Community Forum Newsletter - September 14, 2009
Ecosystem Marketplace, Marketplace eNewsletter

September 14, 2009    

From the Editors

The Ecosystem Marketplace's Community Forum
Connecting people to ecosystem markets

As climate change becomes a harsh new reality for many people, great strides are being taken across the world including Indonesia, Cambodia, and Uganda to promote REDD and ecosystem markets.  As with any promising development, however, people are trying to take advantage of these rising markets and uninformed citizens.  Indigenous leaders present at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and from the Ecuadorean Amazon are concerned that these markets may harm the very people who depend upon the intact forests the most.  EcoLogic, however, sees reforestation as a way to bring environmental, economic and social benefits to rural citizens. A new report by IIED argues that paying people to protect forests can be effective in tackling deforestation and climate change, but does PES work to reduce poverty?  Maria Bendana of the Ecosystem Marketplace explores this issue in our Viewpoint section.

So what are local, rural and indigenous community members to do in the midst of this confusion and conflicting reports?  Make your own informed decision after learning all you can by reading reports, attending workshops, discussing the issues with other community members and, of course, continuing to read the Community Forum!

—The Community Forum Team

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Around the World

An Amazon Culture Withers as Food Dries Up

Elisabeth Rosenthal

New York Times

July 24, 2009

The Kamayurá Indians have lived in the same place for as long as anyone in the tribe can remember.  Now geographically a part of the Xingu National Park, the area surrounding them has changed drastically in recent years.  Once a very isolated region, the area immediately adjoining the park is now covered by ranches and farms.  

Unfortunately for the Kamayurá, that is not the only thing that has changed for them.  Climate change, caused not only by the deforestation around the park, but also by pollution in industrialized countries, is triggering a shift in their lifestyle.  A typical morning meal for the Kamayurá used to feature a flatbread made from cassava.  Shifting rain patterns, however, have made it difficult for them to cultivate the cassava.  Last year they planted the crop four times until there was enough rain to yield a harvest.  The only protein that the Kamayurá consume on a regular basis used to be fish.  Declining water levels have meant fewer spawning grounds and consequently fewer fish.  Like many other indigenous communities across the globe, they have little money or capacity to move or adapt to climate change.  “We don’t have a way to go to the grocery store for rice and beans to supplement what is missing,” stated Chief Kotok.  He has thought about creating a fish farm on the land to have a constant supply of fish, but the Kamayurá would also like to maintain their cultural traditions – something they are unsure they will be able to continue in the future.

  – See an audio slide show of the Kamayurá
  – Read the full article

Indonesia Releases Revenue Sharing Rules for REDD Forest Carbon Projects

Indonesia’s forest ministry released what are believed to be the world’s first set of rules governing the distribution of monies received from forest carbon projects.  According to the regulations, released on July 10, the monies will be distributed in different proportions between the government, local communities and project developers according to who owns the forest.  In areas classified as “protected forest”, 50 percent of the profits will go to the government.  Project developers will receive 30 percent, while local communities receive 20 percent of the revenue.  For projects in indigenous forests, 70 percent of the profits belong to the indigenous community, 20 percent to the developer and only 10 percent to the government.  The rules were designed to increase transparency in the region.

  – Article by
  – Article from Reuters
  – Read the Rules (in Bahasa)

Cambodia Signs Avoided Deforestation Carbon Agreements for Voluntary Carbon Standard Project

In a ceremony held in May in Samraong, Cambodia, the National Forestry Administration  in partnership with Community Forestry International, Pact and Terra Global Capital signed agreements with nine community forestry groups to develop and market carbon credits for a REDD project in the Oddar Meanchey province.  These agreements are the culmination of years of effort to secure legal forest tenure for communities and cement an agreement between the Cambodian Government and the local communities to collaborate in conserving forests over the next several decades.

The projects will be validated by the Voluntary Carbon Standard and will also be submitted to the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Alliance (CCBA) for certification of the additional benefits the project will bring to communities and biodiversity.  The project will generate an estimated 8.5 million tons of carbon offset credits over the 30-year project life.

  – Read the press release

Climate Action Network Uganda to Ensure Local Voices are Heard at the Next International Climate Change Conference

Rural and local community members are often the people most affected by climate change.  Getting their voices heard at the international level, however, is sometimes difficult.  Take Olive Alupot, for example; climate change is a matter of life and death for this peasant living in one of the remote parts of Katakwi in eastern Uganda.  Two years ago there were floods, and since then rainfall patterns have changed.  “To make matters worse,” says Alupot, “many local people are turning to cutting down trees for charcoal in order to earn money, as a way to survive.”  Alupot realizes that this compounds their problems, “With fewer trees, the rainfall patterns are likely to become more unpredictable.”

There are many more stories like hers to be told, and others might have the chance to tell them in Copenhagen in December when the next international climate change meeting takes place.  Ugandan civil society has formed a coalition of more than 40 organizations to bring the voices of the affected communities to the forefront of the climate change negotiations. The coalition will also contribute to the Ugandan Government’s adaptation plan and negotiation process and help to raise awareness on climate change adaptation, particularly among the rural communities.

The hope is that when many voices of people like Alupot are brought into the global discussion, those with power may have no choice but to listen and act.

  – Learn more from The New Vision

Look before you leap: A word of caution to those interested in selling carbon credits

Reports from mid-June states that conmen are travelling around villages in Papua New Guinea offering fake carbon trading deals with the promise of large dividends in the near future.  Villagers pay 1110 kina (510 US Dollars) to “register as a shareholder” in this carbon trading company, receive a receipt, and then the agent and their money disappear – never to be seen again.  It is believed that up to 500 people have signed up for just one of these schemes.  A similar situation is happening in Colombia where “brokers” (read: “conmen”) have supposedly secured the rights to the carbon in native peoples' forest and then try to sell it on the real carbon market.

It is unfortunate that such events are taking place across the globe, but it does highlight the necessity for caution when one is searching for a buyer for the ecosystem services you are considering selling – whether that is carbon, water or biodiversity.

  – Article from the Sydney Morning Herald
  – Blog from a reporter for The Economist
  – Article from UPI

United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues holds its Eighth Session

From May 18 – 29, 2009, indigenous leaders and activists from around the world met in New York City for the eighth session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.  The Permanent Forum is an advisory body to the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations with a mandate to discuss indigenous issues related to economic and social development, culture, the environment, education, health, and human rights.  Representatives of indigenous groups from more than 70 countries met to discuss things such as gender equality and how REDD will affect native communities.

In this broadcast, Living on Earth host Bruce Gellerman talks with several indigenous leaders and experts on REDD and reports that the groups who depend the most on intact forests might suffer from the very mechanism the international community is hoping will preserve those forests.

  – Listen to the broadcast
  – Learn about the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues
  – Media coverage of the eigth session

CONFENIAE Rejects Environmental Negotiations and Extractive Policies

The Confederation of Indigenous Nations of the Ecuadorean Amazon (CONFENIAE) released a statement on August 3 rejecting environmental negotiations on forests and extractive policies that damage the territories of the Amazonian Indigenous nationalities and peoples of Ecuador.  The declaration states that CONFENIAE will not negotiate nor dialogue without the consent of the grassroots on many issues including environmental services and REDD because they fear they will lose control over the natural resources which are within their territory and also because they do not believe that it is a real solution to fight climate change.  They also demand that governments of developed countries acknowledge their responsibility for emitting greenhouse gases and take steps to diminish the burning of fossil fuels.  Member organizations of CONFENIAE include the Shuar, Kichwa, Achuar, Waorani, Siona, Secoya, Cofan, Zapara, Shiwiar and Andoa Peoples.

  – Lee más información
  – Read a translation of the declaration

Reforestation Provides Environmental and Social Benefits for the Rural Poor

Planting trees helps to restore degraded lands, expand forest cover, and mitigate climate change by capturing and storing carbon dioxide. But reforestation activities also provide a wealth of benefits to people: protection of water sources, increased food security, strengthened community relationships, increased environmental awareness, and empowerment of women and the rural poor.  Felipe Ch’oc from the Guatemalan village of Santa Maria Dolores de Ixcán, has been patrolling the forests on his land for over 20 years and understands the importance of the forest as a provider of fresh water, a home for native plants and animals, and a beautiful place for recreation and exploration.

A high rate of population growth in Guatemala, however, is leading to a growing demand for food and firewood.  In some cases, people do not understand the importance of the forests until they are gone.  That’s when the effects are felt – the water supply declines, the soil erodes, and the local climate changes.  

A healthy forest can provide not only significant environmental and economic benefits, but also social benefits by strengthening and unifying communities.

This article discusses the steps taken by EcoLogic to combat tropical deforestation and climate change and its benefits for the rural poor in Central America and Mexico.

  – Read more here

IX General Assembly of COIAB Creates Union of Brazilian Amazon Women

The Coordenação das Organizações Indígenas da Amazônia Brasileira (COIAB, a coordinating organization for indigenous peoples from the Brazilian Amazon) held its ninth General Assembly the week of July 20.  During the assembly, a new organization specifically for indigenous women from the Brazilian Amazon was created – UMIAB (União das Mulheres Indígenas da Amazônia Brasileira).  An election of officers was held and UMIAB is beginning work on its first challenge – funding the new organization and becoming recognized as a part of the indigenous movement.

  – Email COIAB for more information



Must We Make a Choice Between Helping the Poor and Preserving the Environment?

Maria Bendana

Ecosystem Marketplace

July 20, 2009

Markets for hydrological services, or "water trading" schemes – are prevalent throughout Latin America and gaining momentum in Africa. Though primarily designed to clean water or restore water flows, these schemes tend to achieve their environmental goals by hiring small farmers and other impoverished people to restore or preserve catchments and perform other tasks that help deliver ecosystem services.  

These payments for ecosystem service (PES) schemes have tended to be viewed – and funded – as win-win solutions that promote sustainable development while preserving environmental value. There are, however, two schools of thought concerning the payments themselves and the social benefits that flow from them. 

One school believes that poverty reduction should be a stated goal of constructing such schemes, and that payments should be priced specifically to achieve that goal. The other school believes the payments should be based on the economic value of the environmental benefit, and worries that placing too much emphasis on pricing to reduce poverty will bankrupt the schemes, leaving us with neither environmental nor social improvement.  In this article, the Ecosystem Marketplace summarizes key research regarding these two schools of thought.

  – Read the article


Resources and Tools

Incentives to sustain forest ecosystem services: A review and lessons for REDD

Ivan Bond, Maryanne Grieg-Gran, Sheila Wertz-Kanounnikoff, Peter Hazlewood, Sven Wunder and Arild Angelsen

This study, released in May 2009, argues that paying people to protect forests can be an effective way to tackle deforestation and climate change if there is good governance of natural resources.  The study reviews lessons learned from experience with payments for ecosystem services in Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia and selected cross-cutting technical issues relevant for REDD such as baselines, monitoring, equity and cost to make recommendations for REDD projects.

  – Download the study

Payments for Environmental Services and Poverty Reduction: Risks and Opportunities

Erica Lee and Sango Mahanty

This Issues Paper published by RECOFTC (The Center for People and Forests) uses an adapted Sustainable Livelihoods framework to examine the opportunities and risks presented by Payments for Environmental Services (PES).  This approach not only analyzes financial assets, but also includes human, social, natural and physical assets in a more rounded approach to examine the effects of PES on livelihoods.

The authors conclude that PES schemes can and are impacting rural communities in important, though differing ways.  For example, the rural poor who have weak or unrecognized rights to resources are often bypassed by PES schemes.  In other places, PES schemes do create additional income for rural households, but it is also necessary to analyze any income losses they may have suffered.  For example, someone who previously cultivated subsistence crops on land whose use is now restricted due to the PES project may now have to purchase their food, leading to no net benefit, or potentially a net loss in assets.  This could affect some community members more than others.  One way that some PES schemes have delivered benefits to the community as a whole is through infrastructure development such as water supply or other communal facilities.

  – Download the study

Mainstreaming Poverty-Environment Linkages into Development Planning: a Handbook for Practitioners

This handbook, published by the UNDP-UNEP Poverty-Environment Facility, provides practical, step-by-step guidance for governments and other national actors on integrating poverty-environment linkages into national budgeting, policymaking and implementation processes.  The guide is based upon country-level experiences and lessons learned by UNDP and UNEP in working with government ministries.  The approach aims to provide a flexible model that can be applied in a variety of situations and circumstances through a choice of activities, tools, methodologies, and tactics at each step.

  – Download the handbook

Conservation Refuges: The Hundred-Year Conflict Between Global Conservation and Native Peoples

Mark Dowie

In this book, Dowie challenges the big, international non-governmental organizations (BINGOs, as he calls them) and their treatment and explusion of indigenous peoples from their traditional lands in order to create reserves and parks in the name of “conservation.”  Dowie claims that this practice began in the United States with the creation of Yosemite National Park when a Native American tribe, the Miwoks, and a couple other tribes were removed from their lands to establish the park.  This practice is not limited to the United States, however.  Similar events have happened in Kenya and Tanzania on traditional Maasai lands, where the Maasai were denied access to their traditional watering holes for their animals, forcing this formerly nomadic tribe to settle in villages and change their way of life in the interest of conservation.  He also describes the experiences of other groups, including the Pygmies of Central Africa, the Adevasis of India, and the Basarwa of Botswana.

Now, however, many of these BINGOs are realizing that the best stewards of the land are those who have lived there for thousands of years.  Scientific and geographic evidence points to a correlation between high biodiversity areas and stable populations across the globe.  Dowie suggests the future model of conservation may be one in which indigenous populations are allowed to remain in a conservation area with a few changes in their traditional practices (restrictions on what types of bush meat can be hunted, for example) in order to help conserve both biological and cultural diversity.  

  – Purchase the book
  – Listen to a radio broadcast about the book
  – Boston Globe article about Conservation Refugees

Ecoagriculture Partners launches a new Agricultural Payments for Ecosystem Services E-newsletter

The new e-newsletter is designed to facilitate information exchange among a global community of practitioners who are developing the agricultural Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) sector. It will provide information to help with project and policy work, as well as stimulate discussion around key bottlenecks in the development of agricultural PES.

The newsletter will begin as a quarterly publication and will cater to the needs of the agricultural community, a group that has not yet been a major organized player in the PES universe.  The carbon market coverage will focus on selected elements of the land-based or terrestrial carbon field, which elsewhere tends to emphasize forestry and REDD topics. In addition to carbon, it will cover payments for watershed services (nutrient trading and water quantity); biodiversity in agricultural landscapes (on-farm habitat, biodiversity offsets, ecotourism, pollination services); bundled products and services in which ecosystem services are sold together with agricultural products; and eco-certification of agricultural products. 

  – Sign up to receive the newsletter

Recognizing and Supporting Indigenous & Community Conservation – ideas and experiences from the grassroots

G. Borrini-Feyerabend & A. Kothari


April 2009

Indigenous and community conserved areas (ICCAs) have emerged as a major new phenomenon in formal conservation circles, though their existence is as old as human civilization itself. International policies and programs, notably those under the Convention on Biological Diversity, require countries to provide them with recognition and support. There is precious little guidance, however, on how to do this in ways that strengthen the governance of indigenous people and communities, rather than undermining their initiatives. This Briefing Note attempts to provide some tips towards sensitive recognition and support of ICCAs. It addresses governmental and non-governmental organizations, indigenous peoples and local communities willing to engage in exchanges of experiences and mutual learning and active support.

  – Download the article

Tenure in REDD: Start-point or afterthought?

Lorenzo Cotula, James Mayers


May 2009

This report by the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) suggests that including REDD credits in the carbon market could cause land disputes by making forested land increasingly valuable - profitable enough that corrupt governments would take it away from forest communities who do not have secure land tenure.  Based on written legislation on land rights and interviews with local experts in 7 rainforest countries (Brazil, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Guyana, Indonesia, Malaysia and Papua New Guinea), the report suggests that the laws in each country are very different.  In addition, the implementation of those laws could greatly vary from the written law.  

  – Download the report
  – Read a New York Times article


Opportunities: Conferences, Events and Projects

Katoomba XV: Payments for Ecosystem Services in West Africa (and looking forward to Central Africa)

Accra, Ghana

October 6 – 7, 2009

In the past 15 years, West Africa has lost 1.4 million hectares or 26 percent of primary ‘old growth’ forest, leaving about 1.5% of the area under primary forest cover, and the rate of deforestation has significantly increased since the 1990s.   Ghana, Liberia and Cameroon have received initial funding from the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) to submit national “Readiness Plans” (R-Plans) for Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD) to fight this rampant deforestation.  There are also some emerging private sector initiatives to develop ‘forest carbon’ credits.  In addition, a “biodiversity offset” project in which a mining company is aiming to offset its environmental and social footprint in Ghana, is at the planning stage. These early developments are encouraging, but there is an enormous need for information and capacity building in order to develop these new opportunities. 

The fifteenth Katoomba meeting will address these themes as well as marine and coastal ecosystem services.  

  – Learn more about the event


Opportunities: Employment

International Institute for Sustainable Development – President and Chief Executive Officer

For 20 years, the International Institute for Sustainable Development has been advancing change toward sustainable development. As an independent, non-profit policy research institute, we engage decision-makers in the development and implementation of policies that are simultaneously beneficial to the global economy, the global environment and to social well-being. 

IISD is looking for a full-time innovative and energetic President & CEO to lead the continued growth and expansion of the Institute as a global leader through the implementation of its new five-year strategic plan. He/she will lead and inspire a global network of over 110 staff and associates, with an annual budget exceeding CAD $15 million. IISD is headquartered in Canada, and has offices in Winnipeg, Ottawa, New York and Geneva. 

Closing date for applications is 17:00 Pacific, September 30, 2009.

  – Learn more about the position

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