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This Week In Forest Carbon: Going Local

The Peru Carbon Fund (PCF) developed a Peru-specific forest carbon standard this past year to create a homegrown alternative to international standards. Likewise, Costa Rica officially launched its own nation-wide voluntary domestic carbon market earlier this September. In Brazil, the recent REDD+ transaction between Brazilian cosmetics giant Natura Cosméticos and the Paiter-Suruí also marks the first sale of carbon offsets from an indigenous tribe.

The Peru Carbon Fund (PCF) developed a Peru-specific forest carbon standard this past year to create a homegrown alternative to international standards. Likewise, Costa Rica officially launched its own nation-wide voluntary domestic carbon market earlier this September. In Brazil, the recent REDD+ transaction between Brazilian cosmetics giant Natura Cosméticos and the Paiter-Suruí­ also marks the first sale of carbon offsets from an indigenous tribe.

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

30 September 2013 | Latin America is trending local in recent forest carbon news out of Peru, Costa Rica, and Brazil. “We believe it’s impossible to target a problem as large as deforestation in Peru with a standard that was not made specifically for the Peruvian reality,” says Executive Director Alessandro Riva of the Peru Carbon Fund (PCF). The Fund  developed a Peru-specific forest carbon standard  this past year to create a homegrown alternative to what Riva calls “the extremely high costs of implementing international standards in the Peruvian jungle.”

Likewise in support of domestic reforestation and conservation efforts, Costa Rica officially  launched its nation-wide voluntary domestic carbon market  earlier this September. Its carbon units are only available to domestic players for the time being.  

 

In Brazil, the  recent REDD+ transaction  between Brazilian cosmetics giant Natura Cosméticos and the Paiter-Suruí­ also departs from the global North-South buyer-seller dynamic and marks the first sale of carbon offsets from an indigenous tribe. Over five years in the making, the Suruí­ tribe’s REDD+ project was finally verified by the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) and the Climate, Community, and Biodiversity (CCB) Standards this year. It wouldn’t have gotten off the ground were it not for Chief Almir Narayamoga Surui, whose story you can read in Ecosystem Marketplace’s  new article.

 

Those in the cosmetics and fashion industries don’t have to look far beyond Suruí­ to find other causes to also support – especially those that target their products toward women. Beyond the watershed moment for indigenous involvement in REDD+,  women are also looking at potentially greater participation in REDD+  thanks to recent efforts to mainstream gender issues through the revision of the CCB Standards, the launch of the Women’s Carbon Standard, as well as the release of the Action Steps booklet by the Women’s Environment & Development Organization and the REDD+ Social and Environmental Standards.

 

These and other stories from the forest carbon marketplace are summarized below, so keep reading!  


With the redesign of our  Forest Carbon Portal  and continued expansion of our  Spanish language sister website Valorando Naturaleza, Ecosystem Marketplace hopes to continue to bring you this kind of fresh information in the second half of 2013! If you value what you read, consider supporting Ecosystem Marketplace’s Carbon Program by contacting  Molly Peters-Stanley.  

 

We are currently in report-writing mode in order to bring you this year’s State of the Forest Carbon Markets report.  Thanks most recently to  Carbon Credit Solutions,  the  Peru Carbon Fund, and  WM Beaty  for responding to the survey! We’re $35k away from being able to publish this year’s report in a month’s time (a big thanks so far to  Face the Future!) – can we count on your support?

—The Ecosystem Marketplace Team

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



News

U.S. Policy

California to put buyers on the hook for forestry

If the staff at the California Air Resources Board (ARB)  gets its way, California’s cap-and-trade program could end up  shifting the invalidation risk for forestry projects  away from forest owners to the buyers of offset credits from approved forestry projects. The buyers’ liability provisions allow regulators to invalidate credits that are found to be faulty or fraudulent and require regulated emitters to surrender replacement offsets. Currently, forest owners are responsible for the invalidation risk, but the buyers bear the risk for the other project types eligible for the California program. The regulators are now aiming for consistency in the buyers’ liability provisions, seen by some as a move that could propel additional forest carbon development, while seen by others as an inappropriate burden to buyers.

 

Compliance offsets released for good behavior

The ARB announced it will  issue the first batch of 600,000 compliance offset credits  this month. More than 300,000 credits, the single largest offset, were issued to Environmental Credit Corp.  The ARB has currently approved four offset protocols including forestry management projects, urban forestry projects, dairy digester projects and ozone depleting substances destruction projects. All projects have been verified by an independent third party that looks into the project’s history, documentation and site. ARB Chair Mary Nichols claims that the approved offsets have met “the most rigorous verification of any existing program.” Verified projects may be used by facilities to cover up to 8% of their compliance requirements.

 

Project Development

Where dreams come true

The voluntary carbon markets will have an increasingly key role to play in support of “the happiest place on earth,” given the Walt Disney Company’s  new plans to expand its offset purchasing program. Already covering direct emissions (Scope 1), Disney plans to expand its voluntary offset program to soon also include its indirect emissions from the consumption of purchased electricity, heat or steam (Scope 2). The Climate Solutions Fund, Disney’s internal carbon pricing program, initially used the European price of $15 per tonne (/tCO2e) as its benchmark but the price charged has ranged from $11-14/tCO2e in practice. To date, Disney has preferred to fund new projects than buy older offsets and to work with long-time NGO partners such as Conservation International, the Nature Conservancy, the Conservation Fund and World Wildlife Fund.

 

In the land of lemurs, REDD with a plus

The March 2009 coup in Madagascar didn’t only displace the country’s democratically-elected president – it also cut off key conservation funds, spurring an “orgy” of illegal rosewood logging. The Makira REDD+ project,  verified last week  under the VCS, aims to reverse that trend. The 400,000-hectare project  will prevent 32 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions (MtCO2e)  over the next 30 years in a forest that provides for people as well as 20 species of lemurs. The project is run by the Wildlife Conservation Society and marks the first time that credits generated by government-owned project in Africa have been put on the voluntary carbon market. Makira is part of the Code REDD Campaign, and 50% of the revenue from the project’s offsets (assuming it finds a buyer) will go towards sustainable agriculture training, health, and education for local people–the plus part of REDD+.

 

Peering into Microsoft’s Windows

In the absence of carbon regulation, Microsoft is known for doing something a bit unusual: taxing itself internally, spurring a race to save energy and creating a pool of money that can be reinvested in efficiency, clean energy, and carbon offset projects. While it has been public knowledge for some time that the company has supported Wildlife Works’ Kasigau Corridor REDD+ project in Kenya as well as Pact’s Oddar Meanchey REDD+ project in Cambodia,  a new article brings to light  that Microsoft has also purchased offsets from an Amazonian REDD+ project in Acre, Brazil and the Meru Nanyuki Reforestation project in Kenya. The company-wide carbon price was  initially set at a modest $6 to $7/tCO2e  but is expected to increase over time. As for the total amount Microsoft collected through its internal carbon fee? They’re keeping mum.

 

Hearkening back to New Zealand’s heyday

City Forests has successfully  locked buyers into purchasing New Zealand carbon units (NZUs)  at more than $20. Fetching five times the open market trading price, this deal is in no way representative of the rest of the New Zealand market, but rather a vestige of forward-purchase contracts signed during better years. City Forests’ record $14.6 million profit the last financial year (to June) was in part thanks to a $6 million carbon credit sale to an unnamed trading bank and oil company. “They were sold at the peak of the market,” Grant Dodson, the company’s chief executive, explained. Because of persistently low prices, the company – which is owned by Dunedin City Council – is not planning to sell any credits this year.  

 

Meanwhile, a report last week showed that forest credits dropped to less than 2% of units retired on New Zealand’s Emissions Trading Scheme in 2012 – down from 64% in 2010. Labour Party Climate Change spokesperson Moana Mackey  called for damming the flood of cheap international emission reduction units (ERUs)  that have been overcrowding and depressing prices in New Zealand’s domestic market. Mackey’s newly proposed bill would require 50% of carbon credits surrendered in the country to be NZUs, protecting the forest carbon sector. She says that emissions from deforestation have surged over the last two years as NZUs have fallen flat and that reversing that trend is the governing National Party’s only serious hope for curbing greenhouse gases (GHGs).

 

Banking on REDD in the DRC

A $21.5 million grant from the  African Development Bank Group (AfDB) will finance a pilot REDD+ project  in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The AfDB approved the project with funds from the Forest Investment Program (FIP).  The project will protect carbon stocks in Mbuji-Mayi/Kananga, a degraded savannah area, and Kisangani, a closed forest area, producing an estimated 4 MtCO2e over 25 years and benefitting 400,000 people. The project aligns with the DRC’s 2012-2016 Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper, which in part focuses on natural resource management and climate change control as a way to stimulate job creation and green growth.

 

Kariba on the market

The first offsets from the Kariba REDD+ project in Northern Zimbabwe  went on sale this month. Developed by South Pole Carbon, the project will generate almost 52 million carbon offsets over 30 years as it protects 785,000 hectares of the Miombo forest from deforestation and degradation. Verified by both the VCS and CCB Gold Level, the Kariba REDD+ Project includes anti-poaching patrols and forest fire prevention and promotes sustainable agriculture endeavours such as beekeeping and community gardening. Kariba is also a part of Code REDD, an initiative to ramp up corporate support for REDD projects. Code REDD reports that the Kariba REDD+ project  recently received approval by Australia’s National Carbon Offset Standard, becoming one of a few international REDD+ projects available to use for voluntary offsets by Australian companies.  

 

Seed money to grow into REDD projects

The Governor’s Climate & Forests (GCF) Fund announced its first  Request for Proposals  on August 28. The GCF is seeking to support efforts to strengthen subnational REDD programs and monitoring, reporting and verification methodologies and to improve forest carbon assessments at the state and provincial levels; all proposals should align with national-level REDD+ strategies. Civil society organizations are encouraged to partner with GCF tropical forest countries–Mexico, Peru, Brazil, Indonesia, and Nigeria–on proposals. All five countries are expected to receive some GCF financing for “proof of concept” projects. Proposals are due October 11 and decisions will be made by October 30. The GCF Fund has an initial seed grant of $1.5 million from the U.S. Department of State for 2013-2014 activities.

 

National Strategy and Capacity

Peru and Costa Rica go local

An interview with Alessandro Riva, Executive Director of the Peru Carbon Fund (PCF), provides an insider’s look into the fund’s new Peru-specific Forestry Standard, which diverges from most carbon standards serving either regional or global models. The standard seeks to generate Carbon Capture Certificates (CCCs) for native tree planting on previously deforested land, and allows for harvesting (e.g. using wood for construction) as long as the carbon isn’t released into the air. The Fund gathers financing from investors that seek carbon-neutral certification using CCCs, and fully invests the money in Amazon reforestation projects. Uniquely, the CCCs cannot be resold; PCF aims to provide a direct link between companies and farmers.

 

Earlier this month, Costa Rica’s President Laura Chinchilla signed a decree announcing  the launch of the country’s voluntary domestic carbon market. The market, which will be only open to domestic players for now, is the next move in Costa Rica’s plan to become carbon neutral by 2021. Under the new market, developed by the Costa Rican government with help from consultancy écoRessources, companies will be able to trade Costa Rican Compensation Units (UCCs), which are tied to domestic reforestation and conservation efforts alongside other projects designed to cut emissions and improve energy efficiency. UCCs are estimated to cost $3-$5/tCO2e, and the first trades are expected to take place toward the end of 2014.The price estimates stem from the World Bank Carbon Fund’s commitment to buy a maximum of $63 million forest-based credits.  

 

Brazil’s story of de-deforestation…and how they can keep telling it

A piece in  The Economist  last week documents the various colliding factors that have led to a dramatic decrease in deforestation in many Brazilian states over the last decade. The story of how ranchers in Paragominas (in the Parí¡ state of Brazil) have moved from burn-and-expand agriculture to forest stewardship in the space of 10 years is one that includes the influences of many characters. The article acknowledges that the near halt to deforestation in Parí¡ is an inherently tentative victory: “If locals can prosper without chopping trees down, there is a good chance that the rest of the forest will survive. If they can’t, it won’t.” It is at these everyday decision points that carbon financing could play a crucial role – especially in the context of Jurisdictional and Nested REDD+ projects.

 

New Indonesian agency has its work cut out

Indonesia’s long-awaited  decree for a national REDD+ agency  was signed by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on September 10. The decree recognizes Indonesia’s commitment to reduce GHGs 26% by 2020 as compared to the ‘business as usual’ scenario – 41% of that reduction can come from international assistance. In that vein, the REDD+ Managing Agency will be responsible for developing and implementing Indonesia’s national REDD+ strategy, monitoring and evaluating projects, coordinating law enforcement around REDD+, and more. The Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) welcomed the announcement of the agency but warns of the heavy lifting that lies ahead: “This is only the beginning of huge tasks associated with forest and land governance,” said Daniel Murdiyarso, a scientist with CIFOR.

 

Abbott to carbon farmers: don’t worry about it

When Tony Abbott took office as Prime Minister of Australia on September 18, he made good on his promise to  introduce a bill to repeal the country’s carbon tax  (now AU $24.15/tCO2e) on his first day in office. The bill leaves landowners who have been adopting sustainable agriculture and restoration  projects  as part of the Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI) in the lurch with 1,962,675 already issued emissions reductions (called ACCUs in Australia) on their hands. These landowners are concerned that axing the carbon tax will also derail demand for their offsets, but Abbott’s environment minister Greg Hunt says not to worry: the government is allocating $1.55 billion in its first three years out of the Emissions Reduction Fund to purchase the credits. An extra buyer in the market, Hunt says, “always means more competition and higher prices for any seller.” The ACCUs will still be available to voluntary buyers, regardless of Australia’s carbon tax outcome.

 

The Australian government’s intention to establish a Direct Action Plan in place of a carbon price could also potentially  limit the potential for blue carbon  to take off domestically. With seagrass meadows tucking away between four and ten times the amount of carbon that forests do, new research from Edith Cowan University estimates the value of Australia’s seagrass meadows  at more than $5 billion on the international carbon market. The estimate is, however, tenuously hinged on a carbon trading price of A$35/tCO2e (predicted by Australia’s federal government by 2020 based on the country’s former trajectory of instituting a national emissions trading scheme by 2014-2015).

 

Smudging the numbers

In a global comparative study on REDD+, researcher Mary Menton from the Global Canopy Programme noticed an oddity: the official data from Peru’s case study showed no change in the charcoal industry over time. “I thought it looked a bit fishy and warranted some field work,” says Menton. Her hunch paid off, as the  new study  found that the case city Pucallpa produced 80 times more charcoal than official figures. The city is the capital of Ucayali, a major charcoal supplier to Lima. The research turned up another surprising result: though production had shot through the roof, deforestation hadn’t. Charcoal producers in Pucallpa mainly used sawmill waste to burn as scrap wood, which isn’t a direct threat to rainforests.  

 

Human Dimension

It takes a village  

In the small village of Buntoi, Kalimantan, the 2,700 inhabitants will now add one new home:  Indonesia’s first Climate Communications Center. The Center will become a place that provides direct communication between traditional knowledge users and global environmental experts. “This center is about creating the foundations of the future so that knowledge-exchange on development, sustainable practices and ongoing input from local communities can be hard-wired into the process,” said Dr. Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, chief of the President’s Delivery Unit for Development Monitoring and Oversight. The project is part of the greater Central Kalimantan REDD+ pilot in Indonesia, which receives $1 billion from a partnership with Norway to reduce deforestation and degradation.  

 

Science and Technology Review

Peat loss turns up the heat

Indonesia, currently the world’s third-largest carbon emitter, began draining ancient peat swamp forests in the Kalimantan region in 1996 as part of what was called the Mega Rice Project, intending to grow rice for food security. However, “it was a giant catastrophe,” says Professor Mark Cochrone, since the soil was unsuitable for growing crops. The professor will study the matter further with a  new $2.2 million grant from NASA  to use satellite image, modeling and field studies to track the carbon emissions from peat loss. His work may also be used to help the Indonesian Forest Research and Development Agency assess their progress in reducing the emissions. Whether or not the ecosystem can be restored “will depend on how serious [the government] is about reestablishing the hydrology.”

 

The giant role of beanstalks

Researchers have discovered that legumes – bean and seed producing plants –  may prove pivotal for reforesting in the tropics. Tropical soil is often nitrogen poor, which can reduce the chances of successfully reforesting degraded land. However, legumes are natural nitrogen fixers in that they convert atmospheric nitrogen into soil-based nitrogen. The study, published in Nature, found that legume plants grew at nine times the rate of non-fixing plants during the first 12 years of forest regrowth in 16 second-growth forests in Panama.  As the forests aged, they gradually weaned off nitrogen-fixers. “We knew that legumes were important, but what surprised us was their ability to respond to nitrogen deficiency during the early phase of the regrowth,” says Sarah A. Batterman, a postdoctoral researcher at Princeton.

 

Flying high with funds

NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey  launched a public forum and call for ideas  last week, at the end of their Sustainable Land Imaging Architecture Study Industry and Partner Day. They are currently accepting ideas for a project that would replicate the success of their Landsat satellites, which have provided over 41 years of data on food, water, forests and other natural resources. NASA wants to develop a space-based system that can provide continuous Landsat-quality data for at least 20 years with minimal costs. The call comes after a directive from the Obama Administration earlier this year created the Sustainable Land Imaging Program. Meanwhile, the popular Landsat program has continued running with the Landsat 8, launched in February.  

 

Publications:

REDDy for Engagement

Commissioned by the Forest Carbon, Markets and Communities Program of USAID, the  Readiness To Engage: Stakeholder Experiences for REDD+  report examines national, sub-national and nested stakeholder engagement experiences, good practices and lessons learned. It finds that REDD+ programs must keep historical governance issues in mind when developing new projects in the forestry sector; transparency, stakeholder engagement and accountability remain major challenges.  

 

Turning a new LEAF

Lowering Emissions in Asia’s Forests (LEAF) released a new publication,  International Experience with REDD+ and National Forest Funds. The paper details LEAF’s lessons learned from its work with the Vietnam REDD+ Funds, and offers a comparison of operational aspects of the forest funds. Lastly, the paper examines the macro-economic conditions essential for developing investment into these funds.    

 

A standard for standards

Despite a multitude of forest certification standards, the environmental and social benefits remain to be impartially evaluated. The  new CIFOR report  proposes an empirical research framework to examine these benefits and suggests that such a methodology should be used to evaluate tropical forest certification on a global scale.  

 

Jobs:

Regional Director, San Joaquin Valley – Sustainable Conservation

Based in San Joaquin Valley, the Regional Director will evaluate new ideas, technologies and business models that reduce the environmental impact of California dairies while providing profitable revenue streams in areas of high concentrations of dairies. Candidates should have 10+ years’ experience in a leadership role or equivalent and significant knowledge of the California agriculture sector and agricultural systems.

 – Read more about the position  here

 

Forest Carbon Sales and Marketing Manager – CO2OL

Based in Germany, the Forest Carbon Sales and Marketing Manager will lead CO2OL’s work to commercialize the carbon credits generated by our reforestation projects and individual forest carbon projects. Candidates should have a track record of carbon credit sales or sales of investment/financial products and an expertise in the branding, marketing and differentiation of premium carbon credits.

 – Read more about the position  here

 

Carbon Analyst – New Forest

Based in Bogota, Colombia, the Carbon Analyst will identify, develop, and manage forest carbon offset projects for the California and Western Climate Initiative cap-and-trade market. Candidates should have a Master’s in Forestry and at least two years of work experience.  

– Read more about the position  here.  

 

Chief Investment Officer – Ecotrust Forest Management

Based in Portland, OR, the Chief Investment Officer will lead the execution of all financial planning and investment analysis functions for the forestland investment funds managed by EFM. Candidates should possess five to ten years of complex financial analytical experience and demonstrated experience using Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Access for financial model development, including VBA programming.

– Read more about the position  here.  

 

Earth Science Policy and Program Strategy Analyst Job – Booz Allen Hamilton

Based in Washington, D.C., the Analyst will support the NASA Applied Sciences program on a variety of projects and topics, including climate change, REDD+, and water resources and management. Candidates should have 7+ years of experience in a science or a technical environment and experience performing background research and literature searches.  

– Read more about the position  here.  

 

Program Advisor, Indigenous and Communal Conservation – The Nature Conservancy

Based in Arlington, VA, the Program Advisor will conduct research and analysis and write reports related to international human and indigenous peoples’ rights and policies and the implications for sustainable development and conservation. In addition, he or she will provide advice on strategies for scaling up indigenous-led, community-based conservation. Candidates should have a Bachelor’s degree in political science, international development, social sciences or ecology at least 5 years related experience or equivalent combination.

– Read more about the position  here.  

 

Manager, Knowledge Sharing & Learning, Forest & Climate Change – World Wildlife Fund

Based in Washington, D.C., the Manager will develop and manage effective REDD+ knowledge sharing within the FCP extended team, across the WWF Network as relevant, and with partner organizations. Candidates should have an undergraduate degree in knowledge management, education or related field and a minimum of 8 years’ work experience with proven success in setting up lessons learning systems for preferably international organizations.

– Read more about the position  here.  

 

Chief of Party, Low Emission Development Strategy (LEDS) – Cadmus Group

Based in Guatemala, the Chief of Party will identify ways to support the Government of Guatemala on the planning, design, policy development, and implementation of the LEDS Project, as well as promote participatory processes with the private sector and civil society. Candidates should have ten or more years of experience in a managerial position in Guatemala or in Latin America, with a minimum of five years of experience in management or technical assistance in fields related to the subject matter of this project, such as natural resource management, sustainable forestry management, climate change topics, REDD+, biodiversity conservation, etc.

– Read more about the position  here.  

 

Chief Technical Officer – American Carbon Registry  

Based in Sacramento, CA or Arlington, VA, the  Chief Technical Officer will oversee the American Carbon Registry (ACR) registration of California compliance and early action offset projects from listing through verification and offset issuance. The CTO is also responsible for ACR’s voluntary offset project registration as well as overseeing the development and/or approval of new carbon offset standards, methodologies and tools. Candidates should have a Masters in the Environment, Forestry, or related field and at least 10 years of experience with environmental markets and five years of carbon market experience.  

– Read more about the position  here.  

 

ABOUT THE FOREST CARBON PORTAL

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ABOUT THE ECOSYSTEM MARKETPLACE

Ecosystem Marketplace is a project of Forest Trends, a tax-exempt corporation under Section 501(c)3. This newsletter and other dimensions of our voluntary carbon markets program are funded by a series of international development agencies, philanthropic foundations, and private sector organizations. For more information on donating to Ecosystem Marketplace, please contact info@ecosystemmarketplace.com.


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