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REDD in the news: 21-27 July 2014

REDD-Monitor’s weekly round up of the news on REDD, organised by date with short extracts (click on the title for the full article). REDD-Monitor’s news links on delicious.com are updated regularly. For past REDD in the news posts, click here.

Forest Conversion in Lao PDR: Implications and Impacts of Expanding Land Investments

Forest Trends, July 2014 | This policy brief examines the institutional and legal framework surrounding forest conversion in Lao PDR, giving special consideration to the social, environmental, and legal implications of expanding land investments to meet Lao PDR’s economic development goals summarized in the National Export Strategy (2011-2015).

21 July 2014

Giving up beef will reduce carbon footprint more than cars, says expert

By Damian Carrington, The Guardian, 21 July 2014 | Beef’s environmental impact dwarfs that of other meat including chicken and pork, new research reveals, with one expert saying that eating less red meat would be a better way for people to cut carbon emissions than giving up their cars. The heavy impact on the environment of meat production was known but the research shows a new scale and scope of damage, particularly for beef. The popular red meat requires 28 times more land to produce than pork or chicken, 11 times more water and results in five times more climate-warming emissions. When compared to staples like potatoes, wheat, and rice, the impact of beef per calorie is even more extreme, requiring 160 times more land and producing 11 times more greenhouse gases… “The big story is just how dramatically impactful beef is compared to all the others,” said Prof Gidon Eshel, at Bard College in New York state and who led the research on beef’s impact.

Roads through the rainforest: an overview of South America’s ‘arc of deforestation’

By Liz Kimbrough, mongabay.com, 21 July 2014 | When a new road centipedes its way across a landscape, the best of intentions may be laid with the pavement. But roads, by their very nature, are indiscriminate pathways, granting access for travel and trade along with deforestation and other forms of environmental degradation. And as the impacts of roads on forest ecosystems become clear, governments and planning agencies reach a moral crossroads. Roads have the potential to greatly cut costs for businesses and farms, grant rural communities access to healthcare facilities and bolster economic growth. But the trouble with roads is that they can easily pave the way for more destructive activities. As they are built, loggers, miners, land speculators, ranchers and other potentially eroding forces follow swiftly behind roads crews, turning the relatively small line of deforestation caused by a road into a an amoeboid-like growth of deforestation.

Some Chinese carbon projects to exit UN offset market if allowed

By Susanna Twidale and Kathy Chen, Reuters, 21 July 2014 | Some developers of projects to cut carbon emissions in developing nations, particularly China, are likely to pull out of the U.N. offset scheme and move to markets with higher prices, if plans to allow them to exit are implemented. At a meeting last week, members of the board overseeing the U.N’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) said they would work on new rules to allow any registered project to exit the system. They will discuss proposed rule changes at its next meeting in September. Some developers in China, where almost half of all registered CDM projects are located, said they would be interested in leaving the CDM, because carbon credits can fetch much higher prices in China’s new domestic trading schemes. “If we can only choose between one or another market, it is all up to the financial return,” said a consultant manager with a Chinese state power company, who was not authorized to speak with the press.

[Peru] ‘Violent attacks’ caused uncontacted Indians to emerge

Survival International, 21 July 2014 | Highly vulnerable uncontacted Indians who recently emerged in the Brazil-Peru border region have said that they were fleeing violent attacks in Peru. FUNAI, Brazil’s Indian Affairs Department, has announced that the group of uncontacted Indians has returned once more to their forest home. Seven Indians made peaceful contact with a settled indigenous Ashaninka community near the Envira River in the western Acre state, Brazil, three weeks ago. A government health team was dispatched and has treated seven Indians for flu. FUNAI has announced it will reopen a monitoring post on the Envira River which it closed in 2011 when it was overrun by drug traffickers. The emerging news has been condemned as “extremely worrying” by Survival International, the global movement for tribal peoples’ rights, as epidemics of flu, to which uncontacted Indians lack immunity, have wiped out entire tribes in the past.

22 July 2014

[Australia] Direct Action set to deliver carbon credits to farmers

By Cath McAloon, ABC Rural, 22 July 2014 | Farming groups are pushing ahead with plans for projects to store carbon in soil, after the Federal Government approved a methodology that will allow farmers to earn carbon credits. The methodology for sequestering carbon in soils in grazing systems was approved by Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt last week. Louisa Kiely, director of Carbon Farmers of Australia, says having the methodology finalised and approved for earning carbon credits is the culmination of many years of research and negotiation. “It is significant not just for Australia, but it’s significant world wide,” Ms Kiely said. “This could help farmers all over the world, as well as the job of removing carbon from the air all over the world. “The landholders of Australia, the farmers, who control over 65 per cent of our land, can now start the important job of sequestering carbon into their soils for productivity improvement and selling the carbon into a carbon market.”

‘A high price to pay’: new Indonesian peatland regulation may do more harm than good

By Fidelis E. Satriastanti, mongabay.com, 22 July 2014 | Inches away from being passed, a new regulation on peatlands management in Indonesia is drawing protests from civil societies that claim it may increase land tenure conflicts among local people. The Government Regulation on Peatland Ecosystem Protection and Management, initially drafted by the Ministry of Forestry in 2013, is getting mixed acceptance from civil society. On one hand, the regulation would offer more protection to the country’s vast peatland areas. However, on the other, some NGOs have slammed the draft as a potential source of new conflicts for local people. “The draft only categorizes peatlands into two functions, as protection areas and as cultivation areas,” Zenzi Suhedi, forest and plantation campaigner of … Walhi, recently told Mongabay-Indonesia. “It does not touch on the ownership issue at all which brings out the question, what will happen to local people who are already in the areas?”

[Indonesia] New maps reveal more complex picture of Sumatran fires

By David Gaveau, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 22 July 2014 | Extreme episodes of trans-boundary haze in Southeast Asia in 2013 and 2014 — and an anticipated El-Niño-induced drought during the second half of 2014, which could result in significantly heightened fire activity across Indonesia — have focused attention on causes and origins of fires in peatland areas of Sumatra. It has also prompted the affected countries in the region to develop policies to mitigate future fires in the region — as well as penalties for those who start the fires. Indonesia’s vice president has convened senior ministers from several agencies to combat the problem, and a special “situation room” is being established to ensure firefighting capabilities and response within hours after new fire hotspots are detected by satellites.

Local actions lay the groundwork for REDD+ implementation in Kutai Barat, Indonesia

WWF, 22 July 2014 | WWF-Indonesia is making major strides in partnering with local communities to demarcate and preserve vast sections of forest in the Kutai Barat area… WWF-Indonesia, along with support from the WWF Forest and Climate Programme, is also collaborating on the submission of an Emissions-Reductions Programme Idea Note (ER-PIN) to the FCPF which would potentially unlock funding for emissions reductions payments. If approved, funding from the FCPF Carbon Fund would add significant momentum for jurisdictional or subnational REDD+ in Indonesia and could help bring access to credible international partners and to technical assistance.

Britain sticks with tough carbon target despite opposition

By Susann Twidale, Reuters, 22 July 2014 | Britain’s government said it would stick with a goal to curb emissions by 2027 to 50 percent of the 1990 levels, a target that has led to political opposition and that its own advisers have said will be hard to meet. The country has set binding targets for greenhouse gases over four five-year periods to 2027, known as carbon budgets, which aim to put it on track towards cutting emissions by 80 percent from 1990 levels by the middle of the century. “Retaining the budget at its existing level provides certainty for businesses and investors by demonstrating government’s commitment to our long-term decarbonisation goals,” Ed Davey, secretary of state for energy and climate change, said in a statement on Tuesday.

23 July 2014

Experts: Local activism, political measures needed to stop illegal timber

By Barbara Fraser, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 23 July 2014 | When it comes to stemming the global trade in illegal tropical timber, local activists in timber-producing countries may be more effective than sophisticated technology and import regulations, say experts from the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR). Whistleblowing by environmental groups has led to some crackdowns on the illegal trade in high-profile species such as bigleaf mahogany from South America, and those groups should be given a more formal role in international oversight agencies, suggests a recent paper published by CIFOR and London-based Chatham House. “Engaging civil society representatives from countries where the illegal timber trade occurs expands your information base, as long as they are credible non-governmental organizations,” said Rosalind Reeve, a senior associate researcher at CIFOR and co-author of the paper.

Strengthening Community Forest Rights is Critical Tool to Fight Climate Change, Says Major New Report

World Resources Institute, 23 July 2014 | Strengthening community forest rights is an essential strategy to reduce billions of tonnes of carbon emissions, making it an effective way for governments to meet climate goals, safeguard forests and protect the livelihoods of their citizens, according to a major new report. The report, called “Securing Rights, Combating Climate Change: How Strengthening Community Forest Rights Mitigates Climate Change,” is being published jointly by World Resources Institute (WRI) and Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI). The paper provides the most comprehensive analysis to date linking legal recognition and government protection of community forest rights with reductions in carbon pollution.

Developing REDD+ schemes must consider the implications of uncertainty and scale

By Robert Finlayson, ASB, 23 July 2014 | The ability of any scheme to meet its national target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation plus conservation (REDD+) requires understanding how its processes are linked across scales, from local through provincial to national and international levels. A single approach to reduce deforestation that is effective for a project in several villages might not be as effective at an aggregated level, such as a district. Accordingly, scale must be addressed in REDD+ schemes, including highly technical activities such as satellite mapping of vegetation cover. This is a critical feature, since knowing how the amount of carbon stock in the form of vegetation, of what type, and how it changes over time determines payments to local people for preserving, adding to, or depleting the stock.

Venezuela climate summit calls for end to “green economy”

By Sophie Yeo, RTCC, 23 July 2014 | A UN-backed conference in Venezuela has ended with a declaration to scrap carbon markets and reject the green economy. The Margarita Declaration was issued at the end of a four-day meeting of around 130 green activist groups, which the Venezuelan government hosted in order to raise the volume of civil society demands in UN discussions on climate change. “The structural causes of climate change are linked to the current capitalist hegemonic system,” the final declaration said. “To combat climate change it is necessary to change the system.” The declaration will be handed to environment ministers when they meet ahead of the UN’s main round of talks in Lima this year.

Phone-based logging alert system eyes expanding to the Amazon

mongabay.com, 23 July 2014 | After exceeding an ambitious fundraising target to launch a near-real time forest monitoring system in the Congo Basin, a San-Francisco based start-up is now eyeing expansion in the Amazon where it hopes to help an indigenous rainforest tribe fight illegal logging. On Monday, Rainforest Connection (RFCx) announced a partnership with Equipe de Conservação da Amazônia, a Brazilian NGO, to bring its alert system to the forest homeland of the Tembé people. Rainforest Connection’s system is built using a network of recycled Android smartphones, which are modified to detect specific sounds, including the audio signatures to chainsaws, gunshots, and vehicles. When the system registers one of these sounds, it sends a signal — in real-time — to local authorities, who can then potentially take action to stop illegal logging or poaching as it happens. Each RFCx device can monitor roughly three square kilometers of forest.

China’s red furniture craze fuelling illegal logging in Guinea-Bissau

IRIN, 23 July 2014 | Between March and May, during the cashew harvesting season, it is typical to see trucks line Amílcar Cabral Avenue in Bissau, Guinea-Bissau’s capital, waiting to offload their cargo on to ships. But when they line up all year long, suspicion is raised, especially as demand for the nut has plummeted. From interior regions of Guinea-Bissau, the trucks openly haul tree trunks, said Constantino Correia, an agro-engineer and former director of the country’s forest management agency. The cargo, mainly African rosewood, is destined for China, according to Abílio Rachid Said of the government Institute of Biodiversity and Protected Areas (Ibap). Environmental activists have been denouncing illegal logging in Guinea-Bissau for years, but now it may be too late, “as we risk not having [the African rosewood] in the coming years”, Said warned. “It is a type of wood in extremely high demand in the Chinese market.”

24 July 2014

Put a price on nature? We must stop this neoliberal road to ruin

By George Monbiot, The Guardian, 24 July 2014 | It is not just that neoliberalism has failed spectacularly in that this creed – which was supposed to prevent state spending and persuade us that we didn’t need state spending – has required the greatest and most wasteful state spending in history to bail out the deregulated banks. But also that it has singularly failed to create the great society of innovators and entrepreneurs that we were promised by the originators of this doctrine, by people like Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman, who insisted that it would create a society of entrepreneurs.

Rainforest protection could “stagnate or decline” without support

By Sophie Yeo, RTCC, 24 July 2014 | Forest protection efforts could “stagnate or decline” unless governments back UN-led efforts to stop loggers, farmers and mining companies. That’s the message from associations representing over 160 international companies and members of civil society, who have released a declaration demanding more political support for deforestation efforts. In a statement released on Tuesday they say the UN-backed Reducing Emissions through Deforestation and Land Degradation (REDD+) programme is the most effective tool for governments who want to cut their emissions by preserving forests, but warn it needs financial backing.

Change to big World Bank aid projects could cede policing to governments

By Anna Yukhananov, Reuters, 24 July 2014 | The World Bank is considering putting governments in charge of policing its aid projects, a move watchdog groups worry could undermine social and environmental safeguards the lender currently has in place. The proposal, outlined in a draft document obtained by Reuters, would represent the biggest shake up in 20 years to the policies governing how the bank’s big development projects are monitored. Proponents say it would allow more flexibility and less red tape and is necessary to adjust to a world in which the World Bank is not the only major development player. Under the plan, client states could be called on to carry out their own assessments before a project begins, and apply their own rules to ensure no harm during implementation. That means Brazil’s ministry of planning, for example, could apply its own social and environmental guidelines when it uses World Bank money to build a new bridge…

Forest Rights Offer Major Opportunity to Counter Climate Change

By Carey L. Biron, IPS, 24 July 2014 | The international community is failing to take advantage of a potent opportunity to counter climate change by strengthening local land tenure rights and laws worldwide, new data suggests. In what researchers say is the most detailed study on the issue to date, new analysis suggests that in areas formally overseen by local communities, deforestation rates are dozens to hundreds of times lower than in areas overseen by governments or private entities. Anywhere from 10 to 20 percent of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions are attributed to deforestation each year. The findings were released Thursday by the World Resources Institute, a think tank here, and the Rights and Resources Initiative, a global network that focuses on forest tenure. “This approach to mitigating climate change has long been undervalued,” a report detailing the analysis states.

Give people their land, cut global emissions

By Jessica Cheam, Eco-Business, 24 July 2014 | Governments in forested countries should look at strengthening the rights of their local communities as a key strategy to reducing billions of tonnes of carbon emissions, said a new report released on Thursday. Published by the World Resources Institute (WRI) and Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI), the study provides evidence – the most comprehensive to date – that links government protection and legal recognition of community forest rights with reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. The authors, who used high-resolution mapping data to analyse 14 heavily-forested countries including Brazil, Indonesia and Colombia, found that when governments enhanced and enforced forest rights, communities were more successful at reducing deforestation.

Africa builds ‘Great Green Wall’ of trees to improve farmlands

By Becky Crew, Science Alert, 24 July 2014 | Stretching over a space of 9,400,00 square kilometres and covering most of North Africa, the Sahara is the largest non-polar desert in the world. And it’s getting bigger. According to the US’s Public Education Center website, the effects of climate change are causing the Sahara to creep into bordering countries such as Senegal, Mauritania, and Nigeria, which poses a serious threat to their farmlands and agricultural productivity. The Guardian reports that by 2025, two-thirds of Africa’s arable land could be lost to the desert if nothing is done to stem its expansion. To mitigate this and other environmental issues affecting Africa such as land degradation, the effects of climate change, and a loss of biodiversity, Senegal is leading a 20-nation initiative known as the Great Green Wall. Most notably, this initiative involves erecting a wall of trees across the southern edge of the Sahara desert, which will be 14 km wide and 7,600 km long.

“New Leaf Africa” Invited to Partner with Congo Brazzaville Government in Furthering REDD Projects

New Leaf Africa press release, 24 July 2014 | New Leaf Africa (NLA) ( www.NewLeafAfrica.com ), facilitators of long-term sustainable development programs in Africa, have been invited by Congo, Brazzaville Government to partner in furthering REDD+ projects (Republiqiue Du Congo – Ministere De L’Economie Forestiere Et Du Developpement Durable). Opportunities with New Leaf Africa and REDD+ are a prominent part of the solution to deforestation. New Leaf Africa is a collaboration of leaders in technology, population health, reforestation and renewable energy who have joined together to bring sustainable development solutions to African regions. REDD+ Promotes conservation efforts and provides sustainable management and enhancement of carbon stocks. They work with reducing deforestation in developing countries and providing communities with economical and developmental initiatives.

A letter to Indonesia’s new president on his environmental policy

By Loren Bell, mongabay.com, 24 July 2014 | Dear Joko Widodo, Congratulations on your successful bid for the Indonesian presidency. Although neither you nor your opponent spent much time focusing on the environment, the world hopes your previous record in Surakarta (Solo) and Jakarta, coupled with the idealistic language in your campaign platform, is evidence enough of your intent to slow the rapid destruction of Indonesia’s environment. It will be a long and challenging road, but the Indonesian people have entrusted their country to you based on the promises you made to them. The world looks forward to watching you enact policies that keep these promises. As a reminder, your 42 page platform begins by enumerating the major issues holding Indonesia back. Among them, “environmental damage as a result of excessive exploitation of natural resources,” is singled out as a key cause of economic weakness of the country.

[Indonesia] Wrestling With Orangutans: The Genesis Of The Rimba-Raya REDD Project

By Steve Zwick, Ecosystem Marketplace, 24 July 2014 | As a former collegiate wrestler, Todd Lemons knew the look of an eager athlete ready to grapple, and these orangutans had that look in spades. He encountered them in the forest behind Orangutan Foundation International’s (OFI) orphanage in Pangkalan Bun, on the island of Borneo. All were adolescents who had witnessed the murder of one or both of their parents, and all of them owed their lives to the woman escorting him: OFI founder Birute Galdikas. Instinctively, Lemons crouched to engage the first one to step forward. They waddled around in circles, each looking for an opening in the other’s defense. Finally, the orangutan lunged; Lemons intercepted; others loped into the fray. Soon, at the age of 40, Lemons was engulfed in a gaggle of rowdy red apes, all of them rolling and wrestling and – yes – laughing.

[UK] Concerns over carbon emissions from burning wood

By Roger Harrabin, BBC News, 24 July 2014 | Burning wood to fuel power stations can create as many harmful carbon emissions as burning coal, according to a government report. UK taxpayers subsidise energy firms to burn wood to meet EU renewables targets. But the report from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) shows sometimes much bigger carbon savings would be achieved by leaving the wood in the forests. This suggests power firms may be winning subsidies for inadvertently making climate change even worse. The report has caused controversy within DECC as it indicates the initial subsidy rules were much too simplistic. The government has now promised to strengthen the regulations on burning wood, and to make standards mandatory. Environmentalists applauded the move but said they wanted to see details and a timetable for the new rules. They insisted that the proposed new regulations must be based on the new document.

[USA] California to Propose Lifting Ban on Alaska-based Forestry Offsets

By Gloria Gonzalez, Forest Carbon Portal, 24 July 2014 | Forestry projects located in Alaska – “the Land of the Midnight Sun” – could soon be allowed to provide carbon offsets to California’s cap-and-trade program. Right now, forestry projects providing offsets to California’s program must be based in the lower 48 US states, but the staff of the California Air Resources Board (ARB) will propose allowing Alaska-based forestry projects into its carbon trading program. The aim is to have an update to the ARB’s forestry protocol ready for ARB board consideration in late 2014. Both the American Carbon Registry’s (ACR) and the Climate Action Reserve’s (CAR) voluntary forest offset protocols allow for the inclusion of offset projects located in Alaska. But the ARB did not allow Alaska-based projects when considering early action methodologies and programs back in 2011 because of the absence of data from the Forest Inventory and Analysis Program of the U.S. Forest Service.

25 July 2014

Leaked World Bank lending policies ‘environmentally disastrous’

By John Vidal, The Guardian, 25 July 2014 | Radical plans by the World Bank to relax the conditions on which it lends up to $50bn (£29bn) a year to developing countries have been condemned as potentially disastrous for the environment and likely to weaken protection of indigenous peoples and the poor. A leaked draft of the bank’s proposed new “safeguard policies”, seen by the Guardian, suggests that existing environmental and social protection will be gutted to allow logging and mining in even the most ecologically sensitive areas, and that indigenous peoples will not have to be consulted before major projects like palm oil plantations or large dams palm go ahead on land which they traditionally occupy. Under the proposed new “light touch” rules, the result of a two year consultation within the bank, borrowers will be allowed to opt out of signing up to employment safeguards, existing protection for biodiversity will be shredded, countries will be allowed to assess themselves…

[USA] More trees felled in Everglades as deadly fungus spreads

AP, 25 July 2014 | A fungus carried by an invasive beetle from southeast Asia is felling trees across the Everglades, and experts have not found a way to stop the blight from spreading. Then there’s a bigger problem — the damage may be leaving Florida’s fragile wetlands open to even more of an incursion from exotic plants threatening to choke the unique Everglades and undermine billions of dollars’ worth of restoration projects. Since first detected on the edge of Miami’s western suburbs in 2011, laurel wilt has killed swamp bay trees scattered across 330,000 acres of the Everglades, a roughly 2 million-acre system that includes Everglades National Park. The fungus is spread by the tiny redbay ambrosia beetle, which likely arrived in this country in a shipment of wood packing material.

26 July 2014

[Australia] Carbon Farming Initiative falls short

By Colin Bettles, Farm Weekly, 26 July 2014 | Experts say the Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI) has fallen well short of reaching its key objectives and remains problematic, despite surviving the carbon tax axing. The Abbott government’s Direct Action policy aims to replace the carbon tax as a key policy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 5 per cent by 2020. That new policy involves retaining the CFI, which allows farmers and land managers to earn carbon credits by storing carbon or reducing greenhouse gas emissions on the land. The carbon credits can then be sold to people and businesses wishing to offset their emissions. This year’s federal budget allocated $2.55 billion to establish the government’s Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF). Environment Minister Greg Hunt says the ERF will expand the CFI to enable emissions reductions across the entire economy to be credited beyond the land sector.

[Indonesia] REDD agency hopes for committed new govt

The Jakarta Post, 26 July 2014 | Officials from the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation plus (REDD+) Management Agency have urged the incoming government to remain committed to the ongoing efforts to reduce carbon emissions. REDD+ chairman Heru Prasetyo said on Thursday that the next government had a big task ahead, as it not only had to maintain momentum but must also ensure the indigenous groups’ rights bill was passed. The bill, if passed by the House of Representatives, is expected to empower indigenous groups in reclaiming and sustaining customary forests for sustainable development. “By acknowledging their rights, indigenous groups can serve as strategic partners in the protection of forests,” said Heru. He said that indigenous groups were estimated to hold the rights to around 45 million hectares of forest currently being misused as commercial concessions.

27 July 2014


PHOTO credit: Image created using wordle.net.

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