Mexican Indigenous Community Road Tests Forest Carbon Offset Project, With Help From Disney

21 November, 2014 |When Climate Action Reserve (CAR) President Gary Gero started thinking about the perfect corporation to partner with the Chatina indigenous community of San Juan Lachao in Oaxaca, Mexico for the first forest carbon offset project under CAR’s Mexico protocol, he knew exactly who to call.

Gero dialed the folks at the Walt Disney Company’s Climate Solutions Fund, an active buyer in the voluntary carbon markets. “The CAR folks thought we would like this project and they were absolutely right, said Bob Antonoplis, Disney’s assistant general counsel.

The community of San Juan Lachao has launched the first pilot project under CAR’s Mexico forest protocol approved in October 2013 with the assistance of Mexican environmental nonprofit Pronatura and financial support from Disney to get the project off the ground. The project is currently estimated to generate 20,000 tonnes of offsets per year. The size of the area is about 25,000 hectares.

The forests of San Juan Lachao have been grazed and left in poor conditions with an increased risk of wildfire and reduced water quality. Hundreds of thousands of people from the state of Oaxaca, Mexico have migrated from their homes to the US state of California in search of better economic opportunities.“They immigrate because they have no income and no alternatives and they haven’t really figured out how to get resources out of forests, said Carlos Sada, Mexico Consul General in Los Angeles.

However, the community will receive financial revenues from the sale of the offsets to support forest management and protection, provide clean water and improve the standard of living of its people. The project will provide about 30 direct jobs and 150 indirect jobs to the local community, at an average salary of $15 per day for each person, which is well above the $10 per day minimum wage in the area, said Adolfo Alaniz, General Director of Pronatura.

The Chatina community consists of 4,531 people. And for the project proponents, one of the key highlights is that the community members themselves are doing the work rather than outside consultants. CAR and Pronatura conducted a general training session on global warming and then focused on teaching community members the technically complex tasks of measuring trees and installing plots. They just finished putting in 300 plots for the project.

“It’s creating an employment opportunity for them, said CAR Director of Forestry John Nickerson. The young men and women are getting a lot of technical expertise that will stay with them for a long time and are demonstrating a “strong willingness to succeed and a lot of local pride, he said.

It is exactly those clean water and employment and economic benefits that made the project so attractive to Disney, as well as the partnership with and participation of the local community, Antonoplis said. “This project just has a fantastic story to tell, he said.

In Mexico, about 80% of the forests belong to the local or indigenous communities so it is crucial to understand how they feel about and interact with their forests through projects such as this one, according to the project proponents, who are looking to expand the pilot activities elsewhere in the country.

“This project will have a very direct impact on the communities all over Mexico, Sada said.

The First Test

This community-led project is the first test of CAR’s Mexico forest protocol, which provides standardized guidance for carbon enhancement projects within a reduced emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) framework and addresses eligibility, baseline, inventory, permanence, social and environmental safeguards, and measurement, reporting and verification requirements.

The project involves improved forest management activities, with uneven-aged management of native species the most popular management strategy among project developers in 2013, according to the State of the Forest Carbon Markets 2014 report, to be released later this afternoon. It is also flexible to include urban forestry and agroforestry activities.

The project is more akin to the domestic forestry projects allowed into California’s cap-and-trade program than an avoided deforestation project, but CAR sees this as the type of project activity that could be nested under a jurisdictional REDD program and potentially eligible for a compliance program such as California’s.

“We developed it to be adaptable to Mexico’s REDD+ program as a nested project in the future, Nickerson said.

“I would love to see (the Mexico protocol) built into the California program and other regulatory programs, Antonoplis added.

A Broader Impact

Disney is no stranger to investments in Latin America-based forest carbon projects. With the help of a $3.5 million donation from the company, Conservation International was able to develop a REDD+ project in the dwindling Alto Mayo Protected Forest in Peru. The project has generated at least three million tonnes of emissions reductions so far, and delivered a host of benefits for the local populations.

Disney’s operations do not subject it to compliance obligations under California’s cap-and-trade program, meaning it purchases offsets for strictly voluntary reasons.

“But that didn’t stop us obviously, Antonoplis said. “We felt we had an obligation, irrespective of what (California’s GHG reduction law) was going to require, to do something about our own greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and to encourage others to do the same.

The company has generated more than $48 million for these types of projects by charging an internal carbon price to its business units for their GHG emissions and has openly discussed its carbon pricing program in its corporate social responsibility reports and public events.

“It’s very powerful tool, he said. “So when the private sector does something like that and tells its story, it encourages other companies to do the same.

The project comes after a historic agreement between the governments of Mexico and the US state of California to cooperate on climate issues in July and could pave the way for more international cooperation ahead of the upcoming United Nations negotiations in Lima, Peru in December and Paris in 2015.

“While we’re waiting for national governments to come together, to take the broader action they will hopefully take, it’s these actions that demonstrate real and positive benefits in the community and that we can address climate change on a broader scale, Gero said.

For their part, private companies such as Disney can provide critical seed funding and partnership expertise to allow these voluntary projects to flourish, which will demonstrate to governments that carbon projects can be successful and should be a part of regulatory carbon pricing programs.

“We think the private sector, even if you’re not subject to a compliance program, plays a vital role in advancing the cause of greenhouse gas emissions reductions, Antonoplis said.

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Gloria Gonzalez is a Senior Associate in Ecosystem Marketplace’s Carbon Program. She can be reached at

On Eve of Climate Talks in Lima, Assassinations of Indigenous Leaders Loom Large

18 November 2014 | Diana Rios Rengifo looked determined as she stood in New York City in front of more than 100 environmental and human rights activists, her face painted red in the custom of her people, the Ash¡ninka of the Amazon.

“They may have killed my father and his friends, but I am still here,” she said. “I will continue to fight for the rights to our territories and for the rights of the other indigenous peoples of Peru.”

It’s a fight that cost the life of her father, indigenous leader Edwin Chota,who was murdered by loggers in early September, along with his colleagues, Leoncio Quincima Melendez, Jorge Rios Perez, and Francisco Pineda. They were murdered because they defended the forest, and they’re not alone.

Advocacy group Global Witness says at least 53 other people like Chota, making a total of 57 “defenders of the environment,” have been killed in Peru since 2002 in disputes over mining, logging, and land rights. This violent trend shows that people are dying–at an alarming rate–because our global economy values dead wood more than it values living forests.

With global climate talks set to begin in Peru on December 1, Rengifo called on Peruvian President Ollanta Humala to “treat our forests with the importance they deserve” as she accepted an award from the Alexander Soros Foundation in her father’s honor on Monday.

Peru’s Amazon rainforest is home to more than 300,000 indigenous people, and indigenous land rights have proven to be a highly valuable tool to curb deforestation. But indigenous communities, like Chota’s Ash¡ninka, are denied the necessary protection and support from their governments against those who would clear-cut the forest–with sometimes fatal results.

The annual Award for Extraordinary Achievement in Environmental and Human Rights Activism included with it a pledge to fund projects in the victims’ villages, and to support their families. For Rengifo, making the long and emotional journey to New York to accept the award was the first time out of her native Peru.

The Need to Protect Forests–and People

Her remarks point to an issue that Global Witness raises in a report, “Peru’s Deadly Environment,” released on Monday at the Soros event: the degree to which Peru is committed to protecting its forests and the people–like Chota and his family–who have called that forest home for decades. Set to host the 20th Conference of the Parties (COP) in just two weeks, Peru is the “fourth deadliest country to be an environmental or land defender,” claims the report.

The timing of the report’s release is not accidental. As all eyes turn to Peru as the host of the international climate talks, Global Witness hopes to put pressure on the country to close the gap between how it would like to be perceived–as a leader in the fight against climate change–and a dangerous reality. The report also makes the important connection between the climate crisis that the representatives from governments of 195 countries will discuss and the human rights crisis that is happening in Latin America and globally.

There has been encouraging news lately in terms of the world beginning to accept and understand the idea that forests are vital tools in our global flight against climate change. Yet, as the climate talks in Peru begin, such a premise must go hand in hand with the idea that indigenous people’s management of forests is vital to curbing carbon emissions.

Only when forests are fully recognized for the value they have as living, standing trees–the “lungs of the planet,” which literally suck carbon out of the atmosphere–and the international community embraces this concept and protects it wholeheartedly, will the kind of disputes over whether a forest should be clear-cut or not become non-existent.

As the deaths of Edwin Chota and the other leaders, honored this week for their brave work, illustrate all too tragically, our climate crisis is sadly tied to a human rights crisis–and if we hope to make any headway in climate, we need to focus on human rights as well.

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Carbon, Cookstoves, And Kids

When Hurricane Mitch blew through Central America in 1998, the result was catastrophic. The second deadliest Atlantic hurricane in history claimed 11,000 lives and caused an estimated $6 billion in damage.

Honduras, a poor country with even poorer infrastructure, did not fare well. Humanitarian aid groups flocked to the region, including medical mission volunteers Richard Lawrence and his daughter Skye. The medical mission headed towards Atima, a town in the mountainous coffee growing-region of the country surrounded by countless rural villages.

Richard Lawrence, Executive Chairman of Overlook Investments and future Founder of Proyecto Mirador, acted as a translator for doctors on the trip. Standing in the midst of the crush of people who waited to see the doctors in a primary school temporarily converted to a medical clinic, he was struck by the number of children lined up against one wall of the schoolroom breathing with nebulizers.

“I’m not a doctor, and I thought, the air seems really clean so it beats me what it’s about, he said.

Skye stumbled upon the explanation by chance, when she visited one of the local children’s homes. The inside of the house was black and filled with smoke from the cooking stove. The stove was constructed of adobe mud, with an oil drum for a cooktop and a wide stove mouth stuffed with logs. There was no chimney, so the smoke curled around the room and turned the ceiling black.

 School children participated in a contest to name the Mirador stove.   Reina Mejia called it Dos por Tres because it is Honduran slang for an in an instant--and she felt that the stove cooked fast, quickly used less wood, quickly got smoke out of the house.
School children participated in a contest to name the Mirador stove. Reina Mejia called it Dos por Tres because it is Honduran slang for an in an instant–and she felt that the stove cooked fast, quickly used less wood, quickly got smoke out of the house.

After research some improved stoves, the family raised money from friends to build 29 stoves designed by Aprovecho Research Center, a US-based stove research organization. An investor by trade, Lawrence couldn’t help making some quick calculations. With improved stoves using half the wood, how long would it take families to earn the rate of return on investment? The answer: in a few short months. People will line up to improve their stoves, he thought.

Thus, Proyecto Mirador was born. But despite the fact that the stoves were popular with users, turning it into a sustainable enterprise wasn’t as easy as those calculations.

Finding the finance

For one, selling the stoves outright was out of the question. In rural Honduras, poverty affects almost two-thirds of the population, and more than half of rural households struggle with extreme poverty, living off of $1.25 a day. Proyecto Mirador targets these villages in Honduras.

While a few families could afford the stoves, the majority couldn’t or wouldn’t purchase one even if the families might recover their costs within two months. Even with available money, men control the purse strings. Since most work outside, fewer health impacts from cookstove smoke and didn’t see the necessity of spending money on cleaner stoves.

Instead, Lawrence’s family and friends financed the early installations. Co-director Do Emilia Mendoza, the wife of a Honduran Episcopal minister and cook for the mission trips, kept costs down by running the enterprise out of her house. Metal sheets and clay parts littered her backyard, and she drove the materials to homes in a pickup truck.

The Lawrences decided early on against relying on donors (or friends) for future funding. They wanted a steady source of financing and – at the time – carbon offsets provided that.

Using initial “donated equity from foundations, Proyecto Mirador spent three years certifying their carbon offsets under the Gold Standard. Though the complicated process took far longer than expected, the gamble worked. Mirador became the 4th project to be certified under the Gold Standard methodology that includes consultation with local stakeholders and provides sustainable outcomes; this was before the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) developed an official Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) cookstove protocol.

Family with clean cookstove. 

“We’ve been fortunate to have success with carbon, Lawrence said, referring to the more than 430,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide offsets sold. “But it’s harder than it should be… I’ve got two people who spend 24-7 reaching out to corporations to try and convince them to offset.

Carbon offsets finance 75% of the stove costs, with families contributing the rest in the form of cement, sand, bricks, adobe and labor. The latter is part of Mirador’s philosophy that stoves are not gifts and that families must “have skin in the game or “No Cuesta, No Cuida (no cost no care). Mirador uses the income from the sale of offsets to provide the plancha cooktop, firebox and chimney; technicians to build the stove; and supervisors who make three regular follow up visits to ensure the proper stove use and maintenance.

Revving up the impact

If the beginning of Proyecto Mirador seems a bit homespun, the result is anything but. The organization has scaled up from building 250 stoves in a year to nearly 125 a day now. With more than 80,000 stoves disseminated in the last five years, the organization has become the largest in Latin America.

While selling the carbon offsets remains an unpleasant task, verifying the offsets has only gotten easier. Though the process takes at least nine months of documentation, reports and technical review, the actual site visit only takes four or five days. The main reason for this quick turnaround is technology.

Around 2010, the stoves were really taking off. Community solicitations, requiring at least 10 families to sign on from a single village, poured in and started the beginnings of the now 2-year backlog of requests. Copycat chimneys started appearing on houses Proyecto Mirador hadn’t visited, making it difficult to follow up with customers. Carbon finance couldn’t cover the costs, so the organization once again turned to foundations.

Using the donations, they hired a consulting firm to build a platform and implemented the first use of, a well-known customer relationship management product, in Latin America. It took a year for the program to be implemented and an additional three months to train the staff. Donations were used to equip all stove builders and field supervisors with GPS and reporting system to upload information online.


Entrepreneur teams, called Ejecutores, and Proyecto Mirador staff use smartphones to record and upload data while in the field. Salesforce and GPS points are stored in the cloud, allowing staff to monitor installations and material needs or to provide interactive imagery of stove locations in real time.

“It’s really something,” Lawrence said. “All the employees at the office have been trained and know Salesforce. We built a special holder for the phones on the front of each motorcycle, so when supervisors make home visits, they can identify exactly where the houses are that have our stoves.

Though initially made to keep track of stoves by staff on the ground, the investment also paid off for remote staff. “We use it as much in California as they use it in Honduras, he said, referring to Proyecto Mirador USA, the non-profit side of the organization that manages Gold Standard certification, finds donors and helps with the business issues of Proyecto Mirador, Honduras.

A smoke-free Honduras?

Now, Proyecto Mirador supports 17 full-time businesses: six Ejecutore construction companies, nine suppliers and two consultants. Outsourcing has allowed the organization to go from 250 stoves in a year to a predicted 29,000 stoves this year. However, Proyecto Mirador is still dealing with a backlog of stove requests. These households may have to wait a little longer for their stoves.

“The idea is that we would rather grow in a very measured way than grow exponentially and have troubles and have to stop, he said.

However, health remains at the heart of the organization’s work. Mirador surveyed stove recipients and almost all 99% – reported cleaner indoor air and improved respiratory health after switching. One grandmother, Maria Claudina Diaz Vargas, said: “my granddaughter suffers from a chest ailment and today without smoke she has improved.

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Kelley Hamrick is an Associate in Ecosystem Marketplace’s Carbon Program. She can be reached at

Food Without Forests? Don’t Count On It

18 December 2014 | While land-use negotiators at the United Nations climate talks tend to focus on the carbon released into the atmosphere when forests are felled. Deforestation does, after all, account for as much as a fifth of global emissions the climatic effects of land-use change go well beyond escaped carbon dioxide molecules. A new study released today in Nature Climate Change culls together the results of dozens of global and regional climate models to demonstrate the effects of deforestation on temperature and rainfall patterns, with implications for farmers around the world.

General circulation models (GCMs) that simulate the Earth’s climate system, including the atmosphere, oceans, and land surface, allow scientists to hypothetically wipe out all tropical forests to see what would happen. These simulations show that a world without forests would be a hotter and drier one.

At the upper end of the models’ projections, a world with forest-bare tropics would be 0.7 degrees Celsius hot. about equal to the global warming since the Industrial Revolution. And this is without including any effects from the three gigatonnes of carbon that deforestation spurts into the atmosphere each year as felled forests decompose.

Tropical forests also move and regulate huge amounts of water, creating crucial micro-climates for plants and animals. Overall, deforestation leads to reductions in rainfall between 10% and 15% in the surrounding area.

“Tropical forests are often talked about as the ‘lungs of the earth,’ but they’re more like the sweat glands,” said Deborah Lawrence, the study’s lead author and a Professor of Environmental Sciences at the University of Virginia. “They give off a lot of moisture, which helps keep the planet cool. That crucial function is lost and even reversed when forests are destroyed.”

Observational data the on-the-ground stuff indicates that deforestation has already had staggering effects on local climates. For instance, across deforested sites in Sao Paulo, Brazil, rain events were higher intensity but less frequent compared to areas that kept their forest cover. In Rond´nia, Brazil the wet season has started on average 11 days later in deforested regions but remained unchanged in forested ones.


An Invisible Tipping Point

Complete deforestation of the tropics is a fairly unlikely scenario, as Lawrence and her co-author Karen Vandecar note. So what will happen to Earth’s climate if deforestation continues in its current “business-as-usual” trajectory, with smallholder farmers slashing and burning, palm oil companies clearing their concessions, cattle ranchers grazing their herds, and mining companies splintering new roads into the canopy?

The models suggest that there may be a critical threshold beyond which reduced rainfall due to deforestation “triggers a significant decline in ecosystem structure and function.” For the Amazon, this threshold is likely between 30% and 50%. The tipping point may be different for Africa’s comparatively drier tropical forests where forest fires are more common, releasing aerosols that affect rainfall. Southeast Asia’s tropical forests are naturally more humid and surrounded by oceans, also potentially affecting the climatic point-of-no-return.

“Although the current level and pattern of deforestation may not have pushed tropical climates over a tipping point yet, modelling results at regional to global scales are consistent in their predictions that such a tipping point exists,” Lawrence and Vandecar write.

Not all Deforestation is Created Equal

The models demonstrate that the rateof deforestation doesn’t matter much in terms of the climatic impacts, and that deforestation almost universally leads to temperature increases. However, the pattern matters a lot in terms of effects on rainfall.

Generally speaking, clearing a huge area of rainforest while leaving another huge swath intact reduces rainfall more than if the deforestation is “patchy” across the entire area (even if the same number of trees are cut). And if the deforestation is patchy, the size of those patches also makes a difference. A model that simulated two checkerboard patterns of deforestation one using a 500-kilometer grid and the other using a 200-kilometer grid found that, though both scenarios hypothetically cleared half the forest area, the 500-kilometer grid with both larger bare patches and larger forested patches received more rainfall.

“While somewhat surprising, these results are consistent with research that demonstrates the importance of large patches of forest in promoting or sustaining rainfall downwind,” the authors write.

The Edgier the Better?

However, when the authors looked at regional models at a much smaller scale than the GCMs, they found that clearing very small patches of forest can actually lead to increased rainfall as the hot air over the deforested area rises and mixes with the moist air along the forest edge, leading to cloud formation. The smaller the patches, the more edges and the more rainfall.

So, in addition to a tipping point for the percentage of tropical rainforest that may be lost, there may also be a sweet spot in terms of patch size. These findings may explain apparent contradictions between models that predict drier conditions with large-scale deforestation and real-life observations that find no change or even more rain in some deforested areas.

Earth’s Future Menu

So, what happens if we tumble over the edge of these invisible deforestation tipping points?

The authors suggest that on the other side of the cliff may be a world of strained food production. Without the forests that drive water and wind systems, the breadbaskets of the world even those on entirely different continents from tropical forests could see altered climate conditions.

Models suggest that deforestation in the Amazon could reduce rainfall in the U.S. Midwest, which grows much of the world’s corn. Deforesting the Congo could cause up to a 50% reduction in rainfall and a three-degrees-Celsius temperature rise, affecting cassava, plantain, coffee and cocoa production. And clearing 40% of the Amazon rainforest could reduce rainfall 4% in the Rio de la Plata Basin, a center of soy and wheat production thousands of kilometers away.

On-the-ground observations in the Amazon and elsewhere also show that deforestation can also exacerbate climatic extremes, such as more pronounced dry periods followed by monsoons or much hotter days and cooler nights.

“Farmers, so reliant on consistent and reliable growing conditions, could lose their bearings and even their incomes, when facing these ups and downs in temperature and rainfall,” Lawrence said. “While farmers may ultimately adapt to shifts in the season, it’s difficult if not impossible for farmers to adapt to increased floods or parched soils.”

Deforestation could affect what types of crops can be grown and where, as well as what types of techniques might be needed to adapt to projected changes.

“What happens on the surface of the Earth (in terms of changes in vegetation) is a big factor in climate change,” Lawrence said. “We ignore it at our own peril.”

Drought, Deforestation and Degradation Plague Paraguay’s Forest Peoples; Can REDD+ Help?

20 October 2014 | What’s happening to Paraguay’s forest is, unfortunately, a well-told story. The forests are under pressure from a multitude of threats that are undermining its health. A changing climate continues to alter rain patterns and affect food security. Drought plagues the farming and indigenous communities that rely on the forests for their livelihoods.

Meanwhile, poor local people living nearby are over-hunting and illegally logging. And the forest people receive little help from authorities in the way of law enforcement toward preventing these crimes.

Because of these threats, Paraguay’s 16 million hectares of forest are diminishing. This includes the Gran Chaco, the largest dry forest in South America. But as in several other countries struggling with similar challenges, REDD (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation) could serve as a solution.

With REDD, sustainable forest management is fundamental. And in the video below, the UN-REDD programme demonstrates the advantages of REDD-one of them being its ability to empower indigenous communities. Many in this sector consider that a key component to successfully protecting the forests.

“We believe that if Paraguay really wants to start a process that protects the forests, it must work with those who live in the forests, says Mirta Pereira, a Legal Adviser for a local indigenous organization. “There has to be a relationship with the indigenous peoples.

She discusses the potential of REDD in Paraguay. “It’s clear to me that interacting with the state of Paraguay, of having a signed document at the highest level and of having the support of the UN is a great opportunity for us.

Specifically in Paraguay, the UN-REDD programme notes how it enables the forest inhabitants to plant trees on land unfit for agriculture while leaving open areas for grazing animals. In the agriculture fields, farmers plant a variety of plants like sunflowers, wheat and soy, which is better for the soil.

“The forest is not only carbon, not only trees, says Hipolito Acevei, the President of an indigenous organization. “It is an entire history-the place where we as humans and indigenous people co-exist.



Countering Illegal And Unsustainable Activities With REDD+ In Panama

13 October 2014 | Between 1992 and 2008, nearly 900,000 hectares of Panama’s forest were deforested. The land was cleared for development or converted into pastureland.

But despite the increase in development and growth in the agricultural sector, almost half of Panama’s rural population live in poverty and rely on unsustainable practices for their livelihoods. They continue to burn patches of forest and plant crops.

On top of the threats of slash and burn farming and expanding development, climate change and illegal logging activities pose a risk to the forests. The threats are affecting forest health which in turn affects the services they provide, like clean water, to the local people. Many of the local people living in the forests are indigenous to the region and because of traditionally sustainable land practices, these groups have managed to preserve pieces of Panama’s forests. Majority of remaining forestland in the country lies within indigenous peoples’ territories. But the lack of clear and comprehensive land rights in Panama make enforcing laws and securing the forests’ protection difficult for indigenous tribes and acts as another risk.

While these threats are relentless, the UN-REDD programme insists REDD activities serves as a solution that could solve each challenge. Ultimately, it will provide alternative livelihoods that are sustainable empowering local communities to act as good land stewards. REDD also has the ability to generate revenue giving greater value to leaving trees standing.

“My advice is everyone involved in this project should take full advantage of this opportunity,” says Jose Angel Vargas, a local farmer.

“We must preserve the environment” says Samuel Pote, the president of a youth association in the region. “If we destroy a hectare of land for agriculture, then we must also plant trees.”

In the video below, the UN-REDD programme highlights the Panama Canal Authority’s program, which enables sustainable farming. REDD initiatives like reforestation and coffee planting have brought real change, one resident says.

“With all of these projects that have started up in our area such as planting coffee, we have been able to recover some of our sources of water that provide us with healthier and cleaner water.”

Role Of Carbon Markets Still Evolving In Run-Up To Peru Climate Talks

24 September, 2014 | Just what the carbon markets need: another acronym.

But John Kilani, Director of Sustainable Development Mechanisms for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Secretariat, insists that the acronym INDC (Intended Nationally Determined Contributions) is a good thing. The INDC concept has gained traction since the last round of UNFCCC negotiations in Warsaw in which countries agreed to initiate or intensify preparation of their INDCs, which will establish how individual countries plan to reduce their carbon emissions in the talks leading up to what stakeholders hope will be a new global agreement reached in Paris in 2015.

There will be a lot of talk about INDCs during the next round of UNFCCC negotiations in Lima, Peru in December, he predicted, as the UNFCCC participants consider the role of markets in addressing climate change. While the parties are not expected to put forth their visions for the INDCs until the first quarter of 2015, what the INDCs look like and their scope is going to define the shape and the role of the carbon markets in the future, Kilani told attendees at the International Emissions Trading Association’s (IETA) Carbon Forum North America in New York this week.

“I don’t want you to be disappointed that there is no text coming from Lima that says anything strong about the markets he said. “I don’t think we should expect that in Lima. But we should expect that in Paris because of the level of ambition that is communicated in the INDCs. How much of the INDCs is going to be quantifiable? That is what’s going to define the future landscape of carbon markets.

A new vision for linking

IETA has been developing a new plan to engage in the international climate talks that represents how a price on carbon could fit into a new international agreement because putting a price on carbon “has to happen to address rising carbon emissions, said David Hone, Climate Change Advisor for oil major Shell and former chair of IETA.

“Without it, the direction that investments go and how the investment outlook appears becomes very confused, he said. “Certainly without a price on carbon, we won’t get the clarity we need in terms of real mitigation.

The concept IETA has been working on, in collaboration with the Harvard Project on Climate Agreements, aims to show that in what will likely be an INDC world, these national contributions can potentially link, even if they are very different, Hone said. And it would not be just carbon markets linking together as the concept envisions INDCs built on carbon markets possibly linking to others without carbon markets, as long as there is some type of carbon unit transaction between these contributions, he said.

“That’s the sort of future we imagine, he said.

Speaking the same language

The next challenge for this effort is to think about the language that would need to appear in the Paris agreement to underpin this potential linkage of programs, Hone said.

“It’s unlikely that the Paris agreement is going to talk about global carbon markets, he said. “It’s unlikely that it’s going to have a formula for a global carbon market that we can all take forward and use. Rather it’s going to be text that describes the ideas and concept. The agreement itself may be quite short. It’s probably going to be more of an outline than substance because the next five years is really going to put the substance into this. It’s probably going to focus on the big picture items.

IETA and Harvard have drafted a few lines of text, taking inspiration from the simplicity of the language that underpinned development of the Clean Development Mechanism. The Paris agreement could include a statement that the parties may voluntarily transfer portions of their contributions to other parties and that these transferred units may be used by those on the receiving end to implement their INDCs.

“From a legal perspective, such a statement would be helpful in providing certainty both to governments and private-market participants that linkage is feasible within the UNFCCC framework, and it is likely a necessary condition for widespread linkage to occur, the Harvard Project stated in a document summarizing the approach. “Such a minimalist approach would allow diverse forms of linkage to arise among what will inevitably be heterogeneous nationally determined contributions thereby advancing both cost-effectiveness and environmental integrity.

IETA’s proposals are realistic, given what the international negotiators are trying to do in the run-up to Lima and Paris, said James Bacchus, Member of the High Level Advisory Panel to the President of COP20, Peru & Chair of the ICC Commission on Trade and Investment Policy.

“We’re looking at not a grand, comprehensive, universal agreement to be all and end all, but on another beginning on which we can build, he said. “It will focus mainly on procedures, not on substance.

A little pushback

China is a notable presence on the list of 74 countries, 23 subnational jurisdictions and more than 1,000 businesses and investors that signed the World Bank’s petition in support of carbon pricing. Noticeably absent, however, was the United States, which was not an accident, according to Paul Bodner, Director for Environment and Climate Change for the White House’s National Security Council.

“I don’t need to tell you that the President (Barack Obama) is very committed to market-based approaches, but we don’t have a consensus about that in Washington at the federal level, he said.

But he urged advocates of the carbon markets not to wait for a top-down approach to the establishment of market mechanisms.“Why are you waiting for permission from the UNFCCC system to create carbon markets? he asked. “Why are you waiting for permission to link those systems together? You don’t need permission.

Bodner, a former climate negotiator, highlighted IETA’s proposed language that the parties may voluntarily agree to link and the difficulty in getting the 193 countries in the UNFCCC to agree on anything. “The premise is wrong, he said. “If you say the agreement has to contain this text, you’re implying that if it doesn’t it’s not true. But the fact is it is true. Parties can do this today.

The challenges of linking

However, creating linkages outside of the UNFCCC process has its own challenges, even when the partnering jurisdictions are both strongly in favor of linkage. Quebec and California, for example, have been working on linking their cap-and-trade markets for six years, with the first official joint auction of carbon allowances for the two jurisdictions finally set for November. While the two jurisdictions did not need permission to link, their linkage does not have the regulatory weight it would have under the UNFCCC process because they are subnational jurisdictions that have limited authority to enter into a legally binding agreement.

“Even with two jurisdictions that have been trying to link, it’s not very easy, Kilani said. “To have an international framework that everyone commits to is very necessary. I understand where Paul’s coming from. It’s a difficult process, but don’t allow the difficulty to stop you from going for what is necessary. As difficult as the process may be, experience has shown with the exception of Copenhagen (UNFCCC negotiations) parties do eventually find common ground.

The European Union and Australia had plans to link their carbon pricing programs before the Australian government repealed the country’s carbon tax this year. But that linkage would have only been possible because of the underlying Assigned Amount Unit structure, said Andrei Marcu, Senior Fellow, Center for European Policy Studies. The AAU is a market mechanism within the Kyoto Protocol and functions like an allowance in a cap-and-trade system, providing the basis for trade and creating supply and demand through its allocation against national targets relative to actual emissions, an IETA paper noted. This was a fundamental feature in the EU-Australia plans to link. Without the AAU underpinning, there would have been absolutely no reason for the EU to accept those reductions, Marcu said, and a similar recognition of the ability to transfer units and understand exactly what is being accounted for will likely be necessary in the Paris agreement, he said.

The Obama administration remains bonded to the UNFCCC process, but the parties have had difficulty even agreeing on the Framework for Various Approaches the set of components and rules that would ensure that all approaches used for mitigation will meet certain standards, especially from an environmental integrity point of view Bodner observed.

“If you have a desire to create that link, whether you’re California trying to create a link to another country or Quebec, is there anything that makes it not possible for you to purchase those units and count them against your target today? Bodner asked. “There is nothing preventing you from doing that today.

The only feature the agreement needs to include is a way to track units across borders to ensure environmental integrity by guarding against double counting, Bodner said. “It is really important that a country does not present the same tonnes for compliance that another country is presenting, he said.“Just think carefully about what you really need and what you don’t need.

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Gloria Gonzalez is a Senior Associate in Ecosystem Marketplace’s Carbon Program. She can be reached at
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How the Rise of the Global Middle Class Is Driving Illegal Deforestation and How We Can Change the Paradigm

10 September 2014 | In Brazil, organized land grabbers and squatters cleared swaths of the Amazon for cattle grazing and then took advantage of government programs that grant land titles after the fact. In Indonesia, palm oil companies bribed local officials to obtain licenses to convert forests to plantations. In Cambodia, a rubber company was issued a land concession five times the size allowed by law, with more than half of the land area falling within a national park. In Tanzania, a jatropha company fudged the authorship of an environmental impact assessment and convinced villagers to sign documents they didn’t fully understand.

Illegal deforestation takes on many forms around the world, and according to new research released today by Ecosystem Marketplace publisher Forest Trends it is more rampant than previously understood. And its drivers are shifting. While in the 20th century tropical forests often went to meet demand for timber, about three-quarters (71%) of all tropical deforestation between 2000 and 2012 was caused by commercial agriculture. Nearly half (49%) of all tropical deforestation in this period was the result of illegal land conversion for commercial agriculture, and nearly one quarter (24%) was the direct result of illegal land conversion for commercial agricultural products bound for export markets. The commodities exported at the end of the process are worth an estimated $61 billion annually.

What is driving all of this outlawed and often unscrupulous activity?

A lot of it has to do with consumer demand. As the global population swells to nine billion by mid-century, and as millions of people escape the pains of poverty and join the growing global middle class, they are buying more hamburgers (beef), chicken (raised using soy feed) and toothpaste (palm oil), and  as incomes and literacy rise shipping more goods around the world in cardboard containers and consuming more paper (both packaging and book materials are now increasingly sourced from so-called “conversion timber, the product of trees cut down when converting forestland to other uses such as a large-scale oil palm plantation). The Brookings Institute estimates that there are currently 1.8 billion people in the middle class, and that we can expect that number to rise to 4.9 billion by 2030.

The challenge, then, will to be meet the growing demand for beef, leather, soy, palm oil, pulp and paper and other products without ravaging the world’s remaining tropical forests. Doing so will be essential to protecting the rights of the indigenous peoples and communities who live in and depend on forests, and curbing runaway climate change. Illicit land conversion for mega-crops releases nearly 1.5 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere annually about a quarter of the fossil fuel-based emissions of the European Union. If the international trade in agricultural commodities from illegal deforestation were a country, it would be the sixth largest contributor to climate change in the world.


Why focus on illegality?

“There is a lot of policy work and research and meetings and discussions that have been happening over the past two, three, four years regarding commercial agriculture and these commodities as a driver of deforestation, but the legality point has been almost non-existent within those debates, said Sam Lawson, the lead author of Consumer Goods and Deforestation: An Analysis of the Extent and Nature of Illegality in Forest Conversion for Agriculture and Timber Plantations. “And that’s just madness given how important it is.

In the report, Lawson offers three main reasons to pay closer attention to the legal status of global deforestation.

The first reason is scale. Overseas consumer demand has resulted in the illegal clearing of more than 200,000 square kilometers of tropical forest since the turn of the century, a rate of about five football fields per minute, the research finds. An estimated 40% of all palm oil, 33% of tropical timber, 20% of all soy, and 14% of all beef traded internationally comes from ex-forested land that have been illegally cleared. So, if we ignore these illegal activities, we’re actually missing a chunk of deforestation roughly the size of the land area of Ghana.

The second reason has to do with tactics. Namely, the idea that the methods used to fight illegal deforestation are categorically different than those used to curb legal deforestation. Illegal activity can be stopped by revoking land concessions, issuing fines, or sending perpetrators to jail, whereas none of these strategies can be used to stop legal deforestation. Also, many of the strategies to fight illegal deforestation have proven to be very effective. Brazil has reduced its deforestation 70% since 2004, mainly because of crackdowns on illegal clearing of land for soy and cattle ranching. Marina Silva, a current presidential hopeful who served as Brazil’s Environment Minister from 2003 to 2008, led the effort to shut down over 1,500 illegal operations. So, rather than passing new laws and policies, governments might be wise to work instead on enforcing the laws and policies already in place, the report argues.

The third reason is that reducing illegal deforestation is necessary to making any other effort to save the world’s tropical forests work. In particular, the many recent private sector commitments to “zero deforestation supply chains including those by pulp giant Asia Pulp and Paper and palm oil trader Wilmar are undermined by illegal activities, since sustainably sourced products will have to compete with products sourced not only unsustainably, but also illegally, leading to huge price gaps. As long as illegal operations are business-as-usual and go unpoliced, there will always be companies willing to take the path of least resistance. Case in point: a recent concession of 470,000 hectares in the Republic of Congo, to a Malaysian company called Atama that has no previous experience in the palm oil sector, was found by local inspectors to be in breach of regulation.


Implications for REDD+

REDD, the United Nations (UN)-backed program for developed countries to pay developing ones to reduce emissions from deforestation, is also undercut by illegal activity. The REDD Readiness Preparation Proposals that countries submit to the UN-REDD Programme and the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility in hopes of securing upfrontreadiness’ funding rarely mention governance issues or the extent to which illegal deforestation for commercial agriculture has been the biggest recent driver of deforestation, according to Lawson, and even fewer propose methods for addressing illegal versus planned and legal deforestation. The official statement on drivers of deforestation agreed to by parties to the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change in 2013 does not specifically address illegal conversion for commercial agriculture.

“In terms of where most of the money and the effort is going on REDD, there is far too much in my view on tinkering with MRVs (monitoring, reporting and verification) and measuring carbon and negotiating changes in policies regarding development of forested land in these countries and not nearly enough on improving governance and dealing with illegality issues, he said.

One of Indonesia’s core REDD strategies, for example, is persuading companies that have already received land concessions to clear forests for palm plantations to “swap those concessions to already degraded land, such as nine million hectares on Kalimantan that was found to be suitable to grow palm. But voluntary commitments such as these are unlikely to work if many palm producers blatantly operate in violation of national laws, the report argues, and it will be difficult for donor governments to justify payments for performance for reduced emissions in the context of activities that should have already been shut down.


Reason for hope

Though the report offers much fodder for concern, perhaps its most important finding is that, “these illegalities are not insurmountable. In fact, the issues that the agricultural commodity sector is currently facing are ones that have been addressed by the timber industry throughout previous decades.

The ongoing Forest Law, Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) action plan, for example, has the European Union develop bilateral agreements with producer countries such as Indonesia. Through these processes, stakeholders from government, civil society, and private sector institutions in the producer country get together to define what legal timber means and establish verification systems to ensure that exports meet this definition. These agreements are government-to-government and legally binding, and they guarantee a market for the products in exchange for improved forest governance.

“One of the ways of getting ahead of the curve on agricultural commodities is if you learn the lessons of what took the timber community 20 or 30 years to realize that you need regulation at the consumer country level rather than just voluntary policies, and you may need to look at legality instead of sustainability, Lawson said.

There are, of course, differences between illegal deforestation driven by timber versus agriculture. For one, when land is unlawfully cleared for timber, those logs are sent to market immediately and only once, whereas if a forest is cleared for cattle or soy or palm, the fruits of that illicit clearing will be produced continuously and sent to market over years or decades. In many cases, developers really only want the wood from a land concession but obtain concessions for agriculture rather than timber simply because those permits are easier to come by. Lawson notes that the commitments coming from the private sector promise “zero deforestation in the future, so much of the trade being done by these companies will still be from land that was illegally deforested in the recent past.

However, there are some ways in which addressing illegal deforestation from commercial agriculture might actually be easier than dealing with illicit timber markets. While trying to determine whether a forest was felled above the legal yield can be tricky, conversion of forest to agriculture can be detected fairly easily from satellite imagery, and tools such as Global Forest Watch allow anyone with an internet connection to access remote-sensed images of forest losses and gains. Also, while agricultural commodity supply chains can be complex, many of them are actually simpler than the supply chains for timber and wood products, according to Lawson.

The report therefore argues that a process similar to FLEGT, that involves many stakeholders discussing legality and deciding on where to draw the line, could work in addressing illegal conversion for agriculture. Doing so could help countries on the verge of massive illegal deforestation countries such as the Republic of Congo and Papua New Guinea to create a process that would bring commercial agriculture to the light side, avoiding at least some of the imminent forest conversion that would be disastrous for forest peoples and the global climate.

“There are practical limitations with what one could do you can’t be perfect, you can’t eliminate everything, Lawson said. “But what we’ve been seeing [in past efforts to address illegality] is essentially blanket amnesty, where everything prior to a certain date is called legal. The Brazilian government has done that, and it’s what these zero deforestation commitments by companies are essentially doing, and I think we should be trying to achieve a higher standard, where we only give amnesty when we absolutely have to.”

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Allie Goldstein is an Associate in Ecosystem Marketplace’s Carbon Program. She can be reached at
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This Week In Forest Carbon: What Role Will Forests Play In Future Climate Deal?

9 December 2014 | Ecosystem Marketplace is right in the middle of the action in Lima, Peru this week, where thousands of government negotiators, non-profit representatives, indigenous leaders, corporate officials and journalists have gathered for the 20th Conference of the Parties (COP 20) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). It is in this strange alternative universe where people speak in acronyms and debate negotiating text over pisco sours that the groundwork for an international climate agreement next year in Paris is being laid.


What role will forests play in this future deal? After the last-minute agreement on the REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation) Rulebook at last year’s Warsaw COP, market participants were expecting a quiet year in Lima in terms of concrete decisions on forests – and that’s what they’ve mostly gotten so far.


In a roundtable discussion with Ecosystem Marketplace, REDD policy experts discussed the two major forest carbon issues on the table at COP 20: The rules for Safeguards and whether the guidelines for countries’ Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (see our COP alphabet soup piece for background) will include REDD.


The technical committee discussions concluded this weekend without a decision on whether the UNFCCC should offer further guidance on REDD social and environmental safeguards, punting the issue to June meetings in Bonn, Germany. Many tropical forest countries were in favor of this ‘no decision’ outcome.


“Many REDD countries said, ‘We’re implementing them [the safeguards], figuring out our system, making sure everything is connected,’ and they interpreted the calls for more guidance as additional demands being imposed even before they’ve been able to see if they have any problems or not,” said Peter Graham of World Wildlife Fund. “They’re basically saying, ‘You’re asking us to see how we’re doing before we do it,’ and they don’t see it as fair.”


The rules for INDCs will be discussed this week as the negotiations transition from technical discussions to policy ones and high-level ministers arrive.


“My understanding is that the INDCs to be submitted by March will be a range of numbers coupled with explanations saying, ‘This is how we came up with this number. These are the policies that we expect to use to implement or meet our INDC.’ Basically, numbers with context,” said Gustavo Silva of Forest Trends.


“Also, for some countries like least-developed countries, we’re not expecting them to come in with numbers, but more activities,” added Chris Meyers of Environmental Defense Fund. These activities might include forest conservation, climate-friendlier agricultural techniques, or even improved land tenure in indigenous territories, he said.


Over the next week, policy experts are following whether the rules for INDCs will specifically mention forests and land use, since this would send a signal about the potential role of REDD+ in countries’ emissions reductions plans.


More stories from the forest carbon market are summarized below, so keep reading.

—The Ecosystem Marketplace Team

If you have comments or would like to submit news stories, write to us at



Ecosystem Marketplace in Lima

If you are in Lima this week, please join us tomorrow at 1 p.m. in the Forest Pavilion at Voces de Clima for a debrief of our State of the Forest Carbon Markets 2014 report. Co-authors Gloria Gonzalez and Allie Goldstein will present key findings from the report and provide insight on current market dynamics. Panelists Juan Carlos Gonzalez Aybar of Althelia Climate Fund and Mariama Vendramini of Biofílica will comment on their experience developing or investing in forest carbon projects and the state of the market in the context of the United Nations climate negotiations. More info about the event is available here. We look forward to seeing you there.



You decide!

It’s that time of year again…please rank the top forest carbon stories of 2014 here. Was it the first compliance forest carbon offset issuance in California? The first jurisdictional REDD payments flowing to Acre, Brazil? The Consumer Goods Forum zero net deforestation pledge? The Green Climate Fund reaching the $10 billion mark (today)? We give you 20 stories, you rank them (or add your own). We’ll tell you the results in the new year. The survey also includes a place to write in your predictions for the forest carbon market for 2015.

– Get ranking!



Older and wiser markets

Much discussion in Lima has centered on the potential “new market mechanisms” that could merge from the negotiations. But market experts speaking at a side event last week advocated that “new” should mean “reformed” rather than “starting from scratch.” “Because if we don’t learn the lessons of the (Clean Development Mechanism) and from Joint Implementation, then we’re simply going to recreate history,” said Miles Austin, Executive Director of the Climate Markets and Investment Association. The International Emissions Trading Association proposed language for a new agreement that includes a unified international transfer system that allows countries to transfer portions of the INDC contributions through instruments of their choice, whether that be CDM, REDD, or something else.



Time to check those references

Colombia, Guyana, Indonesia, Malaysia and Mexico formally submitted information and data on their forest-based greenhouse gas emissions to the UNFCCC on Monday. This data is required to establish forest emissions levels in these countries – reference levels that are in turn used as the benchmarks for reducing deforestation and potentially receiving payments for REDD offsets. The data will now be assessed by forestry experts coordinated by the UNFCCC according to rules agreed on last year in Warsaw. These countries join Brazil, which was the first country to submit its reference level data last June.


Oh, how the mighty have fallen

New Zealand Carbon Farming is suing Mighty River Power for $34.7 million over carbon offsets the energy company contracted to buy to offset carbon emissions from electricity generation. The case is based on a methodology change governing the generation of forest offsets under New Zealand’s Emissions Trading Scheme. Mighty River Power is resisting the claim because it could be forced to buy significantly more forest carbon offsets than expected, which would double the value of its 15-year contract with New Zealand Carbon Farming.


No easy assembly

The Swedish behemoth company IKEA just unveiled a new palm oil policy, calling for zero deforestation and no conversion of peatlands for any oil used in its candle and food products. These actions go a step beyond the certification standards required by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, of which IKEA is a member. The company aims to source all of its palm oil sustainably by December 2017. Suppliers that fail to source certified palm oil will likely see their relationship “phased out”.



Just reaching the starting line

Norway last week announced it has doubled its pledge to the Green Climate Fund (GCF) to NOK 1.6 billion ($258 million USD), bringing the fund to $9.95 billion. And today Belgium contributed $60 million,officially bringing the fund up to the $10 billion that the UNFCCC Executive Secretariat and others have set as the minimum that should be achieved at this COP. Parties have agreed that $100 billion per year should flow annually from developed to developing countries, both to curb emissions and to adapt to climate change’s effects, by 2020.


Early movers get the worm

The governments of Germany and Norway committed up to $65 million apiece to Colombia and Ecuador, expanding the REDD Early Movers Program (REM) to these two rainforest nations. The contributions will be distributed over three years, starting in 2015 through the end of 2017, as payments for verified emissions reductions. “The best contribution we can make as donors is to demonstrate that we are willing to pay for the results,” said Hege Araldsen, the Norwegian Ambassador to Ecuador, Chile and Peru. The announcement marks a significant expansion of the REM program, following the 2013 agreement between Germany and the state of Acre, Brazil.



A tragic outcome

After going missing on November 28, Shuar leader José Isidro Tendetza Antún was found deadlast week. Tendetza disappeared on his way to meet protestors against the Mirador copper and gold mine on his peoples’ territory in the Ecuadorean Amazon. The project is operated by Chinese conglomerate Ecuacorriente, originally a Canadian-owned company. Tendetza had planned to participate in COP 20. “We believe that this murder is part of escalating violence against indigenous leaders which responds to the Ecuadorean government and the companies’ need to clear the opposition to a mega-mining project in the Cordillera del Condor,” Luis Corral, an advisor to Ecuador’s Assembly of the People of the South, told The Guardian newspaper.



Agriculture strikes Gold

The Gold Standard launched its agricultural program last week at a side event at COP 20. “Our secret agenda is to make sure that payments for carbon reduction actually become payments for sustainable development,” said Pieter van Midwoud, Director of Land Use and Forests. The certified emissions reductions program includes streamlined guidelines for smallholder farmers. The Gold Standard is working with partners Hivos, Solidaridad and the Cool Farm Alliance, and their announcement states that they aim to make their agricultural program “a strong weapon for corporates implementing zero-net deforestation commitments.”


Digging into the details

Australia’s Emissions Reduction Fund just released its soil carbon method for public consultation. The method seeks to offer a low-cost tool for cropping, pasture and mixed farming systems to calculate soil carbon. The method uses modeled estimates of sequestration and builds on the soil carbon grazing method used in the Carbon Farming Initiative. Consultation closes on December 12.



When a tree is logged, does the soil notice?

While scientists have a clear understanding about the above-ground biomass stored in forests, a lot remains unanswered about what happens underneath. The U.S. Forest Service assumes soil carbon doesn’t change from harvesting, but Dartmouth College researchers thought differently. They examined mineral soils, which are difficult to collect but make up the majority of carbon storage in the northeastern U.S., from forests logged 5, 25, 50, 75 and 100 years ago. Their latest findings, reported in the Global Change Biology Bioenergy journal, found that harvested forests show a gradual release of carbon for decades following logging.



Keeping up on current events

Indigenous peoples in the Amazon have long suffered from economic straits while preserving standing forests. Yet because of these actions, they could not tap into REDD+ finance because their forests had no history of deforestation. A new study, “Forest Carbon in Amazonia: The Unrecognized Contributions of Indigenous Territories and Protected Natural Areas,” takes an innovative approach by focusing on current threats (instead of historic rates) of deforestation. It concluded that nearly one-third of indigenous and protected territories are under immediate threat from illegal logging, mining, dams and agriculture, while an additional one-fifth are under near-term threat. Presenting at COP 20, report authors emphasized the need to demarcate indigenous lands and to aid indigenous tribes in using life plan methodologies as a benchmark of success in REDD.


Consolidation is the name of the game

COP 19 in Warsaw, Poland produced a series of decisions around REDD+ commonly known as the REDD Rulebook. However, it wasn’t completely comprehensive. Prior UNFCCC decisions had additional implications for REDD+. A new publication, The Consolidated Guide to REDD+ Rules under the UNFCCC, written by the Baker and McKenzie Law for Development Initiative combines all of the UNFCCC REDD+ rules into a single document.


No clear road to REDD

In the Center for International Forestry Research’s (CIFOR) new book, “REDD+ on the Ground: A Case Book of Subnational Initiatives Across the Globe“, the authors analyzed 23 REDD+ initiatives from all over the world to try and tease out global lessons. William Sunderlin, a principal scientist for CIFOR, presented about the report findings at a COP 20 side event, noting the importance of clear land tenure in REDD projects. “There are reasons for hope in the future about REDD but there are certainly grounds for serious concern, and this book will give you an appreciation for how big the obstacles are,” he said. “The core concept of performance-based incentives has proved very difficult to implement without secure, long-term funding.”



Staff Accountant – Forest Trends

Based in Washington, D.C., the Staff Accountant will focus on accounts payable, project audits and payroll. Candidates should have a bachelor’s degree in accounting, finance or equivalent with two to five years of experience in a non-profit setting.

– Read more about the position here.


Manager, Investment Analysis – New Forests, Inc.

Based in San Francisco, California, the Investment Analysis Manager will be responsible for acquisition valuation, fund portfolio model development and maintenance, and cash flow management for the New Forests investment funds managed in the U.S. Successful candidates should have at least six years of meaningful experience in comparable roles with investment firms or conservation mission NGOs and a Chartered Financial Analyst designation and/or master’s degree in relevant field.

– Read more about the position here.


Program Manager, Government & Community Partnerships – Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS)

Based in Vientiane, Laos, the Program Manager will take overall management responsibility across WCS sites for the Lao Program’s Community Partnership component, which includes outreach, land-use planning, and sustainable livelihoods sub-component, and lead coordination activities at various government levels. Successful candidates should have a master’s degree in environment-related field, extensive knowledge of Government of Lao PDR ministries involved in natural resource management and good Lao language skills.

– Read more about the position here.


Communication and Stakeholder Engagement Specialist – United Nations Development Program

Based in Jakarta, Indonesia, the Communication and Stakeholder Engagement Specialist will develop a communications strategy to support the legal certainty of forests in Indonesia by arranging workshops on participatory mapping, initiating a media campaign at the national level and more. Successful candidates should have a master’s in communication and at least six years of experience in a related field.

– Read more about the position here.


Assistant Professor – Oregon State University

Based in Corvallis, Oregon, the Assistant Professor is a 9-month tenure-track position within the Department of Forest Engineering, Resources and Management. The professor will contribute to the Department’s focal areas of forest management, economics, and policy through research on the application of economic analysis to problems of active management of the forest resource for an array of objectives. Successful candidates should have a PhD in forest, resource or applied economics or related economics program by date of hire and an educational background in economics sufficient to teach master’s level courses in Oregon State University’s Applied Economics Program.

– Read more about the position here.

ABOUT THE FOREST CARBON PORTALThe 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 MARKETPLACEEcosystem 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

Fifteen Years Of Warnings Were Ignored Before Recent Ash¡ninka Assassinations

11 September 2014 | Following the murder of indigenous leaders Edwin Chota Valera, Quinticima Leoncio Melendez , Jorge Rios Perez and Francisco Pinedo along the Peru/Brazil border, representatives from several organizations published a “Border Manifesto documenting 15 years of threats and ignored warnings. The manifesto is available for download (right), and we have provided a rough translation here:

  • Beginning in 1999, the Ash¡ninka indigenous people living in the village of Apiwtxa in Brazil along the border with Peru have been warning state and federal authorities of Peruvians illegally logging timber in their territory and the environmental, social and cultural consequences that come from their actions. Citizens of Apiwtxa, on the Brazilian side of the border, have expressed particular concern for logging occurring in the indigenous territory of Land Kampa do Rio Ammonia and the Serra do Divisor National Park.
  • Since 2002, Apiwtxa’s sister village of Saweto, on the Peruvian side of the border, has appealed to Peruvian officials on the basis of international laws that grant indigenous peoples the title to their ancestral land. They argue the government should lead a process of demarcation that gives them a legal title to their territory. But the Ash¡ninka peoples’ demands continue to be spurred as the cost of property titles are high and the political motivations of those working inside the office varies.
  • In 2005, meetings sponsored by the Cross Border Working Group (Grupo de Trabalho Transfronteiri GTT) began occurring both in Acre, Brazil and in Peru’s Ucayali region. The meetings evaluate programs and monitor development of ongoing plans and strategies. GTT also monitors Peru’s forest concessions and the predominantly negative impact they have on indigenous lands.
  • Indigenous organizations continued to form and hold meetings. Both Brazil’s and Peru’s Ashí¡ninka communities are communicating with each other. They discuss their shared problems and information and exchange successful strategies that resulted in better land management and protection of their territory.
  • In 2011, the Ash¡ninka communities mobilized the Brazilian Institute for the Environment and Renewable Resources (Instituto Brasileiro de Meio Ambiente e Recursos Renov¡veis IBAMA) and the Chico Mendes Institute of Biodiversity (Instituto Chico Mendes da Biodiversidade ICMBio) to help them in securing the border. Several others, including the National Indian Foundation (Fundao Nacional do ndio FUNAI) and Operation Acai, which was a partnership with the federal police, were used as well. They all served a purpose in organizing the communities into one unit aimed at protecting their territory. They uncovered much illicit behavior- illegal logging and bulldozing along Brazil’s border were some of their discoveries.
  • The groups compiled data from several sources including institutions like IBAMA but also the University of Richmond in Virginia, the Instituto del Bien Comºn (IBC) and the Secretaria de Estado de Meio Ambiente do Acre (SEMA). The information compiled resulted in a publication of history on the conflicts of the Brazil/Peru border.
  • In 2012, the Cmara T©cnica de Desenvolvimento Sustent¡vel (CTDs), a space for debate and discussion between civil society and government, reported on uncontrolled drug and timber trafficking happening along the border as well as the swell of illegal Peruvian immigrants in Marechal Thaumaturgo-a municipality in western Acre.
  • In June 2013, based on the data collected, Saweto leaders met with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Peru. The Saweto leaders presented the importance of titling their territory for environmental protection.
  • Despite all these attempts illegal activities grew in this border region. There were some enforcement efforts but they failed to prevent forest concessions in Peru and an invasion of loggers. The lack of validity regarding the Ash¡ninka’s right to the forests left them all but powerless to stop the continued onslaught.
  • The threats became so extensive, the plight of the Ash¡ninka people received international attention. National Geographic published an article on the Ash¡ninka peoples’ struggles to protect the forest from ongoing illegal logging.



  • The murder of the four men directly endangers Saweto and the other Ash¡ninka communities in the Acre-Ucayali region.
  • Participation and cooperation of all the indigenous populations is needed. However, the tribe cannot assume the control and surveillance responsibilities necessary to prevent illegal activities and the ongoing violence.
  • Titling is crucial for environmental protection and the Ash¡ninka people urge the governments to start the process. It’s complex. A forest concession that overlaps with Indian territory needs to be resized. The responsibility to adjust the forest concession and approve a legal title falls on the regional government, the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation and the Forest Service.
  • Conservation and monitoring activities will fall to the indigenous communities residing on both sides of the border. Cooperation between them-particularly between Saweto and Apiwtxa resulting in bi-national policies is important.



  • The manifesto recommends the installation of proper infrastructure along the border that will help to prevent illegal activity.
  • There should be a permanent forum between Brazil and Peru’s authorities regarding illegal activities along the border.
  • Establishment of cooperation between the two borders where the countries coordinate their strategies and implement plans together.
  • Establishment of a monitoring system that is based on input from all stakeholders-indigenous communities, Brazilian and Peruvian authorities.
  • Titling the land so it legally belongs to the Ash¡ninka is required for sustainable land management and effective environmental protection.
  • Punishment for the instigators and perpetrators of the barbaric killing of the four Ash¡ninka leaders.

BREAKING: Indigenous Leaders Assassinated In Peru; Loggers Implicated; Widows And Orphans Flee

10 September 2014 | 0116 Eastern Daylight Time | UPDATE: The Upper Amazon Conservancy and its Peruvian sister organization, ProPuríºs, report that the widows and orphans of the four assasinated leaders have fled the village of Saweto into the regional capital of Pucallpa.

“The remaining members of the community persist in Saweto, surrounded by illegal loggers who continue to issue death threats over the radio,” reports Diego Benjamí­n Leal, who has been in touch with the village via skype.

9 September 2014 | A planned meeting of leaders of the Ashaninka community took a tragic turn when four leaders from Peru traveling to meet Ashaninka leaders in Brazil were assassinated.

Edwin Chota Valera, Leoncio Quincima Meléndez, Jorge Rios Perez and Francisco Pinedo, leaders of the Community of Saweto in the jurisdiction of the Masisea district on the Peruvian border with Brazil, were murdered during a patrol in the forests to meet with co-leaders in Brazil, Robert Guimaraes Ví¡squez, regional indigenous leader, said. The crime may be motivated by revenge by illegal loggers, Guimaraes-Vasquez said.

Illegal logging, drug trafficking and the invasion of their territory by Brazilian citizens are the biggest problems facing people in Saweto. Chota Valera had repeatedly lodged complaints with Pucalipa forest authorities against illegal loggers in the area who were indiscriminately exploiting the natural resources of the community. But these complaints have had little success and illegal loggers continue their illegal activities in the Alto Tamaya.

The Ashaninka leaders from Peru were travelling through the forests to meet with the Ashaninka in Brazil to continue their collective work to monitor and safeguard their territories from the frequent invasion of illegal wood loggers and narco-traffickers, said Beto Borges, Director of the Communities and Markets Program of Forest Trends (publisher of Ecosystem Marketplace).

The Ashininka are among several indigenous peoples participating in efforts to harness carbon finance to save their rainforests, and the Communities Initiative has been working with the Ashaninka in Acre, Brazil to develop an integrated approach to land management, Borges said. “Our Ashaninka friends expelled the illegal loggers from their lands in Brazil and have been supporting their brothers and sisters in the Peruvian side to do the same, he said.

Borges expressed sympathy for the Ashaninka people in Brazil and Peru and asked authorities on both sides of the border to conduct a full investigation and “do justice in this cruel crime. 

“We also ask the governments of Brazil and Peru to ensure the protection of Ashaninka territories and support their work in defense of their lives, their culture, and the forest, which they have in maintaining standing for generations, he said. 

The region has seen a flurry of violence against indigenous people not seen since the violence-drenched 1990s, and two groups of previously uncontacted indigenous people have emerged this summer: the first, comprised of seven young warriors, emerged in June, and the second, comprised of two dozen women and children, emerged in July. Both groups said they had been attacked by intruders believed to be either drug runners or illegal loggers.

The escalating violence is not confined to the Brazil/Peru Border. In early August, the indigenous Ka’apor people of northeastern Brazil, far from the Peruvian border, forcibly removed illegal loggers from their territory.

The Forest, The Farms, And The Finance: Why The Tolo River People Turned To Carbon Finance

25 August 2014 | Every morning, Jorge Vergara drives his motorcycle from the village of Acand­ to the Builes Ranch, where he tends the nearly 400 cows and cattle. The ranch is just a ten-minute walk from Tolo River village of Pealoza and one of many bordering their forest. On this day, two boys from the Tolo River community have tagged along to help him with the chores. Their payment will come in the form of a bottle of fresh milk. The night before, Vergara had separated the two dozen or so milk cows from their calves so their udders would be full of milk by the morning. The hungry calves are now mooing by the fence, pushing to get close to their mothers. Vergara lets one calf in, and it anxiously runs to its mom and starts suckling, only to be pulled away by Vergara’s young assistants once the milk-flow has “spiked. Then he takes over to squeeze the warm milk into a bucket. “Boy! he shouts. “Let another one in! Vergara is at the forefront of deforestation in this region, in part because land is so cheap here, and cattle ranching is so lucrative. That disparity left the forest at a disadvantage: living trees delivered no income, while cleared land did, and the desire that the Tolo River people had to save the forest was outweighed by their need to feed their families. To balance that disparity, they turned to REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation), which would make it possible for them to earn money by saving trees. The amount of money would depend in part on the amount of carbon stored in the trees they saved and in part on demand for carbon offsets. The advantages of REDD are clear: it conserves tropical forests and unique natural biodiversity; it reduces our global impact on climate; and it fosters sustainable rural community development. Yet to realize and sustain the initiative’s success, many potential pitfalls need to be avoided as such projects scale up around the world.

The Economics of Deforestation

In countries where land is expensive, ranchers keep cows in relatively small spaces and feed them silage fermented fodder produced from grass and maize plants. It’s an efficient, albeit perhaps not humane, way to manage land, and a farmer can raise up to three animals per hectare, greatly reducing the size of the farm, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization. In many tropical countries, however, land is cheap, or even free if no farmer has claimed it yet. Ranchers here exhibit a classic open-frontier mentality: when they see a forest, they feel the land is wasted because it would make a great pasture. “The farm needs to grow, says Vergara. “Silage is too much hassle. They opt for less land-efficient cattle operations because it is easy and cheap to expand the ranch by clearing some of the bordering rainforest. On average, they place only one cow per hectare of land. This ensures that the herd always has fresh pastures with waist-high grass to graze. It’s easy for cattle ranches in Choc³ to illegally grab the forest: they just clear the vegetation on a 60-by-80 foot plot near the edge of the forest, put a fence around it, a salt lick in the middle and let cattle in. Most of the flat lands in the region have already been converted to pasture, so cattle ranchers encroach on the hills of the forest. Some of these cleared plots have an almost 45-degree slope the cows look like mountain goats perched on the hillside.

Jorge Vergara milking a cow with the help of a local boy. (Photograph: Tanya Dimitrova).

With land so easy to grab, there’s little incentive to farm more efficiently. REDD, however, can change that equation by providing the Tolo River people with a way to earn a living by protecting and managing their forest. “Cattle ranching and illegal gold mines are the top two reasons for deforestation here, says Rub©n Guerrero from Colombia’s Ministry of Environment and Development. He explains that if the current rate of forest loss was to continue, half of Colombia’s rainforest would be gone by the end of the century.

Measuring The Carbon

Doctor lvaro Cogollo is a legendary conservation scientist in Colombia. He began working for forest protection more than 30 years ago when most people in the country hadn’t yet realized the importance of this natural system. “People have this idea that Amazonia has the most spectacular forest in the world, he says. “But the biggest trees are actually here, in Choc³. Cogollo and his 20 assistants spent three months in the Tolo River community forest studying the biodiversity and carbon contained in it. He calculated that one acre of the communal rainforest could contain up to 300 tons of carbon seven times more than the average carbon content in one acre of an Amazonian forest. But the Tolo River people have one weapon that people in other parts of the world don’t, says Natalia Arango, climate change coordinator in a Colombian non-government organization Fondo Acci³n. Specifically, she says, they have Colombia’s willingness to recognize the rights of indigenous and Afro-Colombian forest communities, which offers fertile grounds for the REDD initiative. The progressive 1991 Constitution allowed them to claim their ancestral lands and provided them communal private ownership to the lands they manage.

Colombian REDD

In the past couple of years, the country has received $7.7 million from the World Bank and the United Nation’s REDD program to prepare it for large-scale REDD-financed conservation. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) also invested $17 million in setting up local forest conservation projects in Colombia. This money is being used to estimate the amount of carbon stored in the nation’s forests, document the major drivers for deforestation in each region, and identify the deforestation rate in unprotected forests, which tends to hover between 1.5% and 2% across Colombia. Additionally, organizations such as Fondo Acci³n work with the indigenous land owners to design community development plans and economic alternatives to deforestation. Arango says that Colombia, despite its progressive legislation, tends to be very slow in practical matters. Implementing change takes a long time because it has a complex society with lots of indigenous peoples and Afro-Colombians. For good reason, the government tends to be very cautious in making big institutional changes. “But it is being too cautious, says Arango. “It has now spent years in the pre-pre-preparation phase of the strategy. And now we have some sort of public acceptance and agreement. We in the civil society think we need to go a bit faster because the forest is going very fast.

An Imperfect Solution

Brodie Ferguson, an anthropologist from Stanford University, remembers first visiting Colombia nearly a decade ago. He was studying how the years of the Violence (a conflict between the Colombian Army and paramilitary and rebel groups) have affected indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities. After working in Choc³ for many months, he eventually developed a close and trusting relationship with the Tolo River community and helped them design their forest conservation project. When thinking about the principle behind REDD, however, his most vivid memory comes from an interaction with another indigenous group: the Arhuacos from Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta.

Jorge Vergara milking a cow with the help of a local boy. (Photograph: Tanya Dimitrova).

Ferguson remembers talking with Danilo, one of the chiefs of the Arhuacos. The indigenous leader, dressed in his traditional white robes, was skeptical about REDD. “Do I want to be paying the youth of our community to conserve the forest? he asked. “Shouldn’t they be doing this anyway out of appreciation for the forest and the community traditions¦ just because it’s the right thing to do? Ferguson concedes the point, but says that REDD isn’t about getting paid to conserve. Rather, when done right, it’s about jump starting new activities that can take the pressure off the forest for the long term. That, he says, means we must look at how REDD income is being spent. “It should be spent on things like education, creating environmental awareness, improving healthcare, empowering women, he says. Such programs have long-term positive effects. “Even if 100% of the profits go to the community the best- case scenario if they are not spent the right way, we are not achieving what we should be. Although new research from the World Resources Institute and the Rights and Resources Initiative indicates that REDD programs tend to strengthen the rights of forest people, that is not a foregone conclusion, and many forest peoples lack the legal protection that the Tolo River community enjoys. In many other countries, forest dwellers do not own the land or the forest they have lived in for centuries.

When Deforestation Moves Down the Street

Another challenge of implementing a REDD project is what happens when bad practices just move someplace else. Ideally, for example, the Builes Ranch and its competitors cwould simply adopt more sustainable land-use practices that let them expand production without gobbling up more forest. But what if the owners simply stop expanding on their current locations and start chopping elsewhere? Or what if some other ranch an hour north picks up the slack in production by gobbling up another patch of unprotected forest? This is known as “leakage, and individual REDD projects don’t claim to halt it. Instead, they try to account for it and reduce the damage that migrated from their total. The only way to resolve the problem with regional leakage is for a country to monitor its avoided carbon dioxide emissions at a national level. That is exactly what Colombia is currently trying to achieve with the $7.7 million grant from the World Bank and UN: to inventory all the carbon in the country and set up a national regulatory agency to monitor avoided deforestation. Even this approach, however, would not resolve the problem with exporting national deforestation to neighboring countries, i.e. across-border leakage, due to international demand for the products driving deforestation. The only hope for truly tackling this issue would be a well-coordinated international system for monitoring deforestation analogous to the cooperation between air traffic controllers or public health officials worldwide. Another concern that critics raise regarding REDD projects is that they might offer an opportunity for big polluters to green-wash their emissions by donating a little money to some remote community while continuing business as usual at home. The original intent for carbon credits, however, is to use them as a final step in a company’s process of reducing its carbon footprint  to offset only whatever emissions could not be cut in any other way. “I don’t think anybody likes the idea of a coal company saying OK, we’re going to continue producing coal and we’¢re going to buy some carbon credits halfway around the world just to offset that. Nobody envisions a system like that, says Ferguson. Indeed, the state of California has already considered ways to avoid abuse of its cap-and-trade system. According to California’s climate change legislation (AB32), carbon polluters are not allowed to offset more than 8% of their emissions. Instead, they have to figure out ways to reduce the remaining 92% of their pollution to a cap set by the law a cap that gets lower over time, although it will rise next year as transport fuels are phased into the program. REDD offsets, if eventually allowed into the California program, could only be used for a small portion of this and under very specific circumstances. On top of this is the cost of quantifying the carbon in all 6 million square miles of rainforest around the world. No two forests contain the same tree species and soils so carbon content can vary from 10 to 300 tons per acre. The threats to the standing forests also differ between regions as does the speed with which the forest would be lost had there not been REDD projects. “We don’t want the money to get rich, says community leader C³rdoba. “We want to develop organizationally. That way we can protect our territory, maintain peace, improve our lives. Even if they wanted, though, they could never get rich off a REDD project. Income from selling carbon offsets currently cannot compare to any of the alternative ways to use their land: cattle ranching, cocoa plantations, gold mines, not-to-mention coca growing. A recent study estimated that only a price above around $30 USD per ton of carbon dioxide could make a forest more valuable standing than cleared. There is, however, more to a forest than just carbon. Many biodiverse ecosystems are rich in natural life but do not contain much carbon. Therefore if people chose which forests to conserve only based on their carbon content, many precious spots might go unnoticed or even lose their protection. Although plantations, if well designed and managed, could harbor lots of animals and plants, REDD proponents do not envision this kind of carbon emissions reductions. In fact, to issue forest offsets for tree planting, the Verified Carbon Standard an organization which certifies and maintains an inventory of carbon credits worldwide requires a proof that native forest clearing took place more than two decades ago. What’s more, rich natural life and high carbon content need not be at odds with each other. A recent study found that combined carbon-biodiversity forest conservation strategy could simultaneously protect 90% of carbon stocks and wildlife (relative to a strategy focusing on either alone). So ultimately what is an unsuccessful, poorly-designed REDD project? “It is one where you have a London financier go down to Zambia, buy a bunch of land, hire some locals to protect the forest and then sell the credits on the market, says Ferguson. That is not community-based conservation, though, there are a lot of such REDD projects out there just not in the Tolo River community’s lands. NEXT INSTALLMENT: The Tolo River People Embark On Their REDD Project

This Week In Forest Carbon News…

Thirteen governors from rainforest states signed the Rio Branco Declaration, a commitment to cut deforestation 80% by 2020, if funding for avoided deforestation (REDD) materializes. Brazil, the country receiving the most performance-based payments from climate funder Norway, has successfully prevented the clearing of 6.2 million hectares of forest between 2007 and 2013, but many other countries are on the edge of deforesting… or not.

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


21 August 2014 | Forget presidents, kings and queens – governors may be the ones leading the fight to reduce deforestation, state by state. At last week’s Governors’ Climate and Forests (GCF) Task Force meeting in Acre, Brazil, 13 of them penned the Rio Branco Declaration, named after the Amazonian city they met in. Their commitment? To cut deforestation rates in their jurisdictions 80% by 2020 – a move that would prevent four billion tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions (tCO2e) from entering the atmosphere.

But they can’t do it for free. Deforestation, after all, is largely about economics, and lucrative oilseed crops – mainly palm oil in Indonesia and soybeans in Brazil – are driving deforestation in key rainforest countries. GCF states say that they can slow forest clearing and degradation if performance-based funding for reducing deforestation (REDD) is available, whether through carbon markets or other performance-based payment mechanisms.

So far, this financing has been hard to come by, though many developed nations have promised it. The Rio Branco Declaration explains that the six Brazilian GCF member states have already reduced deforestation 70% between 2006 and 2012, avoiding three billion tCO2e of emissions, but that GCF jurisdictions have seen little of the $7.3 billion pledged for REDD+ by donor governments since 2009.

“Humanity is in grave danger over the destruction of the Amazonia – the climate regulator of the planet,” Edwin Vasquez, the leader of the Huitoto People of Peru and Coordinator General of COICA (Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon River Basin), said at the meeting. “The 5,000 indigenous communities continue to protect the forests and preserve our cultures and the world, as we have done for thousands of years. We are the proprietors of 210 million hectares, covering 25% of the Amazon, which calls for an urgent proposal—’Indigenous Amazonia for Humanity,’ a $210 million project addressing the fact that climate funds have not reached our communities.”

The GCF is a collaboration of 22 states and provinces from Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria, Peru, Spain and the United States. On the buy-side, the US state of California is considering the inclusion of REDD offsets in its cap-and-trade program, which would be the first significant compliance market demand for offsets from avoided deforestation.

“Without action to reduce emissions from the deforestation of tropical forests, we are missing one of the keys to mitigating climate change,” said California Air Resources Board (ARB) Chairman Mary Nichols. “We think the sector-based offset crediting approach being evaluated for jurisdiction-wide programs, like the one in Acre, is the next frontier for California’s carbon offset program.”

Here at Forest Trends’ Ecosystem Marketplace, we’re tracking these developments closely – and putting out a last call to forest project developers to respond to our survey informing the State of the Forest Carbon Markets 2014 report. The survey is available in English HERE and in Spanish AQUí. Questions? Email us.

More news from the forest carbon marketplace is summarized below, so keep reading!

—The Ecosystem Marketplace Team


If you have comments or would like to submit news stories, write to us at



Top marks for Brazil

Brazil has successfully avoided deforestation of 6.2 million hectares between 2007 and 2013, averting three billion tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions and generating large results-based payments from Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative. Brazil has received by far the most funding under the initiative with 44% of the $1.7 billion in total funds disbursed. Indonesia has only received 2% to date, but Norway’s development agency has pledged up to $1 billion to prevent deforestation in that country. However, there is concern that the upcoming presidential leadership change in Indonesia and weaknesses in its legal basis for REDD+ could derail those efforts. The agency has established bilateral partnerships with five other REDD+ countries: Ethiopia, Guyana, Mexico, Tanzania and Vietnam.


An inconvenient truth

What is the actual rate of deforestation in Indonesia? It’s a tough question to answer, say Agus Sari, deputy chair of the country’s REDD+ Management Agency, and Nirartha Samadhi, deputy chair of the Presidential Working Unit for the Supervision and Management of Development. Indonesia’s Forestry Ministry issued a decree that sets the country’s forest emission level at 0.816 billion tons, meaning actual emissions below that reference level constitute a reduction. The ministry estimated Indonesia’s deforestation rate at 628,000 hectares annually, but an independent study pegged it at about 850,000 hectares in 2012. The government is moving forward with plans to clear 14 million hectares of degraded forest between 2010 and 2020, despite a commitment to curb greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Ghana thinking strategically

A study in three districts in Ghana aimed to identify REDD+ strategies that reverse agriculture’s adverse effects on forests and trees as part of the work being done to ensure that REDD+ becomes a key component of the country’s climate change mitigation and adaptation strategy. “Ghana’s REDD+ readiness process is nearing completion and a REDD+ package that would outline Ghana’s strategy and framework for safeguards, among others, would be completed by 2015,” said Samuel Afari Dartey, Chief Executive of Ghana’s Forestry Commission.

Building a forest foundation

South Korea’s Forest Service (KFS) is also working to incorporate REDD+ into its national strategy amid expectations that the country will have GHG emissions reduction requirements as part of a new international climate agreement. The country has a target to voluntarily reduce carbon emissions 30% by 2020. The KFS is developing a customized REDD+ model that features close bonds with local residents, the application of advanced information technology, and its experience overcoming post-war deforestation in the 1960s. “A successful REDD project not only involves the reduction of greenhouse gas but also considers the livelihood of local residents,” a KFS official said.


For the birds

The Audubon Society has sold half of the 450,000 offsets from its Beidler Forest project in South Carolina to companies in California’s cap-and-trade program. The 5,200-acre forest conservation project is registered through Blue Source and the offsets are selling at a minimum of $8/tCO2e. The Audubon Society receives 80% of the proceeds and directs the funds towards an endowment that will support the forest in perpetuity. Jeff Cole, the vice president of portfolio development for Blue Source, expects additional offsets to be generated in the future as the forest grows.

Making new friends

Wildlife Works’ Kasigau REDD+ forestry project is having a positive impact in the local community, not just in terms of stopping unchecked deforestation, but also providing a new source of income for impoverished residents and improving the habitat for elephants, lions, cheetahs, zebras and other native animals. “We were losing everything, but thanks to the project we have learnt even how to live with the wild animals,” said Mercy Joshua, a mother of four. “These days, we don’t cut down trees… they are our friends”. Buyers of the voluntary carbon offsets generated by the project include Microsoft, Barclays Bank and Kenya Airways, which have invested $3.5 million each since the project started.


Back to school

Seven palm oil giants are jointly funding a year-long study to define what constitutes a High Carbon Stock (HCS) forest since many of these companies have agreed not to cut down these trees. The HCS has been a subject of debate among palm oil corporations, green groups and forest experts. The study underpins the Sustainable Palm Oil Manifesto, which sets criteria for sustainable palm oil production, including barring conversion of forests and peatlands for plantations, as well as creating traceable palm oil supply chains. But environmental groups such as Greenpeace and Rainforest Action Network have sharply criticized supposed loopholes in the manifesto.

The right kind of palm oil policy

U.S. food giant ConAgra has adopted a new policy that will bar palm oil produced from new plantations established on HCS lands and require suppliers to have no-burn policies and respect the right of communities to give or withhold their Free, Prior and Informed Consent to new development. The policy change comes after Green Century Capital Management and the New York State Comptroller’s Office filed a shareholder resolution alleging the company purchased so-called GreenPalm credits from other sources growing palm oil sustainably, rather than preventing deforestation in its own supply chain. Investors say they are becoming more sensitive about palm oil deforestation, scaling back development plans to only clear degraded forests and setting aside some lands for conservation.


Give the EU some credit

The European Union (EU) has declared its commitment to reduce tropical deforestation 50% by 2020 – but what’s its game plan? A recent paper by ClimateFocus and The Nature Conservancy looks at opportunities for the EU to mobilize REDD+ finance in the short to medium term. The authors identify two of the most promising options as being REDD+ Compensation Credits and voluntary sustainable supply chain initiatives. A structurally weak and economically depressed EU has stymied funding streams, but the authors offer some hope: “As European policy makers begin to realize that the current system is not providing the levels of funding that are needed, attention is beginning to shift to new and innovative funding streams,” they write.


Bamboo beat

Only in operation since June, Global Forest Watch-Fires (GFW-Fires) is already making some peoples’ jobs easier. GFW-Fires is an online platform that combines high-resolution satellite imagery, real-time fire alerts and land-use and concession maps to monitor and respond to fires. The system allows Indonesia’s REDD agency to warn communities in Indonesia of dangerous fires and also to track potentially illegal activity such as slash-and-burn agriculture. “Just imagine a village resident who beat bamboo tubes to warn others about an ongoing fire,” said agency head Heru Prasetyo. “This system works just like a giant bamboo tube that alerts officials and agencies responsible for handling fires on a massive scale.”


Trouble Down Under

In western Australia, sheep farmer Peter Yench holds a permit to clear his properties of trees, which would open up more land for grazing. But he has agreed to keep almost 7,000 hectares of forest standing for 100 years in exchange for revenue through the government’s Carbon Farming Initiative. However, the recent repeal of Australia’s carbon price has left farmers such as Yench in limbo, and 140,000 hectares of semi-arid woodlands may be up for clearing if the 154 accredited carbon farming projects in Australia cannot find an income stream.


VCS sees REDD in Golden State

The Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) is ready to move into California’s regulated market in a major way. The leading voluntary carbon markets standard has now been authorized by the state’s ARB to pre-screen coal mine methane and other types of offset projects for California’s carbon trading program. In addition to evaluating currently eligible projects, the VCS has set a specific goal of helping California welcome REDD+ projects into the program. According to the related job posting, VCS sees California potentially as their first step towards involvement in other compliance markets throughout North America and worldwide.


Recipe for success?

Secure tenure, stakeholder engagement, clear monitoring frameworks and methods to ensure permanence are among the key “enabling conditions” for successful payments for ecosystem services (PES) programs, according to a new United Nations (UN) report. The report explores forest services through 14 detailed case studies and provides guidance on PES programs, suggesting that a “code of conduct” should be established for valuation, engagement and compliance. It was jointly produced by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN, the UN Economic Commission for Europe and the UN Environment Programme.

Bigger, safer, stronger

With much of the pledged financing for REDD coming from bilateral donors, these funders are beginning to move from a “do no harm” approach to proactively promoting positive social and environmental outcomes. In its recently released report, ClimateFocus looks at how the REDD safeguards adopted at the Cancun climate negotioations are currently being used, and how safeguard compliance may need to rely more heavily on country systems as REDD moves from the project scale to the jurisdictional scale. The paper calls for a strong Feedback and Grievance Redress Mechanism to catch major violations and for certain indicators for example, displacement without compensation and high-value biodiversity loss to be prioritized in safeguard monitoring.


Director of North America Compliance Markets – Verified Carbon Standard (VCS)

Based in San Francisco, California, the Director of North American Compliance Markets will ensure that VCS plays a prominent role in the success of California’s cap-and-trade program, and other emerging programs. The position will include engaging the California ARB and the broad community of stakeholders in the development of new offset protocols and how to incorporate sector-based offsets such as REDD+.

Read more about the position here

Senior Program Officer, Training and Learning Network – The Center for People and Forests (RECOFTC)

Based in Bangkok, Thailand, the Senior Program Officer will manage RECOFTC’s capacity development activities, including customized courses and study tours for community forestry. The successful candidate will have at least 10 years of experience in participatory training in community forestry or natural resource management. Fluency in one or more languages from RECOFTC focal countries – Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam – is preferred.

Read more about the position here

Tropical Forest and Climate Initiative Assistant – Union of Concerned Scientists

Based in Washington, D.C., the Tropical Forest and Climate Initiative Assistant will develop a more comprehensive understanding of the drivers of deforestation, policies to mitigate deforestation, and the importance of reducing deforestation rates as a climate change solution. The ideal candidate will have strong research and organizational skills, be attentive to detail, and be able to prioritize many tasks and communicate with diverse audiences. This is a one-year, paid, benefits-eligible internship position.

Read more about the position here

Executive Director – Non-Timber Forest Products Exchange Programme for South and Southeast Asia (NTFP-EP)

Based in Manila, Philippines, the Executive Director will lead NTFP-EP, a collaborative, regional network of grassroots NGOs and peoples’ organizations that seeks to build the capacity of forest-based communities in the conservation and trade of non-timber forest products. The successful candidate will have at least 10 years of experience in development work and at least five years of experience in organizational and program management.

Read more about the position here

Manager, East & Southern Africa – Rainforest Alliance

Based in Nairobi, Kenya, the Manager for East & Southern Africa will be responsible for the successful implementation of Rainforest Alliance Sustainable Agriculture projects, managing and implementing partnerships and maintaining relationships with important stakeholders and partners. The successful candidate will have 7-10 years of experience in the tea and/or coffee sector and farmer training, as well as experience with certification/verification issues and systems. The position requires travel to Kenya and other countries in Eastern and Southern Africa up to 40% of the time.

Read more about the position here

Senior Science Writer and Producer – Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR)

Based in Bogor, Indonesia, the Senior Science Writer and Producer will work across a range of mediums and topics to turn out compelling, innovative and high-quality communications materials designed to help translate CIFOR’s high-caliber research into meaningful, real-world impact. The ideal candidate will have a strong editorial background, be an excellent writer, and have a rich, varied body of work that demonstrates the ability to think across multimedia platforms.

 Read more about the position here


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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Governors In Rainforest Nations Continue To Step Up On Deforestation. Will The Rest Of The World Follow?


12 August 2014 | RIO BRANCO, Brazil | Indonesia’s largest cash crop is palm oil. In Brazil, it’s soybeans. Those two crops are driving deforestation in both countries, yet governors from oilseed-dependent states in both countries have vowed to slash deforestation if funding for Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD) materializes.

Thirteen of them on Monday launched the Rio Branco Declaration, which is a clear commitment to reduce deforestation in their states by 80% between now and 2020. That commitment, however, is contingent on developed countries delivering on their own promises to step up funding both market-based and non-market-based to engineer a shift to sustainable land-use practices built in part on support for indigenous agriculture.

The declaration was signed at the 8th Annual Meeting of the Governors’ Climate & Forests (GCF) Task Force here. The GCF is a collaboration among 22 states and provinces from Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria, Peru, Spain, and the United States. Three additional Mexican states Tabasco, Quintana Roo and Jalisco are expected to join this week. Governors from other GCF member states say they will also sign the declaration.

“GCF members come from different provinces and countries, but we have a common goal to protect forests and build sustainable environments for improved livelihoods for all both now and into the future, said Governor A. Teras Narang of the Indonesian state of Central Kalimantan. “That future is now.

The REDD Factor

Narang’s country, Indonesia, is attempting to halt deforestation by shifting palm-oil development from forested lands to degraded lands a daunting task akin to moving the farms of the US Midwest to the plains of Texas. It amounts to the largest voluntary land-swap in history, and the government aims to use REDD finance to achieve it, while also engaging the demand side of the equation by working with companies willing to re-engineer their supply chains to avoid deforestation.

“Only standing forests are capable of removing greenhouse gases such as CO2 from our atmosphere, helping to reduce global warming, said Governor Dr. Cornelis MH, a signatory to the declaration and Governor of the Indonesian state of West Kalimantan. “Performance-based incentives or assistance from donor countries to support REDD+ programs and low emissions development will not only rehabilitate forests but support livelihoods among forest-dependent communities€both small-holder farmers and indigenous communities.

 Indigenous leaders, conservationists, and private-sector actors meet on the sidelines of the GCF meeting in Brazil

Indigenous leaders, conservationists, and private-sector actors meet on the sidelines of the GCF meeting in Brazil.

Edwin Vasquez is the leader of one of those communities, the Huitoto People of Peru, and as Coordinator General of COICA (Coordinadora de las Organizaciones Indí­genas de la Cuenca Amazí³nica, Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon River Basin), he represents nearly 400 other indigenous communities across the entire Amazon Basin.

“Humanity is in grave danger over the destruction of the Amazonia the climate regulator of the planet, he said. “The 5,000 indigenous communities continue to protect the forests and preserve our cultures and the world, as we have done for thousands of years. We are the proprietors of 210 million hectares, covering 25% of the Amazon, which calls for an urgent proposal Indigenous Amazonia for Humanity, a $210 million project addressing the fact that climate funds have not reached our communities.

The Declaration

The declaration aims to put the GCF on the world stage, and it invites the international community and partner organizations to work with the GCF to develop clear and transparent mechanisms for securing and delivering performance-based benefits to forest-dependent communities, smallholders, and indigenous peoples.

“For the last 6 years the GCF has been the source of incredible innovation that is now ready for the world stage, said Dan Nepstad, Executive Director of Earth Innovation Institute. “If the GCF states and provinces decide in Rio Branco to reduce 80% of deforestation by 2020, this means 4 billion tons of avoided CO2 emissions on top of the 3 billion tons of emissions already avoided.

Now, he says, it’s up to the rest of us to step up.

“For the 2020 commitment to become real, the GCF will need the support of companies, donors and investors, and a strong commitment to channel benefits to forest-based communities, said Nepstad. “All of the pieces are coming together for this to happen in the coming months.

California Key

On the buy-side, the US state of California is considering the inclusion of REDD offsets in its cap-and-trade program. The state played a leadership role in the early days of the GCF, and it remains a key driver.

“Without action to reduce emissions from the deforestation of tropical forests, we are missing one of the keys to mitigating climate change, said California Air Resources Board Chairman Mary Nichols. “We think the sector-based offset crediting approach being evaluated for jurisdiction-wide programs, like the one in Acre, is the next frontier for California’s carbon offset program.


Additional resources

Crossroads In Climate Negotiations When Adaptation And Mitigation Meet In Bonn And Lima

This article was originally published by Forests Climate Change. Click here to read the original.


11 August 2014 | The June round of climate negotiations commenced with wide recognition amongst Parties of the need for deeper cuts in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and to be accelerating negotiations based on the outcomes of the 5th Assessment Report (AR5) released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) this year.

This session was the last opportunity for Parties to meet before the United Nations Secretary General’s Climate Summit, to be held in New York in September the first time world leaders have met on the issue since the failed 2009 Copenhagen Conference. High expectations for finance announcements are expected from this meeting.

The June meeting of the UNFCCC Subsidiary Bodies (SBs) and the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform (ADP) occurred against the backdrop of the announcement by US President Barak Obama of a 30% reduction in power plant emissions by 2030 and the Green Climate Fund (GCF) completion of the essential elements required for the full operationalization of the fund.

Ministerial meetings took place, from which Parties hoped to gain insights. Emphasis was largely placed on disappointment over lack of ratifications of the Doha Amendments to the Kyoto Protocol (KP) to enable the second commitment period, a stagnation in developed country ambition to cut greenhouse gas emissions and ongoing lack of financial commitments. Many countries spoke of national processes underway for ratification to occur, however no major announcements were made.

The host country for the UNFCCC 20th Conference of the Parties (COP 20) Peru made their presence known. With much support from Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS), at every opportunity Peru reminded Parties of the urgency to act and set down high expectations for the meeting to be held in December in Lima. The incoming COP President, Minister Manuel Pulgar-Vidal made it clear that he hoped decisions in Lima will be made concerning pre-2020 mitigation, REDD+, GCF capitalisation, intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs) and a draft text for a new climate agreement.

It could be said that the substantive negotiations have commenced. Points of divergence and convergence are beginning to crystallize, which may enable the Parties to undertake their work to reach a durable and future proof agreement.

The emergence of synergies between adaptation and mitigation

During the Bonn session, it seemed that Parties became more accepting of the synergies and linkages between mitigation and adaptation. The recently released IPCC’s 5th Assessment report identifies that policies governing land use and REDD+ are more effective when both mitigation and adaptation are involved and that REDD+, primarily regarded as a mitigation framework, also has adaptation co-benefits.

During adaptation discussions in the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform (ADP), several Parties recognized the link between these two normally siloed issues and the mitigation co benefits associated with adaptation actions. The issue dominated much of the REDD+ discussions concerning non-market based approaches (NMBAs) and non-carbon benefits (NCBs).

In a climate finance context, the Global Environment Facility (GEF) already recognises funding for projects that include both adaptation and mitigation. The Green Climate Fund is also identifying linkages between adaptation and mitigation in the outcomes and results areas that are currently under development. The Standing Committee on Finance (SCF) have also commenced consideration of the issue in the context of forests and finance.

However, identification as to the technical details and development of modalities concerning the relationships between mitigation and adaptation has not yet been considered within the UNFCCC. Many Parties have mentioned that such information would be useful. Some preferred that this work should be considered after 2015, whilst others suggested it as a topic for one of the upcoming Technical Expert Meetings (TEMs).

Adaptation actions can have mitigation benefits and mitigation actions can give rise to adaptation outcomes but trade-offs may arise. Further exploration and safeguarding of circumstances where mitigation actions cause mal-adaptation and adaptation actions cause emissions increases may be warranted.

ADP Enhanced pre-2020 Climate Action (Workstream 2)

There is a recognized need to address the current gap between the likely global greenhouse gas emissions based on current mitigation pledges and those actions required to hold the increase in global average temperature below 2 or 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

An important development to accelerate mitigation actions occurred following the Bonn session, with the release of draft text of a pre-2020 decision that will be further negotiated in Lima. It calls on all Parties to accelerate full implementation of the decisions under the 2007 Bali Action Plan with emphasis on technology, finance and capacity building. It also expresses the urgency of ratification of the Doha Amendments to the Kyoto Protocol and calls for developed countries to ensure the initial mobilization of resources of the Green Climate Fund reaches a very significant scale.

As a part of this process, a series of Technical Expert Meetings (TEMs) are being held. These intend to provide Parties with insights, experiences from the ground, examples of success stories, and challenges for scaling up of mitigation actions before 2020. During the June session, a TEM on Land Use was held with expert panellists from civil society organisations, intergovernmental organisations and country delegates.

The major conclusions were that:

  • there is high mitigation potential from the forest and agricultural sectors whilst contributing to adaptation;
  • scaling up of finance, technology and capacity building is required for the sector to reach its potential;
  • success will require long term sectoral policies;
  • participatory multi-stakeholder dialogues should commence at early stages;
  • there remains a high interest in REDD+;
  • it is necessary to identify tradeoffs and safeguards against potential negative impacts on food security, rights of indigenous peoples and biodiversity.

Parties have suggested that the TEMs go beyond the technical examinations and be consolidated into concrete national and international actions and identify outcomes and technical issues that can then obtain financial support. Some seek that the TEM results should be included in a Lima COP decision as a menu of options for countries to apply.

Many Parties considered the TEMs to be a useful and successful process and have expressed a desire to see them continuing up to and beyond 2015. TEMs could also advance the ongoing workplan to enhance mitigation ambition, which will continue until the new agreement comes into effect in 2020.

ADP Workstream 1 Elements Adaptation and Mitigation

Workstream 1 of the ADP was established with a mandate to develop “a protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force under the Convention applicable to all Parties, which is to be completed no later than 2015 in order for it to be adopted and to be implemented from 2020.

It is the intention of the ADP to enhance action, which includes adaptation action. For this reason, adaptation in the ADP negotiations has increased in profile. This is also reflected by the 50 / 50 mitigation adaptation allocation of funds in the Green Climate Fund.

Parties agree that adaptation will be a critical part of a new climate agreement. Some have put it as a Human Right, to be entitled to the means to adapt.

ADP adaptation discussions in Bonn focused largely around the usefulness and ability to identify a global adaptation goal. Uncertainty remains as to how to establish a global goal for adaptation and how such a goal might be measurable. Some Parties expressed serious doubts as to this approach, whilst others consider the content of Article 2 of the Convention to be sufficient. Building resilience was raised as an area for possible further consideration on the issue and such a goal could be framed in terms of support or within the context of a temperature limitation goal together with mitigation.

Lack of adaptation finance is also a serious concern for developing country Parties. Low mitigation ambition will create higher adaptation funding requirements in an environment that some Parties already consider to be in a funding crisis. Calls have been made for adaptation support to be reflected as a legally binding commitment linked to mitigation ambition. What will be required in terms of adaptation post-2020 will depend on pre-2020 mitigation, as well as mitigation over the longer term.

National Adaptation Plans (NAPs) are considered most likely to be the entry point for adaptation support under the 2015 agreement and Parties have called for strong linkages between NAPs and the Green Climate Fund. Formulation of NAPs, technical guidelines and institutional linkages between the Adaptation Fund and other finance institutions (such as the GCF) is progressing under the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI). Whilst few countries have commenced the NAPs process, lack of financial support to enable implementation was a major emphasis in the discussions as was a need for greater coherence and understanding as to the implementation guidelines.

Mitigation discussions got off to a slow start Parties took issue with the lack of available space and exclusion of observers.

As was the case with adaptation, much focus was on a global goal. What form the mitigation goal will take in the new agreement remains uncertain. Options include: a temperature goal that reflects current science; an emissions reduction goal; a maximum concentration of GHGs in the atmosphere; or as a carbon budget.

There remains no agreement on this issue and questions remain as to whether developing countries should be taking economy-wide emission reduction targets to reach any such goal.

The Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) strongly assert that the level should be adequate to protect the most vulnerable countries and should ensure limiting global average temperature increase to below 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Many Parties maintain that all should mitigate having regard to the Convention Principles of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities (CBDR-RC) and equity.

Parties agree that adaptation will be a critical part of a new climate agreement. Some have put it as a ‘Human Right'. Photo by Neil Palmer/CIAT.

On the issues of MRV and accounting, Parties seek differentiation and flexibility as well as key elements and principles for a common system. It was suggested that the new agreement include key principles specific to the land sector. Laying out the core items, and the specifics such as accounting rules should be negotiated post-2015.

As a mechanism designed for mitigation purposes, the Warsaw Framework provides a foundation for REDD+ to be anchored in a new agreement. Science shows that mitigation opportunities exist in the context of forests as well as coastal marine ecosystems and the inclusion of both has been sought.

ADP Moving towards legal form Contributions and Compliance

Under the Kyoto Protocol, developed countries have legally binding commitments requiring emissions reductions. As a result of more recent negotiations and the intended universal legal application of a new climate agreement, the softer term contributions is now more commonly used. Both developed and developing country Parties are currently in the process of identifying their intended contributions related to climate change action to be taken at the national level and what those contributions mean when considered aggregately at the international level.

Parties agreed at COP 19 in Warsaw, to “initiate or intensify preparation of their intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs). The scope of INDCs remains unclear. Some Parties consider that INDCs relate only to mitigation contributions whereas others understand the notion to relate to adaptation, capacity building, technology transfer and financial support. In Lima, it’s expected that there will be an agreement on the scope of INDCs and the types of information required for INDCs to be assessed internationally and in the context of the 2 degree goal. Against this background, much discussion focused on this issue in Bonn, with draft decision text produced following the session.

Bonn saw progress towards a broader agreement that INDCs may go beyond mitigation and include contributions related to adaptation, capacity building, technology transfer and finance. Difficulties associated with measuring adaptation contributions were highlighted consistently, particularly due to its evolutionary nature and its dependence on mitigation actions. Despite ongoing disagreement on this issue, the revised draft text includes an option for Parties to agree on this broader approach.

Due to the level of convergence related to mitigation contributions, it was asserted that there is nothing to prevent work from commencing at the national level on preparations for intended mitigation contributions. The need for financial support for preparation of INDCs was however highlighted by all developing countries.

The extent to which REDD+ will be included in INDCs remains unknown, however the draft text also includes provision for land sector contributions. This indicates potential for developing forest countries to rely on REDD+ to make their contributions. A question here emerges as to whether such REDD+ contributions may be legally binding under a new agreement. It may be argued that once a Party voluntarily participates in REDD+, certain legally binding obligations may arise.

Parties have proposed an ex-ante assessment in 2015 concerning whether INDCs put forward are sufficient to meet the 2 degree goal. There is disagreement concerning this assessment and calls have been made to include an assessment as to whether the financial commitments made are sufficient. Reviewing the adequacy of finance over time to ensure it remains sufficient was proposed as an ongoing process.

Although it remains early, there are signs emerging within the ADP of increasing cooperation amongst Parties, a decrease in technical time wasting arguments, and completion of important institutional arrangements such as the GCF.

The system of review will be linked with the INDC process. During the review discussion, the term setting a direction of travel was raised several times, as was a no backsliding requirement to enable upward adjustments of contributions over time. Although there was wide agreement to 5 year cycles in line with IPCC science, some Parties seek longer terms of 10 years. Review cycles may be linked with reporting cycles under the processes in place through International Assessment and Review (IAR) and International Consultation and Analyses (ICA).

In this context, Parties continue to emphasise the Convention Principles of CBDR-RC and many accept that, due to national circumstances, not all INDCs will be provided as expected in early 2015. The ADP Co-Chairs will be seeking completion of the decision on INDCs at the October inter-sessional so it can be put forward for recommendation to the COP in Lima.

Linked with the INDC process and post-2020 obligations is that of a new compliance mechanism to be developed in a new agreement.

A rich discussion occurred on this issue, with many Parties seeming eager to move beyond discussing elements and onto legal issues such as compliance and form. Calls were made for a legal expert team to be established to advise the Parties. Suggestions have also been made that a compliance regime may be centred around the concept of climate justice. There was no disagreement on the importance of a new compliance mechanism to be developed under the new agreement however preference was expressed for emphasis on substance rather than legal form, on the basis that the legal form will be determined by the substance and content of a new agreement.

Emerging issues related to a new compliance mechanism include facilitation, sanctions and review. It is widely accepted that compliance should strengthen implementation, and the current reporting frameworks through IAR and ICA may also assist with this.

There was wide agreement that a new compliance mechanism will build on the current rules under the Kyoto Protocol but tailor-made to a new agreement and possibly broader on the basis that the current KP compliance mechanism relates only to mitigation. The way in which a new compliance mechanism might be developed relating to adaptation and finance remains a topic for future negotiation and legal consideration. There was wide acceptance to ensure the mechanism includes a facilitative platform designed to provide assistance to Parties to meet their obligations.

One of the most important outcomes of COP20 will be the draft text of a new post 2020 climate agreement. Some have called for draft text to be produced prior to COP20.

Disagreement remains amongst Parties as to how the draft is to be prepared and whether the co chairs will prepare the text based on the submissions, text provided by other Parties, based on interventions made from the floor, or all of the above. The ADP Chairs are confident that all outputs will reflect inputs from the Parties and whilst some welcome a Chairs draft text, others do not on the basis that this would compromise the Party driven process.

The draft text discussion continues to carry with it negative experiences from the 2009 Copenhagen COP. It was mentioned that the Copenhagen experience fundamentally shook the multilateral process on climate change. Many seek to avoid the same mistakes.


The 40th meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific and Technical Advice (SBSTA) undertook negotiations in Bonn on issues including agriculture, REDD+ non-carbon benefits (NCBs) and non-market based approaches (NMBAs). The SBSTA will consider guidance concerning REDD+ safeguards information systems at COP 20 in Lima.

Trees cocooned in spiders webs, an unexpected side effect of floods in Pakistan. The agriculture 'roadmap' will see workshops held on early warning systems and contingency plans for extreme weather events. Russell Watkins/Department for International Development

The discussions concerning agriculture took a step forward, considered to be a larger step by some more than others. An agreed roadmap was developed to progress the issue through to mid-2016. Although calls were made for a work programme to focus on mitigation and adaptation in the sector, the outcome has remained limited to the adaptation mandate.

The work programme, which includes a call for submissions from Parties and Observers, will consider:

  • development of early warning systems and contingency plans in relation to extreme weather events;
  • assessment of vulnerability and risk of agricultural systems in relation to different climate change scenarios;
  • identification of adaptation measures; and
  • identification and assessment of agricultural practices and technologies to enhance productivity in a sustainable manner, food security and resilience.

Workshops will be held on early warning systems and contingency plans in relation to extreme weather events; and vulnerability and risk of agricultural systems in relation to different climate change scenarios at SBSTA 42 (June 2015) followed by additional issues to be considered at workshops at SBSTA 44 (June 2016).

On the issue of REDD+ non carbon benefits, many parties seek to avoid international guidance and modalities instead seeking that they be identified and defined at the national level only. LDCs however continue to seek international guidance on the issue and it will be further considered at SBSTA 42 in Bonn in June 2015. Many Parties recognize the linkages between NCBs and adaptation and safeguards. (For an analysis of the NCBs outcomes in Bonn see this article written by the Center for International Environmental Law).

Non Market Based Approaches and Joint Mitigation Adaptation REDD+

An In Session Expert Meeting was held on NMBAs with high expectations that the meeting would be informative and assist Parties to reach a decision on this issue before Lima. The Warsaw Framework provides for a mix of policy approaches and sources of finance including market and non-market finance for REDD+ activities.

Many held a view that the expert workshop failed to deliver. Criticisms were raised that it became overly political without any conclusion on how to deal with NMBAs or the approach to joint mitigation adaptation (JMA) as put forward by Bolivia. Some agreed, following the workshop, that a more technical and scientific approach to the issue would be useful.

To contextualise, it is important for a more detailed understanding of the Bolivian proposal. Arising from a concern that REDD+ has become overly focused on mitigation and carbon markets, in 2012 Bolivia put forward an alternative REDD+ policy approach to the now established results-based payments system. The main point of distinction is that the proposal does not allow for carbon offsetting. The proposal involves a more general estimate of carbon sources and sinks as opposed to the high level technical accounting and MRV requirements that are established under the Convention.

The concept goes beyond forests and looks across a landscape incorporating both adaptation and mitigation. It is argued to be a more consistent approach to sustainable land use and indigenous world-views.

This alternative policy approach to REDD+ is proposed to be undertaken through two phases, namely preparation and implementation and has been put forward in both the current SBSTA discussions as well as the ADP approach to forests and land use.

The preparation phase requires evaluation of forest mitigation potential and the preparation of adaptation elements. It seeks a general understanding of mitigation potential without the need for complex inventories. For the adaptation component, it intends to link to current systems such as the NAPs. Needs assessments are undertaken to address priorities, vulnerabilities and financial needs. Finance is provided both ex ante and ex post through mechanisms such as the Green Climate Fund.

The implementation phase is supported by a performance-based approach intended to have both mitigation and adaptation outcomes. It is intended that mitigation outcomes be measured through proxies and general criteria be developed to identify adaptation outcomes. The proposal seeks benchmarks rather than safeguards, on the basis that this approach is considered low risk. It is asserted that safeguards are required where there are higher risks.

In addition to the proposal presented by Bolivia, presentations were provided on NMBAs by ASEAN and the United States.

ASEAN define NMBAs as an approach that does not generate carbon credits. REDD+ readiness work is considered to be an example of where such approaches are already happening. Other examples include grants and creating enabling conditions. ASEAN agree that there is a need for greater clarity on joint mitigation and adaptation at the international level.

The US also provided current ongoing examples of NMBAs however did not take the view of a markets versus non-markets situation. The US consider that the approach to REDD+ should be both markets and non markets and the methodologies developed under the Warsaw Framework are designed to do this. They define market as linked to emissions reductions units in carbon markets and non-markets¢ as being everything else associated with REDD+. Alternative approaches used as examples include cancellation of foreign debt, programmes to promote forest mapping and monitoring, and enhancing broader stakeholder engagement.

Confusion reigned as Parties struggled to understand the nature of the discussion. Was it about markets, non-markets, alternative policy approaches to REDD+ and finance, or the development of methodologies concerning synergies between mitigation and adaptation, or non-carbon benefits? And how are these items linked to one another?

Discussion occurred following the presentation with queries related to the difference between phase 1 & 2 finance as non-market finance, and provision of finance to create enabling conditions for REDD+ markets. Strong views were expressed that the Warsaw Framework provides adequate guidance to enable both market and non-market based approaches and that there was no need for ongoing negotiations on the issue. Strong views were also expressed that REDD+ was finalised in Warsaw on the basis that the Bali mandate was limited to mitigation, however many agreed that NMBAs to REDD+ can strengthen adaptation measures in forests. This was echoed by a call for REDD+ funding to be spread across both the adaptation and mitigation windows of the GCF.

There was much disagreement on the way forward throughout the remainder of the Bonn negotiations. Some expressed the view that the issues of JMA and NMBAs should be de-linked and matters of synergies between mitigation and adaptation and alternative policy approaches should be considered under a new agenda item. Confusion reigned as Parties struggled to understand the nature of the discussion. Was it about markets, non-markets, alternative policy approaches to REDD+ and finance, or the development of methodologies concerning synergies between mitigation and adaptation, or non-carbon benefits? And how are these items linked to one another?

The SBSTSA Conclusions took note of the views submitted and the outcomes of the expert meeting and will further consider the matter at SBSTA41 during COP20 in Lima.

An additional issue to complicate matters was that a separate negotiation was happening related to market and non-market approaches more broadly under the Convention. Many REDD+ negotiators felt that this was the more appropriate place for the discussion that there was a need to avoid agreement on anything that could prejudge or contradict the outcome of that discussion.

A dispute has now emerged related to whether alternative policy approaches, such as joint mitigation and adaptation approaches for the integral and sustainable management of forests should become a new agenda item, or whether the issue can be dealt with as a part of the current agenda item 5“Methodological guidance for activities relating to reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation and the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries (REDD+)

The discussion is likely to now move to a debate concerning agenda items and legal technicalities related to mandates at the commencement of the Lima COP20 meeting, which has the potential to take important negotiating time away from other issues including safeguards guidance.

There is an increasingly strong push for no further modalities, guidance or methodologies related to REDD+ and to avoid further negotiations. Some countries are edging closer to the implementation stage, taking measures such as the development of forest reference emissions levels (FRELs) and safeguard systems at the national level. Brazil have taken the significant step to be the first country to submit their FREL for the required technical assessment.

The other side of the argument however is that many LDCs are concerned that there is insufficient guidance and methodologies to enable them to reach phase 3 REDD+ and access results based finance. It has been asserted that the current markets focused approach to REDD+ does not benefit LDCs or SIDS, that it is overly complex and difficult to meet the requirements to access finance. It will be important to find the right balance. Whilst too much detail may create a burden or be limiting, too little may be difficult to interpret and create difficulties in meeting objectives.

The current challenges in the REDD+ negotiations are not isolated to the REDD+ SBSTA. The recent Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Subsidiary Body has recently considered issues related to REDD+ biodiversity safeguards guidance, non market based approaches and similar linkages related to adaptation and mitigation. In that forum Parties again argue that there should be no new requirements and disagreement has prevented outcomes concerning REDD+ at the CBD. The Standing Committee on Finance is undertaking its own process related to coordination and cohesion of forest finance, looking beyond markets and at the linkages between mitigation and adaptation. The GCF will develop phase 3 finance frameworks in coming months and it is expected that discussion will emerge in that forum concerning finance across the mitigation and adaptation windows of the fund and how the fund can contribute to phase 1 and 2 REDD+.

Forests and Climate Finance

A major climate finance milestone was reached in Songdo, South Korea, only weeks prior to the June meeting in Bonn, where the GCF completed its essential elements and put a resource mobilisation process in place for capitalization. The GCF Board and others hope that the fund will become a reality in Lima.

This milestone was a constant point of reference throughout the two weeks of discussions in the ADP and the Subsidiary Bodies. Many calls were made for the fund to be immediately capitalised and for developed countries to urgently scale up finance to ensure meeting the agreed target of US$100 billion by 2020. Some Parties have called for recognition of this target in the Paris Agreement.

Different views were expressed as to how this would be achieved, with some saying there should be no less than US$15 billion contributed to the GCF by 2015, with US$70 billion by 2016 rising to US$100 billion per year by 2020. The UNFCCC has called for US$10 billion by the end of 2014 while the GCF itself is making calls for US$15 billion by the end of 2014. It has been suggested that developed countries provide 1% of their GDP from 2020 onwards.

No concrete finance pledges occurred in Bonn, nor were any announcements made during the first GCF resource mobilisation meeting held in Oslo in late June. Germany has recently made a commitment of a multi-year pledge of up to 750 million with the first payment planned for 2015. There remain high expectations that more countries will be making financial pledges between now and Lima. Finance has now become one of the more critical elements that will determine the success or otherwise of COP20.

Concerns were expressed in Bonn, that current discussions in the GCF do not adequately provide finance for phase 1 and 2 REDD+. The immediate work to be undertaken by the GCF relates to a logic model for results based (phase 3) finance. Uncertainty also remains as to whether project and programme proponents will be entitled to seek access to GCF finance through both the adaptation and mitigation windows. Calls continued to be made by Parties in Bonn for a separate REDD+ window in the GCF.

The Standing Committee on Finance held a meeting immediately following the Bonn session to consider a number of items, including the mandates from Warsaw related to coherence and coordination of finance and forests, different policy approaches, ways and means to transfer payments for results-based actions, and the provision of financial resources for alternative approaches.

There was some reluctance to move the item forward due to the sensitive ongoing negotiations in the REDD+ SBSTA. Committee members sought additional time to consult with colleagues on the relevant issues and requested the Secretariat to undertake further work to inform the Standing Committee. This further information will enable decisions to focus its soonest possible forum on issues related to finance for forests as required by the Warsaw mandate, and whether the SCF requires further guidance on the issue from the COP in Lima.

It is suggested that all relevant entities currently engaged in REDD finance come together at the 2015 Standing Committee on Finance Forum, including the Global Environment Facility, United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF), Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF), REDD+ Partnership, UN-REDD as well as major donors engaged bilaterally. Having regard to the extent of fragmentation across forest finance, the Standing Committee on Finance will consider coordination and coherence. It intends to look beyond REDD+ across adaptation finance insofar as forests are concerned.

In addition to the above, a process was agreed in Warsaw concerning coordination of support for the implementation of activities in relation to mitigation actions in the forest sector by developing countries, including institutional arrangements. This process is intended to strengthen and enhance good practices; identify needs and gaps in coordination of support; and to share information concerning finance and enhance efficiency. The first substantive meeting as a part of this process will occur in Lima.

During the Bonn session, the first of these meetings was held. The key focus was on implementation, due to growing frustration amongst developing countries about access to REDD+ finance. The meeting, amongst Parties and observers was intended to map out a way forward for the process. Many suggested that a more interactive meeting should be held in Lima, moving away from the usual processes of negotiations around a table. Wide participation was sought including financing institutions and UNFCCC finance experts, indigenous peoples, REDD+ practitioners, private sector, civil society and multilateral donors. It is hoped that the Peruvian Government will engage with the meeting and Parties are currently undertaking the process to identify national focal points.

El Camino hacia Lima

The road to Lima: It seems highly likely that reducing emissions from forests and land use together with forests and adaptation will remain an ongoing area of negotiations for some time to come. Photo by ceetap

Although it remains early, there are signs emerging within the ADP of increasing cooperation amongst Parties, a decrease in technical time wasting arguments, and completion of important institutional arrangements such as the GCF. The scientific and political windows to put in place adequate international climate policies are rapidly closing. World-leading experts are consistently warning that now is the time to deal with climate change. The emphasis on pre-2020 ambition remains critical to this process, as efforts undertaken before 2020 will determine potential for both adaptation and mitigation post-2020.

It was unfortunate that the SBSTA was left without any substantive outcomes. New issues are emerging and although the Warsaw Framework is in place, it seems highly likely that reducing emissions from forests and land use together with forests and adaptation will remain an ongoing area of negotiations for some time to come. The resistance to guidance or modalities concerning NCBs and NMBAs may also provide some insight to the upcoming safeguards discussion to be held in Lima. The issue of NMBAs and JMA will be a major issue of contention at the commencement of the next SBSTA.

Recognition of the links between adaptation and mitigation has been argued for inclusion in the Paris Agreement and it can be expected that the discussion will be ongoing into the October ADP inter-sessional (ADP 2-6) and COP 20. Further, the non-paper released by the ADP Chairs following the session identifies Party positions on the linkages, such as defining the relationships between mitigation, adaptation and loss and damage as well as potential for institutional linkages between the two as mutually supportive notions.

The Co Chairs of the ADP have also now issued a new reflections note on progress, a draft decision on pre-2020 ambition and a draft decision on INDCs to assist Parties between now and the next ADP intercessional in October.

Several Parties mentioned that a failure in Lima will guarantee a failure in Paris. As things move forward, all Parties will need to consider whether another major climate summit failure is something that the world can afford.


Stephen Leonard is a legal practitioner and climate policy analyst.

This Week In Forest Carbon News…

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


7 August 2014 | Five years ago, the Tolo River People of northern Colombia were facing threats from all angles. Externally, wealthy businessmen in a nearby town were expanding their cattle ranches into the community’s forests. Internally, the Tolo themselves were logging the forests commercially to feed their families.

“This wood is worth around three million pesos,” about US$1,500 said Frazier Guisao, a former logger, referencing a giant centennial almendro tree on a walk through the forest with journalist Tanya Dimitrova. Guisao estimates that he could take down the tree in two hours, but today, he’s content to leave it standing.

By teaming up with US-based carbon project developer Anthrotect, Guisao and his community-based organization COCOMASUR were able to create a REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation of forests) project that would save the roughly 13,000 hectares of forests that would otherwise be lost to cattle ranching, agriculture and logging. The project verified its first emissions reductions under the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) in 2012, and last year it sold 70,000 offsets at $9 apiece on the voluntary carbon market. These financial returns flow much slower than logging revenues, but they may be enough to pay for forest patrollers’ salaries (that’s Guisao’s new gig) and, eventually, to improve the Tolo’s community health care services and send young people to university.

“Our community will always continue trying to protect our forest with or without the project. But having the project gives us the resources to do that,” says community leader Aureliano Cí³rdoba.

Read the full story here, which is the first in a series adapted from “Modern day forest conservation: A Colombian community protecting its rainforest one carbon credit at a time,” by Dimitrova.

And, speaking of projects like these, we’re now in the final stages of data collection for our State of the Forest Carbon Markets 2014 report. This annual report is the only market-wide, freely available benchmark on the forest carbon market, providing transparent information on transactions and project developments. If you are a forest carbon project developer (or know one!) please make sure to get in your response.

The survey is available in English HERE and in Spanish AQUí. Questions? Get in touch with Allie Goldstein or Gloria Gonzalez.

The Ecosystem Marketplace Team


If you have comments or would like to submit news stories, write to us at



A sour margarita

REDD remains a divisive issue in the run-up to the United Nations’ Conference of Parties climate negotiations in Peru in December, as seen by dueling proclamations issued last month. A meeting of 130 civil society organizations in Venezuela ended with the Margarita Declaration, which claimed that carbon markets are a “false solution” to the climate change problem and called market-based REDD projects “dangerous and unethical.” But a competing statement issued by NGOs and carbon market industry associations urged governments to help secure the financing needed to support REDD+, namely interim incentives for stimulating REDD+ investment during the 2015-2020 period before any new international climate agreement takes hold.


Thank you, Mr. President

Environmental advocates have gotten their wish with the victory of President-elect Joko Widodo, who will assume the presidency of Indonesia in October, despite the fact that little is known about his views on climate change. Indonesia has recently surpassed Brazil as having the world’s highest rate of deforestation, but the country’s new REDD+ Management Agency is developing measuring and reporting metrics for REDD+ projects. Heru Prasetyo, head of the agency, urged the incoming government to ensure passage of legislation safeguarding the land tenure of indigenous groups, which hold rights to an estimated 45 million hectares of forest being misused as commercial concessions.

California thirsty for forest offsets

Severe drought conditions in California have led officials to impose criminal penalties for water wasters, but could also help make the case that the US state should allow projects aimed at curbing tropical deforestation into its carbon trading program. The potential connection between deforestation in the Amazon rainforest and the drought has caught the attention of staffers at the California Air Resources Board (ARB) who are planning to consider allowing sector-based REDD projects to supply offsets to the program. ARB staffers are also planning to recommend that the board lift its ban on forestry projects based in Alaska.

The Last Frontier going up in flames

Forest fires have taken hold across Canada’s Last Frontier. Of the 186 wildfires instigated by extremely dry conditions in Canada’s Northwest Territories this year, 156 are still burning. The acreage burned to date is six times greater than the 25-year average, according to Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Center data. Boreal forests like those in the Northwest Territories are burning at unprecedented rates, a major challenge as the combined boreal forests of Canada, Europe, Russia and Alaska account for 30% of the world’s carbon stored in land. Ecosystem Marketplace’s Forest Carbon Portal currently tracks 15 forestry projects in Canada.


This is a monkey’s world

Project developer Face the Future and the Uganda Wildlife Authority have just completed the latest carbon monitoring campaign in Kibale National Park, measuring a total area of 70 hectares. The park, located in western Uganda, is known for its diversity of monkeys and great apes, but deforestation in the past 20 years has led to habitat degradation and endangerment of biodiversity.  So far, the project has restored more than 6,200 hectares and planted over 1.4 million trees. Despite complications from rain and equipment failure, the developer completed its planned monitoring work and hopes to issue VCS offsets in the third quarter of 2014.


Failing the forests?

Two new subsidiaries of palm oil company PT Austindo Nusantara Jaya Tbk have cleared forests in areas of New Guinea that would be off-limits under voluntary zero deforestation commitments made by companies such as Wilmar that purchase the parent company’s products, according to an analysis by Greenomics Indonesia. Both of the subsidiaries, acquired in January 2013, had forest land relinquishment permits issued by the Minister of Forestry. But Wilmar, the world’s largest palm oil trader, made a zero deforestation pledge in December 2013 and the company should answer questions about the connection between the clearing of intact forest landscapes for palm oil plantations in New Guinea and its pledge, according to Greenomics Indonesia.

The best a farmer can get

Consumer goods company Procter & Gamble has partnered with the Malaysia Institute for Supply Chain Innovation for a 6-month study to uncover new options for working with small farmers to separate sustainable sources from non-sustainable sources in the production of palm oil and palm kernel oil. The company is already working with larger suppliers in its supply chain as part of its zero deforestation pledge. But working with small farmers in places such as Malaysia and Indonesia is critical because they account for 35-45% of palm oil production. Japanese consumer goods giant Kao Corporation has become the latest company to join the zero deforestation trend by committing to sustainable procurement of raw materials by 2020.


Will the coffee be green too?

Ethiopia’s Climate Resilient Green Economy Strategy aims to guide the country’s efforts to become a low-carbon, middle-income economy by 2025. The strategy prioritizes the implementation of REDD projects as part of its focus on protecting and re-establishing the economic value of forests and their importance to the ecosystem. The strategy also includes reducing the demand for fuel wood through the distribution and use of fuel-efficient stoves and increasing afforestation and reforestation, among other forest conservation activities. But implementing the strategy will be a pricey proposition, with an estimated $150 billion required over the next 20 years.


Palm oil’s appeal

Fibre plantations are the main cause of deforestation in Indonesia, not the palm oil plantations that usually take the blame for the country’s skyrocketing rate of deforestation, according to new research from the University of Adelaide, Australia. Of the 14.7 million hectares of forest destroyed in the country between 2000 and 2010, 12.8% were removed for fibre plantations compared to 6.8% for palm oil plantations. In 2011, Indonesia stopped issuing permits to firms to clear forests on about 64 million hectares, but the ban did not apply to previously issued permits.

The under-story

Long-term global warming has little effect on the overall storage of carbon in tropical forest soil or the rate at which that carbon is processed into carbon dioxide, according to a new study of Hawaiian forests published in the journal Nature Climate Change. The findings dispel concerns raised by short-term climate studies showing that rising temperatures increased the rate of soil respiration. These earlier studies caused scientists to worry that global warming would decrease the amount of stored carbon in tropical soils. “If these findings hold true in other tropical regions, then warmer temperatures may not necessarily cause tropical soils to release their carbon to the atmosphere at a faster rate,” says Greg Asner of the Carnegie Institution for Science.



Wrestling with orangutans

Renowned conservationist and founder of Orangutan Foundation International Birute Galdikas was at first skeptical of entrepreneur Todd Lemons’ idea to use REDD to save the Seruyan Forest of Borneo. “I loved what he was saying, but I wasn’t convinced it would work,” she says. But with the peat forest slated to convert to palm oil within five years, Galdikas was out of other options. After seeing Lemons, a former college wrestler, wrangling with the orphaned orangutans and after seeing how quickly he caught onto Indonesian social cues  she decided to take a gamble on what would later become the Rimba Raya REDD project. Read Ecosystem Marketplace’s fourth installment of this series here.


Seeking a fair shake

The second Fair Carbon Standard meeting was held in Melbourne, Australia last week, after an inaugural workshop last January. Proposed by the Aboriginal Carbon Fund, the Standard aims to promote a robust voluntary carbon market in Australia by including a minimum price (to cover costs), co-benefits and long-term relationships with buyers. “One of our great challenges will be to shift carbon credits from being a top shelf commodity to a standard commodity that is purchased routinely by ordinary consumers and corporate Australia, according to the non-profit fund, which aims to build a sustainable Aboriginal carbon industry.


The carbon keepers

Indigenous people and local communities currently have legal or official rights to at least 513 million hectares of forests, about an eighth of the world’s total, according to Securing Rights, Combating Climate Change, a new report by the World Resources Institute and the Rights and Resources Initiative. The study finds that two key ingredients legal land tenure and positive government action to support those land rights are key to preventing the 37.7 billion tonnes of carbon stored in community-owned forests from being released into the atmosphere. If done right, “payments under REDD+ could incentivize governments to reform their legal frameworks and strengthen community forests rights,” promoting an often “undervalued” approach to mitigating climate change, the study finds.

Under the table

Ninety-three percent of logging in Mozambique last year was illegal, costing the country $146 million in lost duties and taxes since 2007, according to a new report by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA). The vast majority of this illicitly logged wood was shipped to China. Mozambique has the opportunity to access $3.8 million to establish a REDD strategy to reduce deforestation, but the EIA report calls into question whether such an approach could work given the widespread crime and corruption.

All together now

As part of the United Nations REDD project in Vietnam, development organization SNV recently piloted a Participatory Subnational Planning approach in the coastal province on Binh Thuan. The organization has now released a step-by-step guide that might be adopted for any participatory REDD or land-use planning process. It walks participants through preparatory studies and training as well as safeguards analysis and monitoring workshops. The guidance aims to promote a multi-stakeholder approach that increases ownership of and transparency throughout the REDD planning process.


Post-doctoral Research Fellow Bangor University

Based in North Wales, United Kingdom, the Post-doctoral Research Fellow will work through the School of Environment, Natural Resources and Geography on a project called “Can Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) deliver environmental and livelihood benefits?” The key case study will be a PES program in the Bolivian highlands, established by the Bolivian NGO Fundacií³n Natura Bolivia. Candidates should have a PhD (or equivalent) in economics, sociology, geography, conservation science or a related subject and experience with field work in Latin America.
Read more about the position here

Program Manager, Greater Mekong Conservation International

Based in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, the Program Manager will work to expand Conservation International’s Greater Mekong program. The position involves developing new business and partnerships in relevant policy and programmatic subject areas, including REDD and freshwater management. The preferred candidate will have a master’s degree, at least five years of experience working with NGOs and experience monitoring and evaluating programs.
Read more about the position here

Team Leader REDD+ Project in Southern Laos “sterreichische Bundesforste Consulting
Based in Pakse, Southern Laos, the Team Leader will lead the implementation of a REDD+ project in Xe Pian National Protected Area and its buffer zone and support the government of Laos in preparing for national implementation of REDD+. The successful candidate will have an advanced degree in forestry or a related discipline and a minimum of five years relevant work experience, at least two years prior experience abroad. Knowledge of English, German and Lao Language is preferred.
Read more about the position here

Operations Manager Proforest
Based in Oxford, United Kingdom, the Operations Manager for Proforest will help manage a period of growth and change while overseeing offices in the UK, Malaysia, Brazil and Ghana. The position requires strong interpersonal skills, the proven ability to multi-task and operate in a multi-cultural environment, and a knack for seeing the big picture and prioritizing tasks. At least three years of experience working as an operations manager is required; experience with information technology systems is useful.
Read more about the position here

Forest Officer, Responsible Forest Programme World Wide Fund for Nature, Malaysia
Based in Selangor, Malaysia, the Forest Officer will promote Responsible Forestry practices to the forest managers in Malaysia through the implementation of Global Forest and Trade Network Participation and forest certification. The successful candidate will have at least two years of experience in forestry and an interest in forest resource management and the timber trade, and the way they seek to improve their management practices. Must be able to speak or write in English, Bahasa Malaysia and/or Mandarin.
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 MARKETPLACEEcosystem 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 

Click here to read this article in its original format.

Stunning High-Resolution Map reveals Secrets Of Peru’s Forests

A colorful map of Peru’s landscape has been drawn from research assessing the nation’s aboveground carbon stock. The map portrays carbon density with different colors allowing viewers to see the diversity of Peru’s land in a whole new way and also see the value in preserving its ecosystems.

This article was originally published on Click here to read the original.


4 August 2014 | Peru’s landmass has just been mapped like never before, revealing important insights about the country’s forests that could help it unlock the value healthy and productive ecosystems afford humanity.

The research — involving scientists from the Carnegie Institution for Science at Stanford University, Wake Forest University, and Peru’s Ministry of Environment (Minam) — assessed the aboveground carbon stock of all vegetation types across the country using a combination of data from satellites and Carnegie’s advanced laser-based carbon detection system, ground-truthed with data from field studies.

The resulting map is a stunning kaleidoscope of color, ranging from deep red in carbon-dense forests of the Amazon to the cold dark blue of areas devoid of vegetation like heavy gold mining areas and Andean peaks.

 The new map reports all of Peru's ecosystems.

The new map reports all of Peru’s ecosystems.


But beyond its visual appeal, the map provides critical information at a one-hectare scale relevant for policymakers and scientists. The study found that vegetation in Peru stores some 6.9 billion metric tons of aboveground biomass, or roughly equivalent to nearly twice the combined annual carbon emissions of the U.S. and China, and documented ecosystem gradients that underpin the country’s rich biodiversity. For example, it found that the lowlands of southern Peru harbor significantly less carbon compared with other rainforest areas due to extensive areas of bamboo. Terra firme forests store more than twice as much carbon as active floodplain forests.

 The report compares the carbon storage of different vegetation types

The report compares the carbon storage of different vegetation types.

The research tied vegetation data to administrative units and protected areas, including national parks and communal reserves. It found that Loreto contains more than half the country’s total aboveground carbon stock, while Peru’s protected areas store a combined 26 percent of its carbon. That means nearly three-quarter’s of Peru’s carbon is found outside protected areas, underscoring the importance of maintaining those carbon stocks, according to the authors.

“The international community wants to use a combination of carbon sequestration and emissions reductions to combat climate change,” said Carnegie’s Greg Asner, the study’s lead author, in a statement. “Our cost-effective approach allows us to accurately map the carbon in this incredibly diverse country for the first time. It opens Períº’s door to carbon sequestration agreements and is an enormous boon to conservation and monitoring efforts over vast areas for the long term.”

 Carbon maps for four regions in Peru

Carbon maps for four regions in Peru.

The findings could also help place a value on Peru’s conservation efforts, added co-author Miles Silman of Wake Forest University.

“Now every person in private enterprise and decision makers in regional, local, and national government has an estimate of carbon content for every place in Períº. It should ignite the imaginations of ecologists and earth scientists, and provide a road map for decision makers,” Silman said. “The report also adds another exclamation point to the value of protected areas. If you choose carbon as your currency, parks in Amazonian Períº are the banks, and the bigger the area, the closer it gets to being Fort Knox.”

The carbon mapping process
The carbon mapping process. The report says the map can be used to measure deforestation and degradation using free Landsat imagery and forest cover monitoring software like as CLASlite, which was also developed by Carnegie. New field plot data can also be added to the map as it becomes available.


CITATION: Gregory P. Asner et al (2014). The High-Resolution Carbon Geography of Períº. A Collaborative Report of the Carnegie Airborne Observatory and the Ministry of Environment of Períº. July 2014.


Rhett Butler is the founder, president and head writer for

This Week In Water: New Loan Fund For Conservation

This article was originally published in the Water Log newsletter. Click here to read the original.


1 August 2014 | Greetings! We’ve got just over a month to go before our latest market report, the State of Watershed Investment 2014, is launched. 2012 and 2013 have been the biggest years ever for funding for natural infrastructure projects – this year, we’ve inventoried more than 400 programs around the world and tracked movements in financing structures, project design, and outcomes. We’ll be holding a report launch event at World Water Week in Stockholm on September 1st. Stay tuned for an announcement including event details.

In California, state officials are debating whether to allow projects curbing tropical deforestation into the state’s carbon cap-and-trade system. What caught our eye this week was the argument that Brazilian deforestation may be driving California’s current drought: researchers found that total deforestation of the Amazon rainforest could reduce rainfall in the Pacific Northwest by 20% and cause a 50% reduction in the Sierra Nevada snowpack, a crucial source of water for California.

We usually think of water as a local issue, but it connects us all in surprising ways. That includes bringing together people and organizations to solve water problems collectively: in this month’s Water Log we have news of public-private partnerships in Tanzania and China to address watershed risk.

We also have coverage of an new collaborative mechanism for finance, a revolving loan fund (RLF) in Costa Rica’s San Carlos basin. The RLF provides zero-interest loans to community groups to protect important source water areas. Operating in rural areas where the state-run water company has little or no presence, the RLF reports that communities are eager to finance watershed protection – and so far, borrowers have a 100% repayment rate.

On a final note, be sure to take a look at the ‘Jobs’ section below – there are lots of interesting positions this month.


The Ecosystem Marketplace Team

For questions or comments, please contact

EM Headlines

The Nectandra Institute: Making it rain

In rural areas worldwide, watershed protection is desperately needed, but project developers are stymied by a lack of water users with deep enough pockets to pay for it. In Costa Rica’s San Carlos watershed, the non-profit Nectandra Institute has come up with a solution: a self-replenishing revolving loan fund (RLF) that lets borrowers pay back money over time as benefits from conservation accumulate. RLFs have been used in many places, including the United States, to finance big infrastructure projects. Now, the model’s supporting investments in “natural” infrastructure: the forests and grasslands that recharge the aquifer, trap erosion, and filter out pollution.

Keep reading.


Forest Trends renews partnership with Peru on national ecosystem services incubator

On Thursday, July 17 Forest Trends signed a second MoU with the Ministry of Environment of Peru (MINAM), to continue its collaboration with the Ministry on the national Ecosystem Services Incubator. During the first two years of is existence, the Incubator has played a fundamental role in providing technical support and securing significant financial support for watershed services projects throughout the country, as well as building bridges between MINAM and other Peruvian institutions such as SUNASS, the national water regulator, and ANA, the National Water Authority.

Read a press release (in Spanish).


Does Brazilian deforestation drive drought in the United States?

California regulators overseeing the state’s cap-and-trade program now have one more reason to recognize offsets generated by saving endangered rainforest in Latin America. This week, they learned that the destruction of trees in the Amazon rainforest will probably slash rainfall in the United States, depriving drought-choked California of even more drinking water.

Read more from EM.


Three images that illustrate the challenge of life on a managed planet

You can’t separate people from climate change. We caused it, and we will suffer from it. The UK’s weather service, the Met Office, recently tried to summarize the interplay between people and the planet in one wall poster, and the result is a stark reminder of the fact that we now live on a managed planet.

Take a look here.


In The News


US gov’t enlists green infrastructure to build climate-resilient nation

The administration of US President Barack Obama is launching efforts to help build the country’s resilience to climate change. The administration recently presented its Green Infrastructure Collaborative to advance green infrastructure implementation through joint operations of several government agencies. The group will provide technical assistance to cities, as well as funding for at least 25 communities.

The NRDC Switchboard blog has the story.



China’s Chishui River water fund will draw on public private partnerships

Collaboration between the Asian Development Bank and China’s southwest province, Guizhou, aims to finance watershed protection and sustainable development in the region’s Chishui River, an economically significant waterway and a tributary of the Yangtze River. The duo agreed to develop a water fund that would merge investments from both public and private sources into long-term protection for the watershed.

Get coverage.


WWF finishes work on Water Risk Filter 2.0

This month the business analytics company Prognoz completed work on the Water Risk Filter 2.0, an updated version of the original Water Risk Filter. The Filter is a creation of the World Wide Fund for Nature; the 2.0 model offers more advanced water risk analysis that companies and investors can use in decision-making.

 Learn more.


Public-private collaboration to tackle Tanzania’s water worries

Public-private strategies are popping up across to help develop and finance projects addressing the country’s shrinking groundwater supplies and widespread lack of access to sanitation, the Guardian reports. That includes a water stewardship effort backed by companies like SAB Miller, Coca-Cola Sabco, and construction firm Nabaki Afrika to clean up the Mlalakua River in Dar Es Salaam. SAB Miller through the Water Futures Partnership (WFP) has put forward $257,000 for that effort. “Companies are seeing that they are beginning to face complex water risks that they can’t manage on site, like groundwater pollution across the city affecting many businesses and communities,” explains Robin Farrington, a water stewardship adviser at GIZ which is part of the WFP.

Keep reading.


Wetlands chosen as most cost-effective and efficient method to wastewater management

Instead of constructing new and expensive wastewater treatment infrastructure, the city of Gisborne in New Zealand has proposed building a wetland system at half the cost. The city’s wastewater committee says wetlands are the more resilient choice – they’re more likely to withstand natural disasters than grey infrastructure, have a longer life expectancy and contribute to overall restoration of the bay. Wetlands even offer the possibility of another revenue stream through the sale of carbon credits.

Learn more from the Gisborne Herald.


Buybacks benefit all users in dry US West

Water users in the US Southwest all suffer equally from water shortages. But in a display of water cooperation between farmers, government agencies and conservationists, some of the Rio Grande’s water will return to its floodplain providing habitat for natural species that once flourished there. The vehicle is a voluntary water trading mechanism where water rights are bought from willing sellers and used to restore riparian land.

Get the story from NatGeo NewsWatch.


SAB Miller boils down its thinking on water stewardship

Multinational brewery SAB Miller recently posted an update on its high-level water risk assessment process, looking at dozens of its breweries around the world to understand not just on-site water management but watershed-level risks as well. Among the findings so far: 1) We need data, data, and then some more data to understand hydrological conditions; 2) Local stakeholder engagement is key; and 3) Make the business case. “We need to express the issue in terms of business risk, not hydrological risk,” writes David Grant, SAB Miller’s Senior Manager of Water Risks and Partnerships.

 Read it here.


Bethlehem inks a carbon deal with Disney to protect its watershed

The Bethlehem Authority that manages the forested watershed of Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains recently struck a deal with Disney, which will purchase forest carbon offsets from a 20,000-acre project. The four-year contract with the entertainment giant will replace a previous agreement with automaker Chevrolet. The authority estimates that the sale of offsets will bring in $140,000 to $170,000 annually, which it will use to improve the aging water system and protect the forest. For Disney long a lover of forestry projects as this Ecosystem Marketplace story noted buying offsets from this project helps the company meet its environmental goals such as reducing its greenhouse gas emissions 50% by 2013 (a goal it achieved).

Get the story here.


Looking to Quito for water fund wisdom

Quito, Ecuador is home to the world’s longest-running water fund, known as FONAG. Launched in 2000, FONAG now has an endowment of $12-14 million and funds tends of thousands of dollars of watershed protection work each year in the Quito area. Farmers are paid to put up fences to keep cattle out of streams or restore degraded areas. The fund is a model for similar efforts elsewhere in Latin America, North America, and Africa – which have drawn on FONAG’s experience for valuable lessons. For example, finding the right ratio between investing capital and spending on conservation. “Almost every one of the water funds makes investments immediately to show investors results,” says Aurelio Ramos, TNC’s director of conservation programs for Latin America. “It’s a strategic move and a lesson we learned from the Quito water fund.”

Ensia has coverage.


Experts find forest-filtered water tastes best

Boston was once famous for its polluted waterway. But this summer, the city took first prize in a water taste test hosted by the American Water Works Association (AWWA). Getting to this point, however, cost Boston billions of dollars in cleanup. It also led to the city investing in land preservation that resulted in 400 square miles of forest surrounding its drinking water sources. Boston’s success provides more support for source water protection strategies.

Keep reading.


Senior Advisor Climate Adaptation & Disaster Risk Reduction

Deltares – Various, Netherlands

The unit Scenarios and Policy Analysis is one of the seven units of Deltares. Our unit aims at developing methods and applying knowledge and expertise in policy development, regional processes, adaptive water management and innovation. In our unit approximately 80 persons are employed. The unit is located in Delft and Utrecht.

One of the unit’s four sections is ‘Climate adaptation and risk management’. This section focuses on adaptive delta management under the uncertainty of climate change, and the management of floods and extreme events as to contribute to disaster risk reduction, both in the Netherlands and abroad. The Senior Advisor will: Perform specialist advice and international research studies on the adaptation of water management to climate change, flood risk management and disaster risk reduction; Develop, acquire and implement projects in this field, both in the Netherlands, Europe and abroad; Liaise with knowledge institutes, private sector, governance and financing institutes as required, both nationally and internationally; Strengthen the positioning of Deltares in this field in international networks and strategic partnerships.

Learn more here.


Communications Manager, Ecosystems

Environmental Defense Fund – Various, United States

EDF is seeking a Communications Manager to develop and implement communications plans and media outreach strategies that further the goals of the Ecosystems Program, particularly in the area of agricultural sustainability.This position requires an understanding of and keen interest in conservation and agricultural issues. Reporting directly to the program’s Communications Director, the Communications Manager will write, edit and produce a range of communications materials while securing positive media coverage of the program’s work in top-tier, regional and ag trade outlets.

Learn more here.


Socio-Economic Postdoctoral Research Officer

Bangor University – Gwynedd, United Kingdom

Applications are invited for a three year post-doctoral research officer post in the School of Environment, Natural Resources and Geography to work on a project funded by the Leverhulme Trust called “Can Payments for Ecosystem Services deliver environmental and livelihood benefits? The project is conducted in collaboration between Bangor University and Fundacion Natura Bolivia.

Learn more here.


Policy Associate

Pacific Forest Trust – California, USA

The Policy Associate will provide support to PFT’s policy programs developing and implementing incentives for forest conservation and sustainable management. The position’s primary focus is research, analysis and supporting policy development for private forestland conservation incentives in California and federal policy. A secondary focus is on state policy in the Pacific Northwest. Duties include research and analysis of climate change policies, forest energy policies, forest watershed service programs, conservation tax policy, and state and federal conservation funding programs. The Policy Associate will also support PFT advocacy efforts by drafting letters, memos, representing PFT at meetings and providing support to PFT organized coalitions.

Learn more here.


Program Associate, Watershed Protection

William Penn Foundation – Pennsylvania, USA

The Foundation’s programmatic investments are led by the team of Senior Program Officers. The Program Associates support the work across the three funding areas (Closing the Achievement Gap, Creative Communities, Watershed Protection), as well as Research and Analytics. The Program Associates work on projects as assigned by Senior Program Officers to meet the needs of the Foundation. This specific position will focus primarily on supporting the work in Watershed Protection but will also be given assignments in other areas on an as needed basis.

Learn more here.



Reciprocal Agreements for Water School

Fundacií³n Natura Bolivia with the support of various donors has established a School for Reciprocal Agreements for Water (Acuerdos Recí­procos por Agua, or ARA). The school seeks to inspire leaders in the region through training and education, working with mayors, municipal government, leaders of indigenous organizations, farmers and producer associations, NGOs, and other stakeholders. The School teaches how to implement ARA schemes in various contexts, with the goal of scaling up the ARA model in Bolivia and Latin America and through ARAs ensure the conservation of water and biodiversity-rich ecosystems. This intensive six-day course reviews in detail the establishment of ARAs. Each course has twenty places open will run in August and again in October of this year. All trainings are held in Spanish. The first course will be held in the cities of Santa Cruz de la Sierra and Vallegrande, Bolivia 11 to August 16, 2014.

Learn more here (in Spanish).


World Water Week 2014: Energy and Water

World Water Week is hosted and organised by the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) and takes place in Stockholm. The World Water Week has been the annual focal point for the globe’s water issues since 1991. Every year, SIWI provides a platform for over 200 collaborating organisations to convene events at the World Water Week. In addition, individuals from around the globe present their findings at the scientific workshops. 31 August – 5 September 2014. Stockholm, Sweden.

Learn more here.


Ecosystem Services Partnership Conference 2014

The emphasis of this Seventh international ESP conference will be on the use of the ecosystem services concept at the local level, focusing on Latin America with a special emphasis on Costa Rica. Scientists representing several EU-funded projects will present their results on Community Based Ecosystem Management. Don’t miss your chance to interact and exchange ideas with the rapidly growing network of ESP members, practitioners, educators, policy-makers, researchers, and many others from all continents. Be part of special sessions and working-groups producing outcomes ranging from journal articles, white papers, book chapters, grant proposals, database structures, websites, and much more. 8-12 September 2014. San Jose, Costa Rica.

Learn more here.


One Water Leadership (OWL) Summit

Early Bird Registration for this year’s One Water Leadership (OWL) Summit is open with reduced rates! Join the 5th annual event September 15 – 17, in Kansas City. Invited keynotes include: President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors and Mayor of Sacramento Kevin Johnson and U.S. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. Spotlight Communities will drive the national conversation on water as the centerpiece for urban sustainability, developing green infrastructure and resource recovery. 15-17 September 2014. Kansas City MO, USA.

Learn more here.


16th Annual BIOECON Conference

The BIOECON Partners are pleased to announce the Sixteenth Annual International BIOECON conference on the theme of “Biodiversity, Ecosystem Services and Sustainability”. The conference will be of interest to both researchers and policy makers working on issues broadly in the area of biodiversity, ecosystem services, sustainable development and natural capital, in both developed and developing countries. The conference takes a broad interest in the area of resource management, development and conservation, including but not limited to: the role of biodiversity and ecosystem services in economic development, plant genetic resources and food security issues, deforestation and development, fisheries and institutional adaptation, development and conservation, wildlife conservation, and international trade and regulation. The conference will have sessions on economic development, growth and biodiversity conservation, as well as on institutions and institutional change pertaining to the management of living resources. 21-23 September 2014. Cambridge, UK.

Learn more here.


World Green Infrastructure Congress

The Congress will present the latest technological developments, green industry awards, iconic best practice projects, research data, professional training workshops, Living Art competition and new areas of applications in the field of green infrastructure. It will serve as a surface + space where international urban greenery thought leaders from various disciplines may come together with architects, landscape architects, landscaper contractors, environmentalists, horticulturists, nursery growers and policymakers and stakeholders to examine the present and future trends of this growing sector. 7-10 October 2014. Sydney, Australia.

Learn more here.


ACES 2014 Conference: Linking Science, Practice, and Decision Making

ACES: A Community on Ecosystem Services represents a dynamic and growing assembly of professionals, researchers, and policy makers involved with ecosystem services. The ACES 2014 Conference brings together this community in partnership with Ecosystem Markets and the Ecosystem Services Partnership (ESP), providing an open forum to share experiences, methods, and tools, for assessing and incorporating ecosystem services into public and private decisions. The focus of the conference is to link science, practice, and sustainable decision making by bringing together the ecosystem services community from around the United States and the globe. ACES 2014 will bring together leaders in government, NGOs, academia, Native American communities, and the private sector to advance the use of ecosystem services science and practice in conservation, restoration, resource management, and development decisions. We hope you will make plans to join more than 500 ecosystem service stakeholders in this collaborative discussion to advance use of an ecosystem services framework for natural resource management and policy. 8-11 December 2014. Washington DC, USA.

Learn more here.


Ecosystem Marketplace is a project of Forest Trends a tax-exempt corporation under Section 501(c)(3).The non-profit evaluator Charity Navigator has given Forest Trends its highest rating (4 out of 4 stars) recognizing excellence in our financial management and organizational efficiency.


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How The Tolo River People Of Colombia Harnessed Carbon Finance To Save Their Rainforest


29 July 2014 | Five young men are cutting their way through dense rainforest vegetation in the northernmost part of Colombia forest that was already old-growth when the conquistadors first set foot on the continent five centuries ago. The silence is interrupted only by the sound of running water from the many streams dissecting the hilly terrain. It is midday, and the heat is intolerable even for the mosquitoes. Frazier Guisao, an ex-logger, heads the single-file line, slicing through the thick undergrowth with a machete to carve out a narrow tunnel. The crew is patrolling the forest to protect it from illicit clearing.

Old trees in this pristine forest reach as high as 10-story buildings, emerging well above the thick canopy, and the men sit for a rest at the buttress roots of a giant centennial almendro tree. Guisao examines the trunk and makes a quick calculation in his head.

“This wood is worth around three million pesos, he says. That’s about $1,500 USD. As a former commercial logger, he knows it would have taken him about two hours to fell it with the chainsaw. The work they’re doing now isn’t nearly as lucrative in the short-term, but it’s much more rewarding.

Preserving the Forest; Protecting the Future

Guisao and his team are wearing T-shirts with the bright colorful letters COCOMASUR, which, in Spanish, stands for Black Communities of the Tolo River and South Coast the name of their small Afro-Colombian community organization. The national constitution grants land titles to traditional forest peoples, and the Tolo River inhabitants now collectively own 32,000 acres of rainforest in Chocí³ region, near Colombia’s border with Panama. The patrol leader says it takes him four days to walk the entire perimeter.

 Frazier Guisao, member of the Tolo River forest patrol<br />sitting at the edge of the community forest.

Frazier Guisao, member of the Tolo River forest patrol
sitting at the edge of the community forest.

They need the patrols because they need the forest, which feeds and nurtures the Tolo River, which in turn provides the community with both its name and its drinking water. The forest also protects animals and plants for future generations.

From Logger to Ranger

Guisao began his transition from being a logger who harvested the forest to being a ranger who protects it after a community assembly four years ago, when the 1500 members of the Tolo River organization jointly decided to affirm their land rights and protect the forest. That transition, however, didn’t come easy because there were two major threats to the trees. One was external: wealthy businessmen in a nearby town were expanding their cattle ranches. The other was internal: community members like Guisao who logged the forest commercially and depended on the practice to feed their families.

To save the forest, the Tolo River people needed to wean themselves off the logging that paid their bills and find a way to pay for patrols that would keep outsiders from chopping down their trees.

A Global Challenge

It’s a challenge faced by forest people around the world, and one that impacts all of us. Indeed, the loss of pristine forest in the tropics and its blow to biodiversity and ecosystem services are massive and irreversible. To make matters even worse, carbon emissions from deforestation compound the problem of climate change every year as much as one fifth of the global carbon emissions may come from cut down trees, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Traditionally, there has been little funding for conservation, but this may be changing, and the Tolo River people are at the forefront of that change.

The Carbon Content of Trees

An additional benefit for both the community and the rest of the world is that the trees and the soil in their forest contain large quantities of carbon, which bonds with oxygen to form the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide when released into the atmosphere.

Fortunately for the community, many companies and governments around the world volunteer to fund forest conservation projects as an attempt to offset part of their own carbon emissions. This international initiative is named Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD). The principle is simple: a company striving to be carbon neutral would first try to reduce its own carbon emissions as much as possible through more energy-efficient equipment and strict monitoring of its supply chain. Whatever emissions it could not reduce, it would offset by paying a forest community to protect the trees from clearing.

Measuring the Carbon

 Ferney Caicedo (right) and another forest patrol member resting at the buttress roots of a giant almendro tree. >(Photograph: Tanya Dimitrova)

Ferney Caicedo (right) and another forest patrol member resting at the buttress roots of a giant almendro tree. >(Photograph: Tanya Dimitrova)

To best estimate the amount of carbon the Tolo River community could prevent from being emitted, COCOMASUR teamed up with Anthrotect, a U.S.-based organization that “works with community landholders to implement payment for ecosystem services projects that connect communities with emerging markets for carbon and biodiversity, according to documents filed with the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS), which is the certification program under which they chose to become certified. The organizations then contracted forestry experts from Bogota, Medellin, and the US state of California who compared the forest with other unguarded forested areas nearby and concluded that roughly 13,000 hectares would be lost to cattle ranching, agriculture, and selective logging if defensive actions weren’t taken immediately. Based on the blend of trees in the forest and their average height and width, they pegged the total greenhouse gas emissions from that destruction at 2,800,000 tons of carbon dioxide over the next 30 years.

COCOMASUR and its partners then began the arduous process of protecting the forest by raising awareness of collective identity and rights, demarcating territorial boundaries, establishing regular community patrols and developing sustainable agricultural and silvopastoral practices.

Verifying the Results

In 2012, VCS-certified auditors visited the site and concluded that these actions had saved 170,000 trees containing about 28,000 tons of carbon. That carbon would have converted to over 100,000 tons of carbon dioxide if released into the atmosphere, or the equivalent of 20,000 cars being taken off the road for a year.

While the first tranche went largely to cover the cost of launching the project, future sales will be used to pay the forest patrol salaries, improve the community health care services, send young people to universities, and strengthen the community organization. The community uses this revenue to pay the forest patrol salaries, improve the community health care services, send young people to universities, and strengthen the community organization.

A Big Year for REDD

That year, half a billion dollars worth of carbon credit transactions took place in the voluntary carbon market, according to Ecosystem Marketplace’s 2013 State of Voluntary Carbon Markets Report. In addition, the United Nations is leading an initiative to streamline REDD projects around the world in anticipation that mandatory carbon offsetting might eventually become part of a new global climate treaty. During the latest Climate Conference in Warsaw in December 2013, all countries agreed on a forest conservation mechanism to be implemented in the years to come a large step forward for conservation projects around the world.

The Innovator’s Dillemma

But when the Tolo River people began their project, REDD was still a poorly-understood mechanism, and the VCS was untested. Critics weren’t convinced the standard could both deliver the environmental rigor it promised and keep out “carbon cowboys who they feared would run roughshod over the very indigenous people REDD was designed to protect.

Still, the Tolo River people were determined to succeed and remain so to this day: “Our community will always continue trying to protect our forest with or without the project. But having the project gives us the resources to do that, says community leader Aureliano Cí³rdoba.

It is crucially important to learn from mistakes and look for successful models for the sake of the forest, the people who live in it and the global climate.

This is the story of one community that found a way to do this right.

NEXT INSTALLMENT: Meet the Cattlemen


Tanya Dimitrova just graduated from University of California, Berkeley, with a masters degree in energy and resources. She lives in Texas and works as freelance science and environmental journalist.

Does Brazilian Deforestation Drive Drought In The United States?


28 July 2014 | Severe drought conditions in the US state of California have led state officials to impose criminal penalties for water wasters. The drought could also help make the case that California should allow projects aimed at curbing tropical deforestation into the state’s carbon trading system.

California’s State Water Resources Control Board approved an emergency regulation to force water agencies, their customers and state residents to increase water conservation in urban settings by reducing outdoor water uses such as washing down driveways and watering landscapes or face possible fines of up to $500 a day. What brought on this surge in water regulation? The fact that California residents are using more water than last year with urban water use in May up 1% over the monthly average for the previous three years despite two drought emergency declarations by Governor Jerry Brown and his January plea for residents to voluntarily reduce their water use by 20%.

What may seem like a local problem could have its roots in the tropical deforestation that has occurred in Brazil and other countries. Researchers found that total deforestation of the Amazon rainforest could reduce rainfall in the Pacific Northwest by 20% and cause a 50% reduction in the Sierra Nevada snowpack, a crucial source of water for California, according to a major scientific study published in the Journal of Climate last year.

Although it is difficult to quantify whether specific weather patterns such as the current drought are directly tied to deforestation, data trends indicate that deforestation has a direct impact on rainfall in California, according to Rajinder Sahota, Chief of the Climate Change Program Evaluation Branch of the California Air Resources Board (ARB), who spoke at an ARB board hearing on Thursday. But it remains difficult to convince residents of any possible connection, especially when they dealt with mudslides and floods in the state last year, she said.

“People tend to latch on to the most recent events as an indication of what’s going on, Sahota said.

The role of tropical deforestation and the possible connection to California’s drought arose in the context of an update that ARB staff was providing regarding its planned consideration of sector-based offsets, specifically from projects that reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD). ARB’s legal counsel Jason Gray discussed the multiple co-benefits of REDD projects, including protection against decreased precipitation from forest loss, which could be of interest given the current drought situation.

Keep reading on the Forest Carbon Portal (for free).

This Week In Water: Yorkshire Water Accounts for NatCap Impacts

This article was originally published in the Water Log newsletter. Click here to read the original.


2 July 2014 | Greetings! Earlier this month, the same week that US President Barack Obama unveiled a national climate action plan that opens the door to cap-and-trade in the power sector, Peru’s National Congress passed the country’s ground-breaking Payments for Ecosystem Services Law (Ley de Mecanismos de Retribucií³n por Servicios Ecosistémicos). The law passed with 83 votes in favor and none against, with no abstentions, according to a press release issued by the Ministry of Environment (MINAM).

The law sets out a framework for compensation for ecosystem services (like clean water or carbon storage) between land stewards and beneficiaries, including civil society, businesses, and municipal governments. Contracts will still be voluntary agreements between these parties, which means the government’s role is limited, according to those familiar with the law. It boils down to ecosystem services management and providing regulatory certainty for contracts – though the government will also help to identify payers and administer the compensation process.

“It’s a voluntary agreement between private parties with a private contract, but the state often owns the natural resources at the center of the contract,” explains Jose Luis Capella, Director of the Forestry Program in the Peruvian Society of Environmental Law (SPDA).

Examples of ecosystem services contracts in Peru are plentiful, like a project to restore degraded lands in the Rumiyacu-Mishquiyacu micro-watersheds, located among the jungles of Peru’s San Martin region. Residents in the city of Moyobamba agreed to finance sustainable land management through a monthly payment on their water bill. The Watershed Services Incubator, a collaborative initiative between Forest Trends (publisher of Ecosystem Marketplace) and MINAM, among other institutions, is a larger-scale effort to provide a capacity-building platform for developing water projects based on a payments for ecosystem services (PES) model.

Ultimately, Peru’s law aims to coordinate all of these activities by providing a simplified framework for PES to increase the mechanism’s use. It’s based on a simple idea that isn’t particularly innovative: those who help maintain and improve ecosystem services establish an agreement with those who are voluntarily willing to compensate for those services.

Other big stories this month: Yorkshire Water becomes the first water company to develop an environmental profit & loss statement reflecting its impacts on natural capital. India’s Sanjay Ghandi National Park is now part of Mumbai’s “natural infrastructure” system with the announcement of watershed management plans for the park to protect city drinking water supplies. And the latest installment in our series on the water-energy-food nexus offers a background look at what the concept, and why it’s so important to put nature in the nexus.

Very best,

— The Ecosystem Marketplace Team

For questions or comments, please contact

EM Headlines


Peruvian Congress passes historic ecosystem services law

Six years in the making, Peru’s new Ecosystem Services Law passed this month, providing a comprehensive legal framework for the sticky issue of payments for ecosystem services. It is one of the most advanced pieces of legislation of its type, but had been stuck in committee for five years. Peru’s National Congress passed the country’s ground-breaking Payments for Ecosystem Services Law (Ley de Mecanismos de Retribucií³n por Servicios Ecosistémicos) with 83 votes in favor and none against, with no abstentions, according to a press release issued by the Ministry of Environment.

The law provides a legal framework to support a diverse range of ecosystem services – including greenhouse gas emissions reductions, biodiversity conservation and the preservation of natural beauty. Investments in watershed services (IWS), an already popular water management method in the country, have also been incorporated into the proposal.

There are two parties involved in the compensation process that the law lays out. The first are land stewards – farmers, indigenous peoples, landowners and individuals involved in ecotourism, who act as the receivers of ecosystem services. The other group – mostly civil society, businesses and municipalities – are the payers. They compensate the land stewards to practice sustainable land-use. These sustainable practices ensure businesses and cities will have the ecosystem services, like clean water and air, that they need to survive and thrive.

The government will be responsible for identifying the payers and also for administering the compensation process.

Read more at Ecosystem Marketplace.


The water-energy-food nexus: Interlinked solutions for interlinked challenges

Ecosystem Marketplace is launching a series of stories leading up to the State of Watershed Payments 2014 report release date that looks at global challenges related to the nexus and the various approaches businesses, government and the world as a whole are taking to address this issue.

In the latest article in the series, we take a look at how our demands for energy, food and water all drive each other, and how we can prevent them from driving in the wrong direction. We examine cases from India to California to sketch out what, exactly, the “nexus challenge” is, and how we can meet it. (Hint: it involves putting nature in the nexus.)

Get background on the nexus here.


DelAgua: Delivering Emissions Reductions, Clean Water, And Hot Beans

DelAgua Health is in the business of emissions avoidance as well as emissions reduction. It’s a tricky but vital distinction. In addition to cutting climate-warming emissions that are already occurring, the UK-based company is focused on preventing emissions that never have to occur in the first place – especially from the 3 billion people in the world who cook food using traditional cookstoves or open fires, and the 884 million who still do not have access to safe drinking water.

Carbon finance through the sale of offsets is central to DelAgua’s business model. Its programme of activities under the United Nation’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) combines the distribution of two household devices – clean cookstoves and water filters – to Rwandan families and has been piloted in 2,000 homes so far. In addition to reducing the need for fuelwood to boil water and cook food, therefore alleviating pressure on forests, the water filters almost instantaneously reduce water-borne illnesses while the lower-smoke cookstoves relieve respiratory ailments over time.

Matt Spannagle, DelAgua’s Climate Partnerships Manager, spoke with Ecosystem Marketplace (EM) ahead of the release of EM’s full State of the Voluntary Carbon Markets 2014 report about the motivation behind the double registration, some unexpected benefits of clean cookstoves, and why carbon offset sales makes more sense than other potential finance streams.

Read more at Ecosystem Marketplace.


Barack Obama And The Rationale For Ecosystem Service Markets

US President Barack Obama continued to roll out his Climate Action Plan last week by addressing the League of Conservation Voters. In the address, he mocked climate-science deniers, touted renewable energy, and warned environmentalists against ignoring the potential costs of reducing emissions. He also defended the Clean Water Act – an act that succeeds by addressing concerns about economics cost head-on.

A set of mechanisms in the Clean Water Act let land developers disrupt environmentally significant swamps (or “wetlands”) that filter water and regulate floods. That’s right. This great success works in part because it lets bad things happen. But there’s a catch: this degradation can only happen under very limited circumstances and only after a rigorous permitting process. More importantly, it can only happen if the developer compensates by either restoring, creating, or in some cases preserving an endangered wetland area of equal or greater environmental value than what is lost. This ingenious mechanism, which dates back to the 1970s, has led to the creation of wetland mitigation banks, private conservation efforts that proactively restore degraded wetlands – and on typically larger, more contiguous sites that deliver more ecosystem services than the isolated patches of degraded swamp that are destroyed.

This is one of the great unsung successes of the 1970s environmental boom, and it succeeds because it doesn’t let the perfect become the enemy of the good. Something similar is happening under the Endangered Species Act, which allows for development on habitat under very limited circumstances and only if habitat of equal or greater value is restored, created, or preserved. These things work, and they work so well that the European Union is incorporating similar mechanisms into its environmental strategy.

Read the opinion piece at Huffington Post.


In The News


Mumbai-area national park to be managed for watershed values

A watershed management plan is in the works for India’s Sanjay Gandhi National Park, with an eye to stabilizing flows and boosting water retention capacity in the park. The park, an important source of water for the city of Mumbai, will see new soil, water and habitat conservation work underway over the next eighteen months. It signals a more ‘soft-path’ approach to water security. “We used to construct artificial water holes inside the park whenever there was a scarcity. Now, we will manage the natural watersheds in an organised manner and give priority to natural water springs. This will help the wildlife, vegetation and help Mumbaikars’ water needs,” said Vikas Gupta, chief conservator of the park.

The Indian Express has the story.


China looks to avoid water scarce fate with new projects

China will be short 200 million cubic meters per year by the end of the next decade if the nation continues on the trajectory it’s currently on, according to the think tank 2030 World Resources Group. This alarming fact is likely a driving force behind the federal government’s approval of 170 new water projects that are meant to expand irrigation, reduce water usage in agriculture and speed up construction of its south-north water transfer infrastructure. The projects will be implemented over the next six years and, if successful, will reduce demand by 26 billion cubic meters of water (m3) and increase supply by 80 billion m3.

As of right now, China’s water challenges are staggering. Decades of rapid economic development with little regard for the environment has diminished China’s water resources. The government has said 70 percent of its groundwater is polluted. And recently, the Chinese Academy of Sciences said the country’s glaciers has shrunk fifteen percent in the last 30 years. This will impact river’s water flow and further cut water supplies. “Not executing this plan is really not an option,” says Debra Tan of the Hong-Kong based non-profit, China Water Risk.

Read more from Reuters.


What the US West can learn from Australia’s water troubles

When farmers don’t get the water they need, everybody suffers. This statement was made painfully clear for Australians as they struggled through a horrific drought that lasted over ten years and wreaked havoc on the nation’s economy and environment. River flows throughout Australia’s food basket, the Murray-Darling Basin, were only 40 to 60 percent of average. And over-allocation of the basin’s water rights meant that during these dry times, many farmers weren’t distributed any water.

The situation, which might sound familiar to people who’ve been living in the US West lately, led Australia to develop a water extraction cap policy called the Basin Plan, which recognizes the need to reduce water use by one third and leave 60 percent of water in the river. As most of water consumed goes toward irrigated agriculture, the government has provided funding for installing efficient farming techniques like drip irrigation. To date, nearly 70 percent of the targeted reductions in water use have been achieved, leading some to believe Australia’s strategy could be a model in the US and other water scarce regions.

Learn more from National Geographic NewsWatch.


Can nexus thinking deliver an energy, food and water secure future?

The interconnections between the water, energy and food sectors make up what’s known as the ‘nexus.’ Nexus approaches, which seek innovative and holistic methods to solve global interlinked challenges impacting each sector, are on the rise among NGOs and business leaders. But can the nexus become more than just a buzzword and actually help deliver solutions? Two academics from the environmental space ask this question and have found substantial momentum for nexus thinking. The severity of the resource scarcity situation is a key driver: it has never been more dire and is forcing society to accept interlinked resource challenges and reject business as usual as unsustainable. And evidence of this new thinking is seen among some large corporations. Big oil and gas companies are discussing the “resource trilemma” while brewing giant SABMiller is attempting to make decisions using a resource nexus lens.

Read more at The Guardian.



UK water company takes first steps toward natcap accounting

Contrary to the way they’re often treated in traditional economic thinking, natural resources are not infinite, and businesses take a big risk in not using or accounting for them accordingly. Companies report that resource-related supply chain disruption and price volatility are already happening. A new reportfrom CIMA, EY, the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) and the Natural Capital Coalition highlights how these risks are largely ignored in corporate boardrooms.

However, one UK water utility, Yorkshire Water, is making efforts to integrate sustainability into its business strategy and is billing itself as the first water company to do so. Working with the environmental consulting firm, Trucost, Yorkshire Water has implemented an environmental profit and loss (EP&L) account. While the EP&L isn’t perfect and plenty of challenges still remain, it’s a start to integrating natural capital into Yorkshire Water’s balance sheets and has the potential to encourage other companies to follow. Simon Barnes, Yorkshire Water’s program director, says, “There are all sorts of reasons why you don’t do it – it’s not quite the right time, we don’t have the right data – but if you keep waiting you will never make a change.”

Keep reading at The Guardian.


PES in Vietnam daunted by inefficient and illegal activities

Like China and Costa Rica before it, Vietnam is attempting to implement a national policy of payments for ecosystem services (PES) to protect the nation’s watersheds and forests from illegal deforestation. The Payments for Forest Environmental Services program requires hydropower companies and other organizations reliant on ecosystem services, like tourism operators and water companies, to pay rural and mainly poor communities to practice conservation.

The program is meant to support economic development in poor areas while protecting Vietnam’s forests but its success is uncertain. For one, little environmental monitoring takes place to measure if the conservation practices are having an effect on water quality or forest health. And because of Vietnam’s power distribution monopoly, collecting money from several hydropower operations is proving difficult. Then there are the lucrative illegal activities, like logging and planting coffee trees in state forests, that lure farmers out of participating in the program. But the program is very much in its early days (having launched nationally in 2011) and the challenges Vietnam is facing are much like those faced in other countries testing national PES strategies.

The New York Times has coverage.


In the midst of ‘replenishment’ success, Coca-Cola closure order in India calls back bad memories

A Coca-Cola bottling plant in northern India was ordered closed earlier this month after local farmers complained to Uttar Pradesh authorities that the plant was depleting groundwater levels. But shortly thereafter, India’s National Green Tribunal overturned the local ruling, allowing the plant to reopen. The closure action echoed a similar incident ten years earlier, when the Kerala government withdrew consent for a Coca-Cola plant over similar allegations.

The Coca-Cola Company, which called claims about its Uttar Pradesh water usage “misleading and false,” in recent years has invested heavily in efforts to reduce water use and replenish an amount equivalent to its use through funding efficiency, watershed development, and ecological restoration projects. On June 5th, the day before the Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board ordered the plant closure, Coca-Cola announced that it had replenished 68 percent of water used in finished beverages globally in 2013 and is on track to reach its goal of 100 percent replenishment by 2020. In India, Coca-Cola estimates that it has already surpassed that target, having reached 130% replenishment relative to its operations in the country.

Read about the initial closure in the Financial Times.
Get coverage of the National Green Tribunal decision from BeverageDaily.


Setting the bounds for public-private partnerships on water

At the CEO Water Mandate’s thirteenth working conference in Lima in May, the group along with WWF released a very interesting discussion paper exploring the potential of business-government cooperation for water governance, Shared Water Challenges and Interests: The Case for Private Sector Engagement in Water Policy and Management. Lest readers be wary of business involvement in management of a public good, the brief offers case examples of successful public-private collaboration for sustainable management – whether through improving efficiencies, financing infrastructure, or moving sustainable practice forward. It also recognizes the limits of the approach, acknowledging critics’ worries about policy capture and greenwashing. Still, the authors say, “Current conditions actually offer a much greater incentive for companies to align their water-related policies and practices with the public interest than in the past,” and it would be a mistake for the public to pass on that opportunity.

Get background from IISD.
Download the discussion paper (pdf).
Read a summary of the meeting (pdf).


CISL report offers four collaborative financing scenarios for UK catchment management

A report launched by the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership in June takes on a similar question – what exactly should public-private collaboration on sustainable water management look like? – from a different angle. Researchers developed four models, each representing a different spread of cross-sectoral financing, governance and ownership. The models were used to examine how co-investment in catchment management might deliver resilience to water scarcity in the UK, and develop business cases for each sector participating.

No clear winners emerged – each model has its own benefits and implementation challenges – but the report’s authors say they hope it will help decision-makers consider future paths. “I believe that the Sink or Swim work places business in an excellent position to navigate the collective action that is required to address water resource management across sectors and alongside government,” CISL programme manager Dr Gemma Cranston said in a press release. “This innovative thinking has laid the groundwork for multi-sector plans and approaches to be implemented.”

Read a press release.
Read the report (pdf direct download).


June PENNVEST nutrient auction posts lower prices, slightly higher forward volumes from last year

In Pennsylvania, a June 11 auction saw certified nutrient credits for the 2014-2015 compliance years drop a bit in price though with a slight uptick in forward sales compared to last year. PENNVEST – the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority – holds regular auctions for nitrogen and phosphorus credits for water quality trading markets in the Susquehanna and Potomac River basins. This month, a total of 23,000 credits for the 2014 compliance year went for $2.01-$2.27 (with prices falling in a second round of bidding), and 10,000 credits for 2015 within the same range. At a forward auction in June 2013, 9,000 credits for the 2014 year were sold for $2.78-$2.96, and a total of 37,000 2013 ‘spot’ credits for $2.15-$2.67. All trades in the recent auction were for the Susquehanna Basin. Depending on whom you ask, lower credit prices aren’t necessarily a bad thing: it suggests that dischargers in the state are meeting their pollution control requirements at a lower cost. Trades and a credit registry are hosted on the Markit platform. The next forward auction is scheduled for September 10th.

Read a press release.
View the PA Credit Trading page on Markit.


“Rare” marketing campaigns help move investments in watershed services forward

Successful reciprocal water agreements in Latin America continue to gain traction as Rare, the international conservation organization, initiates a slew of projects in Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia and Mexico. Water users incentivize farmers to practice conservation with actions, supplying them with barbed wire to keep cattle out of streams or providing them with the training to grow more sustainable crops and conserve critical habitat. Those activities keep upstream areas healthy and help regulate freshwater flows to downstream areas. Rare is using its “Pride” marketing campaign model to encourage local populations to be proud of their natural resources and protect them by practicing good stewardship.

National Geographic NewsWatch has coverage.



Reciprocal Agreements for Water School

Fundacií³n Natura Bolivia with the support of various donors has established a School for Reciprocal Agreements for Water (Acuerdos Recí­procos por Agua, or ARA). The school seeks to inspire leaders in the region through training and education, working with mayors, municipal government, leaders of indigenous organizations, farmers and producer associations, NGOs, and other stakeholders. The School teaches how to implement ARA schemes in various contexts, with the goal of scaling up the ARA model in Bolivia and Latin America and through ARAs ensure the conservation of water and biodiversity-rich ecosystems. This intensive six-day course reviews in detail the establishment of ARAs. Each course has twenty places open will run in August and again in October of this year. All trainings are held in Spanish. The first course will be held in the cities of Santa Cruz de la Sierra and Vallegrande, Bolivia 11 to August 16, 2014.

Learn more here (in Spanish).


World Water Week 2014: Energy and Water

World Water Week is hosted and organised by the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) and takes place in Stockholm. The World Water Week has been the annual focal point for the globe’s water issues since 1991. Every year, SIWI provides a platform for over 200 collaborating organisations to convene events at the World Water Week. In addition, individuals from around the globe present their findings at the scientific workshops. Early Bird discount rate is available till 30 June. 31 August – 5 September 2014. Stockholm, Sweden.

Learn more here.


Ecosystem Services Partnership Conference 2014

The emphasis of this Seventh international ESP conference will be on the use of the ecosystem services concept at the local level, focusing on Latin America with a special emphasis on Costa Rica. Scientists representing several EU-funded projects will present their results on Community Based Ecosystem Management. Don’t miss your chance to interact and exchange ideas with the rapidly growing network of ESP members, practitioners, educators, policy-makers, researchers, and many others from all continents. Be part of special sessions and working-groups producing outcomes ranging from journal articles, white papers, book chapters, grant proposals, database structures, websites, and much more. The deadline for the submission of abstracts for posters is June 15th and July 6th. 8-12 September 2014. San Jose, Costa Rica.

Learn more here.


One Water Leadership (OWL) Summit

Early Bird Registration for this year’s One Water Leadership (OWL) Summit is open with reduced rates! Join the 5th annual event September 15 – 17, in Kansas City. Invited keynotes include: President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors and Mayor of Sacramento Kevin Johnson and U.S. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. Spotlight Communities will drive the national conversation on water as the centerpiece for urban sustainability, developing green infrastructure and resource recovery. 15-17 September 2014. Kansas City MO, USA.

Learn more here.


16th Annual BIOECON Conference

The BIOECON Partners are pleased to announce the Sixteenth Annual International BIOECON conference on the theme of “Biodiversity, Ecosystem Services and Sustainability”. The conference will be of interest to both researchers and policy makers working on issues broadly in the area of biodiversity, ecosystem services, sustainable development and natural capital, in both developed and developing countries. The conference takes a broad interest in the area of resource management, development and conservation, including but not limited to: the role of biodiversity and ecosystem services in economic development, plant genetic resources and food security issues, deforestation and development, fisheries and institutional adaptation, development and conservation, wildlife conservation, and international trade and regulation. The conference will have sessions on economic development, growth and biodiversity conservation, as well as on institutions and institutional change pertaining to the management of living resources. 21-23 September 2014. Cambridge, UK.

Learn more here.


World Green Infrastructure Congress

The Congress will present the latest technological developments, green industry awards, iconic best practice projects, research data, professional training workshops, Living Art competition and new areas of applications in the field of green infrastructure. It will serve as a surface + space where international urban greenery thought leaders from various disciplines may come together with architects, landscape architects, landscaper contractors, environmentalists, horticulturists, nursery growers and policymakers and stakeholders to examine the present and future trends of this growing sector. 7-10 October 2014. Sydney, Australia.

Learn more here.


ACES 2014 Conference: Linking Science, Practice, and Decision Making

ACES: A Community on Ecosystem Services represents a dynamic and growing assembly of professionals, researchers, and policy makers involved with ecosystem services. The ACES 2014 Conference brings together this community in partnership with Ecosystem Markets and the Ecosystem Services Partnership (ESP), providing an open forum to share experiences, methods, and tools, for assessing and incorporating ecosystem services into public and private decisions. The focus of the conference is to link science, practice, and sustainable decision making by bringing together the ecosystem services community from around the United States and the globe. ACES 2014 will bring together leaders in government, NGOs, academia, Native American communities, and the private sector to advance the use of ecosystem services science and practice in conservation, restoration, resource management, and development decisions. We hope you will make plans to join more than 500 ecosystem service stakeholders in this collaborative discussion to advance use of an ecosystem services framework for natural resource management and policy. Abstract submission deadline is July 11th. 8-11 December 2014. Washington DC, USA.

Learn more here.


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This Week In Forest Carbon News…

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


19 June 2014 | Forget Annex I and II; this month we’re all about Groups A through H as the world’s finest fíºtbol players battle it out in Rio de Janeiro and other Brazilian locales. And of course, we’re paying special attention to Group G, which stands for (reduced) greenhouse gases, our Senior Carbon Associate Gloria Gonzalez, Germany and, most importantly, GOALLLLLLL.

But don’t think we’re too distracted by World Cup matches to bring you the news. In fact, we didn’t even have to switch our Google feeds off of FIFA to find something related to carbon offsets: the International Federation of Association Football has pledged to offsets all direct emissions from the World Cup, estimated at 59,200 tonnes of carbon dioxide (tCO2e), and Brazil has encouraged private companies to purchase and donate offsets to help reduce some of the 1.4 million tCO2e or so indirect emissions from the tournament, mainly caused by plane travel. So far, 11 companies – including the Brazilian subsidiaries of Solvay S.A., ArcelorMitall, and Bunge Limited – have stepped up to the plate, purchasing 420,500 tCO2e, covering about a third of the World Cup’s total emissions.

In an interview with Ecosystem Marketplace, Mariama Vendramini, Finance and Commercial Director of Brazilian project developer Biofí­lica, talked about how the World Cup, paired with last year’s major transaction between the Surui avoided deforestation (REDD) project in Brazil and cosmetics giant Natura, are helping to increase the visibility of corporate offsetting in Brazil. Her predictions?

“Demand will rise as public awareness grows with examples such as the World Cup’s, Natura’s and other companies’ activities on the voluntary market. And it has a shifting potential with a push from the to-be-established Paris agreement…” Vendramini said, referring to the 2015 negotiations in Paris to lock down a global climate agreement. “We are already seeing the development of local mechanisms to price carbon that are popping up around the world, pushed by this trend.”

Indeed, a new, interactive supply-and-demand graph for REDD reveals that demand looks very different depending on which emerging compliance markets accept REDD offsets. In general, as new climate legislation emerges around the world, policymakers are grappling with whether and how to roll offsets from tree planting, improved forest management and avoided land conversion into emissions reductions programs. Many of the major players are moving forward cautiously.

For instance, though China didn’t make the cut for the World Cup, they’re certainly making cuts in emissions with six new subnational carbon markets that allow companies to purchase offsets to cover 5-10% of their compliance obligations. Forest offsets are so far playing a small role in China’s markets: Of about 70 projects seeking validation as China Certified Emissions Reductions as of February 2014, only one was forestry. So far, forestry offsets are allowed in the province of Hubei and will likely be allowed in the city of Chongqing, but not in the other five markets.

The voluntary carbon markets, however, are not facing the same restrictions around forestry projects, and these project types – in particular REDD – are gaining market share as corporate buyers seek to offset emissions while also supporting biodiversity or local livelihoods.

A special Forest Trends’ Ecosystem Marketplace event in Washington DC on Tuesday, June 24 from 4:30-6:00 EDT will outline these and other findings from our State of the Voluntary Carbon Markets 2014 report. Co-authors Molly Peters-Stanley and Gloria Gonzalez will first discuss key trends on the voluntary carbon market. Then, Forest Trends President and CEO Michael Jenkins will moderate a panel of three carbon market participants: Christian Dannecker, Director of Forestry at South Pole Group; Brian McFarland, Director of Carbon Projects and Origination at; and Hans Wegner, Chief Sustainability Officer at National Geographic Society. It is sure to be a lively discussion, and we hope you will join us.

To register for the event, please RSVP with full contact details to by June 19. Space is limited. If you are unable to attend in person, register for the live webstream.

More stories from the forest carbon marketplace are summarized below, so keep reading!

—The Ecosystem Marketplace Team


If you have comments or would like to submit news stories, write to us at



Brazil breaks the tape

Brazil is the first country across the finish line in terms of submitting its national data on emissions reductions achieved by avoided deforestation to the United Nations (UN). The data will be used to establish a benchmark for future emissions reductions, as outlined in the REDD Rulebook decided at the 19th Conference of the Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in November 2013. The Rulebook is the first step in allowing large-scale REDD funding to flow. Brazil’s Amazon Fund will see a $1 billion injection through 2015 through a bilateral agreement with Norway.


All in favor said aye

On June 6, Peru’s National Congress passed the country’s groundbreaking Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) Law by a vote of 83 to 0, with no abstentions. The law “will give an adequate legal framework to those voluntary agreements that have already been registered among citizens, to ensure the provision of goods and services that nature provides us,” according to the Ministry of Environment’s press release (translated from Spanish). One example of voluntary PES in Peru is the company Seguros El Pací­fico’s agreement to purchase offsets from the conservation of the Tambopata forest in Madre de Dios.

You live and learn

Vanuatu, an archipelago of more than 80 islands, has been receiving funding from a 4.9-euro million regional program for Pacific Island countries through Germany’s International Climate Initiative. The country has a single REDD+ pilot project being implemented by NGO Live and Learn, but readiness funding is already being put to use in conducting a forest inventory for the archipelago’s largest island, Santo, to be completed over the next two months. “The funding will already benefit Vanuatu by improving forest management,” said Bjoern Hecht from Germany’s Agency for International Cooperation. “If the credits come later on or not, doesn’t even matter as long as you implement the current preparation funding really well.”

Reddy, set…

Rwanda’s Ministry of Natural Resources last week unveiled a new monitoring and reporting system for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions caused by deforestation and forest degradation – a prerequisite for participating in REDD under the UN framework. The country was one of 10 in Africa that received funding, $40,000, from the Congo Basin Forest Fund, to develop the reporting system. Rwanda’s forests cover 700,000 hectares, less than 30% of the country. Donat Nsabimana, an expert who helped create Rwanda’s REDD+ plan, said implementing it will cost $6 million over three years while the government has so far put up $2 million.


Go Blue!

The Forestland Group and Blue Source last week announced the issuance of 1.7 million forest carbon offsets for California’s cap-and-trade carbon market. The emissions reductions come from 220,000 acres stretching over seven counties in Michigan’s stunning Upper Peninsula, as part of the Blue Source Bishop Improved Forest Management project. It is the largest project registered to California’s program to date. “We are excited to have completed a project of this scale which we believe provides important proof that commercial timberland operators practicing sustainable forestry can participate and thrive within the California market,” said Roger Williams, President of Blue Source. In a positive sign for the market, the development cycle for California-eligible forest carbon projects is shortening, Williams noted.

Taking nothing for granted

In an interview on our Forest Carbon Portal, Chandler Van Voorhis, Managing Partner of project developer GreenTrees, reflected on the price drop for forestry projects on the voluntary market, which is partly due to an influx of livestock methane offsets in US markets. “What it means is that we in the forestry industry have to do a better job of communicating the value proposition of why our credits and not landfill methane,” he said. “While it’s obvious to us, we need to make it more apparent to the buyer.” GreenTrees is partnering with Norfolk Southern through its Trees for Trains program to plant six million trees in the Mississippi Delta over five years, reducing more than a million tonnes of carbon emissions.

Pay Day for Nepal

Sixteen community forest user committees in Nepal have received 5.9 million rupees (close to $10,000 US dollars) for a REDD+ project that has been underway since 2009. The project, located in the Kayar Khola watershed, has avoided the emission of 5,650 tonnes of carbon dioxide (tCO2e). Sixty percent of its revenue flowed to Dalits, the poor and indigenous communities dependent on forests, with some of the money spent on poverty alleviation measures, such as purchasing buffalo calves. The project concluded in 2013, but could resume if the Nepalese government devises a carbon trade strategy, according to the project coordinator.



A big if

The Global Canopy Programme and the United States Agency for International Development’s Forest Carbon, Markets and Communities (FCMC) program last week launched an interactive supply and demand graph, available on the REDD desk here. A few clicks on the graph create drastically different scenarios through 2020 depending on whether new REDD projects are registered, whether offsets are issued retroactively, which compliance markets accept REDD offsets, and whether demand on those markets is low-, mid-, or high-range. The most optimistic scenario, according to the report authors? That “demand could significantly exceed the estimated credit supply” if we reach an international climate agreement in 2015 that allows for REDD+ to start promptly. The study behind the graph is available here.

Coming soon

The UN’s Green Climate Fund (GCF), through which developed countries have pledged $100 billion per year by 2020, agreed at its May board hearing on the six essential items that will enable its capitalization, at an amount of at least $10 billion. The GCF is a mix of private and public funding that could give a significant boost to REDD+. The first meetings with potential contributors to the fund will be held in late June. Analyst Stephen Leonard provides an overview of the board’s decisions here.


Tropical Mountain high

Mountain forest ecosystems store 40% more carbon than is usually calculated worldwide, according to a study recently published in Biogeosciences. Looking at more than 90 studies of above-ground carbon storage, researchers found that the land surface area of mountainous forests had been low-balled, not taking into account the slope. Estimating carbon storage in mountain rainforests is difficult because of treacherous terrain, and because they are often shrouded in clouds, muddying satellite imagery. “Hopefully our study will inspire forest carbon projects in the mountains,” said Dominick Spracklen, the lead author.

Whoopsy Daisy

Researchers working around Daisy Lake in Canada found that deforestation can reduce the amount of leaf litter falling into rivers and lakes, affecting the size of freshwater fish. Up to 70% of the carbon in some fish came from forests instead of aquatic ecosystems, according to the study, published in Nature Communications. And what fish eat, we eat. Freshwater fish make up 6% of annual protein supply for humans and are the major source of protein for families in Bangladesh, Indonesia and the Philippines, according to the study author.


Savvy underdogs

Ixtlí¡n in Oaxaca, Mexico is way ahead of the (climate) game: Over the course of a generation, the Zapotec community formed a tree-farming association that transformed their economy, giving them street lights, a bus service, and schools where students reach education levels twice the state’s average – and they are now relocating pine trees to higher altitudes based on temperature rise projections. The community would like to access carbon finance, but Mexico’s climate change and REDD laws have not yet been downscaled. “The inhabitants of regions such as Ixtlí¡n are knowledgeable about the land, because of their history and their needs, and they are the ones who can have the best influence in carrying out environmental rulemaking,” said Congresswoman Yesenia Nolasco of Oaxaca.


Hey (bam)boo

Is bamboo a hero or a villain to forests? While some bamboo plantations put pressure on existing forests, companies such as EcoPlanet Bamboo are proving that plantations established on degraded land that undergo environmental and social certifications can provide an important alternative to timber for large purchasers such as IKEA, Kimberly Clark and Costco – and overcome some of the hurdles of reforestation that relies on carbon finance. The Gold Standard’s inclusion of bamboo reforestation in its Afforestation/Reforestation requirements aims to promote safeguards and guide good practices so that more carbon finance can flow to bamboo forests. The Forest Stewardship Council will also allow bamboo plantations to be certified on top of the Gold Standard designation.

Not dumbing farming down

The Gold Standard’s Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) requirements are now open for public comment through July 15. The goals of the program, which falls under the standard’s Land Use and Forests sector, are to ensure food security, build resilience to climate change impacts, and sequester carbon or avoid GHG emissions due to land conversion for agriculture. Fairtrade International was a partner in developing the requirements and there will be a Fairtrade certification process for Gold Standard offsets. The CSA requirements can be downloaded here and comments may be submitted via PDF to

Picky Kiwis

In an interview on our Forest Carbon Portal, Sean Weaver, Principal at the Carbon Partnership, opened up about the challenges faced by the consultancy’s Rarakau project. The 1,000-hectare project in New Zealand is part of a larger program to protect indigenous forests that existed before 1990 and therefore do not qualify for the country’s compliance markets. Rarakau is verified under the ISO14064-2 carbon standard since the Carbon Partnership could not afford Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) verification for a new methodology – a price tag of around $100,000 for auditing costs, according to Weaver. But many buyers have been demanding VCS or bust. “The headwinds are fairly strong for trying to engage in the carbon market from a demand side,” he said.


Now we’re talking

A new Summary for Policymakers, Understanding Land Use in the UNFCCC, aims to transform what has “come to be seen as an arcane and complex subject, impenetrable to the average person and even to skilled negotiators” (according to the authors’ email) into a digestible 12-pager. The summary explains requirements for reporting land use emissions and removals, the difference between land- and activity-based approaches, the role of natural disturbances, and more.

Getting tenure

A new report by FCMC, Tenure Rights, Human Rights and REDD+: Knowledge, Skills and Tools for Effective Results, presents a framework for identifying and asserting tenure and human rights associated with forests and land use. The report includes a helpful graphic for ‘unpacking the bundle of forest rights’ and understanding dispute resolution. It also highlights case studies of successful assertion of customary land title, such as the Saramaka People vs. Suriname case which came before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.

What’s in your gene pool?

The first-ever State of the World’s Forest Genetic Resources report by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reveals that half of the forest species regularly used by countries are threatened. About 2,400 tree species are actively managed – representing about a third of the 8,000 species used frequently by people but only 3% of total tree species in the world. Genetic diversity is important because it allows humans to breed plants for desired traits such as fruit size, oil composition, pulp production or size.


Director, SHARP Program – Proforest

Based in Oxford, United Kingdom, the Director of the Smallholder Acceleration and REDD+ Programme (SHARP) will lead a new multi-stakeholder partnership which works with the private sector to support sustainable smallholder development while improving livelihoods, minimizing deforestation and improving food security. The successful candidate will have a master’s degree in a related discipline and extensive experience of project management. Fluency in English is required; a second language (French, Portuguese, Spanish or Bahasa Malaysia/Indonesia) would be desirable.

Read more about the position here

Scientist, Governance of Furniture Value Chains – Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR)

Based in Jakarta, Indonesia, the Scientist will facilitate and identify strategic opportunities for research with impacts on governance of furniture value chains across selected landscapes in Southeast Asia and lead participatory research on policy, institutions and business models. The successful candidate will have a PhD in forestry or natural resource management with a strong background in participatory action research, no less than seven years of relevant work experience in governance research, and experience working in Southeast Asia. Fluency in Bahasa Indonesian and English is required; knowledge of one other language from the Southeast Asia region is desirable.

Read more about the position here

Advancement Director – Dogwood Alliance

Based in Asheville, North Carolina, the Advancement Director will develop and execute strategies to advance Dogwood’s mission of protecting millions of acres of forests in the Southern US by transforming the way corporations, landowners and communities value them. The ideal candidate will have excellent staff, team and budget management skills, executive-level experience management successful major gifts/sales, and a passion for the mission of Dogwood Alliance.

Read more about the position here

Global Programmes Manager – The Gold Standard Foundation

Based at a home office in the UK with frequent travel to London, the Global Programmes Manager will act as the central point for a range of The Gold Standard Foundation’s technical and project delivery activities, including coordinating the Technical Advisory Committee and representing the Foundation at external events. The successful candidate will have demonstrated experience in project management, outstanding stakeholder management skills, and the ability to work independently and meet deadlines.

Read more about the position here

Program Fellow, Sustainable Finance – The Moore Foundation

Based in Palo Alto, California, the Program Fellow will play a major part in helping to refine and shape the Moore Foundation’s approach, providing solid knowledge of the sustainable finance field and key emerging trends. The Foundation’s Environmental Conservation Program is currently exploring sustainable agriculture that reduces deforestation, among other topics. A bachelor’s degree is required; MBA, JD, or Masters/PhD in Finance, Economics or another relevant discipline is preferred, plus seven years of professional experience.

Read more about the position here

Program Assistant, Verification – The Climate Registry

Based in Los Angeles or New York City, The Program Assistant for Verification Services will help with the day-to-day operation of The Climate Registry’s voluntary and mandatory verification programs to ensure the collection of high-quality GHG data. The ideal candidate will have a bachelor’s degree in environmental science or a related technical degree and one to two years of professional experience, as well as an interest in working in the field of climate change, corporate environmental management, and/or air quality issues.

Read more about the position here


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.


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


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Biof­lica: Futbol Shines Light On Brazil’s Forests

As fºtbol fans tune in for the World Cup, host country Brazil’s emissions have also been in the spotlight. The International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) pledged to offset all direct emissions from the event, while local companies and foreign visitors alike have been encouraged to offset their impact. Local project developer, Mariama Vendramini of Biof­lica, says this represents one of several initiatives that has helped increase domestic interest in forestry offsets.

18 June 2014 | While emissions reduction projects are dispersed across the world’s fifth largest country, recent initiatives have caught the attention of local businesses. In addition to FIFA’s offsetting goals, Brazil has encouraged private companies to donate offsets for the World Cup. So far, 11 companies have received a Low Carbon seal – representing 30% of the estimated emissions generated – to use in advertising during the games. This marks the first time private sector donations have been used in the quadrennial event.

Last year, offsetting in Brazil also scored international headlines when the Brazilian costmetics giant Natura Cosmeticos purchased 120,000 tonnes of carbon from the Paiter-Surui people. The project marked the first indigenous REDD (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation) project in the world.

Mariama Vendramini, Finance and Commercial Director of Biof­lica, spoke to Ecosystem Marketplace’s Kelley Hamrick about the impact of these and other trends in Brazil. Biof­lica, a Brazilian company working to conserve the rainforest through environmental markets, has currently invested in and developed five REDD projects throughout Brazil’s western states.

KH: What have you seen in the Brazilian market this year? MV: We’ve been seeing a scattered market. We’ve seen demand mostly for small volumes and corporate social responsibility (CSR) purposes. We have our national plan on climate change that, within other activities, sets a cap on important sectors of Brazil’s economy: the largest emitters from sectors such as industry, agriculture, mining and transportation. So far they are in the phase of inventories development. On average and except land use, they have a 5% reduction target over the estimated level of emissions in 2020 considering 2005 as a base year. So that’s what’s happening on the compliance side. While this happens, companies that are more consumer-driven will do their CSR activities and some of them are considering offsets. So there are a few companies that have been steadily buying volumes on the voluntary market.

KH: It sounds like most are domestic?

MV: We have domestic companies but we also have Brazilian branches and subsidiaries of multi-nationals. So it’s not only Brazilians, but Brazilian companies are main front runners in sustainability. All are still learning what REDD+ is. We’ve found a little bit of skepticism from these companies because REDD+ was out of Clean Development Mechanism and we had all these struggles with technical aspects. But this changed as companies are getting to know more about REDD+, technical issues have been rapidly evolving and as the Warsaw Platform for REDD+ brought legitimacy by turning REDD+ into a wide accepted tool to tackle climate change under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. People are getting to know REDD+ better and understanding that projects and programs on the ground need to be carried out so that local realities can be changed and result in aggregate decline of deforestation.

Natura, a Brazilian company, bought significant amounts from the Surui project last year and this was good as a signal to other companies. Other examples come from the Brazilian chain of gas stations Ipiranga, Brazilian subsidiaries of the French Ticket Edenred and of the Spanish Santander. There are other companies moving the market with lower volumes still but as they get to know the mechanism more, they are getting more interested. But we’re still on the way with it. There are a few issues that need to be demystified: first is the carbon management itself, then the use of offsets and afterwards advancing towards REDD+ as a high value added type of offset. This is where we are in the Brazilian market today.

KH: The World Cup might help with awareness, right?

MV: Exactly. And we see that there are a few prompts that are being developed in parallel with each other. There is the Brazilian government buying CERs and asking for companies to donate those CERs to be retired in the name of the government. An official stamp will then certify to the public that Brazil’s official emissions were made neutral.
There’s also FIFA’s initiative to offset their emissions in a program managed by BP Target Neutral. Then there are other initiatives driven by sponsors on their own emissions, such as the one done by TAM Airlines on offsetting their flights during the World Cup.

KH: Any other developments?

MV: We are also working with IPAM and GCP on the development of a Brazilian business case for an interim finance facility for REDD+. It would work as a linkage between what we have of forest supply that is being developed until 2020 and the potential Brazilian emissions reductions market that we are assuming will start operating in 2020. Our climate change national policy already mentions a Brazilian market as a tool to reduce emissions, and we are building upon that with a proposition of a viable mechanism to finance forestry emissions reductions generated until 2020. We’re working in many ways to scale up demand for REDD+.

KH: What are your future predictions about demand? Will these policies help?

MV: Demand will rise as public awareness grows with examples such as the World Cup’s, Natura’s and other companies’ activities on the voluntary market. And it has a shifting potential with a push from the to-be-established Paris agreement. Despite of the level of commitment to be assumed, we are already seeing the development of local mechanisms to price carbon that are popping up around the world pushed by this trend. We are seeing it happening within countries that had no reductions commitments under Kyoto. New pricing mechanisms being established around the world, recognition of REDD+ under the Convention and the increasing gap of emissions reductions needed to be made to keep us under a secure level or temperature increase put us in a path where demand for REDD+ will have to scale up.


Peruvian Congress Passes Historic Ecosystem Services Law


7 June 2014 | The same week that US President Barack Obama unveiled a national climate action plan that opens the door to cap-and-trade in the power sector, Peru’s National Congress (Congreso Nacional) passed the country’s ground-breaking Payments for Ecosystem Services Law (Ley de Mecanismos de Retribucií³n por Servicios Ecosistémicos), according to a press release issued by the Ministry of Environment (MINAM).

The law passed on Thursday with 83 votes in favor and none against, with no abstentions, the release said. Here is a rough translation of the release, which is available in Spanish here, followed by earlier Ecosystem Marketplace coverage of the act. We will update this story during the week. Be sure to check back.

Adopted at the World Environment Day (Dí­a Mundial del Ambiente), this law will give an adequate legal framework to those voluntary agreements that have already been registered among citizens, to ensure the provision of goods and services that nature provides us. Roger Loyola, director of Evaluation, Assessment and Financing of Natural Heritage (Evaluacií³n, Valoracií³n y Financiamiento del Patrimonio Natural) for MINAM, said this law will promote recognition actions for both parties involved: one that helps maintain ecosystem conservation actions, recovery and sustainable use of ecosystems, and one that receives the benefit of this work.”The first ecosystem service that MINAM are working on are water resources, working with the watershed between highlands and lowlands, for the mutual benefit of both. We are also looking at forest carbon,” said Loyola. In other cases, there are communities that have called for the creation of a control forest to receive a benefit to avoid land use and deforestation.

Examples of this type have already been carried out not only abroad, Costa Rica and Ecuador, but also in Peru itself. For example, the Pacific Insurance Company signed an agreement that allows the forest Tambopata (Madre de Dios) keeps up the company and thus offset their emissions. Another example is that of Tumbes where users pay to maintain three micro Alto Mayo and ensure the quality of water for human consumption.

“What we propose is the measurement and regulation of voluntary human actions. This does not mean that the established environmental obligations are maintained, for any person, firm or entity of the State to fulfill its duties are not exempt ” Loyola said.

Article 12 of the Law states that the MINAM support the regional and local governments, through the Incubator Compensation Mechanisms for Ecosystem Services, whose main function is to support these processes.

Here is earlier coverage of the law:

Peruvian Ecosystem Services Law In Limbo On Eve Of Earth Day Katoomba Meeting In Lima

by Elisa Arca

18 April 2014 | It’s not easy for any country to protect its natural areas from exploitation, but Peru is making a solid attempt to preserve its forests, which store massive amounts of carbon and provide habitat to thousands of rare and endangered species – delivering in the process benefits that accrue to the world at large and not only to Peru.

The country’s legislators have drafted one of the most comprehensive pieces of legislation for governing Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES), but the Ley de Mecanismos de Retribucií³n por Servicios Ecosistémicos has been perpetually on the brink of passing since it was introduced in 2008. It emerged around the same time as the Brazilian state of Acre’s System of Incentives for Environmental Services (Sistema de Incentivo a Serviços Ambientais, or “SISA”), and like that ground-breaking initiative, the Peruvian law would create a legal framework for conservation efforts that harness private capital.

In December, a key congressional commission gave the bill a thumbs-up; in February, the Ministry of Environment (Ministerio del Ambiente, or “MINAM”) launched a consultation initiative with indigenous people; and last week, the bill was slated to be formally debated for the first time before the entire National Congress.

That debate, however, never took place, and now the bill is back on ice – a development that will feature prominently at the 20th Katoomba Meeting, which runs from April 22 through 25 in Lima.

The Laws of Limbo

In Peru’s unicameral system, a bill must first emerge from a commission before being introduced to the congress at large. The PES Bill passed that hurdle in December, when it was approved by the Committee of the Environment and Ecology. It was supposed to have its long-awaited debut before Congress on April 10, but then it got pushed back to April 15, when it was again left in the lurch. Now it isn’t clear if the bill will head back to the Environment Commission or again be presented to the entire Congress.

Those close to the process are speculating as to why the bill didn’t progress. It’s possible legislators outside of the Environment Committee disagreed with the bill. It’s also possible the last congressional meeting was simply packed with other proposals and they didn’t have time to discuss the PES bill.

How it Works

The bill provides a legal framework to support a diverse range of ecosystem services – including greenhouse gas emissions reductions, biodiversity conservation and the preservation of natural beauty. Investments in watershed services (IWS), an already popular water management method in the country, have also been incorporated into the proposal.

There are two parties involved in the PES process that the bill lays out. The first are land stewards – farmers, indigenous peoples, landowners and individuals involved in ecotourism, who act as the receivers of ecosystem services. The other group – mostly civil society, businesses and municipalities – are the payers. They compensate the land stewards to practice sustainable land-use. These sustainable practices ensure businesses and cities will have the ecosystem services, like clean water and air, that they need to survive and thrive.

The government will be responsible for identifying the payers and also for administering the compensation process.

Monitoring for compliance and effectiveness will vary by program. For REDD (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation), which is already well-developed internationally, the law incorporates existing certification procedures and standards.

Congressman Nestor Valqui Matos was one of the leading legislators on this bill, guiding it through the Commission. He tells Ecosystem Marketplace that some key details still need to be ironed out, and he singled out the law’s lack of provisions on preexisting conditions. This, he says, introduces an element of uncertainty that could come back to haunt them if not dealt with now. Conditions like determining the legal rights to the area where the project will take place and who stands to benefit should be decided on at the start.

Jose Luis Capella agrees. He is Director of the Forestry Program in the Peruvian Society of Environmental Law (SPDA), and says all of these issues should be worked out in the design phase.

The Changing Role of Government

Peru’s Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) programs are still voluntary agreements between parties, which means the government’s role is limited. It boils down to ecosystem services management and providing regulatory certainty for contracts.

“It’s a voluntary agreement between private parties with a private contract but the state often owns the natural resources at the center of the contract,” says Capella.

Therefore, PES programs require state involvement as well as participation from the private sector in order to operate – but that degree of involvement is still a matter of debate. Institutions have argued in certain locations – near remote communities, for instance – more government intervention is needed in order to provide transparency and keep information flowing to the locals. Otherwise, locals may feel their rights are being violated by outside organizations.

But Capella says the focus right now shouldn’t be on government monitoring but on simply creating more programs.

Protection for Indigenous People

Matos says prior consultation is only proposed where the project has the potential to directly impact collective rights of indigenous peoples.

“It’s important that all actors involved in a PES project benefit,” says Capella. “This law will help achieve that by keeping everyone properly informed and creating opportunities for those closest to the forest.”

The bill also faces implementation challenges on a regional level, because regional governments must be able to involve a consortium of individuals including forest users and indigenous groups but also NGOs and federal government agencies like the Ministry of Environment and Agriculture and Irrigation. Companies involved in water management, as well, will often need to be involved in developing a program.

Implications of a PES Law

Examples of PES and IWS in Peru are plentiful. One such example is the program implemented in the Rumiyacu-Mishquiyacu micro-watersheds, located among the jungles of Peru’s San Martin region. The area was degraded and the plan was to compensate using non-monetary benefits like tools to support sustainable production and technical advice. In return, participants in the project agreed to switch from their old ways of managing the land, which resulted in harmful environmental impacts, to a sustainable land management style that enhanced the ecosystem services.

People affected by the harmful land activities-mostly those living in the city of Moyobamba in Moyobamba province, agreed to finance the sustainable activities. This voluntary payment was made through their monthly water bill.

And there will continue to be movement in this space on different levels as the legislation works its way through Congress. The The Watershed Services Incubator, a collaborative initiative between environmental non-profit Forest Trends (publisher of Ecosystem Marketplace) and MINAM, among other institutions, is one active project. The incubator acts as a capacity-building platform for developing water projects based on PES.

Ultimately, Peru’s proposal aims to coordinate all of these activities by providing a simplified framework for PES to increase the mechanism’s use. It’s based on a simple idea that isn’t particularly innovative: those who help maintain and improve ecosystem services establish an agreement with those who are voluntarily willing to compensate for those services.

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Elisa Arca is a journalist living in Lima, Peru. She writes for and can be reached at
Additional resources

US Federal Government Throws Its Weight Behind REDD

3 June 2014 | In the shadow of political uncertainty and Congressional inaction, US President Barack Obama has not been shy about his using his executive authority to support projects that reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+). His administration has pledged $1 billion to REDD+ efforts in recognition of the fact that as much as 80% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions come from the land use sector in some developing countries.

The US Agency for International Development (USAID) kicked these efforts up a notch with last week’s announcement that it will offer a new-risk sharing loan guarantee to enable the Althelia Climate Fund to lend up to $133.8 million in commercial financing for forest conservation and sustainable land use projects in developing countries. The Althelia guarantee is the first of what the agency hopes will be similar transactions with other partners.

But the Obama administration, through USAID, had already invested time and resources in supporting REDD+ projects. The agency previously developed the BioREDD+ program in Colombia, which started in 2011 and will run through 2014. Through the program, $27.8 million will be invested in biodiversity, REDD, and climate change adaptation, with eight REDD+ projects totaling more than 700,000 hectares being developed in the Colombian Pacific Coast to be validated under the Verified Carbon Standard and the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Alliance.

These REDD+ projects have emission reduction potential of more than two million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide per year from avoided deforestation and degradation, as well as regeneration of forests, according to USAID. They also offer biodiversity benefits via protection of the Chocí³ Biogeographic Region – one of the world’s 10 “biodiversity hotspots.” The region is home to 9,000 species of vascular plants, 200 mammals, 600 birds, 100 reptiles, and 120 amphibians – many of which are endemic to Colombia – and the REDD+ investments will support the protection of species listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as endangered.

To read the rest of this story, please visit the Forest Carbon Portal for free.


EcoPlanet Bamboo: Thinking Long-Term

EcoPlanet Bamboo yesterday announced that its Nicaragua bamboo projects successfully verified their first carbon offsets. These projects are expected to reduce 1.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2e) over their 20-year lifetime. This milestone came after a patient process of navigating the voluntary carbon markets and – as Troy Wiseman explains in the interview below – is part of the company’s truly long-term vision for triple bottom line profitability.

28 May 2014 | Troy Wiseman, CEO and Co-Founder of EcoPlanet Bamboo, never understood the idea of a zero-sum game when it came to corporate responsibility and profits. To him, achieving both simultaneously is all about the execution – and having the patience to do things right the first time around.

That patience paid off last week when EcoPlanet Bamboo, a company that aims to “make bamboo the timber of the 21st century” completed verification of its 2014 vintage offsets under the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) and Climate, Community and Biodiversity (CCB) Alliance Standard. The verification marks the debut of carbon offsets from bamboo plantations. In 2012, EcoPlanet Bamboo also became the first carbon offset project to receive political risk insurance (to the tune of $27 million) from the World Bank Group’s Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency.

When he founded EcoPlanet Bamboo, Wiseman recognized that the only way to ‘move the needle’ on deforestation is to find alternatives to wood fiber. The company is working with major corporations that source paper, activated carbon (used to trap mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants and mines) and other wood products from boreal and other endangered forests to see if they can fill those same product needs with bamboo, at the same price point.

Based in Barrington, Illinois, the company owns seven bamboo plantations covering more than 8,000 acres in Nicaragua and 1,200 acres in South Africa. EcoPlanet Bamboo does extensive research and development on dozens of the more than 1400 types of bamboo, so they know which varieties fit which business need – from biofuels to pulp to furniture.

Wiseman, a lifelong entrepreneur, spoke with Allie Goldstein about the company’s long-term business vision, and how carbon offset sales fit in.

Allie Goldstein: Many of your bamboo plantations are validated as VCS, CCB and Forest Stewardships Council (FSC). Why did you make this effort to validate against multiple standards?

Troy Wiseman: The reason we went thought this intense triple certification process and spent the money to do this right, all the way from the community level to the top of our organization, was to set the benchmark for how bamboo should be industrialized. That is as a sustainable alternative fiber with high potential for reforestation, rather than as a species that otherwise has the potential to become another problem crop.

In addition to the carbon finance, the multiple certifications allowed that to be validated externally. EcoPlanet Bamboo only plants on degraded land that was deforested more than 10 years ago, in line with the VCS requirements, and we don’t compete with food security. If you’re using land like ours that doesn’t have good soils – either acidic, clay or very compacted – it’s going to cost an additional hundreds of thousands of dollars each year per plantation, because it’s going to take one or two years longer for that bamboo to mature. That’s real money. But we know that that’s the right way to do it, and because we’re building a company for 100 years – the long term – we’re trying to be a responsible market leader and set the benchmark.

Read more on the Forest Carbon Portal.

This Week In Forest Carbon News…

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


21 May 2014 | Indonesia’s peat forests are a climate change ‘line in the sand.’ The country’s 22 million hectares of peat contain an estimated 200 billion tonnes of carbon – a third of Earth’s remaining ‘carbon budget’ through 2050 if we are to limit global temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius. Through a $1 billion REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation of forests) agreement with Norway in 2010, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono imposed a two-year moratorium on the palm oil concessions that have turned one of the largest carbon sinks in the world into a carbon source.

That moratorium has now been extended through 2015, but it doesn’t affect concessions already in place before it was signed, leaving millions of hectares of forest slated for conversion to palm oil. Heru Prasetyo, who took the helm of Indonesia’s new REDD+ Management Agency in December, is tasked with preventing this climate nightmare. In a wide-ranging, exclusive interview with Ecosystem Marketplace’s Steve Zwick, Prasetyo talks about Indonesia’s plan to move palm production to degraded land, why REDD+ is the new oil, and everything in between.

“We’ve spent 50 years developing this economy, and if we simply stop producing palm oil, we will be taking a massive economic hit, and production will just go elsewhere,” Pratseyo explained. “So we have to engineer a land-swap. This means identifying degraded land that could be used for palm oil and trying to see if there is a way to persuade the people who have palm-oil concessions to switch over.”

Zwick describes such a land swap as “a task comparable to asking the corn farmers of the American Midwest to move their crops en masse to the apple orchards of the Northeast.” Pratseyo recognizes that it won’t be easy, but he sees REDD+ as an essential tool for rebalancing the economic equation to make standing forests more valuable. He advocates for incorporating site-specific reference levels into a national strategy, and for taking the time to do multi-stakeholder consultation, even if it’s “messy.” When asked which complexities on the ground surprised him most, Pratseyo had an interesting answer:

“We knew that we’d have a lot of issues with tenure. That’s a problem we inherited from the Dutch, and then we made worse ourselves. So, we knew that, but the biggest surprise was that our institutions were not prepared for doing what needs to be done to make REDD+ work. But then we also found this benefit: that the reforms we needed to make for REDD+ were reforms that would have knock-on benefits across the agriculture sector. So, we’re using REDD+ to align our institutions and straighten out all of our tenure issues,” he said.

The interview, available here, is worth reading in full.

More stories from the forest carbon markets are summarized below, so keep reading!

Forest Trends’ Ecosystem Marketplace invites you join us for an event exploring findings from our 2014 State of the Voluntary Carbon Markets survey. This year’s launch event at Carbon Expo in Cologne, Germany is sponsored by ClimateCare, EcoAct, and Santiago Climate Exchange.

We’ll address questions such as: What were the most popular standards and project types in 2013? What average prices were forestry and other carbon offsets sold at? What buyer sectors are interested in forest carbon offsets, and how does offsetting fit into corporate supply chain management?

Join us, and panelists from BioCarbon Group, ClimateCare, EcoAct and the International Carbon Reduction and Offset Alliance (ICROA) on Wednesday, May 28, 13:00 – 13:45 in the Plenary Room. Our latest report builds on data collected from a global pool of offset suppliers worldwide to provide insights that will once again become an industry benchmark.




—The Ecosystem Marketplace Team

If you have comments or would like to submit news stories, write to us at



No to déjí  vu

Speaking at the Forests Asia Summit in Jakarta, Indonesia, Peru Environment Minister Manuel Pulgar-Vidal called for a bottom-up climate agreement at the United Nations talks in Lima this December. “It should be clear that we are not going to repeat Kyoto,” he said. Pulgar-Vidal called for a central role for forestry, recognizing that deforestation is the biggest source of emissions in some countries in Latin America. “For me the forestry topic, it is still the younger brother of the climate debate,” he said. The Minister lamented the low price of carbon and said that resolving tenure rights will be key to building trust in forest carbon mechanisms.


Less loopy

A new budget bill has closed a loophole in New Zealand’s emissions trading scheme (ETS) which allowed foresters who planted their trees after 1989 to earn New Zealand Units (NZUs) from the government, sell them to emitters, and then buy cheaper international Emissions Reduction Units (ERUS) to give back to the government. NZUs are currently worth 23 times ERUs, and foresters were able to earn several hundred million dollars through trading – with zero benefit to the climate. The budget bill came as a surprise to the Forest Owners Association, which said foresters who have bought ERUs in the last year will now be selling them at a loss.

If you abandon it, they will come

A report by Italy’s National Inventory of Forests finds that the country now has more than double the trees it hosted just after World War II. The widespread abandonment of farmland, particularly in the south, has led to massive reforestation, and forests now cover 27 million acres – about 35% of the country. As a Kyoto Protocol signatory, carbon sequestered by Italy’s forests is counted against its emissions targets, but that hasn’t stopped some Italian forest owners from participating in the voluntary carbon market. “There is the need to organize in a way to make sure that we are not monetizing twice the same credits,” Lucio Brotto, a researcher involved in developing the Italian Forest Code, told Ecosystem Marketplace.


Zambia zooming

BioCarbon Partners, a Zambian-based REDD+ project developer, announced last week that its Lower Zambezi REDD+ project achieved Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) verification. The project has also achieved validation against the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Alliance Standard at the ‘triple gold’ level, indicating ‘exceptional’ biodiversity, social, and climate adaptation benefits. It protects 39,000 hectares of intact miombo forest along the northwestern boundary of the Lower Zambezi National Park and supports sustainable charcoal production, among other efforts to improve local livelihoods and reduce the drivers of deforestation. BioCarbon Partners is now actively seeking buyers to purchase carbon offsets from the project.

How hospitable

Hotel Verde in Cape Town, South Africa recently announced a partnership with impactChoice to neutralize carbon emissions by purchasing carbon offsets from the Sofala Community Carbon Project in Mozambique. The Plan Vivo REDD project, which has now been running for seven years, covers 11,744 hectares in Gorongosa National Park and is estimated to avoid the emission of 1,000,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year (342,423 Plan Vivo certificates have been issued so far). “We have committed to offsetting each guest’s stay or conference with us at no additional cost to the guest, taking straight from our bottom line,” said Mario Delicio, the hotel owner.


Above and beyond

A recent study commissioned by the Gold Standard (GS) and published by NetBalance valued the environmental, economic and social initiatives associated with 109 GS projects at $686 million. GS held 14% of market share in 2012, according to the State of the Voluntary Carbon Markets 2013, and its co-benefits-centric approach led to prices that were among the market’s highest – an average of $10 per tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent. Some buyers may actually be more interested in the co-benefits than the carbon, but carbon provides a straightforward metric for monitoring and reporting. “People don’t give money for good causes anymore – they give money for results,” said Thomas Vellacott, CEO of World Wildlife Fund Switzerland, at this year’s GS conference.

Carbon Map taking off

The Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) Carbon Map and Model project, financed through Germany’s KfW Development Bank to the tune of six million euros, was important to the Carbon Fund’s acceptance of DRC’s Emissions Reductions Program Idea Note. Implemented through World Wildlife Fund and GFA Consulting Group, the mapping project used a combination of field plot measurements and remote sensing data from an airplane-based sensor to create a national biomass map. DRC hopes to receive $60 million in emissions reduction payments through 2020 for avoided deforestation in Mai Ndombe Province. It will be the first jurisdictional REDD+ program in Africa.



Carbon queens

Mirror mirror on the wall, who stores the most carbon of them all? A new study published in the Journal of Ecology yields an answer: the rainforests of Borneo beat out the Amazon for the fastest woody growth – 49% faster, in fact – and therefore the most above-ground carbon storage. The research is based on 12,000 trees that were monitored for more than two decades. Borneo’s forests, however, have been under siege: more than 29,000 square kilometers of the lowland forests of Kalimantan were chopped between 1985 and 2001. In 2011, the first forest carbon project in Borneo was registered in Sabah under the VCS.


Hand-to-forest combat

Rudi Putra of Indonesia is one of six winners of this year’s Goldman prize, the most prestigious global award for environmental activists. Putra is fighting to save the 2.25 million-hectare Leuser Ecosystem in Sumatra, home to elephants, rhinos and orangutans – a quarter of which has already been destroyed. His efforts exposed illegal deforestation by more than two dozen palm oil plantations and helped to stop a 2013 provincial government plan to open up new tracts of forest to mining and palm. “We have basically no funding for the work we are doing, but we all stood together to protect the Leuser,” he said. The $175,000 prize money will go right back to the effort.

Scout’s dishonor

At age 11, Madison Vorva and Rhiannon Tomtishen started a campaign to get Girl Scouts of America to source more sustainable palm oil for their cookies. The result was Kellogg Company’s eventual adoption of a zero deforestation policy. But Vorva and Tomtishen – who are now of voting age – aren’t satisfied yet since ABC Bakers, the other company that bakes Girl Scout cookies, has not adopted a zero deforestation policy. The Girl Scouts’ bakers source palm oil from members of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm, a standard-setting body for social and environmental safeguards that does not explicitly exclude land conversion.

Miss Deforestation

Critics call her ‘Miss Deforestation,’ but she’d prefer ‘Miss President.’ Kí¡tia Abreu, a senator from the Brazilian state of Tocantis, is known as the staunchest supporter of agribusiness in the country. “There are many things holding back progress – the environmental issue, the Indian issue and more,” she told a journalist from The Guardian. Abreu does not plan to run in October’s election, but she says that campaigning someday is “fate.” Abreu is a stark contrast to Marina Silva, Brazil’s former environment minister who introduced policies to slow deforestation and who last month announced she will run alongside Socialist party candidate Eduardo Campos against current president Dilma Rousseff.


Let’s play 20 questions

The Center for International Forestry Research’s (CIFOR) 2013 annual report, released this month, highlights gains for forest carbon, including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s adopted Wetlands Supplement, which allows national governments to include peatlands and mangroves in carbon accounting. At its Forests Asia Summit in early May, the organization launched its Top 20 Questions for Forestry – “t20q” – survey, which will steer coming research and policy work.

Getting engaged

A recent study by Tetra Tech for the Forest Carbon, Markets and Communities program of the United States Agency for International Development compared four forest carbon projects in Eastern Africa – one in Uganda, one in Ethiopia, and two in Kenya. The study found that all the projects “effectively engaged” thousands of farmers to plant trees or regenerate forest, but “at current carbon prices, carbon revenues seem insufficient incentive for tree-planting.” Investment costs for Clean Development Mechanism and VCS compliance were often upwards of $1 million, and continue throughout the project.


Forester / Forest Biometrician – Green Assets

Based in Wilmington, North Carolina, the Forester/Forest Biometrician will evaluate large forested tracts for development of forest carbon projects, utilizing forest management plans, inventories, mapping and harvest data to make recommendations to Green Assets. The successful candidate will have a bachelor’s degree in Forestry with at least five years of experience in forest inventory design and mensuration. Strong understanding of remote sensing analysis techniques and experience with forest carbon project protocols such as Climate Action Reserve, American Carbon Registry, and California Air Resources Board preferred.

Read more about the position here

Forestry Senior Program Associate – American Carbon Registry

Based in Sacramento, California (preferred) or Washington, DC, the Senior Program Associate will provide support on all aspects of registry management, support business development and outreach activities, and help to coordinate the development and/or approval of new quantification methodologies. A master’s degree in forestry and three to six years of experience working with forest projects in the carbon market or related fields is required. Candidates who have completed California Air Resources Board training and passed the exam in the US Forests Compliance Offset Protocol are preferred.

Read more about the position here

Senior Associate Forest Certification – Rainforest Alliance

Based in Northfield, Minnesota, the Senior Associate will provide essential leadership in management and growth of Rainforest Alliance’s US forest management portfolio in the US Region. Responsibilities will encompass management and leadership, client service, and quality assurance. Preferred candidates will have an advanced degree with five to seven years of experience in forestry or a related field.

Read more about the position here

Director of Finance – EcoZoom

Based in Portland, Oregon or Nairobi, Kenya, the Director of Finance will drive the global growth of EcoZoom’s suite of clean cookstoves products for developing countries. The position involves working with senior management to develop a strategy for bilateral aid mechanisms such as carbon finance and Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions. The ideal candidate will have at least seven years work experience in finance, with a minimum of five years at a multinational company, preferably with offices in Africa.

Read more about the position here

APX – Renewable Energy and Carbon Markets Intern

Based in Washington, DC, the Renewable Energy and Carbon Markets Intern will kick-start an analytics and research program through APX Environmental. The internship will emphasize learning and preparation for a potential future career in the field. Candidates must have a passion for research and analysis, strong communication skills, and enthusiasm about working in a start-up environment. Proficiency in Spanish is a plus.

Read more about the position here


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.


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


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This Week In Forest Carbon News…

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


12 May 2014 | The Brazilian state of Acre is “the best in the world when it comes to subnational jurisdictions working on REDD, (Reduction of Emissions from Deforestation or Degradation of forests),” Brian McFarland of the Carbon Fund told Ecosystem Marketplace. The state’s 2010 payment for ecosystem services (PES) law, known as SISA from the Portuguese acronym, aims to place economic value on forests, biodiversity, water, soil, climate – and even traditional knowledge – to create mechanisms to invest in ecosystem and cultural survival. The forest carbon aspect of the law is the furthest along, and in 2012 Acre partnered with the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) to pilot their Jurisdictional Nesting REDD+ framework.

However, it was a long road before finance actually began to flow, especially for the rubber tappers and small farmers who constantly face competing demands. Last November, Chief Jose Maria Arara of the Arara people expressed his frustration at a workshop in Acre.

“When will PES arrive?” Zé Maria asked. “We’ve held about five different meetings…”

This year, he got his answer – at least in part. The Acre Association of Indigenous Agroforesty Agents received 3.6 million Reais (US $1.6 million) in January, and the state put up an additional 3 million Reais (US $1.35 million) in April. The funding is part of the German development bank KfW’s commitment to spend 50 million Reais (US $24.2 million) in Acre through 2018 – and it marks the German government’s first grant to a state rather than a country.

To disperse the first 1.5 million Reais this year, Acre’s government will issue a series of calls for proposals to support indigenous people’s long-term development visions, known as “life plans.” The awards will range from 50,000 to 210,000 Reais and can be used for a variety of activities, from strengthening land management practices to generating income for women. Though international REDD+ payments are based on the state’s ‘performance’ against emissions targets, Acre’s government has the leeway to distribute the funds internally based on a variety of activities consistent with the SISA law, including payments for watershed services and payments for habitat restoration. The state government believes these targeted payments will ultimately result in lower deforestation rates across its territory – and that means more REDD+ income down the road.

“We’re talking about 2.4 million hectares of forest being managed by indigenous peoples,” said Beto Borges, who heads Forest Trends’ Communities and Market Initiative, which has been working in Acre for years. “That’s 15 distinct ethnicities dispersed among 35 indigenous territories. Their traditional territories have been demarcated. They’re official. Now, the new funding from SISA will strengthen the management and conservation of their forests.”

More stories from the forest carbon markets are summarized below, so keep reading!

—The Ecosystem Marketplace Team


If you have comments or would like to submit news stories, write to us at



Passing the torch

Speaking to the nearly 2,000 attendees of the Center for International Forestry Research’s (CIFOR) Forests Asia Summit on May 5, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, the outgoing President of Indonesia, called on his successor to continue the moratorium on deforestation he declared in 2011. Indonesia reduced its deforestation rate from 1.2 million hectares annually between 2003 and 2006 to 450,600 hectares annually between 2011 and 2013 under the policy, he said, avoiding the emission of 211 million tonnes of carbon dioxide. However, more work remains to be done. Illegal logging and slash-and-burn practices contributed to the recent debilitating fires in Riau province, and more than a hundred individuals and a dozen corporations are currently facing court trials for related crimes.


All smoke and mirrors?

Australia’s Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI) will be folded into the Emissions Reduction Fund partly to create new opportunities for land-based carbon projects, perhaps including offsets developed under a proposed methodology that would allow soil carbon sequestration projects in grazing systems. The CFI announcement was made in an April white paper outlining the details of the fund, which the federal government sees as the centerpiece of its plan to repeal and replace the country’s carbon tax. However, the Labor Party’s Shadow Environment Minister Mark Butler said the plan was “nothing more than smoke and mirrors” because of the lack of funding certainty in future years. CFI offsets can be used for compliance under the carbon tax until February 2015.

Drafting REDD into service

India has released a draft national policy on REDD+ that aims to enable local communities to receive financial incentives for forest conservation and sustainable forest management initiatives. The proposed policy could allow India REDD+ projects to access millions of dollars provided by developed countries by creating a national regulatory body, establishing policies to safeguard local community rights, and developing a mechanism to fairly channel REDD+ funds to these communities. India’s Ministry of Environment and Forests noted that forest cover in the country neutralizes 11% of its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. But India only added three million hectares of forest from 1997 to 2007, according to its State of Forest Report. Comments can be made on the draft policy until May 27.


Plan Vivo looking lively

After a relatively slow year of project development in 2013, with only two projects added to its pipeline, Plan Vivo, a standard for payment for ecosystem services projects, has already approved seven new Project Information Notes in the first quarter of 2014. Among these are the standard’s first non-forest carbon project, located in Mongolia, through which the University of Leicester and the Mongolian Society for Range Management will work with herders to conserve threatened grasslands. Another proposed project called ‘Two Worlds – One Bird‘ will finance habitat restoration for the Bicknell Thrush, a bird that migrates between the Dominican Republic and New York in the United States. Project activities will include reforestation in both countries.


You snooze, you lose

Pakistan has failed to sign a formal agreement worth $3.8 million with the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility’s (FCPF) Readiness Fund by a March 31 deadline. The FCPF assists developing countries through compensation for REDD+ activities, including conservation, sustainable management and enhancement of forest carbon stocks. Pakistan was one of eight new countries to be selected from 27 that competed for the funds in December 2013. A pledge of $100 million to the fund from Norway allowed new entrants into the program, including Bhutan, Burkina Faso, Cote d’lvoire, Fiji, Dominican Republic, Nigeria and Togo, aside from Pakistan.


Houston, we have a problem

Since 2011, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has been monitoring forest loss using a global imaging satellite called MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer). So far in 2014, Bolivia, Malaysia and Cambodia have recorded some of the worst losses, and NASA officials suspect the cause is human activity. NASA releases deforestation reports quarterly that can assist conservationists and officials in detecting illegal logging or burning. The Quarterly Indicator of Cover Change identifies land areas that have lost at least 40% of their green vegetation cover annually.

Reverse the carbon curse

The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report describes the actions that people need to take to maintain a safe and stable global climate, including carbon capture and storage (CCS) efforts to keep global temperatures from rising more than 2 °C. But trees remain the only CCS “technology” that can deliver on a meaningful scale. Jonah Busch of the Center for Global Development dissects the latest IPCC report and offers his own meta-analysis. “Not many models project that it’s possible to limit warming to +2 °C without CCS technology, but those that do require not only stopping deforestation altogether, but reversing it to create a massive terrestrial carbon sink of regrowing forest vegetation by 2030,” he wrote.

Putting the trees out to pasture

A recent study from the University of California, Berkley finds that if Brazil subsidized more productive use of pastureland and taxed less sustainable practices, deforestation rates in the country could be cut by half (or 25% of all global GHG emissions). Recommended practices include rotating where animals graze, planting better grasses more frequently, and amending the soil to unlock more nutrients. These practices result in doubling productivity for a given land area, potentially reducing pressure to clear more forest for pasture. “These practices are already used commercially on some ranches in Brazil, but they’re not yet cost-competitive because of higher upfront costs, so subsidies can provide a needed boost to make the investment worthwhile,” said study lead author Avery Cohn.


What not to wear

Major clothing brands H&M, Zara and Stella McCartney recently announced that, within three years, they will find alternatives to the viscose and rayon fabrics that may be sourced from endangered or ancient forests. Straw and recycled fabrics are possible substitutes for fabrics made from dissolvable pulp. H&M’s environmental sustainability manager, Henrik Lampa, said that prior to working with non-profit Canopy on the issue, company officials hadn’t been aware that their viscose and rayon might be driving deforestation. “The sustainability issue is a big learning curve for fashion companies. Consumers are expecting us to make good choices for them – and yet we can only make good decisions with good awareness of what is going into our products,” he said.

No more (forest) tears

From mouthwash to baby powder to Band-Aids, you probably have your medicine cabinet well-stocked with Johnson & Johnson (J&J) products – and, by association, palm oil. As of May 1, the personal care products company has committed to a new, comprehensive palm oil sourcing policy that includes no conversion of high conservation value areas, high carbon stock forests or peatlands, as well as social criteria such as respecting the land rights of indigenous peoples. Implementing the sourcing policy will not be straightforward, since most of the palm oil J&J buys is in a derivative form that doesn’t come directly from the plantation. But NGO The Forest Trust says that J&J is eager to take on the challenge

Not fit for man or beast?

Between 1990 and 2010, Zimbabwe lost nearly 30% of its forest cover – an alarming average of 327,000 hectares were felled per year. This destruction of habitat is at least in part to blame in the apparent spike in human-wildlife interaction in recent years. “If the lions are not eating our livestock, they are trying to eat us,” Zimbabwean villager Donotio Nyoni told Reuters. Organizations such as Carbon Green Africa are trying to change the financial incentives around forest conversion by developing REDD+ projects, but forests have stiff competition against the lucrative tobacco and timber industries and smallholders’ need for fuelwood. Lions, cheetahs, hyenas and buffalos may continue to be displaced.


All risks being equal

Since the launch of California’s cap-and-trade program, buyers of forest carbon offsets have dodged a bullet faced by purchasers of other types of compliance offsets: the invalidation risk that could force them to replace problematic offsets. But the risk is one that all California offset buyers will soon have to bear as regulators approved a change shifting the invalidation risk for forestry offsets away from forest owners to the buyers. The change – designed to ensure consistency – was approved by the California Air Resources Board as part of a package of amendments that will become effective on July 1.

The Sixth Sense

A new tool developed by Terra Global Capital could allow project developers to use remote sensing instead of traditional ground-based forest inventory plots to estimate forest carbon pools. The remote sensing biomass measurement tool could help mitigate the challenges in estimating Aboveground Live Forest Biomass through a combination of remote sensing data and field measurements. This tool is designed to be used with VCS methodologies in the Agriculture, Forestry, and Other Land Use arena. The methodology is open for public comment until May 24.

Technically speaking

The UNFCCC Secretariat has published a technical paper on land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF) under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). The paper explores options for more possible LULUCF activities and alternative approaches to address the risk of non-permanence under the CDM, as well as their implications for validation, monitoring and verification of projects under the CDM.


Perception is nothing

The ‘gender debate’ in forest communities has seesawed from pre-1970s perceptions that men were the main contributors to family income to the post-1970s view that overemphasized women’s role in collecting forest products. An analysis of forest and rural livelihoods covering 8,000 households in 24 developing countries twists the assumptions again, finding that men and women contribute almost equally to the household income from unprocessed forest products. However, the study also shows considerable regional variability. In Latin America, men bring in about seven times more income from forest projects such as Brazil nuts than women. In Africa, “women tend to dominate,” said Terry Sunderland, a principal scientist with CIFOR.

Some pain, little gain

A review of REDD+ pilot projects in Nepal found that community forest user groups received little overall gain from these projects. There were some noticeable benefits, including better control over forest fires, but local groups had to make sacrifices to maximize the carbon offsets developed under the projects, such as cutting back the amount of wood they would normally use. “REDD+ is not a poverty reduction strategy; it is for reduction of emissions,” said Bhaskar Singh Karky, resource economist at the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development. “But given our context, the drivers of deforestation and forest degradation stem from livelihoods needs. We have to enhance the livelihoods of forest dependent populations to prevent it.”


Forest Carbon Program Research Assistant – Ecosystem Marketplace

Based in Washington, DC, the Forest Carbon Program Research Assistant will help in the development of a research product focusing on public-private partnerships for financing REDD+ projects, and support the development of the State of the Forest Carbon Markets report. The ideal candidate will have excellent writing and research skills (journalism skills a plus); strong Spanish-language speaking and writing skills; and the ability to work well in a team environment, but also with minimal management. This is a three-month position, paid hourly.

Read more about the position here

Program Associate – Forest Trends’ Katoomba Incubator

Based in Washington, DC, the Program Associate will support the development of pilot payment for ecosystem services projects in Latin America, Africa and Asia under the Katoomba Incubator. The successful candidate will have excellent analytical, research and time management skills; demonstrated interest in valuing ecosystem services; intercultural experience and language proficiency in Spanish, Portuguese or Chinese; and the capacity for extended travel. A master’s degree and/or experience with Geographic Information Systems, forest carbon standards, hydrology or forestry are highly desirable.

Read more about the position here

Senior Ecological Economist and Team Leader – Asian Development Bank

Based in the Philippines, the Senior Ecological Economist and Team Leader will review and synthesize methods and tools for ecosystem service valuation and REDD+ and analyze barriers, constraints and opportunities for their wider adoption in Asia and the Pacific, including potential entry points for the Asian Development Bank. The successful candidate will have a master’s degree in environmental or ecological economics and at least 10 years of experience related to PES or carbon finance; experience in Asia and the Pacific is highly desirable.

Read more about the position here

Malawi REDD+ Advisor – US Forest Service International Programs

Based in Lilongwe, Malawi, the REDD+ Advisor will advise the Department of Forestry in convening and coordinating governance structures of the Malawi REDD+ Program and lead coordination of REDD+ activities in Malawi. The successful candidate will have a master’s degree in natural resource management or a related field; at least five years of international work experience, preferably related to REDD+; experience living and working in Africa; and experience in program management and monitoring.

Read more about the position here

Product Manager Fairtrade Certification – FLO-CERT

Based in Bonn, Germany, the Product Manager will develop, implement and drive FLO-CERT’s strategy for its core Fairtrade service, representing FLO-CERT at industry events and driving business development activities. The ideal candidate will have at least five years of work experience in product management, a background in certification, and extensive know-how about the Fairtrade core services. Advanced language skills in German and/or Spanish would be a plus, as would experience with other schemes such as Rainforest Alliance or Utz Certified.

Read more about the position here


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.


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


Click here to read this article in its original format.

CIFOR Says Tenure And Funding Still Dog REDD

The Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) recently surveyed 23 subnational forest carbon projects in Brazil, Peru, Cameroon, Tanzania, Indonesia, and Vietnam. Their findings? Project proponents are driven to save forests, but a lack of demand and unclear tenure remain their biggest challenges.

This article was originally posted in CIFOR’s blog. Click here to read the original.

29 April 2014 | Bogor | Indonesia | Actions must be taken to clarify land tenure in forest-rich developing countries, and to improve the economic viability of REDD+ or risk jeopardizing efforts to reduce deforestation and mitigate climate change, a new study based on 23 forest carbon initiatives suggests.  

Hundreds of pilot
initiatives designed to test the feasibility of REDD+, or Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation, have got under way in recent years. But with obstacles mounting and a climate agreement still elusive, some initiative proponents are losing their enthusiasm for REDD+, according to the study, led by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).

“The initiative proponents are a spirited, determined group of people who believe in what they’re doing to protect forests,” said William Sunderlin, principal scientist at CIFOR and lead author of The Challenge of Establishing REDD+ on the Ground: Insights from 23 Subnational Initiatives in Six Countries.

“But they’re encountering major challenges whose root causes lie outside their project boundaries, particularly tenure insecurity and what we call the ‘disadvantageous economics’ of REDD+,” Sunderlin said. “These subnational initiatives need more committed support from national and international processes to create circumstances that allow REDD+ to function as intended.”

REDD+ emerged in 2007 as a promising mechanism to slow anthropogenic climate change by providing financial incentives to keep forests standing, given that forests absorb carbon from the atmosphere and that deforestation and forest degradation contribute up to 15 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. For example, in Indonesia, the world’s third largest emitter of greenhouse gases, more than 75 percent of emissions come from conversion of forests to farmland, agriculture and peat fires — roughly equivalent to emissions from about 400 million cars each year.

What makes REDD+ different from previous — and generally unsuccessful — efforts to reduce deforestation is that it is based on performance-based incentives. As originally conceived, REDD+ would generate a revenue stream by placing a financial value on carbon, with forest managers receiving a share of that revenue only if they actually achieved emission reductions or enhanced carbon stocks.

“Conditional incentives give REDD+ an extra point of leverage, but for this system to work, there must be a clear stream of income and it must be clear who is entitled to benefit,” Sunderlin said.

“Our study shows that these aspects in particular are weak, and this is where attention needs to be focused.”

A Contested Landscape

Insecurity over tenure — the right to own, access or use land — remains the biggest challenge for proponents, the study found.

“REDD+ is being established in places where tenure rules are often unclear and contested,” Sunderlin said.

“But the REDD+ rewards system requires clarity over who holds the right to forests or carbon, who is responsible for reducing emissions, and who can claim the benefits.”

In an earlier survey of villages in five countries involved in REDD+, more than half of the respondents reported that at least some of their tenure is insecure, and more than a fifth had been unable to exclude unwanted outsiders. Furthermore, as tenure problems are generally national in scope and origin, resolving them often lies outside proponents’ control.

The challenge, while daunting, is not insurmountable, Sunderlin notes, as path-breaking tenure reforms are beginning to take shape.

In Indonesia, for example, the government has launched the One Map Initiative to improve tenure and land-use planning, and last year a Constitutional Court ruling aimed to grant indigenous people land ownership rights.

The Highest Bidder

Yet for anyone to benefit, REDD+ must generate income in the first place, and the REDD+ revenue stream originally envisioned through trading carbon credits on carbon markets has fallen short of targets.

Undermining efforts to generate revenue are the lack of a binding international climate agreement to induce regulatory changes, weak carbon markets and the ongoing dominance of powerful business interests, according to the study.

“If you think of REDD+ as a bidding process in an auction, where those who make the highest bid can control forest land use, the bid offered by big agricultural companies often outcompetes what can be offered by REDD+,” Sunderlin said.

“This could change with the establishment of new conditions — some combination of development assistance, international or national funds, or a market-based mechanism — that can generate a stream of income from REDD+ and cover the opportunity costs of forest conversion.”

The existing funding gap is estimated at US$15 billion to US$48 billion by 2020, with the supply of carbon credits outstripping demand by 13 to 39 times, according to the International Forest Finance Project. Initiatives such as California’s cap-and-trade program show promise for generating revenue through carbon markets, but, Sunderlin said, “there is still an urgent need for something that does not yet exist.”

Nevertheless, in combination with research turning a spotlight on challenges and possible solutions, the positive developments under way and increasing impetus to act can lead to “breakthrough solutions,” he added.

“There is growing awareness among governments that tenure problems and the economics of REDD+ are fundamental and need to be resolved soon,” Sunderlin said.

“You can’t rule out the possibility of dramatic improvement in climate change mitigation policy in the next few years — simply because world leaders cannot afford to ignore climate change anymore.”

Note: REDD+ will be a key theme of discussion at the upcoming Forests Asia Summit, 5-6 May in Jakarta, Indonesia. At the Summit, panelists will explore how REDD+ initiatives can offer lessons for low-emissions development strategies and contribute to sustainable development. Participants will also look at how REDD+ activities and low-emissions development strategies can support climate change adaptation. Read more here.

For more information about the topics of this research, please contact William Sunderlin at

This Week In Forest Carbon News…

Katoomba XX kicks off on Earth Day in Lima, Peru, and just in time – new UN Food and Agricultural Organization data shows that emissions from agriculture, forestry and fisheries have nearly doubled over the past half century. At the ninth meeting of the Carbon Fund, efforts to reduce emissions from deforestation did, however, make some headway, with four nations’ REDD+ proposals approved. This unlocks a potential $50 million to $70 million in financing for each country.

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

 24 April 2014 | Forest Trends’ Katoomba events are known for bringing people who don’t always talk to each other – soy tycoons and environment ministers, for instance – together to discuss practical solutions to major ecosystem services problems. The twentieth event, which begins today in Lima, Peru, has this kind of ambitious agenda. The theme is alignment. Attendees will consider how climate change, forests, water and people are deeply intertwined, and how payment for ecosystem services (PES) strategies addressing these issues must align, too. Current events in Peru provide an interesting (albeit frustrating) backdrop: The country’s comprehensive PES law, in development for six years now, was finally slated to be formally debated before the National Congress last week – but that debate has been delayed yet again.  


Katoomba speakers will include Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, Peru’s Minister of Environment; Almir Surui, the Chief of the Paiter Surui people in Brazil; Rachel Kyte, World Bank Vice President and Special Envoy for Climate Change; Cesar Augusto Garcia, Director of Science and Technology at the Colombian Cattlemen Federation; and many more diverse actors from the public, private, and non-profit sectors. Discussions from the event will lead into the twentieth United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties, to be held in Lima in December.

Conversations between conservationists and big agriculture, policymakers and business executives are especially urgent in light of new UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) data that shows emissions from agriculture, forestry and fisheries have nearly doubled over the past half century and could increase another 30% by 2050. The largest source of agricultural greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is livestock methane (from belches), followed by synthetic fertilizers, methane releases in rice paddies, and savannah-burning. Net GHG emissions due to land use change (mainly forests converting to other land uses) fell almost 10% between 2001 and 2010, but still averaged four billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e) per year.

Efforts to reduce emissions from deforestation did, however, make some headway during the ninth meeting of the Carbon Fund held in Belgium from April 9 to 11. Launched in 2011 by the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility, the Carbon Fund is meant to provide performance-based payments to countries that make significant progress in Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation of forests (REDD). Four of those countries’ REDD+ proposals – Nepal’s, Ghana’s, Mexico’s, and the Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) – were selected at the meeting, and may each receive between $50 million and $70 million in financing. Mexico’s National Forestry Commission has already signed an agreement to receive $3.8 million. Chile’s and the Republic of Congo’s proposals were not selected this time around, but they’ll have another chance in June when the Carbon Fund will consider five to seven more countries vying for their available $465 million.

More stories from the forest carbon markets are summarized below, so keep reading!

—The Ecosystem Marketplace Team

If you have comments or would like to submit news stories, write to us at



A price tag beyond carbon?

How should non-carbon benefits (NCBs) be incorporated into REDD? Seventeen countries weighed in by submitting comments on the UNFCCC’s methodological guidance document. The comments emphasize the strong link between NCBs such as improved forest governance and enhanced forest resilience and the REDD safeguards for communities and indigenous peoples. However, countries have different opinions as to whether NCBs should be incentivized with performance-based payments. The European Union commented: “The main incentive for countries to strive for NCBs are the NCBs themselves. Hence, there is no need for dedicated payments or price premiums for NCBs under the UNFCCC.” The Philippines, on the other hand, observed that: “REDD+ finance must incentivize other key outcomes…”



A crumbling façade

Tree plantations in New Zealand removed 71.6 million tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere between 2008 and 2012, just over the country’s 70.7-million-tonne allowance, and enough to meet its Kyoto Protocol obligation. But net emissions in New Zealand are on the rise – some projections show by as much as 50% in the next 10 years – and maturing forests soon won’t be able to make up the difference. “From 2008 to 2012 the country’s 25% increase in carbon emissions was masked by carbon stored in forests planted in the 1990s,” said Forest Owners Association chief executive David Rhodes. “As these trees are harvested, forestry will move from being a carbon sink to being a carbon source.”


Practice makes perfect

Cameroon has been pursuing REDD since 2008, but it wasn’t until last week that the government published a guide outlining good practices. The guide was developed in collaboration with World Wildlife Fund, the German development agency Deutsche Gesellschaft fí¼r Internationale Zusammenarbeit, and the Cameroon Centre for Environment and Development. It identifies steps for gaining indigenous and community consent for REDD projects, including providing full information about proposed activities and holding pressure-free negotiations.


Seeking dry land

California is going to great pains to embrace agricultural and forestry carbon offsets in its cap-and-trade program, with the state’s Air Resources Board set to considering adding a rice cultivation project type in September. But market participants see opportunities for even more land-based project types to be added to the system, including avoided grassland conversion, wetland restoration, composting and rangelands. Bringing additional land-based offsets into the program is challenging due in large part to high monitoring and verification costs, but aggregation of project activities could help solve this problem.



Safe cooking, post-danger

The Darfur Low Smoke Project was up against tough odds. It took two years for an auditor to agree to visit North Darfur to verify the 36,000 tonnes of emissions reductions achieved by the Gold Standard project, which has delivered 6,000 of its target 10,000 clean-burning liquid petroleum gas cookstoves to date. The project was launched in 2007 by the local Women’s Development Association Network, Practical Action, and Carbon Clear. Its first offsets were recently sold to a United Kingdom-based insurance firm. Carbon Clear created a micro-loan scheme to help women pay the upfront costs of the stoves, and repayment rates are now above 90% despite widespread poverty in the region. Women associated with the project have also established 42 community forests.


Yurok first to the finish

The Yurok tribe in April became the first organization to earn forestry offsets under the compliance pathway featured in California’s cap-and-trade program. The Yurok Tribe/Forest Carbon Partners CKGG Improved Forest Management Project covers 8,000 acres in Humboldt County and was issued 836,619 offsets for potential sale to compliance buyers. “We have lost many of our old trees to deforestation, and numerous native plant and animal species, especially deer and elk, are struggling because of it,” said Thomas P. O’Rourke Sr., Chairman of the Yurok Tribe. “This forest carbon project enables the Tribe to help transition these acres back into a tribally managed natural forest system where wildlife and cultural resources like tanoak acorns, huckleberry, and hundreds of medicinal plants will thrive.”


Beyond Petroleum?

The Hoopa Valley tribe of California is negotiating a potential multi-million-dollar deal with oil major BP to generate carbon offsets by preventing the chopping of old-growth timberlands in its 12-mile-square reservation, also in Humboldt County. A 2012 study by project developer Finite Carbon found that the forest could generate an impressive 250 offsets per acre for a value of $80 million to $120 million over 100 years. Some tribal members fear that carbon offset sales would damage their reputation by giving BP a ‘permit to pollute’ while others are excited about the large potential for job creation in the valley.



Conservation pays

Code REDD, a nonprofit organization that calls on major private sector players to support and scale REDD+ projects, held a high-profile event in Bogotí¡, Colombia on April 9. The location was significant in that 80% of the world’s REDD offsets originated from projects in Latin America in 2012, according to Ecosystem Marketplace’s State of the Forest Carbon Markets 2013 report. Deforestation is now estimated to cost the global economy $2-5 trillion per year in lost ecosystem services such as carbon sequestration and water purification, according to a Code REDD press release. “Through our experience we have learned that conservation IS economic activity,” Chris Abrams, Director of Environment at the United States Agency for International Development, said at the event.



The good dirt

In an analysis synthesizing data from 92 forests in various climatic zones, researchers found that soil nutrients may play a larger role in forest carbon storage than previously understood. Forests growing in fertile soil were able to sequester about 30% of the carbon they acquire through photosynthesis, while forests rooted in nutrient-deficient soils retained only 6% of the available carbon, the study found. “When plants are in nutrient poor conditions, they send out more roots and produce chemicals that can help dissolve nutrients from the soil. This takes energy, though, and so the plants produce less biomass,” said Michael Obersteiner, one of the study’s authors.


Smoker’s lungs

The “lungs of the Earth” won’t be able to breathe as well if they’re on fire. In fact, fires in the Amazon rainforest could turn the largest carbon sink in the world into a source of carbon emissions, according to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences last week. While temperature increases and precipitation decreases have long been included in climate models, “it’s only in the past couple of decades that fire has even been recognized as a major disturbance,” said Jennifer Balch, who co-led the study. The problem is not specific to the Amazon. The Indonesian province of Riau made headlines last week for its burning peatlands.



Hands off our rainforest

On April 12, the civil society group Yasunidos delivered 54 boxes containing 756,291 signatures to the Ecuadorian capital. Its aim? To keep the 846 million barrels of crude oil beneath Yasuní­ National Park underground. Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa had sought $3.6 billion from the international community in exchange for keeping intact the biodiversity and carbon sequestration the Park provides but abandoned the plan in August when only a fraction of the money had been raised. However, the signatures are more than the 600,000 needed to bring the issue to a popular vote. First, though, 30 people will spend a month verifying the signatures, with another 30 observers from Yasunidos overseeing the process.


Don’t hate me because I use palm oil

Major palm-oil user Proctor & Gamble, the maker of products such as Bounty paper towels and Pantene shampoo, announced a commitment to no deforestation in its supply chain, upping the ante from its previous promise to purchase only certified palm oil. The announcement came after a Greenpeace report claimed that Proctor and Gamble’s suppliers in Indonesia were causing deforestation and that less than 10% of its supply chain was actually certified. A Greenpeace exposé also led to paper packaging giant Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) to announce a zero deforestation policy a year ago.


Ready for their close-ups

What do you do when thousands of scientists issue a dire warning for the planet (for the fifth time) and policymakers still drag their feet? Well, one new idea is to pull in celebrity ‘correspondents’ such as Jessica Alba, Matt Damon, and Arnold Schwarzenegger to report the story in a fresh way. The first episodes of Years of Living Dangerously aired on Showtime in April. Indiana Jones star and Conservation International board member Harrison Ford is the ‘face’ of the series on deforestation in Indonesia, which explains the REDD mechanism to a lay audience. “This series has a reach … which exceeds nearly every other public climate change communication project that has been done,” said co-producer Jeff Horowitz in an interview with


Just say no (to deforestation)

We’ve heard of ‘leakage’ in relation to forest carbon projects, but new research by geographer Kendra McSweeney shows that it may also apply to the ‘war on drugs’ in Mexico, which has been causing narco-traffickers to ‘leak’ their operations south to Honduras, Guatemala, and Nicaragua. This has an unfortunate side effect for forests as the landing strips and roads associated with the drug trade lead to increased rates of deforestation. In Honduras, for instance, annual deforestation quadrupled between 2007 and 2011 in coincidence with a surge in cocaine trafficking. And this may lead to yet another unfortunate side effect: Those that get rich off the drug trade tend to invest their profits in cattle ranches and palm oil – more drivers of deforestation.



SMUD getting its feet wet

The Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD), one of the largest publicly-owned utilities in the United States, is joining forces with the American Carbon Registry (ACR) to develop a methodology to quantify and credit emissions reductions from restoration of California deltaic and coastal wetlands. The protocol would allow offsets from restoration projects to be sold on the voluntary carbon market and – they hope – would eventually make their way into California’s compliance market. The potential is huge: ACR estimates that between 7-26 million tonnes of emissions reductions could be achieved through wetlands restoration in California. But SMUD understands that protocol adoption is a long process, so wetlands offsets would likely not be included in California’s compliance regime until 2018, at the earliest.


Greening China’s grass

A new methodology just approved by the Verified Carbon Standard could help farmers in China and other countries tap into the carbon markets to help them manage their grasslands more sustainably. The methodology, developed by the FAO, the Chinese Academy of Agriculture Science, the World Agroforestry Center and the Northwest Institute of Plateau Biology, could be particularly useful in mitigating the impact of China’s growing population on its carbon footprint. Projects under the methodology, which helps overcome the major hurdle of high measuring and monitoring costs, could also be recognized by the China Certified Emissions Reduction offset program.


The grazing could always be greener

ACR recently released a new methodology for avoided GHG emissions on grazed grasslands for public comment. Developed by Terra Global Capital with support from the Environmental Defense Fund, Silver Lab at the University of California Berkeley, and the Marin Carbon Project, the methodology provides an accounting framework for the carbon storage achieved by adding compost to fields – both by enhancing plant growth and by diverting organic waste that would otherwise decompose in landfills, releasing methane. If approved, it would generate offsets for the voluntary carbon market. The public comment period is open through May 14.



I’ll pay you unconditionally

A new report by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), The challenge of establishing REDD+ on the ground, examined 23 subnational REDD+ initiatives in six countries – Brazil, Cameroon, Indonesia, Peru, Tanzania, and Vietnam. Among other findings, researchers stated that 18 of the 23 initiatives have or will implement conditional incentives, but only nine viewed them as the single most important thing that would reduce deforestation, calling into question whether performance-based payments – once considered the cornerstone of REDD – are as central as previously believed.


Burning up in sub-Sahara Africa

Current climate models predict that average temperatures in Central Africa will be 1.4 degrees Celsius hotter in 2050 than today. But a recent study published in the Journal of Climate finds that deforestation in the Congo Basin could add another 0.7 degrees Celsius to that figure. “Once deforestation has occurred, the solar energy that rainforests would otherwise use to evaporate water accumulates near the Earth’s surface, causing the atmosphere to warm,” the authors explained.



Director of Governance Research – CIFOR

Based in Bogor, Indonesia, the Director of Governance Research for the CIFOR will be responsible for the development, management, delivery and scientific quality of the organization’s governance research. The position requires managing a multidisciplinary research team, fostering partnerships, and representing CIFOR at key international forums. The successful candidate will have a PhD in a relevant discipline, extensive research management experience, and a proven fundraising record.

Read more about the position here


President – Microsol

Based in Paris, France, Lima, Peru, or Mexico D.F., Mexico, Microsol’s President will lead teams over these three geographic locations and pursue Microsol’s work in the generation, certification and sale of high-social-impact carbon projects in Latin America. The successful candidate will have a master’s degree or equivalent and at least seven years of experience in a similar position; be able to ensure the firm’s financial health; possess strong leadership and negotiation skills; and speak French, English and Spanish.

– Read more about the position here


Northwest Site Manager – Blue Ventures Conservation

Based in Ambanja, Madagascar, the Northwest Site Manager will manage the field implementation of Blue Ventures Conservation’s community-based Verified Carbon Standard mangrove project in the Ambaro and Ambanja Bays of Northwest Madagascar. The manager will also help start up a fishery and aquaculture scheme, and help develop a sustainable mangrove timber harvesting approach.

Read more about the position here


Finance Associate / Business Manager – BioCarbon Group

Based in New York, New York, the Finance Associate / Business Manager will provide key financial leadership to the BioCarbon Group, an international investor in land-based carbon projects, such as forests and cookstoves. The successful candidate will have three years of experience in investment banking, managing consulting, or financial services; an understanding of corporate financial statements; experience in environmental markets and carbon project development; and working experience in developing countries, particularly Africa/South America.

Read more about the position here


Communications Manager, Energy and Finance Program – Rainforest Action Network

Based in San Francisco, California, the Communications Manager will shape the communications strategy for Rainforest Action Network’s Energy and Finance Program, which has pushed leading banks to pass policies that curb investments in companies that contribute to deforestation. The job involves writing op-eds, letters to the editor, talking points and other media materials; training staff and volunteers in media skills; and creating press lists and keeping the media contact database current. The successful candidate will have three years’ experience as a media liaison or journalist, with a strong public relations component.

Read more about the position here


Applied Forest Scientist – Climate Smart Land Network (CSLN)

Based in Plymouth, Massachusetts, the Applied Forest Scientist will support the Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences’ CSLN, which is designed to help large-scale forest landowners integrate climate science into their forest management and planning. The position requires synthesizing existing science on climate change adaptation for forests; structuring monitoring protocols for regional threats; working with CSLN members to link this information to their planning, management, and monitoring processes; and documenting how CSLN members are responding to climate change. The successful candidate will have a master’s or PhD in forestry and strong analytic skills.

Read more about the position here


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.


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

Additional resources