This Week in Forest Carbon

Carbon standards define all the actions and outputs that constitute a bona fide emission reduction, and they’ve been front-and-center these past few weeks.  In our bi-weekly wrap of the world’s top stories in forest carbon, we have news from China’s Panda Standard, North America’s American Carbon Registry, the UK’s Woodland Carbon Code, and the global Voluntary Carbon Standard.

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

1 October 2010 | Carbon standards are the cornerstone of any carbon market, because they define all the actions and outputs that constitute a bona fide emission reduction.   They’ve also been front and center these past few weeks, with news coming in from China’s Panda Standard, North America’s American Carbon Registry (ACR), the UK’s Woodland Carbon Code, and the global Voluntary Carbon Standard (VCS).

Specifically, the Panda Standard is gearing up to release its rules for cutting emissions from deforestation and agriculture; the ACR approved a new way for timberland owners to earn carbon credits by improving their forestry management; and the VCS both registered its first offsets issued for saving forests and released a rough draft of a new tool for ensuring the environmental integrity of offsets from improved land use.

In the UK, the Forestry Commission launched a “Woodland Carbon Code” for “voluntary carbon sequestration projects” – and received immediate criticism for erring on the side of flexibility – and, critics argue, making it possible for the same emission reduction to be credited twice.

We also saw disturbing news from Brazil, which looks set to gut its 75-year-old forest code, which has been credited with helping to reduce forest fragmentation and deforestation – regardless of who wins the upcoming election.

Forestry offsets also burst into the mainstream with a special report in The Economist, which succinctly describes the current status of our tropical rainforests and the international political scene surrounding these “planetary lungs”.   In a series of articles, the newsweekly goes into some detail of why forests are fundamental for a number of factors, among them being their necessity of combating climate change.   Furthermore, it discusses REDD – why it is a mechanism with potential and international support, but also the challenges that are barriers to its success.

Read on for all this and more on latest iteration Ecosystem Marketplace’s Forest Carbon Newsletter below.

—The Ecosystem Marketplace Team

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


International Policy

It’s economics, my dear Watson

This week’s Economist (Sept 25-Oct 1), includes a special report on the world’s forests.   It contains articles discussing the importance of forests in combating climate change, possible ways to save them, and the role that carbon offsets can play by paying people to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD), and subsequently the potential, concerns and challenges surrounding REDD.   Read about “the world’s lungs” here and a sound synopsis of the promise and peril currently surrounding our forests in the above links.

National Strategy & Capacity

The Ol’ Brazilian One-Two?

While Brazil makes moves to gut substantial portions of its long-standing forest code, a plan to help protect the Cerrado, the area most degraded by violations of the code, is also being set up.   Read about the state of the debate – the players, the prospects of it passing, and what will likely happen if it does – all on the Forest Carbon Portal here.   Now try to reconcile this impending legislative change with the recent government announcement of the Action Plan to Prevent and Control Deforestation and Wildfires in the Cerrado Biome (PPCerrado).   Wrap your head around these proposed changes while reading about PPCerrado on Mongabay here, from the AFP here or here (Spanish).

Close but No Credit

The UK’s Forestry Commission launched the “Woodland Carbon Code” this month, which is a standard of sorts for “voluntary carbon sequestration projects”.   According to Carbon Retirement, there are a couple issues with the Code: additionality and double-counting.   The code allows for projects to count, even if they do not pass the institutional additionality test, as long as they pass the financial additionality test.   Furthermore, any emissions reductions from a Woodlands’ Trust carbon project counts toward meeting UK government climate pledges, and as such are not accepted in the EU ETS so not to be double-counted, writes Carbon Retirement.   And therein lies the rub.   Read more about the Woodland Carbon Code and its shortcomings from Carbon Retirement here.   Check out the Forestry Commission’s webpage for the Woodland Carbon Code here.

Will Spain Go to Bat for REDD?

At a recent conference in Spain, officials discussed the importance of forests and the role they can play in fighting climate change if they are protected.   State Secretary for Climate Change Teresa Ribera spoke at the conference, “Reducing Emissions from Deforestation: A social, economic and environmental mechanism”, about the potential for REDD and the role Spain has already played by investing in various funds.   Read briefly about the growing discussion on REDD and the conference in Spain on La Moncloa here and in El Mundo here (Spanish).

I hereby decree

As Fiji looks to finalize a revised draft of its Fiji Forest Decree, it is considering new additions like carbon trading and improved markets for forest products.   The need was felt for a revision of the nearly 20 year old decree as there has been a shift of emphasis in forest management.   The new draft seeks to address ways to improve forest management, as well as carbon trading and carbon markets.   Read a little about the new decree here in the Fiji Times.

Less Talk, More Walk

The Dominican Republic’s Minister of Environment and Natural Resources, Jaime David Ferní¡ndez Mirabal, has had enough.   He asked that the international community agree to have fewer seminars and workshops and to increase practical, concrete actions in communities to slow down deforestation.   The minister made this statement poignantly during a recent workshop on REDD in Central America and the Dominican Republic.   Read more on the minister’s remarks and wishes here in Hoy (Spanish).

Huella no mí¡s

Cesefor, a Spanish non-profit organization that promotes forestry in Castilla y Leí³n, announced that it is going to be the first organization to have its carbon footprint measured in order to be able to offset it through forest projects in the province via a new initiative.   The footprint will be determined by an initiative developed by Cesefor and Agresta Sociedad Cooperativa called “Huellacero” (roughly translated as “zero-footprint”).   The Huellacero initiative is intended for businesses and event organizations to be able to offset emissions equivalent to those from their own activities.   The protocol to estimate the CO2 emissions follows methodologies from the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and the World Resource Institute (WRI) and that are recognized by the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change).   The hope is that the initiative will be engaged in regionally and eventually expand to all of Spain.   Read more here from Heraldo de Soria.

Forests a la cubana

Since the days of the Revolution, Cuban authorities started a gradual reforestation of the island, increasing the forest cover from 14% in 1959 to over 25% now, according to an article on Radio Habana Cuba.   The reforestation hit its peak in 1987 when the public, state organizations and private organizations were integrated into the National Forest Program.   The forestry director in the Ministry of Agriculture said that last year 100 million seeds were planted on the island.   The program hopes to increase forest cover up to over 29% in five years.   Read about Cuba and its efforts to increase forests in the face of climate change on Radio Habana Cuba here (Spanish).

Great Timing for Bad News

After courting each other for several months now, Indonesia and Norway are looking to take their relationship to the next level.   Leading up to the recent UN General Assembly meeting in New York, the two countries were looking to make the Letter of Intent they signed in May into a legally binding agreement on the sidelines of the UN meeting in the Big Apple.   This news came out just before later that same day it was reported one of the head negotiators for Indonesia at Copenhagen and chief architect of its national REDD program was named as a suspect under charges of corruption.   Wandojo Siswanto is accused of receiving a bribe of $10,000, and has been named in at least a couple other corruption charges.   Read more about this blossoming relationship here in The Jakarta Post, and about the skeletons coming out of the closet from Reuters here and Mongabay here.

Finance & Economics

Circumventing the circus?

In part due to anxiousness of getting forest carbon projects started and in part due to skepticism of an agreement (on REDD) being reached in Cancíºn this year, countries are looking to move ahead with bilateral deals to get REDD funding moving and projects started.   Norway approached the World Bank to act as an intermediary in a deal with Guyana.   Of course, there is the ongoing figuring-out of the Norway and Indonesia agreement.   Then, the Indonesian Forestry Minister sees “no promising future for any deal regarding REDD” in Mexico, so he says he will be looking to establish more voluntary deals, as he alluded to fearing the climate talks will suffer a similar fate as the Doha Round of the WTO.   Read about Norway, Guyana, and the perennial concerns surrounding REDD on AlertNet here and Indonesia’s stated intention of bilateral focus here in The Jakarta Post.

Oktoberfest and Adobo Gone REDD

In news about a European country and a Southeast Asian island nation that is not about Norway and Indonesia, Germany and the Philippines signed an agreement worth €3.2 to fund REDD measures in the Philippines.   The money will go to helping evaluate and revise forest protection and rehabilitation policies.   Read more about the agreement signed by the Philippine’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the German Technical Cooperation (GTZ) here from the Manila Bulletin Publishing Corporation and here from Business World to get more on what the money is intended for.


San Francisco-based Terra Global Capital has released a paper on “nested” REDD projects outlining a broad proposal for how forest carbon projects could be allowed to operate within a future international REDD+ framework, known as Integrated REDD, or IREDD. So far projects have occurred on a case-by-case local basis, and are rarely integrated into national or even sub-national level. The paper proposes that main difficulty with nested REDD is how project-based and overarching national or provincial forest carbon accounting can be harmonized. The solution proposed is to enable individual REDD projects to generate offsets to be used in a compliance system, while providing incentives for governments to address regional drivers of deforestation.   Read about “nested” REDD and the paper here on the Forest Carbon Portal as described by Leslie Durschinger and Steven de Gryze of Terra Global Capital, or here on Carbon Positive, and click here (PDF) for the paper itself.

Methodology & Standards Watch

Timberland Owners Get Carbon Credit Friendly IFM

An integrated forest management (IFM) methodology developed by Finite Carbon has been approved by the American Carbon Registry, a voluntary offset program. Targeting privately owned industrial timberlands, Finite Carbon hopes the methodology will present a straightforward and scalable framework to commercial timberland managers, creating more forest carbon projects in the U.S. that go above and beyond current IFM practices. The methodology was designed to be consistent with pre-compliance criteria and will be complemented in the future by other ACR methodologies for non-industrial private forests and public lands.   Read the Finite Carbon press release on Business Wire here.

VCS Making Moves

Tanzania has become home to the first forestry investment to be issued credits under the Voluntary Carbon Standard. The CarbonNeutral Company, based in London, will market the credits. 10,810 hectares of degraded grassland will be converted into sustainably harvested eucalyptus and pine forests. Meanwhile, VCS’s Tool for AFOLU Non-Permanence Risk Analysis and Buffer Determination (PDF) has been released for a 60-day public stakeholder consultation, which ends 21 November 2010 at 6PM (EST).   Read VCS’s invitation to comment on the new tool on the Forest Carbon Portal here.   Also, read more about the VCS-issued forest credits here on Business Green.

No CDM for Indonesia’s Palm Oil on Peatland

Indonesian palm-oil plantations keep popping up on the Forest Carbon radar, and 2010 has not been too kind to the industry, with Greenpeace’s lambast (PDF) of the industry and its fall-out. And there’s more bad news for the industry – palm oil plantations on peatland forests won’t be eligible for Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) credits. The original thinking was that the palm oil would be used as a biofuel, which in some cases qualify as eligible for CDM credits. However, a study revealed that over the course of 25 years, the amount of CO2 released in the cultivation of the palms is greater than conventional fossil fuels, to say nothing about the habitat lost through conversion of peatland forest into palm oil plantations.   Get more from Mongabay here and Treehugger here.

And the problems don’t stop there

Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) member Sinar Mas Agro Resources and Technology (SMART), the Indonesia-based palm oil group, has been censured for its breach of Indonesia’s environmental laws, mostly in its continuation of peatland degradation. Although no direct action has been taken, apart from what we imagine was a strongly worded letter and maybe a tense couple of phone calls, SMART could face sanctions from the RSPO, and the censure has done nothing to help SMART win back clients such as Nestle and Unilever, who stopped using SMART as a supplier earlier in the summer. With Indonesia trying to sort out its billion dollar REDD deal with Norway, we may also see some strong words from the government.   Read about RSPO’s reprimand of SMART and the back-and-forth leading up to it on Mongabay here and from Reuters here.

That German Octopus has got nothing on China’s Panda

Coming a long way from a German octopus predicting World Cup winners, China is looking to a Panda to manage higher stakes: carbon emissions. While there is no actual panda pointing his adorable paw at a preferred voluntary carbon market, the animal lends its name to the voluntary standard being developed by China and Winrock International. With its emphasis on agriculture, forestry and other land use (AFOLU) projects and tandem objectives of reducing carbon emissions and alleviating poverty, the standard’s developers hope it will be ready to be presented at this year’s climate change conference in Cancun.   Get the panda scoop on the “Panda Standard” from the Forest Carbon Portal here.

Human Dimension

‘Tarzan agitator’ back in the news

The British ex-pat, priest, and indigenous rights activist who has been living in Peru for the past 20 years has continued to promote rainforest conservation, drawing praise from environmental NGOs but continued ire from the Peruvian government. A ministerial resolution canceling his residency was issued in June, but failed to force Paul McAuley to leave, and he has continued to oppose new forest laws that would reduce rights for indigenous tenure of forested lands and clear the way for further deforestation and resource extraction.   Read about the latest in this ongoing drama on Mongabay here, and about when this last hit headlines in an earlier FCP newsletter here.

Project Development

Banking on African Carbon Projects

BNP Paribas Corporate & Investment Banking is developing a portfolio of large scale Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) carbon projects in Africa in collaboration with Wildlife Works Carbon LLC. The deal involves US$50 million to finance the REDD projects and BNP’s right to purchase 1.25 million tonnes of avoided emissions credits over the next five years from Wildlife Works’ Kasigau Corridor REDD project in Kenya.   Learn more about the growing portfolio here on the Forest Carbon Portal.

Carmakers in Philippines make Forest Protection Commitment

Toyota and Isuzu, carmakers with production centers located in the Philippines have recently undertaken environmental protection and restoration initiatives. Toyota is entering the second phase of Philippine Peí±ablanca Sustainable Reforestation Project (PPSRP), which will provide US$3 million to reforest approximately 2,500 hectares of degraded, open areas in the Peí±ablanca protected zone and provide alternative livelihood for local communities through agroforestry. Isuzu adopted 13 hectares of forest around Mt. Makiling, an inactive volcanoe, biodiversity-rich area and source of drinking water for two million inhabitants of the region. The project is focusing on reforesting the area with 13 native tree species.   Read about these car, as in automobile, company driven projects here on The Philippine Star.

Clinton Applauds Carefully Cultivated Cocoa

The Institute for Forest and Agricultural Management and Certification (Imaflora) has been recognized for its efforts to conserve Brazil’s Atlantic Forest while improving rural livelihoods at the recent Clinton Global Initiative as a Commitment to Action. A new pilot project located in southern Brazil’s Bahia province focuses on sustainable cocoa production. Local producers and officials predict that current producers will embrace the project, as they are eager to add value to their products through credible certification schemes for sustainable production. Also, payment for environmental services will bring additional income to local populations while contributing to conservation of the forest.   Read more in the press release on PR Newswire here.

Shiver Me Timber

In Australia, the largest timberland fund of the year was just closed when New Forests secured the AU$500M Australia New Zealand Forest Fund (ANZFF).   The fund is said will invest in a number of diversified portfolio of timberland and forest-related investments throughout Australia and New Zealand.   Investment returns will come from a range of sources from bio-energy products to carbon credits.   Read more on the deal here in the press release from New Forests.

Private Sector Should Dive into REDD

A team of climate experts put together by Carbon Focus has released a report that focuses on ways in which the private sector could be incentivized to invest in REDD+ activities when the crediting baseline is set at a national level. The report concludes that the benefits of private sector engagement outweigh the potential risks.   Read about and access the report on the Forest Carbon Portal here.

Science & Technology Review

Carbon Measuring Station Towers over Amazon, Confuses Birds, Monkeys

A 320-meter tower is set to rise from the Brazilian Amazon in an attempt to more accurately measure CO2 emissions in the region. Known as the Amazonian Tall Tower Observatory (ATTO) project, it will measure how much carbon dioxide gets sucked up and released like other towers around the world. In the future, Meinrat Andreae, one of the atmospheric scientists involved with the project, hopes to figure out if increased atmospheric CO2 will promote forest growth and whether warmer climates will retard forests.   Read more in Nature News here.

Year of the Forest

China seems to be gearing up for some extensive forest carbon activity, what with the Panda Standard and a new paper by Dr. Li Nuyun, the Deputy Director General of Office for Combating Climate Change in State Forestry Administration of China. The paper backs up China’s assertion that forestry will be a major component of its plan to mitigate climate change. The national government already plans to increase forest cover by 40 million hectares by 2020, and this paper goes along with its plan to strengthen the position of carbon sequestration forestry as a solution to greenhouse gas reduction.   Read about the paper, and the paper itself, on the Forest Carbon Portal here.


Click here to access the Forest Carbon Portal’s Calendar of Events. Click here to view or submit your own job announcements on the Forest Carbon Portal’s Jobs Board.

And the Survey Says…

The Carbon Salary Survey, a project of a number of players in the carbon market game, such as Carbon Positive, Acre, Point Carbon, and Center for Sustainable excellence, is setting out to learn who’s doing what in the world of climate change and carbon markets. The survey is looking for professionals and organizations who deal with carbon finance, policy and regulation, management, CDM and JI projects, and so on. Those who take the survey will receive a free advanced copy and an invitation to the launch of the report. For more information, click here, and to take the survey, click here.

Food and Ag Ask for Your Proposal

The Hague Conference on Agriculture, Food Security, and Climate Change (31 Oct – 5 Nov 2010) has sent out a request for proposals for projects demonstrating the beneficial and vital linkages between agriculture, climate mitigation and adaptation, and food security.   Go here to apply and/or learn more about the project criteria, and here for the conference’s home page.

Additional resources

Please see our Reprint Guidelines for details on republishing our articles.