SLPR… Pilot initiatives of forest-based CDM and REDD+ projects have been implemented in South Asia for the past few years, including a groundbreaking REDD+ initiative in the Hindu Kush Himalayan region (in Nepal) by ICIMOD in partnership with the Federation of Community Forestry Users, Nepal (FECOFUN) and the Asia Network for Sustainable Agriculture and Bioresources (ANSAB). This initiative is now in the advanced stages of designing measuring, reporting, and verification (MRV) and project design document (PDD) preparation, setting a regional pathway for REDD+. However, there is still a need to create a learning platform so that common issues and knowledge on REDD+ can be identified and shared among countries. This workshop will focus on identifying capacity and technical needs as well as financing mechanisms in the region.

Engaging the Private Sector in REDD+: Challenges and opportunities

ASB and IISD, 2012 | REDD+ is a global mechanism for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, and for the conservation and sustainable management of forests and the enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries. REDD+ enables the transfer of funds from developed to developing countries that are willing and able to undertake REDD+ actions. Over the course of international climate change negotiations on REDD+, private sector engagement has repeatedly been identified as a key component in moving forward. Much of this discussion has revolved around financing, which remains a pressing challenge for REDD+, and the appropriate means and scope of private sector involvement. Although little has been explicitly stated in the Durban agreements, private sector engagement appears to be particularly needed as countries transition from Phase I (readiness) and Phase II (demonstration) to Phase III (resultsbased actions) in implementing REDD+…

A step-wise framework for setting REDD+ forest reference emission levels and forest reference levels

By Martin Herold, Louis Verchot, Arild Angelsen, Danae Maniatis, and Simone Bauch, CIFOR, April 2012 | Developing countries wishing to participate in the REDD+ mechanism can start developing forest reference (emission) levels, based on the guidance provided by COP 17 of UNFCCC and by considering the following points: The quality and availability of data will determine the methods used to develop forest reference (emission) levels. The step-wise approach proposed in this policy brief can reflect different national circumstances and facilitate broad participation by enabling countries to develop relatively simple forest reference (emission) levels that can be improved over time. These levels can be set alongside efforts to improve measurement and monitoring capacities and reduce uncertainties conducted as part of the three REDD+ implementation phases (which countries are required to follow)…

How to Identify Degraded Land for Sustainable Palm Oil in Indonesia

By Beth Gingold, Anne Rosenbarger, Yohanes I Ketut Deddy Muliastra, Fred Stolle, I Made Sudana, Masita Dwi Mandini Manessa, Ari Murdimanto, Sebastianus Bagas Tiangga, Cicilia Cicik Madusari, and Pascal Douard, World Resources Institute, April 2012 | This WRI/Sekala Working Paper demonstrates how to implement a quick and cost-effective method for identifying potentially suitable “degraded land” for sustainable palm oil production in Indonesia and presents results from the application of the method in West Kalimantan and Central Kalimantan. The method consists of a desktop analysis as well as field assessments. The desktop portion of the method will be made easily replicable through an interactive Kalimantan-wide “Suitability Mapper” website currently under development, scheduled for release in mid-2012.

Forest Land Use Dynamics in Indonesia

By B.P. Resosudarmo, A.A. Nawir, I.A.P. Resosudarmo and N.L. Subiman, Australian National Univeristy, 2012 | Alternative land use remains a controversial issue in Indonesia, particularly with regard to regions outside Java. This paper aims to highlight forest land use dynamics in Indonesia, and particularly the difficulties of resolving the conflicts between conservation, the need to preserve local livelihoods, the demands of the logging industry, both legal and illegal, and the pressures to convert land from forest use to other uses, mainly agriculture, plantations and mining. The paper also stresses the importance of more research into who benefits from these competing uses of forest lands, and how these benefits have been distributed within Indonesian society. In conclusion, this paper argues that the underlying causes of deforestation in Indonesia are complex, and cover various aspects of market failure, inappropriate policy implementation in relation to forest management…

Continued expansion of REDD+ and forest-based mitigation

By S. Anuradha Vanniarachchy and Unna Chokkalingam, Forest Carbon Asia, April 2012 | This brief provides updates on REDD+/forest carbon mechanisms and REDD+ Readiness activities from February to April 2012. During this period the CDM Afforestation/Reforestation working group continued to improve methodologies and tools. The UN-REDD Programme and FCPF provided REDD+ Readiness funding support to several new countries. China and South Korea are both likely to delay the launch of their national emission trading schemes. Japan has adopted various pilot projects and mitigation activities as a potential source of credits for its anticipated Bilateral Offset Credit Mechanism. European countries are showing interest in the Governors’ Climate and Forests task force and the EU ETS may include emissions from the LULUCF sector in its binding ER targets.

Scaling up standards beyond the Project level: Programmatic, Jurisdictional and Nested Approaches

By Unna Chokkalingam and S. Anuradha Vanniarachchy, Forest Carbon Asia, April 2012 | This brief provides a summary and update of these evolving programmatic and jurisdictional standards; as well as a continued update on developments under project-level standards.

30 April 2012

Why beekeeping is important in scaling up REDD

IPPMedia, 30 April 2012 | Beekeeping is one of the socio-economic activities, which are friendly to the environment and forests in general. During a recent Training of Trainers (ToT) session on REDD and Climate Change in Dodoma, beekeeping was mentioned as one of the key incentives for forest conservation. The training which was conducted by the Forest and Beekeeping Division attracted about 50 foresters from some of the selected regions and districts in the country. Monica Kagya, assistant director for research training and statistics in the Forestry and Beekeeping Division (FBD) who took part in the training granted our Staff Writer Lusekelo Philemon an interview. They discussed on how the beekeeping sector is cardinal in addressing deforestation and scaling-up the Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+) initiative.

Chut Wutty: Tragic casualty of Cambodia’s dirty war to save forests

By Sarah Milne, New Mandala, 30 April 2012 | It is this failure of mainstream and ‘official’ conservation efforts that pushed the battle for Cambodia’s forests to the fringe. This is what drove Chut Wutty and his colleagues at NRPG to risk their lives gathering data on illegal logging operations in the Cardamom Mountains and elsewhere. The work of NRPG revealed not only the culpability of government officials who abuse their powers to profit from logging, but also the hypocrisy of NGOs like Conservation International that have denied the existence of logging altogether, in order to maintain the façade of effectiveness, along with their government and donor relationships.

Drama Amid Indonesia’s Disappearing Mangroves

By Anthony Kuhn, NPR, 30 April 2012 | Mangroves are a “very efficient living system in terms of sequestering carbon dioxide,” says Daniel Murdiyarso, a climate change expert at the Center for International Forestry Research in Bogor, Indonesia. The carbon dioxide, he continues, is “stored in the leaves, and the leaves will be consumed by the feeders, including crabs and all those microorganisms below the ground.” Murdiyarso says that mangroves store five to eight times more carbon underground than above ground. The more mature the mangrove forest, the deeper underground its peat layer extends. Mangroves account for less than 1 percent of the world’s tropical forest area, Murdiyarso says, but their destruction produces 10 percent of all carbon emissions from deforestation. Deforestation, meanwhile, is the second-largest source of carbon emissions after the burning of fossil fuels.

[Pakistan] Study about climate change impacts on forests completed

Dawn.com, 30 April 2012 | To offset the effects of climatic change and global warming in the country, the Pakistan Forests Institute (PFI), Peshawar has completed a comprehensive study to determine the climatic change scenarios in Pakistan’s various ecological zones and its impact on forests resources. “It is the first professional attempt to address the emerging issues of climate change and global warming and its overall impact on the environment and weather of the country and region,” official sources in PFI told APP on Sunday. The results of the study will help designing adaptation and mitigation measures in forestry sector to counterbalance the effects of global warming and climatic change.

Green market slide worries Indian companies

By Piyali Mandal, Business Standard, 30 April 2012 | With the prices sliding of Certified Emission Reduction (CER) certificates traded on the international exchange, Indian companies holding the credits are bracing for tough times. Brokers trading in CERs have started to downsize their carbon desk and the ones holding these are looking for buyers. “The demand for CERs is low, which saw the prices slide. Aggregators of credits and the intermediaries, have started feeling the heat. Some have already reduced activity in India and some of the purely trading firms have already closed shop,” said Dipankar Ghosh, partner, Ernst & Young (climate change and sustainability advisory).

1 May 2012

Analysis – Permit glut points to new EU carbon policy tool

By Jeff Coelho, Reuters, 1 May 2012 | Any one-off European Union intervention to clear the massive glut of permits now clogging its emissions trading scheme is likely to lead to a ‘central bank’ or other policy tool to manage future imbalances in the world’s biggest carbon market. If it does act, the European Commission, the bloc’s executive, is cautious about entrenching such a mechanism in the scheme, the bloc’s chief weapon to fight climate change. Analysts and observers say a new tool is needed to fix an oversupply estimated at several hundreds of millions of carbon permits, because EU carbon prices – now trading below 8 euros (6.5 pounds) a tonne – are way too low to drive green investment.

Green targets being watered down for UN summit – observers

By Nina Chestney, Reuters, 1 May 2012 | Some of the main proposals in a draft text for negotiation at a U.N. sustainable development conference next month are being watered down at informal talks in New York, observers said on Tuesday, heightening fears the summit will fail to deliver… Participants said there had been moves to water down a clause which would require companies to include sustainability information in their corporate reporting. “It appears to be batting to and fro in a tennis rally here,” David Pitt-Watson, chairman of investor Hermes Focus Asset Management, told Reuters from New York. “There have been suggestions for watering down and also for putting the clause back in as it originally was,” he said.

REDD, Geoengineering, and Coordination Top UN Biodiversity Agenda

By Richard Blaustein, Ecosystem Marketplace, 1 May 2012 | UN Biodiversity boss Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias called for better management of existing scientific data in his opening address to the Sixteenth meeting (SBSTTA-16) of the Convention on Biological Diversity’s (CBD) Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice , which began on Monday and runs through May 5. “We have a wealth of scientific publications; we have data sets in different places, formats and qualities,” he said. “And it seems that each time we have to report on biodiversity, we are … overburdened by this task and therefore report a lot of general and qualitative information and very little actual data on precise issues that we need to consider.”

Oil company blamed for fire in Belize national park

By Robin Oisín Llewellyn, mongabay.com, 1 May 2012 | However these wider debates are settled, as a party to the Ramsar Convention Belize is committed to maintain the “ecological character” of wetlands listed under the treaty. What was apparent among the blackened trees and the ash of the Sarstoon Temash National Park was that this charred ecosystem had paid the price for the government’s granting of an exploration license in a remote area without also providing funds for effective supervision and monitoring.

Brazil set to cut forest protection

By Jeff Tollefson, Nature News & Comment, 1 May 2012 | The sound of chainsaws in the Amazon rainforest has faded in recent years as deforestation has slowed, last year dropping to less than one-third of its long-term average. But last week, the lower house of Brazil’s National Congress passed a bill that observers say could drastically reduce forest protection. An organized coalition of rural agricultural interests prevailed in vote after vote during debates, approving amendments that would, for example, scale back forest protections along rivers and hills, give state and local governments more authority over forests, and relieve landholders of the responsibility of reforesting illegally cleared land. The bill would also eliminate a requirement that landowners seeking agricultural loans from the government register their land, document any illegal clearance and submit a plan to come into compliance if they have cleared forests illegally.

UN human rights office concerned over murder of Cambodian environment activist

UN Human Rights Office, 1 May 2012 | The United Nations human rights office today voiced concern over last week’s murder of an outspoken Cambodian environmental activist and human rights defender, whom it said had worked fearlessly to expose illegal logging and corruption in the country. Chut Wutty was shot and killed last Thursday in south-western Cambodia, according to Rupert Colville, a spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). A member of the Cambodian gendarmerie was also killed in the incident. “Despite the current lack of clarity about what exactly happened, we are very concerned that the killing of Mr. Wutty marks the latest and most lethal in a series of gun attacks on human rights defenders in Cambodia,” Mr. Colville told reporters in Geneva.

Ecuador Asks World to Pay to Keep Yasuni Oil Underground

By Lisa Friedman, Scientific American, 1 May 2012 | Ecuador is eyeing the international Green Climate Fund as a way to help pay for its plan to trade oil for forests, a top government representative said. Heading the campaign, former Ecuadorean ambassador to the United States Ivonne A-Baki said on a swing through Washington last week that she was frustrated with the U.S. government’s indifference to the cause of Yasuní National Park. She hopes to raise the profile of the lush rainforest in the run-up to this summer’s U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro, also called Rio+20. The national park is located where the Andes Mountains, the Amazon Basin and the equator meet and is regarded as one of the most biodiverse places on Earth.

USAID helps curb deforestation rate in Kalimantan

By Severianus Endi, Jakarta Post, 1 May 2012 | The United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) mission director, Glenn Andres, seemed to enjoy the multiethnic dance being performed in the ballroom at the Hotel Aston Ketapang in West Kalimantan on Monday during the initiation of the Indonesia Forest and Climate Support (IFACS) scheme in Kalimantan… The IFACS launch was a manifestation of a US$40 million program, which covers Kalimantan, Aceh and Papua over a four-year time span. For West Kalimantan, USAID–IFACS will work in five regencies — Ketapang, Melawi, North Kayong, Sekadau and Sintang. “Cooperation between USAID and the Indonesian government has been established for 20 years. The recent memorandum of understanding [MoU] between President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and United States President Barrack Obama has made the partnership more comprehensive,” said Glenn.

2 May 2012

Tree pests worse with climate change

UPI.com, 2 May 2012 | Climate change increases the risk to European spruce forests from destructive bark beetles because of rising temperatures and less rainfall, researchers say. Writing in the journal Climatic Change, scientists say low rainfall and warmer temperatures weakened the trees’ defenses against the bark beetle. In addition, dry conditions have encouraged the bark beetle to extend its range by moving to higher altitudes, Lorenzo Marini from the University of Padua in Italy said. The low rainfall at those higher altitudes gave the beetles new opportunities to find suitable, weaker host trees which, under normal rainfall conditions, would have been less susceptible to bark beetle attacks, researchers said. The spruce bark beetle, Ips typographys, is one of the most destructive pests of the European forests, and scientists said they expected the insects to quickly respond to climate change.

Ecosystem effects of biodiversity loss could rival impacts of climate change, pollution

ScienceDaily, 2 May 2012 | Loss of biodiversity appears to impact ecosystems as much as climate change, pollution and other major forms of environmental stress, according to a new study from an international research team. The study is the first comprehensive effort to directly compare the impacts of biological diversity loss to the anticipated effects of a host of other human-caused environmental changes. The results highlight the need for stronger local, national and international efforts to protect biodiversity and the benefits it provides, according to the researchers, who are based at nine institutions in the United States, Canada and Sweden. “Loss of biological diversity due to species extinctions is going to have major impacts on our planet, and we better prepare ourselves to deal with them,” said University of Michigan ecologist Bradley Cardinale, one of the authors. The study is scheduled for online publication in the journal Nature on May 2.

Brazilian exchange offers forest offset trade

Point Carbon, 2 May 2012 | BVRio, Rio de Janeiro’s environmental commodity exchange, opened registration on Wednesday for participants interested in trading forest offset credits that landowners can use to comply with Brazil’s forest legislation. [R-M: Subscription needed.]

[Cambodia] Bamboo bends towards sustainable industry

By Stuart Alan Becker, Phnom Penh Post, 2 May 2012 | Quick growing bamboo could become a sustainable industry for building materials and even fibres for the garment industry, according to the organiser of the Bamboo Green Growth and Carbon Finance Conference that took place at Raffles Hotel last week. Organiser Eric Mousset, who also serves as president of the French Cambodian Chamber of Commerce… There’s a United Nations programme called UN-REDD which stands for The United Nations Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries that channels carbon finance for reforestation. “This does not include bamboo and we’d like to make it include bamboo,” Mousset said. Another use is bamboo chips to create bamboo charcoal to create renewable energy.

Saving Europe’s flagship climate change initiative

EurActiv, 2 May 2012 | The recession has pushed down carbon prices and reduced incentives for companies to make further emission cuts and invest in clean-technology innovation, threatening Europe’s ambitious 2020 carbon reduction targets, argues Thomas Legge of the German Marshall Fund. “The European Union’s flagship climate change project, the Emissions Trading System (EU ETS), is in a slow-motion crisis that threatens the EU’s ambitions for a green economy. The original purpose of the EU ETS was not just to reduce emissions from factories and power stations – which it has done very successfully – but also to send a signal to the market that carbon emissions would come at a price, preferably of about €30 per tonne of carbon. The magic of the market would then encourage companies to slash their emissions and to invest in innovative, low-carbon technologies like solar power without the heavy hand of government direction.

[Guyana] The GC’s criticisms of named Amerindian MPs are misdirected and technically incorrect

By Janette Bulkan, letter to the editor, Stabroek News, 2 May 2012 | As the Government of Guyana, including the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs and the President’s Office of Climate Change, have produced only a few concept notes and proposals since then, and those mostly of abysmal quality and relevance, only one project has so far been funded and that for the benefit of the Guyana Forestry Commission (US$ 3.6 million) and the Office of the President (US$ 3.3 million). This project was approved by the GRIF Steering Committee on November 7, 2011. Two concept notes have been submitted to the GRIF in relation to Amerindian development. Land titling and demarcation was submitted by UNDP and the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs and UNDP in January 2011. The concept note for the Amerindian Development Fund was prepared by the Office of the President and/or the Meridian Institute, apparently not by the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs, recently in March 2012.

Pakistan ranked 20th most climate vulnerable country

By Ijaz Kakakhel, Daily Times, 2 May 2012 | Pakistan is participating every year in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiations and proactively contributing to the whole debate relating to mitigation, adaptation, finance, technology development and transfer, capacity building and Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) Plus. Pakistan secured funding to the tune of $4.1 million from the Adaptation Fund for a Glacial Lake Outburst Flood (GLOF) Project in Northern Areas, which is currently under implementation, the sources maintained. Pakistan has benefited from the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) under the Kyoto Protocol of UNFCCC. The 13 CDM projects have been registered till date out of 44 projects that were accorded host country approval to earn carbon credits.

Uganda ‘tree banks’ offer investors good returns

By Hilary Heuler, MarketWatch, 2 May 2012 | For Peter Nyeko, a Ugandan businessman always on the lookout for the next hot investment, nothing in the world beats the humble tree. Five years ago, he and two partners put their money into planting a stand of eucalyptus outside Kampala, which he calls his “tree bank.” Now, he said, he’s just waiting for the money to start rolling in… What makes trees so profitable is Uganda’s growing demand for timber and timber products. Over 95 % of Uganda’s population of 33 million depend on firewood or charcoal made from wood for cooking, according to the German development agency GIZ. The country’s booming construction industry has also helped make timber an increasingly valuable commodity.

3 May 2012

Tropical countries struggle to engage with REDD+

By Clara Rondonuwu, SciDev.Net, 3 May 2012 | Most tropical developing countries are struggling to monitor and report their greenhouse gas emissions from forest loss, and will need international support to implement the UN REDD+ scheme, according to a study… Countries voluntarily report back on their implementation of REDD+, but many lack the capacity to monitor forest loss and carbon emissions using key technologies such as satellite remote sensing, according to a paper in the May–June issue of Environmental Science and Policy. The study ranked tropical developing countries according to their ability to implement REDD+, and found that few such countries had improved their monitoring capacity between 2005 and 2010, with some even losing capacity, such as Burkina Faso and Mozambique.

Reading Radar: Avoiding Adding Insult to Injury in Climate Adaptation Efforts

By Stuart Kent, New Security Beat, 3 May 2012 | In “Accessing Adaptation: Multiple Stressors on Livelihoods in the Bolivian Highlands Under a Changing Climate,” Julia McDowell and Jeremy Hess present evidence about how specifically-tailored adaptations to climate change risk increasing vulnerability to a complex web of other, less obvious stressors. The study draws evidence from the livelihoods of historically marginalized indigenous farmers in highland Bolivia. The authors, who see “adaptation as part of ongoing livelihoods strategies,” use the case to “explore the tradeoffs that households make when adjustments to one stressor compromise the ability to adjust to another.” For instance, socio-economic stressors have forced many farmers to more closely couple their livelihoods with the market economy by growing more cash crops, intensifying land use, participating in off-farm laboring, and relying on irrigated agriculture.

Putting Free, Prior, And Informed Consent Into Practice In REDD+ Initiatives – Indigenous Peoples Issues and Resources

Indigenous Peoples Issues and Resources, 3 May 2012 | The principle that indigenous peoples and local communities have a right to give or withhold their Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC) to developments affecting natural resources is not new. However, experience using FPIC in REDD+ implementation is still limited in the Asia-Pacific region, and there are few materials that explain and train practitioners in its concepts and practice. There is still subjective understanding of the terms and requirements of FPIC, influenced by both cultural interpretations and interests. To address this resource gap, RECOFTC is pleased to announce the publication of a new Training Manual on Putting Free, Prior, and Informed Consent into Practice in REDD+ Initiatives. This manual, developed with financial and advisory support from the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES) and Norad, serves as a practical tool for trainers and facilitators to improve understanding of FPIC…

Putting Free, Prior, and Informed Consent into Practice in REDD+ Initiatives

RECOFTC, 3 May 2012 | The principle that indigenous peoples and local communities have a right to give or withhold their Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC) to developments affecting natural resources is not new. However, experience using FPIC in REDD+ implementation is still limited in the Asia-Pacific region, and there are few materials that explain and train practitioners in its concepts and practice. There is still subjective understanding of the terms and requirements of FPIC, influenced by both cultural interpretations and interests. To address this resource gap, RECOFTC is pleased to announce the publication of a new Training Manual on Putting Free, Prior, and Informed Consent into Practice in REDD+ Initiatives. This manual, developed with financial and advisory support from the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES) and Norad, serves as a practical tool for trainers and facilitators to improve understanding of FPIC among stakeholders at all levels.

Peak oil move over – now solve CO2

By Gerard Wynn, Reuters, 3 May 2012 | Trends in global economic growth and rising CO2 emissions rule out optimism that climate targets can be met, even while the world gets to grip with energy security. The continuing financial crisis and record high oil prices in 2008 haven’t driven a low-carbon revolution which green lobbyists and agencies including the United Nations urged three years ago. In fact, the opposite seems to be happening. The world may have found a sticking plaster, at least, to peak oil with rising production of offshore crude, onshore tight oil, shale gas and tar sands, but increased output of such fossil fuels conflicts with the goal of limiting climate change. Renewable energy grew faster in percent consumption than any other energy source in 2010, but only from a lower base: in absolute terms, growth was dwarfed ten-fold each by coal and natural gas, and five-fold by oil, show data from the energy firm BP.

[Brazil] Eucalyptus developer begins final field trial

By Luke Geiver, Biomass Magazine, 3 May 2012 | FuturaGene, a genetic research and development firm focused on enhancing the eucalyptus tree, has been granted approval to begin a fourth field trial of its genetically modified eucalyptus tree in Brazil… Following the fourth field trial, FuturaGene hopes to deploy the use of the tree on a commercial scale. According to [Stanley] Hirsch [CEO of the company], the company has deployment plans for Brazil. “Suzano owns eucalyptus plantations totalling almost 500,000 hectares (1.2 million acres),” he said, adding that FuturaGene has also formed relationships with other entities around the world to address the possibility of planting on more hectares.”

[Cambodia] Timbergreen official questioned in Chut Wutty shooting

By May Titthara and David Boyle, Phnom Penh Post, 3 May 2012 | The “company” that military police have declined to identify but said sent staff to confront activist Chut Wutty shortly before he was shot last Thursday is Timbergreen, a firm the slain activist had attempted to expose for illegal logging. Documents obtained by the Post yesterday and sources have confirmed Timbergreen is the firm licensed to clear the reservoirs of the Lower Russey Chrum dam project in Koh Kong province’s Mondul Seima district, not far from the site where Chut Wutty was shot. Armed forces commander-in-chief Sao Sokha and military police officials have said staff from a company licensed to clear that dam site had attempted to stop Chut Wutty from taking photos of timber stockpiles. A Timbergreen security official, Ran Boroth, has also reportedly been arrested as a suspect in the shooting of military police officer In Rattana – who was also killed during the incident…

Ghana Gets Climate Investment Funds

Daily Guide, 3 May 2012 | Ghana has been selected alongside three African countries to benefit from Climate Investment Funds to secure national forests. The Climate Investment Funds (CIF) are unique financing instruments designed to initiate transformational change towards low-carbon and climate-resilient development through scaled-up financing channeled through the Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs). Recognizing that poverty reduction, economic growth and climate change must be addressed together, the CIF were agreed in 2008 to help blend CIF funding with funding from other MDBs and national and private sector development resources to leverage substantial additional funds.

FRA welcomes Forestry Investment Program positivity

Forestry Research Associates Press Release, 3 May 2012 | Ghana, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Burkino Faso have all given insights into their intended responses to the Forest Investment Program (FIP), claims Forestry Research Associated (FRA)… FRA’s analysis partner, Peter Collins, said, “We support the REDD+ program and are pleased to see that developing nations are still being rewarded for protecting their forestry industries for generations to come.” FRA believes that schemes like the FIP and carbon trading programs help communities living in developing nations to realize and benefit from the value of standing forests. “This helps to reduce the reliance on non-sustainable forestry practices and underlines the benefits of managed forestry,” added Mr Collins. Investors all over the world can do their bit to promote sustainable forestry and managed forestry by investing in plantation projects like those run by Greenwood Management in Brazil.

[Guyana] National Toshaos’ Council dubs Budget cuts ‘most reckless’

Guyana Chronicle, 3 May 2012 | The National Toshaos’ Council (NTC), comprising of more than one hundred Toshaos’ throughout the length and breadth of Guyana, has joined in solidarity with fellow Guyanese to “strongly condemn” the actions taken by the Opposition APNU and AFC to cut the National Budget of 2012. The NTC, in a statement yesterday, took the opportunity to remind APNU that prior to the 2011 General Election the party campaigned under the theme: ‘A good life for all Guyanese’. “Today we are saying that it is a lie,” the NTC declared. “We would like to know what happened to all the promises (by the APNU)…such as Employment for all, Information Communication Technology and Hinterland Development, just to name a few,” the NTC questioned. It said the promises have all been thrown out by the combined opposition in the “most reckless and irresponsible manner”.

[Guyana] Climate change multi-stakeholder committee appalled at LCDS cut

GINA; Guyana Chronicle, 3 May 2012 | The unprecedented cut in the budgetary allocation to the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) by the opposition political parties in Parliament was brought to the table yesterday when President Donald Ramotar convened his first statutory meeting of the multi-stakeholder steering committee on climate change. As the issue was debated at the Office of the President, many of the representatives were taken aback by the Opposition using what is now widely termed its “one seat dictatorship” to cut over $18B in projects under the LCDS.

India: Illegal ‘human safari’ road still open 10 years on

Survival International, 3 May 2012 | A road at the centre of a ‘human safari’ scandal in the Andaman Islands is still open, exactly ten years after India’s Supreme Court ordered its closure. The Andaman Trunk Road (ATR) cuts through the reserve of the Jarawa tribe, and has been internationally condemned for facilitating their exploitation. The practise of ‘human safaris’, in which tourists are promised the chance to ‘spot’ the Jarawa as if they were animals in a park, was first exposed by Survival in 2010. The findings revealed how biscuits and sweets were thrown from vehicles on the road to lure the Jarawa closer. Since then, the UK’s Observer newspaper has revealed how tourists and police have been caught entering the reserve to watch and film the tribe. India’s Supreme Court ordered the Andaman administration to close the ATR in May 2002. The Islands’ authorities have refused.

Indonesia’s Environment Ministry to sue APP, APRIL in $225B illegal logging case

mongabay.com, 3 May 2012 | Indonesia’s Ministry of Environment is planning to sue 14 pulp and paper companies for illegally clearing forest land in Riau Province on the island of Sumatra, reports Tempo. 12 of the 14 companies are linked to Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) and Asian Pacific Resources International Holdings Limited (APRIL), pulp and paper giants that have been heavily criticized by environmentalists for destroying rainforests and peatlands that serve as critical habitat for endangered tigers, elephants, and orangutans. According to Tempo, the Ministry of Environment is preparing a civil suit against companies named in a 2007 illegal land-clearing case that was closed in late 2008 under pressure from officials with the National Police. Damages in the case are estimated at 2,067 trillion rupiah ($225 billion) based on figures from the Judicial Mafia Eradication Task Force.

New Study Slams Indonesia’s Forest Protection

Asia Sentinel, 3 May 2012 | Indonesia’s tropical forest is being converted to oil palm plantations even faster than was thought, giving rise of the possibility that only 4 percent of forest outside of protected areas will be intact, according to a study by 10 scientists for the US National Academy of Sciences. The report, available here, completed in March, says that two-thirds of all Indonesian forest outside of protected areas has been leased to oil palm companies, and that by 2020 a third will be in plantations. Scientists from Yale University, Stanford University, the Carnegie Institution for Science at Cranfield University, the University of Virginia, Indiana University and the Santa Fe Institute participated in the study. Although Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono last September pledged to uphold sustainable forest practices, in Jakarta today, a coalition of green groups led by Greenpeace said the moratorium the government had proposed was weak and ineffective.

[Malaysia] Rebirth Control: Lessons Learned from 90 Years of Rainforest Regeneration

By John Pickrell, Scientific American, 3 May 2012 | I could be almost anywhere in the tropics, but here at Kepong, 16 kilometers north of Malaysia’s capital Kuala Lumpur, the land holds something very special. For what seems to the untrained eye to be dense primary rainforest is in fact an area that was denuded as recently as the 1920s. Scrubby vegetation, made up of grasses, ferns and fast-growing pioneer bushes and trees, was all that remained after the forest had been stripped to allow tin mining and vegetable cultivation. But in 1926 pioneering forestry scientists in the pay of the British colonial government started a grand experiment to reseed, and it’s now the only place in the world where there is a very large tract of artificially seeded rainforest—one which has slowly been regenerating for nearly 90 years.

South Korea approves carbon trading system, 2015 start

Platts, 3 May 2012 | South Korea’s parliament approved Wednesday a long-delayed bill that calls for the introduction of carbon dioxide emissions trading from January 2015. Of the 151 lawmakers who voted, 148 approved the system in a final step to make the bill into law. The bill will take effect within six months. With the approval, South Korea becomes the third country in the Asia-Pacific region to cap CO2 emissions after Australia and New Zealand. The bill requires local companies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions or buy the rights to emit gases such as carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

4 May 2012

Carbon Market Lobbyist Criticizes ‘Whopping Falsehoods’

By Mathew Carr, Bloomberg, 4 May 2012 | The carbon market has been damaged by three “whopping falsehoods” that slowed its growth and caused European lawmakers to question their belief in the system, said the retiring head of a carbon market lobby group. “The political environment has been dominated by an ebb tide,” Henry Derwent, chief executive of the International Emissions Trading Association, said today by phone from Geneva on his last day at the lobby group’s headquarters. “The European Union emissions trading system is still there, though it’s bleeding from a few wounds, some self-inflicted.” The first lie is that climate science is exaggerated, boring and unimportant, Derwent said. The second is that nations shouldn’t protect the climate because others aren’t and the third is that markets are not the best solution, he said. “It’s not surprising that those who don’t want to do anything are seduced by the falsehoods.”

Forestry, economic development & climate change in Asia: resolving the tension

By Paul McShane, The Conversation, 4 May 2012 | Reducing poverty in developing countries through economic development is often contrary to addressing climate change. In countries like Indonesia, many of the strongest drivers of the economy – palm oil and mining, for example – are industries which promote deforestation and contribute to emissions of carbon dioxide. Deforestation also damages habitat, reduces biodiversity, degrades river catchments and promotes soil erosion… If these types of REDD+ activities are to continue, Australia and Indonesia will need a functional carbon market with transparent payment mechanisms (at local community level) so that any emissions reductions from the activities can be verified. This is not yet in place. Furthermore, legislative and regulatory arrangements, such as secure access for local people to forests, remain underdeveloped and conflicting (laws governing mining and forestry in Indonesia, for example, are contradictory to one another).

PPR Group Unveils Five-Year Social, Environmental Plan for Gucci, Stella McCartney, Alexander McQueen Brands

By Lori Zimmer, Ecouterre, 4 May 2012 | In addition to offsetting the 2011 global emissions from its luxury, sports, and lifestyle divisions—95,100 tons in all—the conglomerate has purchased a 5 percent stake in Wildlife Works Carbon, a verified Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) program that uses carbon credits to fund forest-conservation projects. PPR also aims to slash its carbon emissions and waste and water use from the production of products and services by 25 percent while “accounting for the growth of [its] business.” Plus, PPR will hold a seat on Wildlife Works’ management committee, allowing it to support Wildlife Works’ aim of securing 5 million hectares of native forest over the next three years and to protect them for at least 20 years. The anticipated payoff: 25 million tons of CO2 emissions mitigated annually.

How will we fight world hunger without forests?

By MIchelle Kovacevic, CIFOR Forests Blog, 4 May 2012 | Converting forest to agricultural land does not necessarily lead to increases in food production, so how do we make sure that the nine billion people expected to populate the planet in 2050 do not go hungry? This is just one of the questions being debated in an online forum organised by the Government of Brazil to inform the discussions on sustainable development at Rio+20 – and best of all, you can have your say too. The Rio+20 Dialogues, which are already live, will produce a series of recommendations to frame a formal three-hour plenary discussion inside the main venue of Rio+20 and will be presented to heads of state gathering in Brazil for the summit. CIFOR, along with Yale University and the University of Sao Paulo, is moderating the dialogue on forests and has recently posed a series of questions on the importance of forests for food security. Here are some excerpts from the ongoing debate.

Foresters should have their say on new rules

Carbon News, 4 May 2012 | While forestry talks at the 2011 UN climate change summit in Durban focused predominantly on the reduction of deforestation through mechanisms such as REDD and REDD+, there were other changes proposed to international carbon forestry laws which may have a profound effect on New Zealand foresters, Carbon Market Solutions says. Flexible planting regulations, also known as pre-1990 forestry offsetting, will allow foresters to permanently clear their pre-1990 forest on the provision that they plant an equivalent land area elsewhere. [R-M: Subscription needed.]

[Indonesia] Forests remain under threat from acquisitive industries

Jakarta Post, 4 May 2012 | Several protected areas across the archipelago remain under threat of deforestation apparently due to the ineffective moratorium program launched by the government last year, environmental groups say. The environmental groups have witnessed continuing forest destruction by several companies despite the moratorium. On Thursday, Greenpeace, a member of the environmental groups’ coalition, published its findings on the current situation of Indonesian forests in Riau and Central Kalimantan provinces. They estimate that 4.9 million hectares of primary forests and peatland, out of a total 71.01 million hectares covered by the moratorium, will be lost to palm-oil industries, coal mines and other forest conversions by the end of this month. “The data shows that the forests and peatland are still at risk,” said Yuyun Indradi, Greenpeace Indonesia’s political campaigner.

[Peru] Amazon road could cut uncontacted tribes’ land in half

Survival International, 4 May 2012 | Peru’s Congress is about to approve a highly controversial road that will slash in half the territory of at least two uncontacted tribes. Congressmen are considering a law that could declare the project a ‘public necessity’, and consequently bypass huge indigenous opposition. The proposed road will run across the southeast of Peru’s Amazon from Puerto Esperanza in the Purus region near Brazil, to Iñapari. Three highly important protected areas lie in its path, including the Madre de Dios Reserve for uncontacted Indians. The project notably omits reference to uncontacted tribes, as well as opposition from the region’s indigenous peoples, who make up 80% of the population. They fear the road will attract an onslaught of illegal loggers and colonists who would devastate their forest and the uncontacted Indians living there.

[Vietnam] Why Does Coke Care About the Mekong Delta?

By Kate Sheppard, Mother Jones, 4 May 2012 | The recognition comes out of the work of an unlikely partnership between Tram Chim, local government officials, the World Wildlife Fund, and Coca-Cola. That last one might seem a little out of place. But Coke has been very involved in funding conservation work with seven major rivers around the world, including here on the Mekong, through a partnership with WWF that began in 2008… Coke’s Director of Global Water Stewardship, Greg Koch, is quick to point out that their reasons aren’t entirely altruistic—even though he gets excited when he talks about the birds of Tram Chim. For Coke, the health of freshwater sources is crucial to their business. Coke has a presence in all but three countries around the world. (Only North Korea, Cuba and Myanmar are Coke-free.) … In Vietnam, they have three bottling facilities in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, and Da Nang.

5 May 2012

How climate change has got Worldwide Fund for Nature bamboozled

By Christopher Booker, The Telegraph, 5 May 2012 | At this point, however, two American professors intervened. They had just published a study of the delta in an environmental journal, entitled “The REDD menace: resurgent protectionism in mangrove forests”. It was highly critical of the so-called “fortress conservation” policy advocated by WWF under REDD+, claiming that it was seriously damaging the traditional life of those local communities which had been sustainably farming and fishing in the area for centuries. Although this provoked a vehement riposte from Mr Makiri, who claimed in turn that the paper had seriously damaged the reputation of his staff who had been working on the WWF REDD project, a new furore had already erupted over claims that some of those staff had been falsely claiming expenses on a massive scale, amounting to more than £1 million.

6 May 2012

A Killing Reverberates from a Cambodian Forest

By Mark McDonald, New York Times, 6 May 2012 | In another time, in a less connected era, if a lone protester had been murdered in a remote forest somewhere in Asia, it would have gone largely unnoticed and unremarked. A small voice is quieted, and the larger world moves on. But for the past week in Southeast Asia, just such a killing has caused deep anger and outrage, along with a call for justice by forest-dwelling Cambodians, regional conservation groups and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.


PHOTO credit: Image created using wordle.net.

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