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This Week In Forest Carbon: Corporate Leadership paves REDD+ Path

As part of its commitment to become carbon neutral, Microsoft charges an internal carbon fee and has invested over $4 million into carbon offset and renewable energy projects since July 2012. PUMA also seeks to find the overlap between “sustainable” and “desirable/profitable” by supporting REDD+ projects in Kenya through carbon credits purchased from Wildlife Works.

As part of its commitment to become carbon neutral, Microsoft charges an internal carbon fee and has invested over $4 million into carbon offset and renewable energy projects since July 2012. PUMA also seeks to find the overlap between “sustainable” and “desirable/profitable” by supporting REDD+ projects in Kenya through carbon credits purchased from Wildlife Works.

This article was originally published in the Forest Carbon newsletter. Click here to read the original.

15 May 2013 | At the recent  REDD+ Talks  in Sausalito, California  –  the first U.S. conference held on the critical role of REDD+ in the fight against climate changeMicrosoft’s Tamara “T.J.” DiCaprio discussed her company’s game-changing internal carbon fee and the new wave of offset projects it is supporting with guidance from its new partner, The CarbonNeutral Company, whose clients have invested nearly $9 million in forest carbon projects in recent years.

DiCaprio hopes Microsoft’s efforts can set a precedent for other companies looking to prioritize organization-wide environmental accountability through efforts like REDD+. A new  Ecosystem Marketplace article  forges deeper into Microsoft’s offsetting strategy as part of its broader drive toward carbon neutrality.

“We are part of the problem,” says DiCaprio, “especially when we look at our customers and the proliferation of devices that are emerging and the energy they require, so we need to also be part of the solution.”

 

One of the largest players in a heavily energy-dependent industry that accounts for 2% of all global emissions, Microsoft has invested over $4 million into carbon offset and renewable energy projects since July 2012. Despite the firm’s traditional interest in technology-related offsets, forest carbon has figured prominently in its portfolio. Supported projects include Wildlife Works’ VCS/CCB-verified Kasigau REDD+ project in Kenya and Terra Global Capital’s VCS/CCB-verified Oddar Meanchey REDD+ project in Cambodia, which has been recently trying to address  illegal logging of community forests.

 

The REDD+ Talks, hosted by Wildlife Works, CSR Wire, and the Code REDD Campaign, also brought in speakers representing other private sector actors. Martyn Bowen, Regional General Manager for PUMA in Eastern Europe, Middle East, Africa, and India, discussed the need for companies to find the overlap between “sustainable” and “desirable/profitable.” Bowen encourages other companies, even PUMA’s leading competitors, to follow suit in supporting REDD+ projects: “There’s no shame in starting tentatively…do one village at a time.”  

 

“The communities themselves become the best agents of change once they decide that it’s in their best interest,” adds Wildlife Works Founder and CEO Mike Korchinsky. “If REDD+’s done right, it’s creating the right incentives for the communities to make their own determination.”

 

Videos of the REDD+ Talks presentations are now available for public viewing, including a talk by Ecosystem Marketplace’s Associate Director, Molly Peters-Stanley  here.

 

For other forest carbon updates, scroll down for our recap below! Here at Ecosystem Marketplace, report writing is in full swing for this year’s State of the Voluntary Carbon Markets report. If you missed out on submitting data for this year’s State of reports, please contact Daphne Yin  immediately as we finalize our data points for this year. Thank you most recently to  Charles Darwin University  for taking the time to contribute data!

 

—The Ecosystem Marketplace Team

If you have comments or would like to submit news stories, write to us at general@forestcarbonportal.com.



News

 

International Policy

REDD+ body not for everybody

The UNFCCC Secretariat recently published a collection of views on how to improve the coordination of REDD+ activities by the 18th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 18). Nearly 50 countries contributed suggestions. Perspectives range from backing the creation of a REDD+ committee under the authority of the COP, to rejecting the creation of a REDD+ governing body as premature or unnecessary. These views will be used to inform discussions on forestry-based mitigation actions at the 38th session of the subsidiary bodies (SBs 38) in June.

 

Project Development

I’m a PC and the carbon tax was my idea

Microsoft’s  TJ DiCaprio announced Microsoft’s new wave of offset purchases at the REDD+ Talks in California. The company has chosen to partner with The CarbonNeutral Company to invest in carbon reduction projects, including Terra Global Capital’s VCS/CCB-verified Oddar Meanchey REDD+ project in Cambodia. An Ecosystem Marketplace article takes a closer look into the technology giant’s thinking behind its carbon offsetting strategy as part of its goal to strengthen its own operations while supporting work in developing countries.

Meanwhile, the Cambodian military’s illegal logging  in Oddar Meanchey have been threatening carbon offset activities in the province. Community forest groups were scheduled to convene in Samraong City last week to discuss unlawful forest clearing with government officials.

 

A Step in the REIT Direction

 

Developed by Finite Carbon, the Moro Big Pine CE Improved Forest Management Early Action Offset project in Arkansas  recently became the United States’ first improved forest management project completed for a publicly-traded real estate investment trust (REIT). Finite Carbon and Potlatch Corporation registered the 15,809-acre project  under the Climate Action Reserve’s forest offset protocol for use in California’s cap-and-trade program. The project has initially issued 220,208 in compliance-eligible carbon offset, showcasing the integration of forest, wildlife and ecosystem value management.

 

Audubonanza for the birds

In recent weeks, Blue Source and the National Audubon Society announced the  registration of the  Blue Source-Beidler Improved Forest Management (IFM) Project, the largest IFM project outside of California to be registered on the Climate Action Reserve to date. Located in South Carolina’s tidewater region, the project has registered 474,735 Climate Reserve Tonnes. “The registration of this project signifies continued momentum in the forest carbon market and the ability for the California regulatory program to enable a new brand of conservation finance,” said Roger Williams, Blue Source’s President. Audubon is committed to protecting the project area’s old-growth trees and wildlife in perpetuity through a legally binding conservation easement.

 

It’s a small world after all

Leading voluntary market players from across North America convened recently at the American Carbon Registry’s (ACR) annual awards ceremony.  The Walt Disney Company and General Motors earned kudos  for both buying carbon offsets from ACR-validated projects developed by the National Forest Foundation. As part of its Chevrolet Carbon Reduction Initiative, GM is backing the restoration of Colorado’s San Juan National Forest, while Disney is backing the reforestation of California’s Angeles National Forest. ACR awarded its Innovation Award to Entergy and Tierra Resources for their pioneering methodology that credits wetland restoration in the Mississippi Delta.


Nature and nurture

A survey conducted a few years ago established healthcare costs as a major reason why family forest owners sold off land to be subdivided for development purposes. In light of these findings, the Pinchot Institute for Conservation and PacificSource Health Plans are piloting  a new initiative  called the Forest Health-Human Health Initiative, through which investors buy American Carbon Registry-certified carbon credits, with proceeds returned to landowners in the form of healthcare funds to their ATreeMT card. Unlike other healthcare debit cards, the ATreeMT does not require participation in any health insurance policy or employer-provided health insurance plan.

All aboard!

Trees and Trains, a five-year reforestation project headed by GreenTrees and transportation giant Norfolk Southern now in its third year, has so far planted 2.4 million trees across 4,000 acres of its broader goal to plant six million trees across 10,000 acres in the Mississippi Alluvial Valley. The project is reportedly the largest carbon reforestation project in the US,  intended to offset 1.12 MtCO2e of railroad’s emissions. “The essence of a train is the efficient movement of goods across the landscape. Trees represent the most efficient distribution of ecological services and goods,” notes GreenTrees’ Chandler Van Voorhis. “Both are long-term assets that require heavy upfront capital to build. Together, trees and trains symbolize how conservation capitalism will be delivered.”

 

Reforesting Korea

On the other side of the globe, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change recently greenlit a  carbon offset project  to be implemented by SK Forest and the Korea Forest Service, based on the reforestation of deserted land in Korea. SK Forest intends to plant 250,000 trees on a 75-hectare plot in a mountainous area of Goseong County in Gangwon province.  The 20-year reforestation project—with the potential to be renewed every 20 years—is projected to reduce 621 tCO2e.
 

From the East Coast to the Adriatic

Jana Inc – Croatia’s largest manufacturer of natural mineral water and nonalcoholic drinks – recently  earned certification through the CarbonFree Product Certification program, which was developed by the Carbonfund.org Foundation as the first carbon neutral product label in North America. Jana offset its emissions through investment in third-party validated renewable energy, energy efficiency and forestry carbon offset projects introduced through Carbonfund.org.
Also investing through CarbonFund.org is CA Technologies, whose recent CA World 2013 gathering of customers and went carbon neutral through  investment in a landfill methane gas-to-energy project  in New York and an Amazon rainforest protection project in Acre, Brazil.

National Strategy and Capacity

Success in Bangladesh  

On April 7, the Bangladesh Forest Department and UN-REDD Programme teams from UNDP and FAO organized a  workshop to discuss national REDD+ progress  since Bangladesh first joined the UN-REDD Programme in August 2011.  Roughly 140 participants from the public sector and civil society organizations alike collaborated to address and discuss REDD+’s challenges and prospects. The National REDD+ Steering Committee’s approval of the REDD+ Readiness Roadmap in December 2012 created momentum for Bangladesh’s capacity building efforts and the carrying out of support activities like corruption risk assessment, social impact assessment and monitoring, and reporting and verification (MRV).

Mangroves and Markets

SNV, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and the province of Ca Mau are working together to  reverse mangrove loss in Vietnam  while generating economic benefits for local communities. Their joint Mangroves and Markets project, to be carried out over three and a half years, intends to introduce environmentally sound methods of shrimp production to local shrimp importers, traders, and farmers in the Ca Mau province. The project seeks to reduce GHG emissions and minimize deforestation and degradation from traditional shrimp farming methods with the help of REDD+ and other climate finance. Furthermore, the project aims to generate recommendations for national policy to establish a legal framework for mangrove payments for ecological service systems.

CARPE diem

The Central African Regional Programme for the Environment (CARPE) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) recently held a  working session in Cameroon  with other regional environmental stakeholders to select projects to benefit from their small grants scheme, with a focus to REDD+ capacity building and sustainable forest management programs. NGOs, research centers, independent researchers and women and minority groups submitted approximately 62 project proposals to be considered. Through grants of approximately $100,000, the program encourages selected Central African countries to support civil society projects on forest governance issues.

It takes a village to raise a seedling

In the West Coast region of Gambia, the villages of Giboro Kuta, Jenung Kunda, Duwaasu and Sinchu signed  an agreement to protect 12,000 seedlings  with funding from the UK at an event organized by tourism operator The Gambia Experience.  The signed document states that the while the villages own the land, they are committed to protecting the trees for the next 25 years, as part of a carbon offset project. In partnership with The Gambia Experience, the Siro Tree Nursery School supplied 4,000 cashew and 8,000 gmalina seedlings with the intent that the trees will serve both the local economies and the environment.

Participation points

Fifteen years ago, Ethiopia launched its first participatory forest management (PFM) scheme. Since then, PFM projects have not only increased forest cover, but also benefited the economy through alternative commercial ventures like coffee farming and beekeeping. Located in the southern region of Oromia, the  Bale project  run by Farm Africa and SOS Sahel has so far incorporated 500,000 hectares under the current PFM scheme. Though project developer Tsegaye Tadesse of Farm Africa has witnessed significant progress on PFM pilot activities, the dearth of strong supporting private sector actors continues to be problematic. Once funding from Norway expires, Farm Africa hopes to tap into REDD+ finance, estimating that the PFM scheme in Bale could produce 18 MtCO2e of tradable carbon over the next 20 years.

Zealous Zambia

Zambia is actively working to apply its stakeholder assessment and engagement plan (SAEP) by identifying important REDD+ stakeholders and encouraging national dialogue processes. In March, a  Civil Society Organization consultative meeting provided updates on Zambia’s REDD+ program  and assessed the representation and inclusiveness of private sector actors in the REDD+ process.  Zambia’s REDD+ Program has already witnessed notable improvement in the decentralization of REDD+ stakeholder engagement, development of information and advocacy tools, and strengthening of the REDD+ readiness process more broadly. In the next few months, Zambia plans to hold additional workshops on REDD+ capacity building and stakeholder linkages, bringing together organizations from across the private sector as well as media and youth.

 

Governance from the ground up

UNDP Indonesia, the National Development Planning Board, the Ministry of Forestry and the National REDD+ Task Force recently carried out a participatory government assessment (PGA), monitoring forestland in 10 regions and contributing to  Indonesia’s first forest governance index. Indonesia’s assessment is one of four PGA pilots in Ecuador, Nigeria, and Vietnam. The evaluation highlights issues like rights conflicts at the national level and limited law enforcement at the provincial level. Beate Trankmann, Country Director of UNDP Indonesia hopes the results will “translate into concrete actions to improve forest, land and REDD+ governance.”

Lost Carbon for AusCarbon?

While carbon trading stakeholders in the European Union bear the brunt of dwindling carbon prices, the Europeans are not the only ones feeling bearish. AusCarbon project manager Kent Broad fears that Europe’s carbon price will not be enough to support forest carbon project development in Australia. If  Australia’s carbon pricing scheme  enters a one-way linkage with the EU ETS in 2015 as planned, the linkage could potentially disrupt future emissions trading in Australia if EU prices remain low. To date AusCarbon has planted approximately 10,000 hectares of forest, but has been planting fewer trees over the last few years given the uncertainty in price signals.  
Australia’s neighbor to the East, New Zealand, has already witnessed a  collapse in carbon prices, through its existing acceptance of international credits, reducing incentives for farmers to preserve forestland.  

 

Methodology & Standards Watch

Over the river and through the Woodland

The first  group scheme validation  by the UK’s Woodland Carbon Code has set a precedent for reduced validation costs for forest carbon project developers working in the UK. After recognizing the potentially prohibitive costs of individual validation for some applicants, particularly those implementing small-scale projects, the Woodland Carbon Code piloted the group scheme in an effort to “stimulate more woodland planting across the UK”. The voluntary standard’s group scheme pilot successfully validated 11 woodland projects owned by Buccleuch Estates in Dumfries & Galloway, the Scottish Borders and Northamptonshire. Four additional groups of projects are slated to receive validation this month.  

 

Mallee-ability

Landowners in Australia will now be able to  generate and sell Australian carbon credit units from mallee plantings, a eucalypt species dominant in semi-arid regions of Australia, to companies desiring to offset their carbon pollution. Yvette D’Ath—Australia’s Parliamentary Secretary for Climate Change, Industry and Innovation—stated that the new Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI) methodology is particularly beneficial to landowners in areas that receive an average rainfall of less than 600mm. Endorsed by the Oil Mallee Association of Australia, the methodology applies to land that has been cleared or partially cleared for the last five years.  

Finance & Economics

To farm or not to farm?

According to a study led by the National University of Singapore (NUS), conservation incentives like  REDD+ may struggle to compete with future agricultural yields. Based on models for conservation payments in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), researchers from NUS, ETH Zurich and the University of Cambridge believe higher agricultural yields and incomes as a result of a new agricultural intensification and conservation program will increase financial incentives for farmers to clear forestland, consequently necessitating increased forest protection incentives. Lead author Jacob Phelps stated, “Our research suggests that as agriculture becomes more intensive, the small payments successful at incentivizing forest conservation today could increase to well beyond what is considered economically efficient, or even feasible.”

Human Dimension

Seeking Redemption

The UN-REDD Programme recently  published a summary of the e-discussions form earlier this year,  offering solutions to tackling REDD+ corruption at the local level, with an eye to the fact that corruption from the broader forest sector could be transferred to REDD+. The summary highlights recommendations like engaging local civil society organizations, adapting local governance systems, and clarifying land use and tenure rights. It states that while corruption often occurs locally, corruption risks should be integrated into REDD+ systems covering multiple government levels, including the mainstreaming of accountability and transparency into country office programming and REDD+ project  structures.  

 

Comic relief

The BioCarbon Partners (BCP) Trust’s Community Engagement Team has found its own fresh communications approach to  increasing community awareness in Africa  regarding REDD+ project activities. A  comic, donated to BCP by  Naomi Fearn, explains REDD+, climate change and deforestation in a form that allows all community stakeholders—even the illiterate—to understand and engage in REDD+ activities “in their own way and on their own time.” To date, BCP reports having sensitized 86% of stakeholders within the project area for its Lower Zambezi REDD+ Project in Zambia. The project is currently undergoing validation under the CCBA standard. Please note that the comic may be distributed/shared but not used for commercial purposes without BCP’s written consent.

Take the bull by the Horn

Climate lobbyists are urging East African nations to weigh the concerns of community members when designing and implementing REDD+ and other climate mitigation projects. During a  regional forum on REDD+ preparedness  in the East and Horn of Africa region, participants emphasized the importance of community land rights, benefits sharing, and environmental safeguards in REDD+ project design. Ugandan ecologist Polycarp Mwima stressed that support for community ownership and readiness to catalyze REDD+ project implementation should be built into national policy frameworks. Pan-African Climate Justice Coordinator Mithika Mwenda noted that the initiation of REDD projects has varied across the region depending on policy and legal environment by country, stating that Tanzania has made remarkable process while Kenya and Uganda are on course.    

 

Science & Technology

Google it

Google, the University of Maryland, and the UN Environmental Programme have teamed up to develop Global Forest Watch 2.0, slated to commence later this year. By utilizing satellite and remote sensing technology in collaboration with human networks,  Global Forest Watch 2.0  is intended to lessen deforestation by increasing the availability of forest-related information. Once given access to cloud computing-based forest cover data, forest stakeholders will be able to download forest information and maps wherever they might be, even in the field via Smartphone technology. This development follows Google’s  previous emissions mapping application  designed in partnership with the California Air Resources Board.

Publications & Tools

In great demand  

As the demand for food, wood, biofuels and other agricultural products grows, the risk of deforestation and forest degradation increases. A new International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) publication,  Demand-Side Interventions to Reduce Deforestation and Forest Degradation, reviews demand-side measures such as legislation and public procurement policies affecting five types of ‘forest risk commodities’, specifically timber, soy, palm oil, beef/leather, and biofuels.

A piece of the puzzle

Published by the World Resources Institute,  Putting the Pieces Together for Good Governance of REDD+: An Analysis of 32 REDD+ Country Readiness Proposals  provides an overview of 32 REDD+ readiness proposals, showcasing positive trends as well as gaps in how REDD+ countries plan to address governance challenges. The report intends to aid governments, donors, and civil society groups in identifying where additional analysis, capacity building, and financial support are needed to develop successful REDD+ programs.    

 

Open data, open agriculture

The G8 Countries (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the UK, and the US) met this week at the World Bank to kickstart an initiative to provide  open access to government-funded research that impacts agriculture. The US has so far made 350 data sets available at  data.gov.The sets include data that IDs genes with important quality traits or that convey resistence to drought or pests, as well as agriculture-relevant information on vegetative cover, water and topographical characteristics. Supporters of initiative envision that the open data approach will help inform the development of new applications that can be used to build climate-resistant agricultural systems around the world.

 

Webinar for Aspiring FLEGT Wonks  

There has been much talk of late on nurturing the synergies between REDD+ implementation and Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) procedures in order to help streamline common work areas of forest policy planning. For those interested in learning more about the FLEGT side of things, certification service provider SGS is hosting a  free webinar  to update stakeholders on the current implementation status of the EU Timber Regulation as part of the EU’s FLEGT Action Plan. The webinar will include coverage of compliance requirements and the role of certification in due diligence systems.

 

 

Jobs

2 Positions – Forest Trends’ Ecosystem Marketplace

Based in Washington, D.C., the Carbon Program Research Assistant  will provide support in preparation of the State of the Forest Carbon Markets  report including corresponding with survey contacts, data collection and reviewing results. Candidates should have a Bachelor’s Degree (Graduate Degree a plus) and an interest in conservation finance/payments for ecosystem services. Also based in Washington, D.C., the  Research and Communications Assistant  will support Valorando Naturaleza, Ecosystem Marketplace’s Spanish language sister site, in managing content to be posted via a content management system. Candidates should be native Spanish speakers and have an interest in conservation finance/payments for ecosystem services.

 

2 Positions, Forest Governance, Law Enforcement and Trade – Forest Trends

Based in Washington, D.C., the  Associate  will monitor and administer contracts, contribute to ongoing planning of Forest Trade and Finance activities and assist in writing newsletters, policy briefs, and reports. Candidates should have completed 4+ years of college-level education and have 2+ years of relevant professional experience. Also based in Washington, D.C., the  Senior Associate  will present findings of Forest Trends research internationally and co-manage the development of annual work-plans to be completed with Forest Trends staff, partners and external consultants. Candidates should have completed 4+ years of college-level education in economics, geography, or related social  science  and have 5+ years of experience.  


 

2 Positions – Verified Carbon Standard

Based in Washington, D.C, the  Program Officer  will provide guidance and support to project developers, methodology developers, validation/verification bodies, registries and other stakeholders using the VCS. Candidates should have a university education in a relevant field and an understanding of GHG concepts. Also based in Washington, D.C, the  Intern  will conduct research to identify VCS program requirements and organize existing VCS methodologies to ensure all methodologies are applied by program stakeholders in a consistent manner. Candidates should have a good knowledge of carbon markets, with relevant course experience and a demonstrated ability to research technical topics related to carbon accounting.

 

2 Positions, Carbon and Environmental Markets – EKO Asset Management Partners

Based in New York, the  Analyst  will perform consulting and investment analysis work on carbon and other environmental markets to develop strategies for private capital deployment. Candidates should have 2+ years of work experience in either a finance or carbon-related field. Also based in New York, the  Vice President/Senior Associate  will source carbon offset investment opportunities from private landowners, timber investment organizations, and non-profit organizations and analyze carbon offset investment opportunities. Candidates should have a Graduate Degree related to finance or policy and 7+ years of work experience.

 

 

Forestry & Land Use Carbon Project Manager – South Pole Carbon  

Based in Columbia, the Project Manager will be responsible for implementing the complete carbon asset development process of a Gold Standard Reforestation project in Atioquia Department and will support the capacity building, MRV, and carbon documentation components of a native species. Candidates should have a Master’s Degree in forestry, environmental sciences, environmental economics or a related field and 2+ years of work experience in forest carbon markets. Read more about the position  here.  


Tropical Forest and Agriculture Project Coordinator – National Wildlife Federation

Based in Washington, D.C., the Project Coordinator will manage partnerships in a new three-year project aiming to promote deforestation-free supply chains and link these efforts with jurisdictional REDD+ Programs in Brazil, Indonesia and Mexico. Candidates should have a Master’s Degree in a relevant field and 4+ years of professional experience. Read more about the position  here.  

 

2 Positions – The Nature Conservancy

Based in Virginia, the Forests and Climate Coordinator  will support the Forests and Climate team to demonstrate successful models of low-carbon development in Brazil, Indonesia, and Mexico to inform a broader group of countries building REDD+ programs. Candidates should have a Bachelor’s Degree and 2+ years’ related experience. Based in Mexico City, the  REDD+ Monitoring, Reporting  will oversee site specific field projects to assess the feasibility, reliability, scalability and cost-effectiveness of MRV methods and techniques. Candidates should have a Master’s Degree in science-related, forestry, or climate change and 4+ years’ experience.  

Intern, Global Forest & Trade Network Research – World Wildlife Fund (WWF)

Based in Washington, D.C., the Intern will work on a variety of research topics including carbon market and REDD+ analysis, payment mechanisms for forest ecosystem services and international and bilateral trade of forest products. Candidates should be pursuing a degree in a relevant field and have a strong interest in forest conservation. Read more about the position  here.  

 

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