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This Week In Forest Carbon: On The Trail Of REDD Tracking

Forest Trends and the Overseas Development Institute’s (ODI) Climate Funds Update have concurrently released a series explaining existing REDD+ finance tracking projects. Three articles are already out, so stay tuned for upcoming stories exploring what is known about private sector REDD+ finance and the difficulty in following such investments, as well as the next steps in tracking REDD+ finance.


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




15 August 2013
| With REDD+ projects and activities becoming increasingly visible over the last two decades – and counting – REDD+ has seen billions of dollars committed to its cause around the globe. Needless to say, tracking the deployment and flow of this finance is challenging. Several initiatives focus on tracking REDD+ finance at different scales, often using slightly different definitions and data sources that can produce a variety of numbers when counting REDD+.


To promote harmonization and to build up a more comprehensive picture of the state of REDD+ finance, Forest Trends’ REDDX (hosted on the Forest Carbon Portal) and the Overseas Development Institute’s  (ODI) Climate Funds Update have just launched an infographic here and the first three articles in a collaborative series that explains existing REDD+ finance tracking projects – including Forest Trends’ own new REDDX expenditures tracking initiative (Spanish version here), with contributions from several initiatives that report on REDD+ finance:

 

 

  1. 1) Who’s counting? Forest Trends and ODI’s Climate Funds Update discuss what it will take to provide a more comprehensive picture of REDD+ finance, beginning with demystifying the different niche areas tracked by various REDD+ finance initiatives.
  2. 2) What you see isn’t always what you get: Transparency International shares challenges in monitoring accountability of REDD+ financial flows in a number of recipient countries including Mexico and Kenya, stressing the need for national registries that disaggregate REDD+ from other monetary flows, as well as proactive disclosure of information for all projects.
  3. 3) Lessons from the US: The Tropical Forest Group shares findings from tracking US REDD+ spending and the difficulties in following finance which is managed across a number of different agencies and in very different ways. Data from 2008-2011 reveals that US REDD+ finance has focused primarily on forest nations with large forests, relatively high GDP, and the smallest overall capacity gaps for executing national forest monitoring systems that can link with an international REDD+ framework.
Stay tuned for the rest of the series which will feature insights from United Nations Environment Programme’s Finance Initiative (UNEP FI), Ecosystem Marketplace and the Global Canopy Programme. These articles will explore what is known about private sector REDD+ finance and the difficulty in following such investments, as well as the next steps in tracking REDD+ finance. 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’re $75k away from being able to publish this year’s State of the Forest Carbon Markets report in a few months’ time – can we count on your support?


Here at Ecosystem Marketplace, we are preparing to transition from data collection to report-writing mode in order to bring you this year’s State of the Forest Carbon Markets report. For those of you developing forest carbon offset projects, if you have not yet responded with data and wish to participate in the survey, please notify Daphne Yin.


A big thank you to the following organizations that have most recently contributed data to this year’s State of the Forest Carbon Markets report, including: CLEVELCommunity Forests InternationalCooperativa AMBIOTerra Global CapitalThe Nature Conservancy (Brazil), and Treedom.

—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 jurisdiction is still out

In a recent blog published by UN REDD, Josep A. Gari explains the need for increased interaction between pilot projects and a country’s national REDD+ policy. Though REDD+ was conceived as a country-level mechanism that incorporates national implementation measures and public/private investments, in reality project-level activities encouraged by the Clean Development Mechanism and other standards currently do not have much influence on national policy, nor is there an easy way to standardize best practices or share trends nation-wide. To bridge this gap, Gari stresses that governments should establish a regular dialogue with pilot-project actors, create national policy for REDD+, establish national REDD+ registries, and explore jurisdictional REDD+ as a blended approach.


Project Development: 

The coast is unclear

On the heels of a new lawsuit filed in Louisiana against 100 oil and gas players for damages caused by degraded coastal lands, Ecosystem Marketplace has produced a new three-part series on the economics of ecosystem protection along Louisiana’s Gulf Coast. Part I dives into the lawsuit. Part II of the series looks at Tierra Resources’ new ACR-certified offset methodology – the very first methodology for emission reductions from deltaic wetland restoration – and explains why Entergy, the major utility in the region, has embraced the project. Part III examines efforts by Entergy to mitigate climate risks more broadly in response to its losing its New Orleans headquarters for a year after Hurricane Katrina, which caused it to take a closer look at hurricane mitigation efforts.


The Controversy Continues: Rimba Raya 

It started off simple. A study by Indonesian researcher Greenomics accused project developer Infinite Earth of failing to obtain the necessary government approvals for its Rimba Raya REDD+ Conservation project. Infinite Earth responded to the contrary, and Ecosystem Marketplace published an article claiming that the Greenomics report hadn’t considered all of the available sources and ignored those contrary to its claim. Greenomics replied in its defense that its sources were the most recent and relevant – via REDD-Monitor. The debate has continued on the comments forum of REDD-Monitor, with Ecosystem Marketplace managing editor Steve Zwick and Greenomics Director Elfian Effendi chiming in. Ecosystem Marketplace is in the process of further investigating the issue.


A new pitch for diners and travelers

US-based offset retailer Carbonfund.org has launched a tree-planting campaign where individuals can purchase offsets in exchange for free dining points and enter sweepstakes to win a Caribbean vacation by liking the Carbonfund page on Facebook. Carbonfund.org-supported forestry projects include the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley Reforestation Initiative (being developed to the American Carbon Registry standard) in the United States and the PURUS Protection of Tropical Forest and Biodiversity Project, reportedly the first REDD+ project in Acre, Brazil to receive certification from both the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) and the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Standards (CCB).


The curious case of Kasigau

A new feature article from Thomson Reuters highlights Wildlife Works’ Kasigau Corridor REDD+ project in Kenya, which started in 2009 and became the first to issue REDD+ offsets under the VCS in 2011, later also verifying offsets under the CCB. The 30-year project is expected to offset 30 MtCO2e over its lifetime. Wildlife Works sells carbon credits on behalf of 4,800 landowners and communities, with carbon revenues – totaling $2 million last year in sales to buyers like BNP Paribas, Kering, La Poste, and Microsoft – going toward water and education projects or stored in a community trust. The project has reduced charcoal burning by 70% but still needs more community support to see equal declines in poaching. 


National Strategy and Capacity:

Consenting to REDD

Three Indonesian provinces – Sulawesi, Kalimantan and Jambi – recently met to discuss lessons learned and preparation measures for Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) in relation to REDD+ readiness. Each province is in its own stage of development for REDD+, with Central Sulawesi’s recent completion of its operational phase making it the most advanced. The Learning Exchange Workshop, held in Palu, Central Sulawesi on July 12-13, communicated the need to create institutions and mechanisms in Sulawesi, Kalimantan and Jambi for consultation with and participation by indigenous communities. Proposed recommendations included establishing an FPIC-monitoring framework and a network of FPIC practitioners from the three provinces.  


Ensuring harmony in the Land of Happiness

Bhutan’s low deforestation and solid political commitment to conservation could make it an attractive area of investment for REDD+ activities. However, before any implementation, the government has been educating stakeholders about the risks associated with REDD+ to local communities. To help raise awareness, the Royal Government of Bhutan recently worked with the United Nations Development Programme and Food and Agriculture Organization to prepare a Readiness Preparation Proposal for approval and funding from the UN-REDD Programme and facilitate workshops in 14 of its 20 provinces. More than 1,200 people, including women and youth, participated in consultation meetings that specifically detailed the challenges, risks and benefits from REDD+ activities and more generally discussed the role of forests, ecosystem benefits, and climate change to local communities. 


Myanmar reforms open Pandora’s Box

Following the lifting of economic sanctions in Myanmar, conservation groups and business firms alike rush to claim the country’s natural resources. With President Thein Sein’s election in 2011, subsequent land reforms sought to register smallholder claims to land and diffuse conflict; however, as many farmers lack official documents, officials have increasingly been offering concessions to foreign businesses. Conservation groups are taking action, with the World Conservation Society helping Myanmar’s government identify potential protected areas and the EU’s FLEGT teaching officials about illegal logging and community forestry standards. These developments could have ramifications for REDD+ efforts in Myanmar, which recently joined the roster of countries participating in the Center for People and Forests’ Grassroots Capacity Building for REDD+ project. 


Creating a Coalition for Climate Change

Last week, USAID launched the Climate, Nature and Communities in Guatemala (CNCG) project, which will invest $25 million over the next five years with the goal of mitigating climate change and conserving natural resources in the country. Rainforest Alliance is slated to lead project implementation in conjunction with a coalition of environmental, academic and business institutions including the Nature Conservancy and the World Wide Fund for Nature. Key areas of focus currently include supporting rural communities to market sustainable forest products/services; promoting national strategies to reduce deforestation; building community capacity to adapt to climate change; increasing the capacity of domestic environmental organizations; and supporting the first steps toward a national low-carbon emissions development strategy. 


Green Growth or Greenwashing?

Despite claims that clearing land for “low-carbon” palm oil and expanding forest industries’ areas are assisting Indonesia’s green growth strategy, a recent Human Rights Watch report found that the government has lost more than $7 billion through mismanagement of the forestry sector since 2007 through illegal logging, unreported timber subsidies and uncollected fees. Other effects include confusion and conflict over land claims, spurred by government inaction and lack of information about land tenure rights. This also raises questions about the enforcement of sites relevant for REDD in the country, which finished Phase I of its UN-REDD Programme last year. To ultimately follow a green growth strategy, the report says the government should start following its rules as well as incentivizing plantation companies to promote good governance.


Finance and Economics:

Tracking REDD+ tracking 

With REDD+ projects and activities spanning the past five years and counting, REDD+ has seen billions of dollars committed to its cause around the globe. Tracking the deployment and flow of this finance is challenging. Several initiatives focus on tracking REDD+ finance at different scales and often use slightly different definitions and data sources, which can produce a variety of numbers when counting REDD+.


To promote harmonization and to build up a more comprehensive picture of the state of REDD+ finance, Forest Trends’ REDDX and the Overseas Development Institute’s Climate Funds Update have just launched the first three articles of a collaborative series that explains existing REDD+ finance tracking projects – including Forest Trends’ own new REDDX expenditures tracking initiative (Spanish version here) – while identifying niches and possible cross-over areas to directly support more comprehensive assessments of REDD+ policy and finance gaps and needs. 


– Read Part I: Who's Counting? 

– Read Part II: What You See Isn't Always What You Get 

– Read Part III: Lessons from the US


Money does grow on trees in Vietnam

Vietnam is set to receive $30 million in funding from Norway and Japan to implement the second phase of Vietnam’s national UN-REDD Programme in six provinces across the country. Vietnam is the first of 47 UN-REDD Partners to achieve this step based on it having successfully piloted programs that supported strong coordination among stakeholders; developed a framework for measurement, reporting and verification; and tested possible free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) methods. Meanwhile, the Japanese Fund for Poverty Reduction recently granted Vietnam $1.5 million to pay for forestry services as part of efforts to improving an existing policy that has grappled with poor communications, inadequate staff and too few individuals being allocated to forestry protection. 


Tanzania REDD+ abuzz

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) recently organized a four-day workshop training environmental stakeholders on REDD+ issues in Tanzania. Kafumu, a senior environmental officer, noted that the country's eight REDD+ pilot projects, financed by Norway and covering a variety of activities including modern bee keeping, fish keeping and farming, have shown promising results in the form of good governance, protection of forests and water sources, and improved rural communities – allowing people to better understand REDD+ and its benefits. Kafumu noted, "It is clear that the [REDD+] mechanism can be operational at any time in our country."  Tanzania is expected to officially begin implementing REDD+ in 2016.


Science and Technology Review: 

Finding the forest for the carbon 

A tool originally designed by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and the U.S. Forest Service has now been relaunched as an interactive public app. The Forest Carbon Database allows any user to monitor report and verify carbon emissions, with the hope that more participation will provide improved baseline emissions for different ecosystems. The new version now features a map to show specific sites, and users can manage sample plots and note characteristics of forest carbon (above and belowground biomass, soil and other characteristics).  A senior scientist at CIFOR says, “I foresee this forest carbon portal as a place for [users] to park the data for further analysis in line with data management policy.”


It’s getting hot out here

NASA and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) just published a 50-year study that found that rising temperatures correspond with decreasing carbon dioxide absorption in tropical forests. The data analyzed global atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration from 1959-2011 and found that for each increase in the temperature of tropical land surface temperature by one degree Celsius, an average 3.5 BtCO2e were emitted by tropical forests. The findings provide an explanation for the variation in the yearly rate of carbon dioxide buildup, while also supporting the theory that global warming will accelerate over time. “As soon as you increase the temperature, [tropical forests] perform less well as carbon sinks,” says study coauthor Pep Canadell.


Kelping the water healthy

Help the Kelp, a volunteer organization of citizen scientists, is using Google Earth to track the disappearance of kelp along the Gabriola Island coastline. Kelp provides a rich ecosystem for sea creatures, fish and birds, yet more disappears each year. The project started in 2009, and is inspired by similar schemes which count birds to try and determine population fluctuations. The disappearance is concerning, as kelp acts similarly to an underwater forest – it produces oxygen and stores carbon dioxide. If a methodology could estimate carbon offsets, kelp could easily become a source of blue carbon. 


Publications & Tools:

The new Corporate REDD Primer by Conservation International provides businesses with an overview of the forest carbon landscape. In particular, the role of project design and policy developments is highlighted, with the intent to familiarize businesses with key technical issues and market trends in order to better equip them to navigate and support REDD+.


CIFOR just released the third book in a series on REDD+, titled “Analyzing REDD+: Challenges and Choices.” Examining early REDD+ activities, the book features articles that cover the evolution of REDD+ over time, as well as aspects of REDD+ implementation including financing, land tenure, and benefit sharing. The book then identifies lessons learned, highlighting the importance of addressing jurisdictional challenges, strengthening coordination on land tenure, benefit sharing, and monitoring, and calling for REDD+ objectives to be clarified. 


A new Ecology and Society publication, “REDD+ for the poor or the poor for REDD+?discusses the limitations of environmental policies in the Amazon and the potential of achieving environmental goals through pro-poor policies. Exploring past experiences with key environmental and poverty reduction strategies, the report observes that current REDD+ pilots and readiness efforts tend to repeat the mistakes of their environmental predecessors by replacing local socio-productive schemes with unsustainable land uses. The report stresses the need to apply an alternative strategy of development in order for REDD+ to genuinely contribute to sustainable development in the Amazon.


Jobs:

PROGRAM OFFICER – VERIFIED CARBON STANDARD

Based in Washington, D.C., the Program Officer will provide support on a number of tasks including providing guidance to project developers and other stakeholders, helping ensure the quality of projects entering the registry system, and managing methodologies being developed under the VC methodology approval process. Candidates should have a university degree and an understanding of GHG concepts, including voluntary and compliance carbon markets, the development of projects and methodologies, and the role of validation/verification bodies. Read more about the position here


TOM GRAFF FELLOW, INDIA LOW-CARBON RURAL DEVELOPMENT – ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENSE FUND

Based in Texas, the Tom Graff Fellow will work to facilitate large-scale implementation of low-carbon farming methods, afforestation, bio gas and efficient cookstoves projects in rural India. Candidates must have a Master’s degree or Ph.D. in economics or other social sciences, engineering, or environmental studies, with relevant economic or scientific training and experience. Read more about the position here


CHIEF TECHNICAL ADVISOR - RSPB

Based in Sierra Leone, the Chief Technical Advisor will advise and assist the Protected Area Manager in the day-to-day operational and strategic management of the Gola Rainforest National Park and its immediate surroundings to ensure the successful implementation of the organization’s REDD project. Candidates should have a B.Sc. in natural sciences/natural resource management/protected area management/development and proven experience as a project manager/technical advisor in developing countries. Read more about the position here


KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT PLATFORM MANAGER – FOREST CARBON ASIA

Based in Vientiane, the Knowledge Management Platform Manager will manage Forest Carbon Asia's Regional Knowledge Management Platform from August to December 2013. Candidates should have a degree/expertise in forestry, natural resources or a related field and experience working in and familiarity with the Asian region. Read more about the position here


PROGRAM DIRECTOR - GERES

Based in Phnom Penh, the Program Director will be responsible for ensuring delivery of GKH strategy on biomass energy supply and demand, specifically the alignment of projects and implementation objectives against donor requirements. Candidates should have a Masters degree in Environmental sciences, Forestry, Agriculture, Engineering and at least 5 years in the international development sector (preferably SE Asia) in progressively more senior management positions. Read more about the position here


PROJECT COORDINATOR, COMMUNITY MRV - GLOBAL CANOPY PROGRAMME

Based in Oxford, UK, the Project Coordinator will work in close collaboration with the GCP’s Head of Research and will be responsible for overseeing the implementation of the project in the field and facilitation of coordination amongst project partners, GCP colleagues, and international networks. Candidates should have a background in conservation or development research and 1-3 years’ experience with field project management in tropical forest countries. Read more about the position here


ASSISTANT PROGRAM OFFICER: COMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION MANAGEMENT - THE CENTER FOR PEOPLE AND FORESTS

Based in Bangkok, Thailand, the Assistant Program Officer will closely collaborate with other Thailand Country Program staff; RECOFTC’s Program Coordination, Monitoring and Evaluation; and Communications, Marketing and Fundraising and will also be accountable to other program staff, clients, partners, collaborators and funding agencies. Candidates should have a Bachelor’s degree in development communication, mass media, journalism, or related field, with minimum of four years of relevant experience. Candidates should be Thai nationals. Read more about the position here


CLIMATE SMART AGRICULTURE PROGRAMME MANAGER - THE GOLD STANDARD FOUNDATION

Based in Freiburg or Geneva, the Climate Smart Agriculture Programme Manager will develop the requirements for Climate Smart Agriculture in close cooperation with Gold Standard stakeholders – ensuring Gold Standard principles are incorporated and adopted, especially with regards to stakeholder consultation and sustainable development evaluation & monitoring. Candidates should have a relevant degree in either agricultural science or environmental science and 3-5 years experience in carbon markets and/or land use and forests. Read more about the position here

 

ABOUT THE FOREST CARBON PORTAL

The 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.

 

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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