Forest Carbon Week in Review: The Flowers of Development

With Cancun less than a week away, the world of Forest Carbon has been bursting with developments.  From the grassroots to the Governor’s Climate and Forest Taskforce, this week has highlighted innovative mitigation projects, guides for forest carbon projets and demonstration projects.

With Cancun less than a week away, the world of Forest Carbon has been bursting with developments.   From the grassroots to the Governor’s Climate and Forest Taskforce, this week has highlighted innovative mitigation projects, guides for forest carbon projets and demonstration projects.

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 every two weeks by clicking here.

24 November 2010 | As we ramp up to Cancíºn at the end of the month, an abundance of forest carbon flowers are starting to bloom.   From the grass roots up, we heard this week about innovative new projects to harness forests (and increasingly, agriculture) for climate change mitigation, the publication of new guides on evaluating and developing forest carbon projects, all the way up to state-level demonstration projects being announced by the Governor’s Climate and Forests Taskforce.  

In Africa, we saw a host of new developments, as new carbon credit exchanges comes into view for Kenya and Zambia, lessons learned are gathered from a timber taxing program in Cameroon, and Nigerian officials cope with anxious residents about the fate of community forest land in REDD+ project areas.

Across the US, forest carbon seemed to be fairly quiet this week, save the for actions of Gov. Schwarzenegger.   With many eager onlookers hoping for Cancíºn to clarify a REDD+ Mechanism and put some more details into Developed Countries’ financing pledges, who’s willing to wager we might be hearing a bit more about that elusive $1 billion the US promised for REDD back in Copenhagen?

On a lighter note, as many of us here in the US are packing bags in preparation for the annual national ritual of unsurpassed turkey gluttony, we’re really feeling the Thanksgiving spirit.   Without the hard work of a small but dedicated team of researchers and interns, the work we do here (including this newsletter) would not be possible.   Thus, without further ado, Daniel Kandy, Kristina Van Dexter, Carolyn Hight-Harf, and John Vidaurrazaga, take a bow.

And finally, for those of you heading down to Cancíºn, Ecosystem Marketplace will be manning a booth at CIFOR’s Forest Day 4 (December 5, 2010).   Come by and say hello and check out the latest work from the entire Forest Trends family.
As always, read on below for all the juicy details in this, the latest issue of Ecosystem Marketplace’s Forest Carbon Newsletter.
—The Ecosystem Marketplace Team

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International Policy

Pay the Cost to be the Boss

In a guest article looking back at her first term, Federica Bietta, Co-Chair of the REDD+ Partnership recounts some of the Partnership’s successes, and failures, with a hopeful view of the role of the REDD+ Partnership in the upcoming Cancíºn meeting and beyond. While the past five months of the Partnership’s existence haven’t moved REDD+ forward to the extent that many had hoped for, Bietta expresses optimism that progress is afoot. Get the full view on Climate-L here.

California Gets REDD Allies

California has announced REDD+ pilot projects in Brazil and Mexico. The projects will protect rainforest in the states of Acre in Western Brazil and Chiapas in south-eastern Mexico through the generation of carbon credits delivered into California’s cap-and-trade scheme which is set to launch in 2012. The projects would be eligible under the Climate Action Reserve (CAR) Forest Protocol and subject to approval by California’s Air Resources Board (CARB) which recently released draft rules. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger will sign agreements this week with states in Mexico and Brazil at the Governors’ Global Climate Summit meeting at the University of California, Davis. Read more on the Forest Carbon Portal here and from the blog of the Environmental Defense Fund here. Para los hispanohablantes, lean mí¡s aquí­.

EU Reconsidering REDD?

The European Trading Scheme (ETS) rejected the use of any land-based credits to meet emissions reduction goals, excluding them from initial phases I and II (lasting through 2012). But as the blowback intensifies on the overissuance of credits for the destruction of high-potency GHGs, Bloomberg has found at least one trader who thinks the EU ETS may give REDD a chance in phase III if the bloc adopts tighter emission-reduction targets and widens its ban of the industrial-gas credits. This follows on the earlier announcement of a public commenting period by the European Community on the potential for land-based crediting to meet national goals. Read more about the HFC-23 ban and ensuing credit gap here and about the prospect for a REDD+ rescue here.

Project Development

Breaking New Ground with Soil Carbon in Kenya

Vi agroforestry, a Swedish NGO, has begun the implementation of Africa’s first agricultural carbon sequestration project. Through the program, small-holder farmers are trained in diverse cropland management techniques, including cover cropping and agro-forestry, intended to make the land more resilient to climate change and improve food security in the region. The project was recently bolstered by credit sales to the World Bank’s BioCarbon Fund, creating an estimated direct benefit to rural communities of over $350,000. Read more on the story from The East African here

REDD Pioneers in Paraní¡

As international negotiators prepare to gather in Cancíºn, The Nature Conservancy and the Sociedade de Pesquisa em Vida Selvagem are positioning their Brazilian forest carbon project in Guaraqueçaba for a teachable moment that addresses exactly what negotiators are set to debate. Started in 1999, the project has preserved 300,000 hectares of Atlantic rainforest and engaged local populations through various alternative employment opportunities. Read a translation of the release from TNC here, or the original Portuguese coverage here.


Dealing REDD in Paraguay

After a more than six-year window, including the development of a supporting national office, only one forest project has been launched in Paraguay under Kyoto’s Clean Development Mechanism. The Paraguayan NGO Guyrí¡ Paraguay is now wading into the breach from the voluntary side, and launching two new two REDD+ projects in both the Atlantic Forest and the Paraguayan Pantanal. Swire Pacific Offshore (SPO) is already on board to purchase nearly all the credits to be generated from the projects to the tune of 800,000 tonnes over 20 years. Read an English translation of the emerging story here or see the original Spanish version from ABC here.

National Strategy & Capacity

Dammed if you Do…

Guyana has been receiving a lot of scrutiny as questions arise why the country is set to receive REDD+ funding when the rate of deforestation is actually increasing in the country. Now, the government seems to be on track to use up to US$40 M promised from Norway to build a hydropower dam in the Guyanese Amazon. The construction will require the clearing of 7,000 hectares of rainforest and the construction of an access road, which often results in patterns of further deforestation. Guyana’s President Bharrat Jagdeo counters that the hydropower facility will lead to domestically-produced, renewable energy, meaning net climate benefits. Read more from the Bank Information Center here.

Nigeria Sees Big Opportunities for Carbon Markets

Michael Simire, the Property and Environment editor at one of Nigeria’s largest newspapers, the Daily Independent, has published an article laying out the case for Nigeria’s government and private sector to pursue carbon market opportunities. The country has faced massive deforestation over the past half-century, turning from an exporter of timber to a net importer, and is now looking at REDD projects both to raise funds and restore forests. The UN-REDD Programme has allocated some US$4 M to produce a REDD Readiness Plan, and a REDD program is set to commence in 2013. Read more from the Daily Independent here.

Finance & Economics

Racing to Form Africa’s First Carbon Exchange

While the development of projects across the African continent has proceeded slowly, Kenya appeared in the news recently with plans to set up the first African carbon exchange. Details are still sketchy, as no timeline for the exchange’s launch has been released, but the head of the Finance Ministry’s new carbon financing unit has estimated that the country’s public debt could be paid off within 6 years with the revenue from forest carbon and other projects. In nearby Zambia, Ecosystem Marketplace shines a light on the activities there that USAID is funding to help encourage investments in climate-friendly projects by supporting a program called the African Carbon Credit Exchange (not to be confused with Kenya’s reported exchange). See brief coverage of Kenya’s goings-on from UPI here and Carbon Positive here. And visit Ecosystem Marketplace to dig into more of the details in Zambia here.

Indonesia: Making REDD Pro-Growth

The Indonesian government is promising that emissions cuts under a REDD scheme will not stand in the way of the country’s 7.0 to 7.7% economic growth targets by 2014. Responding to protests from the private business interests, Forestry Ministry Secretary-General Hadi Daryanto claims that under the appropriate sustainable forest management strategies REDD will create not just higher emissions reductions, but also higher levels of employment. See the full debate in the Jakarta Post here.

Human Dimension

Nigerian communities anxious about REDD lands

In Cross River State in southeast Nigeria, many local residents are expressing concern that the REDD+ mechanism could destabilize their land tenure regime. In response to the rising anxiety, the Chairman of the State Forestry Commission, Odigha Odigha, emphasized that local land ownership in the region is in no danger; because the program is designed from sustainable development perspective, the land rights of the populations in REDD areas will be protected. Read more from Nigeria’s Vanguard here.

Meetings in Philippines Reassert REDD Resistance

Fears that climate adaptation and mitigation measures such as REDD could damage local land rights pervaded a recent meeting of indigenous peoples’ representatives in Baguio City, Philippines. The conference was attended by 76 delegates from fifteen countries in Asia, Pacific, Australia, Africa, the Americas and Europe. Meanwhile, 75 indigenous women from 28 countries in Asia, Latin America, Africa, the Pacific and North America were in nearby Manila discussing the impact of REDD on indigenous women, articulating fears that REDD projects will undermine women’s roles and ignore traditional knowledge systems so often maintained by women. See the press releases and other statements coming from the two events on REDD-Monitor here and here.

Science & Technology Review

Not So Quiet on the Western Front

The plagues hitting western forests in the US are approaching biblical proportions. From fires, bark beetle infestations, and diseases, the United States’ western frontier is now poised to move from a historic sink of carbon dioxide to a net source. The accumulation of biomass and severe droughts at the earlier part of the decade have created conditions for more intense forest fires, and forest ecologists are now been exploring long-term, sustainable practices that aim to preserve carbon stocks through a holistic ecosystem management approach. Read more from the New York Times here.

Tropical Forests Can Take the Heat

A new study published in the journal Science by the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) provides evidence that equatorial forests could potentially adapt to rising temperatures, as plants become more efficient with their water use and new species evolve. The study examined pollen grains and other biological indicators of plant life embedded in rocks from the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum period, which occurred about 56M years ago. These findings are contrary to climate model predictions, which indicate 50-85% dieback in the Amazon if temperatures rise two degrees over the next century. Read more from coverage of the study here and check out the abstract here.

Fighting Leaks in International REDD+ Strategy

A new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science reports that relocation of deforestation outside targeted conservation areas can prevent the full realization of the climate benefits that programs like REDD create. Lead author Dr Patrick Meyfroidt of Université Catholique de Louvain in Belgium, is saying that accounting for environmental degradation under international trade may be a solution to the leakage problem. Read more from the Australian press here, and see the article’s abstract here.

Publications & Tools

How to Classify REDD+ Pilot Projects

A new assessment of 17 Indonesian REDD+ pilot projects under development in Indonesia proposes three basic criteria for categorizing projects, and digs into some of the more interesting facets such as the predominance of the concession model for REDD+ projects in Indonesia. Read more from CIFOR here.

REDD+ at Project Scale

ONF International has released a new guidebook geared towards REDD+ project developers and investors. The “REDD+ at project scale: Evaluation and Development Guide” explores project design and implementation issues such as ownership of REDD+ carbon credits, organizational structures, and assessment and certification of the social and environmental impacts of REDD+ projects. Read the full guide from ONFI here.

Keep REDD+ Investments in the Black

In a separate focused brief, ONF International also digs in to the risks and uncertainties associated with investing in forest carbon and makes suggestions for addressing them. The study produces a risk index for investments at the project level and asserts that while some risks can easily be mitigated by strategic project management, others such as uncertainties surrounding future offset accounting remain unresolved and can slow investment down. Read the brief here

Identifying the Nature of Land Tenure Conflicts

A new manual from the World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF) is hoping to improve the way land tenure conflicts are identified and resolved. Building from experience in Indonsia, the guide may be particularly valuable for policymakers and project developers considering projects in areas with unclear tenure. Read “RaTA: A Rapid Land Tenure Assessment Manual for Identifying the Nature of Land Tenure Conflicts” from ICRAF here.


Come Visit Us at Forest Day 4

Ecosystem Marketplace will be manning a booth in Cancíºn at CIFOR’s Forest Day 4 (December 5, 2010). Come by and say hello and check out the latest work from the entire Forest Trends family.

Integrating Timber Markets with Illegal Logging Controls

Tropenbos International is hosting a seminar in Brussels in January, focusing on the effects of Voluntary Partnership Agreements on domestic timber trade and timber-dependent livelihoods and their influence on governance program issues in REDD and Forest Law Enforcement, Governance, and Trade (FLEGT). Registration is free of charge. Find out more here.


Looking for a job as a forest economist in France? How about as a CDM project developer in India? Learn about these and other job opportunities at Forest Carbon Portal’s Jobs page, where you can also post your own job listings.

Additional resources

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