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REDD in the news: 19-25 March 2018

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

19 March 2018

Global brands divided over transparency efforts to tackle deforestation for palm oil
Greenpeace press release, 19 March 2018
Eight major household brands such as PZ Cussons, Johnson & Johnson and Kraft Heinz are refusing to say where their palm oil comes from, despite promising to stop buying from companies that destroy rainforests. Eight others, such as Nestlé and Unilever, have made their palm oil supply chains more transparent.
This comes as a new report by Greenpeace International, Moment of Truth, finds brands are not on track to meet their commitments to a clean palm oil supply chain by 2020.

Loss of unregarded forests is at danger level
By Tim Radford, Climate News Network, 19 March 2018
The world’s unregarded forests are at risk. Intact forest is now being destroyed at an annual rate that threatens to cancel out any attempts to contain global warming by controlling greenhouse gas emissions.
Trees in the tropical regions are dying twice as fast as they did 35 years ago – and human-induced climate change is a factor.
And a third study has highlighted the value to humanity of intact forests, while estimating that four-fifths of the Earth’s remaining woodlands are now in some way degraded by human activities. “This figure,” researchers warn, “is probably an underestimate.”

Amazon deforestation is close to tipping point
São Paulo Research Foundation press release, 19 March 2018
Deforestation of the Amazon is about to reach a threshold beyond which the region’s tropical rainforest may undergo irreversible changes that transform the landscape into degraded savanna with sparse shrubby plant cover and low biodiversity.
This warning derives from an editorial published in the journal Science Advances. The article was co-authored by Thomas Lovejoy, a professor at George Mason University in the United States, and Carlos Nobre, chair of Brazil’s National Institute of Science & Technology (INCT) for Climate Change – one of the INCTs supported by FAPESP (Sao Paulo Research Foundation) in partnership with the National Council for Scientific & Technological Development (CNPq).

Brazil Bonn Challenge delegates evaluate forest restoration efforts worldwide
By Barbara Fraser, Landscapes News, 19 March 2018
Restoring a deforested landscape is about more than planting trees. Restoration activities also create local jobs, give people a voice in managing their natural resources, and secure environmental services, such as water supplies, said delegates attending a conference in Foz de Iguaçu, Brazil, on the border of Argentina.
Representing more than a dozen countries of almost 50 that have taken up the 2011 Bonn Challenge to restore 150 million hectares of deforested and degraded land by 2020, the meeting near the magnificent Iguaçu Falls served as an opportunity to measure progress.

Avocado trade threatened by shipping climate measure, say Chile, Peru
By Megan Darby, Climate Home, 19 March 2018
The trade in avocados, cherries and blueberries could suffer from a proposed short-term measure to cut carbon emissions from shipping, according to Chile and Peru.
Both Latin American exporters have signed a declaration saying international shipping must “take urgent action” to limit its climate impact, in line with the Paris Agreement.
But ahead of a critical UN shipping meet in April, they warned against speed limits at sea, one of the few regulations being considered for implementation before 2023.

Commission study makes pressing case for EU action on deforestation
Greenpeace press release, 19 March 2018
A long awaited European Commission study, released late on Friday, lays out policy options for the EU to tackle the impact on global deforestation caused by the trade in crop and animal products like beef, soy and palm oil. The study also points out the EU’s high level of meat consumption, its dependence on imported animal feed, and the inadequacy of controls on finance and investments flows as drivers of deforestation.

Restarting Nepal’s forestry sector
By Gabrielle Lipton, CIFOR Forests News, 19 March 2018
In Nepal, the idiom “it takes a village” might be better ended with “to raise a forest.” Here, more than a third of the population is involved community-based management of more than 1.8 million hectares of forested landscapes, from the highly biodiverse southern lowlands of the Terai to the rugged foothills of the Himalayas.
But as the country’s government changes, so too must its forestry policies. Aiming to provide policymakers with knowledge they can use, a new special issue of the peer-reviewed Journal of Forest and Livelihood provides the latest evidence on forest tenure reforms in Nepal, explaining and analyzing what has worked so far and what stands to be improved.

World Bank grants Sudan 5 mln USD for reducing emissions from deforestation
Xinhua, 19 March 2018
The World Bank has provided a grant of 5 million U.S. dollars to Sudan for reducing emissions from deforestation and forests degradation, a Sudanese official said Sunday.
Sudanese Minister for Finance Mohamed Othman al-Rekabi said the grant is “an additional fund from the World Bank after a successful phase of the initial program for reducing emissions ensuing from deforestation and forest degradation.”

[UK] FSC-certified timber importer failed to check legality of shipment from Cameroon
By John C. Cannon, Mongabay, 19 March 2018
A British government office has prosecuted a wood importer certified by the Forest Stewardship Council after it was found to have failed to ensure the legality of a shipment of timber from Cameroon.
The Forest Stewardship Council, or FSC, is an international organization dedicated to ensuring companies harvest and source timber according to a set of environmental and social standards. On March 2, a judge ruled that Hardwood Dimensions had violated a set of laws known as the EU Timber Regulation that came into force in March 2013. According to a statement, the company didn’t properly verify that a shipment of ayous (Triplochiton scleroxylon), a tropical tree species used to make furniture and guitars, had been legally harvested in Cameroon.

20 March 2018

Does aviation have a place in a low-carbon world?
By Kevin Anderson, Forum Vies Mobiles, 20 March 2018
The emissions from our flying, from aviation, represent about 2-3% of global carbon dioxide emissions. Now, that does not sound like a lot of emissions, but that’s roughly the emissions from California, or the emissions from the UK, or the emissions from Germany or the emissions from Beijing and Shanghai together. So 2-3% is a very large proportion of the emissions, but what is most disturbing is it is growing very fast. Generally, the emissions from aviation grow faster than average economic growth, and we’ve also started to see that in other parts of the world, they are starting to fly like we do. We must bear in mind that most people do not fly around the planet. [For] the largest proportion of the population, the only plane they ever see is going overhead. They have never been on a plane, and will very unlikely ever go on a plane in their lives.

Carbon prices too low to protect SE Asian forests from rubber expansion – report
By Michael Taylor, Thomson Reuters Foundation, 20 March 2018
The price of carbon credits must rise drastically if they are to help protect Southeast Asia’s tropical forests against rubber plantation expansion, according to researchers.
Individuals, companies and countries purchase carbon credits to offset their greenhouse gas emissions.
Putting a cost on carbon emissions provides an incentive to do business more sustainably, and a disincentive to engage in environmentally damaging activities – like clearing forests.

Will consumer goods giants default on 2020 zero deforestation promises?
By Robin Hicks, Eco-Business, 20 March 2018
Multinational consumer goods firms behind household favourites such as Nutella spread, Dove soap and Frito-Lay chips are in danger of defaulting on public commitments to cut deforestation-linked palm oil out of their supply chains, a report from non-governmental organisation (NGO) Greenpeace has suggested.
Members of the Consumer Goods Forum, which includes Unilever, PepsiCo, Kellogg’s and Ferrero, have agreed to clean up their supply chains and cut ties with palm oil suppliers linked to the clearance of rainforests to make way for commodities such as palm oil by 2020.

Seven Ways Your Business Can #Connect2Earth
WWF, 20 March 2018
For Earth Hour 2018, at 8.30pm local time on March 24th, we are inviting the world to #Connect2Earth to spark a global conversation about our relationship with nature and how we can live more sustainably.
For business, this means asking what your company or sector can do for nature and sustainability rather than what they can do for you, and how enterprise can serve purpose and responsibility.

[Cameroon] Legal activism key to securing land rights during new investment phase
By Lorenzo Cotula (IIED), Thomson Reuters Foundation, 20 March 2018
In the shade of a local school’s corrugated iron roof, a group of men and women debate what to do.
Located not far from the town of Kribi, on Cameroon’s Atlantic coast, the village is already squeezed between two logging concessions. Now, a company proposing an agri-business plantation wants a significant amount of land. Some people see this as an opportunity, others are worried about where they will grow their crops. All have struggled to understand the full implications of the far-reaching changes their decision will bring.

Beef eaters contribute almost half of the U.S.’s diet-related greenhouse gas emissions
By Candace Butera Pacific Standard, 20 March 2018
Nearly half of the United States’ diet-related greenhouse gas emissions result from only 20 percent of Americans’ dietary choices, a new study finds.
The study, published in Environmental Research Letters, finds that Americans with the highest levels of beef consumption account for 72 percent of the increase in diet-related emissions between the highest- and lowest-impact groups in the study, which produces about eight times the amount of emissions compared to the lowest-impact group. The study’s researchers attribute this to the fact that animal-based foods, particularly cow-based, contribute significantly higher levels of greenhouse gas emissions per pound than plant-based foods.

21 March 2018

Deceit and destruction behind FAO’s forest definition
World Rainforest Movement, 21 March 2018
For decades, the WRM has demanded that the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) urgently reviews its forest definition, which mainly benefits the interests of industrial monoculture tree plantations companies. FAO’s definition reduces a forest to any area covered by trees. In doing so, the FAO definition discards other life-forms as well as the biological, cyclical and cultural diversity that define a forest in its continuous interconnection with forest-dependent communities.

Rethinking forestry
By Jens Friis Lund, SLU Global Seminar, 21 March 2018
Forestry is the way we conceive of, demarcate, measure, manage and manipulate landscapes with trees. Throughout its long history since being conceived of in 18th century central Europe, forestry has served the needs of rulers and elites more than the needs of people living in rural landscapes with trees.
In this seminar, Professor Lund examines the role of forestry over time, the challenges it has met with, and its remarkable resilience to changing demands from society. In doing this he draws on environmental history accounts, as well as more contemporary examinations of forestry from the perspective of political ecology. He provides examples from across the World to illustrate my arguments. He ends with posing that this tale of forestry exemplifies some of the fundamental global sustainability challenges of our time.

Increasing transparency means forests don’t need to be the price of cheap vegetable oil
By Niki Mardas, Global Canopy, 21 March 2018
New research from Greenpeace sheds light on how, despite making clear commitments, companies are still failing to address the destruction of tropical forests as a result of their demand for palm oil.
This matters because these forests provide natural protection against climate change, habitat for many of the world’s most endangered species and many of the natural resources we all depend on.

Robert Nasi: What’s happening to our forests?
By Gabrielle Lipton and Rodrigo Ordonez, CIFOR Forests News, 21 March 2018
When it comes to caring for forests, it’s not only a matter of what forests can do for us, or what we can do for forests. Rather, both sides of the equation must be considered in equal measure. In honor of this year’s International Day of Forests on 21 March, Director General of the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) Robert Nasi gives Forests News a brief rundown on what’s happening in different forests around the world, the importance of private investment in restoration and CIFOR’s unique role in all of it.

To protect the world’s forests, we must start with its cities
By Robert Nasi (CIFOR), Thomson Reuters Network, 21 March 2018
For years we have celebrated forests, sung their praises and counted their many virtues. Today, the International Day of Forests, is no different. It’s a day for headlines and celebrations. Yet the realities of deforestation and degradation will continue today and tomorrow.
If we treasure our forests as much as we say we do, it’s time to consider a different approach to protecting them. First, and this may sound counter intuitive, we must start in the world’s cities.

Conservation costs can be higher than bargained for
Michigan State University, 21 March 2018
Sweeping policies that reward people in environmentally sensitive areas for returning their farmlands to nature have been lauded as ecological triumphs. But a new Michigan State University study shows that over time some participants may become conservation martyrs=
Payments for ecosystem services (PES) programs have been global darlings for decades, tapping into the combined benefits of restoring forests and wildlife habitats, while also providing compensation to farmers and freeing them for new jobs that facilitate socioeconomic development.

Harnessing the Fourth Wave of Environmentalism
By Fred Krupp, Environmental Defense Fund, 21 March 2018
In a conversation with writer Eric Pooley, Environmental Defense Fund president Fred Krupp describes the power of the Fourth Wave of environmental innovation.
Q: What is The Fourth Wave of environmental innovation?
The Fourth Wave is how we’re describing a megatrend we’ve been seeing unfold all around us — in EDF’s work and across the environmental community. I just wrote about it in a Wall Street Journal op-ed. It’s a revolution in environmental progress driven by innovation and technology that gives people the power to take action. It has the power to transform how we solve environmental problems, helping us scale the solutions we need to stabilize the climate, reverse overfishing, and protect public health and endangered species.

Avalon Life on How Greenearth.io is Mapping the Rainforest Using Drones and Blockchain Technology
Avalon Life press release, 21 March 2018
Rainforests play a crucial role in the earth’s carbon cycle. Like sponges, they absorb and store carbon dioxide, converting it into a necessary nutrient. With mankind’s populous growth over the past 50 years, the earth’s natural balance has shifted, with carbon footprints widening and rain forests being reduced to ash in order to make room for modern civilization and commercial development. Avalon Life, an innovative crypto community based in Costa Rica, discusses how their project Greenearth.io is using revolutionary blockchain technology to make a positive impact on the environments of Central America.

International Day of Forests – Interview With Modibo Traore, Officer-in-Charge and Chief Natural Resources Management Officer At the African Natural Resources Centre
African Development Bank Group, 21 March 2018
How does the International Day of Forests, March 21, align with the African Development Bank’s work in natural resources management and the Bank’s High 5 development priorities?
The theme of the 2018 International Year of Forests is “Forests and sustainable cities.” It is about promoting cleaner, greener and healthier places to live. This aligns well with the High 5 priorities of the African Development Bank, especially in terms of “Improving the quality of life of the people of Africa.” Sustainable cities as a theme is opportune because it is estimated that six billion people or as much as 70 percent of the global population is expected to live in urban areas by 2050. It is important that rapid urbanisation not result directly in urban sprawl.

New forest will be largest planted in England in 25 years
By Rachel Conner, The Northern Echo, 21 March 2018
A new 350 hectare forest will be the largest planned productive woodland to be planted in England in the last 25 years.
The project at Doddington North, near Wooler in Northumberland, is being launched on Friday.
It will cover around 350 hectares, with 268 hectares to be planted with a combination of conifer, native broadleaves and Scots pine, and will also have footpaths, bridleways and water courses.
Durham-based green energy company Forest Carbon is supporting the venture by investing in the carbon dioxide captured by the forest, estimated at around 92,670 tonnes over 65 years.

Ethiopia’s forests, an undervalued resource
By Tefera Mengistu Woldie and Ivo Mulder, UNEP, 21 March 2018
In Ethiopia, the second most populous country in Africa after Nigeria, policymakers are trying to make their nation’s economic development more sustainable.
One of the challenges they face is that traditional economic accounting does not adequately consider nature’s contributions to a country’s economy.
Ethiopia’s forests cover about 14.7 per cent of the country’s land area, with woodland and shrubland accounting for another 44.7 per cent. But the value of these ecosystems to the national economy is not well understood.

[USA] Friends of the Earth and allies petition EPA to reject refinery’s secret tar sands expansion permit
Friends of the Earth USA, 21 March 2018
Friends of the Earth, Communities for a Better Environment and allied groups are petitioning the U.S. EPA to revoke a permit for expanded refining of heavy oil at the Phillips 66 plant in Rodeo that was approved by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District in a process that evaded public review.
The petition was announced by community and First Nation leaders during a protest at the air district’s headquarters on Monday, March 19. Protesters challenged the air district’s secret approvals of permits that facilitate oil-industry plans to import and refine tar sands oil.

22 March 2018

Robust eligibility restrictions for offset credits are needed for CORSIA to truly compensate for the growth in aviation’s carbon emissions
New Climate, 22 March 2018
If airlines are allowed to use all available offset credits certified by programmes such as the UN’s Clean Development Mechanism and other voluntary standard bodies under a new global scheme to address international aviation emissions, the scheme will not truly compensate the sector’s growing CO2 emissions. To achieve the aviation scheme’s objective of carbon neutral growth, policy-makers must adopt robust criteria on the types of offset credits that are accepted. The rules should be designed to ensure that the scheme supports the development of new emission reduction projects or targets existing projects that would stop reducing emissions without further financial support. New research outlines the climate implications of various eligibility scenarios for offset credits.

What is blue carbon?
By Catriona Croft-Cusworth, CIFOR Forests News, 22 March 2018
The term ‘blue carbon’ is gaining currency in global climate talks and national policy circles. But what does it really mean, and what should we be doing about it?
Research is ongoing into the distribution and extent of blue carbon around the world, and how protecting the ecosystems that store it can contribute to efforts to mitigate climate change.

Transparent and successful communication about your forest project
By Alexander Watson, Open Forests, 22 March 2018
Greater disclosure + more clarity + more accuracy = More transparency
More transparency = more trustworthiness + better relations with your stakeholders = More success!
That’s the simple formula. But what does it mean for an organization to be more transparent and how to build up a transparent communication with your stakeholders?

Guarding the planet’s carbon treasure – three countries sign the Brazzaville Declaration
FAO, 22 March 2018
When we talk about carbon stocks, we often talk about forests. At the same time, often-overlooked peatlands represent one of the largest stores of carbon on the planet. With the technical support of FAO, the Global Peatlands Initiative’s (GPI) 3rd Meeting of Partners, gathered more than 300 participants from all over the world to put peatlands back on the climate change agenda. Twenty four partners, including three countries, discussed the crucial role that robust monitoring systems and appropriate policies play in improving the overall management of peatland landscapes. After two days of intensive high-level meetings and discussions, the governments of the three most peat-rich countries in the world – the Republic of Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Indonesia – signed a declaration aimed at protection and sustainable management of this valuable resource, better known as the Brazzaville Declaration.

Despite Government Pledges, Ravaging of Indonesia’s Forests Continues
By Nithin Coca, YaleEnvironment360, 22 March 2018
Driving from Medan, Indonesia’s third-largest city, to Lake Toba, the world’s largest volcanic lake in the central highlands of Sumatra, the extent of the country’s deforestation becomes numbingly clear. For hours, a visitor passes plantation after plantation — here palm oil, there paper pulp — all the way to a small, protected forest ring around the lake.
Global demand for forest commodities has devastated major portions of the world’s third-largest tropical forest, with Indonesia losing more than 100,000 square miles of woodlands and peatlands — an area larger than the United Kingdom — from 1990 to 2015, dealing a huge blow to one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots. The island of Sumatra alone lost 29,000 square miles — about one-third of its forests — from 1990 to 2010.

Tokyo to use carbon credits to achieve zero emissions during Olympic ceremonies
Japan for Sustainability, 22 March 2018
The Bureau of Environment of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government announced plans to make “Tokyo Carbon-Free for four days in 2020.” The plan is to make Japan’s capital city free of carbon dioxide emissions using carbon offsets for the four days on which the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics will be held.
Specifically, Tokyo will encourage target facilities of the Cap-and-Trade Program (total emission reduction obligation and emission trading scheme) that came into effect in April 2010 to donate CO2 credits (excess reduction credits) acquired through energy conservation efforts.

Kenya is Violently Evicting an Indigenous Tribe in the Name of Water Conservation
By Jakub Mejer, Earth Island Journal, 22 March 2018
Christianity can be tricky in Sub-Saharan Africa. The Sengwers — a forest-dwelling tribe who live in the Embobut forest in the Cherang’any Hills in Kenya’s western highlands — believe in Jesus, but at the same time, they can point you to their holy mountain. This, of course, doesn’t change the fact that the end of the year is a holiday season for them, as is the case for the majority of Christians all around the world.
Last year, however, Sengwers had no time to celebrate Christmas.
According to an inquiry by United Nations human rights experts, on December 25 last year, “more than 100 armed [Kenyan] Forest Service guards entered the traditional lands of the Sengwer in the Embobut Forest, firing gunshots, burning at least 15 homes and killing their livestock.”

23 March 2018

Historic agreement signed to protect the world’s largest tropical peatland
UNEP, 23 March 2018
In an unprecedented move to protect the Cuvette Centrale region in the Congo Basin, the world’s largest tropical peatlands, from unregulated land use and prevent its drainage and degradation, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the Republic of Congo and Indonesia jointly signed the Brazzaville declaration that promotes better management and conservation of this globally important carbon store
There is a lot at stake in the protection of these peatlands: the equivalent of three years of global greenhouse gas emissions are stored in the Congo Basin, emissions that could be released if the peatlands are degraded or the natural wetlands drained.

Isolated Tribes and Forests Threatened by New Amazon Road
By Nadia Drake, National Geographic, 23 March 2018
A new road could soon slice through a large portion of the otherwise impenetrable rainforests blanketing Peru’s eastern border. Long a contentious proposition, the road was publicly declared “a national priority” and “in the national interest” by the country’s congress in January.
Perhaps ironically, the measure passed almost immediately after Pope Francis visited the Peruvian Amazon and spoke strongly against the dangers of development, telling indigenous leaders that they have “never been so threatened in their territories as they are now.”

[USA] Climate change policy is proving difficult to enact even in liberal states with Democratic control
By Kate Aronoff, The Intercept, 23 March 2018
Democrats in Washington state this winter exploded onto the political scene. In November, an unabashed progressive, Manka Dhingra, won a special election that flipped control of the state Senate and unified control of government, uncorking pent-up legislation that had long been gathering energy.

24 March 2018

[Guyana] Forestry Commission wants revolving fund for value-added wood production
By Denis Chabrol, Demerara Waves, 24 March 2018
The Chairwoman of the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC), Jocelyn Dow wants to use some of the Norway Funds for the preservation of the country’s standing forests to set up a revolving fund to help small loggers get into value-added production.
“The money that has been earned from our conversation- we believe that some of that money should come directly to forest producers and caretakers so that we can implement a menu of measures to improve livelihoods not just for the rich but for (ordinary) people,” she said.

25 March 2018

Good news about renewables: but the heat is still on to cut fossil fuel use
The Guardian, 25 March 2018
For optimists, it was tempting to view three years of flatlining global carbon emissions, from 2014-16, as the new normal. We now know celebrations should be put on hold. Figures for 2017 published last week show global emissions from energy have jumped back up again, to a historic high.
The data from the International Energy Agency shows we still have much to do when it comes to stopping global warming. Three years ago experts cautioned that 2015’s near standstill in emissions might be only a temporary pause before resuming the upward march as India and China developed. Those warnings were prophetic.

[India] Illogical Intervention
By WL Hangshing, The Shillong Times, 25 March 2018
It was motionless and lifeless. I had seen it before as it crawled across the green, with its hairy bristles in a design well camouflaged in the khaki-green dry-season grass. It was now a big, fat dead caterpillar in the charred grass.
It is a regular seasonal affair. During the dry season of February, patches of forest floors are set on fire everywhere. It is not jhuming.
Jhuming involves slash-and-burn and cultivation thereafter. In the pine-forested Shillong hills, it is defined as ‘controlled-burning’, and it is apparently done by the Forest Department to save the forest.
Everything has a reason. Even the low-hanging pine cone was there to deflect my golfing foe’s seven-iron shot into the trees. But this? It doesn’t make any sense and a logical explanation to the seemingly senseless exercise.

[Thailand] Locals barred from Mae Hong Son forest for one week to fight pollution
By Tossapon Boonpat, The Nation, 25 March 2018
Mae Hong Son’s forest will be off-limits to people collecting forest produce from March 25 to March 31 as a measure to ease air pollution in the province.
The amount of small dust particles in the air has already exceeded safe limits for two consecutive days. Senior officials in the province on Sunday convened a meeting to prepare for the temporary closure of Mae Hong Son forest in response to the order from the Third Army Area chief. The conditional closure will run for one whole week starting from March 25.
The move aims to ease air pollution in the province and to prepare for the inflow of tourists during the upcoming Songkran festival.

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