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REDD in the news: 11-17 August 2014

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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.

11 August 2014

[Myanmar] US to waive timber sanctions for one year

By Bill O’Toole, Myanmar Times, 11 August 2014 | The United States Treasury Department granted a special one year licence beginning in late July for certain US companies to trade with Myanma Timber Enterprise and other members of the timber industry currently under sanction by the United States. The announcement has drawn both praise and concern from forestry experts, with some applauding the hands-on approach to reform and others warning that the scheme could end up reinforcing the corruption that has defined the timber industry for decades. The Myanma Timber Enterprise is a state-related outfit dedicated to extracting timber. As an industry leader, it has been targeted by environmental groups claiming a broad range of corruption, unsustainable production and human rights abuses.

12 August 2014

Governors In Rainforest Nations Continue To Step Up On Deforestation. Will The Rest Of The World Follow?

By Steve Zwick, Ecosystem Marketplace, 12 August 2014 | Indonesia’s largest cash crop is palm oil. In Brazil, it’s soybeans. Those two crops are driving deforestation in both countries, yet governors from oilseed-dependent states in both countries have vowed to slash deforestation if funding for Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD) materializes. Thirteen of them on Monday launched the Rio Branco Declaration, which is a clear commitment to reduce deforestation in their states by 80% between now and 2020. That commitment, however, is contingent on developed countries delivering on their own promises to step up funding – both market-based and non-market-based – to engineer a shift to sustainable land-use practices built in part on support for indigenous agriculture.

[Guyana] Halt and investigate Bai Shin Lin’s operations immediately – APNU

Kaieteur News, 12 August 2014 | A Partnership for National Unity is currently seeking the intervention of the Speaker of the House, Raphael Trotman, to call an “extraordinary sector committee meeting” to have Bai Shan Lin officials come to Parliament and explain their operations in Guyana. Parliamentarian Joseph Harmon told Kaieteur News that he does not believe that the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) is showing the type of energy to facilitate an investigation of this magnitude. Harmon said that all operations of logging should be halted immediately and Parliament should seek a full explanation about what the company is doing. Harmon said that he called the Chairman for the Natural Resources Sector Committee Odinga Lumumba, to discuss the matter, and asked him to facilitate a meeting. However, Harmon said that Lumumba seems very reluctant to meet and discuss the issue.

[Guyana] Let the Chinese loggers enter the domestic market for hardwood

Kaieteur News, 12 August 2014 | The price of hardwood in Guyana is far from cheap. In fact, despite increased forestry activity by local foresters, the price of the most durable hardwood, greenheart, remains prohibitively high. Right now, the cost of greenheart is around $350 per BM. Do not expect, however, first grade green heart at that price. If you are lucky you will obtain second quality. Georgetown used to be a wooden city. The use of local woods helped to keep the buildings cool. And in the old days, the wooden houses lasted very long before they needed repairs. This was because the sawmills did a good job in drying the lumber before they sold it. And the carpenters also applied their own treatment which led to the wood taking a long time before it went bad.

[Indonesia] Half of Riau’s oil palm plantations are illegal

By Rhett A. Butler, mongabay.com, 12 August 2014 | Half of the oil palm plantations in Sumatra’s Riau Province are illegal, said Indonesia’s top forestry official. Speaking to Antara News, Minister of Forestry Zulkifli Hasan said that two million of Riau’s four million hectares of Riau’s oil palm plantations lack permits. “Only two million of the total four million hectares of oil palm plantation area have official permit for forest conversion,” Zulkifli was quoted as saying. Four million hectares represents half the area set aside for plantations in Riau, a province that lost 85 percent of its primary forest cover between 1990 and 2010. Conversion of rainforests and peatlands for pulp and paper plantations is the other major driver of deforestation in Riau.

The inconvenient truth about Indonesian deforestation

By Agus P. Sari and Nirarta Samadhi, The Jakarta Post, 12 August 2014 | As Indonesia embarks on the next phase in the national implementation of REDD+ amid public debate over continuing deforestation and forest fires in the trouble-prone provinces of Riau and West Kalimantan, prominent questions arise, such as: What is the actual rate of the country’s deforestation despite the ministerial decree? The question is not so easy to answer, even scientifically. Politics makes it even more complicated. Not long ago, mongabay.com, citing a study published in Nature Climate Change by Belinda Margono et al (2014) from the University of Maryland (UMD), said Indonesia had become the world’s largest deforester… Meanwhile, the Forestry Ministry reported this year that deforestation of primary and secondary forests was estimated to be about 628,000 ha… The ministry claims deforestation is showing a downward trend.

Grundon visit the Uganda Community Reforestation Project

By Toni Robinson, The CarbonNeutral Company, 12 August 2014 | The genuine passion and commitment to this initiative from the local people has been overwhelming and outdone only by their enthusiasm to meet with us. Ara, the lead administrator, met with us and shared his knowledge of the project functionality, emphasising the strong network it’s creating in each of the areas. The growith in community spirit, the training and education delivered and the emotional support offered to the smallhold farmers was apparent in any interactions we had – This was made clear to us, whether it be Enoch, who enthusiastically works as a trainer, to Pamela, a quantifier, whose job is to measure the carbon sequestered from the trees, or the wealth of farmers, trainers and other quantifiers eager to meet and talk with us.

[UK] Moving Goalposts On What Is Or Isn’t A Fund

By Sam Shires, Guernsey Finance, 12 August 2014 | Last year the Financial Conduct Authority in the UK (FCA) brought legal action against the promoters and managers of an African Land Scheme and three Carbon Credits Schemes because of the FCA’s view that they had been deliberately structured to avoid the need to be regulated. The African Land Scheme involved a rice farm in Sierra Leone in which an investor could purchase a sub-lease of a plot of land on the farm, so that they would receive the profit from the sale of the rice grown on their plot. The Carbon Credits Schemes involved similar arrangements in respect of forest areas in Australia, Sierra Leone and the Amazon, whereby each investor received the profits attributed to their plots from the sale of tradable carbon credits. In short, the English Court identified that the key question of whether the schemes were funds was whether each scheme was “managed as a whole”, even if investors purchased a lease over an individual plot.

[USA] Harleyville forest sells carbon credits

By Bruce Smith, AP, 12 August 2014 | A black water swamp in South Carolina owned by the Audubon Society is helping companies in California meet carbon emission goals to ease global warming. About 5,200 acres of the 17,000-acre Audubon Center & Sanctuary at Francis Beidler Forest near Harleyville have been registered with California’s cap-and-trade program as carbon offsets in a program that also brings dollars to preserve the South Carolina landscape. In cap and trade, the government issues permits allowing companies to emit a certain amount of greenhouse gases but gives them flexibility on how they comply. They can trade emissions permits with each other and, in California, can purchase credits to offset as much as 8 percent of their emissions. The offset credits can be purchased from registered projects that prevent greenhouse emissions. In the case of the Beidler Forest, it is land that will remain the same, and the carbon stored in the trees will never enter the atmosphere…

13 August 2014

[Ghana] Forest Commission Act To Boost Forest Carbon Stock

SpyGhana.com, 13 August 2014 | The Forestry Commission (FC) has initiated key policy reforms to effectively respond to environmental safety and boost forest carbon stock. Forest management strategies highlight the critical importance of reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. Mr Samuel Afari Dartey, the Commission’s Chief Executive, addressing a workshop at Fumesua in the Ejisu-Juaben Municipality, said it was no accident that the Forest and Wildlife Policy (2012), for example incorporated “Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+)” in forest governance. REDD+ mechanism is the international community’s recognition of the climate-regulating role of forests and trees. The goal is to slow down the destruction of tropical forests, enhance conservation, their sustainable management and forest carbon stock.

[Zambia] Growing Chinese presence a wake-up call for African natural resource managers

By Thomas Hubert, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 13 August 2014 | The recent surge in Chinese investment in Africa has exposed the need for local policymakers to boost regulation and administrative capacity if they are to manage their forests and other natural resources sustainably, a recent study of Zambia shows. The study, conducted by scientists with the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), sought to assess the developmental implications of China’s increasingly prominent economic and political role in Zambia. The southern African country proved a useful place for such a study, thanks to its long and diverse history of relations with Beijing — from the completion of the 1,860-kilometer Tanzania-Zambia railway in 1975 (then China’s largest-ever construction project in Africa), to the 2011 election of President Michael Sata, who opposed terms seen as too favorable to Chinese firms operating in Zambia.

14 August 2014

[Guyana] Vaitarna still exporting logs despite failing to set up processing plant

Stabroek News, 14 August 2014 | Months after Minister of Natural Resources Robert Persaud had said that Vaitarna Holdings Private Inc (VHPI) is in an “advanced” stage of setting up its promised wood processing facility at Wineperu, the company is still to do so and continues to export large quantities of logs. In January this year, Persaud told Stabroek News that construction of the facility was expected to commence in the first quarter of 2014 and start-up of processing was scheduled to commence within six to eight months. Since 2010, the Indian logging company has controversially controlled 737,814 hectares of forest – around 1.822 million acres – in Guyana and has been exporting logs to Asia.

[Indonesia] Satellite imagery, the new weapon to fight forest fires

The Jakarta Post, 14 August 2014 | Having been in operation since June with the support from the US-based environment and development think tank, the World Resource Institute (WRI), GFW-Fires has become a part of the agency’s forest fire monitoring system (KMS), an integrated system that provides near-real-time information about forest and land fires in the country for related institutions, including the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB), the Forestry Ministry, the police and local administrations. “Just imagine a village resident who beat bamboo tubes to warn others about an ongoing fire. This system works just like a giant bamboo tube that alerts officials and agencies responsible for handling fires on a massive scale,” BP REDD+ head Heru Prasetyo said.

More uncontacted Indians emerge in Brazil – fleeing attacks in Peru

Survival International, 14 August 2014 | A second wave of highly vulnerable uncontacted Indians has made contact with outsiders in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest, just weeks after Brazilian experts warned of “genocide” and “extermination” of the tribe. The group of around two dozen Indians is believed to include men, women and children who reported fleeing attacks by invaders in Peru. According to Brazil’s Ministry of Health, the Indians are in good health and have been residing at the “Xinane” government monitoring post. The contact follows a similar incident at the end of June 2014, when seven Indians from the same tribe made contact with a settled Asháninka indigenous community and agents of FUNAI, Brazil’s indigenous affairs department, in Brazil’s Acre state near the border with Peru. The Indians were given emergency medical treatment for an acute respiratory infection and briefly kept in “quarantine” before returning to their community in the forest.

[South Korea] KRX frets over government’s stance on carbon trading

The Korea Herald, 14 August 2014 | The Korea Exchange appeared to be in a rare fix over the Finance Ministry’s intentions to ease carbon emission duties for companies in a move that would put a damper on gas trading aimed at reducing the nation’s carbon emissions. The state-run stock operator had been gearing up to launch the Carbon Emission Reduction market to trade carbon emission credits. These credits are allotted to companies based on the amount of gas they emit. Firms emitting gas above the government-set limit would have to acquire credit from other firms in the CER market. The market is due to launch next January, but Finance Minister Choi Kyung-hwan recently hinted that the government was seeking to revise regulations to ease the burden for the corporate sector. “We must prepare for all possible side effects under the CER trading system,” Choi reportedly said during a meeting with the leaders of the nation’s top five economic organizations in July.

South Korea carbon market to go ahead as planned – MOE spokeswoman

By Stian Reklev, Reuters, 14 August 2014 | South Korea decided on Thursday that its carbon trading market will go ahead as planned on Jan. 1 of next year, despite the finance minister’s calls last month for it to be delayed. South Korea’s scheme – the government’s key policy to meet its targets of cutting greenhouse gas emissions in 2020 to 30 percent below business-as-usual levels – will be the world’s second biggest carbon market when it launches. As proposed, the scheme will cap greenhouse gas emissions from over 400 of the country’s largest energy generators and manufacturers, and force companies to buy extra permits if they emit more than they have free allowances for.

15 August 2014

16 August 2014

[Indonesia] Govt deforestation to continue amid emission-reduction plans

The Jakarta Post, 16 August 2014 | The government will maintain its deforestation targets despite its pledge to control emissions. Forestry Ministry secretary-general Hadi Daryanto said on Tuesday that the government would proceed with plans to clear 14 million hectares (ha) of degraded forest from 2010 to 2020. Indonesia currently contains 180 million ha of forested land. According to Hadi, the degraded forest would be transformed into convertible forest as the country’s growth has forced the government to provide more space for development needs, such as infrastructure, energy and food supply. “Deforestation is inevitable [for development], but we will allocate the land for better use,” Hadi told The Jakarta Post. He added that the government would carefully select which degraded forest to clear. He emphasized that this would be strictly supervised so as to prevent illegal logging and other environmentally detrimental activities.

17 August 2014

[Australia] Wide, brown land becomes a home to carbon farming

By Tom Arup, Sydney Morning Herald, 17 August 2014 | Instead of clearing everything, Mr Yench has promised to keep almost 7000 hectares of forest on Bulgoo standing for 100 years. In exchange he receives carbon credits under the federal government’s Carbon Farming Initiative. It has proved a healthy alternative revenue stream. Quietly, another 30-odd landowners in western NSW have promised to do the same or are exploring the option. Like Mr Yench, many are based around the mining and grazing town Cobar. It has quickly become an unlikely national centre for carbon farming. Mr Yench says the new income is turning around marginal farms in the western district, allowing landowners to reinvest in their properties. Mr Yench used his first tranche of carbon cash to buy The Meadows and put on new workers. But the Abbott government’s repeal of the carbon price, and the political uncertainty surrounding its much-criticised replacement, direct action, could bring it all undone.

[UK] Integrity Register will crack down on rogue directors

By Simon Bain, Herald Scotland, 17 August 2014 | Companies House is planning a “register of integrity” to help tackle the problem of directors setting up serially insolvent companies and walking away from creditors. The proposed register or “white list” of directors who can authenticate their identities is under development following growing disquiet in Vince Cable’s business department over how pop-up companies selling unregulated investments such as carbon credits can disappear and reappear in another guise. The Herald reported last month how the liquidated Abacus Advisory, involved in the sale to private investors of overpriced carbon credits and diamonds, is to be reported to the Insolvency Service for posing as a reputable UK business whilst operating offshore from the Marshall Islands.


PHOTO credit: Image created using wordle.net.

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  1. StabroekNews, Guyana August 18th, 2014
    Quote: “log exports from January to June this year were valued at US$8,726,893 while for the same period, plywood exports were valued at US$973,925. The organization supplying the data also cited the Guyana Forestry Commission (James Singh, Chairman) as the source for the figures”. Unquote.

    This figures would knock your sails out of your living daylights. That’s it – USD 8 mil + USD1 mil = 9 mil for half year x 2 = $18 mil for the whole year.

    Is that what our forest is worth, $18 million a year? Those pictures, tens of thousands of logs being shipped out, that’s all we get – 18 mil.?

    If I could be a dictator for one day I shall decree that all companies – all 7 Chinese and one Indian company – close shop and leave immediately.

    Let me keep my forest intact. I know Norwegians are paying $50 mil a year to keep those forest trees standing. I shall gladly accept that.

    Not this dictator for one day. If you don’t pay me USD 100 million – USD 200 million a year, you are not touching my forest.

    Eight Companies (7 Chinese + 1 Indian) are currently licensed by the Guyana Govt., all told they own concessions totaling one and half million acres of forest. The pictures in Guyana’s independent press (KN, SN) are graphic, horrendous – tens of thousands of logs are shipped out, thousands burned for unknown reason (KN, Aug. 17th). The pictures tell a story of massive cutting and exporting. This forest will not be the same in ten years. These companies, reportedly have a license to cut and export for 10-years.

    What is the Guyanese nation getting out of this? The StabroekNews (Aug 17th)- extrapolating the numbers, the nation expects to get all of USD 18 million a year.

    As a Guyanese citizen I call on the Speaker of the National Assembly to table a bill calling for the suspension of all logging activities until a full investigation of all licensing and contract agreements with these 8 companies are evaluated to determine whether a miserly $18 mil a year is worth cutting down our forest. (These logging concessions had never been voted one in the parliament. Guyana is supposed to be a representative democracy – but apparently the executive president has usurped powers in that country, running the country as if it were his personally-owned plantation)

    Cheddi Jagan, the colonial leader, considered the father of the nation (1918-1997), and founder of the ruling party, PPP, railed against the foreign-owned bauxite company. They mine and ship out our bauxite ore, he says, pay us literally pennies on a ton, smelt the bauxite in North America, and the value-added goes up by a multiple of 40. Today we are in the same situation with regards to another major resource, our forest. These logs are processed into finished lumber in China and India – and the value goes up 40-times what they pay in royalties to Guyana. We have turned full circle. Cheddi Jagan must be turning in his grave.
    Redmonitor (April 2013) reports one company Bai Shan Lin expects to make a profit of $1.7 billion on one million hectares of Guyana’s forest it controls. Guyana expects to be paid a miserly $170 million or one-tenth of $1.7B over 10-years. A terrible deal.
    Let us suspend all logging and rework this deal.