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REDD in the news: 13-19 February 2017

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REDD-Monitor’s round-up of the week’s news on forests, climate change, and REDD. For regular updates, follow @reddmonitor on Twitter.

13 February 2017

Landsat Eyes Help Guard the World’s Forests
U.S. Geological Survey press release, 13 February 2017
“We’re seeing the loss of forests in many places,” said Matthew Hansen, a professor at the University of Maryland. “Dynamics include increasing tropical deforestation, more frequent and severe boreal forest fires, disease in temperate forests and the commoditization of subtropical forests.”
If trees could talk, they would say that Hansen is among their best friends. He is one the world’s foremost forest sentries.
“Forest landscapes are very often converted to more intensive land uses such as croplands and pasture,” said Hansen. “These changes impact the various ecosystem services that forests provide, including beneficial climate and water functions and favorable habitat for biodiversity.”

[Cambodia] ‘Timber transporter’ shot dead
By Phak Seangly, Phnom Penh Post, 13 February 2017
Three security guards from a Singaporean-owned company were sent to Kampong Speu Provincial Court yesterday following the shooting death of an alleged timber transporter three days earlier.
The deceased, Run Ret, 27, was hauling five logs of timber he had allegedly felled illegally in the Cardamoms protected area when he encountered three security guards from HLH Agriculture Cambodia and one of their wives in a patrol car on Thursday. According to Buth Bunthoeun, Oral district police chief, the guards stopped Ret because he was crossing company land.

EU lawmakers split on carbon reform ahead of vote
By Alissa de Carbonnel, Reuters, 13 February 2017
Members of the European Parliament remain divided over an overhaul to the carbon market after a debate in the assembly on Monday, EU sources said, setting the stage for a tight vote on the reforms later this week.
Lead policymakers spoke in defence of a compromise deal reached between the key parties in December, warning that any moves to pick it apart risked delaying the long-awaited reforms, which are due to come into effect in 2021.
The European Union’s market for carbon credits, essentially tradeable permits allowing industry to pollute, has suffered from excess supply since the financial crisis, depressing their prices and heightening the need for reform.

14 February 2017

Q&A: The social cost of carbon
Carbon Brief, 14 February 2017
The social cost of carbon (SCC) has been called “the most important number you’ve never heard of” because it underpins climate regulations in countries including the US and Canada. It’s one way to put a price on CO2 emissions – but the Trump administration may try to amend it.
In this detailed Q&A, Carbon Brief looks at the basics, the science and the politics of the social cost of carbon, as well as the legal situation in the US. You can read all the way through the piece, or jump straight to the section you need with the droplinks, below.

Carbon border tax: not perfect but good enough
By Dieter Helm and Cameron Hepburn, letter the editor Financial Times, 14 February 2017
Sir, Lakshmi Mittal, in “A carbon border tax is the best answer on climate change” (February 13), makes the case for a carbon border adjustment to put European steel on a level playing field with global competitors that do not price carbon, and hence do not properly deal with the pollution their production causes. He is right, but not just about steel. Without a border adjustment, efforts towards curbing carbon production in Europe lead to “leakage” of emissions to other countries. The location of the emissions does not matter to the climate.

In a Broken Food System, Consumers Have More Power Than They Realize
By Ally Friedman, World Resources Institute, 14 February 2017
In its first few weeks, the Trump administration has brought a number of issues to the fore of American consciousness — justice, environment, health, rural economies — all of which can be united by a single variable: food. For Americans looking to affect change in an erratic political landscape, the food system is a good place to start.
It’s also a system in need of change. American diets are the most resource-intensive on the planet, more than two-thirds of the country’s adults are overweight or obese, and a comprehensive new Farm Bill could be negotiated as early as this year.

Counterintuitive: Global hydropower boom will add to climate change
By Claire Salisbury, mongabay.com, 14 February 2017
From the Amazon Basin to boreal forests, and from the Mekong to the Himalayan foothills, rivers worldwide are being targeted for major new dams in a global hydropower boom that also aims to supply drinking water to exploding human populations and to facilitate navigation on the planet’s rivers; 3,700 new dams — 847 of them larger than 100 MW — are slated for construction.
But one strong argument in favor of hydropower is now looking far weaker. Scientists have compiled the most comprehensive assessment yet of the global impact that dam reservoirs have on the world’s atmosphere and greenhouse emissions. And it isn’t good news.
Globally, the researchers estimate that reservoirs — long considered “zero emitters” by the United Nations climate program — contribute 1.3 percent of man-made greenhouse gas emissions. Emissions on this scale are comparable to those from rice paddy cultivation or biomass burning, the study authors write.

Malaysian customers urge HSBC to stop funding forest fires in Indonesia
ANTARA News, 14 February 2017
Dissatisfied Malaysian customers on Tuesday presented HSBC with a mock cheque with 228,434 signatures urging the bank to “Stop Funding Forest Fires in Indonesia.”
The HSBC customers were joined by activists from Greenpeace and other Malaysian civil society organizations, including members of Pertubuhan Pelindung Khazanah Alam Malaysia (PEKA), who handed out leaflets to other customers and passersby at the banks head office in Kuala Lumpur, Greenpeace said in a press statement on Tuesday.
The activity was part of an escalating global effort to highlight the involvement of Europes largest bank in arranging US$16.3 billion of loans (and nearly $2 billion of bonds) to companies whose Indonesian palm oil operations have destroyed vast areas of rainforest, peatland, and orangutan habitats; seized land from local people; operated without legal permits; and caused forest fires, Greenpeace reported.

Directors Banned For UK Carbon-Credit Investment Scam
By Paige Long, Law360, 14 February 2017
Three directors of a U.K. company that sold worthless voluntary emission reduction carbon credits as part of a £1 million ($1.25 million) investment scam have been banned from holding corporate director posts for a total of 43 years, the U.K. government announced Tuesday.
The Insolvency Service, an executive agency of the government’s Department For Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, said the scam carried out by Cleartrade Ltd. was discovered following investigations into the company when it was ordered to wind up in May 2014.
Carl Thornton and Marcel McKeigue were banned by the High Court for 15 years each on Feb. 8, the agency announced Tuesday — the maximum punishment that can be handed out for the offense. The bans will take force on March 1 and mean that the two cannot promote, manage or be a director of a limited company until 2031.
A third director, Stephen Hawrysh, was handed a 13-year disqualification on June 22, 2016, which took effect a month later.

[USA] Amazonas Florestal Ltd. Today Announced that Its Wholly Owned Subsidiary Amazon Hemp Ltd. Has Executed a Farm Contractor Agreement with 303 Farms LLC to Establish 100 Acre CBD Hemp Plantation in the State of Colorado
Amazonas Florestal press release, 14 February 2017
Amazonas Florestal, Ltd., a natural resources company dedicated to innovative, sustainable forest management, the certification and sales of carbon credits, and Industrial CBD Hemp, today announced that the company’s wholly-owned subsidiary Amazon Hemp Ltd. has completed and signed a Farm Contractor Agreement with 303 Farms LLC covering all of the required elements to establish a 100-acre Industrial CBD Hemp Plantation in Frederick, Colorado, just north of Dacono, Colorado.

15 February 2017

What is a forest?
Proforest, 15 February 2017
It seems a straightforward commitment — to eliminate deforestation from commodity supply chains. But in order to implement such ‘no deforestation’ commitments, we need first to define what is the forest that shouldn’t be deforested. And that turns out to be more complex than you might imagine.
The High Carbon Stock (HCS) concept aims to provide this clarity. Fundamentally, it aims to distinguish forest areas that should be protected as part of ‘no deforestation’ commitments, from non-forest areas that could be considered for conversion to oil palm or other agricultural commodities. It uses remote sensing technology and field measurements to identify patches of natural forest that are then further analysed to define ‘viable forest areas’ for protection.

Emissions Trading Worldwide – ICAP Status Report 2017
International Carbon Action Partnership press release, 15 February 2017
The International Carbon Action Partnership’s (ICAP) Status Report 2017, released on 15 February, provides a testament to the evolution of emissions trading from textbook assumptions to the real world. With the launch of China’s national emissions trading system (ETS) later this year, ETS will operate in economies generating close to half of the world’s GDP and covering more than 15% of global emissions. The ICAP Status Report takes stock of the latest developments in emissions trading, providing detailed factsheets on all systems under consideration or operating worldwide, as well as highlighting major trends and areas of policy debate. This year’s report focuses on three major themes: emissions trading in emerging economies, market stability and international cooperation.

European Parliament votes to reduce carbon credits for Emissions Trading Scheme by 2.2% each year
Global Cement, 15 February 2017
The European Parliament has voted to approve a proposal by the European Commission to reduce carbon credits by 2.2%/yr from 2021 in its Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). This is an increase from the 1.74% reduction specified in existing legislation. It will also double the capacity of the 2019 market stability reserve (MSR) to absorb the excess of credits or allowances on the market.
Members of the European Parliament (MEP) want to review the so-called ‘linear reduction factor’ with the intention to raising it to 2.4% by 2024 at the earliest. In addition MEPs want to double the MSR’s capacity to mop up the excess of credits on the market. When triggered, it would absorb up to 24% of the excess of credits in each auctioning year, for the first four years. They have agreed that 800 million allowances should be removed from the MSR as of 1 January 2021. Two funds will also be set up and financed by auctioning ETS allowances. A modernisation fund will help to upgrade energy systems in lower-income member states and an innovation fund will provide financial support for renewable energy, carbon capture and storage and low-carbon innovation projects.

Indonesian president hands over management of forests to indigenous people
By Amy Lumban Gaol, Agroforestry World, 15 February 2017
President Joko Widodo has bestowed the right to manage customary forests on nine indigenous communities, heralding the end of decades of uncertainty and the beginning of a new era of secure right to land. The World Agroforestry Centre and Global Affairs Canada have helped one community regain control of their forests.
Indonesia has had a long history of conflict over control of its massive areas of tropical forests that are spread across the many thousands of islands that make up the archipelagic nation. Declaration under former Dutch colonial rule of state ownership of all forests was rarely accepted by the millions of people who lived in them and who had managed them sustainably for centuries.

[Pakistan] Key studies of REDD+ project inaugurated to develop national strategy
Pakistan Today, 15 February 2017
Minister for Climate Change Zahid Hamid has inaugurated two key studies of Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) aiming to develop National REDD+ strategy and its implementation framework.
The project is aimed at making necessary technical, institutional and legal preparations needed to formally implement the REDD+ programmes in Pakistan. The studies would help management and institutional arrangements for REDD+, development of baselines (Forests Reference Emission Levels/Reference Levels), development of the national forest monitoring system including measurement, reporting and verification systems, development of social, environmental safeguards and capacity building outreach and raising awareness.

16 February 2017

Forest Update: Resources, Projects Showcase Progress in REDD+ Initiatives, SFM
By Elsa Tsioumani, IISD, 16 February 2017
Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries, and the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests, and enhancement of forest carbon stocks (REDD+) has been a central focus of forest-related publications and resources, and stakeholder action highlighting country-level developments.
Titled ‘Towards a Common Understanding of REDD+ under the UNFCCC,’ a technical resource document published by the UN-REDD Programme fosters a common understanding of REDD+ related issues and concepts, for improved implementation at the country level.

‘I could be arrested or killed’: the activists fighting to save Cambodia’s forests
By John Vidal, The Guardian, 16 February 2017
We crouch in a shallow trench deep in Cambodia’s Prey Lang forest. The flies bite and we face walls of fallen trees. Fifty yards away a tall fence surrounds a secret logging camp which forestry investigator Leng Ouch has identified with a drone.
Armed guards bar entry to the camp, which Leng says is owned by a relation of a prominent member of government; so he follows the fence until he finds a gap. Slipping into the large timber yard, he darts from one large stack of logs to another, dodging behind idle bulldozers, log stackers, trucks, tractors and a sawmill. He photographs each pile to record numbers, tree sizes and species.

MEPs back limited EU carbon trade reform
By Aleksandra Eriksson, EU Observer, 16 February 2017
MEPs have backed limited reforms of the EU’s carbon trading scheme, but stopped short of cancelling a number of benefits available to heavy polluting industries.
The European Parliament’s plenary rejected a plan on Wednesday (15 February) to scrap free carbon credits to the cement industry, a heavy polluter responsible for 5 percent of global CO2 emissions.
Negotiators of the agreement in the parliament’s environment committee had seen the abolishment of the industry’s benefits as a key part of the Emissions Trading System (ETS) overhaul.

[India] Mass campaign launched to fight forest fires
Times of India, 16 February 2017
With forests facing increased threat of fire outbreaks due to intense summer and a deficient monsoon, Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary (WWS) officials have adopted a mass campaign mode with grassroots-level participation for preventing them.
As many as 800 volunteers, including students and members of nature clubs in schools and environmental activists, have already visited around 18,000 houses in 100 settlements in the forest fringes to sensitise villagers about the dangers of forest fires over the last weekend. Apart from telling the villagers about the steps to be taken to prevent forest fires, hotline numbers to be contacted in case of sighting them were also provided.

[Indonesia] Forest cover maps to remain confidential: Court
By Hans Nicholas Jong, Jakarta Post, 16 February 2017
The State Administrative High Court (PTUN) ruled on Thursday in favor of the Environment and Forestry Ministry, allowing the government to not disclose forest cover maps, which are essential in providing greater transparency on forest governance.
In September 2015, Greenpeace Indonesia filed a lawsuit at the Central Information Commission (KIP) against the ministry for refusing to release various cover maps in shapefile format, which the ministry deems to be confidential documents.
Shapefile format for maps enables users to analyze data by overlaying different maps. It functions to provide greater transparency about who controls areas of land and what happens within those areas.
Last October, the KIP ruled in favor of Greenpeace Indonesia. However, the ministry appealed to the PTUN, which in turn decided that the ministry could keep the documents confidential.

17 February 2017

[Indonesia] Task force of forest fire prevention extinguishes land fires
ANTARA News, 17 February 2017
A task force of forest fire prevention workers in Riau province has managed to extinguish the land fires which devoured 20 hectares of dry peatlands in Pangkalan Terap village, Kerumutan sub-district, Pelalawan district.
“Firefighting carried out by both teams on the ground and in the air took up to five days,” secretary of Mangala Agni of Center for Natural Resources Conservation of Riau province, Ihsan Abdillah told ANTARA in Pekanbaru, Friday.
Manggala Agni is Indonesias Forest Fire Control Brigade formed by the Forestry Ministry.

[Kenya] Here is how you can profit from forests as crop or livestock farmer
By Brian Okinda, Daily Nation, 17 February 2017
Kenya Forest Service (KFS) director Emilio Mugo spoke to Brian Okinda on how farmers can benefit from forest resources, why you should not blame deforestation for the ongoing drought and what you stand to benefit if you are part of Community Forest Association.
There has been a trend across the country of people clearing forests to farm or settle, what is the tragedy of this practice?
The trend has been activated by the increasing population of people wanting to farm and settle in previously forested regions.
Clearing of forests reduces the area under trees, and the implications include soil erosion as forests usually protect the soil from wind and water erosion.
Further, it exposes soil to desiccation, reduces the capacity of the area for sustaining life and habitats for wildlife.

[Malaysia] ‘K’tan pact on forest degradation not in line with UN conventions’
Malaysiakini, 17 February 2017
An agreement signed between the Kelantan government and a private company on the initiative to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) did not meet the conditions of the United Nations (UN) framework for convention on climate change (UNFCCC).
Natural Resources and Environment Minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said the agreement also contravened the conditions set by the UN.
“The mechanism is based on financing principle for the amount of greenhouse gas emission reduced and does not involve market mechanism,” he said in a media statement in Putrajaya yesterday.

[Thailand] No arrests in boiler room killing, as wife demands justice
By Boonlua Chatree, Pattaya Mail, 17 February 2017
The widow of an accused British “boiler room” gangster shot dead in broad daylight near Pattaya is calling for the extradition to Thailand of a suspect falsely claimed to have been arrested in Cambodia last week.
Somporn Kenway, whose British husband Tony, 39, was killed as he sat in his red Porsche Cayenne outside the Sanit Sports Club in Pong Sub-district Jan. 24, went to Nongprue Police Station Feb. 10 to push for the extradition of Toby James Nelham, 44, who reportedly was arrested in Sihanoukville and was to be handed over to Thai police at the Cambodian border Feb. 11.
The report, printed by both English- and Thai-language media, was false.
The Cambodia Daily reported Feb. 13 that Nelham has not been arrested nor even located, quoting both Sihanoukville police and the Interior Ministry.

First picture of man arrested over ‘organised crime’ shooting of British dad in Thailand
By Keyan Milanian, The Mirror, 17 February 2017
These are the first pictures of the alleged mastermind behind the murder of a British dad gunned down in Pattaya.
British Toby James Nelham could first face several charges in Cambodia, following his arrest on Wednesday in the capital Phnom Penh.
Ly Sophana, the deputy prosecutor and spokesman for the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, said that Nelham was still being questioned.
Tony Kenway, a 39-year-old businessman , was shot twice in the head as he sat in his parked car in the southern city of Pattaya on January 24.

[UK] Harlequin Group chairman charged with fraud by SFO
By Rozi Jones, Financial Reporter, 17 February 2017
The SFO has today charged David Ames, chairman of the Harlequin Group of companies, with three counts of Fraud by Abuse of Position, contrary to section 1 of the Fraud Act 2006.
The alleged activity occurred between January 2010 and June 2015.
Ames has been requisitioned to appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on 22 March 2017.

18 February 2017

[India] Forest guard killed in fire in Bandipur National Park
By R. Krishna Kumar, The Hindu, 18 February 2017
A forest guard, who was fighting to douse a forest fire, was engulfed by leaping flames in Kalkere range of Bandipur National Park. He died of asphyxiation and burns.
The victim, Murigeppa Tammangol (28), who was stomping out the fire, is suspected to have collapsed due to suffocation and suffered burn injuries. The Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests Ranga Rao said that Range Forest Officer Gangadhar and two other watchers hired from the local tribal colony were also injured and have been shifted to hospital.

[Thailand] Monkeys flee Phu Phan forest fires
By Pratuan Kajovuthinun, Bangkok Post, 18 February 2017
Man-made forest fires on the Phu Phan mountain range have forced monkeys to flee their forest homes to stay near communities.
A group of monkey was spotted along Highway No.213 on Sakon Nakhon-Kalasin route in tambon Srang Kho in Phu Phan district on Saturday. Residents passing the area brought food to feed the hungry primates.
The practice by hunters of setting blazes to flush out wild animals and the scorching of bushes to encourage the growth of mushrooms and some wild vegetables were blamed for forest fires that caused air pollution in the area and affected the habitats and food sources of wild animals.

19 February 2017

RESCCUE: Walking the talk on carbon neutrality in the Pacific
Pasifik, 19 February 2017
As part of the Pacific Community’s (SPC) efforts to reduce its environmental footprint, RESCCUE has become the first of its projects to be carbon neutral.
Since 2013, SPC has already reduced its greenhouse gases emissions by 17 percent, while many daily behaviours have changed – for example sorting and recycling waste that has become part of staff routine.
The RESCCUE project (Restoration of ecosystem services and adaptation to climate change), implemented by SPC and funded by the French Development Agency (AFD) and the French Global Environment Facility (FFEM), is now piloting a new phase for the organisation that could allow an even more drastic reduction of its negative environmental impacts.

[UK] ‘I fell for a carbon credit scam. Can I get my money back?’
By Jessica Gorst-Williams, The Telegraph, 19 February 2017
Some years ago I bought an investment in the carbon credit market.
Then three years ago I got caught in a scam via a Spanish company. It wanted £1,500 upfront, which I paid. Fortunately I was able to retrieve this as I had used a credit card.
Having consigned this to the past, I recently received a call from someone else advising that he had a customer for my carbon credits who was willing to pay more than £30,000.
He put me in touch with his “floor manager” who explained that an upfront payment of £8,000 was necessary to put all the legal documentation in place. This fee was to be completely refundable on completion of the deal.

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