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REDD in the news: 10-16 February 2014

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.

10 February 2014

Reduced impact logging failing to cut emissions in Indonesia

By Rhett A. Butler, mongabay.com, 10 February 2014 | Advocates for reduced impact logging in tropical forests often make a case that better forest management cuts carbon emissions relative to traditional forms of timber harvesting. While the argument for altering logging approaches to limit forest damage makes intuitive sense, a new study suggests that the carbon benefits may not bear out in practice. Bronson Griscom and Peter Ellis of The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and Jack Putz of the University of Florida evaluated nine sites in logging concessions in Indonesian Borneo, measuring the width of logging trails and the mass of trees damaged by harvesting. From that work they estimated emissions associated with reduced impact logging (RIL) and compared them with conventional logging. What they found was a surprise: reduced impact logging — at least as practiced in the Indonesian concessions — did not meaningfully reduce emissions relative to conventional logging.

[New Zealand] Iwi accuses Crown over carbon value

Radio New Zealand News, 10 February 2014 | The Crown is being accused of giving iwi carbon credits and failing to prevent their value from collapsing. Some tribes were given the units as part of their Treaty settlements, but over the years the price of the credits has dived. Chris Karamea Insley, who advises the iwi leadership group on climate change issues, says the group blames the Government for the price fall and would consider taking a contemporary claim to the Waitangi Tribunal for the loss of $600 million. He says any claim would assert that iwi reasonably expected the credits to retain their value, and the Crown did not take steps to preserve their value. Mr Karamea Insley says iwi negotiated their carbon credits in good faith.

[Philippines] Strategies to save environment pushed

Philippine Information Agency, 10 February 2014 | Recognizing the provincial government’s bid to push for environmental protection programs, a group of foresters from the Federal Republic of Germany presented on Wednesday, February 5 novel strategies in mitigating effects of global warming. Dr. Bernd-Markus Liss, Principal Advisor of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit or GIZ, explains that the project being pushed, dubbed as the National Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) plus system,would help cut off immense carbon emissions from the atmosphere. Through this strategy, explains Liss, measures that prevent deforestation and degradation will be implemented, while stepping up livelihood conditions and biodiversity conservation in the communities.

11 February 2014

Are “alternative livelihoods” projects effective?

By Michael Day, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 11 February 2014 | Since the 1980s, governments, donors and conservation and development organizations have spent vast sums on ‘alternative livelihoods’ projects that encourage people to cease an environmentally damaging activity in place of a sustainable one. But as there is a lack of evidence as to whether these projects work, a systematic study of the evidence is being conducted — and is seeking input. Alternative livelihoods projects have been introduced in a variety of contexts: in Uganda to support gorilla conservation and in Afghanistan to reduce farmer’s dependence on poppy farming. They have encouraged people to farm seaweed instead of fishing, use fuel-efficient stoves as alternatives to traditional fires, and farm and eat cane rats in place of bushmeat.

India: first country to announce a national agroforestry policy

World Agroforestry Centre press release, 11 February 2014 | India announced a US30-40 million investment in its first-ever national agroforestry policy designed to put more trees back on farms to benefit the people and the environment. The announcement was made my Rita Sharma, India,s Secretary of the National Advisory Council that helped develop the policy. She was speaking during the World Conference on Agroforestry 2014 in New Delhi, India. India‘s President Honorable Shri Pranab Mukherjee, opened the Congress on yesterday (10 February 2014). “The cylinders can no longer remain idle; it is time to fire, ” he said, making reference to the importance of agrorestry to India’s future. “Agro-forestry produces food, fuel and fibre; contributes to nutritional security; sustains livelihoods; helps prevent deforestation; increases biodiversity; protects water resources, and reduces erosion,” he said.

Liberia’s timber: From curse to blessing?

By Mark Olden (FERN), Thomson Reuters Foundation, 11 February 2014 | By a remote scattering of thatched huts, reached after a long drive along rutted dirt roads, a local community representative, Matthew T Walley, is speaking about a relatively obscure, acronym-heavy EU forest policy as if his future depends on it. “It’s difficult to get change in this country,” he says, waving his hands in the air for emphasis. “There’s a lot of obstacles. People are still fighting. Investors and people in high places (are) suppressing opportunities, so that forest benefits are not filtering down to the common man.” Yet that could all change if the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) between the EU and Liberia succeeds, Walley says. This VPA – which was ratified in December by the Liberian government – is one of 13 the EU has either signed or is negotiating with wood-producing countries across the world under its Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan.

[Paraguay] Brazilian rancher vows to destroy uncontacted Indians’ forest

Survival International, 11 February 2014 | In a rare encounter between the Ayoreo tribe, Paraguay’s Environment Minister, and a Brazilian rancher responsible for the large-scale destruction of the tribe’s ancestral land, the rancher has rebuffed the Ayoreo’s plea to stop destroying their forest, the last refuge of their uncontacted relatives. At the meeting, the Ayoreo told rancher Marcelo Bastos Ferraz and Minister Cristina Morales, ‘The aim of the ranchers is to deforest, but that is not our aim. We want to protect the forest’. The uncontacted Ayoreo could be wiped out by diseases caught from outsiders on their land. Accounts gathered from recently contacted Ayoreo confirm that their uncontacted relatives live in constant fear of the bulldozers destroying their shrinking island of forest.

Sudan Reiterates Environment Protection Commitments

Sudan Vision, 11 February 2014 | The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Physical Development reiterated Sudan’s commitments to mitigate emissions and achieve all International agreements related to protect environment and forests. Addressing the opening of Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD) National workshop of Sudan yesterday, the Misiter of Environment, Forests and Physical Development, Dr Hassan Hilal said that Sudan has directed to address environmental deteriorations and setting down plans for saving forests. “There is a link between environment and development, we work to make balance between them and provide citizens with healthy environment” he said. Hilal revealed Sudan is affected by desertification, drought and reducing of forest coverage, saying that need more cooperation with International Organization and Civil society.

[USA] Obama Hopes Paris Is No Copenhagen

By Ben Geman, NationalJournal.com, 11 February 2014 | More than four years after fractious United Nations climate talks nearly collapsed in Copenhagen, President Obama is daring to dream again. Obama on Tuesday talked up the prospects of reaching a new global climate accord in 2015. That’s when U.N. talks are supposed to end with a Paris summit that births a final pact that would come into effect in 2020. That’s the plan anyway. “Next year’s carbon climate conference in France will be an opportunity to forge a strong global agreement that reduces greenhouse gas emissions through concrete actions,” Obama said Tuesday during a joint press conference with visiting French President Francois Hollande. It was no stray comment either. The two presidents used a joint op-ed Monday to urge nations to pursue an “ambitious and inclusive global agreement.”

[USA] ClimeCo Corporation Closes Acquisition of Resolute Environmental LLC

ClimeCo press release, 11 February 2014 | ClimeCo Corporation, the largest producer of U.S. voluntary carbon credits under the Climate Action Reserve, announces its expansion through acquisition of peer environmental consulting firm, Resolute Environmental LLC. A fruitful 15-year relationship between ClimeCo Corporation president, William Flederbach, and Resolute Environmental LLC principal, Gary Yoder is forged by this collaboration, as both entities’ individual successes merge to strengthen and expand the scope of ClimeCo’s environmental commodity service platform. Resolute Environmental clients enjoy the expanded advisory, trade, finance, and investment services of which ClimeCo is reputable.

[USA] Yurok Tribe Tosses Cap in Trade Ring

By Heidi Walters, The North Coast Journal, 11 February 2014 | The Yurok Tribe has entered the carbon trade market, joining with sustainable forestry investment group New Forests Inc. to sell carbon credits based on a 7,660-acre patch of Doug fir and mixed hardwood forest the tribe’s promised to manage for increased carbon sequestration. The tribe will be issued 704,520 credits, according to a news release from New Forests. This will be “the first forest carbon offset project developed under the California Compliance Offset Protocol – U.S. Forest Projects, a standard adopted by the California Air Resources Board for use in the California cap and trade program,” says the release. “The project’s registration is a significant milestone in the development of the offset market in the California cap and trade system.”

12 February 2014

Stopping Deforestation Makes Business Sense, Says Unilever CEO

By Tiffany Stecker, Scientific American, 12 February 2014 | Business is the solution to environmental progress, not its enemy, said the head of one of the world’s largest corporations. Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever, accepted the 2013 Commitment to Development “Ideas in Action” Award from the Center for Global Development last night. Unilever was recognized for its work in reducing deforestation through its sustainable sourcing of palm oil and pulp and paper products. “First and foremost I am a businessman; I cannot deny that,” said Polman in his acceptance speech. Like most corporate leaders, he excels in tracking progress and measuring success, important tools for both building a successful company and rooting out the cause of environmental degradation. “Otherwise, you don’t move things forward, and I think that’s one of the things that businesses are good about,” he added.

Carbon sequestration: Managing forests in uncertain times

By Valentin Bellassen and Sebastiaan Luyssaert, Nature, 12 February 2014 | Different models disagree on whether the forest carbon balance in 2100 will be positive or negative, let alone its magnitude. Even where models make the same assumptions, such as no change in current emissions and no forest management, they have wildly different predictions. Models assuming that rising temperatures and CO2 concentrations will increase photosynthesis, which absorbs CO2 faster than respiration emits CO2, suggest that the biosphere could absorb up to 10 Pg C/year. This is five times today’s terrestrial carbon sink and matches current CO2 emissions from fossil-fuel burning and deforestation. If respiration dominates, others predict that the biosphere will become a carbon source of 6 Pg C/year, doubling the current CO2 emissions and thus requiring emissions reductions far beyond what is being discussed.

The Ecosystem Marketplace’s Forest Carbon News

Ecosystem Marketplace, 12 February 2014 | California’s Yurok people and Australian project developer New Forests yesterday announced that they have successfully registered the first forest carbon project developed under the California Air Resources Board’s (ARB) protocol for US forests. Located near the Klamath River, the Improved Forest Management project over 7,660 acres of Douglas fir and mixed hardwood will issue 704,520 offsets, destined for California’s compliance carbon market. “Our partnership with New Forests will provide the Tribe with the means to boost biodiversity, accelerate watershed restoration, and increase the abundance of important cultural resources like acorns, huckleberry and hundreds of medicinal plants that thrive in a fully functioning forest ecosystem,” said Thomas P. O’Rourke Sr., Chairman of the Yurok Tribal Council.

USAID’s cover-up of Ethiopia abuses overruled by Congress

Survival International, 12 February 2014 | The United States Congress has acted to prevent its aid to Ethiopia being used to fund forced evictions of tribal peoples in the south west of the country. The provisions in the Omnibus Appropriations Bill for 2014 represent a slap in the face for USAID, which last month said that ‘there are no reports of widespread or systematic human rights abuses’ in the region. In fact, tribes of the Lower Omo Valley are being violently evicted from their villages by the government to make way for lucrative cotton, palm oil, and sugarcane plantations whose irrigation will be made possible by the controversial Gibe III dam. Transferred to designated resettlement areas, the once self-sufficient tribes will be left with no access to their livestock or lands and, consequently, will be unable to sustain themselves. Intimidation tactics, such as rape and beatings, have reportedly been used against those who resist resettlement.

[Indonesia] How global forest-destroyers are turning over a new leaf

By Bill Laurance, The Conversation, 12 February 2014 | Indonesia is the world’s biggest destroyer of forests and four multinational corporations — APP, APRIL, Wilmar and Golden Agri Resources — have been responsible for much of it. Until recently these mega-corporations were considered environmental pariahs, but suddenly things seem to be changing, with all four proclaiming “no deforestation” policies. What gives?

Rewarding reform: How innovative practices are greening Indonesia’s palm oil sector

Daemeter Consulting, 12 February 2014 | The narrative around Indonesia’s palm oil industry is usually one of destruction of tropical rainforest, conflict with local communities and loss of habitat for orangutans. But growing numbers of palm oil companies have found that being socially and environmentally responsible can be profitable and help reposition themselves to win new customers and markets, a study released today shows. The study looks at six palm oil companies operating in Indonesia whose investments illustrate how new practices are being adopted to cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, improve livelihoods of small holders supplying company mills and improving yields to make greater use of existing land, potentially easing pressure to clear more rainforest. Indonesia is the world’s largest palm oil producer.

Silence over missing activist in Laos

By Shui Meng Ng, Asia Times Online, 12 February 2014 | Thirteen months after the forced disappearance of civil society activist Sombath Somphone, the European Parliament issued a second resolution calling on the Lao government to “clarify the state of the investigation”, “to answer the many outstanding questions around [his] disappearance”, and “to seek and accept assistance from foreign forensic and law enforcement experts”. The European Parliament reiterated its concern that ”the lack of reaction by the Lao government raises suspicions that the authorities could be involved in his abduction”. This second resolution was preceded by countless other private and public appeals from governments and their representatives around world.

Madagascar Sells First Forest Carbon Credits to Microsoft

Wildlife Conservation Society, 12 February 2014 | The Wildlife Conservation Society announced today that the Government of Madagascar has approved carbon sales with Microsoft and its carbon offset partner, The CarbonNeutral Company, and Zoo Zurich. The carbon credit sales will support the Government of Madagascar’s REDD+ Project (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation “plus” conservation) in the Makira Natural Park and mark the first sale of government-owned REDD+ credits in Africa. Through carbon credit sales from avoided deforestation, the Makira REDD+ Project will finance the long-term conservation of one of Madagascar’s most pristine remaining rainforest ecosystems harboring rare and threatened plants and animals while improving community land stewardship and supporting the livelihoods of the local people.

[UK] Ames: Fraudster once hired James Middleton to promote scheme

Court News UK, 12 February 2014 | A ‘green finance’ firm boss who hired the brother of the Duchess of Cambridge to promote a bogus rainforest protection scheme today (weds) faces years behind bars. Matthew Ames, 38, cheated ethical investors out of £1.6m through fake green projects to fund his lavish lifestyle. His business Forestry For Life, which netted over £400,000 by claiming to protect the Amazon rainforest, was represented by Kate Middleton’s brother James at a trade fair in London in 2010. Ames also hired England World Cup winner Jack Charlton and sport supremo Sir Rodney Walker to promote Forestry for Life and his other firm, the Investor Club, at events.

13 February 2014

China treads cautiously in setting up carbon emissions trading

By Eric Ng, South China Morning Post, 13 February 2014 | China launched five regional carbon emissions exchanges last year, and two more are expected soon, but it is years away from having a mature trading platform. The mainland, which is taking a cautious approach in building a market-based mechanism for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, could shorten its learning curve by drawing lessons from the world’s largest carbon market in Europe. China has the advantage of being a latecomer in establishing a market to trade carbon dioxide emission rights, so it could avoid some of the pitfalls faced by the European Union when it launched the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) in 2005.

[USA] REDD Still On California’s Radar

By Gloria Gonzalez, Ecosystem Marketplace, 13 February 2014 | Major doubts have been expressed recently about whether offsets from reduced emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD) will ever make it into California’s cap-and-trade program. But state regulators affirmed this week that REDD credits are still on their radar. Political opposition has been one of the major factors driving the growing reservations that REDD would ever be allowed into California’s program . In February 2013, State Senator Ricardo Lara introduced Senate Bill 605, a proposal that would have limited offsets to anywhere in the US and possibly within the Western Climate Initiative, which includes Quebec but not states outside of North America. The bill did not pass the California Assembly before the end of last year’s legislative session, but could be reconsidered in its new form this year and remains a threat to the role of international offsets in California’s program, observers say.

14 February 2014

DNV GL is ceasing to provide validation and verification services for CDM

DNV GL press release, 14 February 2014 | Due to the current downturn in international carbon markets, without signs of a recovery in the foreseeable future, DNV GL has decided to cease providing validation and verification services for CDM projects and other international climate change mitigation projects… Recently, the price of carbon credits on the international carbon market has dropped to a level that no longer provides incentives to invest in climate change mitigation projects. The number of projects has decreased to less than one-tenth of the volume seen 1 year ago. As a consequence of this downturn in the carbon market, DNV GL has had to significantly reduce its activities and thus resources. The current volume of work is no longer sufficient to support the number of qualified staff needed to meet accreditation requirements.

Pace of global land rights reform is slowing, says new report

By David Hill, The Guardian, 14 February 2014 | The amount of land owned or designated for use by indigenous peoples and local communities is increasing but at a slower rate than past years, according to a report by global coalition Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI). “[The area of land] increased by a larger amount between 2002 and 2008 than between 2008 and 2013,” the report states. “The amount of forest land secured for community ownership since 2008 is less than 20% of that secured in the previous six years.” This is just one of several major claims in the report, titled Lots of words, little action, launched in London last week, and based on a sample of an estimated 85% of forests in lower and middle-income countries.

Forests: time to reclaim the ‘wastelands’?

By Peter Holmgren (CIFOR), The Guardian, 14 February 2014 | The SDGs, if developed correctly, are not ‘pie in the sky’ or utopian, but the keys to developing and measuring a sustainable planet. The MDGs made major tangible gains in slashing world hunger, rates of HIV/Aids and infant mortality while increasing access to maternal care and primary education. However, the MDGs were unable to reverse environmental degradation, increasing emissions and rising social inequality. The SDGs can go a long way in tacking these issues. They also offer a real chance to recognise the potential of the world’s forests to contribute to solving the many challenges that lie ahead. Let’s not miss that chance.

REDD should finance corridors between protected areas, argues study

By Dyna Rochmyaningsih, mongabay.com, 14 February 2014 | The Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) program should finance protection of corridors linking existing protected areas in order to better safeguard biodiversity while simultaneously helping mitigate climate change, argues a study published last month in Nature Climate Change. Patrick Jantz and colleagues from the Woods Hole Research Center created a map showing potential corridors in Africa, South America, and Southeast Asia. They calculated these corridors cover about 15% of total unprotected aboveground carbon in the tropics and, in some cases, store larger amounts of carbon than the protected areas they connect.

2013 record year for new carbon trading schemes

By Medilyn Manibo, Eco-Business, 14 February 2014 | Nine new emissions trading schemes (ETS) were launched worldwide in 2013, and as many as five of them were set up in various cities and provinces in China, according to a recent report released by the International Carbon Action Partnership (ICAP). This is the highest number of new schemes launched since the European Union began the world’s first carbon trading system in 2005. The four other trading schemes which also started last year were in California in the United States, Switzerland, Kazakhstan and Quebec in Canada. The Emissions Trading Worldwide: ICAP Status Report 2014, released on February 6, outlined the experiences of various governments which have been implementing ETS systems, and included a review of Europe’s current debate on backloading of carbon credits.

[EU] On track to reduce emissions

By Connie Hedegaard, timesofmalta.com, 14 February 2014 | When leading economist Jeffrey Sachs gives three cheers for the new EU climate and energy policy for 2030, there are reasons for us to be proud. Or when in Davos UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the ‘’ambitious proposals are the standard to follow’’; World Bank President Jim Yong Kim praised Europe’s ‘’climate leadership and ambition’’ and UN climate chief Christiana Figueres called them a ‘’positive signal for a meaningful 2015 agreement’’, there are reasons for us to believe that not only have we moved first, but we have also moved with ambition. And when some environmental groups label our proposals ‘’unambitious’’, while some industry sectors call them ‘’too ambitious’’, one could think that we have found the right balance.

15 February 2014

[Australia] Investors left to the mercy of the wolves

By Christopher Joye, Financial Review, 15 February 2014 | Many fear boiler-room style sales tactics are the future for Australian retail investors now that the Coalition government proposes to gut the sweeping Future of Financial Advice reforms. [Subscription needed.]

16 February 2014

[UK] ‘Don’t let boiler room scammers get away with it’

By Jeff Salway, The Scotsman, 16 February 2014 | Investors are falling victim to “boiler room” scams despite government pledges of a crackdown on the firms. Thousands of people have lost millions of pounds to boiler rooms who have cold-called them selling worthless or non-existent shares. Most victims have been picked from lists of people that own or have previously owned shares or funds. There are fears that confidential customer files recently stolen from Barclays have been sold for use in boiler room scams. The average victim of share sale or boiler room fraud loses £122,000, according to the most recent figures from Action Fraud, although it believes most people fail to report their losses. One recent victim of boiler room fraud contacted Scotland on Sunday last week to share his story and urge others to take action if they think they have been targeted.


PHOTO credit: Image created using wordle.net.

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