Turning over the same LEAF
Earlier this October, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry attended the Association of Southeast Asian Nations – U.S. Summit. Discussions there reaffirmed cooperation on several environmental programs, including U.S. support for USAID’s Lowering Emissions in Asia’s Forests (LEAF) project. LEAF promotes collaboration between regional governments, forestry and climate mitigation specialists and universities with technical capacity building focused on REDD programs. The U.S. also encourages emissions reductions activities in Southeast Asia through its Enhancing Capacity for Low Emission Development Program, the Department of State’s LEDS Global Partnership, and USAID’s Low Emissions Asian Development program.
The Climate Action Reserve’s (CAR) Board of Directors just adopted the organization’s Mexico Forest Protocol. The protocol marks several years of collaboration between California, Mexico and CAR and was created with special attention given to ejidos’ (local communities) involvement. The Mexican Forest Protocol uses a standardized approach for measuring avoided deforestation and enhanced carbon sequestration while enhancing Mexican environmental and social safeguards. It was designed for integration within evolving Mexican REDD+ policies and could play an important role if California seeks REDD offsets for its cap-and-trade program. The protocol will “spur innovation in Mexico… and support California’s ongoing efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, while expanding business opportunities and job creation,” explains Senator Lou Correa (D-Santa Ana), chair of the Select Committee on California-Mexico Cooperation.
A wasteland, transformed
In the wasteland of Deramandi, India outside of New Dehli, the grasslands and native flora that once flourished are beginning to make a comeback after a century of degradation from urbanization and open cast quartzite mining. The revegetation project launched in 2008 after the government handed the land over to the Eco-Task Force of the Indian Territorial Army, members of which did most of the planting. It was recently accepted under the UN’s Clean Development Mechanism as an urban forestry project–the only of its kind in India. The project is expected to save 12,138 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e) per year, but the forest department says it is too early to say how much money the sale of the Certified Emissions Reductions will generate, which depends partly on whether they find a buyer in the compliance or voluntary markets.
The Micro and Small Enterprise Development and Building Alternative Livelihood for Vulnerable Groups initiative has just launched in Guyana. The project is a joint effort between the Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce and the Inter-American Development Bank and has $10 million in funding from the Guyana-Norway forest carbon partnership agreement. It will make loans available below a 6% interest rate and offer a maximum of $1,500 for entrepreneurs interested in ecotourism, fruit and vegetable farming, and aquaculture and sustainable forestry initiatives. An estimated $5 million will be released the first two years of the program and could create as many as 2,200 jobs.
Flying off the map
An $8 million project funded by Germany has just taken off, with planes starting to map forest cover in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). NASA remote scientist Sassan Saatchi is one of the participants flying the planes, which will collect 100 meter forest cover resolutions. The scientist has already mapped forests across the tropics at a 1 kilometer resolution in the past, but enhanced accuracy could prove instrumental for the DRC to gain greater legitimacy for REDD projects. Saatchi estimates the DRC’s forests could contain up to 22-24 billion tCO2e. The project will use planes to collect data via laser at sample locations, which will then be used to estimate the entire country’s forest cover.
Ecuador Gets REDDer
The governments of Norway and Germany recently signed an agreement with Ecuador to contribute $2.6 million to build national capacity for REDD over four years. The money will be used to strengthen forest governance and develop measurement, reporting and verification (MRV). Ecuador has 10 million hectares of forest covering 55% of the country across the Amazon, Andean highlands, and coast. Its Ministry of Environment estimates the rate of deforestation is 61,764 hectares per year. After joining the UN-REDD Programme in October 2009, Ecuador officially launched its REDD program in August 2012.
Intent on buyers
Earlier this month, Costa Rica signed a Letter of Intent with the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF), which resulted in a first of its kind Emissions Reductions Payment Agreement to allow a country large-scale access to performance based payments, as it guarantees FCPF will negotiate the purchase of carbon offsets up to $63 million. This ensures demand for Costa Rica’s efforts to protect forests on 340,000 hectares of land and help the country meet its 2021 carbon neutrality goal. The plan also targets indigenous participation with a goal of 10% of the land to be indigenous territories. “It’s the first time that the indigenous territories will have access to the information on REDD+ in their languages and according to their worldview,” adds Carlos Cascante, a representative of the Bribri indigenous territory.
Praying for carbon guidance
Last week, Finite Carbon registered 4,000 acres of the Shannondale Tree Farm with CAR. The farm belongs to the Missouri Mid-South United Church of Christ and marks the first religious organization in the U.S. to complete a carbon offset for CAR. The project qualifies for more than 120,000 offsets and can supply early action offsets to California’s cap-and-trade program. “One of my personal hopes is that the churches will use this moment to inventory their own emissions of carbon through travel, heating and cooling, and plastic purchases, and to commit to reduce our church-wide carbon footprint.” said Rev. Dr. Davida Foy Crabtree, UCC Missouri Mid-South Acting Conference Minister.
Train heading West
Developer Finite Carbon and transportation company Norfolk Southern have registered the Brosnan Forest Improved Forest Management carbon project in South Carolina under CAR’s forest project protocol. The project has resulted in more than 282,000 compliance-eligible carbon offsets at initial registration and is being transitioned as an early action project for the California cap-and-trade program.
National Standards and Capacity
REDD money just out of reach
With 40% of forested land, Zimbabwe holds great potential for REDD. However, all REDD+ initiatives located in the African country are small scale, with the exception of the private sector-funded Kariba project. The Bio-Hub Trust, a coalition of local and environmental organizations, seeks to change that. Working with Zimbabwe’s environmental ministry, the coalition hosted the country’s first REDD+ Stakeholders Consultative Workshop earlier this year, which found that Zimbabwe has still not taken steps to encourage REDD adoption. Bio-Hub Trust estimates that more than $1.2 billion REDD+ support financing is waiting for applicants, but the country needs to establish a national REDD+ plan to access the money.
Turning to the Dark Side
When Harrison Ford arrived in Indonesia last month, he spoke with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan about his concerns over deforestation in a Central Kalimantan peatland restoration project. However, in spite of promised support from the President, Zulkifli has now proposed reducing the reserve in half. The 203,000 hectare Katingan Peatland Restoration and Conservation project is a potential REDD site, and Hartono Dharsono, the president and director of forest conservation company P.T. Rimba Makmur Utama, has spent millions trying to bring his ecosystem restoration license in front of the minister. Dharsono has worked on the application for five years and generated the support of the local community for the REDD project, which would be the country’s largest if successful. Despite the Forestry Ministry’s approval of the project proposal, Zulkifili hasn’t signed the restoration license. His newest statement – announcing a 100,000 hectare cut to the area – is reportedly due to his worry about Dharsono’s ability to manage the area.
Methodology and Standards Watch
A promise to keep
In February this year, Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) declared that it would cease clearing natural forest land in Indonesia. However, green groups were reluctant to applaud APP until they saw actual results. Eight months later, the company opened its doors for reporters to come learn about their progress. Phil Covington from the Triple Pundit reports: “First things first – is the deforestation moratorium holding up? In short, the answer is yes.” He explains that the moratorium affects 38 concessions – 2.6 million hectares – so APP is working with the organizations Ekologika and The Forest Trust to assess each concession’s ecological importance. Both organizations agree that, despite a few breaches, the moratorium and transparency are being upheld. The assessments are due to be completed in 2014, with recommendations on how to manage each concession.
The 18-month “National Forestry Monitoring System” project by the Central African Forest Commission (COMIFAC) is coming along nicely, according to the experts and stakeholders meeting from October 7-11. The project has already created two thematic working groups and placed COMIFAC members into each to learn to pilot local projects. What remains is to iron out the project details for activities and budget. Cameroon, one COMIFAC member, has been placed into the detection and geographic information system group, which will help the country create a national forest inventory. After 18 months, the resulting plan of action will be submitted to the African Development Bank and the Congo Basin Forest Fund for funding to implement a National Forest Monitoring System in each member country.
Striving to adapt
Indian Country Today Media Network last week recognized eight tribes that are “way ahead of the climate-adaptation curve.” One of the highlighted tribes is the Nez Perce of the Columbia River Plateau of northern Idaho who a decade ago developed a carbon strategy to market offsets from a 400-acre afforestation project. These efforts have since expanded to 33 different projects over 3,375 acres that convert former agricultural land to forest or restore forests damaged by wildfire. The projects employ tribal members through activities such as seed-planting and thinning, improve water quality, and reduce soil erosion, therefore improving fish habitat in the river below. A profile of the carbon finance effort cites the challenges that the Nez Perce encountered along the way: understanding carbon market terminology, the “convoluted” process for validating offsets, and the reluctance of many tribal members to trust outside firms to develop forest plans on tribal land.
Nothing is sacred
All over the world, indigenous communities quietly protect some of the most biodiverse forests on Earth. In Kenya, the Massai people have a belief system that condemns deforestation. They use only branches for firewood and roots for herbs. India has hundreds of sacred groves protected by followers of Buddhism. One study estimated that the Sem Mukhem sacred forest in the Himalayas stores 775 metric tonnes of carbon per hectare. Many of these sacred forests have so far been spared by loggers and developers, but Professor Prasit Wangpakapattanawong of Thailand’s Chiang Mai University says that is beginning to change. India’s sacred Arvali forest has been earmarked for development and niobium miners have their sights on Kenya’s Mrima sacred hill forest. Wangpakapattanawong is concerned about this trend: “Many communities have deep indigenous knowledge that, if integrated with science, will help the world improve forest cover,” he says.
–>Note that unit above is carbon, not CO2
No get out of jail free card
The Landscape Game, developed by scientist Herry Purnomo of the Center for International Forestry Research, recently joined a new genre of board games (í la Settlers of Catan) that challenges players to consider natural resources and development in a fresh way. The game involves six players interacting on a landscape of different land uses, from dense forest to mines and farms. It shows players the outcomes of long-term investments, even including an option to put funding into REDD+. “Almost a billion people in the world have played Monopoly, but it’s outmoded in the sense that there’s no component considering the impact of property purchases on the ecosystem, global warming or sustainability,” Purnomo says. “I wondered what would happen if a billion people were to learn a game that considered an alternative view of investments and landscape management.”
Science & Technology Review
Don’t let the bed bugs bite
While increased temperatures and carbon dioxide boost tree growth, they also allow insects to flourish. Recent findings from a Dartmouth University study discovered that the latter often outpaces the former, leaving North American trees more vulnerable to insects and disease. The report reviewed almost 500 other studies to examine the effect of climate change on forests since the 1950s. Researchers discovered 27 insects and 22 diseases that have made notable disturbances to forests in the region. However, they added that warming past a certain level may actually destroy some insects and allow greater tree growth. “We need to also start focusing on what could be — I don’t want to say ‘benefits,’ but the opportunities here,” says Aaron Weed, a Dartmouth postdoctoral researcher in ecology.
Houston, we have a project
NASA just funded a three-year project to support implementation of REDD+ in Mexico. The project involves researchers from the University of Delaware, the U.S. Forest Service, six institutions in Mexico, and the National Forestry Commission of Mexico (CONAFOR) and aims to analyze carbon stocks at a regional level to improve MRV. The research will use NASA satellites, MexFlux sites and forestry inventory plots established by CONAFOR to collect MRV information useful for REDD+ activities. Rodrigo Vargas, the project’s principle investigator, explains that, “MRV models are important as they lend credibility to REDD+ activities concerning forest dynamics and carbon sequestration potential.” Research will start with a few selected sites and then begin to scale up.
Don’t mess with Texas
A new study by Texas A&M revealed that forests may be worth $93 billion each year in the Lone Star state. The figure was gathered through a compilation of environmental benefits from the Texas Statewide Assessment of Forest Ecosystem Services. Researchers also surveyed residents across the state to understand cultural values of forests. Forester Hughes Simpson, a researcher involved in the study, notes that cultural values “are more esoteric,” but are given the highest monetary values (estimated at $60.4 billion per year). In addition to cultural values, the study identified watershed regulation, biodiversity services, climate regulation and air quality services as those important to forests. This assessment only studied forested, rural lands, but the agency hopes to analyze benefits from trees in urban areas in the future.
Feeding a forest
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) just released a publication that highlights the importance of forests for food, agriculture and fuel to local communities. The report, “Towards Food Security and Improved Nutrition: Increasing the Contribution of Forests and Trees,” came at the heels of the International Conference on Forests for Food Security and Nutrition. It suggests that greater coordination is needed across agriculture, forest and mining, and other sectors to ensure complete policy alignment and shared data.
The FAO also just released a report on “Improving Governance of Forest Tenure,” a technical guide written for policy makers and civil society stakeholders. The guide identifies and summarizes 86 tools that may be used to identify and improve forest governance. It also describes nine tools in depth to provide a core set of practical, commonly used tools.
REDD lessons learned
With the recent completion of a three-year project, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has just released a report on “Building REDD+ for People and Nature: From Lessons Learned across Indonesia, Peru and the Democratic Republic of Congo to a New Vision for REDD+”. The project, funded by the Norwegian government, sought to develop scalable REDD+ models and engage local communities. Three locations were chosen in the DRC, Indonesia and Peru totaling up to 15.5 million hectares. The resulting report shares impacts, challenges and lessons learned from this work and its implications for REDD+.
A separate WWF report called “Environmental Service Incentives in the State of Acre, Brazil: Lessons for Policies, Programmes and Strategies for Jurisdiction-Wide REDD+” recognizes Acre’s status as a leading state in REDD+ policies and describes its Environmental Service Incentives System (SISA in Portuguese), which has a developed REDD+ program. The report analyzes the design and construction of ISA Carbon and identifies strengths and challenges to provide insights to further SISA projects. The NGO has also updated its “WWF Guide to Building REDD+ Strategies — A toolkit for REDD+ Practitioners Around the Globe,” which uses WWF’s REDD+ experience and the latest literature to outline emerging REDD+ best practices.
Environmental Policy and Natural Resources Management Researcher – German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut fí¼r Entwicklungspolitik
Based in Bonn, Germany, the Environmental Policy and Natural Resources Management Researcher will research market-based mechanisms for the Climate Change and Development project. Candidates should have a Master’s degree in economics, public policy or human geography and proven knowledge in the fields of payments for ecosystem services, REDD+ and/or other market-based mechanisms. Relevant scientific publication or policy experience is a plus.
– Read more about the position here.
Natural Resource/Agricultural Economist – Earth Innovation Institute
Based in San Francisco, California, the Natural Resource/Agricultural Economist will conduct policy and economic analysis to support the transition of states and sub-national regions to a Low Emissions Rural Development model. Specifically, the work will involve compiling economic data and performing analysis of agricultural commodity supply chains, with a focus on palm oil, soy, sugar cane, and beef. Candidates should hold a PhD in natural resource, agricultural, forest or environmental economics and have at least two years of experience in land and natural resource economics, agricultural economics, sustainable supply chains, and/or land use in tropical regions.
– Read more about the position here.
Project Manager – ECODIT
Based in Washington, D.C., the Project Manager will provide leadership on natural resource management (NRM) activities, including biodiversity conservation, climate change, sustainable forestry, REDD and ecosystem services. The Manager shall also manage and provide technical input for proposal development efforts and cultivate strategic relationships with clients, partners, and international experts. Candidates should have at least seven years of international experience in NRM and at least five years’ experience working on USAID-funded NRM projects and assignments.
– Read more about the position here.
Governance of Forests Initiative Project Manager/ Senior Associate – World Resources Institute
Based in Washington, D.C., the Senior Associate will lead project administration activities and help develop and implement country-specific strategies for Brazil, Indonesia, and Cameroon. The Senior Associate will also provide leadership for the development and implementation of work focused on international and multilateral processes, such as UNFCCC, FCPF, Forest Investment Program, UN-REDD Programme, and the REDD+ Partnership. Candidates should have a Master’s degree or higher in public policy, environmental resource management, or other relevant field and a minimum of five years relevant experience working on issues related to forest governance and policy processes in developing countries.
– Read more about the position here.
Initiative for Conservation for the Andean Amazon Intern – Engility Corporation
Based in Washington, D.C., the intern will report to the Initiative for Conservation for the Andean Amazon Program Coordinator and will assist with project implementation, coordination and communication. Interns should have a Bachelor’s degree and Spanish fluency. Experience in Latin America and a demonstrated interest in environmental issues are a plus.
– Read more about the position here.
Communications Officer – ForestEthics
Based in Vancouver, Canada, the Communications Officer will develop, coordinate and implement strategic communications and media plans for ForestEthics Advocacy’s campaigns. The position will involve working with campaigners and coalition partners, developing relationships with reports and producing written materials including op-eds and press releases. Candidates should have at least three years of experience working in a media outlet or communications department of an NGO and experience creating social media campaigns and metrics-based strategies.
– Read more about the position here.