SBSTA tackles forest carbon in Bonn
Climate talks have kicked off in Bonn, Germany. On the forest carbon front, the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) will begin implementing a workplan agreed to in April designed to finally yield scientific guidance on forest monitoring systems and reference levels – two key components of REDD+. In the background, negotiators are moving forward on the Durban Platform, which aims to phase out the Kyoto Protocol by 2017 and replace it with a truly global agreement that will be negotiated by 2015.
FIP pilots reunite around REDD+
The African Development Bank has been helping Ghana finalize its REDD+ investment plan, preparing for a forest reserve project in Burkina Faso and another in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to conserve the Mbuji Mayi/Kananga and Kisangani areas. The three countries recently joined other Forest Investment Program (FIP) pilot countries in Brasilia, Brazil for their third annual meeting to exchange REDD+ investment ideas. Burkina Faso highlighted strong political backing for REDD+ and integration of the FIP into the National Rural Sector Program to ensure synergies across sectors. Ghana’s FIP investment plan featured PES provisions, a rapid response unit for protected areas, and carbon benefits-sharing linked to tree tenure. The DRC underscored its integrated landscape approach, national REDD+ fund, mobile technology, and aonline National REDD+ Projects Register to track investments. Challenges included managing stakeholder expectations and harnessing private sector participation.
NZCF sells forward in Wairau Valley
Purchased by New Zealand Carbon Farming (NZCF) last February, the 415-ha Kiernan Creek forest in Wairau Valley, Marlborough matured from a conventional commercial forest into a carbon sink forest last Friday. The forest’s pines and Douglas firs annually sequester 20,000-25,000 tCO2, with carbon units sold to Fonterra, a dairy emitter with NZ ETS obligations. NZCF intends to plant over 20,000 ha of permanent forests over the next five years. Managing Director Matt Walsh says that at depressed carbon prices, planting is only economic because NZCF sells units forward up to 15 years out to emitters who expect prices to rise, thereby managing carbon price risk while maintaining spot price exposure. NZCF also manages carbon credits for forest owners who receive annual payments while NZCF relieves them of carbon price risk and carbon storage accounting liability. Walsh says the ETS made the business possible, noting solid net gains in afforestation over the past two years.
CO2 reaps $3.8M for biodiverse carbon sinks
Forest carbon may save two birds (western whipbird, Carnaby’s black cockatoo, among their other threatened friends) with one stone. Melbourne-based offset provider CO2 Group has gained $3.8 million in federal biodiversity funding to finance carbon sink projects in Western Australia and New South Wales. The group will plant vegetation corridors between Lake Magenta Nature Reserve and Fitzgerald National Park, as well as between Corackerup National Park and Fitzgerald National Park. CO2 will introduce a second tranche of plantings adjoining conservation reserves in central and upper central west NSW. CEO Andrew Grant says, “The two projects will integrate biodiversity outcomes with large-scale commercial carbon plantings, creating a unique partnership between a for-profit commercial entity and the government.”
Greenfleet seals first carbon sequestration rights
Greenfleet has received a green light on the first Carbon Sequestration and Forestry Right and Forest Carbon Right on title under Victoria’s Climate Change Act 2011. The agreement covers 122 ha of native revegetation, securing an anticipated 30,660 tCO2e in the next 20 years and protecting the forest for 100. Greenfleet CEO Sara Gipton says carbon sequestration rights will bolster investor confidence in the permanence of forest carbon, which in turn supports “a viable funding source to help revegetate vast areas of Australia’s degraded landscapes.” In upcoming months, Greenfleet will apply for carbon sequestration rights under the Climate Change Act for all eligible revegetation projects in Victoria. Greenfleet was the first nonprofit forestry organization to become an Approved Abatement Provider under Australia’s former Greenhouse Friendly programme.
Jordan follows Sharia into the forest
There’s a place for forest carbon markets under Islamic law, and its name is Congo. Al Sanabel International Holding, the first Islamic investment bank in Jordan, has acquired 500,000 ha or 25% of a high value forest in the Democratic Republic of Congo, among the world’s largest private forests. In response to accelerating deforestation threats to Congo’s forests, Al Sanabel is considering a number of Sharia-compliant forestry activities, ranging from carbon market afforestation/reforestation and avoided deforestation projects, along with sustainable agro-forestry projects. Chairman and CEO Khaldoun Malkawi said these activities are compatible with Islamic banking principles as they simultaneously help curb climate change, reduce poverty, and promote corporate social responsibility.
From Formula Three to formula carbon
Colombia’s esteemed racing driver is fast without a footprint. The Gustavo Yacaman Foundation has partnered with Admire Life, and Biomax to create a CO2 capture center at Bojonawi, a nature reserve in Puerto Carreí±o, Colombia. The first stage of the project involves planting over 15,000 trees in hopes of offsetting some 400 tCO2. Biomax has currently planted 1,500 trees, just 10% of its goal, but expects to double the number of plantings in the natural reserve over the next year. In the first year, the program offset over 14 tCO2, covering the carbon footprint of Yacaman’s Firestone Indy Lights car.
Ningbo to inhale through carbon sink zone
Inhale, exhale. As Zhejiang Province’s largest natural freshwater lake, Dongqian Lake is not only a gem in the Yangtze River Delta but serves as the City of Ningbo’s lungs. In an effort to build Dongqian Lake into an ecological lake, since August 2001 the city government has arranged for 1.8 million trees to be planted along the edge of the lake. Going forward, Ningbo plans to convert Dongqian Lake into a carbon sink zone, aiming to enhance the forest carbon sink capacity to 700,000 tCO2 and achieve 50,000 mu (about 3,335 ha) in forest coverage by 2015.
National Strategy & Capacity
Since Brazil’s congress voted in favor of the controversial Forest Code reforms, over 1.5 million people internationally have joined Greenpeace, Avaaz, and WWF in petitioning for Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff to veto the new Forest Code reforms. Katia Abreu, senator and president of the Confederation of Agriculture and Livestock of Brazil says, “Brazil is the only country that has the moral authority to discuss [Brazilian] environmental issues. I don’t understand why the NGOs oppose the changes. The main NGOs are European but I do not see them asking Europe to revive its forests. Why only in Brazil? We want to bring legal certainty for farmers with this bill. I am convinced [Rousseff] will not veto.” Rousseff has until May 25 to exercise her veto, just a month before Rio+20.
Brazil bullish on BVRio
Against the fray, Brazil is moving forward with Bolsa Verde do Rio de Janeiro (BVRio), the country’s first government-backed carbon trading scheme. The scheme opened pre-registrations two weeks ago for a new forest carbon market for farmers to use in compliance with the Forest Code. Those with more forest than the legal minimum would be able to sell carbon credits to those falling short of the requirement. Mario Monzoni, founder and director of sustainability studies at Sao Paulo’s FGV School of Economics, expects tremendous growth from Brazil’s new carbon market as an emissions and deforestation cutting mechanism over the next eight years. Brazil is borrowing lessons from the UK to develop a carbon scheme that enables both economic and environmental growth, and is considering a scheme based on carbon intensity rather than absolute emissions.
Mexico first country to legislate pro-REDD+
Until now, the REDD+ debate has mostly taken place through the UNFCCC and at an international, multilateral level. On April 24, however the Mexican Parliament approved a set of legal amendments that position Mexico as the first country to legislate domestically in support of the REDD+ agenda. Approval by a domestic legislature highlights a shift towards anchoring REDD+ within national legal frameworks. This move is helping the Mexican Congress build a forward-looking legal framework on the worth of living forests, and takes a step toward ensuring that communities who sustainably manage their forests receive the economic benefits derived from any future carbon payment scheme. The question remains whether this precedent can be extended across a critical mass of countries to address deforestation on a more global scale.
Ghana to drink from CIF tap
Ghana has been selected to benefit from Climate Investment Funds (CIFs) under the Forest Investment Program (FIP). The Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources (MLNR), the Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology, and the Ministry of Finance have completed a forest investment plan, to be vetted by the FIP subcommittee in Washington later this month. MLNR minister Mike Hammah says Ghana expects $30-$50 million for FIP to scale up pilot projects under the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility, in order to conserve Ghana’s forests and woodlands, enhance carbon stocks, provide climate change-smart agriculture and watershed protection. The World Bank has provided a $3.6 million grant to implement Ghana’s REDD+ programme. Robert Bamfo, head of the Climate Change Unit of the Forestry Commission, said challenges hindering implementation include weak institutional capacity and coordination, illegal logging, and forest legislation and policy reforms still needed to mitigate drivers of deforestation and degradation. He called for reliable and sustainable financing to ensure verifiable emission reductions.
Hanging the Tasmanian hive
Hey there, honey. IPP Media recently interviewed Monica Kagya from FBD about how Tasmania’s beekeeping sector can complement REDD+ as a key incentive for forest conservation that supports both the honey and carbon trades. Not only does beekeeping provide a traditional source of food, raw materials, and income for local communities, but helps disincentivize deforestation, improve biodiversity and increase crop production through pollination. To boost the industry, FBD plans to create bee reserves across the country, starting with 20 this year. FBD is producing training packages to teach beekeepers how to handle extracted honey and packaging, while pushing them to ensure their land is properly registered. FBD surveys show the local market for honey and related products features strong demand, but more needs to be done to educate forest and beekeeping officers about local markets given a lack of information circulated among beekeepers, traders, and consumers.
In other news, last week the Minister for Climate Change extended the deadline for a forest carbon study gauging levels of carbon storage in Tasmania’s forests. Minister Cassy O’Connor said the consultants have asked for more time to gather more data on rainforest carbon storage. The study will now be completed by the end of June.
What would Bhutan do?
As Bhutan considers the potential of developing a national REDD+ strategy, some stakeholders have voiced some skepticism over whether Bhutan should actually sign on to the mechanism. One environmentalist raises concerns regarding regulatory gaps, profitability of credits, and how sustainable REDD+ would be in the context of impeding development and livelihoods. A former Watershed Management Division official said that insofar as prior informed consensus by local communities is required, the end result largely lies in the hands of the community. However, without a national REDD+ strategy, he says communal benefits cannot be measured. A feasibility study recommended that Bhutan form a national REDD+ advisory group and technical working group. The group would help develop a national REDD+ strategy, give technical and policy guidance to Bhutanese negotiators at CoP and provide representation within the UN-REDD framework. Lack of solid guidelines and technical compliance standards in the absence of a comprehensive and globally agreed-upon REDD+ mechanism still hinder Bhutan from actively investing in REDD+ initiatives.
Vietnam gets ForestFinanced, sets 20% by 2020 goal
German investor and project developer ForestFinance (FF) has launched a sustainable forest management institute in Vietnam to train local communities in sustainable and certified carbon forestry. FF has developed a curriculum with forestry experts at GIZ Vietnam, with the first training in April attracting participants from forest companies, local communities, and provincial authorities. The trained will in turn teach their workers how to practice sustainable forest management and prep their forests for certification. The program is currently located in Quang Tri Province, with plans to expand to other provinces. Through its trainings, it hopes to build up a domestic timber industry that incorporates carbon forestry in accordance with international forest management standards.
More broadly, Vietnam plans to reduce GHG emissions by 20% in its agriculture and forestry sectors by 2020, with 2005 as base year, according to a plan being developed by the Ministry of National Resources and Environment. The plan is projected to cost $9.9 million, with a draft scheduled for completion by the end of this month before being submitted to the government for approval. The plan will address issues of developing a domestic carbon market and promoting Vietnam’s participation in the international carbon market.
Ecuador pitches compensation schemes abroad
In a CIFOR interview, Ecuador Deputy Environment Minister Mercy Borbor Cordova stresses that Ecuador and other developing countries need more extensive access to climate change mitigation measures and capacity building for local communities. Ecuador’s unique Net Avoided Emissions scheme, which is being promoted at international forums, has countries compensating Ecuador’s natural resources industry for limiting its emissions. The Yasuni-iTT initiative, still in the fundraising stage, is central to the scheme and designed to receive payments from national and international sources for leaving Ishpingo-Tambococha-Tiputini (ITT) oil resources in the Yasuni National Park untouched. Ecuador is also proposing the Daily-Correa Tax Scheme, which taxes countries for using oil fuel, the proceeds of which will go toward conservation and social inclusion programs such as community forestry management training or climate-change mitigation technology transfers.
Sri Lanka lacks data prerequisite for REDD+ funds
Money is no cure-all. Last month, Sri Lanka received a commitment for $4 million in initial funding from the UN-managed, multi-partner REDD+ trust fund. Potential annual revenues for Sri Lanka from REDD+ could reach $400 million. However, a lack of reliable data on forest resources could prevent the country from immediately accessing UN REDD+ funds, according to a study published in The Journal of Environmental Management. The study shows that while Sri Lanka has large forest reserves, it lacks reliable data on its forest resources and rates of forest loss needed to set emission benchmarks. In addition, emission reductions may hurt subsistence farmers who rely on forest clearing. Principal author Eskil Mattsson says that identifying drivers of deforestation and formulating a range of REDD+-relevant policy measures could take until 2020 to formalize, depending on “the overall pace within the UN Climate Change negotiations to set the overall policy for REDD+, especially [on] how REDD+ should be financed.” Part of the funding, expected later this year, will go toward creating benchmark data and hatching a national REDD+ programme.
Visualizing progress in the Philippines
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources’s Forest Management Bureau, German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ), CoDe REDD Philippines and the Southern Leyte government opened the Color it REDD+ Roadshow and “The Philippine Forests: Before and What Now?” exhibits last week, providing visuals and points of dialogue among stakeholders on forest loss and early REDD+ efforts in the Philippines. The exhibit featured REDD pilot work implemented by DENR and GIZ in Southern Leyte and at a national level. For local government, the project findings provide a scientific basis for designing management systems and monitoring protocols to help protect local forest ecosystems. For the national government, it will spur forest protection and rehab efforts under the Philippine National REDD+ Strategy as part of the National Climate Change Action Plan and the National Greening Program.
Science & Technology Review
Congo Basin leverages geospatial tech for REDD+
The SPOT satellite imagery program, operated by Astrium and financed by the French Agency of Development for 8.5 million Euros, is now entering its second phase. Established in 2010, the partnership aims to distribute free SPOT satellite images to governments, public institutions and NGOs that work on sustainable forestry management issues in Central Africa. French specialists in spatial observation are piloting the program, united as a consortium led by IGN France International. Using large, high-res coverage capacity to monitor forest coverage, SPOT satellite imagery will help assess REDD+-related commitments over time, prepare reference scenarios and enable adaptive environmental policy to inform national climate plans in the Congo Basin countries. Vincent Kasulu Seya Makonga, UNFCCC representative of the Democratic Republic of Congo, says, “The SPOT data is an essential information source and its provision provides real added value, especially for the MRV system that we are implementing in the context of REDD+, as well as for the development of our National Forest Inventory.”
Publications & Tools
In search of commercial value
The Monash Sustainability Institute has completed a project investigating whether successful community-based forestry management experiences in Asia can be extended to include REDD+ reforestation trials. The study finds that until natural assets have commercial value (such as mineral resources), Asian countries have little incentive to restore and conserve. MSI’s Paul McShane says that for REDD+ activities like the Kalimantan Forest Climate Partnership to continue, Australia and Indonesia need a functional carbon market with transparent payment mechanisms to verify emissions reductions. In the spirit of nonconflicting legislation and regulation, benefits of ecosystem conservation and sustainable development of natural resources must both feature in Asian forest conservation policies. McShane highlights tensions surrounding oil palm in Indonesia, drawing a parallel in Australia’s dry land salinity problem where water resource allocation remains unresolved in the Murray Darling basin.
Free, prior, and informed consent in REDD+ demystified
Karen Edwards and Ronnakorn Triraganon at The Center for People and Forests (RECOFTC) have developed a Training Manual on Putting Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC) into Practice in REDD+ Initiatives. The manual seeks to help trainers and facilitators boost understanding of Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC) among stakeholders at all levels. The principle that indigenous and local communities have a right to give or withhold FPIC to developments affecting natural resources is not new, but experience using FPIC in REDD+ implementation is still limited in the Asia-Pacific, with few training materials for practitioners. This guide seeks to close that gap, and complements the guidelines on Free, Prior, and Informed Consent in REDD+: Principles and Approaches for Policy and Project Development released by RECOFTC and GIZ last year.
REDD+ Forest Management/Carbon Markets Specialists – Chemonics
Three positions based in Ecuador, including Ecuadorian REDD+ Policy Expert, Policy Dialogue and Local Governance Expert, and Monitoring and Evaluation Expert positions. Spanish/English fluency are required for the first two. Candidates should have an advanced degree in a relevant field, experience in Latin America, and a minimum of five years of experience in a relevant field. Read more about the positions here.
Technical Advisor, REDD+ Readiness – The Nature Conservancy
Based in Washington, DC, the technical advisor will be in charge of supporting countries to engage in REDD+ activities at the national and sub-national levels. Candidates should have a MSc. in Forestry, Global Change, Natural Resource Management or a related field, with at least 5 years of work experience. Read more about the position here.
Forest and Climate Initiative Internship – World Wildlife Fund
Based in Washington, DC, the part-time intern will help support the production of reports, research REDD+ news, and draft relevant news and information items. Candidates will have excellent writing and research skills, ideally a first-year communications graduate student who is available 20-30 hours per week. Read more about the position here.
REDD+ Advisor, Malawi – U.S. Forest Service
Based in Lilongwe, the REDD+ advisor will work with the Malawi Department of Forestry to provide technical assistance on its REDD+ readiness efforts. Candidates should have a master’s degree, at least five years of international work experience in a natural resource or environment related field, and experience living and working in Africa on REDD+. Read more about the position here.
Chief of Party, Vietnam Forest and Deltas Program – Winrock International
Based in Hanoi, the Chief of Party will provide overall technical leadership and administrative oversight for the upcoming Vietnam Forest and Deltas (VFD) program, helping to accelerate Vietnam’s transition to climate resilient, low emissions development. Candidates should have a master’s degree in management, international development, or relevant fields and a minimum 10 years of professional experience managing complex international development programs. Read more about the position here.
Verification Forester – Scientific Certification Systems
The Verification Forester will carry out a range of activities associated with third-party auditing and verification of forest carbon offset projects as a member of the SCS Greenhouse Gas Verification Program. Candidates should have excellent quantitative analysis skills, a bachelor’s or master’s degree in forestry or related field and 4 years of professional experience in a related field. Read more about the position here.
Various Positions, Italy – Institute for Environment and Sustainability (ISPRA)
Eight grantholder positions which require PhD degree in forest monitoring, crop analysis and food security. Four trainee positions in remote sensing, productivity modeling, crop monitoring and quality management. All candidates must have good knowledge of spoken and written English. Read more about the positions here.
Various Positions, Brazil – Amazon Environmental Research Institute (IPAM)
IPAM has opened 10 positions, including Local Technical Coordinator, Research Assistant, Field Technical Advisor, Communications Intern and GIS Intern positions in Belem, Brasilia, Satarem, Itaituba and Altamira. All candidates should be fluent in Portuguese. Read more about the positions here.