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REDD in the news: 18 – 24 July 2016

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REDD in the newsREDD-Monitor’s round-up of the week’s news on forests, climate change, and REDD. For regular updates, visit REDD-Monitor’s “REDD in the news” page, or follow @reddmonitor on Twitter.


 

18 July 2016

Can we feed the world without cutting forests? It can be done, says U.N.
By Magdalena Mis, Thomson Reuters Foundation, 18 July 2016
Agriculture is the biggest driver of deforestation globally fuelled by a growing demand for food, yet it is possible to feed the world without cutting forests, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said on Monday.
Most forest loss occurs in the world’s tropical regions, which lost 7 million hectares of forest a year between 2000 and 2010, while gaining 6 million hectares per year in agricultural land, FAO said in a report.
Some countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America have managed to change this pattern by improving land rights, boosting agricultural production and protecting forests, FAO said., 18 July 2016

Wood fuel not as bad for the environment as previously thought
By Jack Hewson, CIFOR Forest News Blog, 18 July 2016
Felling trees for firewood is an eons-old practice that in recent history has come under criticism by conservationists. But according to new research conducted by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), the true environmental impact of wood fuel needs to be better understood before sustainability policies can be properly formulated.
“The sweeping conclusion that wood fuel is a chief cause of deforestation, needs to be revisited as the situation is more complex than that,” said ICRAF scientist Phosiso Sola, who participated in the research.

UN criticises UK and Germany for betraying Paris climate deal
By Adam Vaughan, The Guardian, 18 July 2016
Ban Ki-moon’s climate change envoy has accused the UK and Germany of backtracking on the spirit of the Paris climate deal by financing the fossil fuel industry through subsidies.
Mary Robinson, the former president of Ireland and UN special envoy on climate change and El Niño, said she had to speak out after Germany promised compensation for coal power and the UK provided tax breaks for oil and gas.
Governments in Paris last year not only pledged to phase out fossil fuels in the long term but to make flows of finance consistent with the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
“They’ve [the British government] introduced new tax breaks for oil and gas in 2015 that will cost the UK taxpayer billions between 2015 and 2020, and at the same time they’ve cut support for renewables and for energy efficiency,” she told the Guardian.

[Indonesia] Sinarmas Helps Riau Palm Oil Farmers to Shift to Horticulture
TEMPO, 18 July 2016
Sinarmas Forestry is helping Riau residents to shift from palm oil cultivation to horticulture through Desa Makmur Peduli Api (DMPA) program and has earmarked up to US$10 million for the program.
Head of Social & Security, Sinarmas Forestry, Agung Wiyono said the program is expected to help improve the economic well-being of Riau people, considering that palm oil has lost its appeal due to falling price.
“We are looking for some varieties in agroforestry that have the potential to generate higher returns compared to that of palm oil,” Agung said at Sinarmas Forestry Community Training and Development Center (BPPM) in Perawang, Riau, Sunday, July 17, 2016.

Interview with Cristina Eghenter, WWF-Indonesia
WWF, 18 July 2016
We sat down with Cristina Eghenter from WWF-Indonesia and the Heart of Borneo program, to talk about how her focus on governance is a unique, but growing, approach to conservation.
What is your role at WWF?
My official title at is Deputy Director for Governance and Social Development, which encompasses a synergy of a few distinct, but overlapping and related, roles. Governance has been a big focus in WWF-Indonesia through our work in protected areas, payment for ecosystem services, and carbon markets (i.e. benefit-sharing). I also work as the leader for civil society engagement for WWF’s Heart of Borneo ecoregional program, in which WWF works to support three countries, Brunei, Indonesia, and Malaysia, to protect and sustainably manage the forests on the island of Borneo in partnership with the private sector and civil society.

Cattle driving big forest loss in Peru’s ‘under-appreciated’ Amazon
By Jeremy Hance, mongabay.com, 18 July 2016
When one thinks of cattle ranchers destroying the Amazon rainforest, one usually thinks of Brazil. And for good reason: cattle ranching continues to be the leading cause of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon. Currently, about two-thirds of cleared forest in the region becomes pasture for scores of cattle herds that today collectively number around 60 million head – or two cows for every seven Brazilians. But a new report by the Monitoring of the Andean Amazon Project (MAAP) has caught another vast swathe of forest loss linked to cattle ranching in a neighboring country not known for its cowboy culture: Peru.
Looking at the Department of Huánuco in central Peru, researchers with MAAP discovered a large area of forest loss equaling 24,520 hectares over the last three years – Amazonian destruction over an area four times bigger than Manhattan.
“It is likely that cattle ranching has been the driver in that part of the country for awhile, just no one really documented it,” said Matt Finer, a researcher with the Amazon Conservation Association.

Philippines won’t honour UN climate deal, says president
By Ed King, Climate Home, 18 July 2016
The Philippines will not honour commitments it made under the Paris climate change deal, president Rodrigo Duterte said in a speech on Monday.
“You are trying to stifle us,” Duterte said in widely reported comments. “That’s stupid, I will not honour that. You signed… That was not my signature.”
Agreed by 195 countries including the Philippines last December, the UN pact aims to limit warming to well below 2C from pre-industrial levels.

Huge swaths of Russia’s forests are ablaze during what may be a record fire season
By Andrew Freedman, Mashable, 18 July 2016
It is fire season in Siberia, which means vast tracts of boreal forests are ablaze. As occurred in 2015, smoke is turning skies a bright orange across eastern Russia, China and other downwind areas.
The past few years have seen huge conflagrations in this region, due to a combination of forest management practices, firefighting policies, human-caused global warming and shorter-term weather fluctuations.

[Zimbabwe] Kariba REDD+ changes lives. . . but poor carbon prices threaten viability
By Jeffrey Gogo, The Herald, 18 July 2016
A project in Mashonaland West that aims to avoid deforestation has since 2014 sold 1,5 million carbon credits to global buyers for over $2 million. The funds have been directed towards programmes that help communities cope with climate change, while neutralising the emission of dangerous climate-changing gases. Operational since 2011, the Kariba REDD+ project, Zimbabwe’s biggest privately-funded project covering 750 000 hectares across the four rural district councils of Mbire, Hurungwe, Nyaminyami and Binga, is changing lives through conservation farming, bee-keeping and wildlife conservation. Its key objective is to preserve Zimbabwe’s natural forests, an important absorber of potent carbon gases. This is crucial to fighting climate change and global warming. And the UN has recognised this, leading to the formation of a programme called REDD+ in 2008, short for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. Under REDD+, which has since assumed importance in the new global climate treaty agreed at Paris last December, international buyers of what are known as carbon credits, units or offsets pay countries or private organisations a kind of compensation for avoiding deforestation in tropical forests — clearly indicating that forests are worth more standing, than fallen.

19 July 2016

INTERVIEW-How to stop deforestation? Give indigenous people rights to land – U.N. expert
By Magdalena Mis, Thomson Reuters Foundation, 19 July 2016
Indigenous people are better than governments at preventing forests from being cut and should be seen as a solution, not a barrier to protecting them, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous People said on Tuesday.
Indigenous peoples and communities have claims to two thirds of the world’s land but are legally recognised as holding only 10 percent, according to think thank World Resources Institute (WRI).
Without title deeds, indigenous communities may find their land is taken over for major development projects such as palm oil plantations and logging.

Situating smallholders at the fore
By Deanna Ramsay, CIFOR Forest News Blog, 19 July 2016
Mediating the push and pull of agricultural expansion and conservation is no easy task. Add to that smallholders – who play a crucial role in producing agricultural commodities but whose economic disenfranchisement can incline to unsustainable practices – and the situation becomes even more complex.
With increasing corporate commitments to eliminate deforestation from supply chains, the integral, and precarious, situation of smallholders must be addressed. But how can companies help to empower them, disincentivizing deforestation and unsustainable practices? What must government, civil society and the financial sector do? And, what would a successful smallholder empowerment project look like?

[Australia] Police plead for public to stop falling for cold call scam crimes
By Thomas Chamberlin and David Murray, The Courier-Mail, 19 July 2016
Police and corporate cops admit they cannot tackle investment fraud, launching an appeal for the public to stop falling for cold call scams.
In an extraordinary press conference, the heads of the police service, corruption watchdog, Australian Securities and Investments Commission and Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission said investigations were too hard and too expensive to crack.
The rationale was rejected in the state’s organised crime inquiry, which specifically rebuffed police claims they could not tackle so-called “boiler rooms”.

[Brazil] Destroying heaven to make way for a dam
By Bunny McDiarmid, Greenpeace, 19 July 2016
While building the Teles Pires hydrodam on a tributary of the Tapajós River in the Amazon, construction companies blew up a waterfall. For them, it was just part of the process. For the Munduruku Indigenous People who have lived in this part of the Amazon rainforest for centuries, it was catastrophic. The waterfall was the place the spirits of the Munduruku People go when they die. In an instant, this sacred place — their heaven — was gone; replaced with a dam and flooded forest.

Beyond Cap-and-Trade: Many Environmentalists Say California Will Improve Climate Policy If It Reduces Emissions at Source
By Will Parrish, East Bay Express, 19 July 2016
California’s cap-and-trade program is a cornerstone of the state’s effort to curb greenhouse gases. But it’s also in crisis.
Faced with Republican opposition, Gov. Jerry Brown has so far been unable to muster two-thirds of state legislators to vote to extend the program beyond its current 2020 expiration.
Meanwhile, the latest auction of carbon-dioxide-emission allowances in May, which was supposed to generate more than a half-billion dollars for politicians to spend, brought in a paltry $10 million, as the California Air Resources Board sold a tiny fraction of the allowances it was offering.

20 July 2016

Trees contribute to reducing carbon footprints even after being cut down – UN report
UN News Center, 20 July 2016
Forests can contribute greatly to the fight against climate change even after trees have been logged, according to a new United Nations report which looks at the impact of wood products on carbon storage.
“Forests are at the heart of the transition to low-carbon economies, not only because of their double role as sink and source of emissions, but also through the wider use of wood products to displace more fossil fuel intense products,” the Assistant Director-General for Forestry at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), René Castro-Salazar, said from Rome, where she is participating in the UN agency’s World Forest Week.

Hottest ever June marks 14th month of record-breaking temperatures
By Michael Slezak, The Guardian, 20 July 2016
As the string of record-breaking global temperatures continues unabated, June 2016 marks the 14th consecutive month of record-breaking heat.
According to two US agencies – Nasa and Noaa – June 2016 was 0.9C hotter than the average for the 20th century, and the hottest June in the record which goes back to 1880. It broke the previous record, set in 2015, by 0.02C.
The 14-month streak of record-breaking temperatures was the longest in the 137-year record. And it has been 40 years since the world saw a June that was below the 20th century average.

Some global brands are getting creative to lower their carbon footprints
By Mike Gaworecki, mongabay.com, 20 July 2016
Global name-brand companies are increasingly looking for ways to lower or offset their carbon footprint. Many of them are concerned about the viability of their operations in a warming world, since changes in weather patterns and temperature extremes could affect, for instance, the farmers supplying their cotton, or increase the cost of cooling their data centers. Others are doing it so they’re not caught flat-footed when new climate regulations take effect.
According to a new report by the NGO Forest Trends, 314 companies — nearly 20 percent of the 1,896 companies that publicly disclosed their 2014 emissions data to CDP (formerly known as the Carbon Disclosure Project) last year — were engaged in the purchase or sale of carbon credits in order to draw down their emissions. The majority of them — some 248 companies — purchased offsets, defined as a metric ton of carbon dioxide equivalent, whether they did so voluntarily or because they fall under one of the world’s regulatory carbon pricing programs, such as the one run by the state of California.

India: Park guard shoots child in infamous “shoot-to-kill” national park
Survival International, 20 July 2016
A seven year old tribal boy is reportedly in a critical condition after being shot by a park guard in a national park in northeast India, notorious for its brutal “shoot to kill” policy towards suspected poachers.
The boy, named in reports as Akash Oram, is a member of the Oroan tribe who live around Kaziranga national park. He sustained serious injuries to his legs, and is being treated in hospital.
Two park guards have been suspended after the shooting, following an outcry from local tribal people. Akash’s village is facing eviction.
The incident raises serious concerns over the advisability of the “shoot to kill” policy, which has seen at least sixty-two people killed in the park over a nine year period. This militarized approach to conservation has had serious consequences for local tribal people, who face arrest and beatings, torture and even death in the name of conservation.

[Indonesia] Riau Police drops probe into 11 firms linked to forest fires
By Rizal Harahap, The Jakarta Post, 20 July 2016
Riau Police reportedly have dropped investigations into 11 companies allegedly involved in forest fires in 2015, underlining the poor law enforcement of last year’s catastrophe that claimed five lives.
The 11 companies were among 18 accused of having been involved in the fires. While two other companies have seen their cases brought to court, six other companies are still being investigated.
Following the termination of the 11 investigations, the Riau Forest Rescue Network (Jikalahari) environmental group has called for the dismissal of the Riau Police chief.

Indonesia Moratorium on New Palm Planting to Include Existing Plantations
By Bernadette Christina Munthe, Jakarta Globe, 20 July 2016
Indonesia plans to issue in August a five-year moratorium on new palm plantations that will include a halt to approvals to extend planting into forested areas inside existing concessions, threatening output growth and palm oil investment.
The moratorium will cover around 3.5 million hectares, according to the Environment and Forestry Ministry, starting with 950,000 hectares that are being proposed by plantation companies for expansions.
Indonesia, the world’s top producer of palm oil, currently has about 11.4 million hectares devoted to palm plantations.
Plantation areas that not used according to what is stipulated on their concession permits, and those indicated to have been transferred to new owners may be subjected to the moratorium, San Afri Awang, director general of forestry spatial planning at Environment Ministry told reporters.

Logging in Mount Kenya forest pits politicians against local community
By Kagondu Njagi, Thomson Reuters Foundation, 20 July 2016
Logging in the Mount Kenya National Park has set a group of politicians against a local community in a dispute over land rights involving allegations of privilege, harassment and violence.
Atiriri Bururi ma Chuka, a local conservation group whose name translates as “keepers of Chuka community land”, says four politicians are working with a company that is felling trees on a 24,000-acre strip of protected forest land.
The company, Kamweru Farm, has cleared more than 15 acres, says Atiriri, which has mapped the land, and work is continuing, which could scare off wildlife, contribute to climate change, and curb the forest’s ability to replenish freshwater stocks, impacting locals’ livelihoods.

[New Zealand] Forestry planting scheme now underway
New Zealand government press release, 20 July 2016
Associate Minister for Primary Industries Jo Goodhew has this afternoon marked the success of the first round of the Afforestation Grant Scheme (AGS), by planting a Eucalyptus Globoidea tree at Akaroa on the Banks Peninsula.
Following the re-launch of the scheme last year, $3.77m will be invested in 2,900ha of new forest planted this year, through 81 separate grants.
“The new AGS builds on the success of the previous scheme and over the course of five years will see more than 15,000ha of new forest planted across the country,” says Mrs Goodhew.

N. American forests not the climate change remedy hoped for – study
By Sebastien Malo, Thomson Reuters Foundation, 20 July 2016
North American forests will not fight climate change by absorbing carbon dioxide at levels once hoped for because the trees may not grow big enough, a study said on Wednesday.
The new research challenges previous studies that said trees could grow larger due to higher temperatures brought on by global warming, said the authors of the study published in the journal Ecology Letters.
Typically, up to a third of carbon-dioxide emissions from human activity, such as automobile driving or steel production, is absorbed by forests, the study’s authors said. Carbon dioxide is the main greenhouse gas responsible for global warming.

[USA] Calif. urged to delay cap-and-trade extension, changes
By Tim Hearden, Capital Press, 20 July 2016
Farm groups want state leaders to hold off on a proposed expansion of California’s cap-and-trade program, which they say already has placed burdens on producers.
Representatives from groups including the California Farm Bureau Federation and Western United Dairymen say Gov. Jerry Brown and lawmakers should wait until closer to the program’s 2020 sunset before considering whether to extend it.
Cynthia Cory, the CFBF’s director of environmental affairs, noted that California is still the only place in the world where such a program exists even though state leaders were confident that others would follow.
“We’re saying let the program get closer to 2020 and let other people in the world start doing this,” Cory said. “This is a global issue, not a local issue.
“We just keep saying, ‘Why are you ratcheting down on the cleanest place in the world and putting them at a competitive disadvantage instead of working with other entities and getting them to step up to the plate?’” she said.

[USA] Green State, Golden State: The Fight to Save Cap-and-Trade
By Bill Raden, Capital & Main, 20 July 2016
For Sacramento, July is traditionally the calm before the storm — when state lawmakers and lobbyists desert the capital during the summer recess to brace for August’s legislative onslaught and its end-of-the-month deadline for bills headed to the governor’s desk. This year, however, the lights have remained on in both the offices of Governor Jerry Brown and the state’s powerful oil lobby.
Earlier this month, Brown and Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) president Catherine Reheis-Boyd confirmed reports of ongoing direct talks between the governor and oil industry groups over what a Brown spokesperson told Capital & Main in a carefully worded email statement was an extension of “the state’s cap-and-trade program and climate goals beyond 2020.” The statement said talks were taking place for the sake of “market certainty” and to “ensure ongoing funding for clean energy programs, especially in vulnerable communities.”

21 July 2016

Community forestry in Central Africa: Has it been a success?
By Fai Collins and Raphael Tsanga, CIFOR Forest News Blog, 21 July 2016
Democratization across much of Africa in the early 1990s not only affected political institutions, but also had repercussions for natural resource governance. Participatory management has since become the standard for measuring a state’s progress toward sustainable natural resource management (and in particular, forest management), due to its inclusive nature and its status as the preferred approach for non-governmental organizations and the international donor community.
However, new research from CIFOR and FAO shows that participatory methods such as community forestry have received mixed reviews — and mixed success — in Central Africa. Forest management agents in the region are ambivalent about the effectiveness of the participatory method. Some feel that participatory management has the potential to contribute to sustainable forestry management in Central Africa, to create jobs in rural areas and to fight against poverty. Others feel that participatory management is too complex and ill-adapted to the residential populations’ modes of action and traditions.

Study: Drought impedes tree growth, shuts down Amazon carbon sink
By Claire Asher, mongabay.com, 21 July 2016
The Amazon rainforest is popularly known as the “the planet’s lungs” — absorbing and storing 100 billion tons of carbon and preventing it from entering the atmosphere. Maintaining that vast carbon sink is seen as vital to limiting climate change impacts.
Now, new research published in the Global Biogeochemical Cycles journal shows that droughts can bring this crucial ecosystem service to a grinding halt.
University of Exeter scientist Dr. Ted Feldpausch and an international team of researchers investigated the impact of droughts on tree growth and carbon storage across the Amazon basin. They found that an Amazon Basin-wide drought in 2010 significantly affected carbon storage throughout the basin, killing many trees and slowing the growth of those that survived.

22 July 2016

Powered by Google, U.N. flexes tech muscle to fight climate change
By Magdalena Mis, Reuters, 22 July 2016
New Google-powered software will help the world tackle problems related to climate change, deforestation and food production, a United Nations agency said on Friday, as it presented its revamped online platform.
Open Foris, U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) software, uses high-resolution satellite images to monitor the environment and changes in land use and forest cover.
“We make maps that used to take three years in a week,” Erik Lindquist, forestry officer at FAO, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
“Rather than preparing data to analyze we can spend time probing the data for answers. We’re getting to answers much more quickly,” he said on the sidelines of a global forest conference in Rome.

Former Guyana President appointed FAO Special Ambassador for Forests and the Environment
FAO, 22 July 2016
Former President of Guyana Bharrat Jagdeo was today appointed an FAO Special Ambassador for Forests and the Environment. FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva made the announcement on the final day of the 23rd session of the Organization’s Committee on Forestry (COFO) taking place in Rome.
As special ambassador, Jagdeo will promote the role of forests in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, raise awareness of the vital contributions of forests to food security, rural poverty reduction, employment generation and social integration, and encourage actions to support the sustainable use of forests and other natural resources.
Jagdeo served as two-time president of Guyana between 1999 and 2011, becoming the youngest head of state in the world at 35. A global advocate for international actions to combat climate change, the former president launched the Jagdeo Initiative to create a more competitive agricultural sector in the Caribbean by 2015. Jagdeo will also draw on his experience serving on the UN Secretary General’s High Level Advisory Group on Climate Financing, as a patron of the Delhi-based World Sustainable Development Forum, as an IUCN Patron of Nature, and President of the Assembly of the Korea-based Global Green Growth Institute. Jagdeo was elected and served as COFO Chairperson for the 22nd and 23rd sessions of FAO’s forestry committee.

Cambodia’s Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary Sells First Carbon Credits
Wildlife Conservation Society, 22 July 2016
The Royal Government of Cambodia, through a long-running partnership with Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), has sold to Disney the first carbon credits from a climate change mitigation project in Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary, which encompasses a total area of 292,690 hectares.
Reducing deforestation is crucial to cutting the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change. The Keo Seima Project, under the international approach called REDD+ (Reduced Emissions from avoided Deforestation and Degradation), is projected to avoid the emission of more than 14 million metric tons of CO2 equivalents over the first 10-year period between 2010-and 2019.

India should follow China to find a way out of the woods on saving forest people
By Gaurav Madan, The Guardian, 22 July 2016
There was a time when the area leading up to the village of Usku Dadjo in the state of Jharkhand, east India, was dense forest. But because residents did not have the right to manage their land, the forest was steadily degraded by outsiders. Now, only sand and scrub remain.
Last year, the community started to reclaim traditional lands using India’s groundbreaking 2006 Forest Rights Act. While the community has not yet received any response from the government, residents have put up signs asserting their right to the land.
The struggle of communities like Usku Dadjo is linked to global efforts to conserve forests, reduce poverty and achieve development with dignity for marginalised people.

[Indonesia] Battling Riau forest fires: APP allocates US$20m to prevent, track and tackle fires
By Hani Shamira Shahrudin, New Straits Times, 22 July 2016
Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) had allocated US$20 million (RM80 million) to procure and equip its fire management department with the latest technology and equipment to prevent and combat fire in Riau. The proactive measure was taken by APP, which is a subsidiary of diversified conglomerate Sinar Mas, following the recent El-Nino phenomenon and open burning, that leads to haze blanketing the province and its neighbouring countries including Malaysia and Singapore, as well as affecting the company’s operation. The funding was not only used to procure the latest equipment to track, prevent and combat fire but also used to improve the river system in the province.

[Indonesia] Ministry to Take Over Forest Fire Cases
Kompas, 22 July 2016
The Environment and Forestry Ministry has indicated that it would take over 15 cases related to forest fires that had taken place in Riau in 2015 after the police ended its investigation.
The ministry said it would review the facts behind the termination of the investigations before deciding to take over the cases.
“There are a number of ways of settling legal cases related to environment, namely using the criminal and civil codes or administrative law. Criminal cases are solely handled by the police,” said Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar during a visit to Siak, Riau, on Thursday. She was visiting the province as part of a program to commemorate World Environment Day.

[Indonesia] One Map Policy’s success hinges on local involvement
By Hans Nicholas Jong, Jakarta Post, 22 July 2016
Indonesia’s ambitious One Map Policy, which aims to produce a single, integrated, nationwide database of various political and economic information by 2019, is doomed to fail if the process only happens at the national level, but not at the local.
In February, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo issued Presidential Decree No. 9/2016 on the One Map Policy to speed up the implementation of the policy as mandated by Law No. 4/2011 on geospatial information. The One Map Policy aims to solve problems, such as rampant land disputes, that have arisen from the use of different data and maps for decades.

Peru Approves New Innovative Environmental Policies
By Michael Jenkins, Gena Gammie and Jan Cassin, Forest Trends, 22 July 2016
Yesterday came the announcement of important steps forward for the people of Peru and the critical ecosystems that sustain their livelihoods and cultures. The Peruvian government has formally released: 1) the regulation of its groundbreaking national payments for ecosystem services law; 2) its national strategy for forest conservation in the context of climate change; and 3) guidance for biodiversity offsets under its innovative no-net-loss rules. Each of these achievements reflect years of hard work by our partners in the Peruvian government, civil society, and indigenous peoples, and major efforts from our different programs to tackle the day-to-day challenge of turning a vision into a reality.

23 July 2016

Indonesia calls on neighbours to help tackle forest fires
By Saifulbahri Ismail, Channel News Asia, 23 July 2016
Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla on Friday (Jul 22) reiterated his call to neighbouring countries to help Indonesia tackle forest fires.
“If they want, let’s work together for common interest. In the past, Singapore, and Malaysia has helped – that’s good. Don’t just blame (Indonesia). It’s not that we like (the situation), no,” said Mr Kalla during his visit to Siak regency, Riau province, on Friday as reported by online news portal detik.com.
Mr Kalla was in Riau, one of the provinces badly affected by the forest fires last year, to commemorate World Environment Day. The massive forest fires devastated more than two million hectares of land causing toxic haze to blanket parts of Indonesia and the region.

[Indonesia] Avoid the Natural Resource Curse
Kompas, 23 July 2016
The government has made it clear, natural resources should not be exploited. It has also acknowledged that failures in managing and making use of the resources have resulted in the degradation of natural resources.
The importance of environmental awareness in development was conveyed by Vice President Jusuf Kalla on Friday (22/7/2016) during the national commemoration of World Environment Day in Siak Sri Indrapura, Riau, as well as the handing over of the 2016 environment awards. The vice president called on decisionmakers to avoid “the curse” of natural resources. The event was themed “Go Wild for Life”.
“A good environment is a blessing, but one can be a disaster like in this region. Let us avoid the curse of natural resources,” the vice president said.

Post-IPOP: How Indonesia can lead in palm oil sustainability
By Lee Chen Chen and Lau Xin Yi, Jakarta Post, 23 July 2016
Palm oil is a vital ingredient for many products and the industry provides a significant source of national revenue and employment for millions of farmers.
Indonesia and Malaysia collectively account for 85 to 90 percent of global palm oil production. But palm oil is often associated with various controversies including the persistent fires and haze.
Responding to this pressure, several initiatives have emerged to steer the palm oil industry towards more socially- and environmentally-friendly practices, such as the Indonesia Palm Oil Pledge (IPOP made in New York in 2014.
Yet, the dissolution of IPOP in July, less than two years since it was launched, did not come as a surprise to industry observers.

USAID, the wolf in sheep’s clothing in the Mekong
By Montree Chantawong, The Bangkok Post, 23 July 2016
In 1994, the then Mekong Committee Secretariat released a report on 12 proposed hydropower projects on the lower Mekong mainstream. The proposed projects, which included the Sambor Dam in Kratie province in Cambodia, were initially criticised for their environmental impact and unfeasible finances.
More than a decade later, lower Mekong countries revived the proposal by approving feasibility studies for the projects which also included those on tributaries. Among them, the Sambor Dam resurfaced as the Ministry of Industry, Mining and Energy of Cambodia commissioned Guangxi Power Grid Company, a subsidiary of China Southern Power Grid, to conduct a feasibility study for this particular 3,300-megawatt dam located 560 km from the delta, and according to its original plan, was to relocate some 5,120 of the most downstream villagers. Nonetheless, neither the Chinese firm nor the Cambodian authorities released the study’s results to the public.

[Russia] Siberia’s wildfires seen from 1 million miles away: even the tundra is burning
The Siberian Times, 23 July 2016
These exceptional images show how the smoke trails of wildfires over Siberia can be seen from outer space. The pictures were made by the EPIC camera on NOAA’s Deep Space Climate Observatory spacecraft some 975,074 miles – or 1,569,229 kilometres from Earth on 21 July this year.
Hovering between the Earth and the Sun, the evidence on such images suggest that the smoke cover is extensive, yet Greenpeace accuses the Russian authorities of massively under reporting the scale of the annual wildfires.
Other satellite images confirm the extent of the fires, for example the Suomi NPP spacecraft, orbiting 512 miles (824 km) above Earth.
Experts claim that such images show fires are 10 times more widespread than acknowledged by the Russian government.

24 July 2016

[USA] California wildfires: Hundreds flee homes near Los Angeles
BBC News, 24 July 2016
Fast-moving wildfires have forced hundreds of people to leave their homes in mountains north of Los Angeles, California, the authorities say.
The fires had covered an area of 20,000 acres by Saturday evening, sending a pall of smoke south across parts of Los Angeles County.
About 300 people have been evacuated near the city of Santa Clarita.
Public swimming pools in Pasadena and Glendale closed because of smoke and falling ash.
The fires are being driven by high temperatures and strong winds, as forecasters warn the conditions are set to continue.
The wildfires, known as the Sand Fire, broke out on Friday afternoon in the Sand Canyon area near Santa Clarita. Winds quickly fanned them towards the Angeles National Forest.

[USA] The Sand Fire in Santa Clarita Offers Omens of a Fiery Future
By Eric Holthaus, Pacific Standard, 24 July 2016
Wildfires are a normal part of life in Southern California. But what’s burning right now is not a normal fire.
As of midday Sunday, the Sand Fire had grown to 22,000 acres (34 square miles) — roughly the same size as the island of Manhattan — and was just 10 percent contained. In nearby Los Angeles, the fire prompted frequent references to the Apocalypse this weekend, as the large smoke plume dropped ash and blotted out the sun.
The fire, which started as a small brush fire along the side of Highway 14 near Santa Clarita, California, on Friday, quickly spread out of control under weather conditions that were nearly ideal for explosive growth. The fire doubled in size overnight on Friday, and then doubled again during the day on Saturday.

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