This Week in Forest Carbon: Dynamic Developments And Disruptive Disputes

Asia, Pakistan, Vietnam and Malaysia prepare frameworks, build capacity, and assess sustainable financing mechanisms for future REDD+ developments. Meanwhile, across the globe, Latin American countries like Peru, Brazil, and Panama face land ownership issues, raising tensions among REDD+ stakeholders, local governments, and indigenous peoples.

Asia, Pakistan, Vietnam and Malaysia prepare frameworks, build capacity, and assess sustainable financing mechanisms for future REDD+ developments. Meanwhile, across the globe, Latin American countries like Peru, Brazil, and Panama face land ownership issues, raising tensions among REDD+ stakeholders, local governments, and indigenous peoples.

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

25 March 2013 | This land is your land…or my land? Across Latin America,  land ownership disputes  and other indigenous rights issues clamored at the forefront of REDD+ project developments forcing REDD+ project developers and investors to reevaluate and delay future plans while heightening tensions between local governments and indigenous groups.  

Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin (COICA) and its national partners were the exception to the rule this week, as it  continues integrating  the Amazonian Indigenous REDD+ proposal more thoroughly into REDD+ processes in the form of land rights, free, prior and informed consent (FPIC), and active indigenous participation.

Across the Pacific Ocean, Indonesia pits forest conservation policy against “the calculus of economic gain” as the government deliberates  extending its existing forest moratorium policy, which sunsets in May. The outcome of this decision could disrupt or support the government’s existing commitment to aggressive GHG emissions reductions by 2020.  


Elsewhere in Asia, Pakistan incubates REDD+ frameworks,  initiating its REDD+ roadmap process  to establish forests as central to its climate change policy. Norway will also provide political and financial backing for the implementation of a  REDD+ framework  in Vietnam, while Germany’s Frankfurt School released a  new study  that proposes a sustainable financing mechanism to attract investment to Malaysia’s prospective REDD+ sector.


And here at Ecosystem Marketplace, we recently wrapped up our data collection process for this year’s State of the Forest Carbon Markets report. Keep an eye on the Forest Carbon Portal in coming weeks as we continue to feature forest projects that created survey profiles in 2013. If you missed last call for survey responses and wish to contribute, contact  Daphne Yin.  


Big thanks to organizations that have most recently submitted survey data:  Cooperativa AMBIO SC de RL,  ANSAB,  BioCarbon Group,  Canopy,  CarbonSinkGroup,  CarbonZero,  The Cochabamba Project,  Eco2librium,  EcoPlanet Bamboo, Instituto Açí£o Verde,  Mpingo Conservation & Development Initiative,  Nature Services Peru,  South Pole Carbon Asset Management, and  Sustainable Carbon.  


Ecosystem Marketplace is also seeking to fill two positions in our Carbon Program — a Forest Carbon  Program Associate  (potentially Senior Associate) and  Research Assistant.  If interested, please send resume or CV and cover letter to Molly Peters-Stanley, Ecosystem Marketplace’s Associate Director, at  [email protected]. Applications will be considered until the positions are filled, so early submissions are encouraged.  


—The Ecosystem Marketplace Team

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





Off to the Expo!

The 10th annual  Carbon Expo, attracting exhibitors and participants from 100+ countries, will take place May 29-31, 2013 in Barcelona, Spain. The conference will provide the world’s leading carbon market stakeholders the opportunity to gain exposure and insight into emissions trading and carbon mitigation solutions, meanwhile fostering an interface between carbon finance, technology, carbon markets, and industry. The three-day program will incorporate 27+ workshops, including an event devoted specifically to the Voluntary Carbon Market & REDD, as well as a side event focused on forestation projects.  


Navigating the REDD+ Sea

On April 16-18, 2013,  Navigating the American Carbon World (NACW), a leading event for climate change policy and carbon markets, will take place in San Francisco, California. The event will offer participants the opportunity to gain extensive knowledge on the current cap-and-trade program in California and will examine linkages between international programs. Additionally, NACW will highlight developments in forest projects through a discussion on  REDD+ Offset Working Group’s (ROW)  latest recommendations regarding California’s anticipated inclusion of REDD in its current system for greenhouse gas emissions.  


International Policy

Lac on the tenure track

Across Latin America, a handful of countries involved with REDD have faced  land ownership disagreements, keeping potential investors at bay and restricting the scale of existing project development. High tensions in Peru have strained the relationship between the government and indigenous groups, putting the World Bank Forest Investment Program’s $50-million anti-deforestation plan on hold in order to give indigenous groups and local governments time to discuss land titles. This conflict closely follows the withdrawal of COONAPIP (National Coordinating Body of Indigenous Peoples in Panama) from Panama’s REDD program only a few weeks ago. Meanwhile in Brazil, a stark 39% of the largest Amazonian state Para faces uncertainty over land ownership.  


Indonesia at a crossroads

A recent  op-ed  breaks down varying government and NGO stances in the debate over whether Indonesia’s government should extend or terminate its forest moratorium policy, which is slated to expire this May. Moratorium supporters like Indonesia’s Forestry Ministry, the REDD+ Taskforce, and green NGOs view the moratorium as instrumental in fostering improved forest governance and enabling Indonesia to reach its aggressive emissions reduction goal of 26-41% by 2020. On the other hand, the Agriculture Ministry, palm oil and mining sectors argue that the moratorium would hinder national economic growth, and believe a more stringent permit system would suffice to protect deep peatland and primary forest areas.


US Policy

Chiapas knows better

REDD talks  have come a long way  since former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger first set the stage with the governors of Chiapas, Mexico and Acre, Brazil regarding forest protection and statewide emissions targets. When Los Angeles Senator Kevin de Leí³n visited Chiapas recently, he was struck by the extent to which the state’s community organizations, officials, and indigenous people had working knowledge about California’s AB 32 law – reportedly more than the average California citizen. On March 26th, the REDD Offsets Working Group (ROW) will host a  workshop  and  webcast  on Benefits Sharing and Safeguards at the University of California, Davis in support of California’s potential acceptance of REDD credits from Chiapas and Acre. Next, in April, ROW will present a policy draft to the three state governments. If legislation passes, REDD offsets will account for 2-4% of compliance offsets in California’s cap-and-trade program.


Project Development

The happiest forest on Earth

The Alto Mayo Initiative, a shared program operated by Conservation International and the government of Peru, recently  supplied 437,000 VCUs to the Walt Disney Company  in return for revenues that support conservation of 2.8 million hectares of rainforest in northeastern Peru. Disney hopes to become carbon neutral in the future and plans to retire the carbon credits valued at $3.5 million. The credits account for 20% of Alto Mayo’s total credit supply and were sold at $7-8/tCO2e.  


A (de)finite step forward

The  Farm Cove Forest Carbon Project, developed by Finite Carbon, recently made it on to California Air Resources Board’s registry of compliance offset projects, and is the only forest offset project currently listed. Registered as an improved forest management (IFM) “early action” project with the Climate Action Reserve (CAR) in September, the project initially obtained an issuance of almost 200,000 tCO2e in offsets. The associated carbon offsets from the 19,118-acre project in Eastern Maine will finance the Downeast Lakes Land Trust’s capital campaign to enlarge Community Forest around the village of Grand Lake Stream, Maine.  


A true BluForest  

Last month, carbon offsets marketing firm BluForest Inc and the Commonwealth of Northern Ecuador (MNE)  signed an agreement  to develop a 1,500,000-hectare, REDD+ project in the province of Sucumbí­os, Ecuador. BluForest – which has allegedly committed funding for the project through a pre-pay contract covering five years’ worth of carbon credits – intends for the project to be developed in accordance with VCS and CCB standard guidelines and expects the project to generate 17 million tCO2e in credits. The Ecuadorian Ministry of Environment and MNE are developing this project in collaboration with the Yasuni ITT initiative, an initiative with over $300 million in funding to protect Yasuni National Park and its oil reserves.  


Pakistan knocks on wood

A collaborative effort on behalf of One UN Joint Programme on Environment, the Pakistani Ministry of Climate Change, ICIMOD, WWF-Pakistan, and more than 60 forestry stakeholders led to a recent  ‘roadmap’ meeting in Islamabad, establishing forests as a central part of Pakistan’s strategic climate change policy. A national REDD+ steering committee was formed along with the beginnings of a REDD+ readiness project. A variety of experienced REDD countries from the Asia-Pacific region were present, along with UNDP, UNEP and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN.


Mekong It Work

Norway and Vietnam have declared a  new partnership  through which the two countries will intensify their current political dialogue on climate and forest issues, green growth strategies and low-carbon development. In particular, Norway is set to provide guidance and financial support for Vietnam’s REDD+ efforts through 2015, largely through the existing UN-REDD framework under which Vietnam will build capacity and implement REDD+ at the national and pilot province level, and in communities through participatory forest monitoring, management and governance. The agreement will, by extension, also engage Vietnam’s neighbors in the Mekong region.


National Strategy & Capacity

Bassa the forest

To counteract 153,000 square miles of destroyed Amazonian rainforest, REDD+ efforts and environmentally friendly policies like the Forest Code have contributed to a reduction in Brazil’s deforestation in recent years. In a Foreign Affairs analysis of Brazil’s forest conservation efforts,  Jeff Tollefson argues that  the Amazon Fund, conceived under former President Luiz Iní¡cio Lula da Silva, has proven that REDD+ progress is possible even while there remains scientific uncertainty in carbon quantification methodologies. Brazil has offered Norway and other donors carbon offsets at a discounted $5/tCO2e through the Amazon Fund – intentionally underestimating the biomass in its forests in the absence of more stringent carbon quantification methodologies. Investor confidence may still remain a pressing issue, however, particularly in light of Norway’s debate with Brazil in Doha last December of whether to require international verification of domestic forest carbon offsets.


Malaysia REDD+: Sunny, with a chance of financing  

In recognition that the Malaysian government’s forest cover and emission intensity targets are conditional upon receiving financial support, Germany’s Frankfurt School recently conducted  a preliminary study on financing for emission reduction projects  and overall forest management in Malaysia, providing recommendations for a sustainable financing mechanism and paving the way for the implementation of REDD+ projects. The study has allowed policy makers to view carbon offsets as a feasible component to Malaysian forest management. As a result of the study, the Malaysian Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment has developed a policy, legal, and institutional framework that will soon be approved by the National Committee on REDD+.  

Methods & Standards Watch

1, 2, 3, it’s easy as GHG

The Verified Carbon Standard recently approved a  methodology  developed by Michigan State University and the Electric Power Research Institute to count and credit GHG emission reductions generated from reducing the amount of nitrogen fertilizer applied to cropland in the United States. The methodology was based on corn, soy, and wheat production projects in the Midwest. Following the American Carbon Registry’s similar approval last summer, VCS’s approval is expected to make the methodology further accessible to project developers. Environmental Services, Inc and Det Norske Veritas Climate Change Services aided in the methodology assessment and will host a  webinar  on March 21 at 1pm EST.


European Commission plays by the rules


This week, the European Parliament approved two laws – a Monitoring Mechanism Regulation as well as a set of rules concerning land use change and forestry – in an effort to better GHG emissions accounting rules in the EU. These laws will allow Europe to develop groundbreaking climate policies and record progress towards emissions targets in a more efficient manner. In particular,  the laws relate to forestry and agriculture and will improve upon the accounting of emissions and include new elements such as the reporting of emissions from LULUCF and the reporting of Member States’ low-carbon strategies. The improved legislation will place increased value on the farmers’ and forest owners’ efforts to implement forest and soil carbon storage.


Finance and Economics

No-way, Norway

After being derided by multiple NGOs, the Norwegian Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG)  sold its stakes  in 23 palm oil companies due to negative environmental impacts and resulting deforestation. In a recent annual report, GPFG stated that the divestment took place as a result of significant tropical deforestation associated with these companies’ unsustainable palm oil production. GPFG reportedly took into consideration the way in which each company addressed deforestation and their respective commitment, or lack thereof, to the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). Skeptics like JP Morgan criticize GPFG’s approach and stated that GPFG made this move “without company specific consideration” given that some of the divested companies are RSPO members.  


Human Dimension

Big progress for smallholders

The Rainforest Alliance – in collaboration with the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Alliance (CCBA) and Ghana’s Nature Conservation Research Center (NCRC) – recently held a  workshop in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia  to identify and address obstacles relating to carbon project accessibility for 16 smallholder carbon project developers. Smallholders face a variety of challenges such as difficulty in the organization and preparation phases of carbon standard requirements, the absence of adequate support in carbon project management, and daunting financial requirements for validation. The Rainforest Alliance identified strategies to improve smallholder access and is currently in the process of presenting their findings on the revision of CCB Standards.  


A community affair

In past years, Indonesia has confronted challenges in recognizing the role of rural villages in relation to forest management. As a result of COP-18 of the UNFCCC in Doha last year, the Asia REDD+ Working Group  conducted a meeting  in Indonesia to discuss REDD+ implementation with reference to forest communities and stakeholders. The meeting concluded that it is necessary to provide local communities authority to manage natural resources and receive related ecosystem services payments, to grant rural communities a stake in designing benefits-sharing systems that match local needs, and to ensure government policies that place significant value on local communities.  


Science & Technology Review

Pump it up

Research conducted in the Mau Forest of Kenya by Jan Pokorny of Charles University in Prague led to the development of a new theory – the “biotic pump.”  Pokorny stated that evapotranspiration, a plant process of water absorption and vapor production, allows for the consumption of heat, thereby lowering surface temperatures and cooling the Earth. Applied on a larger scale, the concentration of trees permits a large degree of water absorption as well as heat reduction. Replacing forests with agriculture reportedly has drastic effects, equivalent to, or even more severe than greenhouse gas-induced global warming.  The “biotic pump” theory was named due to the nature of forests acting as a “pump,” drawing water inwards. Without trees, water absorption becomes unpredictable, therefore causing sever changes in rain and weather patterns.  


Rooting for the forests

Researchers from across the globe simulated  the effect of greenhouse gas emissions on tropical forests  in the Amazon, Asia, and Africa through 2100, conducting what is reportedly “the most extensive study of its kind.”  The results showed that rainforests are able to retain carbon even while carbon dioxide continues to accumulate in the atmosphere. Dr. David Galbraith of the University of Leeds stated that while more research is necessary to fully understand how tropical forests react to changing climate conditions, significant evidence of forest resilience was present across the board in the Amazon, Asia, and Africa.  


Publications & Tools

Let’s go, Version 2.0

Project Developer’s Guidebook to VCS Methodologies Version 2.0  – This updated guidebook assists project developers and stakeholders in selecting appropriate VCS approved methodologies to account for the GHG benefits of their REDD projects. It provides numerous tools that allow developers to gain an understanding of currently available REDD methodologies so that they can make informed choices in selecting and applying these methodologies.  


A high 5 for business sustainability

REDD+ and Business Sustainability: 5 Ways to Get Involved  – This article acknowledges the severity of tropical deforestation on a global scale and draws attention to the importance of ecosystem services. The author suggests five ways for businesses to become involved in REDD+ such as developing a REDD+ project or investing in a for-profit company that is currently developing REDD+ projects.  


An indigenous voice

Holistic Management of Indigenous Territories: Development of the Amazon Indigenous REDD+ Proposal  – The World Wildlife Fund has released a fact sheet about a proposal developed by the Amazon Indigenous Peoples and the regional organization Coordinator of the Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin (COICA) that focuses on environmental and human rights in relation to REDD+. The proposal is helping promote the Amazon Basin Indigenous Peoples’ call for tenure rights, free, prior and informed consent (FPIC), and indigenous participation in the international arena.  



2 positions – Ecosystem Marketplace

Based in Washington, DC, the Carbon  Program Associate  will oversee the management and promotion of the organization’s online Forest Carbon Portal website and Project Inventory; coordinate, research and co-author the State of the Voluntary Carbon Markets and State of the Forest Carbon Markets reports; and serve as a source of expertise on carbon markets. Candidates should have a graduate degree with strong expertise in or knowledge of the carbon markets. Also based in Washington, DC, we are hiring a  Research Assistant, who will research and write for the annual State of the Voluntary Carbon Markets report and research voluntary carbon news and events to contribute to Ecosystem Marketplace website news. Candidates should have an interest in conservation finance/payments for ecosystem services, a basic knowledge of markets for carbon offsets, and (at minimum) an undergraduate degree.


2 positions, Tropical Forest and Climate Initiative – Union of Concerned Scientists

Based in Washington, DC, the  Analyst  will carry out technical analyses necessary to further forest and climate policy objectives and maintain current and thorough knowledge of relevant business and government climate/sustainability policy initiatives and processes. Candidates should have a Master’s Degree in a relevant area of science, public policy, economics, or  related discipline and 2-4 years of experience. Based in Berkeley, the  Outreach Coordinator  will work to advance the goals of the Tropical Forest & Climate Initiative’s palm oil campaign by coordinating and implementing a variety of outreach activities aimed at changing corporate and public policies related to tropical forests. Candidates should have a Bachelor’s Degree and 3-5 years experience in an outreach, organizing, or campaign position.  

4 positions – Terra Global Capital, LLC

Terra Global Capital is seeking to fill four positions in its Washington, DC office. The  Project Manager  will be responsible for day-to-day work and staff supervision. Candidates should have a BA in International Development, Business Administration, Public Administration or related field, and 5+ years of project management experience. The Grants Manager  will be responsible for managing program grants, grants solicitation, procurement and management and financial oversight. Candidates should have a Bachelor’s in Finance, Business and/or a related field and 8+ years of experience. The Financial Manager  will provide advice and assistance to the program’s internal and external operations on finance and business. Candidates should have a Bachelor’s in Finance, Accounting, Business and/or a related field and 8+ years of experience. The IT Specialist  will be responsible for the day-to-day technical support and support computer science, informatics, and information management.  Candidates should have a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science or a related field and 5+ years’ experience.

Forest Risk Commodities Senior Researcher – Global Canopy Programme

Based in Oxford, the Forest Risk Commodities Senior Researcher will innovate and lead research, producing reports and other outputs, and provide evidence-based advice for stakeholders and other GCP programs. Candidates should have an MSc and/or PhD in environment, geography, economics or similar and 5+ years’ work experience in the environment, economics, or supply chain sector. Read more about the position  here.  

Project Coordinator, Global Forest Watch 2.0 – World Resources Institute (WRI)

Based in Washington, DC, the Project Coordinator will assist the GFW2.0 Senior Manager in managing time, quality and budget parameters and will create and maintain contract agreements with partners. Candidates should have a Bachelor’s Degree or equivalent and some experience or competence in financial management and budgeting. Read more about the position  here.


International Climate Intern, Tropical Forest Protection – Environmental Defense Fund

Based in Washington, DC, the International Climate Intern will compile data on economic returns to land use in tropical-forest nations, research existing and potential financial mechanisms, and help prepare materials for non-technical audiences. Candidates should have a demonstrated interest in environmental economics and policy and be highly proficient in MS Excel and Word. 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 [email protected].

Additional resources

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