This Week in Forest Carbon: Finally, Approval!

The big story around the water cooler this week is no doubt the final approval of California’s cap-and-trade regulations.  After years of drawn out debates, legal challenges, and even a public referendum, California now seems set to launch the United States’ first comprehensive cap-and-trade scheme.  Read on for details on this and other stories in this weeks Forest Carbon News.

NOTE: This article has been reprinted from Ecosystem Marketplace’s Forest Carbon newsletter. You can receive this summary of global news and views from the world of forest carbon automatically in your inbox by clicking here.

28 October 2011 | The big story around the water cooler this week is no doubt the final approval of California’s cap-and-trade regulations.   After years of drawn out debates, legal challenges, and even a public referendum, California now seems set to launch the United States’ first comprehensive cap-and-trade scheme (knock on wood), and the first that will look toward international REDD+ credits in coming years.  

With talk of potential links with from California to four Canadian provinces–British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec–as well as the EU Emissions Trading Scheme, supporters will be hoping that this new step forward will send a strong market signal and set an ambitious example for others to follow.

On the international front, the UN-REDD Programme has announced new funding for Nigeria’s national REDD+ program and also published draft social and environmental principles and criteria aimed at reducing social and environmental risks in implementing REDD+.

We’ve seen several new projects using the American Carbon Registry to reforest following a fire in Colorado and   to connect family forest owners to healthcare in the Pacific Northwest.   Add to this several new projects entering the VCS and CCB pipelines, and there’s surely no shortage of projects to keep your eyes on.

And following the concession heard round the forest carbon world, when Indonesia handed half the project area for the Rimba Raya project to a palm oil developer after years of consultation, the Ministry of Forestry now appears prepared to play nice, offering up millions of hectares of degraded forest lands in the country for ecosystem restoration concessions to include carbon projects.

As always, read on for all the headlines and more in this, the latest edition of Ecosystem Marketplace’s Forest Carbon News Brief.

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International Policy

Nigerian REDD+ funding UNveiled

At the seventh meeting of the UN-REDD Programme’s Policy Board in Bonn October 13-14, Nigeria was cleared to receive $4 million in funding for REDD+ activities, bringing the total amount of approved funding for national programmes by UN-REDD up to $59.3 million. Nigerian officials welcomed the funding and noted that Nigeria will pursue REDD+ strategies while involving stakeholders and ensuring consultation with the local community and indigenous peoples. Read more from Climate-L here and AllAfrica here.


US Policy

California Seals the Deal

The California Air Resources Board (ARB) voted unanimously for adopting the state’s proposed cap-and-trade rules on Thursday, October 20. These provisions follow from California’s 2006 Global Warming Solutions Act and will put a declining cap on emissions that will now come into effect in 2013. This legislation has been fiercely contested both in California and more widely across the country. Mary D. Nichols, the ARB’s Chairwoman declared that “We are staking out new ground in the battle against global warming…And we are doing it in difficult times and doing it in a way we believe others will want to follow.” Read more from the Guardian here, the New York Times here and Reuters here.

Project Development

A Carbon-Poverty Two-for-One

A new non-profit, the Carbon Offsets to Alleviate Poverty, with a dual mandate to reduce poverty AND carbon emissions, was launched this month. COTAP will provide early stage funding to to forest carbon projects, sourcing funding from charitable donors who also recognize the benefit of tackling climate change while addressing poverty. The organization announced a project a partnership Canada-based Taking Root and its Limay Community Carbon Project, which will provide funding and technical capacity to smallholders for reforestation projects. The donation rate for the Limay project will be USD $8.80 per tonne, and a minimum of 54.5% of the carbon revenues will go directly to participating communities. Read more about COTAP and their first partnership here

Driving Reforestation in Colorado

Car manufacturer Chevrolet is investing in a forest replanting program in the Middle Mountain region of Colorado to help reduce its carbon footprint. Chevrolet will pay for the reforestation of 250 acres of the 1,800 acres destroyed in the 2003 Bear Creek fire. The project is being undertaken by the National Forest Foundation, a non-profit chartered by the US Congress to collaborate with the US Forest Service, which has deployed a Carbon Capital Fund to support tree planting projects on federally-owned National Forest lands, usually in response to wildfires. The project is being designed with the intent of certification using the American Carbon Registry’s Standard. Read more from the Durango Herald here, and the National Forest Foundation here.

Health care credit takes root in the forest

A project we profiled back in September taking an innovative approach to tie forest health to health insurance is back in the news. The Pinchot Institute and the American Carbon Registry (ACR) announced the beginning of a pilot project for the Forest Health – Human Health (FHHH) Initiative to offer health care services to forest landowners, tied to carbon benefits stemming from sustainable forest management. The scheme is currently being piloted with family forest owners in Columbia county, Oregon with the idea that the model will be expanded in future years. Read the press release from The Pinchot Institute here and ACR here, and see our earlier profile of the project explaining its nuts and bolts here.

National Strategy & Capacity

Indonesia restores commitment to ecosystem conservation

The Indonesian Ministry of Forestry has indicated it will repurpose 7.4 million hectares from earlier concessions to industrial forest developers to new concessions supporting ecosystem restoration conservation. The concessions will allow planting of native trees on degraded forest areas to incentivize profits from non-timber products, ecotourism and also carbon projects. Read coverage translated to English from Indonesia’s Kompas here.


New Zealand Considers CER flood

New Zealand appears likely to follow the EU’s lead and ban certain Kyoto-backed offsets (Certified Emissions Reductions, or CERs) from industrial gas projects. The explosion of credits from destruction of high-potency gases such as HFC-23 have been criticized for additionality concerns, but also because they have flooded the market for credits and driven prices down dramatically. It is for the latter reason that the New Zealand ETS may ban those CERs: as the EU phases out the credits, New Zealand (along with Japan), become the only markets where the credits can be surrendered, leading to fears of a flood of cheap CERs, which can currently be used in place of domestic credits. Read more about the potential CER ban and its possible outcomes from Scoop here, and the Southern Hemisphere Forest Industry Journal here.

Visualizing REDD+ in the Philippines

A three day audio visual exhibit recently took place between 14 and 16 October in Pasig City in the Philippines to showcase sustainable forest management practices. This exhibit is part of an ongoing project to reduce carbon emissions by promoting reforestation. The multimedia highlighted the benefits of REDD+ including the potential for future employment in forestry and provision of ecological services. The audiovisuals will now be shown in key cities and regions across the Philippines. Read more from The Philippine Information Agency here.

Methodology & Standards Watch

The REDD+ Social Contract

The UN-REDD Programme has released its Draft Social and Environmental Principles and Criteria, which are now open for comment. The Principles and Criteria draw on the Cancun Agreement, as well as a range of UN conventions and treaties, such as the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Millennium Development Goals, and is intended to ensure that UN-REDD Programme activities promote social and environmental benefits and reduce risks of REDD+. Unsurprisingly, transparency and accountability are among the more frequently invoked principles, along with resolving land tenure and indigenous rights, which are also highlighted frequently. Download the draft and submit comments on the UN-REDD website here.

New Projects Seeking Validation

Four projects are undergoing validation audits under the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Standards and are now open for comment until November 16. Three of the projects, which are located in Ecuador, Zimbabwe, Brazil, are also seeking approval under VCS, while the fourth, a project in South Africa is currently only seeking CCB approval. Review the projects and submit comments here.

Human Dimension

Biofueling Deforestation?

In 2009 the EU issued a mandate for member states to derive 10% of fuel in the transport sector from renewables, leading to a surge in demand for biofuels. The move was subsequently attacked as short-cited, as research suggested that biofuel production was leading to deforestation as well as increasing food prices. The EU then set sustainability criteria for biofuel producers, approving seven “voluntary schemes”, which may be used by biofuel feedstock producers and processors to certify that their operations are in compliance with the EU regulations. CIFOR has investigated the issue with a new publication, Social sustainability of EU-approved voluntary schemes for biofuels: implications for rural livelihoods, arguing that while these criteria address the environmental sustainability, they do nothing to address social sustainability. Read more on the CIFOR website here and download the report here.

Science & Technology Review

Researchers reflect on the Earth’s albedo

Researchers from Oregon State University have published a study in the journal Global Change and Biology suggesting a complicated relationship between high latitude boreal forest disturbances, albedo and rates of warming/cooling. Albedo refers to the reflective properties of the Earth’s surface and is higher in areas of snow and where lighter surface colors reflect more energy back into space. While higher rates of forest loss from insect outbreaks, hurricanes and wildfires would suggest that more carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere, this research suggests that areas losing forest where snow cover is prolific, may actually increase the albedo effect and lead to greater cooling countering the effects of the increased CO2 emissions. The researchers noted that “on a global scale, warming caused by increased carbon dioxide still trumps everything else, (but) on a smaller or local scale, however, changes in albedo can be fairly important.” Read more from Science Daily here and Planet Save here. Access the journal article here(subscription required).

Publications & Tools

No REDD+ Cookie Cutters for Latin American REDD+

A new paper from the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) investigates how resource-based economies in Latin America are going to reconcile economic growth with national REDD+ programs. Actors and landscape changes in tropical Latin America, Challenges for REDD+ design and implementation concludes that there is no standard approach for delivering cost effectiveness, social equality, and positive environmental outcomes, and that although each program should be tailored to a particular landscape, national REDD+ programs “will have to rely heavily on incentive- and disincentive-based policy instruments, such as conditional compensation transfers and improved enforcement of forest use and access regulations.” Read more from the CIFOR blog here and download the paper here.

Greenpeace Targets Brazilian Beef Giant

Greenpeace is striking out at Brazilian beef giant JBS Friboi over claims that the company cannot confirm whether it is living up to an earlier commitment to produce deforestation-free beef. The environmental advocacy group is now calling on JBS to sever all ties with ranchers highlighted in their report Broken Promises to ensure a “transparent and efficient” monitoring process. Cattle ranching remains the largest driver of deforestation in the Amazon, with more than 60% of Brazil’s deforested land used for beef production. Read more from Mongabay here and read the Greenpeace report here.

Forest Peoples Program Fills Your Winter Reading List

The Forest Peoples Program, along with several partners based in Indonesia, has released a series of six briefings detailing the gaps and challenges facing REDD+ in Indonesia concerning indigenous peoples’ rights, including a lack of transparency and established practices of ‘free and prior informed consent’. On the positive side, Indonesia has been signalling a move toward greater participation of forest communities, and mapping of customary lands is underway. Read more and download the publication from the FPP website here.


Take a Seat

Resolve, a U.S based NGO is providing process design and facilitation services for the second self-selection process for civil society observers on the committees and subcommittees of the Climate Investment Funds (CIFs), a pair of funds consisting of the Clean Technology Fund (CTF) and the Strategic Climate Fund (SCF). If you want to apply to have a 2012-2014 Civil Society Observer Seat on the Climate Trust Funds click here.



Can you see yourself working as an Advocacy Director at the Forest Stewardship Council based in Washington DC? Does forest management in Australia sound like it’s right up your alley? Check out this or other job opportunities on the Forest Carbon Portal’s Jobs page, where you can also post your own job listings.


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