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REDD in the news: 22-28 July 2013

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.

REDD+ Measuring, Reporting and Verification – Science solutions to policy challenges

WWF, June 2013 | The objective of this report is two-fold. First, it gives a status-of-the-art on REDD+ MRV requirements of the multiple Parties involved in the REDD+ process… Second, it reports on the proceedings of a REDD+ MRV multi-stakeholder workshop organized by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and Wageningen University (WUR) to identify and address the emerging challenges and requirements in REDD+ MRV by providing science solutions to policy challenges.

22 July 2013

Mostly bad news about slowing the planet’s warming

By Craig Jamieson, Agroforestry World Blog, 22 July 2013 | For scientists, our work is often full of bad news. Sometimes efforts to stem the greenhouse gas flow seem forlorn. For example, in May 2013 we saw global carbon dioxide levels rise to above 400 ppm for the first time in human history. It seems economic concerns rising from the financial crisis have put climate change out of focus for many in the West, while for most in developing countries those economic concerns have never left them. According to Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy, if we lack basic necessities—like money to buy food and pay our bills—our attention is often drawn to satisfying them before considering things higher up the hierarchy (like the future of the planet).

Why Global Climate Change Policies Are So Darn Hard to Negotiate

By Luis Costa, policymic, 22 July 2013 | Perhaps not surprisingly, the negotiations have a heavy legal facet to them. Countries fight relentlessly over word-choice, to prevent themselves from being trapped in the future. On one instance, negotiators spent almost the entire period allotted to an REDD meeting discussing to use “should” or “shall” in a particular sentence. The sentence read: “[shall/should] take into account the guidance provided by [a guideline established in Bonn]”. Brazil fervently argued that the word should be “should.” Ethiopia agreed. The EU thought “shall” was more appropriate. Uganda proposed deleting “should” and “shall” and changing it to “taking into consideration the guidance.” The parties didn’t like this. In this way, no decision was made, and a side meeting was arranged to settle the matter in “overtime;” and it was the same in several other meetings I attended. This hurts the process of the COP.

Scientists seek out forest traditions in climate change fight

By Barbara Fraser, CIFOR Forests Blog, 22 July 2013 | How is a raised garden of cassava plants deep in the Brazilian Amazon like the neck of an early European violin? Both are products of traditional knowledge that has helped people adapt to a changing world since the dawn of humankind, said researchers at the Third Latin American Congress of the International Union of Forestry Research Organizations (IUFRO) in San José, Costa Rica. As climate change threatens the livelihoods of forest people, scientists said they are tuning their ears to the myths, stories and songs with which people hand down traditional forest-related knowledge from generation to generation. “There is growing awareness of the value and complementary roles of traditional knowledge and formal scientific knowledge,” John Parrotta, the U.S. Forest Service’s national research program leader for international science issues said in a presentation on during a panel discussion.

How Africa Can Transform Land Tenure, Revolutionize Agriculture, and End Poverty

World Bank press release, 22 July 2013 | Sub-Saharan Africa is home to nearly half of the world’s usable, uncultivated land but so far the continent has not been able to develop these unused tracts, estimated at more than 202 million hectares, to dramatically reduce poverty and boost growth, jobs, and shared prosperity. According to a new World Bank report, "Securing Africa’s Land for Shared Prosperity," released today, African countries and their communities could effectively end ‘land grabs,’ grow significantly more food across the region, and transform their development prospects if they can modernize the complex governance procedures that govern land ownership and management over the next decade. Africa has the highest poverty rate in the world with 47.5 percent of the population living below US $1.25 a day.

[Australia] Most support emissions trading

By Tom Arup, Sydney Morning Herald, 22 July 2013 | More people back Labor’s earlier move towards a carbon trading scheme than oppose it and most Australians believe it should make a deeper cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 than planned, new polling has found. Commissioned by environment group the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the poll found that 41.4 per cent of people supported shifting to an emissions trading scheme and 33.4 per cent were against. A quarter were undecided. The poll was conducted last Thursday by ReachTEL, which surveyed 3190 Australian residents just days after Prime Minister Kevin Rudd confirmed he wants to end the three-year fixed carbon price period and bring forward a fully fledged emissions trading scheme a year earlier than planned.

Deforestation in Africa’s Congo Basin rainforest slows

By Rebecca Morelle, BBC News, 22 July 2013 | Tree loss in one of the world’s largest rainforests has slowed, a study suggests. Satellite images of Africa’s Congo Basin reveal that deforestation has fallen by about a third since 2000. Researchers believe this is partly because of a focus on mining and oil rather than commercial agriculture, where swathes of forest are cleared. The work is published in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. It is part of a series that is examining the state of Africa’s forests. Dr Simon Lewis, from the University of Leeds and University College London, said: "Most of the focus has been on the Amazon and on South East Asian tropical rainforests, and a big bit of the missing picture is what is going on the Congo Basin in Central Africa. "We really wanted to pull together information about this amazing region that we know very little about."

Has the EU fallen for Congo rainforest logging scam?

By Raphael Rowe, BBC News, 22 July 2013 | BBC Television’s Panorama programme has spent six months tracking illegal logs from the Congo rainforest to western Europe. The investigation has revealed that new EU timber regulations are failing to stop illegal wood getting into European stores. I have been on a stakeout for two days, but finally the moment I have been waiting for is about to arrive. I have been monitoring a ship carrying wood to Europe from Congo-Brazzaville. It is the dead of the night and I am at the port of La Rochelle on France’s Atlantic coast. While its marina and pretty cafes make it a popular holiday destination, La Rochelle is also a major European gateway for West African logs. The logs on board were delivered shortly after the EU Timber Regulation came into force in March. Behind the regulation is a desire to end corruption, exploitation and create a sustainable rainforest logging industry.

[USA] Alaska’s boreal forests burning more with climate change

By Bettina Boxall, Los Angeles Times, 22 July 2013 | The largest U.S. wildfires in the last decade of record-breaking blazes have been in the wilds of Alaska, where fires have blackened more than a half-million acres at a time. A new study predicts more of the same for North America’s boreal forests, the Far North belt of spruce and fir trees that extends from interior Alaska across Canada. A warming climate could promote so much wildfire in the boreal zone that the forests may convert to deciduous woodlands of aspen and birch, researchers said. “In the last few decades we have seen this extreme combination of high severity and high frequency” wildfire in the study area of interior Alaska’s Yukon Flats, said University of Illinois plant biology Prof. Feng Sheng Hu.

[USA] Deforestation Inspires Creative New Efforts

By Stasia Bliss, Las Vegas Guardian Express, 22 July 2013 | The Fragmentation of our worlds forests is inspiring new creative efforts of conservation. Did you know that nearly 36 million acres of forest are lost every year due to deforestation. The United States is the worlds biggest consumer of industrial wood products, meaning we are responsible for a large portion of these forests being torn down. The worlds forests are being destroyed and fragmented leaving the majority of the wild forest ecosystems left only in Brazil, Russia and North America. Forests are the home for 66% of the worlds plant and animal kingdoms and provide 75% of the worlds fresh water. The Fragmented Forests Project is working to raise public awareness about what is happening to our forests through education and inspiration as well as the online unification of related conservation activities occurring around the planet.

[USA] California Again Leads The Way, This Time With Forest Carbon Offsets

By David Rothschild (Skoll Foundation) and Karin Burns (Code REDD), Forbes, 22 July 2013 | Thanks to the people of California, and Arnold, in 2006 we passed the California Global Warming Solutions Act (AB32). As a result, this January the state launched its own cap-and-trade carbon market, demonstrating global leadership on climate change as well as opening doors to further innovation in green technologies and job creation. California now has an opportunity to again be an early adopter, offering polluting companies the chance to offset a small percentage of their carbon emissions by supporting reductions in tropical deforestation through a mechanism called jurisdictional REDD+ – Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation. Since deforestation accounts for some 15% of global carbon emissions, reducing deforestation plays an essential role in addressing climate change.

23 July 2013

UN climate change deal “may not be feasible” by 2015

RTCC, 23 July 2013 | The world’s leading economies have indicated 2015 may be too early for countries to agree on mitigation targets under a UN treaty. Paris has been earmarked as the venue for a global climate change treaty to be agreed in just over two years time. This agreement would come into force by 2020. Scientists say emissions need to peak this decade to avoid dangerous levels of global warming. But a recent Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate (MEF) meeting in Poland involving the USA, EU, China and the UN ended with a Chair’s Summary acknowledging that “some considered it would not be feasible to complete the process by 2015.”

Payment for environmental services: a glass half full or half empty?

By Mark Foss, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 23 July 2013 | Payments for environmental services (PES) can both save the environment and alleviate poverty: true, false or none of the above? For two scientists, the goals and potential impact of PES are part of a longstanding debate that recently took a new turn. Along with 32 other authors, Roldan Muradian – a senior researcher at Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands – published ”Payments for ecosystem services and the fatal attraction of win-win solutions” in Conservation Letters, a journal that focuses on biological and social sciences. Sven Wunder, a principal scientist with the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), published a response in the same journal: “When payments for environmental services will work for conservation.”

Deforestation of Africa’s Forests Could be Solved Through Effective Tree Management

By Tamarra Kemsley, Nature World News, 23 July 2013 | A pioneering series of studies of African savannas reveal deforestation in south-central Africa, driven by rising populations in the aftermath of war as well as an increasing demand for trees for agriculture and fuel, could be reversed with changes to land use. Led by researchers at the University of Edinburgh, the scientists analyzed 25 years of satellite data to discover that while forest cover north of the Congo basin has increased, areas such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Mozambique are all seeing a decrease in the number of trees in their forest. Possible reasons for the deforestation slowdown north of the basin include migration to cities and thus fewer fires, more hunting of large mammals and a reduction in tree destruction in the area, one study reports.

World Bank: Africa held back by land ownership confusion

BBC News, 23 July 2013 | Africa’s economic growth is being held back by confusion over who owns vast swathes of agricultural land, according to a World Bank report. The continent is home to half of the world’s usable uncultivated land, yet has the highest poverty rate. But the Bank said farmers’ inability to prove ownership, legal disputes and land grabs had held back cultivation. Land governance needs to be improved if Africa is to fully exploit its resources and create jobs, it said. Writing in the report, Securing Africa’s Land for Shared Prosperity, the Bank’s vice-president for the continent, Makhtar Diop, said: "Despite abundant land and mineral wealth, Africa remains poor.

[Canada] B.C. carbon tax showing positive results

By Shawn McCarthy, The Globe and Mail, 23 July 2013 | British Columbia’s carbon tax has resulted in a 17.4-per-cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, according to a new study being released Wednesday as premiers gather in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont., to discuss a national energy strategy aimed at – among other things – lowering carbon emissions. The premiers’ energy agenda has been dominated by discord: British Columbia opposes a pipeline from Alberta to its coast, while Quebec is embroiled in a dispute with Newfoundland and Labrador over hydroelectric power from the Churchill River.

The role of China’s forests in mitigating climate change

By Manon Verchot, Agroforestry World Blog, 23 July 2013 | Forest areas in China are rapidly expanding through reforestation and afforestation activities. There has been much discussion in China about opportunities for climate change mitigation through carbon sequestration and through opportunities for producing feedstock for electricity generation and liquid fuels from new forest plantations. There has been less discussion about the role that existing forests could and should play in climate change mitigation. A recent set of studies carried out by an interdisciplinary team from five institutions, including the Kunming Institute of Botany, the University of California, Berkeley, and the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), provides insights into the economics and institutional implications of different forest management options that support climate change mitigation.

[Indonesia] Analysis: Greenomics Is Misleading The Public And The Carbon Market On Rimba Raya

By Steve Zwick, Ecosystem Marketplace, 23 July 2013 | Earlier this month, a document entitled “Rimba Raya Conservation Project’s claims could mislead the public and the carbon market” popped up on an Indonesian site called Greenomics.org. The cover page made two incendiary claims that, if true, would mean that one of the largest REDD projects on the planet had both failed to secure tenure and overstated the amount of forest it had saved. “Not true that the Indonesian Government has approved 64,000 hectares for Rimba Raya Conservation Project,” the cover proclaimed. “More than 60% of area whose ecosystem is to be restored under the Rimba Raya Conservation Project was not originally slated for palm oil plantation development,” it blared. Neither claim, however, is standing up to scrutiny, and a quick literature review shows that the Greenomics “report” selectively references government decrees and letters that support its claims while inexplicably ignoring those that prove it wrong.

[Indonesia] Why the end of the Kalimantan Forest Carbon Partnership is important

By Denis Burke, Friends of the Earth International, 23 July 2013 | Australia has shut down the Kalimantan Forest Carbon Partnership (KFCP), leaving most of the project’s targets unmet. When announced in September 2007, the US$47 million project was described as aiming to protect 70,000 hectares of peat forest, re-flood 200,000 hectares of peat land, and plant 100 million trees. But a 2012 report on the project by Erik Olbrei and Stephen Howes, two academics at the Australian National University, found that only 50,000 trees had been planted and none of the peat had been re-flooded. The main results AusAID currently points on its website are monitoring and research activities, payments for participation, and the formation of a “forest management unit” that’s developing a 35 year plan (without 35 years of future funding).

[Panama] Above Ground Carbon Density Of An Entire Country Mapped In High Fidelity

Carnegie Institution press release, 23 July 2013 | A team of researchers has for the first time mapped the above ground carbon density of an entire country in high fidelity. They integrated field data with satellite imagery and high-resolution airborne Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) data to map the vegetation and to quantify carbon stocks throughout the Republic of Panama. The results are the first maps that report carbon stocks locally in areas as small as a hectare (2.5 acres) and yet cover millions of hectares in a short time. The system has the lowest demonstrated uncertainty of any carbon-counting approach yet — a carbon estimation uncertainty of about 10% in each hectare overflown with LiDAR as compared to field-based estimates. Importantly, it can be used across a wide range of vegetation types worldwide.

[Paraguay] Indian tribe blocks Pan-American Highway to protest land invasion

Survival International, 23 July 2013 | A key South American highway connecting Paraguay and Bolivia is being blocked by an Indian tribe angry at the destruction of their rapidly-shrinking island of forest. Ayoreo Indians today blocked the Trans-Chaco Highway, which forms part of the Pan-American Highway, and have vowed to maintain their protest until outsiders who have occupied their land are removed. The Indians are angry about the illegal invasion of their land by two Paraguayan farmers, in an area to which the Ayoreo secured official land title 16 years ago. The farmers and their workers have erected cattle fences and bulldozed wide tracks, and claim that the land belongs to them. They were guarded by police, to prevent any attempt on the Ayoreos’ part to stop the work.

[UK] Barclays took client’s deal ‘for its own account’, court told

By Jane Croft, Financial Times, 23 July 2013 | Barclays “misused” confidential information for its own advantage and “took a client’s deal for its own account” when it acquired a Swedish carbon trading company, it has been alleged in a High Court trial. The UK bank is being sued by the financial advisory firm CF Partners in an €82m lawsuit related to Barclays’ 2010 takeover of Tricorona, a Stockholm-headquartered company that had a portfolio of carbon credits in the niche area of hydro power projects.

24 July 2013

European investment bank to stop financing coal-fired power plants

The Guardian, 24 July 2013 | The European investment bank (EIB), the EU’s main lending arm, said it would stop financing most coal-fired power stations to help the 28-nation bloc reduce pollution and meet its climate targets. New and refurbished coal-fired power plants will not be eligible for funding unless they emit less than 550 grams of carbon dioxide per kilowatt-hour (gCO2/kW), the EIB said on Wednesday, which could be met either by a combined heat and power plant or one that also burns biomass. "Adoption of the new lending criteria represents an important step forward in the European Investment Bank’s commitment to energy investment that supports EU policy and reflects the urgent investment challenges currently facing the energy sector," Mihai Tanasescu, EIB vice president responsible for energy lending, said in a statement.

REDD+ finance: who’s counting?

By Charlene Watson (ODI) and Marigold Norman (Forest Trends), Climate Funds Update, 24 July 2013 | Finance for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation plus conservation (REDD+) activities has been flowing for at least five years now. But what can we really say about how much finance there has been, where it has come from, where it is going, and what it is being spent on? Climate Funds Update and Forest Trends’ REDDX has been promoting cross-pollination among various REDD+ finance initiatives in an attempt to answer these questions. This is the first in a series of blogs where several initiatives reporting on REDD+ finance will contribute.

AfDB enhances operational capacity to track climate finance in development projects

BusinessGhana, 24 July 2013 | Climate finance concerns resources channeled by national, regional and international entities to support climate change mitigation. African Development Bank experts in energy, transport, water supply and sanitation, agriculture, and forestry have begun hands-on training to implement a solid approach to track climate finance flows in Bank-funded development projects. Climate finance concerns resources channeled by national, regional and international entities to support climate change mitigation and adaptation projects and programs. This new tracking approach allows implementing agencies to more effectively account for climate finance and also to increase accountability for climate action in development projects.

Can cutting trees curb emissions and improve incomes in Mexico?

By Talli Nauman, Thomson Reuters Foundation, 24 July 2013 | Not far from the site of the Cancun 2010 U.N. climate change summit, indigenous people in rural southeast Mexico are doing their part to staunch global warming. They are perfecting Community Forestry Enterprises (CFEs) to establish long-term profitability through tree farming and related agricultural practices that protect the environment. “Climate change is a serious problem in the world, caused by bad habits,” says Miguel Cante Chuc, president of the Ya’ax Sot Ot’ Yook’Ol Kaab Environmental Service-Providers Network. “We as Mayan people want to be sure it is reversed.” The 9-year-old network consists of 12 Mayan jungle villages in the state of Quintana Roo on the Yucatan Peninsula, with the specific objective “to mitigate climate change and obtain financial resources.”

[USA] California’s Interest in Overseas Carbon Offsets Schemes Makes Some Greens See Red

By Maureen Nandini Mitra, Earth Island Journal, 24 July 2013 | A plan by the state of California to include overseas forest conservation projects as part of its carbon offset scheme is drawing criticism from some environmental and Indigenous groups who say the effort will do little to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. If that weren’t confusing enough (for non-policy wonks), the controversy is further convoluted by the fact that partisans on each side of the issue can’t even agree on which programs are supposed to be involved. The confusion is emblematic of the how the entire offset infrastructure is less-than-transparent… As an earlier Journal report details, the REDD+ project being worked out in Chiapas’ Lacandon Jungle had already run into trouble as far back as two years ago. It was plagued by a lack of clear objectives and had failed to take into account historic tensions over land rights in the region.

25 July 2013

Trading Halt Shows UN Carbon System in Jeopardy: Energy Markets

By Mathew Carr & Alessandro Vitelli, Bloomberg, 25 July 2013 | An unprecedented freeze in United Nations carbon trading is fanning speculation the five-year-old market designed to combat greenhouse-gas emissions in poor countries is in danger of becoming superfluous. Not a single UN Certified Emission Reduction, or CER, changed hands on July 22 and July 23, according to data from ICE Futures Europe, keeping the market on course for the lowest monthly aggregate volume since March 2008. The 14.3 million tons of offsets bought and sold this month compares with the record 211 million tons traded in October and an average 52 million over the past 12 months.

Tropical ecosystems regulate variations in Earth’s carbon dioxide levels

CSIRO, 25 July 2013 | The study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that a temperature anomaly of just 1ºC (in near surface air temperatures in the tropics) leads to a 3.5-Petagram (billion tonnes of carbon) anomaly in the annual CO2 growth rate, on average. This is the equivalent of 1/3 of the annual global emissions from the combustion of fossil fuels and deforestation together. Importantly, the NASA Earth Exchange (NEX) study results provide scientists with a new diagnostic tool to understand the global carbon cycle as it undergoes major changes due to the influences of human activities. NASA study co-author, CSIRO’s Dr Pep Canadell, said that the study’s 50-year analysis centred on temperature and rainfall patterns during El Niño years, when temperatures increase in tropical regions and rainfall decreases.

Tropical Ecosystems Boost Carbon Dioxide as Temperatures Increase: A Study

By Tamarra Kemsley, Nature World News, 25 July 2013 | Unlike in other parts of the word, tropical ecosystems are capable of generating significant carbon dioxide when temperatures rise, an international team of researchers has found. Specifically, the scientists discovered that a temperature increase of just 1 degree Celsius in near-surface air temperatures in the tropics results in an average annual growth rate of atmospheric carbon dioxide that is equivalent to one-third of the annual global emissions caused by the combustion of fossil fuels and deforestation combined. Knowing this, they report, can only help in improving understanding of the global carbon cycle. "What we learned is that in spite of droughts, floods, volcano eruptions, El Niño and other events, the Earth system has been remarkably consistent in regulating the year-to-year variations in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels," Weile Wang, a research scientist at NASA’s Ames Research Center … said…

North Pole melts, forms lake at top of the world

By Bryan Nelson, Mother Nature Network, 25 July 2013 | If this image (above) doesn’t scare you about the effects of global warming, you must have icewater in your veins. Yes, that’s the North Pole. It’s now a lake. The photo is part of a time lapse recently released by the North Pole Environmental Observatory, a research group funded by the National Science Foundation that has been monitoring the state of Arctic sea ice since 2000. The shallow lake began forming on July 13 after an especially warm month, which saw temperatures rise 1-3 degrees Celsius over the average, reports The Atlantic.

Rapid Arctic thawing could be economic timebomb, scientists say

By John Vidal, The Guardian, 25 July 2013 | Rapid thawing of the Arctic could trigger a catastrophic "economic timebomb" which would cost trillions of dollars and undermine the global financial system, say a group of economists and polar scientists. Governments and industry have expected the widespread warming of the Arctic region in the past 20 years to be an economic boon, allowing the exploitation of new gas and oilfields and enabling shipping to travel faster between Europe and Asia. But the release of a single giant "pulse" of methane from thawing Arctic permafrost beneath the East Siberian sea "could come with a $60tn [£39tn] global price tag", according to the researchers who have for the first time quantified the effects on the global economy.

Near real-time deforestation monitoring system to go global

By Rhett A. Butler, mongabay.com, 25 July 2013 | A near real-time deforestation monitoring system will soon cover all the world’s tropical forests, report the researchers behind the initiative. Terra-i — a collaborative project between Colombia’s International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), the Nature Conservancy (TNC), the School of Business and Engineering (HEIG-VD) in Switzerland, and King’s College London — has been testing its system in tropical Asia, extending its reach beyond its stronghold in Central and South America. Terra-i uses data from NASA’s satellite-based MODIS sensors to assess changes in forest cover at a 250-meter resolution every 16 days. The system is similar to the near real-time deforestation tracking system used in Brazil by the government and Imazon, a local NGO.

Botswana bars Bushmen’s lawyer as landmark case starts

Survival International, 25 July 2013 | In an unprecedented move branded ‘vindictive and repressive’, Botswana’s government has prevented British attorney Gordon Bennett from entering Botswana, where he was due to represent Kalahari Bushmen at an important High Court hearing about the tribe’s access to their ancestral land. Mr Bennett was put on a ‘visa list’ after he represented Bushmen clients at a successful hearing in June 2013 to prevent the eviction of the Bushman community of Ranyane. It was the third time Mr Bennett had won a victory for Bushmen clients: in the first, in 2006, the Bushmen won the right to return to their ancestral land; in the second, in 2011, they won the right to drill their own water boreholes after the government attempted to stop them doing so.

[Brazil] An Indigenous Vision for a Sustainable Future

Rainforest Alliance: The Frog Blog, 25 July 2013 | The Paiter Suruí people of the Brazilian Amazon have found themselves at ground zero of tropical deforestation since 1969, when they first made sustained contact with the rest of the world. Since then, illegal logging and agricultural deforestation have destroyed much of the Brazilian rainforest, threatening the Paiter Suruí’s ancestral home and their very existence. Rather than allow others to wrench their destiny away, the Paiter Suruí developed a 50-year plan to preserve the rainforest and protect their way of life. A central element of this plan is the Suruí Forest Carbon Project (SFCP), designed to provide financial benefits to the Suruí community in return for their commitment to protect and restore large areas of the tropical forest.

The Oxygen Trade: Leaving Hondurans Gasping for Air

By Rosie Wong, Intercontinental Cry, 25 July 2013 | Oxygen trading does not stop at rivers and palm trees. Honduras has forested land too. The World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) promotes and facilitates a program called “Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation,” also known as REDD-plus. Like the other programs, this involves selling oxygen based in the South. Officially, REDD-plus has not yet been implemented in Honduras. But a $3.4-million grant for REDD Readiness Preparation was approved for Honduras and five other countries at a March 2013 meeting in Washington, DC. Prior to this, an agreement to participate in the preparation toward REDD-plus was signed in January 2013 with the Confederation of Autonomous Peoples of Honduras (CONPAH) after a year of negotiations over indigenous rights.

US debt deal helps Philippines save forests

AFP, 25 July 2013 | The United States will help preserve the Philippines’ rapidly vanishing tropical rainforests under a $31.8-million debt-to-aid conversion signed in Manila on Thursday, the two governments said. Payments on debt owed by the Philippines to the US Agency for International Development will be redirected to starting a tropical forest conservation fund, a joint statement said. The fund would provide grants to conserve, maintain and restore still substantial forest lands in five regions of the archipelago. "In addition to helping to preserve the Philippines’ extraordinary terrestrial biodiversity, the fund will contribute to international climate change mitigation efforts," the statement said. US-based environment group Conservation International lists the Philippines as one of 17 "mega-diversity" countries that together have more than two-thirds of earth’s plant and animal species.

[USA] Making America Relevant to International Climate Diplomacy Again

By David Victor, MIT Technology Review, 25 July 2013 | After several years of near silence on the problem of climate change, President Obama finally gave a major speech last month on how the United States would address this looming global problem. That he did so is notable. But the new U.S. plan is, for the most part, the same as the old plan. It includes dozens of efforts, most of them already in place, to boost efficiency, switch from high-emission fuels like coal to cleaner natural gas, and promote new ultra-low emission technologies. Discussion by analysts, lobbyists, and policy makers over the impact of the details on emissions and the economy has already begun. Yet so far practically nobody is talking about the single most important test for Obama’s plan: international leverage.

26 July 2013

Ecosystem Marketplace’s Forest Carbon News

Ecosystem Marketplace, 26 July 2013 | After two years of consultations with indigenous leaders, environmentalists, and government representatives, the REDD Offsets Working Group (ROW) has released its final recommendations on how to work international REDD+ offsets into California’s cap-and-trade program. Last week, nearly 50 major corporations, indigenous groups and global NGOs signed a letter of support of the recommendations. Chief Almir of the Surui tribe, leader of the first indigenous people to generate REDD+ credits under the Verified Carbon Standard, believes REDD can be viewed as a way of bridging collective indigenous values and capitalist non-indigenous values. “In the indigenous vision, the standing forest has intrinsic value that we collectively must protect, but in the vision of the non-indigenous, capitalist world, the standing forest will only be respected when it yields a result, a payment, some sort of deliverable,” says Almir…

Sequenced palm oil genome paves the way for sustainable plantations

By Emma Bryce, The Guardian, 26 July 2013 | Few environmentalists feel any fondness for the oil palm, with its connections to deforestation in the tropics. But the waxy orange pods the tree sprouts in vivid bunches generate 45 percent of the globe’s edible oil, and consuming this incredibly versatile product is almost unavoidable, for it goes into everything from chocolate and peanut butter, to biscuits and cereal. The debate over how to turn palm oil into a sustainable crop has consequently been a priority for some time. Now, a duo of papers just published in Nature moves a step in that direction, suggesting that breeders could further boost oil palm yields, and in that way significantly reduce the competition between rainforests and palm oil plantations around the world.

27 July 2013

28 July 2013


PHOTO credit: Image created using wordle.net.

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