This Week In Forest Carbon: A Beautiful Arrangement

Latin America’s largest cosmetics company recently purchased 120,000 tons of carbon offsets from a REDD project in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest that is led by an indigenous tribe. This transaction marks the first sale of forest carbon offsets developed by indigenous people and can be used as a template for other indigenous peoples as well as companies looking to meet their Corporate Social Responsibility requirements.

Latin America’s largest cosmetics company recently purchased 120,000 tons of carbon offsets from a REDD project in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest that is led by an indigenous tribe. This transaction marks the first sale of forest carbon offsets developed by indigenous people and can be used as a template for other indigenous peoples as well as companies looking to meet their Corporate Social Responsibility requirements.

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

11 September 2013 | Brazilian cosmetics giant Natura Cosméticos has  become the first buyer of carbon offsets produced from a project led by the Paiter-Suruí­, an indigenous people who generated the credits by saving endangered rainforest under the Verified Carbon Standard’s (VCS) Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) methodology.  

“REDD+ is a bridge between the indigenous world and the non-indigenous world, so it’s an appropriate way to begin this process,” says Chief Almir Narayamoga Surui, who spearheaded the effort. “It creates a vehicle through which the capitalist system can recognize the value of standing forests, and indigenous people can be rewarded for preserving them.”  

Natura, Latin America’s largest cosmetics maker, purchased 120,000 tons of carbon offsets from the project as part of its efforts to reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by one-third from 2006 levels by the end of 2013.


Five years in the works, the transaction required the development of a REDD template that can now be used by other indigenous people across the Amazon, as well as companies looking to meet their Corporate Social Responsibility requirements.  


Meanwhile, if the staff at the California Air Resources Board (ARB) gets its way, the board  will sign off on a proposal for California’s cap-and-trade program  to shift the invalidation risk for forestry projects away from forest owners to the buyers of offset credits from approved forestry projects.  


The so-called buyers’ liability provisions featured in the cap-and-trade regulations allow the regulators to invalidate credits that are found to be faulty or fraudulent and require regulated entities to surrender replacement offsets. Currently, forest owners are responsible for the invalidation risk, but the buyers bear the risk for the other project types eligible for the California program.  


The regulators are aiming for consistency in the buyers’ liability provisions, seen as a noble goal and one that could propel additional development of forest projects, according to some stakeholders. However, oil major Chevron pushed back against the forestry proposal in comments submitted to the regulators in early August.  


“ARB’s existing rule places responsibility with forestry owners because forests are a unique type of offset,” says Lloyd Avram, Chevron’s manager of state government affairs. “The forest owner has control over the forest and can manage it in accordance with the requirements or choose not to do so.”


“We are concerned that by changing the invalidation risk to the covered entity that uses the offset, ARB is adding unworkable burden and risk to forestry offset buyers which will ultimately discourage use of this important resource to reduce GHGs under ARB’s cap-and-trade program,” he says in the comments.


These and other stories from the forest carbon marketplace are summarized below, so keep reading!  


With the redesign of our  Forest Carbon Portal  and continued expansion of our  Spanish language sister website Valorando Naturaleza, Ecosystem Marketplace hopes to continue to bring you this kind of fresh information in the second half of 2013! If you value what you read, consider supporting Ecosystem Marketplace’s Carbon Program by contacting  Molly Peters-Stanley. We’re $50k away from being able to publish this year’s State of the Forest Carbon Markets report in a few months’ time – can we count on your support?


Here at Ecosystem Marketplace, we are transitioning from data collection to report-writing mode in order to bring you this year’s State of the Forest Carbon Markets report. For those of you developing forest carbon offset projects, if you have not yet responded with data and wish to participate in the survey, please notify  Daphne Yin.


—The Ecosystem Marketplace Team

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


International Policy

Paradise Rejected  

A week after Ecuador announced the dissolution of its Yasuni-ITT initiative, which sought international donations in exchange for not drilling large swaths of rainforests, President Correa announced another surprise: that  Ecuador would also cancel aid from Germany. Germany’s decision to oppose the Yasuni-ITT plans has been blamed for the reluctance of other international donors to participate. Despite withholding funds for that initiative, Germany and Ecuador had agreed on a 34.5 million Euro reforestation program set to start this year that would focus on REDD programs and managing forest protection areas. In a surprise declaration, President Correa just announced the dissolution of this program, citing German “arrogance” for criticizing Ecuador’s drilling plans. Deforestation in Ecuador  has already increased  300% ahead of last year’s rate.

Getting jurisdictional

The Governors’ Climate & Forests Fund (GCF Fund) has just issued its first  Request for Proposal  through a grant funded by the US Department of State. Civil Society Organizations are invited to partner with GCF states or provinces to submit proposals to address collective needs to improve forest carbon assessments and capacity. Funding will be provided to proposals which strengthen or improve GCF state and province forest carbon assessments and capacity, and strengthen or improve subnational REDD+ programs and measurement, reporting and verification methodologies and capacity that support national REDD+ strategies.  Under this round of funding, the GCF Fund expects to support projects in all GCF tropical forest countries: Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria and Peru. Proposals are due on October 11.

In plain sight

In this opinion piece, Nigel Turvey, a fellow at Charles Darwin University, argues that Australia’s shadow environment minister Greg Hunt misses a key point about rainforest carbon:  that REDD already offers opportunities to protect tropical forests. Hunt hopes to broker a deal on rainforests and carbon reductions during the 2014 G20 meeting located in Australia. Australia may be ignoring REDD opportunities after its own $100 million AUD investment into the Kalimantan Forest Carbon Partnership proved unsuccessful. However, Turvey argues that policymakers have too many aspirational goals for REDD, and that going back to the basic focus on forests and people is the best hope for improving these projects. He ends with an appeal for the future Australian government to let REDD credits into its planned emissions trading scheme.  

Project Development

Hectares to cover before we sleep

Following the landmark use of political risk insurance on a REDD+ project in Cambodia, project developers elsewhere have also tapped into the insurance – most recently on a bamboo reforestation project in Nicaragua. Despite these examples of early mover activity, awareness of political risk coverage and how it can help finance carbon offset projects is still very limited.  A new Ecosystem Marketplace article  provides a case study on the use of political risk insurance in Nicaragua before discussing the capacity for it to be used on other carbon offset projects, and additional innovation that seeks to cover a broader set of risks, political included.  

A different sort of insurer

European insurance giant  Allianz is considering expanding its business  of sourcing carbon offsets after buying enough credits to cancel out its own emissions using offsets from Infinite Earth’s Rimba Raya REDD+ Conservation Project in Indonesia – one of the world’s largest REDD projects, developed in accordance with VCS guidelines. According to Nicolai Tewes of Allianz, the insurer is looking into potentially investing in other offset projects on behalf of its clients. Allianz has a history of sourcing offsets from other projects, including the Kasigau Corridor REDD project in Kenya that was developed by Wildlife Works and validated and verified to VCS and the Climate, Community and Biodiversity (CCB) Standards.  

Practicing what it preaches

The World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF), an organization whose research includes climate change adaptation and mitigation in agriculture, announced that it has bought carbon credits  to offset its emissions for the next two years. This makes ICRAF the first of the Consultative Group in International Agricultural Research centers to assess and offset emissions. The organization purchased the offsets through The Carbon Neutral Company, and has captured 2,161 tonnnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) through credits from the Kasigau Corridor REDD Project, which protects more than 500,000 acres of forest in Kenya. Already, ICRAF’s main Nairobi office is carbon neutral, and the organization hopes to become fully neutral by tracking its carbon footprint and assessing regional offices.  

Catching sight of carbon

Even if whales aren’t spotted, carbon is guaranteed to be caught on the new OrcaSpirit Adventures tours. The company is  offsetting its whale watching and harbor cruises  in British Columbia by purchasing credits from another local project developer, the Great Bear Forest Carbon Project. The project preserves the rainforests and marine life along the British Columbia coastline. It is the first of its kind to be located in indigenous territory, and seeks to provide positive social and environmental impacts. OrcaSpirit Adventures added its enthusiasm for the local project, saying, “To directly be able to support such a cause and know where our contributions are going is incredibly rewarding, not only for our business and our industry but the surrounding ecosystems and communities affected by the conservation of this area.”  

Nature and nurture

An Oregon conservation group has proposed a health initiative called the  Forest Health Human Health program  that links landowners with carbon offset buyers, to be used in Willamette Valley, Oregon. The program is already in place elsewhere in the state, in Columbia County. Based on sustainable forest management, 90% of money from carbon credit sales would go into a healthcare account and the landowner would receive an “ATreeM Card.” The balance would go toward community health programs such as a scholarship fund to educate doctors on how to practice medicine in rural areas. The initiative can work for woodlots as small as 20 acres, and permits timber harvesting in the form of tree thinning or underbrush removal.  

Golden Ranches turning green

In 2010, a coalition of conservation organizations banded together to buy Golden Ranches, a site spanning more than 550 hectares in Alberta, Canada. Now the owners, including the Alberta Conservation Association, The Nature Conservancy of Canada, and Alberta Fish and Game Association,  have teamed up  with the locally-based Carbon Farmer to plant more than 200,000 trees on about 100 hectares of land. The Carbon Farmer works with landowners and land trusts to turn sites of previously tilled land into native forests and shrub land. The Golden Ranches site is an important wildlife corridor that links to nearby Elk Island National Park and Cooking Lake. It is hoped that the area will become a habitat for many species, including moose and songbirds.

Big names in a small forest

In an effort to offset their unavoidable emissions, corporate giants Microsoft and Barclays have turned to a forestry project in Kenya. The Kasigau Corridor REDD project, developed by Wildlife Works, acts as a forest corridor that links two swaths of Kenyan national forests. The project has a dual conservation and sustainable development focus, as the sale of offsets has returned more than $3.5 million to the local communities and generated jobs since 2010. The companies describe their involvement with Wildlife Works as an opportunity “for Microsoft to help create a low-carbon economy” and to have an “on-the ground partner” for Barclays’ key Kenyan markets.  

Getting the green light

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)  just received approval  for a $21.5 million grant from the Climate Investment Funds (CIF), which will finance most of the $26.6 million Integrated REDD+ Project in the Mbuji-Mayi/Kananga and Kisangani Basins (PIREDD/MBKISS). PIREDD/MBKISS aims to carry out pilot initiatives over 5 years and is projected to save about 4 million tonnes of CO2 over 25 years. Working with stakeholders, the project will directly benefit an estimated 400,000 people and indirectly benefit up to 1.5 million people. With this approval, the DRC becomes the first ever African grant recipient from CIF’s Forest Investment Program (FIP). It is one of three African countries to be selected to serve as FIP pilot countries. Burkina Faso and Ghana are the others.  

National Strategy and Capacity

Fifth year’s the charm

After four years of REDD projects in Indonesia,  deforestation remains rampant and progress sluggish. Though REDD programs receive support from the national level, the slow payback period, corruption, and lack of education has plagued projects at the local and regional levels. After criticism from NGOs, the government of Indonesia  hopes to prove its commitment  through the creation of a national council on REDD+. The council, set to begin operating in September, will take over from the defunct REDD+ task force and will coordinate a nationwide REDD+ road strategy. While the council will not be able to manage projects, it will serve as a central coordination and reporting agency between the responsible Indonesian ministries.  

Double the money

Norway and the World Bank  just signed two agreements  with Ethiopia to provide funding for climate mitigation and sustainable land management. The first agreement will add $50 million to Ethiopia’s Sustainable Land Management Program that reduces land degradation while increasing productivity for small farmers. The program has already been successful in rehabilitating more than 190,000 hectares of degraded land since 2008. The second agreement will finance $13 million for the World Bank’s BioCarbon Fund, which will support Ethiopia’s Climate Resilient Green Management Program. The program  is currently building up  Ethiopia’s REDD+ readiness and aims to develop a REDD+ pilot program for the country.

Throwing money away

After three payments totaling $1 million, a Peruvian journalist has discovered that  not one tree has been planted  in the city of Pajarillo’s 5,000 acres of reclaimed land. The Peruvian city used to illegally trade coca; the 2011 reforestation project was an attempt to create an alternative source of livelihood for the locals. However, further investigation revealed only a batch of abandoned seedlings. Meanwhile, the mayor’s office has received its final payment, likely approved from a corrupt supervisor from the National Commission for Development and Life Without Drugs. A false evaluation report has also been uncovered and the case is now being investigated by a local public prosecutor. Currently, Peru receives nearly $60 million in REDD money for reforestation.  

Smooth sailing for the Atlantic

The government of Paraguay  just extended  its Land Conversion Moratorium for the Atlantic Forest of Paraguay, also known as the “Zero Deforestation Law.” When the law was enacted in 2004, it reduced the deforestation rate by about 90% in a country that ranked second in the world in terms of deforestation rates. Despite a mere 7% of its original surface cover remaining, the Atlantic Forest is home to 7% of the world’s flora and fauna. The law was set to expire in December of 2013.  

REDD+ doesn’t pan out in Panama  

Despite strong governance and capacity in relation to many other Latin America countries, Panama’s REDD+ program  faces failure as indigenous leaders pull out. Panama’s indigenous constitute 5% of the population but inhabit 31% of its land. These groups were initially involved in REDD+ planning, and Panama’s National Coordinating Body of Indigenous Peoples (COONAPIP) submitted a draft plan for REDD+ capacity building in indigenous territories in 2011. However, this plan failed to receive UN funding. COONAPIP has since withdrawn from the REDD program in March, followed by the Guna General Congress (another indigenous authority) in June. Proponents of REDD+ fear that if indigenous peoples’ concerns spread outside of Panama, it could negatively affect perception of projects in nearby countries.  

Finance and Economics

Tracking REDD+ tracking (continued)

Forest Trends’ REDDX and the Overseas Development Institute’s Climate Funds Update recently launched  Part V  and  Part VI, the last articles of  the organizations’ collaborative series that explains existing REDD+ finance tracking projects while identifying niches and cross-over areas to directly support more comprehensive assessments of REDD+ policy and finance gaps and needs. The series includes Forest Trends’ own new REDDX expenditures tracking initiative. In “Private Lessons for the Public Sphere,” Ecosystem Marketplace explores what policymakers can learn from today’s private sector projects, including due recognition of private sectors’ early action via public support of credited project-level activities; enacting policies that favor “zero-deforestation” or low-carbon products/commodities; and engaging with private actors to explore “carbon-linked” funding mechanisms. “REDD+ Finance: Where Next?” wraps up by identifying three concerted efforts needed to better track REDD+ finance.  

Human Dimension

Women leading the charge

Most research on gender and forestry issues has been focused on South Asia,  a new literature review finds. The overwhelming concentration in the region is the legacy of Bina Agarwal, a widely-cited researcher who concentrates on gender and community forestry in India and Nepal. A recent paper by Coleman and Mwangi tested Agarwal’s hypotheses about female participation in African and Latin American countries. While most of their findings reinforced Agarwal’s model, they found that women’s participation in forestry institutions did not change women’s perceptions of fairness or rules and penalties. The study also found that wages differences correlated with the probability of women leadership in forest associations and that women’s participation in leadership positions resulted in less conflict.  

Growing peace, one tree at a time

Increased REDD+ and National Adaptation Programs of Action (NAPAs)  could help reduce conflict  in the Central African Republic, new research by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) shows. The African state, which has suffered from political instability and civil conflict since 1960, has attributed reduced water availability and increased agriculture vulnerability to the changing climate. Despite a high awareness of climate impacts, few mitigation programs exist due to insecurity, violence and high turnover rates. The study notes that REDD+ and NAPAs are instrumental to developing linkages across diverse institutions, and could contribute to the post-conflict reconstruction process.  

Science and Technology Review

Cutting down time

Two scientists have discovered a way  to speed up tree measurements. Dr. Beth Middleton and Evelyn Anemaet created the new methodology after conducting research in bald cypress swamps. Traditionally, they would have to use dendrometer bands – two metal straps that bend around the trunk and are fed through a “collar,” which can allow the strap to expand and shrink to measure growth. Constructing these bands is complex and bending the material requires skillful navigation around sharp edges. The new method uses cable-tie heads that are modified to use as collars on the dendrometer bands. It requires less time (up to 20 minutes faster in field conditions) and standardizes the uniform bands to cut down on assembly time. The researchers hope that this method will be adopted into forest studies down the road.

Drawing a map of the world

The  Global Conference on Community Participatory Mapping on Indigenous Peoples’ Territories  drew indigenous leaders from more than 17 countries. Meeting in Indonesia, these leaders shared their experiences in mapping their traditional lands and their successes against government and corporations intent on encroaching on their lands. Through simple hand-held GPS devices, communities can catalogue their key cultural and social sites and transfer their historical knowledge into concrete data points. Mapping allows indigenous people to establish their rights to a land and identify areas of conflict with government concessions and corporate project proposals. Already, communities in Brazil, Indonesia, and Malaysia have successfully used their maps to oppose land grabs in their areas.  

Playing games  

A  new game-based simulation called SimPachamama  allows policymakers and communities to simulate the effects of various policy actions, including efforts to stem deforestation. The user plays a village mayor whose job is to improve local livelihoods and reduce deforestation. The game found that levying a $450 hectare tax on deforested lands could help curb forest clearing. Researchers believe that the tax would not affect the agricultural sector’s profitability, and it would have a much larger impact on reducing deforestation and improving welfare.

Surveying crowd appeal  

Carbomap, a new environmental survey company,  hopes to generate additional revenue for its forest mapping technology through crowd-funding. Carbomap has posted its idea on Share-In, a new Scottish-based crowd-funding platform, and hopes to generate interest and funds in its proprietary LiDAR technology. The technology, described as the “MRI Scanner of Forest Measurement,” will carry out airborne mapping of forest terrain to map and measure the CO2 emissions from the world’s forests.  The company has already been awarded an initial 141,000 pounds from the Scottish Enterprise’s SMART Scotland fund.

Publication and Tools

Mitigating mitigation effects  

The International Journal of Biodiversity and Conservation just published a new study titled  Local Vulnerability, Forest Communities and Forest Carbon Conservation: A Case of Southern Cameroon. Researchers found that understanding the vulnerability of forest-dependent communities is a point of departure for building more effective climate mitigation and adaptation strategies. Among its findings, the study reported that mitigation activities might make communities more vulnerable to the effects of climate change and other factors. It also argued that positive outcomes from conservation depend on the willingness and motivation of communities to engage and participate in mitigation activities.

Certifying Forest Management

CIFOR just issued a  report  evaluating the impacts of forest management certification and the results of efforts to halt deforestation. The paper analyzes different forest management certifications with other market interventions. The report identifies a number of knowledge gaps for the evaluation of impacts, and calls for the early and effective engagement of stakeholders, the gathering of data on biophysical and socio-economic characteristics, and the sharing of evaluation results with a broad set of stakeholders and partners.  


M-REDD+ Monitoring & Evaluation Coordinator – The Nature Conservancy

Based in Merida, Mexico, the M-REDD+ Monitoring & Evaluation Coordinator will be responsible for monitoring and evaluating the on-going performance of the M-REDD+ Program, including providing technical guidance and support to ensure the quality of M-REDD+ products and deliverables. Candidates should have a BA/BS degree and 7 years’ experience in REDD+, climate change, forest conservation and/or sustainable rural development or equivalent combination of education and experience. Read more about the position  here.  

Business Development Manager – Ecodit

Based in Arlington, Virginia, the Business Development Manager will lead technical proposal development, develop relationships with clients and partners for current projects and new business opportunities, and cultivate and recruit global network of external experts and potential staff who will be featured in proposals. Candidates should have 6-8 years of experience and a technical expertise in one or more of the following areas: clean energy, climate change, REDD+, LEDS, food security, forest and biodiversity conservation, water and sanitation. Read more about the position  here.  

Lead Researcher, Colombia Land-Use Strategy – Amazon Environmental Research Institute, International Program  

Based in Bogota, Colombia, the Lead Researcher will contribute to the development of a low-emission land-use strategy in Colombia through outreach and consultation, synthesis of existing knowledge, and new analysis. Candidates should have a Master’s or PhD in environmental management, sustainability, agronomy, or equivalent experience and a minimum of 3 years of experience working in or living in tropical forest regions (preferably in Colombia). Experience in sustainable agriculture and climate change policy (including REDD) is required. Read more about the position  here.  

Research Assistant, Ecosystems Services and Management Program – IIASA

Based in Laxenburg, Austria, the Research Assistant will work with scenario design and model applications, particularly with respect to deforestation issues in a national context, and contribute to the further development of the model for the tropical regions and contribute publications of relevant results to peer-reviewed journals. Candidates should have a Master’s degree or equivalent in agriculture, forestry, or environmental economics with proven analytical skills and ease in manipulating large data sets. Read more about the position  here.  

Environment and Natural Resource Staff Associate – Tetra Tech

Based in Burlington, Vermont, the Environment and Natural Resources Staff Associate will work on both program implementation and new business development, primarily for USAID-funded projects. Candidates should have a graduate degree in forestry, environmental sciences, or related field, and at least 3-5 years of professional experience. Demonstrated excellence and qualifications in a natural resource or related field (e.g., forestry, climate change adaptation, etc…) is a plus. Read more about the position  here.  

Science Editor/Writer – CIFOR

Based in Bogor, Indonesia, the Science Editor/Writer will be responsible for editing “Forests News”, CIFOR’s influential blog on forestry research. Among other tasks, the Science Editor/Writer will edit articles, manage a pool of freelance writers, liaise with scientists and write for the blog. Candidates should have at least 10 years’ experience as an editor for a scientific or science-related publication and a strong understanding of environmental issues, preferably related to forests and climate change. Read more about the position  here.  

Sustainability Intern – Forest City

Based in Cleveland, Ohio, the Sustainability Intern will research and manage waste, water and carbon reduction benchmarking programs. Interns will work alongside Energy & Sustainability and Supply Chain procurement professionals to develop a program to record use and create recommendations on ways to minimize impact on today’s natural resources. Candidates should be pursuing a bachelors or masters degree in Sustainability or Environmental Studies and previous internships in a business setting is a plus. Read more about the position  here.  



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