REDD in the news: 3-9 September 2012

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REDD in the news: 3-9 September 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 is updated regularly. For past REDD in the news posts, click here.

Rio Earth Summit: Tragedy, Farce, and Distraction

By Anne Petermann, ZMagazine, September 2012 | The keystone policy of this green business model is the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) scheme. REDD, initially developed at the UN and pushed by the World Bank, has met with serious challenges inside the UN process, due to the social and ecological impacts it will have and the absence of a clear funding source beyond the failing carbon markets. Instead, sub-national REDD agreements, such as one between California, Chiapas (Mexico), and Acre (Brazil) are moving forward outside of the UN process. At another day-long event in Rio, sponsored by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and the Governors’ Climate Change Task Force (GCF), the focus was on promoting such REDD projects and catalyzing private sector investments. It included the participation of government leaders from key forested states in Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, and elsewhere, as well as private companies…

REDD+: An incentive structure for long-term performance

Rainforest Foundation Norway, September 2012 | In this discussion paper, Rainforest Foundation and six other NGOs argue that a narrow definition of results in terms of carbon is inadequate when establishing incentives for countries to reduce their forest loss. A broader approach is necessary. Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) was agreed at the UNFCCC as part of the 2010 Cancun Agreements, with an objective to ‘slow, halt and reverse forest cover and carbon loss’. Many aspects, in particular what determines results for REDD+ and how they will be financed, are still being negotiated. The long-term incentive structure for REDD+ will guide actions not only in the ‘full performance phase’, but also in ongoing ‘readiness’ processes.

REDD+ Publications

IISD, September 2012 | Over all three phases of the project, a number of publications were developed to provide background for workshop and task force meeting discussions, to disseminate outcomes and to further explore critical issues around REDD+ moving forward.

3 September 2012

Bangkok 2012 – USA accused of backtracking on legally binding UN climate treaty with call for the new treaty to be “dynamic”

By Tierney Smith, Responding to Climate Change, 3 September 2012 | US negotiators have been accused of undermining the UN climate talks after calling for a new treaty to be ‘flexible’ and ‘dynamic’ rather than legally binding. US delegate Jonathan Pershing argued a new deal should learn from what he termed the mistakes of the Kyoto Protocol, claiming that what he described as Protocol’s inflexibility guaranteed its failure. ‘Dynamic’ refers to the belief of many parties to the UNFCCC that a treaty needs to be able to react to changes in a country’s economic growth and development. Others describe its use as a negotiating tactic designed to gain as much ‘wiggle room’ as possible. Pershing’s intervention apparently left delegates stunned, given the USA’s previous support for the Durban Platform agreement at COP17 in Durban last year. A core element of that deal was its stipulation of ‘a legal instrument or legal outcome’.

[Australia] Lib-Nats want carbon laws back to parliament

By David Twomey, Eco News, 3 September 2012 | The conservative Liberal-National opposition says Australia’s minority Labor government should reintroduce its carbon legislation to parliament after scrapping the proposed $15 floor price for its emissions trading scheme (ETS). Climate Change Minister Greg Combet announced last week Australia’s ETS, set to begin in mid-2015, will now be linked to Europe’s scheme. “Well, the prime minister Julia Gillard should bring the scrapping of the floor price to the parliament,” opposition environment spokesman Greg Hunt told Network Ten TV. “Because she told the parliament that she wouldn’t scrap it, and she should bring it to the parliament. “We will use the opportunity to immediately seek an amendment to scrap the carbon tax.” Mr Hunt said Labor’s decision on the floor price followed a theme with carbon pricing.

Executive Summary: Forest cover and deforestation in Belize, 2010-2012

ICTSD Suggested Trade and Environment Resources, 3 September 2012 | This article summarises a recently concluded satellite analysis of Belize’s current 2012 forest cover, relating these findings to those of a similar 2010 study. The results are used to estimate levels of the country’s deforestation over the last two years. The author says findings should serve as input to Belize’s activities in the context of the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) initiative.

Cattle ranching and law enforcement key areas of action to slow Bolivia’s deforestation rate

By Zoe Cormier, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 3 September 2012 | Policy makers seeking to slow the pace of deforestation in lowland Bolivia need to prioritise two key areas of action, say experts: reduce the expansion of cattle ranching, which accounts for nearly a third of all forest loss but has a lower per-hectare profitability than either small or large-scale agriculture, and enforce existing legislation that protects carbon-rich forests. Robert Mueller of Goettingen University, and his colleagues, acknowledged their analysis was specific to Bolivia, but could apply to other areas in the Amazon. They also hope others taking part in a U.N.-backed scheme to slow climate change by protecting forests across the globe (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation or REDD+) would benefit. “Virtually all existing REDD+ pilot projects globally are targeting smallholders,” said Mueller, who believes the priority should be on those who are converting forests to agriculture…

World’s conservation hopes rest on Ecuador’s bold Yasuni model

By Jonathan Watts, The Guardian, 3 September 2012 | It has been hailed as an alternative to the ineffectual efforts of the United Nations to deal with climate change and biodiversity loss. The ITT Initiative, as the project is known, promises to the keep carbon in the ground in a 200,000- hectare corner of the park and, in the process, help to redistribute wealth from rich nations to the developing world and wildlife. But a little more than a year after it was launched, this bold project is as much at risk as the wildlife. Ecuador’s president, Rafael Correa, told the Guardian the results have been disappointing. “This was a revolutionary idea. With a logic that I would call perfect: it implied a substantial change in the management of natural resources in the fight against climate change. It meant a transfer of resources from the richest countries – which are the biggest polluters – to poorer countries,” he said.

[Ecuador] Wildlife at risk as Amazon tribes come under threat from oil exploration

By Jonathan Watts, The Guardian, 3 September 2012 | Two of the world’s last uncontacted tribes are under threat from oil exploration deep into the heart of the Amazon forest in Ecuador, according to conservationists, who say this may indirectly add to the pressure on wildlife. The Tagaeri and the Taromenane – who have fought off illegal loggers and Catholic missionaries with spears and blowpipes to maintain their isolated, nomadic existence – are now at risk from the construction of roads and drilling wells as petroleum firms carve up the Yasuni national park. Scientists believe Yasuni is the most biodiverse place on Earth and large swaths of the park remain in pristine condition thanks partly to the ferocity of the indigenous people’s resistance to intruders.

[Indonesia] Save the Trees, We’ll Save Your Life

By Brendan Borrell, Pacific Standard, 3 September 2012 | To develop the program, Webb spent a year presenting her vision to the 30 villages bordering the park, and negotiating with their kepala desas, or village leaders. She explained that everyone, including loggers, who came to her clinic would receive subsidized medical care – about 40 percent off an exam that might normally costs $10. Villagers could pay the balance with whatever means they had, including manure for a sustainable-farming program, seedlings for a reforestation plot, or handmade place mats to be sold for fund-raising. The key element was that if the kepala desa signed a contract to become a green village, shutting down the local sawmill and renouncing logging, then his people would get a 70 percent discount. These green villages would also get side benefits, like farm training, or even goats, a novelty among people with a history of fishing, hunting, and forestry.

[Indonesia] From farmers to scholars, REDD actors set for action

By Warief Djajanto Basorie, Jakarta Post, 3 September 2012 | The long-term goal is to make Indonesia’s forests and land areas a net carbon sink by 2030. This means more carbon gases are absorbed and stored than emitted. Local governments will play a pivotal role as they have to design a province-based REDD+ strategy addressing their needs by September 2012. What is crucial in the whole scheme is getting all the actors on the same wavelength and sense of altruistic urgency. The 44-page national-strategy document identifies the following as REDD+ stakeholders: regional governments, the private sector, NGOs, indigenous/local peoples and international bodies.

[Nigeria] States jostle for REDD+ scheme as UNDP, others sign pact

By Chinedum Uwaegbulam, The Guardian Nigeria, 3 September 2012 | After making history in the formulation of a programme globally acknowledged both as best practice process and as a model for other countries, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has sealed a pact with the Federal Government and Cross River State government for the implementation of a $4 million Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) scheme in the country. The development is coming on heels of renewed interest in forest conservation by state governments, especially to participate in the REDD+ programme. About eight states have indicated interest on the programme, namely, Taraba, Nasarawa, Jigawa, Lagos, Enugu, Katsina, Yobe and Oyo states.

Thai Officials Seize 1,500 Logs Of Siamese Rosewood

Bernama, 3 September 2012 | Police in north-eastern Thailand have pulled over two trucks with nearly 1,500 logs of smuggled Siamese rosewood – the largest capture ever in the region worth nearly 400 million baht (RM39.9 million). Commander of Police Region Division 3, Police Lieutenant General Panu Kerdlarppol, said two suspects were arrested on the spot near a checkpoint in Buriram province, bordering Cambodia, Thai News Agency reported. The suspects confessed being hired for 3,000 baht (RM299.40) each trip to take the rosewoods to a wood market in Thailand’s central Aytthaya province. In another capture, park officials in the eastern province of Sa Kaeo have arrested two Cambodians who illegally crossed the Thai border to smuggle rosewoods, valued at nearly one million baht (RM99,734). The pair said they planned to earn profit selling them at the border.

4 September 2012

Global Warming May Double UN Goal Without More Carbon Pledges

By Alex Morales, Bloomberg, 4 September 2012 | International pledges to reduce greenhouse gases may fail to stop global warming from rising to twice the level deemed safe by United Nations scientists, Climate Action Tracker said. Without further action to lower emissions of heat-trapping gases, the planet is set to warm by 2.6 to 4.1 degrees Celsius, the project, run by three European research groups, said today in a report released in Bangkok, where the UN is holding a week of informal discussions. That level of warming exceeds the 2-degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) ceiling that UN envoys have set as a global goal. That target is technically achievable, and it’s up to politicians to ensure it’s met, said Bill Hare, director of Climate Analytics, one of the groups that set up the project. “It is a question of political will, not technological feasibility, as to whether 2 degrees Celsius is out the window,” Hare said in the statement.

Why are climate negotiations locked in a stalemate?

By Pablo Solon and Walden Bello, Bangkok Post, 4 September 2012 | The Bangkok intersessional meeting of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is about to end, with no progress among countries to commit to increasing the level of emission reductions for this decade. Why are the climate talks stalemated and what should be done to break the deadlock? … We must demand that Annex 1 countries make legally binding commitments to real deep cuts (40-50% until 2020) without offsets and commit to them in the coming Conference of Parties in Doha. They must commit real and new funds immediately to the Green Climate Fund and guarantee transfer of technology as part of their historical responsibility.

REDD+ and conservation

By Chris J Kettle, 4 September 2012 | The potential of funding mechanisms under the Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and degradation in Developing countries (REDD+) framework to meet climate mitigation objectives as well as biodiversity conservation is increasingly recognised. In this months Biological Conservation colleague Lian Pin Koh and I edited a special issue presenting eight important papers highlighting the major opportunities and challenges ahead.

Ten African countries unite to protect rainforests

By Apollinaire Niyirora, SciDev.Net, 4 September 2012 | Ten central African countries have come together to protect the Congo Basin rainforest — the world’s second largest rainforest — from severe deforestation, through implementing improved national forest monitoring systems and boosting regional cooperation. The 18-month project, launched on 26 July, is managed by the Central Africa Forests Commission (COMIFAC) and the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in collaboration with Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE). “Forest monitoring will be [carried out through] advanced observation mechanisms using satellite images,” Felix Ngendabanyikwa, COMIFAC’s National Coordinator in Burundi, told SciDev.Net. “With this technique, we can see trees being cut down or fire devastating a forest, and can estimate the extent of forest degraded.”

Illegal loggers ‘closing in’ on Earth’s most threatened tribe, investigation shows

Survival International, 4 September 2012 | A recent investigation by Brazil’s Indian affairs department FUNAI has uncovered shocking evidence that illegal loggers are rapidly closing in on the Awá, Earth’s most threatened tribe, sparking fears for their safety. Only three weeks ago, a government team confiscated logging equipment in the Awá’s forest. However, the new evidence shows that illegal logging is continuing, and recent deforestation has been found only six kilometers away from an Awá community. Logging roads are penetrating deep into the Awá’s lands, which by law should be protected by the Brazilian authorities. One Awá community is now surrounded on three sides by loggers. ‘Why are they doing this?’, one Awá man asked. ‘If you destroy the forest, you destroy us too’. FUNAI official Carlos Travassos said, ‘There are a lot of loggers in the area… The Awá are feeling extremely threatened, and are scared to go to the forest to hunt.”

Bolivia should prioritize cattle ranching, law enforcement in deforestation fight

mongabay.com, 4 September 2012 | Bolivia should prioritize environmental law enforcement and slowing expansion of large-scale cattle ranching to reduce Amazon deforestation, argues a study published last month by researchers from Germany and the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR). Robert Mueller of Goettingen University and colleagues analyzed trends in land use change in Bolivia between 1992 and 2004. They found that industrial agriculture was the biggest driver of deforestation in Bolivia, amounting to 54 percent of land clearing. Cattle ranching, at 27 percent, and small-holder agriculture, at 19 percent, followed. But agriculture is a difficult target for programs that aim to reduce emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD+) because it generates more than half a million jobs (150,000 from commercial agriculture and 400,000 from small-holder farming) and accounts for more than 12 percent of exports.

Forest expands 3% in Colombia during 2000s, but loss grows in llanos region

mongabay.com, 4 September 2012 | Colombia gained nearly 17,000 square kilometers of forest between 2001 and 2010 as forests recovered in mountainous regions in the Andes, reports a new study published in the journal PLoS One. The research, based on analysis of satellite imagery, assessed vegetation change across all Colombia’s six biomes and 13 ecoregions. Unusually, the study was able to account for forest recovery. Most research has typically only account for net forest loss. The study found sharp increases in forest cover in areas classified as mangroves (55 percent increase – 149 sq km), desert (45 percent – 1,630 sq km), and mountain grasslands (14 percent – 56 sq km). With an increase of 16,077 sq km (3 percent), moist forests expanded by the greatest total area. Dry forests grew by 687 sq km or 3.4 percent.

India’s forest area in doubt

By Natasha Gilbert, Nature News & Comment, 4 September 2012 | To judge from India’s official surveys, the protection of its forests is a success. Somehow, this resource-hungry country of 1.2 billion people is managing to preserve its rich forests almost intact in the face of growing demands for timber and agricultural land. But a senior official responsible for assessing the health of the nation’s forests says that recent surveys have overestimated the extent of the remaining forests. Ranjit Gill of the Forest Survey of India (FSI) claims that illegal felling of valuable teak and sal trees has devastated supposedly protected forests in the northeast of the country. He and other experts also say that an over-reliance on inadequate imaging by an Indian satellite system is making such destruction easy to overlook.

[India] Experts call to promote importance of Reduced Emissions from Avoided Deforestation and Degradation

The Times of India, 4 September 2012 | Experts, top forest officials and heads of various forestry institutions underlined the importance of Reduced Emissions from Avoided Deforestation and Degradation (REDD)+ and have called to promote REDD+ as a financial instrument to incentivise conservation and sustainable management of forest, thereby reducing ‘green house gases’ (GHG) emission from deforestation and forest degradation. Over a dozen experts had gathered at a two-day workshop on ‘REDD+ and CDM, research strategy and dissemination of information’ in the city organized last week by the Maharashtra forest department’s research wing. The workshop was inaugurated by Maharashtra’s head of forest force (HoFF) AK Joshi. Joshi called for sensitization of people and adoption of the latest techniques to meet requirements of future management of forests to mitigate climate change.

[Indonesia] Local Government Role in the Local Autonomy Framework in Implementation of REDD+ in Indonesia

International Association of Multidisciplinary Research, 4 September 2012 | The world is racing to fight deforestation and forest degradation amidst effort to reduce emission to mitigate climate change. REDD+ offers a new and more effective approach because it provides financial incentives for forest carbon storage. This approach is evidently different from the conventional forest conservation efforts. However, practical implementation of REDD+ has proven to be cumbersome. In the context of Indonesia and its local autonomy policy, REDD+ presents both prospects and challenges. This study attempts to analyze local government role in local autonomy framework in implementation of REDD+. This study is a normative-juridical research using literature review to dissect secondary data.

Liberian forests to be flattened by secret logging contracts

Global Witness, 4 September 2012 | A quarter of Liberia’s total landmass has been granted to logging companies in just two years, following an explosion in the use of secretive and often illegal logging permits, an investigation by Global Witness, Save My Future Foundation (SAMFU) and Sustainable Development Institute (SDI) shows. Unless this crisis is tackled immediately, the country’s forests could suffer widespread devastation, leaving the people who depend upon them stranded and undoing the country’s fragile progress following the resource-fuelled conflicts of 1989 to 2003. The new logging contracts – termed Private Use Permits – now cover 40 percent of Liberia’s forests and almost half of Liberia’s best intact forests. They have given companies linked to notorious Malaysian logging giant Samling unparalleled access to some of Liberia’s most pristine forests.

Liberia has sold quarter of its land to logging companies, says report

By Afua Hirsch, The Guardian, 4 September 2012 | One quarter of Liberian land has been sold to logging companies in just two years, threatening the country with widespread devastation, according to a report. A new spate of logging contracts in Liberia – the most heavily forested country in west Africa – means that 40% of its forests are under private ownership and risk being flattened by logging companies, says the report. Companies have used what campaigners describe as a legal loophole to buy unlimited swaths of private land with the intention of logging and clearing forests through the use of Private Use Permits (PUPs). “Private Use Permits are great news for logging companies. They are very bad news for pretty much everybody else in Liberia,” said Robert Nyahn of Save My Future Foundation. “Some communities will receive less than 1% of their timber’s value, while very little revenue will reach state coffers.”

Illegal Logging Deals Rife in Liberia, Group Reports

By Elisabeth Rosenthal, New York Times, 4 September 2012 | For years, the environmental group Global Witness has been investigating the destruction of forests in the developing world. Much of the wood illegally harvested there ends up in the hands of international companies that manufacture furniture, paper and biofuels. Global Witness has campaigned against illegal harvesting of ebony and rosewood in Madagascar, exposed illegal exports of timber from Myanmar to China and documented the killings of antilogging activists in Cambodia. In a new report that seems to be having some immediate repercussions, the group has now turned its sights on illegal logging in Liberia. The report says that control of one-quarter of Liberia’s land has been granted to logging companies in just two years through permits that were illegally or fraudulently awarded.

Illegal logging endangers Liberia’s forests

By Travis Lupick, Al Jazeera, 4 September 2012 | Liberia’s forestry department has been secretly doling out illegal logging permits to large corporations that could result in more than 40 per cent of its pristine forest being chopped down, with little benefit to local communities, a new report by environmental groups alleges. In the past two years, control over a quarter of all of Liberia’s land has been handed over to private corporations to log, says the report released on Tuesday after a three-month investigation. “An explosion in the use of secretive and often illegal logging permits” has occurred, it says. Logging contracts – covering both private and public land – now cover more than 36,000 square kilometres of Liberia’s landmass, an area larger than the US state of Maryland. The Forestry Development Authority (FDA) began issuing new licenses called “private use permits” in 2010 that contain no sustainability requirements.

[Tanzania] More People Understand Carbon Trading – Experts

By Orton Kishweko, Tanzania Daily News, 4 September 2012 | More eople now understand the benefits of carbon trading and accept such projects in their areas, experts from Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) say. Dr Eliakimu Zahabu of SUA told the ‘Daily News’ that fears have been allayed to help mitigate effects of climate change, as communities gradually understand what carbon trading is.He however urged that enough research and appropriate education be conducted before deals on cutting greenhouse gas emissions by measures such as planting trees are signed… Tanzania and Norway have deals worth over $8 million under the Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (Redd+) strategy, as part of the $73 million the Norwegians will be providing in five years to develop and implement Redd+ in developing countries.

[Thailand] The littlest “climate criminals”

Focus on the Global South, 4 September 2012 | As Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) gather once again in Bangkok to continue talks about the climate talks, it should not go unnoticed that Thailand has been in the process of identifying its very first “climate criminals”. The “global warming cases”, in which people in different regions of Thailand have been criminally prosecuted, and then sued by Thailand’s Royal Forest Department and the National Park Department for “increasing temperatures” have resulted in at least 34 law suits, calling for hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages. The damages are totted up based on a standardized formula, with a set amount for causing increased temperatures, evapotranspiration, reduced rainfall, reduced soil infiltration, soil erosion and loss of soil nutrients, as well as a catch-all for destruction to the particular forest type.

[UK] Stern climate change review ‘not fit for purpose’ says Tory MP

By Daniel Mason, Public Service Europe, 4 September 2012 | A senior British Conservative has called for the commissioning of a fresh independent study into the economics of climate change and sharply criticised economist Nicholas Stern’s six-year-old report – which warned that the costs of doing nothing to prevent global warming significantly outweighed the costs of acting. In a new paper published today called What is wrong with Stern? [pdf], Conservative MP Peter Lilley claims that the influential report “was not fit for purpose” and urges the government to adopt a new strategy taking a more gradual approach to reducing emissions. According to Lilley, while Stern’s arguments were considered “incontrovertible truth” at the time, “the mood has changed since the recession” as the costs of tackling climate change have hit homes and businesses.

5 September 2012

Ahead of Doha gathering, concrete progress made at Bangkok climate talks – UN official

United Nations News Centre, 5 September 2012 | A week of informal climate talks in Bangkok has allowed Member States to make concrete progress on key issues, providing a positive momentum for the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference in November in Doha, Qatar, a UN senior official said today. “The investment in Bangkok has paid off. Government negotiators have pushed forward key issues further than many had expected and raised the prospects for a next successful step in Doha,” said the Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Christiana Figueres. “There are still some tough political decisions ahead, but we now have a positive momentum and a greater sense of convergence that will stimulate higher-level political discussions ahead of Doha and set a faster pace of work once this year’s conference begins,” she added.

Bangkok 2012 – Time to treat big emerging economies like developed nations, says former Bolivia negotiator

By John Parnell, Responding to Climate Change, 5 September 2012 | China, India and other big emerging economies should be asked to make major emissions reductions just like the US and Europe, a former climate change negotiator has said. Pablo Solon, who headed the Bolivian delegation at the UN climate talks in Cancun in 2010, has called for those pursuing consumption-led growth to be held to the same responsibilities as wealthy nations that have already attained high emission economies. The call comes as the current round of UN climate change talks approach their conclusion in Bangkok. “We should demand that China, India, Brazil and South Africa also agree to mandatory cuts without offsets, although of course, these should be lower than the Annex 1 [developed as of 1990] countries,” he wrote in the Bangkok Post.

Community Tenure and REDD+

WWF, 5 September 2012 | This paper reviews and synthesizes key issues, developments and lessons from recent literature and experience with tenure policy reforms and implementation, in terms of the particular opportunities and challenges presented by REDD+. It is also a resource for organizations to better understand and address tenure issues as part of their work on REDD+.

Australian polluters to save A$2.5 billion in CO2 costs: analyst

By James Grubel, Reuters, 5 September 2012 | Australia’s top polluters, from steel firms and coal miners to airlines, will save about A$2.5 billion over 5 years after a decision to align the nation’s carbon scheme with Europe’s, a leading analyst firm said on Tuesday. Carbon analysts RepuTex also said in a report polluters did not need to rush in to buy European carbon permits ahead of a merger of both carbon markets, with the price of European allowances to remain low. The European Commission and Australia last week agreed to fully link their carbon trade schemes by 2018, allowing trade of pollution permits between both markets, a step that traders say would improve liquidity and increase opportunities for hedging carbon costs. Each permit equals a tonne of carbon emissions. Australia also scrapped a controversial A$15 floor price for permits from 2015 to clinch the agreement with the Commission.

Oakland Institute, Greenpeace expose New York investors’ land grab in Cameroon

Oakland Institute press release, 5 September 2012 | An American owned company with a track record of illegality and links to private equity giant Blackstone Group threatens to destroy rainforests and dislocate local communities in Cameroon. A new report from The Oakland Institute, in collaboration with Greenpeace International, exposes how a New York-based agri-corporation, Herakles Farms, and its local subsidiary SG Sustainable Oils Cameroon (SGSOC), are involved in a land deal that is questionable under Cameroonian Law, opposed by locals since 2010 and has just pulled out of the industry’s sustainable certification scheme. Claiming it is “addressing a dire humanitarian need,” Herakles Farms intends to establish a massive 73,000-hectares palm oil plantation – one of the largest on the continent – in Southwest Cameroon through a 99-year land lease.

Palm oil company in Cameroon drops bid for eco-certification of controversial plantation

mongabay.com, 5 September 2012 | Herakles Farm, a U.S.-based agricultural developer, will no longer seek eco-certification of its 70,000-hectare oil palm plantation in Cameroon, reports the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). The move comes amid criticism from environmental groups that Herakles is converting high conservation value rainforest for the plantation. Herakles announced the decision in a letter to the RSPO, following complaints filed by a range of NGOs against the palm oil developer’s planned project. Had Herakles proceeded with RSPO certification, it would have had to avoid conversion of wildlife-rich forest, taken measures to reduce pollution, and maintained certain safeguards for workers. Now Herakles need not comply with such standards, although the company indicates it plans to do so. Nonetheless WWF said Herakles’ decision not to seek RSPO certification means the project “will likely fall short” of basic social and environmental standards for palm oil…

[DR Congo] REDD+ Practitioner: Esombo Flory Botamba

WWF, 5 September 2012 | Esombo “Flory” Botamba is WWF’s REDD+ Project Manager in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). He currently manages one of WWF’s most successful REDD+ initiatives to date, the Mai Ndombe project in DRC’s Bandundu Province. This project covers more than 30,000 square kilometers and is part of a WWF Forest and Climate Initiative programme funded by the Government of Norway through a grant administered by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad). He has played an important role in bringing REDD+ and climate change awareness to the DRC. As part of this, Botamba has designed and carried out REDD+ training initiatives and has supported the development of the DRC’s national REDD+ strategy.

Stakeholders join hands to develop REDD+ FPIC protocols in DRC

WWF, 5 September 2012 | On August 23rd and 24th in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), local and international civil society leaders and representatives of the private sector came together and developed a roadmap for the implementation of REDD+ free and prior informed consent (FPIC) protocols. Through a participatory approach, the group also developed a FPIC questionnaire to be used by REDD+ project managers in the field as they engage with indigenous peoples and local communities on REDD+ issues. The new protocols and tools will enable practitioners to tailor their efforts to the specific needs and criteria of each location and its inhabitants. “It is important that all of us – non-governmental organizations, community groups and government agencies – come together as a group to address the issue of free, prior and informed consent as it is a critical component to a successful REDD+ mechanism,” said Flory Botamba, WWF-DRC REDD+ Project Manager.

[Indonesia] Court grants Walhi appeal, cancels plantation permit in Aceh

By Sita W. Dewi, Jakarta Post, 5 September 2012 | Aceh Governor Zaini Abdullah has been instructed to revoke a legally problematic business permit owned by oil company, PT Kallista Alam, which operates in the carbon-rich Tripa peat swamps in Nagan Raya regency, Aceh, by the Medan Administrative Court after granting an appeal filed by the Aceh chapter of the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi). The permit was granted to the company by former Aceh governor Irwandi Yusuf on Aug. 25, 2011, contradicting Presidential Instruction No. 10/2011 on the moratorium of new permits in primary forests and peatland conversion areas. Walhi Aceh’s executive director, Teuku Muhammad Zulfikar, applauded the verdict, which was signed by a panel of judges led by Arpani Mansur on Aug. 30, saying it was an important ruling supporting efforts to protect more than 61,000 hectares of Tripa peatland.

Indonesian Government Means It This Time

By Fidelis E. Satriastanti, Jakarta Globe, 5 September 2012 | The government is set to conduct a field survey this month to update its map for a deforestation moratorium, after various stakeholders submitted conflicting claims on the actual situation. The map has been revised twice before. For the third revision, a dedicated government task force to monitor the implementation of the moratorium staged a two-day seminar to garner input from stakeholders including the National Land Agency (BPN), the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry and the Manpower and Transmigration Ministry. “The likelihood that the map will change is there, because the BPN has not provided much input,” said Geospatial Information Agency deputy Priyadi Kardono, a member of the task force. “We are still collecting data. Not all the data from the Forestry Ministry has been collected, for instance.”

6 September 2012

Mixed reactions to outcome of Bangkok meeting

By Anne Eckstein, Europolitics, 6 September 2012 | The last informal session of negotiations ahead of the United Nations climate conference in Doha (26 November-7 December), held in Bangkok, Thailand, from 30 August to 5 September, achieved few real advances, judging by comments made after the meeting. Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), seemed isolated in her optimism. She noted that “the investment in Bangkok produced results” and enabled Kyoto Protocol member states to achieve real progress on key questions. Figueres acknowledged that there are still tough questions ahead but finds that “there is now positive impetus and a greater sense of convergence that will stimulate political discussions at the highest level in the run-up to Doha”.

Progress Made at Bangkok Climate Negotiations, but Is it Enough?

By Edward Cameron and Yamide Dagnet, WRI Insights, 6 September 2012 | It’s a long way from Bonn to Bangkok—literally and figuratively. It would be a great understatement to suggest that the June session of the UN climate talks in Bonn, Germany were acrimonious. In Bonn, governments spent the week arguing about procedural issues such as the nomination of chairs and the finalization of agendas. At the Bangkok negotiations that took place this past week, they argued over substance instead. These arguments actually represent progress. Because the 50-plus issues under negotiation are contentious and have real impacts on national interests, they are deserving of robust debate. But we still have a long way to travel to get to Doha, Qatar, the location of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s (UNFCCC) COP 18 summit, which takes place this November.

Updates on REDD+ Negotiations in Bangkok

By Simone Lovera, Blog from the Global Forest Coalition, 6 September 2012 | So most developing countries emphasized funding for REDD+ should “predominantly” come from public sources. Especially the Least Developed Countries made a strong case for public finance, and Bolivia insisted once again that it rejects carbon offset markets, and presented its proposal for a joint mitigation and adaptation mechanism instead. Brazil reiterated its opposition to REDD+ funding to be coming from carbon offsets as well, even though it is well-known they are developing a national offset market themselves. Brazil and Papua New Guinea also demanded “equal treatment” of REDD+ and strongly rejected any extra conditions (binding safeguards, requirements for co-benefits or for example guarantees that compensate non-permanence) for REDD payments from, for example, the Green Climate Fund. It is not yet decided whether REDD will actually be funded through the Green Climate Fund…

WWF REDD+ projects lauded by government of Norway in new report

By Mads Halfdan Lie, WWF, 6 September 2012 | The report also offers an interesting view on the future of REDD+, noting that the political “delay and uncertainties regarding a post-Kyoto global climate regime has caused a situation where funding commitments for REDD+ are nowhere near the scale envisaged,” when the NICFI was launch in 2009. As such, the review proposes that “REDD+ be recast into something that is more robust, holistic and in tune with the national development needs and requirements.” This envisages an “increasing focus on investments that make inherent sense such as improved land management, create a basis for better land governance, provide sustainable benefit streams to local populations from various commodity chains, not only forest based – with possible future carbon finance as an added income stream, but not critical to viability of investments.”

Assessing corruption risks critical for success of REDD

By Aled Williams and André Standing, Development Today, 6 September 2012 | So what should donors do to prevent widespread corruption in REDD+? Compared to the corruption risks, investing in political-economy analysis focusing on corruption and deforestation in priority REDD+ countries is likely to provide good value-for-money. It also indicates donors are serious about mitigating such risks. The UN-REDD programme is now developing a method for corruption risk assessments in partner countries, with other donors such as GIZ interested in following suit. This is good news, though such studies need to assess underlying drivers of corruption. Corruption risk assessments should also result in follow-on actions. Where corruption poses real threats, adjustments can, for example, be made to MRV activities. Innovative methods such as crowd-sourcing and anonymous reporting services exist and can be explored for REDD+.

Environmentalists and indigenous people against carbon offset trading

By Edgardo Ayala, Latinamerican Press, 6 September 2012 | Central American environmentalists and indigenous people are intensifying efforts to prevent governments in the region from participating in a program promoted by the World Bank that seeks to include these countries in the carbon credits market, claiming it will have deleterious effects on the environment and the people. Social organizations have sent letters to the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility, or FCPF, the body that coordinates the program, demanding that it either reject admission requests made by the region’s governments, or clarify a number of deficiencies and irregularities. “We’re calling on the governments of Central America … and the World Bank’s FCPF to review and correct their actions,” reads a resolution from the Regional Meeting on Extractive Industries and Climate Policy in Mesoamerican Indigenous Territories, which convened in San Salvador on Aug. 17.

[Australia] Tasmanian forests worth $3b in carbon cash

By David Beniuk, AAP, 6 September 2012 | Tasmania’s wilderness could be worth nearly $3 billion in carbon cash, a landmark study has found. A report commissioned by the state’s Labor-Green government, the most comprehensive conducted in Australia, has found the island’s forests store 4.4 billion tonnes of carbon. Consultants CO2 say that could be worth $280 million in current voluntary carbon markets but up to 10 times that amount if Australia commits to the Kyoto Protocol’s article 3.4 on forest management. The report comes as peace talks continue between environmentalists and forestry industry representatives seeking to end the state’s bitter 30-year forests “war”. “What this report tells us is that our forests are definitely worth more standing,” Tasmania’s Climate Change Minister Cassy O’Connor told reporters.

Guess Who’s Chopping Down The Amazon Now?

NPR, 6 September 2012 | Though Brazil’s Amazon has been the focus of environmental groups for decades, the deforestation rate there has fallen dramatically in recent years as clear-cutting of Amazonian jungle in eight other countries has started to rise. As a result, the 40 percent of Amazonia located in a moon-shaped arc of countries from Bolivia to Colombia to French Guiana faces a more serious threat than the jungle in Brazil. The culprits range from ranching to soybean farming, logging to infrastructure development projects. And in no other country is the problem as serious as in landlocked and remote Bolivia. Though better known for its bleak and haunting highlands, 70 percent of Bolivia’s land mass is part of the Amazon basin, from biodiverse foothills to lowland jungles. It’s an area bigger than California; but every year, nearly 1,400 square miles are deforested, about two-thirds the size of Delaware.

Amazon deforestation could trigger drop in rainfall across South America

By Rhett A. Butler, mongabay.com, 6 September 2012 | Deforestation could cause rainfall across the Amazon rainforest to drop precipitously, warns a new study published in the journal Nature. Using a computer model that accounts for forest cover and rainfall patterns, Dominick Spracklen of the University of Leeds and colleagues estimate that large-scale deforestation in the Amazon could reduce basin-wide rainfall 12 percent during the wet season and 21 percent in the dry season by 2050. Localized swings would be greater. Forest clearing in the Congo Basin would produce similar results. The shift would primarily result from disrupting the forest’s water cycle. Trees absorb water from rain and then release moisture back into the air via the process of evapotranspiration. That moisture fuels further rainfall. When forests are cleared, evapotranspiration and more water runs off into rivers leaving less moisture for the formation of rain.

[Ghana] International Conference On Investment In Forestry And Forest Carbon Opens In Accra

Government of Ghana, 6 September 2012 | An International Conference on Investment in Forestry and Forest Carbons, yesterday, began in Accra. The conference, which seeks to explore opportunities and challenges in investing in forestry and forest carbons on the African continent, is on the theme “Boosting investment in sustainable forestry, forest carbons and renewable energy”. The three-day conference is the second annual working conference and a joint initiative of the African Bio-fuel and Renewable Energy Company (ABREC), FMO, a Dutch Entrepreneurial Development Bank, African Export-Import Bank, African Development Bank Group and the Nyenrode Business University, in conjunction with the Forestry Commission of Ghana.

[Guyana] Indigenous People’s Commission unveils five-year plan

Stabroek News, 6 September 2012 | The Indigenous People’s Commission yesterday launched its five-year strategic plan which aims to tackle several problems faced by the country’s first people. Under the theme ‘Building competence and promoting rights of indigenous peoples,’ Chief Executive Officer of the Commission, Autry Haynes launched the plan and said that by the end of the five years they hope to achieve significant milestones and will use several indicators to track the progress made. Speaking on the current situation facing Amerindians he said that there have been improvements such as transportation and other public services in the hinterland. [Subscription needed.]

[Guyana] No point in LCDS supporting documents being in Amerindian languages because most indigenous people can’t read them

By Ashton Simon letter to the editor, Stabroek News, 6 September 2012 | I wish to support the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs in disputing allegations by Region 7 Toshaos. This is a tragic affair for some Indigenous leaders of Region 7, I am surprised that three years after the LCDS consultations and at every National Toshaos Conference (NTC) thereafter, leaders of Indigenous communities continue to maintain that LCDS consultations were inadequate. I ask, were the consultations inadequate or did the leaders fail to disseminate the information? I recall that at every NTC conference since the launching of the Low Carbon Development Strategy in 2009, except that of 2012, the LCDS booklet and other information were distributed to every Toshao along with council representatives. Even so, at the 2012 conference there was an LCDS information desk where information was readily available.

[Indonesia] NGOs slam forest concession reactivation

By Hotli Simanjuntak, Jakarta Post, 6 September 2012 | Aceh’s title as a “green” province may likely end with the reactivation of production forest concessions (HPH) in Aceh by the new administration of Zaini Abdullah and Munakir Manaf. “The Forestry Ministry is currently lobbying the new Aceh administration to reactivate the HPH, which was earlier suspended during Irwandi Yusuf’s administration,” said Greenomics Indonesia coordinator Vanda Mutia Dewi. According to Vanda, Greenomics recorded around 10 production forest concessions from the previous Aceh administration. Greenomics Indonesia has strongly criticized the planned reactivation of the 10 HPH permits in Aceh by the Forestry Ministry. “We strongly criticize the plan to reactivate the HPH operation licenses, which were earlier imposed as a moratorium by previous governor Irwandi Yusuf,” said Vanda.

[Indonesia] APP establishes deforestation moratorium in Jambi; greens remain skeptical

mongabay.com, 6 September 2012 | Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) has established a moratorium on natural forest conversion in Jambi province on the island of Sumatra, according to a report issued by the Indonesian forestry giant… Greenpeace also expressed concern about a new pulp mill allegedly linked to APP’s parent, the Sinar Mas group of companies. “The news that APP plans to develop a massive new pulp mill in South Sumatra raises serious questions about recent claims that the company plans to stop using timber from natural forest clearance.” … The targets make it difficult to believe that Indonesia will be able to meet its emissions reduction target for 2020, according to Barr. “I have a hard time envisioning this capacity expansion while reducing emissions,” said Barr.

[Tanzania] Call to empower grassroot leaders to curb deforestation

By Abfulwakil Saiboko, DailyNews, 6 September 2012 | The government has been urged to empower leaders at the grassroots level in rural areas to ensure effective supervision of natural forests which are likely to disappear due to massive deforestation. The call was made by Tanzania Forest Conservation Group (TFCG) Project Manager, Ms Bettie Luwuge who said that forests under the central government’s supervision are neglected by village authorities. She said that the challenge poses an embarrassing obstancel to TFCG which is responsible for implementing the project of Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD). In September 2009, TFCG initiated REDD which is a five year partnership project that aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and degradation in Tanzania in ways that provide direct and equitable incentives to communities to conserve and manage forests sustainably.

Survival denounces Venezuela’s ‘whitewash’ of Yanomami ‘massacre’

Survival International, 6 September 2012 | Survival has denounced the Venezuelan government’s repeated denials of a massacre against Yanomami Indians, calling on President Chávez to evict all illegal goldminers from indigenous territory and conduct a proper, on-site investigation. The President is the latest senior Venezuelan official to insist there is no evidence of an attack on the Irotatheri community, in a remote part of the Amazon, close to the border with Brazil. However, the Organization of American States has now joined Survival and indigenous organizations in the Amazon, in urging Venezuela to ‘conduct a thorough investigation to conclusively determine what happened.’ The OAS says, ‘States have an obligation under international human rights law to conduct a judicial investigation into the serious acts of violence reported.’

7 September 2012

[Indonesia] Govt must deal with severe effects of global warming

Jakarta Post, 7 September 2012 | Officials and scientists have warned that if the government does nothing to fight global warming, some 2,000 of the country’s 13,400 islands will be underwater by 2030… Scientists have also warned that grand schemes like REDD+ have to be complemented with local grassroots projects. The grassroots project is important given the statistics from the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) which reported that 87 percent of disasters in Indonesia between 2000 and 2012 were hydro-meteorological by nature — such as floods, drought and landslides. Villages and small communities are most vulnerable to these phenomena.

8 September 2012

[Guyana] Where is the document explaining the rights and responsibilities of a Village Council ‘opting in’ to the LCDS?

By Janette Bulkan letter to the editor, Stabroek News, 8 September 2012 | Ashton Simon claims that the LCDS booklet has been available at meetings of the statutory National Toshaos Council (2009-2011) and a LCDS information desk on the LCDS at the 2012 meeting (‘No point in LCDS supporting documents being in Amerindian languages because most indigenous people can’t read them,’ SN, September 5). Mr Simon misses several points which have been raised by miners and Amerindian communities since the launch of the first version of the Jagdeo LCDS in June 2009. There were two meetings organised by the President’s Office of Climate Change (OCC) in Region 7, both on July 12, 2009, one at Kamarang for the Akawaio and Arekuna Nations and one at Bartica for miners and communities of the lower and middle Mazaruni. 97 people attended at Bartica and 146 at Kamarang, out of the 49,000 people in Region 7.

Illegal Palm Oil Firms Blamed for Razing Protected East Kalimantan Forests

By Tunggadewa Mattangkilang, Jakarta Globe, 8 September 2012 | Forestry officials and police in Berau district are investigating the burning down of 200 hectares of land inside a protected forest by illegal oil palm plantation operators. Heri Suparno, head of forest protection at the district forestry office, said on Friday that large swaths of land inside the Tanjung Batu protected forest were razed to the ground, along with smaller patches in the neighboring Kampung Kasai community forest. He said police had arrested five people and named them suspects in connection with the burnings and were still looking for several others believed to have gone into hiding in the forest. “The people who burned down the forest were actually local villagers,” Heri said. “There are indications that they were paid to do so by palm oil companies. These companies are operating illegally, they don’t have permits. We’re going to investigate them as well.” He declined to identify the companies.

9 September 2012

[Guyana] Jagdeo happy with pace of Norway forest deal

Stabroek News, 9 September 2012 | Former President Bharrat Jagdeo says he is now happy with the pace at which the arrangements for Guyana to access the Norway funds are progressing, noting that the parties have been able to address and resolve most of the outstanding issues blocking the path to the financing of a range of low carbon projects. He was speaking with Stabroek News at the World Conservation Congress 2012 in Jeju, South Korea, following one of the daily ‘meet the press’ events, which give the opportunity for especially foreign members of the media to speak with officials. [R-M: Subscription needed.]


PHOTO credit: Image created using wordle.net.

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