This Week In Forest Carbon:Keep Your Guard Up

Greenpeace seeks comment over newly released REDD safeguards, while Asian countries adapt international safeguard frameworks at the national level. CIFOR talks "aidification." Brazil signs off with BVRio and Markit, while Malaysia and Uganda join UN-REDD and Vietnam approves its own national REDD+ programme. 

Greenpeace seeks comment over newly released REDD safeguards, while Asian countries adapt international safeguard frameworks at the national level. CIFOR talks “aidification.” Brazil signs off with BVRio and Markit, while Malaysia and Uganda join UN-REDD and Vietnam approves its own national REDD+ programme.  

This article originally appeared in the Forest Carbon newsletter. Click here to view the original.  

5 July 2012 | Even as Rio+20’s formal activities wound down, issues of community forestry management and safeguards have continued to heat up in the forest carbon community over the last two weeks.


The Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) recently produced a paragraph-by-paragraph  critique  of the Rio+20 text on forests. Meanwhile, Greenpeace has launched a  consultation process  over a newly released set of international safeguards (seeking comment through 9/2!).  In Asia, countries are  adapting international REDD safeguard frameworks  at the national level.



Also on the REDD front, the editor of CIFOR’s new book –  Analyzing REDD  –  says that in order for REDD to succeed under pressure from “aidification”  (Australia and  Norway  keep doling it out),  REDD must evolve to build needed political support without losing the elements that made it so appealing and different from other forms of development assistance.


On the ground, the Brazilian government signed new agreements with  BVRio  and  Markit  for registry support  and the development of Creditos Reserve Legal credits – with Rio’s ETS expected to still launch in 2013 despite delays in legislation. Colombia is working on a new deforestation-monitoring system as a precursor to a national REDD policy. Overseas, Malaysia and Uganda  have joined the UN-REDD Programme, and Vietnam has approved its own  national REDD+ programme.



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International Policy

Confronting Rio’s REDD flag

On the heels of the  “No REDD+” protests  staged in Rio by the Global Alliance of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities on Climate Change against REDD and for Life, last week Greenpeace launched a consultation process over its newly released set of international safeguards (seeking comment through 9/2). The safeguards aim to reduce the likelihood that REDD+ projects result in social conflict, harm wildlife and biodiversity, fuel corruption, subsidize industrial logging, or marginalize local communities. A Greenpeace report includes a matrix comparing various standards and certifying bodies that currently apply to REDD+ projects.  


The final text of the formal Rio+20 agreement notes the importance of sustainable forest management and ongoing efforts to reduce deforestation, but contains no concrete commitments towards that end, nor any mention of REDD+. CIFOR has produced a paragraph-by-paragraph  critique of the Rio+20 text on forests, while an IIED article emphasizes the need to  invest more in locally-controlled forestry  if a fair green economy is to be achieved.


From Norway with conditional love


At Rio+20, Norwegian Minister for Environment Bí¥rd Solhjell pledged to  increase Norway’s contributions for REDD+  beyond $500 million annually as part of a multilateral mechanism for payment for verified emission reductions, “provided that other countries also increase their contributions.” The only country that makes performance-based payments in its bilateral agreements, Norway has so far pitched in over $900 million to support the development of REDD+ and emission reductions interventions in several countries, including Indonesia, Guyana, and Brazil.


Prime Minister of Norway Jens Stoltenberg has  reaffirmed the country’s support  for the implementation of Guyana’s Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS), expressing satisfaction with Guyana’s work and indicated that Guyana will soon receive another $40 million and later this year, $60 million. In partnership with Norway, Guyana has been implementing an interim REDD+ arrangement through which it has earned about $70 million in performance-based payments from avoided deforestation.


Project Development

A new ERA on Denman Island

ERA Carbon Offsets Ltd, through its subsidiary ERA Ecosystem Restoration Associates Inc. (“ERA”), announced today that the Denman Island Avoided Conversion of Forestlands Project  received CCBA validation  as of June 27. Through a public-private partnership, the Province of British Columbia, private land owner North Denman Lands Inc (NDL), and ERA are protecting 750 ha of land on Denman Island from future subdivision into residential and agricultural property. Environmental Services Inc provided third party validation of the project design document. The project is the third carbon project in Canada to be CCBA-validated and just one of ten such projects in North America.


Greenwood, BluForest

BluForest Inc, a self-described carbon offsets marketing firm, announced last week that it has  acquired 30,000 ha of native forest  in the province of Esmaraldas in Ecuador. It claims that the lands, appraised at approximately $180 million in value, will bring BluForest’s total land holdings to 135,000 ha. Earlier this year, junior mining company Greenwood Gold Resources Inc. changed its name to BluForest to “expand into land acquisitions that will result in the opportunity to trade and sell carbon offset credits in world markets.” Before the switch, Greenwood Gold also appointed a new strategic management team that includes Charles Miller as CEO – who is currently also pursuing hotel development in Ecuador under the company Oceanview Real Estate – and James Donihee, former COO of the Canadian National Energy Board.


National Strategy & Capacity

Easing the Brazilian investment bottleneck

Brazil’s Department of the Environment and still-fresh exchange BVRio signed an agreement  last week to support development of a registry and Creditos Reserve Legal credits – with Rio’s ETS expected to still be launched in 2013 despite delays in the passage of supporting legislation. Markit and the State of Acre signed an MoU  outlining how Markit will provide online registry services for Acre’s Program of Incentives for Environmental Services – Carbon (Carbon ISA Program), around which the State of Acre and the German government have been investigating the potential to run an Acre-wide  jurisdictional REDD program. Acre’s program will be the first of its kind to issue REDD+ credits at the state or regional level.


More broadly, a patchwork of regional legislation and complex land ownership rules have  kept Brazil from bringing in investment, despite the country’s potential to produce 58% of global REDD credits according to the World Bank. Key Associados’ Marco Antonio Fujihara said existing REDD funding comes from donations, and the number of projects will fall unless new private-sector buyers can be found. To get things moving, the Brazilian government recently announced a new round of meetings between officials from states with existing REDD legislation. “We have some 19 state-level legislations on climate and REDD and we will have to find a way to harmonize these rules under a national strategy,” said Brazilian Climate Change Secretary Carlos Klink.


Vietnam rolls out REDD+ carpet

On June 27, Vietnam’s Prime Minister approved a  national REDD+ programme  through 2020. Tasks for the period 2011-2015 include capacity building, establishing reference emission levels (RELs), developing MRV and financial management mechanisms, and implementing pilot REDD+ projects. 2015-2020 will cover expanded implementation of the programme across Vietnam, continued work on a supporting legal framework and REDD+ information system, adjustment of RELs at national and local levels in pilot provinces, honing of financial management mechanisms and result-based payment policies, and completion of monitoring, claim addressing, and feedback response mechanisms. The full content of the legislation is available  here  in Vietnamese.

Colombia measures up

Colombia plans to have in place a  new system to measure deforestation  by next April as a part of readiness efforts for a national REDD policy, according to Environment Minister Frank Pearl. Brazil has offered to transfer  the technology for its land clearing measuring mechanism to Colombia and other neighbors in the Amazon. Pearl said Colombia also plans to embark on capacity-building projects with the private sector, including sectoral emission reduction commitments. Colombia plans to keep participating actively in existing markets and those under development, said Andrea Garcia-Guerrero, the government’s climate change director.


Malaysia and Uganda plug in

The UN-REDD Programme’s Policy Board recently agreed to  welcome Malaysia and Uganda  as new partners of the Programme and official observers to the UN-REDD Programme Policy Board. To date, 16 UN-REDD Programme partner countries have presented National Programmes to the Policy Board and have been allocated a total of $67.3 million in funding. The UN-REDD Programme continues to pursue additional funding options that will enable the Programme to expand its financial support on REDD+ to more partner countries down the line.


Finance & Economics

Aidification, the double-edged sword

CIFOR  reflects upon the REDD experience  in a new book,  Analyzing REDD.  Notably, CIFOR points to the emergence of “aidification,” where most REDD+ funding comes not from an international carbon market but from bilateral development aid (Australia and Norway among the top providers) – funds with their own economic development and poverty alleviation goals. Though well-intentioned, says the book’s main editor Arild Angelsen, aidification compromises the original REDD+ goal to reduce carbon emissions by bringing it closer to forms of development aid combined with forest management that have had limited success historically. In order for REDD+ to succeed, Angelsen says it must evolve to build political support without losing the elements that made it so attractive and different initially.


Methodology & Standards Watch

Transcending the  Agriculture v. Forests debate

CIFOR, in partnership with ICRAF, CIAT, and Bioversity have announced a new research program intended to enhance forest and agroforestry management, based on a  landscape approach. Rachel Kyte from The World Bank stressed a landscape approach as key to understanding how best to measure and “scale the cultivation of ecosystem services” in order to secure future food supplies yet reduce environmental impact. “We must collectively visualize how a landscape will look, for whom it needs to work, how it needs to function and then we can meet the growing demand for a natural capital base,” said Kyte.


Jurisdictional REDD+ working group

VCS seeks qualified experts to serve in a  working group  that will develop new tools for addressing risks associated with non-permanence and leakage in the integrated, jurisdiction-wide crediting of REDD+ activities. VCS last month released for public comment draft Jurisdictional and Nested REDD+ (JNR) requirements, which set out the first global framework for the accounting and crediting of REDD+ activities across multiple levels. The working group will build on the draft requirements. Interested individuals should submit a CV and short outline of their credentials to [email protected] by July 11.


Human Dimension

In defense of CFM

A recent study by Bangor University researchers questions community forest management (CFM), suggesting that CFM might not be as beneficial in terms of carbon storage, livelihoods and biodiversity as previously thought – the main problem being that there has not been a concerted effort to measure and monitor CFM effectiveness. Still, as governments incorporate the CFM approach into their REDD+ strategies, there is an increasing need for improved and scaled-up standardized monitoring of community forests, says the  Global Canopy Programme (GCP)’s Mandar Trivedi. As shown at Google’s side event at Rio+20, with minimal training, community monitors can make reliable observations, and technology like smartphones, GIS, and Google Earth can help bridge CFM and REDD+ policy making. GCP has released a new  brief  on community-powered REDD monitoring.


Science & Technology Review

What’s your confidence level?

Accurate data is needed to ensure proper levels of performance-based compensation under UN REDD+. A  new study  in Science says tropical deforestation accounted for 10% of global carbon emissions between 2000-2005 — much smaller than previously estimated. The authors, led by Nancy Harris of Winrock International, used satellite-based analyses of carbon stocks and forest cover instead of relying on data from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, and used multi-sensor satellite data calibrated with field studies instead of the conventional approach of aggregating data and calculations over large geographic regions. The results differ from those of  another study published earlier this year in Nature Climate Change that  also used high-res satellite imagery but relied on another methodology – a 1.41 BtCO2 per year difference between the two.


Publications & Tools

Grounding REDD+ biodiversity safeguards by country

As over 20 Asian countries engage in REDD+ readiness activities and commit to supporting the Cancun safeguards for REDD+, their national governments and development partners have focused on applying and adapting existing multilateral safeguards frameworks – namely UN-REDD SEPC, FCPF SESA, and REDD+ SES – to national REDD+ strategies and action plans. A Forest Carbon Asia brief  explores  how national safeguard approaches can be developed that can meet international policy commitments yet stay consistent with national policy frameworks, using Vietnam as a case study.


More power to the geojournalist, a new platform developed by nonprofit Internews and Brazilian news agency O Eco, aims to inform the public and journalists on threats to the Amazon, combining georeferenced environmental news articles with data on deforestation, fires, protected areas, and oil and gas concessions. The site allows both uploading and downloading of environmental news and data on the Amazon, facilitating expansion through participation, to be shared with other open source data such as on deforestation provided by Brazil’s government and on forest fires from NASA satellites.





Based either in Medellin, Mexico City, Miami or Sí£o Paulo, the expert will lead the company’s forestry practice. Candidates should have an MSc related to forestry or similar, 10+ years of industry or consulting experience (REDD+ project development/implementation a must). Read more about the position  here.


Based in Washington, DC, the senior specialist will assess the technical and commercial feasibility of new projects in forestry and solid products sectors, supervise project implementation, and provide advice for project improvement. Candidates should have a university degree in engineering, i.e. wood science and technology or related engineering disciplines, 15+ years of professional experience, and prior experience with IFC’s operations. Read more about the position here.




Two positions based in San Francisco for a  AFOLU Carbon Development and Project Finance Specialist  and  AFOLU Carbon Project Reporting Specialist  both require 5+ years’ education and/or work experience in the AFOLU sector. A third position, based in Washington, DC, for a  Finance and Carbon Market Specialist, requires 5+ years’ of relevant managerial or technical experience in forest carbon, PES, carbon markets, and/or NRM project finance, and 5+ years’ experience in private sector finance related activities.



Based in Saravan Province, Laos, the officer will provide assistance in various aspects of administration, finance and implementation of the projects, and ensure compliance with operations systems, policies and procedures of WWF-Laos. Candidates should have a college diploma in development studies, English, finance and accounting or relevant fields, and 2 years of practical experience. Read more about the position  here.



Based in Bogor, Indonesia, the research fellow will undertake research on forests, adaptation to climate change, and the synergies between adaptation and mitigation (national- and local-level research, cross-regional comparative studies). Candidates should have an MSc in a relevant field (e.g. natural resource management, forestry, environmental sciences, agricultural or forest economics, rural development), and 2+ years of relevant work experience. Read more about the position  here.



Outreach Coordinator, M-REDD – Rainforest Alliance

Based in Mexico City, the outreach coordinator will be responsible for media outreach and promotional materials on relevant REDD+ issues around the M-REDD project. Candidates should have a Bachelor’s degree, preferably in communications or journalism, and 5-7 years of work experience in journalism, media outreach and/or communications.  Read more about the position  here.


AFOLU Carbon Development and Project Finance Specialist – Viridium Associates

Based in San Francisco, the specialist will develop project leads, scopes of work, and proposals for AFOLU carbon development work to be provided by Terra, assessing carbon feasibility and managing the carbon development process for AFOLU projects. Candidates should have 3+ years’ education and/or work experience in the AFOLU sector.  Read more about the position  here.


Deputy Director – Amazon Watch

Based in San Francisco, the DD will lead the organization’s strategic planning process and be responsible for managing and directing its development, finance, and operations departments to deliver effective support to its program and communications teams and to indigenous and local communities in the regions of the Amazon where it works. Candidates should have a Bachelor’s degree and 5+ years of relevant management experience, with 2+ years in a nonprofit context.  Read more about the position  here.


Biodiversity Monitoring Adviser, REDD+ Community Carbon Pools Programme – Fauna & Flora

Based in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, the adviser will oversee development and implementation of biodiversity assessments and monitoring, as well as coordinate institutional technical capacity building and inter-project learning. Candidates should have a MSc or equivalent level qualification/experience in a relevant field, with 5+ years’ experience in forest conservation, biodiversity assessment, monitoring and forest protection.  Read more about the position here.



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