In recent years, Papua New Guinea has handed out 5.5 million hectares of land as Special Agriculture and Business Leases. In addition, the government has issued 10 million hectares in logging concessions. The totally predictable result has been an increase in deforestation, and serious human rights abuses.
A few weeks ago, REDD-Monitor took a look at how the Asian Development Bank appears to have changed its tune on REDD. In 2010, the ADB was promoting the region’s “huge potential to benefit from REDD+”, but by 2015 the ADB acknowledged the “considerable uncertainty about the actual contribution that REDD will make”.
On 5 February 2013, Asia Pulp and Paper announced a Forest Conservation Policy. This included an immediate stop to clearing forest in any concessions controlled by APP and its suppliers. It was a dramatic change in policy for a company that is responsible for destroying vast areas of forest in Indonesia.
“We have to reduce emissions from deforestation if we’re to prevent catastrophic climate change,” WWF argues on its website. At a first glance, it seems like a no-brainer. Forests store an awful lot of carbon. When forests are cleared for cattle ranching, or to make way for oil palm plantations, the carbon dioxide goes back into the atmosphere.
On 21 March 2016, to mark International Forests Day, WWF launched a Forest Solutions Platform. The website lists 13 solutions to deforestation. “This platform is designed to create a space for dialogue, learning and sharing different viewpoints so that we can co-create solutions,” WWF writes.
“What we need is a new model of development for countries with tropical forests,” says Maria Claudia García, National Director of Forestry, Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services at the Ministry of the Environment and Sustainable Development in Colombia. According to Garcia, REDD is a “new vision”.
In mid-January 2016, the Democratic Republic of Congo submitted its revised Emission Reductions Programme Document (ER-PD) to the Carbon Fund of the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility. The Environmental Investigation Agency has produced a report of “preliminary comments” on the ER-PD.
Two days ago, REDD-Monitor wrote a post about a trip to Indonesia by Norway’s climate and environment minister, Vidar Helgesen. The trip took place in early February 2016, and Pilita Clark, a Financial Times journalist, accompanied Helgesen on his trip. In her article, Clark quoted Helgesen as saying, “We would obviously have hoped things would have progressed more quickly. We haven’t seen actual progress in reducing deforestation.”
Six years ago, Norway and Indonesia signed a US$1 billion REDD deal. This week the Financial Times published an article about how the attempts to preserve Indonesia’s forests are going. The only good news is that in more than 3,800 words, Pilita Clark, the FT journalist, doesn’t mention REDD once.
The Democratic Republic of Congo has the second largest area of rainforest in the world. Since 2002, a moratorium on new logging licences has been in place. The government is now threatening to re-open its forests to new logging concessions.
Cross River State in the southeast of Nigeria has 50% of Nigeria’s remaining forests. Cross River State is the pilot REDD state for Nigeria and the state is a member of the Governors’ Climate and Forests Task Force, set up by Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2008.
For the past three years, Timothy Frewer of the University of Sydney has been carrying out his PhD research in Cambodia, looking at the Oddar Meanchey REDD project. REDD-Monitor has written a series of posts about Oddar Meanchey, questioning how the project can sell carbon credits while deforestation continues.
In 2014, Papua New Guinea became the world’s largest exporter of tropical timber. This wasn’t supposed to happen. Eleven years ago, PNG formed the Coalition for Rainforest Nations and presented the idea of REDD to the UN climate meeting in Montreal.