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This Week In Forest Carbon: A Blast From The Past

Oliva Hughes

Indonesia’s federal government has embarked on the most ambitious REDD program of any major forested nation, but it’s not easy to implement such a program in a land of a thousand islands spread across two million square kilometers. Ecosystem Marketplace’s fifth installment of the REDD in Indonesia series takes a look at the early days of REDD, back in 2007.

30 October 2014 | In 2007, the forests of Indonesia’s Ulu Masen Ecosystem were rapidly disappearing, thanks to encroaching development caused by the country’s burgeoning palm oil sector. The problem caught the attention of Governor Irwandi Yusuf of Aceh Province, who saw REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation) as a possible solution.
A consulting team hired by Yusuf estimated that an 85% reduction in deforestation in the ecosystem, which spread across 750,000 hectares, would prevent more than three million tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere every year.

Yusuf launched what would have become the largest REDD project to date one designed to slow deforestation in part by jump-starting sustainable palm oil, coffee, and cocoa programs, as detailed in the latest installment of Ecosystem Marketplace’s series, Palm Oil vs The Peatland Forest. This would ensure that the activities driving deforestation in Ulu Masen don’t just migrate down the road, but are instead transformed into more sustainable practices that continue to meet existing demand without killing the forest. He also implemented a moratorium on illegal logging across the entire province and even began to personally lead raids on loggers’ camps to enforce the moratorium and show potential investors that he was serious.

 

It was a gamble that cost his province millions in the short term, but it also made sense because the Bali climate talks of 2007 were supposed to culminate with the creation of a successor to the Kyoto Protocol. To do that, officials needed to bridge a schism between industrialized nations and developing countries a bridge built in part on REDD offsets. The World Bank had already created the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) and Australia had pledged $100 million to support REDD efforts on Borneo.

Ecosystem Marketplace’s State of the Forest Carbon Markets 2014 report will have much more information about the FCPF and other financial mechanisms that countries are now looking to tap to support their REDD+ initiatives. And we’re mining lots of interesting new information this year, including a closer look at buyer motivations and activities, and robust data on the co-benefits of forest carbon programs, from employment to endangered species protection.

We’re $37.5k away from being able to publish this year’s report in a few weeks’ time. Can we count on your support? Please take a look at this sponsorship prospectus for more information, and contact Molly Peters-Stanley (Director of Ecosystem Marketplace) orAllie Goldstein (Forest Carbon Associate) with any interest. We’d be happy to discuss sponsorship opportunities with you in more detail.

Many thanks to EcoPlanet Bamboo and New Forests for their generous sponsorships.

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More stories from the forest carbon market are summarized below, so keep reading.

The Ecosystem Marketplace Team

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

News

NATIONAL STRATEGY

THERE’S A NEW LEGEND IN MEXICO

A new map of aboveground forest carbon stocks in Mexico could help the national government enhance the measurement, reporting and verification system governing its mitigation efforts under the United Nations (UN) REDD+ program. The map integrates Mexico’s National Forest Inventory, which provides field measurements for 26,000 plots across the country, with spatial imagery data from the Japanese ALOS PALSAR radar and U.S. Landsat satellite sensors.

 

SUSTAINABLE COMMODITIES

YOU DON’T WANT TO WIN THIS POPULARITY CONTEST

One-third of the world’s deforestation stems from four popular products: beef, palm oil, soy and wood, according to a new report called Trading Forests: Quantifying the Contribution of Global Commodity Markets to Emissions from Tropical Deforestation. These four commodities were responsible for the loss of 3.9 million hectares of forest, an area roughly the size of Switzerland, in 2009. Many of the eight locations tracked Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea and Paraguay are known deforestation hotspots. The deforestation is driven by consumer demand from international markets, with China as the biggest importer of these commodities, followed by the European Union (EU).

 

NEW LAW OF THE JUNGLE

The Indonesian government jeopardized palm oil companies’ zero deforestation commitments when it revised its Plantation Act last month, according to a new report by Greenomics. Palm oil giant Golden-Agri Resources (GAR) successfully demonstrated its commitment to conserving high-carbon stock forests through a pilot project being implemented across eight concessions in West and Central Kalimantan. But the revised law states all concessions must be “fully cleared and converted for its intended purpose within six years of the license being granted.” If the land isn’t cultivated, it can be seized and turned over to another entity for conversion, meaning forest lands set aside by GAR could wind up in the hands of companies that have not pledged to end deforestation.

 

FINANCE & ECONOMICS

A FINANCIAL ATTRACTION

Inching closer to its $150 million target goal, the Althelia Climate Fund just received a $5 million investment from the Packard Foundation, a non-profit investing in conservation and environmental sustainability initiatives. The investment helps increase Althelia’s funding to about $117 million ahead of a planned December closing. Althelia made headlines in May when it received a loan guarantee worth up to $133.8 million from the US Agency for International Development (USAID) to lend to forest conservation and sustainable land use projects in developing countries. In September, the fund announced it would make a $12 million investment over seven years to finance conservation of 570,000 hectares in Madre de Dios, Peru.

 

HUMAN DIMENSION

NIGHT TERRORS IN THE AMAZON

Every night, empty trucks fade into the Amazon only to return filled with timber in the morning. Greenpeace-Brazil uncovered this illegal logging after activists secretly tagged the trucks with GPS (Global Positioning System) locator beacons. This is the first time the organization has used these tactics, but they are not without danger in a country with the most murders of environmental activists every year. The new report, called Amazon’s Silent Crisis: Night Terrors, details the flow of this illegal timber from source to the international market.

 

A TREE-TO-TREE SALESMAN

The Nature Conservancy (TNC) has a new way of communicating to loggers: the sales pitch. The organization has started using ex-loggers to pitch company owners on the notion that switching to greener logging techniques will reduce their costs and increase the profitability of their businesses. The organization is working with Karya Lestari, a timber producer in East Kalimantan, to implement reduced-impact and cost-saving logging practices. Currently, the company will only test the suggestions in a 100-hectare plot, but TNC hopes this pilot will pave the way for broader acceptance of climate-friendly logging practices in the industry.

 

STANDARDS & METHODOLOGIES

NO DUDE RANCHES HERE

The American Carbon Registry approved a protocol that rewards ranchers for land management practices that put more carbon in the soil, which improves soil health and reduces GHG emissions. The Compost Additions to Grazed Grasslands protocol provides a clear process for calculating the GHG reductions from applying compost to rangeland, which allows ranchers to generate revenue from the sale of emission reductions on voluntary carbon markets. But some observers see a faster approach to developing a carbon farming model that includes composting through the Natural Resources Conservation Agency, which is incorporating carbon planning into its voluntary national farm conservation protocols.

 

PUBLICATIONS

CONSIDER THE SOURCE

A new publication called A Sourcebook: Biodiversity Monitoring for REDD+ shows how the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s Cancºn Safeguards for REDD deliver biodiversity benefits and how the Convention of Biological Diversity’s Aichi Targets support healthy forests. It also provides side-by-side comparisons of the four biodiversity safeguard initiatives already in place for REDD two emerging under the UN and World Bank, one created by two NGOs but for government programs, and one program that serves the voluntary sector.

 

NOT A WELL-OILED MACHINE

Is palm oil a miracle plant or a grave threat to land rights and the environment? Depends on who you ask. A new book called Palms of Controversies: Oil palm and development challenges tackles the question, which concedes that the environmental impact of palm oil has been “disastrous,” particularly in Southeast Asia, but asserts that the plant itself bears no responsibility for this and should not be demonized. “The problem is not the oil palm but the way people have chosen to exploit it,” authors Alain Rival and Patrice Levang say.

 

JOBS

COMMUNICATIONS COORDINATOR II, GLOBAL FOREST WATCH WORLD RESOURCES INSTITUTE (WRI)

Based in Washington, D.C., the Communications Coordinator will support WRI’s Global Forest Watch, an online forest monitoring and alert system, through media engagement, blogging, event management, online communications, social media and writing. Global Forest Watch uses satellite technology, open data and crowdsourcing to provide timely and reliable information about forests for free. Successful candidates will have a degree in communications or journalism with a minimum two to three years of relevant experience.

– Read more about the position here.

 

FORESTS AND CARBON INVENTORY EXPERT – AGRICONSULTING

Based in Freetown, Sierra Leone, the Forests and Carbon Inventory Expert will design and implement forest carbon stock inventories for the EU-funded project Technical Assistance for the REDD+ and capacity building project in Sierra Leone. The Expert will also train field staff in forest inventory techniques, including Geographic Information Systems (GIS) proficiency, and produce training materials, guidelines and manuals. Successful candidates should have a minimum of eight years of proven experience in implementing such inventories, as well as two years of proven experience using remote sensing techniques, ground truthing and mapping.

– Read more about the position here.

 

INTERNSHIP IN TROPICAL FOREST CARBON RESEARCH SMITHSONIAN TROPICAL RESEARCH INSTITUTE

Based in Barro Colorado Island, Panama, the intern will assist in collecting, managing and analyzing field data on forest carbon budgets. The intern will also be responsible for data management, data quality checks, and some data analysis, and will be expected to contribute to (and coauthor) resulting scientific publications on the carbon budget of this forest. The successful candidate will have a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field, with field experience, quantitative and data management skills, and basic Spanish communication skills. Read more about the position here.

 

PROGRAM OFFICER, CONSERVATION AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT MACARTHUR FOUNDATION

Based in Chicago, Illinois, the Program Officer will be responsible for grant-making related to implementation of the foundation’s 10-year strategy for conservation and sustainable development in the Tropical Andes region (Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia, Peru). The successful candidate will have an advanced degree in a field relevant to conservation of natural resources and at least five years of professional experience as a conservation practitioner or doing applied conservation research. Special consideration will be given to candidates with expertise or experience in Latin America, and with expertise or experience in natural resources economics and/or forest carbon/REDD+ project development.

– Read more about the position here.

 

DEPUTY CHIEF OF PARTY: LOWERING EMISSIONS IN ASIA’S FORESTS (LEAF) PROGRAM WINROCK INTERNATIONAL

Based in Bangkok, Thailand, the Deputy Chief of Party will assist the Chief of Party (COP) in the operational and technical leadership of USAID’s LEAF program. The Deputy will also provide critical contributions to program planning and implementation, including technical guidance as appropriate; and assume administrative and supervisory responsibilities as specified by the COP. Successful candidates should have 10 or more years of experience working on donor-funded projects in a management role and be familiar with USAID regulations and forestry and/or natural resources management.

– Read more about the position here.

 

GOVERNANCE SPECIALIST, UN-REDD PROGRAMME UN OFFICE FOR PROJECT SERVICES

Based in Copenhagen, Denmark, the Governance Specialist will provide technical advice on the Participatory Governance Assessment for REDD+ (PGA). The specialist will have a particular focus on Vietnam’s PGA process, and will provide broader support as needed. Successful candidates should have at least five years of experience managing development projects and processes in tandem with counterparts at the country/local level, and strong knowledge of governance issues, REDD+ and UN programming.

– Read more about the position here.

ABOUT THE FOREST CARBON PORTALThe Forest Carbon Portal provides relevant daily news, a bi-weekly news brief, feature articles, a calendar of events, a searchable member directory, a jobs board, a library of tools and resources. The Portal also includes the Forest Carbon Project Inventory, an international database of projects including those in the pipeline. Projects are described with consistent ‘nutrition labels’ and allow viewers to contact project developers.
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