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Fresh Finance, More EU Uptake, and New Data: The Month in Forest Carbon

Fresh finance is flowing into forest carbon efforts internationally, from Mexico to the Republic of Congo to Sri Lanka, and European Union member states are thinking of adding cropland, grazing land, and forest carbon emissions to their national greenhouse gas accounts.  Here's a look at the top forest carbon stories of the past month.

This article originally appeared on the Forest Carbon Newsletter.  You can view the original here.




3 April 2012 | Ecosystem Marketplace has now formally closed its collection of data for the State of the Forest Carbon Markets 2012 report. We are grateful to those projects that provided us with complete responses - every respondent is featured at least once on the Forest Carbon Portal homepage now through the end of May.
 

 

If you did not respond to the survey during the open call for information and would still like to contribute (and be recognized), please contact Molly Peters-Stanley in our Carbon Program to find out how.

 


And on to the latest forest carbon news, where below we summarize how one industry organization is taking an active role in seeking guidance for how to treat forest carbon offsets on a balance sheet in the US, while EU member states consider adding cropland, grazing land, and forest carbon emissions to their national GHG accounts.

 


Fresh finance is flowing into forest carbon efforts internationally, from a Mexican REDD project with some very high-level domestic buyers (translation), to UN-REDD Programme support in the Republic of Congo and Sri Lanka, to renewed demand from the voluntary carbon market for pre-2008 New Zealand forest carbon credits under the country's Permanent Forest Sink Initiative.

 


On the supply side, South Pole Carbon is seeking investors for its Zimbabwe-based REDD efforts, while across the globe FUNAI, Brazil’s National Indian Foundation, has brought into question 30 contracts between international companies and indigenous communities - including invalidating a $120mn agreement between Irish company Celestial Green Ventures and the Munduruku tribe.

 


These and other stories from the forest carbon marketplace are summarized below, so keep reading! And if you value what you read in this news brief, consider supporting Ecosystem Marketplace’s Carbon Program as a Supporting Subscriber. Readers’ contributions help us keep the lights on and continue to deliver forest carbon market news and insights to your inbox biweekly and free of charge.

For a suggested $150/year donation, you or your company can be listed as a Forest Carbon News Supporting Subscriber (with weblink) for one year (~24 issues).

Reach out to inboxes worldwide and make your contribution HERE (select "Support for Forest Carbon News Brief" in the drop-down menu). You will receive an email from the Forest Carbon News team confirming your sponsorship listing and weblink information.
 

—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

The farm and forest frontier

Forests and agricultural lands cover three-quarters of EU territory, yet progress in EU carbon accounting for forestry and land use has taken its sweet time. To date, land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF) has been excluded from the EU's fixed targets on curbing climate change. In a recent turn of events, the EU is finally putting forth a proposal to require EU nations to incorporate cropland, grazing land, and forest into the EU’s reduction efforts. After monitoring and reporting has been in place for a number of years and proven effective, the Commission plans to propose including LULUCF in the EU's binding emissions reduction target. Read more from Thomson Reuters and Mongabay.

Tailoring REDD+ to fragile States

One solution doesn’t fit all. The March issue of Go-REDD+ refers to an article by Alan Karsenty and Symphorien Ongolo that discusses whether REDD+ in its current form can be applied to all States. The authors argue that the incentives upon which REDD+ is based may have perverse effects in fragile States burdened by corrupt government and dominance of private agendas. They propose that, in such cases, REDD+ should promote long-term capacity development focused on fundamental socioeconomic transformations, and incentive mechanisms that directly benefit local economic agents.

US Policy

You won’t see this on the CFA exams

While the forest carbon offsets sector in the US is growing, the International Forest Carbon Association aims to draw attention to the lack of transparency and comparability in US capital markets due to the lack of uniform accounting methods. Seeking clearer and more standardized financial accounting, IFCA recently submitted a request to the Financial Accounting Standards Board USA on behalf of the sector and offset buyers. IFCA’s letter asks for guidance for forest carbon offsets to be valued on the balance sheet at fair value as inventory with appropriate timing of the point of revenue recognition.

Don’t be cruel to Tennessee’s urban forests

Elvis Presley isn’t Tennessee’s only prized possession – the 284 million trees it houses in its urban areas are worth a whooping $80 billion. They also provide almost $650 million in benefits such as carbon sequestration and air purification. These advantages that trees bring, and more, are illuminated in the U.S. Forest Service’s Urban Forests of Tennessee, a report that details the urban forest’s contribution to the state’s economic savings. The trees are estimated to provide up to $204 million and $66 million a year in pollution removal and energy savings respectively. The study was done through sampling trees in the urban areas and running the data through a model to evaluate their value.

Project Development

GEF-5 SFM/REDD+ project update

Two sustainable forest management projects in Azerbaijan and Togo have just become the first SFM/REDD+ projects overseen by the Global Environment Facility to receive CEO endorsement and become ready for implementation, according to the GEF. Azerbaijan’s $11.4M project focuses on subtropical mountain forest landscape, seeking to contribute to forest and pastureland restoration and improved management over 46,500 ha – to directly avoid 256,666 tCO2 emissions and sequester 747,460 t CO2 over the project’s lifetime. At over $70M, Togo’s project will focus on scaling up sustainable management of tropical dry forests with the goal of increasing carbon stocks by 290,000 tCO2 via better managed forest and avoided deforestation.

 

Selling oxygen to the planet (Spanish)

Oaxacan communities of Sierra Juarez and the South, Costa and Mixteca are participating in carbon projects in conjunction with Oaxaca Environmental Services, Pronatura and the National Forestry Commission (CONAFOR). Buyers of their carbon credits include the pharmaceutical company Chinoin, Fundación Televisa, Grupo Gamesa and the Presidency of the Republic. For the strong community aspect of the project, a higher-than-market price of $10 per tonne has been agreed on. Participant communities have reportedly received over 9 million pesos from the neutralization of about 105,000 tCO2e. An interesting case is Santa María Tlahuitoltepec: when the springs dried up in the area, the community turned to their priest, who taught that “God creates miracles, but you have to help,” essentially saying that if the community wanted water, they would have to reforest. The story reports that they are now the most zealous of communities in caring for their forests, so much so that 90% of the salary of their Community Commissioner is financed by the sale of carbon. Read the original story here and translation (Google) here.

Aloha, afforestation

Up until now, private landowners’ small-scale afforestation efforts in the U.S. have generally been considered too cost prohibitive to generate reasonably priced VERs. Hawaiian Legacy Hardwoods (HLH), however, reports that it has just completed a feasibility study that puts afforestation carbon offsets from small-scale landowners back on the table. HLH found that midsize to smaller scale private landowners in Hawaii, anyway, can generate commercially viable carbon offset products using a koa tree species native to Hawaii. The study examined reforestation techniques guided by different offset standards – the Climate Action Reserve and American Carbon Registry – in order to generate credits for either the compliance or voluntary carbon markets. "For the first time, we illustrate that landowners can leverage carbon finance to permanently restore native species throughout the Hawaiian Islands," said Darrell Fox, HLH COO.

New dawn for REDD+ in Republic of Congo and Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka and the Republic of Congo are the two newest countries to receive support from the UN-REDD Programme, rounding up the total funding under this program at US$67.3 million. These grants were given the stamp of approval at the UN-REDD Program’s 8th Policy Board meeting held earlier last week. Sri Lanka called the boost a “new dawn” for their forestry sector, while the Republic of Congo saw it as an affirmation of the nation’s efforts in sustainable forest management. The Programme now provides funding to 16 countries and works with 26 others across Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Chipping away at Laotian deforestation

Laos' sub-national REDD program has offered the chance for the New Chip Xeng Group to invest in the country’s forest and market its carbon in return. The project eyed by the Group spans about 550,000 hectares in four conservation areas, and across 19 districts in Vientiane and several provinces. The Group’s initial $3 million investment went towards a feasibility study for carbon trading, and upon its completion in 2013, a 17-year trading scheme will run through 2030. Estimates suggest that the forests could sequester between 10 and 20 tCO2e per hectare, which is speculated to be worth $4 - $15 per tCO2e in the international carbon markets. Norway, Switzerland and Italy have expressed enthusiastic support for the project.

Planting trees Sur can make a difference in Chile

House by house, car by car, the municipality of Peñalolén is mobilizing to bring its carbon footprint down to zero. Peñalolén’s carbon neutrality campaign encourages residents to offset the carbon impact of their homes and vehicles toward a common good for the community – by tree planting in the “Communal Peñalolén Forest” in the Chilean Patagonia. For every vehicle entered into the system, the Patagonia gains 6 new trees. The afforestation project, led by the company Patagonia Sur, has seen 180 trees of three native species planted thus far. Participation is voluntarily – residents can conduct the compensation through a web platform or seal the deal at their local supermarket.

South Pole seeking investors

Switzerland-based project developer South Pole Carbon is seeking investors for its Lake Akriba project in Zimbabwe, which in its current state covers one million hectares and is hoped to avoid three MtCO2e over five years. The project is seeking certification under the VCS, and South Pole anticipates its validation to VCS methodology VM0009 by the second half of 2012. The project is also seeking verification to the CCB Standard’s Gold level for its protection of a wildlife corridor in Zimbabwe and the prospect of improved livelihoods in the region. For more information, read here.

 

SAFI forest owners reject Merlins Wood MoU with Pakistani government

In our more recent news briefs, we have touched upon the back and forth on a proposed REDD project in Pakistan, referencing the ownership dispute between UK-based Merlins Wood and forest owners with coverage by Chris Lang of REDD Monitor and Surriekha Khan, Director of Merlins Wood. Despite the dispute, Merlins Wood signed MoUs with the governments of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Azad State, with Terra Global Capital joining on to develop the project. The ownership issue has persisted. Most recently, Sarhad Awami Forestry Ittehad – an alliance of private forest stakeholders – has unanimously rejected the MoU between Merlins Woods and the Forest Department of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Calling for immediate cancellation over the agreement, SAFI argued that the Forest Department does not hold exclusive ownership over the highly contested forests in the province. Read more here.

As clock winds down, voluntary buyers line up for PFSI VERs

In our last newsletter, we put out a reminder to NZ forest owners to register with the NZ Emissions Unit Registry by the end of 2012 to qualify their credits for the first Kyoto period. Since then, Permanent Forests International reports has received a surge in requests for Permanent Forest Sink Initiative (PFSI) VER registrations. The company has so far sold over 500,000 PFSI VERs, earning forest owners more than NZ$2M in profits, and is set to deliver 600,000 more to offshore buyers by mid-2012. Under the PFSI, the company develops credits for pre-2008 carbon that meets the voluntary market’s “high standard for environmental integrity,” according to Permanent Forests owner Mark Belton – standards and safeguards that he says are lacking under more current ETS forestry rules.

National Strategy & Capacity

Questionable contracts provoke FUNAI; Brazil cautions VCM

In past weeks, the issue of carbon rights in indigenous territories and the unchecked activities of carbon outfits in Brazil came under serious scrutiny after the Irish company Celestial Green Ventures signed a $120 million agreement with the Munduruku tribe for their 2.3 million hectare piece of the Brazilian Amazon. The contract as proposed prohibits any changes to the forest, including the tribes’ traditional and subsistence use of their ancestral land for thirty years. An account of the meeting between the company and the tribe described hostility and resistance on the part of the Munduruku, but the contract was later sealed by some Munduruku members without the consent of the community. A chief has since called for the cancellation of the agreement.


In a recent statement, the deal with CGV has been deemed invalid by FUNAI, Brazil’s National Indian Foundation, along with thirty other contracts that have granted private investors legal title to carbon credits in the Amazon, on the basis of illegality. FUNAI has stressed the necessity of legal guidelines for regulating such future negotiations. In recent weeks, government representatives in Brazil have further warned the market about working with any projects that are not actively engaged with the government or FUNAI as Brazil finalizes the design of its REDD+ national strategy. Point Carbon reports that while projects aimed at the voluntary carbon market are not automatically exclude from a national system, “they will have to comply with future policy to have official recognition.”

 

Colombia will receive $3.4million for National REDD+ Strategy (Spanish)

Colombia is now on its way to implementing its National REDD+ Strategy, after a boost of $3.4 million from the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF). The World Bank will conduct its due diligence mission in Colombia over two days, a visit meant to ensure that the grant is compliant with the Bank’s safeguard policies. The mission will meet with ministries to question how deforestation drivers will be tackled, will verify the participation of various stakeholders in the REDD+ Strategy, and will hold workshops in the Amazon and Pacific regions of the country as part of the social and environmental assessments required in Colombia’s Readiness Preparation Proposal. Read more here.

 

FFI launches REDD+ Community Carbon Pools Programme in Vietnam

Fauna and Flora International (FFI) launched its REDD+ Community Carbon Pools Programme in Vietnam in February of 2012, with the goal of promoting knowledge sharing between REDD+ countries in the Southeast Asian region. The three-year Programme would bring forest communities together under a common management and benefit-sharing system. A workshop held at the program launch saw a positive attendance of government officials, which coordinators saw as a promising start for future collaboration with government stakeholders. Because a challenge faced in the area is awareness of and interest in environmental services, capacity building will be a key component of the programme. Read more here.

Woodland Carbon Code reaches million tonne milestone

The UK’s programme for incentivizing woodland creation announced a milestone late last month – the Forestry Commission reports that enough projects have registered under the Woodland Carbon Code to sequester one MtCO2e. Welcoming the million-tonne milestone, Forestry Minister Lord Taylor of Holbeach said, “It demonstrates that we were right to establish the Code. The few short months it has taken for it to reach a million tonnes registered demonstrates that there is an appetite for planting new woodland.” The Forestry Commission points out that so far 57 woodland projects across the UK, totaling 2733 hectares (5565 acres), have been registered. Ten of these, totaling 760ha (1900 acres), have also now been validated. If all the projects go to plan, the 1 MtCO2 registered will be removed from the atmosphere over the next 100 years.

REDD+y or not: sustainable timber production in the Congo Basin

The Center for International Forestry Research is launching a new project in the Congo Basin in conjunction with the French Development Agency and the French Global Environment Facility. The FORAFAMA project aims to bolster scientific evidence that establishes sustainable timber production in forests as a viable method of increasing carbon stocks needed to reduce GHG emissions. In monitoring carbon stocks conditions in different areas, CIFOR hopes to identify the most effective sustainable management practices and gauge whether standards set by forest certification schemes can be compatible with REDD+ standards and safeguards. The results may help address concerns voiced during a recent conference in Cameroon about whether it is yet time to integrate sustainable timber forest management practices with REDD+.

 

Indonesia: we own the land and/or you don’t

To understand the latest row over Indonesia’s Forest Code, consider difference an “and/or” makes in the following definitions of a forested area: …a certain area that is allocated and/or determined by the government as a permanent forest area VERSUSa certain area that is determined by the government as a permanent forest area. The few omitted words are at the center of a controversy between the government and Indonesian businesses seeking clarity regarding plantation and mining companies’ ownership of forest areas. The Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry deputy chairman for plantations, Rudyan Kopot, says that if there was no clarification, the government could unilaterally take the areas and declare them as permanent forests. “All we need is a guarantee because the situation is not clear anymore,” he says. The change was made on February 21 of this year, when a court issued a ruling to drop the phrase “allocated and/or”, at the request of regents from five regencies in Central Kalimantan on the grounds that the phrase made the article contrary to the 1945 Constitution.

Finance & Economics

REDD+ brainstorm

At 73 countries strong, the REDD+ Partnership met in late February to discuss next steps for the UN’s REDD+ mechanism on deforestation and forest degradation. Attendees observed that while the short history of REDD+ shows a robust core, a well-performed voluntary market and high confidence standards, the current market remains difficult for those who want to invest – and discussed their concerns about a lack of consistent demand for REDD+ credits. The meeting concluded with key recommendations to simplify bureaucracy, improve the REDD+ management system, continue developing the Voluntary REDD+ Database, develop proposals for joint public-private funding formulas, improve sharing of knowledge and best practices, unify emissions calculation standards and indicators, coordinate transparent, equitable sharing of funds between countries, and look into forest bonds as a new source of capital.

Human Dimension

Villagers claim some payback from carbon trade

REDD has reportedly delivered in Tanzania: communities in several villages in Lindi rural of Tanzania have received a little over US$25,000 from the sale of credits through their avoided deforestation and conservation efforts. The government wants to set some of this money aside for development projects that include brick making and buying desks for schools, although villagers have rejected the idea by claiming it is the government’s responsibility, and not theirs, to fund such projects. The REDD pilot project is being implemented by the Mjumita and Tanzania Forest Conservation Group with financial support from Norway.

Goodall takes tools to Tanzania

In the Masito-Ugalla forest, young men have been given tools quite unlike the nets and machetes they are used to. Under a program at the Jane Goodall Institute, more than 30 forest monitors from seven villages in the Kigoma Rural district are being trained to use GPS gadgets, calibrated rulers and other technological equipment. Acquiring skills in forest carbon measurement are valuable for communities participating in REDD as it allows them to avoid the otherwise high consulting fees that could offset the economic benefits the projects are meant to bring. With partnerships with companies like Google and Android, technical training at the JGI is bringing communities in touch with the international marketplace to directly demonstrate the outcomes of their conservation efforts. Read more here.

Science & Technology Review

Zoom in…

If only the creators of the Amazon Trail game could release a new version with a Google plug-in. Google Maps recently launched the next best thing (ok, maybe) – a Google Street View of the Amazon River, enabling users to virtually explore communities and ecosystems in Earth's largest tropical forest from the comfort of their computers. For the project, Google partnered with the Amazonas Sustainable Foundation (FAS), an NGO that develops forest conservation projects with the Amazonas government. Block-by-block coverage seems tough enough in an urban or suburban setting. Imagine snapping away in an environment where heat and humidity can frustrate the best of cameras. In some photos, you can even glimpse the wake of the boat that holds the photographer.

…and out

For a bird’s eye view, check out the global rainforest carbon map now publicly available on ArcGIS Online, a web-based mapping platform. The data, based on NASA satellite measurements, maps out the biomass of tropical forests at a 500-meter resolution, the highest resolution ever published on a global scale. The greenest areas on the map – rainforests in the Amazon, Borneo, New Guinea, and the Congo Basin – are especially carbon-dense. Aside from visualizing the importance of conserving these areas for climate change mitigation efforts, scientists hope the maps can be used to estimate CO2 emissions from deforestation and help determine how much countries may earn in compensation through REDD+ efforts.

Publications & Tools

The State of the Forest: Congo Basin deforestation doubles since 1990

The Central African Forests Commission (COMIFAC) and members of the Congo Basin Forest Partnership released a 300 page report on the State on the Congo Basin forest. Deforestation rates increased from 0.13 percent to 0.26 percent between the 1990s and the 2000 - 2005 period. The new report identifies five primary drivers of deforestation in the region: fuel wood extraction, agriculture, mining and oil extraction, expansion of biofuels and logging. It also notes that efforts to preserve the region’s economic resources, protect biodiversity and the creation of protected areas have “not lived up to expectations, nor do they satisfactorily reflect investments to date”. Read more from CIFOR and Mongabay.

 

Justice for Forests: Improving Criminal Justice Efforts to Combat Illegal Logging

In some countries illegal logging can reach up to 90% of all logging activities, and generates approximately US$10–15 billion annually in criminal proceeds. Furthermore, a portion of this untaxed income is used to pay off corrupt officials at all levels of government. This report suggests that, rather than “go after” individual perpetrators, governments might be better suited to follow the money trail in pursuit of criminal organizations engaged in large-scale illegal logging and confiscate any ill-gotten gains. The World Bank says there are tools available for use that were developed in over 170 countries to go after such “dirty money.” Read more here.

REDD+ monitoring on a budget

Emissions from deforestation and forest degradation are hard to track for many developing countries, posing the risk of leaving changes in forest conditions driven by REDD+ or other efforts undetected for years. Widespread measuring of carbon – while accurate – can be quite costly. This month in Environmental Research Letters, Bucki et al. released a paper that pushes UNFCCC parties to consider cost-effective alternatives to provide reliable data on anthropogenic forest emissions. Remote sensing, used in conjunction with a transition matrix and default carbon stock change factors, can inform initial estimates of trends in emission changes. From there, the UNFCCC may be better equipped to set credible benchmarks and allocate REDD+ incentives. The paper presents a proof of concept for one biome in Congo.

REDD+ Safeguards for Vietnam: Key Issues and the Way Forward

The Center for People and Forests describes in this short paper Vietnam’s strategy to develop efficiently REDD+ safeguards in its National Program. Biodiversity conservation, local community rights and a MRV program spearhead the list of concerns the government should take into account developing the safeguard strategy. Download the report here (PDF).

Biodiversity monitoring protocols for REDD+: Can a one-size-fits-all approach really work?

This paper by Harrison et al. highlights the challenge of creating a single model to assess the impacts of REDD+ activities on biodiversity. Among the drawbacks of simplifying the model, the authors underline the disparity among the world’s forests, the different conservation goals and the heterogeneity of ecosystem services around in the globe. For that reason they propose site-specific biodiversity monitoring programmes.

UN-REDD Launches its 2011 "Year in Review" Report

The UN-REDD program formed by 42 partner countries across Africa, Asia-Pacific and Latin America and the Caribbean launched its 2011 annual report. Total funding in 2011 was US$ 108.1 million utilize to finance REDD+ Readiness Programs around the globe. Norway, the mayor donor funded 25% of the operations and overall the donor contributions raised 26% in 2011. In the next year UN-REDD will start negotiations with the Green Climate Fund and support the UNFCCC’s Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technology Advice (SBSTA).

 

Jobs

Technical Advisor, REDD+ Readiness - Conservation International

The Technical Advisor for REDD+ Readiness will support countries in REDD+ activities at national and subnational levels. The advisor will travel frequently to provide training in carbon MRV, GHG inventories, IPCC guidelines and other technical elements. Read more about the position here.

Senior Project Manager: Forest Products Supply Chains - Proforest

Based in Oxford, UK, the Senior Project Manager will work with forest products supply chains, including requirements relating to the EU Timber Regulation and public procurement. Five years of relevant international work experience and a masters in a relevant discipline are required. Read more about the position here.

Postdoctoral Associate, Forest Ecosystem Modeling - Virginia Tech

The Postdoctoral Associate will primarily design a climate change adaptation and mitigation model in the southern United States as part of a multi-organizational team. A Ph.D. with emphasis in forest ecosystem modeling and Linux/UNIX programming are required. Read more about the position here.

Senior Policy & Communications officer - Wetlands International

The Senior Policy & Communications officer will be in charge of the communications efforts in relation to mangrove conservation and coastal resilience. Indonesian nationality is required with fluency in English. Read more about the position here.

Agriculture and Climate Policy Analyst

IPAM is looking for a part-time consultant for a 12 month contract with excellent written and spoken Indonesian and English skills. The Policy Analyst will focus on agricultural, forestry, and forest carbon policy in Indonesia. Read more about the position here.

REDD+ Technical Specialist for Climate Change Programs in Ecuador and Peru - Winrock International

The REDD+ Technical Specialist will work with USAID-funded programs related to Climate Change Mitigation in Ecuador and Peru. Minimum five years of experience working in forestry and knowledge of Ecuador and/or Peru’s forest sector and climate change policies are required. Read more about the position here.

Socio-Economic Adviser - Fauna & Flora International

Base in Cambodia, Indonesia or Vietnam, the Adviser will help ensure that the socio-economic and community aspects of Asia-Pacific conservation projects are implemented in compliance with standards like the CCB standards for REDD+ projects. Read more about the position here.

Four positions in UNDP for REDD+ based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

The candidates should have between 5 and 10 years of professional experience as well as fluency in written and spoken English and Bahasa Malayu. Read more about the positions on the Forest Carbon Portal jobs board.