This Week in Forest Carbon: A REDD Tidal Wave

The past two weeks of forest carbon news has been complete with important developments in the world of REDD and carbon trading.  With credits released in Kenya and key aspects of Norwey’s memerandums to Indonesia and Guyana in the news, there is plenty to read up about.  And its not too late to make your contribution to the State of the Forest Carbon Markets 2011, with the survey deadline extended to February 28.

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 by clicking here.

17 February 2010 | Before diving into the past two weeks of forest carbon news, we’d first like to thank those of you who responded to the call for participating in Ecosystem Marketplace’s State of the Forest Carbon Markets 2011 report. If you haven’t had a chance to fill out our survey, we’ve extended the deadline just for you until February 28th. Access the survey HERE

Moving on to the news… VCS, soon to be the Verified Carbon Standard, issued its first REDD credits to Wildlife Works Carbon for a project in Kenya protecting over 500,000 acres of forest.   At one fell swoop, this single project has outpaced the total volume of REDD credits to have emerged from any formal carbon standard to date… and there are many more projects lined up in the VCS pipeline. Stay tuned for the REDD tidal wave.

Down in Indonesia, the moratorium saga drags on, with a key component of the REDD deal signed last year with Norway–a halt on concessions for clearing forest land–still yet to be made legally binding.   For nearly two months, President Yudhoyono has apparently been mulling over two competing versions of the moratorium decree which was expected to be announced in January.

Another major Norwegian REDD commitment, to fund Guyana’s forest conservation program, is also apparently hinging on a positive report from a single third-party verifier.   What’s more, the deal is set to provide 9 percent of Guyana’s annual budget!   Talk about high stakes!

Following an abrupt halt to emissions trading in Europe mid-January following a security breach and theft of credits beginning in Austria, trading platforms across the EU have now come back online although traders appear to be moving a bit more cautiously.

As always, keep reading below for more insights and highlights of the latest news in this, the latest edition of Ecosystem Marketplace’s Forest Carbon Newsletter.
—The Ecosystem Marketplace Team

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



Project Development

Carbon Market, Meet REDD Supply

Wildlife Works Carbon is the proud parent of Voluntary Carbon Standard’s first (million) REDD credits. The project conserves 500,000 acres of forest in Kenya’s Kasigau Corridor, and was earlier certified under the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Standard for the benefits it provides to local communities and biodiversity conservation. Read more from Wildlife Works Carbon’s website here, and see Ecosystem Marketplace’s take on the meaning of this new project and the flood of REDD credits poised to blow through the gates here.


International Policy

REDD+ Partnership Emerges from Veil of Secrecy

Turning over a new leaf in the new year, the REDD+ Partnership greets new co-chairs Brazil and France for 2011. And what’s more, the Partnership’s website was home to a quiet and unannounced deluge of documentation dating as far back as the May 2010 founding meeting in Oslo. Further documentation confirms that the Partnership’s 2011-2012 Work Program, originally intended for approval back in Cancun, was finally approved, apparently without objection by December 22. Nearly all the safeguard language we documented being inexplicably removed during negotiations in Cancun has been left on the cutting room floor. Visit the newly-updated REDD+ Partnership website to find out more here. See the Partnership’s meeting documents here. Ecosystem Marketplace is working through the mountain of newly released material, so stay tuned for a follow-up review.


US Policy

How to Spend $1 Billion Dollars

Taking a stab at how the United States should allocate the $1B REDD pledge from Copenhagen, Resources for the Future (RFF) has offered up an issue brief on “Geographically Prioritizing Appropriations for the Sustainable Landscapes Program.” Categorizing countries into three major strategies for Reducing Current Deforestation, Avoiding Future Deforestation, and Potential REDD+ Investment, the authors look not only where deforestation has been fastest, but also where improvements could most easily be made. The countries with low capacity for governance were generally found to require a higher price on carbon to be competitive with agriculture and timber. See commentary about the brief from ForestIndustries.EU here, and read the brief from RFF here.

On Feb. 2, RFF also hosted a seminar describing the potential supply for REDD and the strategies for picking countries for investment, which you can re-live with audio and video here.

Planning to Avoid a Lawsuit

The US Forest Service has proposed and is seeking feedback on a new Forest Planning Rule that lays the framework for land-use in federal forests. The plan calls for more upfront public input in an effort to stem many of the lengthy legal battles that occur over the use of public lands. Read more about the proposed planning rule on the US Forest Service’s website here.


National Strategy and Capacity

Step Aside, Hosers

While most state-side partners to the Western Climate Initiative (WCI) have been sitting on their hands (with the obvious exception of California), the Canadian province of Manitoba is stepping forward and soliciting stakeholder views for a proposed emissions trading scheme. Comments are due March 15, 2011. Manitoba joined the WCI back in 2007, a program originally envisioning a linking of carbon markets across several US states and Canadian provinces. Since 2009, Manitoba’s government has been moving towards emissions trading legislation, looking to line up next to the province of Alberta which set up its own scheme in 2007 and California which is set to have their own in place by 2012, both fellow WCI members. Read the proposal and offer your input from the WCI website here.


More Than Just a REDD Deal

A recent letter from Janette Bulkan to Guyana’s Starbroek News points out that almost 9 per cent of the Government’s budget is dependent on a positive report from Poyry New Zealand, a firm commissioned to assess deforestation emissions estimates for Guyana’s REDD deal with Norway. Bulkan points to some unusual features in the report, due in March, that might make that budget shortfall all too real for Guyana. Read the letter in Stabroek News here.


Decisions, Decisions

Indonesia’s President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is still weighing his options for formalizing the moratorium on forest clearing concessions more than a month after the intended start date. The moratorium ”started” January 1, 2011, but is not legally binding until a presidential decree is issued. Two draft versions of the decree are still on the table. What’s more, the new-year was preceded by a fire sale of concessions from the Minister of Forestry. So far $30 million has been transferred from Norway to Indonesia for aiding REDD readiness, with the bulk remaining of the $1 billion deal likely on hold pending action on the moratorium. Read more in the Jakarta Post here.


Seeking the Sub-Continental Carbon Connection

State officials in India are considering putting village reforestation projects on the carbon market in order to raise money for future projects. The government has been providing monetary incentives and tree-planting equipment for villagers to meet tree planting targets for reforesting their communities. The government is now apparently eyeing the current projects to see whether the projects could qualify for certified carbon offsets. Read more about the effort in the Hindustan Times here.


Finance and Economics

Good Work, If You Can Get It

Acre Resources and Acona have released their 2010 Carbon Salary Survey, with 944 respondents in the climate change, carbon markets, renewable energy and clean technology fields from around the world. Overall, the job security and salaries have held up well. The job market in Australasia appeared to be the strongest, while a 7% decline in respondents in North America doesn’t bode well for those of us in the U.S. Read about the survey and download the report from Carbon Positive here.


EU ETS Back Up and Running

After digital burglars stole and then sold millions of dollars worth of carbon credits from the ETS, a ripple of worry has spread through the market, with traders remaining wary of the seemingly insecure platform. Although registries have been opening up in the weeks after the burglary and some spot trading has resumed, many have stayed away. Read more about the reopened European ETS from the Guardian here.

Time to Unleash the Markets?

Financial Times environment correspondent Fiona Harvey contends that enough details of the REDD framework have been worked out and the time for international recognition of market mechanisms for REDD projects is now. The scale of emissions reductions require much more than the $5 billion pledged for REDD so far though, she adds, and the most likely way to come up with the necessary funding for the projects is by selling offsets on the carbon market. Chris Lang of REDD-Monitor–and a pack of angry readers–dig in to Harvey’s article, countering that enough details about the REDD framework are apparent, and not working well. Read Harvey’s article on China Dialogue here, and see the blow-back on REDD-Monitor here.


Methodology and Standards Watch

CDM Methodologies Turning the Tide?

The CDM has released a new methodology, Afforestation and reforestation of degraded tidal forest habitats, that is open for public comment until February 22. The methodology is being used for a project that would establish 17,000 hectares of mangrove plantations on degraded wetlands in Senegal. Access the documents, and leave your comments on the CDM website here.


Papering Over Clearcut Complaints?

The Climate Action Reserve has posted 4 new white papers, soliciting public comment for each. The first two consider carbon accounting for soil and lying dead wood. The third covers carbon dynamics in ‘even-aged’ forest management, while the fourth looks at the role forest certification standards play in providing assurance that forest carbon projects don’t negatively impact sustainable harvests of forest products or ecological functions. The documents are open for a period of public comment until March 25. Download the white papers and submit your own comments at the CAR website here.


Back in January, CAR also held a workgroup meeting for its Mexico Forest Project Protocol, including a discussion of the MOU between California and Chiapas State in Mexico. Access the workgroup’s meeting documents on the CAR website here.


Modifying the Modules

VCS has published a new methodology proposing changes to the baseline calculation procedures from the earlier Avoided Deforestation Partners’ REDD Modules. Focusing on the baseline carbon stock changes and greenhouse gas emissions from unplanned deforestation, the update uses population data to predict deforestation baselines. Review the new methodology and get your comments in before March 11, 2011 here.

Human Dimension

Is Carbon Putting Tenure Reform Out to Pasture?

A new report from the Rights and Resources Initiative concludes that rising land and commodities prices combined with carbon prospecting are hampering efforts for advancing indigenous land rights. “Pushback: Local Power, Global Realignment” states that while the concept of indigenous land rights has spread throughout the international community, the actual pace of securing those rights has been far outstripped by land acquisitions for commercial investment. Read more about the report from Mongabay here. Read RRI’s new report for yourself here.

Nope, Not a Valentine’s Card

A coalition of NGOs issued a statement urging Indonesian President Yudhoyono to follow through with strong action to protect the country’s forests. The statement applauded the government’s initial efforts to protect Indonesian forests, but warned that delaying the moratorium will result in further deforestation. Read media coverage of the statement from the Coalition of Civil Society to Save Indonesia’s Forests from the Jakarta Globe here. See the open letter to the President translated into English here, and in original Indonesian here.

Science and Technology Review

Remember the “Amazongate” Dust-Up?

A new study published in the journal Science concludes that a 2010 drought across the Amazon has caused a huge release of carbon emissions. This follows a furious debate about the nature of estimates in the IPCC’s last report, circling around the source of predictions about the vulnerability of Amazonian rainforests to drought. The new study estimated that the forests did not absorb the usual 1.5 billion tonnes of CO2 (tCO2) but instead produced a net loss of 8 billion tCO2 to the atmosphere. For perspective, consider that the United States emitted 5.2 billion tCO2 from fossil fuels in 2009. Listen to a story about the findings on NPR, including an interview with Forest Trends President and CEO Michael Jenkins here. Check out the abstract of the study in Science here.


Amazon: The Final Frontier

The Director of Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research, Gilberto Camara, sat down with Mongabay’s Rhett Buttler to chat about Brazil’s pioneering systems for monitoring Amazonian deforestation. Camara describes Brazil’s two main systems for tracking deforestation: the Program to Calculate Deforestation in the Amazon (PRODES) and Realtime Detection of Deforestation (DETER). DETER tracks forest cover at a 25 hectare spatial resolution and 15-day temporal resolution, providing near real time data. PRODES tracks forest cover at a 6.5 hectare spatial resolution and a annual temporal resolution, providing more details on forest cover and land-use change. Get the full story from Mongabay here.


UK to Help Indonesia Get Forests on the Radar

The National Aeronautics and Space Institute Indonesia has signed a cooperation agreement with the United Kingdom Space Agency to build and launch a Synthetic Aperture Radar satellite. The satellite will help monitor deforestation as well as track food security and manage fisheries and disasters. Indonesia currently uses an optical satellite to monitor deforestation, but large gaps are produced in the data because of the satellite’s inability to penetrate cloud cover. Read more about the agreement in the Jakarta Post here. See additional coverage in Indonesian here (for the story in English, click here)

Publications and Tools

Careful Consideration of Cameroonian Carbon Capacity

Forest carbon is taking off in West Africa and we are seeing REDD moving forward on the international stage. CIFOR’s new report, “The Context of Carbon in Cameroon: Drivers Agents and Institutions” lays out the current level of readiness for REDD+ activities in Cameroon, identifying three phases of a REDD+ mechanism and where they currently stand. Find the report here.


Public Consultations Closing in New Zealand

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry is about to wrap of public commenting on four forestry schemes on February 18. Check out the discussion paper and get in any last-minute comments on the Afforestation Grant Scheme, the Permanent Forest Sink Initiative, the Sustainable Land Management Hill Country Erosion Programme, and the East Coast Forestry Project here.

The Ministry of the Environment is also calling for public comment on planning for its 2050 emissions reduction target. Read the Minister’s position paper and submit your comments here.


Are you looking for a job working with the World Wildlife Fund on Forest Carbon or building community forestry capacity in Bangkok? Learn about these and other job opportunities at Forest Carbon Portal’s Jobs page, where you can also post your own job listings



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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