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.
UN-REDD Programme, June 2012 | In the June edition of the UN-REDD Programme newsletter, the Programme officially welcomes Malaysia and Uganda as new partner countries to the Programme, and shares preliminary results from the Programme’s global country needs assessment, presented this week in Santa Marta, Colombia. Also, read the latest on the Programme’s ongoing support to countries in the area of forest monitoring and forest governance data collection.
Forest Carbon Asia, June 2012 | Presently, over 20 Asian countries are engaged in REDD+ readiness activities. Each of these countries is committed to promoting and supporting the ‘Cancun safeguards’ for REDD+ activities under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), in addition to delivering on national interpretations of the ‘Aichi Targets’ for the Strategic Plan (2011-2020) of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). Applying and adapting existing multilateral safeguards frameworks to national REDD+ strategies and action plans is one clear and tangible national response to international biodiversity safeguard commitments. This has been the focus of post-Cancun activity on safeguards for national governments and their development partners. This brief explores how a national safeguard approach can be developed that will meet the International policy commitments yet remain consistent with national policy frameworks.
FORNIS – FORNESSA Information Service, 2012 | This is part of a regional forest governance research programme, being implemented by CODESRIA, University of Illinois and IUCN titled ‘Responsive Forest Governance Initiative’. in Ghana, the research is broadly investigating issues of democratic representation, citizenship and public domain as elements of democracy focusing on the extent to which collaborative forest management and participatory decision-making approaches produce democracy outcomes among rural communities.
25 June 2012
By George Monbiot, The Guardian, 25 June 2012 | It is, perhaps, the greatest failure of collective leadership since the first world war. The Earth’s living systems are collapsing, and the leaders of some of the most powerful nations – the United States, the UK, Germany, Russia – could not even be bothered to turn up and discuss it. Those who did attend the Earth summit in Rio last week solemnly agreed to keep stoking the destructive fires: sixteen times in their text they pledged to pursue “sustained growth”, the primary cause of the biosphere’s losses. The efforts of governments are concentrated not on defending the living Earth from destruction, but on defending the machine that is destroying it. Whenever consumer capitalism becomes snarled up by its own contradictions, governments scramble to mend the machine, to ensure – though it consumes the conditions that sustain our lives – that it runs faster than ever before.
By Nalin Kishor, Profor, 25 June 2012 | When I started working on forest governance issues, back in the late 1990s, you could talk about governance and corruption issues only in hushed tones. Since then, through a series of global efforts, we have progressed to a point where the state of forest governance can be openly debated at public conferences. Lack of good governance is now seen as a core development issue. More recently we have begun to measure the quality of forest governance by blending factual and perception-based information, gathered through multi-stakeholder consultations. To assist in practical measurement, PROFOR has recently produced a publication, “Assessing and Monitoring Forest Governance: A user’s guide to a diagnostic tool”. This forest governance measurement approach has already been tested in Burkina Faso, Uganda and Russia, where it proved to be a flexible and relatively inexpensive method to trigger candid discussions and build momentum for reform.
REDDleaf, 25 June 2012 | However despite all the progress being made by a relatively small number of individuals and organisations, it is sobering to hear the reports by scientists at the CIFOR 8th Roundtable event on forests. They remind us that approximately 12 million hectares of forest are being lost globally every year according to figures by the FAO. They are raising the alarm about the looming tipping points of the forests, the point of no return, when to much forest has been destroyed, triggering the collapse of the entire ecosystem. The main tipping points to watch are atmospheric temperature rises, where a global increase of 3.5% would have devastating consequence on the forest ecosystems and the other tipping point highlighted is when we loose more than 40% of the total forest area. We know that at present over 20% of the Amazon is gone, so further deforestation is a huge gamble with potentially fatal consequences.
By Jessica Shankleman, BusinessGreen, 25 June 2012 | One of the more ambitious pledges was an announcement by the US government to partner with more than 400 companies and brands in the Consumer Goods Forum to achieve zero net deforestation in their supply chains by 2020. The two parties agreed on Thursday that they would meet in Washington in the next 100 days to discuss how to achieve this goal, which would focus in particular on commodities such as soy, palm oil, paper, and beef that are thought to be responsible for half of the world’s deforestation. Paul Polman, chief executive of Unilever, said the agreement showed the importance of businesses and governments collaborating on boosting the sustainability agenda.
mongabay.com, 25 June 2012 | Small farmers are less likely than large landowners to maintain required forest cover on their property in the Brazilian Amazon, worsening the environmental impact of their operations, reported a researcher presenting at the annual meeting of the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation (ATBC) in Bonito, Brazil. Fernanda Michalski, an ecologist with the University of São Paulo and the Pro-Carnivores Institute, analyzed forest cover trends on properties of various sizes in Alta Floresta in the southern Amazon and conducted interviews with farmers on the presence of wildlife on their holdings. She found that small properties (under 440 ha) tend to have less forest cover. Riparian zones are less likely to be maintained, reducing the connectivity of what forest patches do survive, making it more difficult for wildlife to move.
EIA International, 25 June 2012 | EIA and Telapak campaigners have held a series of successful training workshops to help a remote forest community in Indonesia’s East Kalimantan province take an effective stand against the aggressive spread of palm oil plantations. Since last year, we have been working to raise awareness of, and support for, the indigenous Dayak Benuaq community of Muara Tae in its confrontation. During last month’s return visit, we donated cameras, laptops and GPS devices, and taught participants how to use them effectively to capture visual evidence of the destruction of their ancestral lands and to expose such abuses to a wider audience. EIA’s new Visual Communications Officer, Emma Clark, was one of those who took part in the workshops and, while in Muara Tae, she prepared a behind-the scenes look at the workshops in action as well as a glimpse into the unique lives of the villagers.
26 June 2012
Greenpeace International, 26 June 2012 | A number of REDD+ countries have begun to develop their own national safeguard standards, a development that – if carried out in a participatory, transparent manner and in compliance with international obligations – is to be strongly encouraged. While taking into account national circumstances, common ground is neededat international level in order to ensure consistency if we want to reduce and halt deforestation globally. A robust international framework can help forest countries in developing their own national systems and generate confidence from the international community and investors. In order to inform these processes, we have compared the various existing REDD+ relevant safeguard policies across institutions, identified major gaps and formulated a set of recommendations that could lead to a more coherent and more practicable approach to implementing safeguards.
By Duncan Macqueen, IIED; 26 June 2012 | Forests constitute the vast majority of what is green on planet earth. The quest for a green economy at Rio+20 excited the full spectrum of the forest community – from forest industries to local forest rights-holder groups. Both groups have something to offer – although it may be necessary to invest more in locally-controlled forestry if a fair green economy is to be achieved. The potential role of the forest sector in emerging bio-economies is immense. Vietnam has spotted the potential and is driving the sustainable management and expansion of its forests. Just prior to Rio+20, Indonesia’s President Dr. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono heralded the new approach, announcing that the country had passed a law to permanently conserve 35% of its tropical rain forests and that 3.2 billion trees had been planted in the past 2 years.
By Michelle Kovacevic, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 26 June 2012 | Forests have been largely ignored or ambiguously mentioned in the Rio+20 outcome document, yet again postponing progress on integrating forests into sustainable development objectives, said CIFOR scientists at the conclusion of the Rio+20 summit last week. “If you look at this document as providing some sort of guidepost for making decisions or taking actions in the future, the positions that are taken do not actually provide any specificity,” said Peter Cronkleton, Senior Scientist at the Center for International Forestry Research’s Peru office. Louis Verchot, Principal Scientist at CIFOR agrees but added: “When you look who attended Rio+20, it is ministers of environment and foreign affairs, not ministers of finance, and these are are the people who you need to make the national commitments.”
Insituto Carbono Brasil, 26 June 2012 | The Department of the Environment and the Amazon BVRio (stock market environment of Rio de Janeiro), last week signed a cooperation agreement to promote environmental asset markets. The agreement provides for the development of tools to facilitate the implementation of CAR (Rural Environmental Registry) and the development of legal reserve credits to be traded in BVRio. The agreement was signed by Nadia Ferreira, Minister of Environment of the Amazon, and Pedro Moura Costa, President of BVRio. Also present were the Undersecretary of Environment in May in Rio de Janeiro, Luiz Firmino, Planning and Secretary of Amazonas, Airton Angelo Claudino. The event took place at the beginning of a conference organized by BVRio on the market for credit Legal Reserve. [R-M: google translate.]
By Tunggadewa Mattangkilang, Jakarta Globe, 26 June 2012 | Thousands of residents in two West Kutai villages are protesting efforts by a palm oil firm to clear land for a plantation, arguing they will be left with no land of their own to farm. Masyarani, a Muara Tae tribal elder representing the villages of Murate and Lempunah, said on Sunday that all 600 families in the villages were opposed to the incursion by palm oil company Borneo Surya Mining Jaya. “We were never involved in the discussions between the district administration and the company about the land,” he said. “So why all of a sudden are they clearing us off our own land? We will stand firm against them.” Masyarani said BSMJ was the latest palm oil firm to come into the area. Three other companies have already cleared land in the area for their own plantations, each time resulting in the villagers losing more of their land and with no benefits to show for it.
By Somsack Pongkhao, Vientiane Times, 26 June 2012 | The government won’t consider any new investment proposals in mining or land concessions for rubber and eucalyptus plantations until December 31, 2015. The slowdown will give the government time to review policies and assess the effectiveness of existing projects. The government will also speed up the survey and allocation of land to identify which areas are suitable for investment, and which areas should be preserved. Minister of Planning and Investment Mr Somdy Duangdy made these observations yesterday when res ponding to concerns raised by National Assembly members after a spate of development projects have encroached on villagers’ land and affected the environment. Mr Somdy said the problem had occurred because of a failure to properly survey and allocate land for such projects. “We approved large plots of land without looking into the details, like what land belonged to the state and which belonged to local people,” he said.
By Catriona Moss, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 26 June 2012 | Reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation schemes, or REDD+, could be the “game changer” that enables forest-rich countries to meet sustainable development goals and work toward a greener economy, said the Norwegian Minster for Environment at a recent CIFOR event. REDD+ allows us to protect forests and those who depend on them for their survival, said Minister Bård Vegard Solhjell, calling it a “development choice.” “It is indisputable that REDD+ should become a game-changing part of the global green transition.” His comments were made during Forests: the Eighth roundtable, roundtable a CIFOR-hosted event that brought together over 550 scientists, policy makers and members of civil society to discuss the role of forests in providing the world with food, energy, income and clean water.
27 June 2012
CIFOR, 27 June 2012 | An interview with Frances Seymour on the “No Regret” actions for REDD+ that she argues should be taken now, in a chapter of ‘Analysing REDD+: Challenges and Choices’, a new CIFOR publication launched at Rio +20.
CIFOR, 27 June 2012 | CIFOR scientist Louis Verchot discusses the new CIFOR publication ‘Analysing REDD+: Challenges and choices’, which was launched in a side event at Rio+20 on 18 June 2012.
Michael Northrop (Rockefeller Brothers Fund), Huffington Post, 27 June 2012 | Think of Rio+20 as cinema. In its simplest black and white, small screen format, it was unsatisfying. Government negotiators failed to reach any agreements of note. But, in color, on the large screen, with your 3D glasses on, it was much more. Creative leaders, impatient with the formal process, from businesses, individual governments, NGOs, communities, and people’s movements banded together at Rio in thousands of ways to catalyze action outside the multilateral process… The untold story of Rio is that the UN and the Brazilians knew long in advance that the formal black and white multilateral process was doomed to failure at Rio so they opted for a Plan B to lift up the work of a broader, more colorful array of alternative leaders.
GrrlScientist, The Guardian, 27 June 2012 | The African savannas appear peaceful but beneath the wings of birds and the hooves of mammals, a millennia-long battle is being fought. This struggle determines whether vast regions of the tropics and subtropics are covered in grasslands, savannas or forests. But a new study shows that rising concentrations of CO2 are shifting the odds to favour trees over grasses, suggesting that large regions of Africa’s savannas may be forests by the end of this century. This study, conducted by Steven Higgins, a professor of Applied Physical Geography at Goethe University and a researcher at the Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre (BiK-F) in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, and Simon Scheiter, a postdoctoral researcher at BiK-F, investigated how increasing CO2 levels could influence tropical and subtropical grasslands, savannas and forests — dynamic ecosystems that the authors refer to as the “savanna complex”.
By Jeremy Hance, mongabay.com, 27 June 2012 | A month-and-a-half after Cambodian Prime Minister, Hun Sen, declared a moratorium on on new economic land concessions, the government has announced four new concessions, each located in protected areas. Economic land concessions have come under the microscope in Cambodia after large-scale protests by local people and the recent murder of forest activist Chut Wutty. Critics say the concessions, which last year totaled two million hectares (4.9 million acres) sold off to foreign corporations, have resulted in local land conflict and environmental degradation… [T]he Cambodian government has granted 35,000 hectares (86,400 acres) of economic land concessions to four companies: 8,200 hectares (20,200 acres) in Kulen Promtep Wildlife Sanctuary; 9,688 hectares (23,939 acres) in Kirirom National Park; 9,068 hectares (22,407 acres) in Phnom Prich Wildlife Sanctuary; and 9,000 hectares (22,200 acres) in Lumphat Wildlife Sanctuary.
By Khy Sovuthy and Kuch Naren, Cambodia Daily, 27 June 2012 | But Mr. Hun Sen swung back yesterday at news reports on the concessions as well as “those who have claimed themselves as legal experts” saying they were the ones distorting the truth. … “If you don’t make corrections in the newspaper, we will correct through television and radio,” Mr. Hun Sen said, before daring the country’s English-language newspapers to publish his moratorium order in full. ”If they dare not to print it, they are cowardly newspapers. Are you brave enough to print?” Mr. Hun Sen asked. ”If the land is not yet privatized, the prime minister must issue a sub-decree for privatization. It is one of the procedural steps… these are the procedures. Do the [newspapers] know the law? Or do they just have the intention to destroy?”
By Leony Aurora, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 27 June 2012 | Indonesia says more bilateral cooperation will be needed to help get REDD+ off the ground and attract forest carbon investors as climate change negotiations stall on key issues – particularly on how to finance efforts to reduce emissions and slow global warming. By forming multiple bilateral agreements, nations may learn more quickly how to overcome barriers associated with REDD+ — a complex and evolving scheme that will pay developing countries to protect existing forests and increase carbon storage including through reforestation. Successful results from these accords can help build consensus at the multilateral negotiations and, hopefully, attract new funds, Heru Prasetyo, a member of Indonesia’s REDD+ task force, said at Forests: the 8th roundtable at Rio+20, an event organised by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) in conjunction with the Rio+20 summit.
By Ayesha Rascoe, Reuters, 27 June 2012 | A U.S. appeals court on Tuesday upheld the first-ever U.S. proposed rules governing heat-trapping greenhouse gases, clearing a path for sweeping regulations affecting vehicles, coal-burning power plants and other industrial facilities. Handing a setback to industry and a victory to the Obama administration, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia unanimously ruled the Environmental Protection Agency’s finding that carbon dioxide is a public danger and the decision to set limits for emissions from cars and light trucks were “neither arbitrary nor capricious.” The ruling, which addresses four separate lawsuits, upholds the underpinnings of the Obama administration’s push to regulate carbon dioxide emissions, and is a rebuke to a major push by heavy industries including electric utilities, coal miners and states like Texas to block the EPA’s path.
28 June 2012
By Catriona Moss, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 28 June 2012 | Norway will invest more money to help developing countries conserve their forests through reduced emissions from deforestation and degradation schemes (REDD+) if other countries also step up with additional support, the Norwegian Minister for Environment said at a recent CIFOR event. “Protecting forests…supports all the three pillars of sustainability – environmental, social and economic,” said Minister Bård Vegar Solhjell, adding his nation was eager to continue to support REDD+ “not only because we like trees and care about the climate, but because REDD+ is a development choice, which is most of all crucial to people.”
By Marcelo Teiceira, Reuters, 28 June 2012 | Colombia plans to have in place 10 months from now a new system to measure deforestation, which it hopes will drastically improve its ability to establish a national policy to reduce emissions from deforestation (REDD), the country’s environmental minister said. Tropical forests cover one-third of the Andean country and according to Colombia’s latest greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory, emissions from land-use change shot up 132 percent from 1990 to 2004, the largest increase in all the country’s sectors. “It’s a high rate for a country the size of Colombia. In reality, the country has failed in the last 10 years in controlling deforestation,” said Marcelo Rodriguez Becerra, a professor at Universidad de los Andes and a former Colombian environment minister.
BluForest press release, 28 June 2012 | BluForest Inc. today announced that it has acquired 30,000 hectares of native forest in the province of Esmaraldas in Ecuador. The lands, appraised at an overall value of approximately US $180 Million Dollars, will bring BluForest’s total land holdings to 135,000 hectares of forested lands from which it will generate tradable carbon credits by preserving the Amazon’s rainforests. The carbon credits will be generated through the United Nations collaborative initiative of Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+) in developing countries.
Via Campesina, Pambazuka, 28 June 2012 | However, do not let anyone be under any illusion that they will become rich through REDD+ and planting trees: “Carbon trading is not there to make anyone rich (farmers). The market itself shows that there are many costs involved. This is not going to make communities wealthy. Individuals need to have other sources of income”, Envirotrade’s Carbon manager said in an interview… On the other hand “the current focus on the economic value of the forest [as promoted by Envirotrade] should not make the biological, spiritual and cultural values less important, as they [the communities] have been providing effective conservation for generations”, a study2 by Jovanka Spiric, who has researched the socioeconomic impact of the REDD programme in Nhambita, states. A considerable number of farmers have abandoned farming and dedicate all their time to maintaining firebreaks and patrolling forests in the REDD+ area.
29 June 2012
UN-REDD, 29 June 2012 | The UN-REDD Programme and Forest Carbon Partnership Facility recently presented initial findings from their joint Country Needs Assessment (CNA) at a global workshop in Colombia. The CNA report (available in English, French and Spanish) is now open for public comment until 6 July, 2012. All inputs are most welcomed and appreciated. Please send them to the UN-REDD Programme Secretariat. Download presentations from the CNA workshop; Read initial reflections from CNA workshop participants on the UN-REDD Programme blog.
By Kate Evans, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 29 June 2012 | If a UN-backed scheme to slow the pace of climate change by safeguarding the world’s tropical forests is to succeed, it must forge connections between local, national and global actors, according to a major new publication on the global state of the scheme known as REDD+. “ REDD+ is inherently a multi-level puzzle,” said Kaisa Korhonen-Kurki, a scientist with the Centre for International Forestry Research, and a co-author of the new publication, Analysing REDD+. “It can’t work without us acknowledging that global demands, national and regional institutions, and local people’s needs all must be taken into account – and that there are different interests at each level.”
By Deborah Zabarenko, Reuters, 29 June 2012 | Scorching heat, high winds and bone-dry conditions are fueling catastrophic wildfires in the U.S. West that offer a preview of the kind of disasters that human-caused climate change could bring, a trio of scientists said on Thursday. “What we’re seeing is a window into what global warming really looks like,” Princeton University’s Michael Oppenheimer said during a telephone press briefing. “It looks like heat, it looks like fires, it looks like this kind of environmental disaster … This provides vivid images of what we can expect to see more of in the future.” In Colorado, wildfires that have raged for weeks have killed four people, displaced thousands and destroyed hundreds of homes. Because winter snowpack was lighter than usual and melted sooner, fire season started earlier in the U.S. West, with wildfires out of control in Colorado, Montana and Utah.
By Oliver Milman, The Guardian, 29 June 2012 | The world’s densest population of orangutans is set to be “extinguished” by a massive new wave of fires that is clearing large tracts of a peat swamp forest in the Indonesian island of Sumatra, conservationists have warned. Environmentalists claim that satellite images show a huge surge in forest blazes across the Tripa peat swamp in order to create palm oil plantations, including areas that have not been permitted for clearing. Tripa is home to a tight-knit enclave of around 200 critically endangered orangutans. However, this number has plummeted from an estimated population of 3,000. Just 7,000 orangutans remain in Sumatra, with rampant forest clearing for palm oil cultivation blamed for their decline. Ian Singleton, head of the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme (SOCP), said that the Tripa orangutans are being “extinguished.”
By Ashery Mkama, DailyNews, 29 June 2012 | Appropriation of maaive land from villagers for tree planting in the Reduced Emission from Deforestation and Forest (REDD) programme is feared to threaten food security, unless the exercise was carefully undertaken. While presenting a paper in Dar es Salaam on Thursday, on the Tanzania Forest Policy and the Future of Land Rights to Small and Medium Entrepreneurs, Advocate Joseph Chiombola from the Land Rights Research and Resources Institute (LARRRI/HAKIARDHI) said chunks of land acquired by large companies deprive villagers of their land.
CreditMan.co.uk, 29 June 2012 | Four connected companies have been wound up in the High Court on grounds of public interest following an investigation by Company Investigations of the Insolvency Service. The investigation showed Tullett Brown Limited (www.tullettbrown.co.uk) made unsolicited phone calls to potential investors inviting them to invest in land and in carbon credits, comparing this to gold, and that substantial payments were made to three connected companies – Tamar (London) Limited, Johnnystone Limited and Brad Baker Limited. The businesses operated from serviced offices at 133 Houndsditch, 5 th Floor, London, EC3A 7BX.
By Andrew Penman, The Mirror, 29 June 2012 | A group of companies that switched from landbanking scams into carbon credit investment scams has been put into compulsory liquidation in the High Court in the public interest. Tullett Brown Limited, which claimed to be based in Houndsditch, central London, was at the heart of the operation, which began with victims being coldcalled. Money was then siphoned off to the key players and three other companies, Tamar (London) Limited, Johnnystone Limited and Brad Baker Limited. All have now been shut down. Daniel Nwikpo, a 31-year-old from east London, pocketed the most loot – £473,814 – followed by John Nwikpo, Ertug Kiazim, Bradley Ferry and Barinua Nwikpo (that Nwikpo clan sound like a lovely bunch), while more than £700,000 went to associated companies.
30 June 2012
1 July 2012
PHOTO credit: Image created using wordle.net.