Forest Carbon Week in Review:Progress All Around

We’re seeing no shortage of progress on the REDD+ front as countries around the world are busily preparing their REDD+ readiness plans. Voluntary standards continue tuning up for bigger markets releasing VCS Version 3. And finally, projects continue to go full-steam ahead.  Read about these stories and more in this weeks Forest Carbon News.

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.

16 March 2010 | As several countries around the world busily keep moving forward with their REDD+ readiness plans, the supporting UN-REDD and World Bank Programs will be meeting next week in Vietnam to take stock and consider some important new proposals.   For the UN-REDD Programme, look for the Policy Board to review the UN-REDD Fund’s performance over the past year as well as consider a pivotal step towards international principles and criteria for REDD+ safeguards.   For the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility, safeguards will also be on the menu, but tailored more for fund managers who will be delivering REDD+ financing.  

Back on the voluntary side, VCS is keeping on at full throttle, releasing VCS Version 3, standard-wide guidance that updates the earlier VCS 2007.1.   The update includes several important changes for forest projects, responding to the 480 individual comments received during the public commenting period, of which a majority focused on issues related to AFOLU.   Do we need to look further for yet another sign that 2011 will be a big year for forestry and other land use projects?

On the project development side, we saw the first VCS-registered forest project pop on the map in South America, and also the successful validation from the first CDM forest project in the   Democratic Republic of the Congo.   Unfortunately these good tidings for the DRC are also met with news that 15 million hectares of land previously off-limits to logging operations are now open for new concessions, reversing the principle of a standing moratorium on concessions to combat illegal logging and associated corruption.

All in all, we’re seeing no shortage of progress on the REDD+ front while voluntary standards continue tuning up for bigger markets and projects keep on full-steam ahead.  

As always, read on for all this and more of the latest news and events in this, latest edition of Ecosystem Marketplace’s Forest Carbon News Brief.
—The Ecosystem Marketplace Team

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



International Policy

UN-REDD’s First Steps Toward Official REDD+ Safeguards

Running up to the next meeting of the UN-REDD Policy Board being held in Vietnam next week, a handful of interesting documents have emerged on the agenda. First, the UN-REDD Programme has published an interim review on the performance of the UN-REDD Fund. In addition, a new six-page template identifies 6 key principles and 18 criteria for how parties can observe the safeguards language of the Cancun Agreements. Access both these and more documents from the UN-REDD website here.


Safeguarding the Delivery of REDD+ Financing

The Forest Carbon Partnership Facility will also be convening next week in Vietnam for the 8th meeting of its Participant’s Committee. In preparation, the organizers have published a document outlining a proposed “common approach” to evaluating and enforcing social and environmental safeguards for the FCPF’s potential finance “delivery partners” (i.e., World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank, and UN Development Programme). In addition, a new issue note outlines steps for countries to seek performance-based payments from the FCPF’s Carbon Fund, and another document clarifies who bears responsibilities for disclosing various information regarding financing from the FCPF’s Readiness Fund. Read all these and more documents from the FCPF website here.


REDD+ Readiness Updates

Conserving the Sloth in Guyana

The government of Guyana has yet to submit a single project for the $250 million in funding committed by Norway to conserve forests and reduce carbon emissions in Guyana. With $30 million already awaiting disbursement held by the World Bank, the Head of Presidential Steering Committee which is supposed to review and approve project proposals has said the absence of proposals had to do with “some sloth” on the part of the government. This comes more than two months after Guyana’s President Jagdeo berated the World Bank President for failing to deliver any funds way back in Cancun. Read more from Kaieteur News Online here.


Vietnam Receives Funding for Building MRV Capacity

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization has partnered with Vietnam to deploy $2.7 million donated by Finland for technical capacity-building for Vietnam to monitor and assess its own forest resources under the newly formed National Forest Assessment Project. Read more from Viet Nam News here and from VietnamPlus here.


Congo’s REDD Readiness Proposal in the Pipeline

The Republic of Congo is finishing up revisions for its REDD Readiness Preparation Proposal after holding a national validation workshop to reach out to stakeholders and discuss issues with the draft proposal. The government has been working on REDD+ readiness since at least 2008, and the latest plan follows from a request for revisions on an earlier readiness proposal submitted last summer to the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility. Learn more about the ongoing REDD readiness process in the Republic of Congo from the Bank Information Center here.


Fiji Brings REDD+ Back to the People

After receiving and endorsement from the Fijian Cabinet back in December, a second round of public consultations was convened last week to seek additional stakeholder input on the island nation’s REDD+ plan. Participants in the workshop highlighted the need to ensure transparency in the financing for REDD+ activities and benefit-sharing. Read more from the Secretariat of the Pacific Community here.


Project Development

DRC Registers Its First CDM Forest Project

A small village in western Democratic Republic of Congo has developed a reforestation project that is the country’s first to be registered (as of last month) under Kyoto’s Clean Development Mechanism. The project’s developer, NOVACEL, estimates the Ibi Bateke Carbon Sink Plantation Project will sequester 2.4 million tonnes over 30 years and provide jobs for several hundred people. The project has received upfront purchases for some of its emissions reductions from the World Bank’s BioCarbon Fund and French carbon firm Orbeo. Read a press release from the World Bank’s website here, and see this project’s listing in the Forest Carbon Portal Project Inventory here.


Refining Local Economic Incentives in Kenya

Mwakitau Kaleghe used to earn a living from turning trees into charcoal, but now does so by selling tree seedlings. Kaleghe has been able to change careers because of a new forest carbon offset project in Kenya has become his customer. The project, developed by Wildlife Works Carbon, oversees 30,000 hectares of forest in the Rukinga Wildlife Sanctuary and uses the seedlings for reforestation. Read more about Kalenghe’s story at Times of Malta here.


South Pole takes VCS Forest Project to South America

VCS has registered its first South American reforestation project, developed by South Pole Carbon Asset Management and Asorpar. The 11,000 hectare project in northern Columbia will issue around 150,000 CCBS-VCUs in the first half of 2011, and is currently under validation by the Climate, Community & Biodiversity Standard. Read the press release from South Pole here (PDF).


Deforestation: Origins and Outcomes

Clearing a Path to Deforestation

The Democratic Republic of the Congo has opened up 15 million acres of forest previously off-limits to logging. The original moratorium on concessions was part of an effort by the government to clean up illegal timber operations and corruption in the industry. Irí¨ne Wabiwa, a forest campaigner for Greenpeace Africa argues the move diminishes the credibility organizations trying to establish REDD in the DRC. Read more from Mongabay here


Taking the Opportunity in PNG

As reported in our last newsletter, a new paper published from a University of Queensland economist has indicated the opportunity cost to palm oil and logging firms in Papua New Guinea to forego deforestation is about $1.8 billion over 13 years (yielding upward of 700 million tonnes of reduced CO2 emissions). Mongabay has provided a brief synopsis of the report with quotes from the author which you can read here. You can also access the full report here.


A Drop of Water in Sierra Leone

Water supplies in Sierra Leone have been shrinking and fluctuating dramatically in recent years, and deforestation is being eyed as a major contributing factor. Several environmentalists have suggested financing management of Sierra Leone’s forests through REDD projects as a possible solution for protecting the nation’s water supplies, but the experience enforcing protected area boundaries has not been overwhelming. Read more about Sierra Leone’s forest and water issues in Reuters here.


Methodology & Standards Watch

Rebranded, VCS Releases version 3.0

The Verified Carbon Standard has released version 3 of its offset standard documentation, a change that coincided with a new name (and logo). VCS had engaged stakeholders in an extensive consultation process before the release, and the new version is said to expand the scope and functionality of the VCS program. Here are some of the changes:

  • Some project developers will find that their projects are inconsistent with the new version, and have 12 months to make necessary changes (18 months for AFOLU projects)
  • REDD projects will no longer be eligible for immediate VCU crediting
  • The procedure for determining the baseline scenario now is based on the most plausible scenario, not the most conservative scenario
  • The Guidance for AFOLU Projects and Tool for AFOLU Methodological Issues documents have been combined into a single document
  • AFOLU projects completing validation after 8 March 2013 must complete validation within five years of the project start date
  • The AFOLU Non-Permanence Risk Tool has been re-released with updates and clarifications

View the program documents on VCS’s website here.

Eyes Locked From Across the Room

Voluntary and compliance markets are starting to agree on the technical aspects of emissions offsets, despite their many differences. The California Air Resources Board is designing California’s own compliance market keeping lessons in mind about how the voluntary market has made programs efficient and transparent. Their plan to adopt several methodologies from voluntary standards underscores how voluntary offset standards are gaining prominence in the eyes of government regulators. See Ecosystem Marketplace’s look at the increased interest in cross-pollination between voluntary and compliance programs here.



A SNEAK PeEk at 2010 VER Prices

As results pour in for our survey effort for the State of the Voluntary Carbon Markets and Forest Carbon Markets 2011 reports, market analysts are clamoring for signs of progress. Ecosystem Marketplace won’t reveal the findings of its market-wide research until mid-year, but the Carbon Program’s Molly Peters-Stanley offers findings from some anecdotal price discovery in a brief article from Point Carbon. The article points out that forestry projects still play a prominent role with many projects solidifying a “charismatic” niche, but have been historically dominated by landfill and other high-volume project types. Read more about recent developments in the voluntary market at Point Carbon here (subscription required).

Plan Vivo Releases Stakeholder Outcomes

As the pioneering REDD+ Standard closes in on its one-millionth credit issued, Plan Vivo recently released documents from their November 2010 Stakeholder Workshop. The workshop included a panel on REDD+ and Plan Vivo projects, focusing on projects in Uganda and Mexico. Find the workshop summary and agenda from the Plan Vivo website here.

Human Dimension

From Problem Spotter to Problem Solver

Telepak is an Indonesian environmental organization working to stop illegal logging and develop a new community-based logging and forest management system. In an interview on Mongabay, co-founder Ambrosius Ruwindrijarto describes Telepak’s origins as an investigative activist group fighting to uncover illegal deforestation that then transitioned to providing community-based forest management solutions. Read Mr. Ruwindrijarto’s interview on Mongabay here.


Science & Technology Review

Peat in the Wake of Palm Oil

A new study from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has revealed the extent of peat-swamp forests clearance for palm-oil plantations throughout Indonesia and Malaysia. In addition to massive habitat loss for endangered species such as the Orangutan, the swamps cleared and drained for the plantations released nearly 150 million tonnes of CO2. Read more about the study here and read the article’s abstract from PNAS here.


Publications & Tools

Why Not Aim a Little Higher, this Time?

The Tropical Forest Group (TFG) has released a call for a new UNFCCC REDD+ mechanism. Seeing serious shortcomings in Cancun’s REDD+ Agreement alongside the proliferation of REDD+ initiatives over the past few years, the authors argue the coordination and oversight of a comprehensive REDD+ Mechanism is needed, and soon. Read the 10-page brief from the Tropical Forest Group website here (PDF).



Investing in REDD+: A Webinar

This is your last week to check in for Environmental Finance’s series of webinars digging into the meat of how REDD+ works and where it’s moving. This Thursday, the last webinar focuses in on the major considerations for REDD+ investors. Check in to learn more about expected rates of return, and approaches to dealing with REDD+ risks. See more info and register for the webinar here.



Are you looking for a job as a scientist at the Center for International Forestry Research or maybe an M&E Specialist for REDD-Mexico? 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 bi-weekly news brief, feature articles, a calendar of events, a searchable member directory, a jobs board, a library of tools and resources. The Portal also includes the Forest Carbon Project Inventory, an international database of projects including those in the pipeline. Projects are described with consistent ‘nutrition labels’ and allow viewers to contact project developers.


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