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REDD in the news: 13-19 October 2014

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REDD-Monitor’s weekly round up of the news on REDD, forests and climate. The links are organised by date (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.

 
Developing and using experiences in implementing REDD+ in the Himalayas
GIZ, no date | The programme addresses current aspects of the REDD+ process in Nepal, Bhutan, India and Myanmar. Components of the programme focus on capacity building and training, technical and organisational advice, and the development of methods for the measurement, reporting and verification of carbon storage. With its advisory services, GIZ ensures the strategic orientation and continued thematic development of the project, as well as the strategic integration of the results of its work in the formulation of national REDD+ development strategies. The role of the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) is to improve knowledge management within the countries involved, as well as the exchanges of information between them. ICIMOD has already gained its first experiences of REDD+ pilot projects in Nepal, and the Himalayan states have called on the organisation to provide comprehensive support in this area.

13 October 2014

UNFCCC committee calls for papers on financing for forests
Global Landscapes Forum, 13 October 2014 | The Standing Committee on Finance (SCF) of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is looking for relevant information and case studies to feed into a working paper on coherence and coordination for financing for forests. Submission can include a. Experience with use of resources/the transfer of payments in results-based approaches; b. Experience with the provision of resources for alternative approaches such as payments for ecosystems services. The collected information will be used to expand a background paper by the Committee to be used in the future work of the SCF on coherence and coordination for financing for forests and for its Forum in 2015. The background paper comes with comprehensive tables of existing sourses of REDD+ and forests financing and “alludes to a level of fragmentation within forest finance, and the need for coherence and coordination, given the different activities and financial flows that exist.”

Private sector backing could transform UN’s Green Climate Fund
By Katie Sullivan, RTCC, 13 October 2014 | From a business perspective, the issues of climate finance and carbon pricing stole the show at last month’s UN Climate Summit in New York City. The event’s centerpiece on climate finance was a formal session structured around the broad and inter-connected areas of green finance, green regulatory frameworks, and UN Green Climate Fund (GCF) pledges. As the 23 September summit wrapped up, World Bank president Jim Kim summed it up best when he remarked: “The message is clear. Investor interest in a clean future is rising.” This was evidenced by the remarkable number of wide-ranging climate finance declarations and commitments…

Ghost Of Milton Friedman Materializes In Chicago, Endorses A Price On Carbon
By Steve Zwick, Ecosystem Marketplace, 13 October 2014 | [U]nlike the free-market fundamentalists and Tea Party pontificators who often invoke his name, Friedman didn’t see the market as some all-knowing force that operates without governance, and he wasn’t opposed to environmental legislation. What he opposed was command-and-control regulation that dictated narrow solutions to complex and evolving challenges, and what he favored was something a bit more nuanced than the simplistic slogans spouted on Fox News. So last week, former South Carolina Congressman Bob Inglis and two University of Chicago professors revived Friedman to answer the question, “What would Milton Friedman do about climate change?” Using excerpts from videos of the fiery Friedman wrestling with 20th-Century challenges, they sparked an insightful, informative, and even entertaining dialectic on the economics of pollution and the art of communicating with ideologues…

Carrots or sticks? Balancing cost-effectiveness, equity in Brazil’s deforestation policy
By Mark Foss, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 13 October 2014 | In the ongoing debate about how best to combat deforestation in Brazil, a new study shows that “sticks” are often cheaper than “carrots” — but that relying exclusively on such regulation would inflict a high cost on landowners. “Carrots,” such as payment for environmental services (PES), offer landowners positive incentives such as conditional cash transfers for avoiding deforestation. “Sticks,” or command-and-control strategies, try to prevent deforestation through disincentives such as logging and deforestation bans backed by fines, confiscation, and imprisonment. “We are not advocating one approach over another,” said the study’s lead author, Jan Börner, a scientist at the Center for Development Research at the University of Bonn and at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).

Cambodian illegal log traders arrested over journalist murder
Channel NewsAsia, 13 October 2014 | Three suspected timber traders have been arrested over the murder of a Cambodian journalist investigating illegal logging in the country’s forested east, police said on Monday (Oct 13). Taing Try, 48, was shot dead early on Sunday, according to Oum Phy, deputy police chief of Kratie province. He is the second journalist probing Cambodia’s lucrative trade in illegal timber to be killed in two years. A former soldier, a police officer and a Phnom Penh-based military police officer – all suspected log traders – were arrested several hours later. Oum Phy said the 32-year-old ex-soldier was the chief suspect in the killing, although police are still investigating the motive. “He (the slain reporter) may have damaged the interests of the three suspects,” Oum Phy added.

Environmental degradation costs Ghana 5-10% of GDP
Ghana Web, 13 October 2014 | The Forestry Commission’s (FC) estimation of Ghana’s environmental degradation in its major natural resource sectors as at 2010 costs between five to 10 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The forest sector, out of this, accounted for 63 per cent, equivalent to USD $500 Million in monetary terms, Professor Mrs Esi Awuah, Vice Chancellor (VC) of the University of Energy and Natural Resources (UENR) said on Friday. Prof. Mrs Esi Awuah was speaking at a durbar organized by the National REDD+ Secretariat under the auspices of the FC at Dormaa-Ahenkro in the Brong-Ahafo Region. The programme on the theme “Reducing forest loss and climate change impacts through REDD+; our collective responsibility,” was a climax of the second leg of National REDD+ Road Show, the first leg was held at Damongo in the Northern Region.

Ghana’s REDD+ programme commended
SpyGhana, 13 October 2014 | Ghana’s REDD+ programme has been commended for attaining some achievements since its inception in September. Professor Mrs Esi Awuah, the Vice Chancellor of the University of Energy and Natural Resources (UENR), made the commendation during a durbar organized by the National REDD+ Secretariat under the auspices of Forestry Commission (FC) . The programme on the theme “Reducing forest loss and climate change impacts through REDD+; our collective responsibility”, and attended by chiefs, pupils, students, opinion leaders and the general public was a climax of the second leg of a three-day National REDD+ Road Show, the first leg of which was held at Damongo in the West Gonja District of the Northern Region. The purpose “is to sell REDD+ to the Ghanaian populace, drawing attention to unsustainable land-use practices leading to deforestation and forest degradation, and their negative impacts including global warming and loss of livelihood opportunities”.

[Indonesia] Firms blamed for fires
By Hans Nicholas Jong, The Jakarta Post, 13 October 2014 | Poor compliance by companies and local administrations is the major cause of the rampant forest fires in Riau, a government-sanctioned audit team has revealed. Bambang Hero Saharjo, who headed the team, said that of the 17 companies investigated in the audit, none passed the compliance test, which measured the companies’ level of compliance with environmental regulations. “Not a single one fulfilled its own promises, whether they are companies operating plantations or in industrial forests,” he said. The audit was conducted between July 1 and Aug. 25 by a team consisting of the Presidential Working Unit for the Supervision and Management of Development (UKP4), the REDD+ Management Agency, the Forestry Ministry and the Riau Police. Riau is the first province to be audited by the team, as 93.6 percent of the 12,541 hot spots recorded between Jan. 2 and March 13 were located in the province.

Reducing carbon emissions: Five-day training for forest officials kicks off
The Express Tribune, 13 October 2014 | A capacity-building workshop for officials of the forest department was inaugurated on Monday by WWF-Pakistan at the Akhtar Hameed Khan National Council for Rural Development (AHKNCRD). The Satellite Land Monitoring System (SLMS) workshop for REDD+ (Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation) aims to build the capacity of officials to highlight the importance of forests and keep deforestation in check. The five-day workshop has been organised in collaboration with the Climate Change Division, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), AHKNCRD and University of Haripur. The training aims to take the REDD+ preparation further through capacity-building of national stakeholders in developing a robust and transparent National Forest Monitoring System.

Countering Illegal And Unsustainable Activities With REDD+ In Panama
Ecosystem Marketplace, 13 October 2014 | Between 1992 and 2008, nearly 900,000 hectares of Panama’s forest were deforested. The land was cleared for development or converted into pastureland. But despite the increase in development and growth in the agricultural sector, almost half of Panama’s rural population live in poverty and rely on unsustainable practices for their livelihoods. They continue to burn patches of forest and plant crops. On top of the threats of slash and burn farming and expanding development, climate change and illegal logging activities pose a risk to the forests. The threats are affecting forest health which in turn affects the services they provide, like clean water, to the local people. Many of the local people living in the forests are indigenous to the region and because of traditionally sustainable land practices, these groups have managed to preserve pieces of Panama’s forests.

14 October 2014

UNFCCC Reports on REDD Information Hub Expert Meeting
Climate Change Policy & Practice (IISD), 14 October 2014 | The UNFCCC Secretariat has published the report of an expert meeting held to discuss the information hub to be created for activities related to REDD+ (FCCC/SBI/2014/INF.13). According to the report, meeting participants concluded that a significant degree of flexibility for adjustments should be built into the hub. The experts noted that parties may wish to revise the hub as experience tracking results is gained or to link it with other information systems that may be created under the UNFCCC. The experts, who met in Bonn, Germany, on 2-3 September 2014, shared their knowledge of national and intergovermental REDD+ information portals and offered proposals for the hub, which will be created and hosted by the UNFCCC Secretariat.

Green bond boom at risk without rules: Zurich Insurance
By Alice Baghdjian and Paul Arnold, Reuters, 14 October 2014 | The integrity of the fast-growing “green bond” market is at risk unless a clear definition of what passes for green can be agreed, Zurich Insurance’s investment chief told the Reuters Global Climate Change Summit. The supply of green bonds, a fixed-income security designed to raise capital for low-carbon, or green, investments, is expected to reach $40 billion this year by some estimates, four times higher than 2013. Money raised by green bonds can be used to fund projects from hydroelectric power plants to ecological farms. Investors around the world are snapping up the bonds, partly to offset the climate change risks to other assets in their portfolios.

Protecting biodiversity could be key to keeping forests standing in the long term
Phys.org, 14 October 2014 | When it comes to conserving tropical forests and the carbon stored within them in order to prevent climate change, the role of forest animals may be too important to ignore. A new paper authored by scientists at Fauna & Flora International (FFI) gathers evidence which suggests that failure to protect biodiversity – particularly large mammals – could negatively affect tropical forests in the long term. One of the biggest threats comes from hunting, which can reduce tree survival and decrease forest resilience to climate change, disease and fires. The paper, published in Oryx – The International Journal of Conservation, highlights the importance of biodiversity conservation to one of today’s key approaches to protecting forests and preventing greenhouse gas emissions: REDD+… The authors argue that in order for REDD+ projects to help keep carbon locked in trees in the long term, they need to address wider threats to the biodiversity living within forests…

Greg Hunt says Australia will meet its carbon reduction target
By Chris Uhlmann, ABC, 14 October 2014 | CHRIS UHLMANN: Greg Hunt, we’ve just heard a report this morning that plants are absorbing more CO2 than previously thought. Is there any area of public policy that invests so much on computer modelling of the future? GREG HUNT: Look, obviously there are many areas which have very significant contributions, but we have just made a major investment in a new super computer for the Bureau of Meteorology because of the importance to public safety, because of the importance to farmers, because of the importance to economic development and, in particular, because of the importance to climate research. It’s very important for Australia to have the world’s best data and to have the world’s best meteorology service. This is all part of what you do as a government. Interestingly, it wasn’t funded by the previous government. They hadn’t provided the money; we are.

Have Brazil’s deforestation policies hit the limits of their effectiveness?
By Marion Davis, Stockholm Environment Institute, 14 October 2014 | Deforestation in the Amazon has fallen dramatically, by about 77% between 2004 and 2011, enabling Brazil to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by more than a third in that period, while also preserving biodiversity and maintaining other vital ecosystem services. The country achieved this, in part, through ambitious government efforts to create new conservation areas and strengthen deforestation monitoring and enforcement, supported by a host of private-sector and civil society interventions. Yet progress has slowed in recent years, and a new study led by SEI researchers, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggests that if Brazil wants to keep reducing deforestation, it will need to implement a broader range of strategies.

[Guyana] US$30M Public Private Partnership inked with Indian Company
Kaieteur News, 14 October 2014 | With a promise of providing employment for between 400 and 500 persons, an investment of US$30M, the generation of 8MW of electricity and a five per cent equity stake in the new company, some 5000 acres of land has been set aside for an Indian Company which has recently registered a subsidiary locally to pursue a number of projects. Professor Suresh Narine of the Institute of Applied Sciences and Technology (IAST) and Manu Bansal, Executive Director, Pinnacle Green Resources (Guyana) Limited, yesterday inked a Letter of Intent meant to be transformed into a binding Memorandum of Understanding to pursue a Public Private Partnership, meant to have a positive impact on the energy sector in Guyana. The agreement will see Pinnacle Green Resources (Guyana) Limited, investing in three projects and has been allocated some 5000 acres of land in the Pomeroon, to pursue a plantation type establishment…

[Guyana] US$35M pact inked with Pinnacle Group for bio-energy other projects
Stabroek News, 14 October 2014 | The Institute of Applied Science and Technology has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Pinnacle Group to build a facility that would transform biomass waste into pellets and one for power generation. The three projects to a total value of US$35 million will see the utilisation of Guyana’s large level of waste such as bagasse from the production of sugar, paddy husk from milling rice and waste wood created by sawmills. Director of the IAST Dr Suresh Narine, met President Donald Ramotar and Executive Director of Pinnacle Green Resources PTE Ltd Manu Bansal at the Office of the President yesterday to speak about the projects. [R-M: Subscription needed.]

India: Tiger Reserve tribe faces eviction
Survival International, 14 October 2014 | Tribespeople living inside a tiger reserve in India are being “threatened” and “cheated” into leaving their ancestral land in the name of tiger “conservation” – even though there is no evidence that they harm the wildlife, and they desperately want to stay on their land. In September 2014, members of the Munda tribe in Similipal Tiger Reserve in Odisha state met with India’s Forest Department, after promises that their rights to their forest would be recognized. But the villagers reported to Survival International, the global movement for tribal peoples’ rights, that they felt “threatened” and “cheated” into signing an eviction document drawn up by the foresters. They reported that they weren’t aware of what the document said (most don’t read or write Oriya, the language it was written in), and were only later told that there was no land available for them to be moved to.

Rogue palm oil company appeals deforestation case to Indonesia’s supreme court
By Loren Bell, mongabay.com, 14 October 2014 | Oil palm company PT. Kallista Alam has filed an appeal with the Supreme Court continuing the closely-watched legal battle set to redefine Indonesia’s commitment to environmental justice. Lawyers for the company filed the new appeal on October 6, claiming the initial case is invalid because it failed to include all relevant parties as defendants—including the governor of Aceh, who issued the concession permit in 2011. In addition, the company maintains that Elvis Bin Aznar, who authorized the area for land clearing in a 2010 letter to the governor, should also have been a defendant. Finally, PT. Kallista Alam disputes the amount of land the lawsuit claims they deforested: 1,000 hectares. In January, a district court fined the company 366 billion rupiah ($30 million) in penalties and restoration fees for clearing protected peat swamp and critical orangutan habitat in the Tripa Swamp area of Sumatra.

Liberia: Timber Assciation Threatens Anti-Forest GOL Letter of Intent
By Edwin M. Fayia, Liberian Observer, 14 October 2014 | Barley two weeks after the Liberian Government’s ‘Letter of Intent’ agreement with the Norwegian Government, the Liberia Timber Association (LTA) has threatened legal action to reject the agreement before ratification by the National Legislature. The Liberian Government about two weeks ago signed a ‘Letter of Intent’ with the Kingdom of Norway whereby GOL consented to undertake measures to preserve Liberia’s remaining forests in return for a compensation of US$150 million from Norway. Addressing a press conference Monday in Monrovia, the president of the LTA, Rudolf Merab was critical of the agreement, saying it was regrettable that neither the LTA, its members nor other stakeholders were contacted or involved in any aspect of the negotiations and decisions leading to the signing of the ‘Letter of Intent’.

[Papua New Guinea] ALERT’s campaign to save island paradise from loggers
ALERT, 14 October 2014 | ALERT today is launching a campaign to help tell the world about Woodlark Island — a small but important paradise off the eastern coast of Papua New Guinea. At least 42 different species — including the beautiful Woodlark cuscus, a native marsupial — are endemic to the island, living nowhere else on Earth. And the island has harbored traditional cultural groups who have lived there sustainably for thousands of years. That’s alarming because a Malaysian logging company is about to assault Woodlark Island, with plans to log up to half of the island using heavy-handed industrial extraction methods. Many of the island’s native landowners are worried, because the foreign logging company, Karridale Limited, has evidently secured logging rights to the entire island.

Illegal loggers remain hidden in Peru’s forest but timber finds global buyers
By Dan Collyns, The Guardian, 14 October 2014 | In this remote part of Peru’s 700,000 sq km of Amazon rainforest, there is not much beyond subsistence fishing and farming as a way to earn a living. Other options are mostly illegal: logging Amazonian hardwoods, growing coca, hunting and selling bushmeat. These activities are all prohibited, but in a region larger than Germany, the state is virtually absent. Levels of poverty and illiteracy are far above the national average. Organised crime and evangelical sects fill the vacuum. As in the Rudyard Kipling poem, here the “law of the jungle” is “as old and as true as the sky”. The murder of forest campaigner Edwin Chota with three fellow Ashaninka leaders – Jorge Rios, Leonicio Quintisima and Francisco Piñedo – at the beginning of last month briefly drew the world’s attention to Peru’s rainforest. The remains of just three men, shot dead in the forest, have been found.

[UK] Harrowing tapes reveal how investment conmen fleece vulnerable savers
By James Coney, Daily Mail, 14 October 2014 | The broker has been talking almost solidly on the phone for about 15 minutes now. He’s excitable, and speaks with that mock-Cockney chumminess you imagine all City traders have. But there is also a tone of menace in his voice. His sentences are full of jargon and figures which come thick and fast. The sheer volume of his words is oppressive. Every now and then he pauses to address the person on the other end of the line. ‘This is an opportunity for you, Maurice . . . Maurice, my friend, my director wants you to be involved in this . . . I’m just here to look after your interests, mate.’ When Maurice answers, it’s only to say ‘yes’ or ‘OK’ in agreement to some indisputable point the broker has made. Finally, after another three-minute monologue, the broker asks: ‘Will you do that for me, pal?’

[UK] Regulator to tackle scam artists with crime proceeds
By Simon Gompertz, BBC News, 14 October 2014 | The Financial Conduct Authority is so concerned about scam merchants targeting the elderly that it is launching a major publicity campaign. For the first time the regulator is using the proceeds of crime to pay for adverts in newspapers, on the radio and online. The FCA believes that investment frauds pushed over the phone or the internet are costing the public £1bn a year. Two thirds of victims are over the age of 56, 20% are over 76. And nearly 70% are men… Older people are targeted deliberately because the fraudsters know they have funds to invest, according to the FCA’s head of enforcement, Tracey McDermott. “They know those people aren’t able to get very good returns from traditional investments and deposit accounts at the moment, so they are more susceptible,” she says. The £1m campaign will include adverts on Classic FM, LBC radio and in the Daily Mail and the Telegraph newspapers. “The fraudsters are absolutely ruthless.”

Forest transition spurs policy shifts in Vietnam
By Anastasia Yang, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 14 October 2014 | Vietnam has witnessed a forest transition on a massive scale. Between 1943 and 1990, the country lost 5 million hectares (ha) of forest, representing fully 28 percent of its total land area. The government responded with reforestation measures—including plantation development, re-categorization of forest, tenure reforms, and enhancing natural forest regeneration—that increased forest cover to almost 40 percent of the land area by 2011. Nevertheless, Vietnam’s natural forests—and the quality of its forests overall—are still in decline. CIFOR’s study on REDD+ in Vietnam identified key drivers of deforestation as land conversion for agriculture and infrastructure, unsustainable logging, and forest fires. However, other less obvious driving forces are also at play including a growing demand for forest products and land; economic growth; shifting demographic factors; and existing policies that promote unsustainable land-use…

15 October 2014

Activists use GPS to track illegal loggers in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest
By Damian Carrington, The Guardian, 15 October 2014 | Covert GPS surveillance of timber trucks by Amazon campaigners has revealed how loggers are defeating attempts to halt deforestation in the world’s greatest rainforest. Raids by law enforcement officers are expected early on Wednesday morning, acting on the evidence handed to them by Greenpeace Brazil. The activists went undercover in the remote and dangerous state of Pará to secretly place GPS tracking devices on trucks suspected of illegal logging, the first time the tactic has been used. It revealed 200-mile-long journeys deep into protected regions of rainforest to collect logs and return journeys under the cover of night to sawmills in the Amazon port of Santarém, from where timber is exported to Europe, the US, China, and Japan. Satellite and aerial images were also collected and analysed during the hi-tech operation.

Brazil’s forestation successes ignored the little guy — studies
By Elizabeth Harball, ClimateWire, 15 October 2014 | Brazil has reduced its deforestation rates by about 80 percent over the past decade, an effort the global community hails as a major environmental success story. It is said that as a result of this achievement, Brazil has made the single greatest contribution of any nation to reducing global greenhouse gas emissions. But the strong actions taken by the government, agribusinesses and large landowners to protect the Brazilian Amazon have not resulted in a similar success story among smallholders, and the complex reaction to these policies by different food industries is driving new deforestation risks, according to two recent reports. If small agricultural operations are to turn a profit while avoiding cutting down forests, the authors argue, the Brazilian government needs to take another look at its existing laws, possibly considering ways to reward smallholders for avoiding deforestation rather than only punishing them…

[Canada] First Nations bid to stop forestry deal rejected by court
CBC News, 15 October 2014 | A bid by a group of First Nations chiefs to stop the provincial government’s new forest management plan from being implemented has been dismissed by New Brunswick’s highest court. Chiefs representing 10 First Nations and the Assembly of First Nations Chiefs of New Brunswick were seeking an interim injunction to block the deals, arguing the province failed to consult and accommodate them and breached their treaty rights to hunt, fish and harvest. However, Justice Margaret Larlee of the New Brunswick Count of Appeal upheld a lower court decision to deny the application for an interim injunction. Larlee said the application by the chiefs was premature because it’s too soon to demonstrate harm.

Take on the “fatcats” or scrap EU carbon market – think-tank
By Megan Darby, RTCC, 15 October 2014 | ArcelorMittal is hoarding a surplus of climate pollution permits worth almost twice its annual carbon emissions, a think-tank has revealed. With an excess of 93 million allowances, the steel and mining giant is top of Sandbag’s “carbon fatcat” leader board. These are the heavy industrial companies benefitting from a glut of cheap permits under the EU’s emissions trading system (ETS). Sandbag, which supports carbon markets in principle, for the first time called on EU policymakers to scrap the ETS if they cannot halt the bonanza. “We’ve been saying for years: ‘Fix the emissions trading scheme’,” said Sandbag director Bryony Worthington. “But sadly the incentives for investment in green growth are still not there. It has now got to the stage where the ETS is so broken we are recommending ditching it unless problems are sorted out with new laws within the next 12 months.”Baroness Worthington is due to present the report in Brussels on Wednesday.

Boiler room conmen swindle £1.2bn a year out of victims: How to spot an investment scam
By Lana Clements, Yahoo Finance UK, 15 October 2014 | You may think that you’d be wise to a scam, but smooth-talking fraudsters are using techniques that leave more and more people at risk. It’s estimated that around £1.2billion a year is now lost through investment fraud – that’s cash duped from the savings of others, which is never recovered. The average loss amounts to £20,000 and can have a devastating effect on a victim. Many think that it’s easy to spot the signs of fraud. But conmen use sophisticated tactics and spend hours coaxing their prey – often experienced investors – to hand over cash. Scams are all the more difficult to spot because they are designed to look like genuine investments.

[UK] FCA steps up investment fraud crackdown
By Alex Steger, Citywire, 15 October 2014 | The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has launched a national awareness campaign in an effort to crack down on investment fraud. The campaign, which is being paid for with funds recovered from the proceeds of crime, aims to improve the public’s awareness of scams such as boiler room fraud, land banking, carbon credit and rare metals schemes. The regulator said it received around 5,000 calls per year from investors in suspected fraudulent schemes and estimated that on average victims lost £20,000 each. The FCA warned that those most at risk from fraudsters were in retirement, and urged the public not to be taken in by websites which attempted to mimic legitimate firms or sophisticated brochures.

16 October 2014

Dow Says World Carbon Market Needs Less Intervention to Work
By Matthew Carr, Bloomberg, 16 October 2014 | The world’s first global carbon market will need less intervention by regulators to succeed, Dow Chemical Co. said. Politicians must avoid earlier missteps in Europe that included bans on imported carbon credits and a temporary cut of permits to curb a glut, said Russel Mills, director of energy and climate policy at the biggest U.S. chemicals maker. Such interventions need to be avoided in a post 2020 worldwide market presented by the European Union on Sept. 29 because both nations with mandatory limits on carbon and those without need to sign up, he said. European Union leaders will discuss next week how to reform the world’s biggest emissions market and set targets for 2030 as part of a planned global accord. European industry, already battling with natural gas prices more than double those in the U.S., is seeking a cost-effective climate policy as the economy shows signs of slowing amid sanctions against Russia.

Development miracle or environmental disaster? A look behind the oil palm controversy
By Joan Baxter, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 16 October 2014 | To the agro-food industry and smallholder farmers in the tropics, it’s a veritable miracle plant. To many NGOs and indigenous groups, it’s a grave threat to land rights and to the environment. So which is it? How can a single plant — the oil palm — cause such a divergence of viewpoints? These are the questions that Alain Rival and Patrice Levang tackle in their book, “Palms of controversies: Oil palm and development challenges,” newly translated into English and published online by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR). “The problem,” the authors write, “is not the oil palm but the way people have chosen to exploit it.”

‘Don’t confuse the crop with the people who develop it’: Q&A with palm oil researcher
By Joan Baxter and Fai Collins, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 16 October 2014 | Boycotts of palm oil because of deforestation wrongly place blame on the crop itself, a leading researcher says, while disregarding deforestation caused by other crops. Palm oil — used in countless foods, cosmetics, and even biodiesel — has been in the spotlight in recent years, with consumer pressure leading some palm oil buyers to pledge no deforestation in their supply chain. But the depiction of major corporate palm oil buyers as drivers of deforestation is overly simplistic, writes Patrice Levang, a researcher at the Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD) and the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), co-author with Alain Rival, a researcher at CIRAD, of “Palms of controversies: oil palm and development challenges.”

FAO launches Open Foris software to monitor forests
By Kiran Pandey, Down To Earth, 16 October 2014 | Timely and accurate information on the state of forest resources is extremely important for effective implementation of sustainable forest management through well-informed national and local policy and planning. An up-to-date forest inventory is also essential for meeting current and future international reporting commitments such as FAO Global Forest Resource Assessment and UNFCCC greenhouse gas reporting and, potentially, REDD+ MRV. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has, therefore, launched Open Foris, which has free software tools that will help countries to compile comprehensive forest inventories and assist nations in understanding the value of their forest assets. These tools have been designed to change the way nations monitor the state of their forests and improve the data needed to develop strategies for reducing deforestation and effective climate mitigation action plans.

Unequal power dynamics in landscape approaches must not be ignored, expert warns
By Kate Evans, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 16 October 2014 | Social inequality is also part of the landscape—and so must be accounted for in landscape approaches to managing agriculture and forests, a development economics expert urges. A landscape approach is a way of taking a holistic approach to land-use management in order to balance social, economic and environmental goals. Speaking in New York at the CGIAR Development Dialogues, Bina Agarwal from the University of Manchester and University of Delhi said that while the approach is useful, so far the term has typically been used in a politically neutral way that ignores power discrepancies within communities. “Communities are not homogenous, communities are unequal. They are divided by class, by caste/ethnicity and by gender. And those are the communities who will then make the landscape approach a success or not,” she said.

Don’t be afraid of landscapes complexity, expert says
CIFOR Forests News Blog, 16 October 2014 | Balancing the many competing demands on rural lands is inherently complex—and researchers need to embrace this, according to a leading rural development specialist. “We need to not be afraid of complexity,” said Kwesi Atta-Krah, Director of the CGIAR Research Program on Integrated Systems for the Humid Tropics, a global initiative that uses research to boost the incomes of rural farmers in the tropics. Speaking at the recent CGIAR Development Dialogues in New York, Atta-Krah advocated for holistic “landscape” approaches to managing multiple land uses such as agriculture and forests as the only way to responsibly balance the tradeoffs among them. “We don’t have an option,” he said.

Ecosystem Marketplace’s Forest Carbon News
Ecosystem Marketplace, 16 October 2014 | Tag – you’re in! Guatemala, Indonesia and Peru were selected for the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility’s (FCPF) Carbon Fund pipeline last week, unlocking up to $650,000 per country to develop an emissions reductions program. The Carbon Fund holds a total of $465 million that could be paid to developing countries that reduce deforestation against a national baseline (REDD+). Eight other countries – Chile, Costa Rica, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Mexico, Nepal, the Republic of Congo and Vietnam – were already in the pipeline. Buyers in the Carbon Fund have expressed their willingness to pay $5/tCO2e, but the final price will depend on the Emission Reductions Payment Agreements (ERPAs) negotiated with each country. Peru’s maximum contract volume is 6.4 million tonnes of emissions reductions (MtCO2e) while Guatemala may be paid for up to 21 MtCO2e, according to resolutions from the Carbon Fund meeting.

Biodiversity And Climate Conventions Find Common Ground In Sustainable Forest Management
By Kelli Barrett, Ecosystem Marketplace, 16 October 2014 | Heru Prasetyo seems to be everywhere these days. He was a fixture at last year’s Climate Change Conference in Warsaw, COP 19, where he provided what may have been the most eloquent advocacy on behalf of the emerging landscape approach to using carbon finance to Reduce greenhouse gas Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD). The landscapes approach recognizes the value that carbon brings to the table as a quantified environmental currency, but it emphasizes the fact than any effort to save forests must encompass all social, economic and environmental aspects of an ecosystem. Specifically, he says, to save Indonesia’s forests the country must completely restructure its agriculture sector, and REDD finance should be targeted to activities that do just that.

[Indonesia] Audit to probe Forestry Ministry
By Hans Nicholas Jong, The Jakarta Post, 16 October 2014 | A government-sanctioned audit team tasked with probing the role of agroforestry firms in triggering forest fires has said it will investigate the potential involvement of the Forestry Ministry. Team head Bambang Hero Saharjo said the team would begin probing the role of the ministry during its next audit in Central Kalimantan. “We want to understand the role played by the Forestry Ministry in relation to the companies that are given permits [to operate],” Bambang told The Jakarta Post earlier this week. In order to obtain business permits, industrial forest companies must apply to the Forestry Ministry after receiving recommendations from governors who have consulted with the mayor or regent overseeing the forests in question.

First detailed map of aboveground forest carbon stocks in Mexico unveiled
ScienceDaily, 16 October 2014 | The first detailed map of aboveground forest carbon stocks of Mexico has been released by researchers. This carbon stock inventory is very valuable for Mexico, as one of the first tropical nations to voluntarily pledge to mitigation actions within the context of the United Nation’s Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation program.

[Mexico] Field Dialogue on REDD+ Benefit Sharing
WBCSD – World Business Council for Sustainable Development, 16 October 2014 | The Co-Chairs’ Summary Report from the Field Dialogue on REDD+ Benefit Sharing, 2-5 June 2014, Mexico, is now available. This report summarizes key observations and discussions from the dialogue. Mexico’s REDD+ strategy is intended to coordinate different sectors and stakeholders in rural areas and is expected to follow a territorial and landscape approach in which integrated and sustainable rural development acts as the foundation for REDD+ implementation. REDD+ is only going to be one instrument among many others the Mexico government utilizes to seek a low-carbon growth path. The Strategy is expected to unfold in details at a subnational level under national guidance. Read more about Mexico’s REDD+ strategy and the way forward in Mexico on REDD+ Benefit sharing in the summary report.

17 October 2014

Oil palm: A visual story
By Jim O’Neill, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 17 October 2014 | Palm oil can be produced without deforestation, according to a book newly translated to English published by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR). Scroll down for an infographic about oil palm and the controversy behind it.

[Indonesia] KPK, Government Join Forces With MoU on Forestry
The Jakarta Globe, 17 October 2014 | The Corruption Eradication Commission, or KPK, has initiated a new joint policy on forestry with several ministries in an attempt to curb government corruption in the industry. “Today we signed a memorandum of understanding on forest management in Indonesia,” KPK deputy chairman Zulkarnain said on Friday. The MoU was finalized by the national antigraft body, the Home Affairs Ministry, the Forestry Ministry, the Public Works Ministry and the National Land Agency (BPN). “Matters involving Indonesia’s forests are now one of our main concerns. We [the KPK and the government] have to work together in resolving these issues,” Zulkarnain said. Chief economics minister Chairul Tanjung, who currently also serves as interim forestry minister, said the policy aimed to resolve forestry issues relating to development and planning. He added that the MoU would soon be implemented by the Justice Ministry.

[Indonesia] Senior officials grilled in Riau case
By Haeril Halim, The Jakarta Post, 17 October 2014 | The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) questioned on Thursday two high-ranking officials from the Forestry Ministry as part of its investigation into alleged bribery surrounding the issuance of land-conversion permits in Riau. The questioning of the forestry ministry’s director of environmental services and utilization of conservation areas and protected forests, Bambang Supriyanto, and director of forest planning areas, Masyud, came two weeks after the antigraft body arrested Riau Governor Annas Maamun. Annas was held as he allegedly accepted bribes from palm-oil businessman Gulat Manurung, who was seeking to obtain permits for his oil- palm plantation business in Riau. Their questioning raises concerns that officials from the ministry, which has the authority to issue permits for protected areas, might also be implicated in the bribery case.

Connecting the REDD and gender dots in Malawi
By Stella Gama (Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining, Malawi), The UN-REDD Programme blog, 17 October 2014 | In my view an effective REDD+ approach is linked to the engagement of all relevant stakeholders, regardless of gender, and to the promotion of equality and equity in terms of participation in decision-making and access to benefits. Specific attention to women’s needs and contributions is key to efficient REDD+ strategies and activities, and the UN-REDD Programme is helping to guide countries conceptually and methodologically in addressing the gender considerations of REDD+. The UNFCCC ‘Cancun Agreements’ call for the integration of gender considerations within REDD+ national strategies, and this is reflected in the UN-REDD Programme Strategy 2011-2015, which makes numerous references to gender equality and equity.

[UK] FCA launches new campaign against scams
By James Pickford, Financial Times, 17 October 2014 | A campaign to warn people about the risks of investment fraud has been launched by the City watchdog, which receives 5,000 calls a year about finance scams. The average victim loses £20,000 to confidence schemes such as those involving investments in land-banking schemes, carbon credits or rare earth metals, the Financial Conduct Authority said. The typical investment scam involves “high-pressured selling, using boiler room tactics, for products which often do not exist”.

18 October 2014

[Indonesia] Government pledges to reduce deforestation
The Jakarta Post, 18 October 2014 | The government has pledged to reduce deforestation, following a report showing that Indonesia has a higher deforestation rate than that of Brazil. Forestry Ministry secretary-general Hadi Daryanto said on Thursday that the ministry had taken several actions to reduce deforestation rates in Indonesia, especially in deforestation-prone areas such as Riau and Kalimantan. Hadi said the measures included the extension of a moratorium on the conversion of natural forests and peat land, the provision of degraded-forest areas for economic activity, a compliance audit on several companies in Riau and the eradication of illegal logging, which can trigger forest fires. On the forest fires issue, however, Hadi acknowledged that the ministry was falling behind in its efforts to tackle problems in Sumatra, Jambi, West Kalimantan and Central Kalimantan, but promised to continue to improve its performance.

19 October 2014


PHOTO credit: Image created using wordle.net.
 

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