Forest Carbon Week in Review: A 2010 Reflection

Over the past three years Ecosystem Marketplace’s efforts to ensure timely, reliable information about the projects, markets, news, and science surrounding forest carbon has grown exponentially.  In this latest edition of Forest Carbon News, read the latest news and find how you can support the continuing work of EM and the Forest Carbon Portal.

NOTE: This article has been reprinted from Ecosystem Marketplace’s Forest Carbon newsletter. You can receive this summary of global news and views from the world of Forest Carbon automatically in your inbox by clicking here.

24 December 2010 | By 2007, the Bali Action Plan heralded the rise in prominence of forests in international climate circles, culminating recently with landmark decisions in Cancíºn.   And yet for nearly two decades outside these public forums, the wealth of forest carbon experience being gained through forest carbon project development, scientific research, and market evolution remained isolated, producing a near-complete information void for domestic and international policymakers, project developers, investors, environmental groups, and other interested observers.  

Building from our experiences increasing the state of transparency and information about the operation of voluntary carbon markets, Ecosystem Marketplace, a project of the 501(c)3 non-profit organization Forest Trends, turned to help bridge this information gap in the forest carbon sector.   Over the past three years our efforts to ensure timely, reliable information about the projects, markets, news, and science surrounding forest carbon has grown exponentially.   Alongside the Poznań climate negotiations in December 2008, Ecosystem Marketplace unveiled the Forest Carbon Portal to provide an information clearinghouse on forest carbon news, data, and analysis.   In February 2009, we sent out the first edition of the newsletter you are reading now.  

Over the course of 2010, we have redoubled our efforts to keep bridging the gap.   In January, we released the first State of the Forest Carbon Markets report.   This summer, we more than doubled our news gathering activities, moving from monthly to bi-weekly editions of this newsletter, including expanding coverage to news in Spanish, Portuguese, French, German, Chinese, and Indonesian.   And perhaps most importantly for our efforts to bridge the information gap, Ecosystem Marketplace continues to provide all of these services free of charge.

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From all of us at Ecosystem Marketplace and the Forest Carbon Portal, we wish you happy holidays.   And as always, read on below for all the news in this, the latest edition of Ecosystem Marketplace’s Forest Carbon Newsletter.
—The Ecosystem Marketplace Team

If you have comments or would like to submit news stories, write to us at [email protected].


International Policy

Cancíºn REDD round-up

REDD was a popular topic at this year’s climate summit at Cancíºn, generating more than enough press to fill this entire newsletter. But here are the highlights: A formal decision from the Conference of the Parties to the Framework Convention on Climate Change produced the most comprehensive REDD+ text we have seen to date. In our view, the decision lays down the framework for the implementation of REDD schemes, but leaves several major questions unanswered and definitions in the air. The most notable gaps remain on whether markets will be tapped to fund REDD, on targets for curbing forest loss and degradation, and how exactly the environmental and social impacts of these activities will be monitored, reported, and verified. To read the quick summary on major developments regarding REDD and LULUCF in the negotiations, see Ecosystem Marketplace’s brief review here. For a wider breakdown of the Cancíºn talks, see coverage from Environmental Defense Fund here and the World Resources Institute here.


Mixed Results on Land Use Accounting Rules

Since the Kyoto Protocol initially allowed developed countries to opt not to account for emissions due to domestic logging, there has not been much progress in the negotiations on Land-use, Land-use Change, and Forestry (LULUCF) accounting. The LULUCF “logging loophole,” remains in the text, but the inclusion of an optional accounting for emissions from wetlands and peatlands was embraced by some observers as a good step forward. See a brief summary of the ups and downs from the perspective of Wetlands International here. See some of the gory details from the LULUCF negotiations by checking out the daily press releases from the Ecosystems Climate Alliance here.


Oh No You Didn’t

While other folks were off hitting the beaches in Cancíºn, the Ecosystem Marketplace team was huddled in the negotiating venue, working our contacts for the latest news of the REDD+ Partnership which was working alongside the formal climate negotiations. And it seems that coverage, particularly regarding revisions to the Partnership’s 2011-2012 Work Program is now setting off a few alarm bells. Federica Bietta, Co-Chair of the REDD+ Partnership representing Papua New Guinea fired off an e-mail to Ecosystem Marketplace’s Managing Editor, demanding a change to what she called “false and misleading” articles we have written “with countless points of misinterpretation.” Read the e-mail and see our response posted on the Forest Carbon Portal here. Stay tuned in coming weeks as we hope to follow up with a closer look at the operations of the REDD+ Partnership, getting all the sides of the story.


US Policy


California Seals the Deal on Cap-and-Trade

California isn’t waiting for federal action on climate change. Last week, the world’s eighth largest economy approved the United State’s first regulatory cap-and-trade system covering most major emitters of six different greenhouse gases around the state. See a quick review of the big picture from the Associated Press here and Carbon Positive here. For more details about the role of forests, scroll down to Methodology and Standards Watch below.


Doling Out the Billion REDD+ Bucks

The US Agency for International Development has released the framework plan for the United State’s REDD+ “fast start financing,” to channel the commitment of $1 billion over FY2010-2012. The objectives include (1) advancing effective REDD+ architecture through participation in international fora and through contributions to multilateral funds, (2) supporting REDD+ readiness efforts and (3) supporting demonstration pilots through specific bilateral and regional programs. Read the plans here.

USGS Unveils Ecosystem Mitigation Methodology

Back in 2007, the US Congress directed the Department of the Interior to prepare and apply a methodology for evaluating our national ecosystems’ current and potential future contributions to climate change mitigation through the calculation of carbon storage and sequestration, in addition to the emissions of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide. The Interior’s US Geological Survey has now unveiled the new methodology, and will soon be applying it under a variety of scenarios to predict the ability for the nation’s natural resources to be harness in the fight against climate change.. Read about the carbon new methodology in the Wyoming Business Report here, and read the method for yourself from the USGS here.


Project Development

One Step at a Time?

Building on the international project development experiences of a range of experts, the Katoomba Ecosystem Services Incubator has unveiled version 1.0 of Building Forest Carbon Projects: A Step-by-Step Guide. Covering all the major building blocks of a successful forest carbon project, from drafting a Project Idea Note through managing an ongoing project, version 1.0 gives you the full step-wise walk through planning and executing a forest carbon project. Read more about the guidebook here, and to download a full version of the guide, check out the Forest Trends website here.


Let’s Make a Deal

If you’re a forest project developer who’s conquered many of your project’s hurdles, but are now wondering how exactly you’re supposed to prepare a contract to sell your credits, fret no more! A joint effort between Forest Trends and the Duke Environmental Law & Policy Clinic has produced Contracting for Forest Carbon: Elements of a Forest Carbon Purchase Agreement. While you’ll likely still need a lawyer to iron out the details, this document will give you the much-needed background on the choices and clauses involved in creating an Emissions Reduction Purchase Agreement (ERPA). Read this new guidance hot off the presses on the Forest Trends website here.


National Strategy and Capacity


A new Ambassador for Sinar Mas

Cameron Hume, the former US ambassador to Indonesia, has been hired by Sinar Mas Group to help revamp the logging and palm oil giant’s image abroad. Sinar Mas has faced intense criticism over the environmental practices of some of its holdings, including Asia Pulp and Paper, which has been accused of launching public attacks on companies that have dropped its products for environmental reasons. Hume is known for his conservation work, and here’s to hoping this hire underlies Sinar Mas’ intentions to improve its business practices from an environmental standpoint. Read about Hume’s new job from Mongabay here.

No Forest is an Island

On December 8 the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), together with the German Technical Cooperation (GTZ), launched a Pacific regional project titled “Climate protection through forest conservation in the Pacific Island countries.” With the largest forest cover, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu will be the focus nations; and the objectives of the project will be to develop REDD+ policy, establish an information and support platform, and REDD+ readiness. The project will be executed over the 2011-2014 timeframe. Fiji also plans to be REDD-ready by 2012, with the recent drafting of the national REDD-plus strategy and action plan that emphasizes transparent governance and a solid monitoring, reporting and verification system. Read about the forest conservation project from a press release here. And read about REDD in Fiji from another press release from the Secretariat of the Pacific Community here.


Finance and Economics


What can you get for $100 million?

Robert B. Zoellick, President of the World Bank, announced the establishment of the Partnership for Market Readiness during a side event at Cancíºn, with countries pledging funds that are hoped to reach $100 million. The Partnership will provide expertise and funding to help developing nations develop the capacity necessary to launch carbon markets and institute other market mechanisms for climate change mitigation. As developing countries such as Indonesia, Chile, India and Mexico look into establishing domestic carbon markets, the Partnership hopes to share knowledge and some financial support for those efforts. Read the World Banks press release here and coverage on the fund from Carbon Positive here.

Australia Adds to Indonesia’s REDD Fund

With a pledge for more funds, Australia, has joined the partnership established earlier this year between Norway and Indonesia. The offering of AUS$45 million will support the Kalimantan pilot project, developing a national carbon accounting system, and studying the likely impacts of warmer temperatures on the island nation, among other things. The new round of funds builds on Australia’s earlier pledges made in 2008. Read about the new funds from Yahoo News here and The Jakarta Globe here. For coverage in Indonesian, check out VOA News here (translated to English here). Watch the Cancíºn press briefing where the governments of Norway, Indonesia, and Australia reveal and discuss the new deal here.


Guyana to World: Show me the Money

During a high-powered panel discussion hosted by Avoided Deforestation Partners in Cancíºn President Bharrat Jagdeo of Guyana vented his frustration at the delayed funding for Guyana’s REDD deal with Norway, directing blame at the World Bank. Also on the panel was Norway’s Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, who has pledged $30 million in funds for Guyana. He reaffirmed his position that results-based funding was the only way to maintain the political will that would allow Norway to deliver on its funding pledges. Read about Guyana’s money frustrations from the Washington Post here and Mongabay here. See the full media extravaganza this event generated, aggregated on the Forest Carbon Portal here.


Methodology and Standards Watch


CAR Offsets Hit the Big-Time

The long-awaited compliance-grade blessing has finally arrived for several offset protocols from the Climate Action Reserve. Alongside approval of the states pioneering cap-and-trade scheme, the California Air Resources Board has paved the way for forests to play a big role as a source of offsets in the new scheme, picking up the US Forest Project Protocol from the Climate Action Reserve (as well as three others, including also the Urban Forestry Protocol) with virtually no substantial amendments. See the view of the new deal from the Pacific Forest Trust, who contributed throughout the design of the CAR protocols here. Read the newly-minted “Compliance Offset Protocol for U.S. Forest Projects” from the Air Resources Board here(PDF). And see an interview with CAR President Gary Gero describing the next steps for bringing REDD projects from Chiapas, Mexico and Acre, Brazil into the crediting stream from Point Carbon here(PDF).


VCS Wants You!

The Voluntary Carbon Standard (VCS) is calling for experts on to help inform the development of two new project areas. First up is a framework for jurisdictional and nested REDD accounting. VCS is forming an expert advisory group to help develop the framework. Read a press release describing the Nesting efforts here, and see the Terms of Reference for enlisting your expertise here(PDF). In addition, VCS is seeking peer reviewers for a new project category of Avoided Conversion of (Non-Forest) Ecosystems. See the call for peer reviewers here. It’s been a busy month for VCS in general. For a brief overview of the recent updates, check out the rundown in their Cancíºn debrief here(PDF).


Human Dimension

(Some of) the Natives are Restless

South American indigenous marched outside the Cancíºn climate talks and published a renewed list of demands for the framework of a global REDD+ deal. The press release included three main points, namely respect for (1) indigenous human rights, (2) the right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent, and (3) traditional knowledge of the land and indigenous participation in program development. On December 6 a new book detailing these perspectives was launched. Read about the dissent from countries inside the negotiations from VOA news here. Watch Democracy Now’s coverage of the protests outside the talks as gathered on REDD Monitor here, and read “No REDD – A reader” here.


Science and Technology Review

This Neighborhood Patrolled by Community Forest Watch

A new study published in Conservation Letters looks at community-based monitoring of forests in Tanzania, India and Madagascar. The project compared data on forest biomass and utilization collected by locals, who had expert knowledge of the area, to those collected by professionals. Preliminary findings show that involving local stakeholders, under prescribed conditions that minimize risks, has myriad benefits, including the potential to enhance livelihoods, promote sustainable development, and lower the costs of REDD+ implementation. Access the study here.

It’s Tool Time

Over the past decade, the growing set of tools that emerged to track changes in land-cover have been focused like a laser on monitoring forest change. In Cancíºn, the Planetary Skin Institute launched its Automated Land-change Evaluation, Reporting and Tracking System (ALERTS), stepping up into the ranks of the Brazilian space agency’s PRODES system which is helping to implement and monitor of REDD+. Another tool called the Geoscience Laser Altimeter System has used lasers to measure canopy height and vegetation density, which, when combined with images from the MODIS satellite, is being used to estimate terrestrial carbon storage. See the roundup of remote-sensing tools for REDD+ from The Economist here.

Publications and Tools

Caught in a Bad Romance: Agriculture and deforestation

The long-term viability of REDD+ depends on action in sectors of the economy that are known to put pressure on forests, with agriculture offering the most striking example. A recent paper by Romain Pirard and Sebastien Treyer, “Agriculture and deforestation: What role should REDD+ and public support policies play” analyzes the theoretical implications of this idea, suggesting that for successful forest preservation, agricultural extension services for new technologies and supporting public policies, payment for environmental services, and changes in diet that reduce of deforestation pressures as essential. Read the study here.



Want to be a forest project manager in Australia, Mexico, or Colombia? A mangrove REDD+ remote sensing scientist in Madagascar? Or perhaps you’d like to be a Senior Policy Advisor for the Berau Forest Carbon Program in Indonesia? Whatever your preference, learn about these and other job opportunities at Forest Carbon Portal’s Jobs page, where you can also post your own job listings



The Forest Carbon Portal provides relevant daily news, a newsletter, articles, a calendar of events, the “Carbon Connections” discussion forum, a profile directory, a jobs board, a toolbox of resources ranging from methodologies to policy briefs, and market analysis on land-based carbon sequestration projects from forest to farm. All Forest Carbon Portal community members can comment on articles and upload their own projects, resources, events and job opportunities, although user permissions and rights vary according to involvement. The Portal also includes the Forest Carbon Project Inventory, a searchable database and map of projects selling land-based carbon credits across the globe and those in the pipeline. Users can search for projects by country, as well as by a variety of criteria such as project type, standard, registry and size. Projects are described in consistent ‘nutrition labels’ which supply as much information as can be maintained in a consistent structure. Operational projects must either be third-party verified or have sold credits to be eligible for listing.


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 [email protected].

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