This Week in Forest Carbon: Countries and REDD+

Maybe it’s because Durban is just around the corner, but a lot of  countries seem to be making an effort to signal their willingness to take self-directed steps to build capacity and stronger policy for REDD+ programs.  Stories about this and more in this week’s Forest Carbon News.

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1 September 2011 | Maybe it’s because Durban is just around the corner, but a lot of   countries seem to be making an effort to signal their willingness to take self-directed steps to build capacity and stronger policy for REDD+ programs. In Laos the Department of Forestry held its first national information-sharing and consultation workshop to build a strategy for REDD implementation, while Indonesia’s government signaled an increase willingness to at least hear what the public has to say (albeit through email) about their current draft strategy for a national REDD+ program. Over in Suriname a new agency is being set up to coordinate action on reducing emissions, conserving and expanding forests, and the real prize (if Suriname can attract REDD+ funding on par with their neighbors in Guyana) – to manage the country’s Climate Change Fund.

India might see its first compliance forest carbon scheme. Under a plan to be tabled in the next session of parliament individuals and entire villages in the Pune district in Northern India will have the opportunity to receive “tree credits” for planting and maintaining native tree species, which will then be sold to regional polluters.

And Australia’s Carbon Farming Initiative is no longer just talk, but an actual, on-the-books, fair dinkum piece of legislation. The program will allow land-owners to generate carbon credits (both Kyoto- and non-Kyoto compliant units) to be sold at home and abroad through a variety of activities, including reforestation and avoided deforestation (no word yet on whether camel culling will be included). Be on the lookout for more details and the publication of methodologies under the program.

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National Strategy and Capacity

Australia’s Senate Sows Offset Seeds

Australia’s Senate endorsed the Carbon Farming Initiative on August 23, a program which will promote reduced emissions from the land-use sector, allowing farmers and other land owners to generate Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCUs). Those units will be sold domestically to voluntary buyers, and eventually to those under compliance when the Clean Energy Future program goes online (during the initial fixed price period from 2012 to 2015, only 5% of emissions obligation can be met by ACCUs, with no limit from 2015 and beyond) and will also be sold in international markets. Read more from Reuters here and Bloomberg here.

Public to Test Indonesia’s Spam Filter

The government of Indonesia is calling for public input on their National REDD+ Strategy. The President’s Unit for Development Control and Monitoring (UKP4) will accept public comments on the current draft plan (see here) through email ([email protected]) until the end of September. The government has also launched an official Bahasa REDD+ website to provide information to the public on developments, with plans for an English version in the near future. Read more from the CIFOR blog here, and check out Indonesia’s new official digital home for REDD+ here.

Laos Steps Forwards

Lao PDR has held its first national information-sharing and consultation workshop for REDD+. Hosted by the Department of Forestry, attendees included NGOs, donors and other international institutions, and other government ministries, who convened to discuss amending forestry legislation to facilitate REDD+ implementation and capacity and safeguard gaps. The country was selected as a Forest Investment Program pilot country in 2010, but has been lagging behind other countries (such as neighboring Vietnam), in progress with in the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility. Read more from Forest Carbon Asia here.

Wait, There’s a Country Expanding the Size of Government?

In response to its perceived vulnerability, the South American nation of Suriname has set up a national development agency geared towards dealing with the effects of climate change. The agency will coordinate policy and action on mitigation, adaptation, forest conservation, and will also manage the country’s Climate Change Fund. To date, the country’s largest coordinated effort is a carbon inventory of Suriname’s forests. The agency will promote other coordinated efforts, as well as trying to secure funding from both international public sources and the private sector. The country hopes the creation of this agency signals their seriousness in addressing climate change and will help them secure funding under REDD+ and other initiatives. Read more from Reuters here.

Pune to Pay for Tree Credits

In a move to boost forest cover from 20% to 33% in the Pune district in Northern India the government is tabling a proposal that would give out payments to farmers and other villagers who plant and protect trees. The “tree credits” will be only for those who plant native species for at least five years, with the “credits” being sold to Pune’s pollution-making agencies, such as those that fell trees for construction, who will be under obligation to purchase credits. Read more about Pune’s “tree credits” here.

Project Development

Piloting Tanzania into REDD

With the winding down of a multi-year pilot project in Tanzania, the Global Environment Facility, one of several funders supporting the project, is touting the Eastern Arc Mountains project, which operated from 2003 through 2010, as a critical capacity-building and learning experience. The project included a variety of objectives including biodiversity conservation and carbon sequestration, and GEF cites the project as instrumental to Tanzania’s successful enrollment as a quick start country under the UN-REDD Programme. Read more about the project from the GEF website here.

Greening the Gola Forest

GreenWorld BVI, an investment company based out of the British Virgin Islands, is seeking investors for a recently announced REDD project in Sierra Leone’s Gola Forest (50,000 ha total). Beginning at $2,000, investors receive a 45-year lease for 1 hectare of rainforest and the carbon credits that arise from it. Although we are unaware of such a standard, a GreenWorld BVI press release states the project plans to use a “REDD standard propagated by the United Nations.” The upside? GreenWorld BVI is offering a money-back guarantee if the project fails to be certified. Read a press release about the project here, and read more on the GreenWorld BVI website here.

World Bank plants loans in China

The World Bank has approved $100 million in loans to five provinces in China for afforestation projects. China has been on a tree-planting spree, placing it among one of just a handful of countries experiencing an increasing area of forest according to the latest global assessment by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. These new funds from the Bank follow ongoing planting since the 1990s, where 320,000 hectares of forest has been planted in Anhui Province. This project is estimated to reduce carbon emissions by 55 million tons every year and encourage further foreign investment in China. Read more about the loans from Climate Connect here.

Human Dimension

IIED to REDD+ Countries: “Slow down, tiger!”

A recent report by the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED)has highlighted a number of successes in the REDD+ arena where local communities have specifically benefited from more direct involvement in REDD policy development. Using data and experience from the Forest Governance Learning Group established in 2003 to bring together more marginalized local groups with those making decisions in eight African and three Asian countries, the report also suggests that more power should be given to local forest inhabitants. The report warns against rushing through decisions, arguing a number of REDD+ government-led plans that have been rushed through the policy development process are detrimental to long-term sustainable forest management. Access to the report here, and read more from IIED here.

Science & Technology Review

Geo-engineers Revisit Fake Plastic Trees

The Institute of Mechanical Engineers is pushing the concept of artificial forests to help take in carbon dioxide from the air and store it long term. The technology is still in very early stages of development, but is attracting some interest as a potential way to learn from the forest carbon model (albeit with a very different system). Read more from the Guardian here

Publications and Tools

Two Takes on a REDD+ Markets from NGOs

The submission of a paper supporting carbon markets for conservation financing to the UNFCCC by several prominent environmental NGOs back in February prompted a response in June by FERN, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace and the Rainforest Foundation UK. The original report, “Views on new market-based mechanisms Using markets for the full implementation of REDD+” maintains that “a global market for emission reductions that includes REDD+ will enable achievement of those reductions as effectively and efficiently as possible.” The response, “REDD+ and carbon markets: Ten Myths Exploded,” investigates 10 of the claims made by the original report, claiming each of them is flawed and that REDD+ may not be the useful and cost-effective way of mitigating climate change that many NGOs and governments are claiming. View the pro-market argument from IPAM, CI, EDF, NRDC, Rainforest Alliance, UCS, and WCS here. Read the Top 10-style anti-market countdown here.

Shining a light on Indonesia’s REDD+ News

The Center for International Forestry Research has released a report on the Indonesian media’s coverage of REDD+ between 2005 and 2009, analyzing shifts in the way REDD+ and related public policy and events are discussed and reported to the Indonesian audience. The study focused on three national newspapers – Kompas, Media Indonesia and Republika – and found that across those publications, although a debate of the pros and cons has emerged, a large part of the coverage is fed by government sources, meaning the discourse is driven disproportionally from a government perspective. Read more from the CIFOR blog here and access the report here.

Forests need community for protection

The Center for International Forestry Research has released a report suggesting that tropical forests designated as “protected areas” actually have higher rates of deforestation than in forest areas that are managed by local communities. After looking at 40 protected areas and 33 community forests in 16 countries, the report suggests that protected areas lost around 1.47 percent forest cover annually, whereas community forests only lost around 0.24 percent. Read more from Yale 360 here, and download the article, published in the journal Forest Ecology and Management from the CIFOR website here.



The Rights and Resources Initiative, along with Forest Trends and the Forest Peoples Programme are bringing the topic of REDD+ Finance front and center in the 11th Dialogue on Forests Governance and Climate Change. Come join the discussion October 12 in London, and show up a day early to see the London launch of Ecosystem Marketplace’s State of the Forest Carbon Markets 2011 report. Read more about the Dialogue and register to attend on RRI’s website here. Stay tuned for more details on the London launch of the forest report.


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