This Week in Forest Carbon: A Big Name for a Little Country

The small Latin American country of Guyana is quickly becoming a big name in REDD circles after its $250 million deal with Norway continues to be scrutinized while at the same time, Guyana prepares to co-chair the REDD+ Partnership along with Germany in July.  Outside of Guyana, a raft of new research findings are emerging with interesting implications. Details on these stories and more insides.

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28 April 2011 | Guyana continues to find itself at the center of several REDD+ news stories.   The small Latin American country is quickly becoming a big name in REDD circles after its $250 million deal with Norway continues to be scrutinized and at the same time as Guyana prepares to co-chair the REDD+ Partnership along with Germany in July.  

After the deposit of an additional $40 million from Norway to Guyana’s REDD fund, Rainforest Alliance’s recently released verification report describing the REDD+ readiness progress in Guyana is coming under fire from watchdog groups.  

And as the clock ticks towards Guyana’s upcoming Presidential election, incumbent Bharrat Jagdeo is in a race against the clock, hoping to shake money loose from the REDD fund in time to buy some support from Guyana’s Amerindian communities.

Outside of Guyana, a raft of new research findings are emerging with interesting implications.     From the latest wall-to-wall forest carbon coverage for the USA, a new manual for calculating REDD+ opportunity costs from the World Bank, and the scandalous synchronicity uncovered between Indonesian election cycles and deforestation rates, you’ll find plenty of leisure reading below to take home for the weekend.  

The rapid evolution of standards in the market also continues to catch headlines, as VCS has hit its stride, releasing its seventh forest carbon methodology approved over the past six months and the CDM Executive Board mints its first Afforestation/Reforestation methodology developed from the top-down.

On the markets front, stay tuned in the coming month as Ecosystem Marketplace is busy at work preparing our latest State of the Voluntary Carbon Markets 2011 report to debut in early June. Having recently wrapped up our surveys for both the voluntary and forest carbon markets reports, rest assured you ain’t seen nothing yet.   We’re still accepting sponsors for both the voluntary and forest carbon reports, so if having your name on these landmark reviews of the latest developments of the carbon markets is your cup of tea, please drop us a line.  

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

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



International Policy

Another International Forest Forum

A new summit is being planned for 35 forest nations from the Amazon, Congo, and Borneo-Mekong Basins. They plan to forge “a formal framework for consultation on forestry and climate issues” as well as some form of a joint statement to inform the upcoming climate conference in South Africa and the 2012 Rio+20 summits. Delegates will gather May 31-June 3 in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo. Draft working documents are to be reviewed at a FAO-led technical meeting May 12-14 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Read more about the summit from Wildlife Conservation Society here and from the brief UN press release here.


Reviewing the Gears Behind the Bangkok Breakdown

Taking stock after the latest round of talks ground back to a halt in Bangkok, Ecosystem Marketplace’s Steve Zwick summarizes the tensions between UN climate negotiators from developing countries pushing to extend the Kyoto Protocol while several major developed countries are just saying no. For those less familiar with the UN climate negotiations, tune in for a brief introduction to the UN process and how climate policy sausage gets made here.


REDD+ Partnership to be Co-Chaired by Guyana and Germany

At the latest REDD+ Partnership meeting, Guyana and Germany were elected to take over the co-chairs’ helm on July 1st, replacing the current co-chairs France and Brazil. The Partnership has evolved considerably since being created in Oslo back in May 2010, and continues the push to build REDD+ readiness financing and capacity while talks in the formal UN negotiations proceed in fits and starts. Read more about Guyana’s co-chairmanship from the Guyana Chronicle here.



National Strategy & Capacity

Verifier Targeted Over Review of Guyana REDD+ Readiness

Supporting documentation released alongside the approval of $40 million for Guyana’s REDD+ Investment Fund is now coming under scrutiny. Rainforest Alliance, a third-party verifier contracted by Norway to review Guyana’s REDD+ enabling activities (a precondition for Guyana to receive Norwegian funding), is now accused by watchdog NGOs including Global Witness, Forest Peoples Programme, and Rainforest Foundation of failing to satisfactorily verify the situation on the ground in Guyana. Read the verification report from Rainforest Alliance, along with other supporting documentation on the Norway-Guyana deal from the Norwegian Ministry of Environment website here. Read the NGO critique sent to Norway and Rainforest Alliance from the Global Witness website here.


Jagdeo Racing to Deliver REDD+ Cash by Election Eve

Guyana’s President Jagdeo is claiming that by July 2011, Amerindian communities in the southern Rupununi region will each receive roughly US$5,000 – 10,000 to support local sustainable development projects through the end of 2011. Out of the total US$70 million already deposited by Norway, US$8 million has been earmarked to support community development projects for Amerindians. According to the Fund’s governance structure, project funding would need to be approved by a steering committee, as well as move through development banks channeling the funding to projects, so the timeline for disbursal seems optimistic. Critics continue to claim President Jagdeo is making rosy promises of REDD+ money to win electoral support ahead of August’s presidential election. Read more about the village grants in Demerara Waves here. And learn more about governance layout of the GRIF from the agreement between Norway and the World Bank’s International Development Association here (PDF).



Finance and Economics

REDD+ Opportunity Cost Desk Reference

The World Bank Institute and Forest Carbon Partnership Facility have released a mammoth 262-page handbook outlining steps, methods and tools to collect and analyze data to estimate the foregone economic benefits (or “opportunity costs”) when forests are conserved. The release also comes along with presentations for training-of-trainer workshops. Read a synopsis of the manual from Carbon Positive here and view the report and presentations from the World Bank here.


The EU Outlook on Climate Finance

The European Commission has released a working document on the practicality of mobilizing $100 billion of financing for climate mitigation and adaptation actions to developing countries by 2020. The document concludes raising the funds will be “challenging but feasible” after describing the possible sources of finance in the private sector, carbon market, public sector, and development banks, as well as the difficulties involved with raising funds from each source. The ever-present political issue will still be what level of burden-sharing is realistic among developed countries. Read the EU Commission press release here and download the full document here (PDF).


World Bank Low-Carbon Finance Revue

Glimpses of the fiscal year 2010 report on the World Bank’s low-carbon financing are being rolled out. A press release from the World Bank describes a significant funding increase from FY2009, with a total of $5.5 billion being channeled mostly towards renewable energy and energy efficiency activities, and to a much lesser extent to forest and land-management activities. For example, the Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility helped move US$165 million for capacity-building in REDD+ countries. Read the press release here.


Project Development

Just Do It, Virtually

A foundation called London Carbon Market (LCM) has spent 500,000 “ven” (a virtual currency) for carbon credits. The offsets were generated by Nike under the American Carbon Registry from 2003 to 2005, after a retooling that replaced the virulent greenhouse gas sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) they’d been using to pump up their shoes. As credits from SF6 are losing favor in international circles, Nike now plans to use proceeds from these and future SF6 offset sales for its Mata no Peito initiative, a revolving fund to offer seed loans for forestry-based carbon projects in Brazil. Ecosystem Marketplace will be posting more details on this novel transaction type here. You can also check out the press release from the website of Hub Culture, the brain behind the ven here.

Methodology & Standards Watch

CDM Flips the Methodology Model

The Clean Development Mechanism’s Executive Board held its 60th meeting April 11-15 in Bangkok Thailand. The big news on the forest carbon front was the approval of the first top-down developed large-scale A/R methodology, “Afforestation and Reforestation of Lands Other than Wetlands.” Since December 2009, the Executive Board has requested the development of top-down methodologies to help encourage projects in underrepresented geographies and to encourage broader applicability compared to existing methodologies that were often originally developed around individual project circumstances. The board also approved several amendments to A/F methodologies and tools for estimating emissions and carbon stocks. Check out the latest meeting notes, methodologies, and more from the UNFCCC’s CDM Executive Board webpage here.


The Humming VCS Methodology Assembly Line

Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) has approved a new Improved Forest Management methodology developed by 3GreenTree and Ecosystem Restoration Associates. The methodology was designed to help calculate GHG emissions reductions from converting properties with planned timber harvesting into managed conservation forest, particularly for properties changing ownership and areas with low risk of unintended deforestation and degradation. This is the ninth VCS forest methodology approved to date, and the seventh in the past six months. Read the VCS press release here (PDF)and check out the methodology for yourself here.



Science & Technology Review

Indonesia’s “Political Logging Cycle”

A new article from researchers at the London School of Economics, MIT, and South Dakota State University draws direct links between the political decentralization in Indonesia leading to a proliferation of district-level elections coinciding with a boom-bust deforestation pattern. The central argument is that as district politicians approach elections, they have an observable pattern of granting forest concessions to curry favor and cash from concessionaires. Check out Mongabay’s summary of the study here or read the the analysis directly from MIT’s Department of Economics website here.


New U.S. Forest Carbon Dataset Released

Anyone interested in US carbon stocks can now see high-resolution wall-to-wall coverage of the lower 48 thanks to scientists from Woods Hole Research Center. The dataset incorporates satellite imagery, topographic surveys, and forest inventories to map out canopy height, aboveground live dry biomass, and standing carbon stocks. The map represents forest conditions in 2000 and will be used as a baseline from which to estimate future changes to forest cover in the United States. Read more from the Woods Hole website here.


Clear-cutters Going Under the Radar

Scientific American reported earlier this month new evidence that Brazilian clear-cutters are learning to avoid satellite detection by cutting parcels of land smaller than the resolution of satellites. Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research has found that, in 2002, one third of forest cleared due to illegal-logging was from areas of land smaller than half a square kilometer. 8 years later, in 2010, those small plots represent four-fifths of forest cleared due to illegal-logging. Brazil has managed to successfully reduce its deforestation rate since 2006 with the help of remote sensing and stronger law-enforcement operations, but the evidence suggests that deforestation will become increasingly diffuse and difficult to stop in the near-future. Read more about technical difficulties in combating illegal-logging on Scientific American’s website here.




On May 6, the UN Environment Programme’s Financing Initiative and UN-REDD Programme are launching “REDDy – Set – Grow: Opportunities, Risks and Roles for Financial Institutions in Forest-carbon Market”, a report on the future of REDD investment and will include speakers from major private REDD+ financing institutions including BNP Paribas as well as policymakers from Norway, Indonesia, and Democratic Republic of Congo. Find out more from the UNEP FI website here.





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