This Week In Forest Carbon: From Doha With Love

Although the process of developing an international REDD+ framework did not take the steps desired in COP18, REDD+ movement is occurring at the national and regional levels. The first REDD project ever to navigate a VCS REDD methodology is back in business, while other forest carbon projects are sprouting in Nicaragua, South Korea and Malaysia. Meanwhile, Costa Rica secures World Bank-approval for their Carbon Fund scheme. 

Although the process of developing an international REDD+ framework did not take the steps desired in COP18, REDD+ movement is occurring at the national and regional levels. The first REDD project ever to navigate a VCS REDD methodology is back in business, while other forest carbon projects are sprouting in Nicaragua, South Korea and Malaysia. Meanwhile, Costa Rica secures World Bank-approval for their Carbon Fund scheme.

This article was originally published in the Forest Carbon newsletter. Click here to read the original.

17 December 2012 | Before we survey the latest market news, Ecosystem Marketplace is surveying readers for their input on the “biggest” stories of 2012, and predictions for 2013 – to be published in our end-of-year special edition. Tell us what you think  here! We will randomly select several predictions for publication in the special edition, along with a link to your website – so gaze into your crystal ball and make a call!

Returning to the news, we present a summary of what happened – or not – related to forest carbon decision-making at COP 18:  

While REDD remained ahead of the overall negotiations, it is safe to say that progress toward an international REDD framework was left wanting in Doha. One of the major hurdles that negotiators were not able to overcome was how emission reduction results will be verified, with Norway and Brazil standing on opposite ends of the ring. Norway proposed having third-party verifiers taken from a roster of experts from developed and developing countries, while Brazil preferred continuing to use the International Consultation and Analysis (ICA) process, which is substantially softer on developing countries. The two sides did not manage a compromise, and thus the issue will be tossed to the next Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) meeting taking place in Bonn, Germany in June.  


The overarching issue of results-based finance will be discussed at workshops led by two co-chairs, one from a developed country and one from a developing country, appointed by the COP President.


The final Advanced Working Group on Long-Term Cooperative Action (AWG-LCA) text, the track on which REDD was moving, did, however, recognize the need to talk about “ways to incentivize non-carbon benefits,” like biodiversity preservation, water filtration and the support of forest peoples. Read more about Ecosystem Marketplace’s Doha tracking  here!


Looking at the bigger picture ahead, the new market mechanism brought forth at Doha may prove to be REDD-friendly in the long run. While details of the new mechanism were not disseminated, its principles were outlined and referenced private sector participation and project level activities. Rick Saines from Baker & McKenzie sees this preliminary description as “the beginning of a transition away from the pure Kyoto Protocol mechanism to a broadening out of this new mechanism that will be more inclusive and will have the capability to take on new sectoral type approaches, among those REDD+.”


At the project level, Doha brought forth the long-awaited news that Indonesia’s Ministry of Forestry reversed its decision to sideline half of InfiniteEARTH’s REDD project area for palm oil – a  triumph for REDD advocates  that makes way for 104 MtCO2e in reductions over thirty years.


Also in the voluntary carbon front, environmental project standards have found new ways to complement each other’s work. In Doha, the Gold Standard announced a  new alliance  with Fairtrade in order to scale up carbon finance for small producers across offset project types. The Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) recently also launched a  joint approval  process with the Climate, Community, and Biodiversity Alliance for VCS-CCB certification, designed to lower transaction costs for forestry and land-use projects seeking credit for both emissions reductions and co-benefits.  VCS also approved a new soil carbon quantification methodology developed by The Earth Partners that credits emissions reductions and removals from projects that  improve soils  through land-based agriculture, forestry and other land use projects.  


These and other stories from the forest carbon marketplace are summarized below, so keep reading! Note that we are still  fundraising  for the State of the Voluntary Carbon Markets 2013 report, slated for publication at Carbon Expo 2013 – if we are able to raise sufficient contributions to continue this research. This report – which is freely available thanks exclusively to sponsors’ support –remains a key benchmark for the market. To learn more about sponsoring next year’s report, click  here  for our prospectus and contact  Molly Peters-Stanley  for details.


—The Ecosystem Marketplace Team

If you have comments or would like to submit news stories, write to us at [email protected].



International Policy  

The REDD Eye from Doha

For the first time in the history of the REDD+ group within the UNFCCC’s Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA), minimal to no progress was made during the annual Conference of the Parties, according to  Tony La Vií±a, REDD+ facilitator and lead negotiator for the Philippines. Five major REDD+ donor countries – the UK, US, Germany, Norway and Australia – proposed to increase funds flowing to REDD projects given certain verification requirements were met; however, Brazilian negotiators  contested  they needed developed countries to be flexible on the verification stringency. Norway  vetoed  a compromise negotiated by Papa New Guinea, leaving REDD talks on MRV and finance to resume likely until  next year.


Project Development  

David, Goliath, and the orangutans

The Rimba Raya REDD Project, the world’s first project to develop and navigate a REDD methodology through the VCS methodology review/approval process back in 2010, is on again – one year after being put on ice when Indonesia’s Ministry of Forestry promised half the project’s territory to PT Best Group, a palm oil company. That decision has now been  reversed, and the project is set to preserve an orangutan habitat the size of Singapore, generating millions of dollars in carbon income for local communities along the way. Validated under VCS and CCB Standard, Rimba Raya is the world’s first REDD project on  deep peat. “Rimba Raya represents the hope and future of an entire species,” says Dr. Biruté Mary Galdikas, the founder of the Orangutan Foundation International. “Once the Minister signs the decree, Rimba Raya will be one of the most important orangutan conservation projects in the world.” Read the full Ecosystem Marketplace article at the Forest Carbon Portal  here.


A bamboo-strong project  

Bamboo plantation developer EcoPlanet Bamboo has received validation from VCS for their Rio Kama and Rio Siquia plantations in Nicaragua, becoming the first large-scale  bamboo project  registered under the VCS. The project is expected to sequester 816,000 tCO2e throughout its lifetime by reforesting 3,373 acres of degraded land with bamboo forests. The validation process was facilitated by Rainforest Alliance.  


A start in South Korea

The Hwaseong-based forestry company SK Forest Co. and the state-run administrator Korea Forest Service will be jointly operating South Korea’s reportedly first afforestation/reforestation CDM project in the rural village of Heul-ri. The 75-ha project is expected to run for 60 years, with government support. SK Forest’s business team manager Kwon Min-soo shares that the project is viewed more so as a  symbol  of the potential in the area, including in North Korea, as the project shares similar vegetation with its northern counterpart.  


Malaysia making money move for mitigation  

The Malaysian Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment commenced a UN Development Programme-funded project dedicated to developing sustainable financing mechanisms for REDD+ in Malaysia, which will then need to be endorsed by the established National Committee on REDD+.  The project aims specifically to facilitate private and public sector  funds  towards supporting climate mitigation activities in the country. The project will be implemented over the course of 11 months by the Frankfurt School of Finance and Management’s International Advisory Services and Forest Carbon. Forest Carbon Managing Director Scott Stanley comments, “The project seeks to assess the feasibility of an array of financial mechanisms… that look beyond traditional bi-lateral assistance.”


National Strategy & Capacity  

Costa Rica zip lines to first  

Costa Rica is the first country to receive an  approval  from the World Bank to access performance-based payments through the Carbon Fund under the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility. Costa Rica’s Carbon Fund proposal is quasi-national in scope, to be implemented in a mosaic approach on 341,000 ha of mainly private land. Two-thirds of the area is degraded land to be restored with reforestation, secondary growth and agroforestry, while one-third is old growth forest to be protected from deforestation. Resulting emission reductions are estimated at 29.5 MtCO2. Close to half of these emissions reductions (12.6 MtCO2) would be offered to the  Carbon Fund, and require an estimated financing of $63 million (assuming a price of $5/tCO2).


Tasmania & Australia’s olive forest  

After the Australian Commonwealth committed $300 million to Tasmania’s forestry peace deal which aims to reduce native forest logging, predictions are surfacing about Australia’s Federal Government obtaining around $7 billion from the deal, in particular through one rule that states that any reduction in native forest harvesting below 2000 levels will cause the Australian government to obtain international  carbon credits. Australian National University climate law expert Andrew MacIntosh explains that after those credits are gained, they can be auctioned in Australia’s ETS. The new rule would take effect after Australia signs the Kyoto Protocol’s second commitment period. Meanwhile, experts are in dispute over the benefits the deal will bring for Tasmania.  


Energy: the next big thing in Brazil

According to a recent report examined by Reuters, the energy sector is expected to become Brazil’s largest source of GHG emissions, taking the place of deforestation for the first time. The country’s annual deforestation rate has decreased more than 80% since 2004. In the Amazon specifically, 2011’s deforestation rate was the  lowest  on record since 1988 and this year’s rate then broke that record by 27%. These drops in deforestation can be linked to breakthroughs in deforestation monitoring technology and proper implementation of established environmental laws. Meanwhile, energy use is increasing as the Brazilian middle class  blooms, while energy production is also expected to increase with large oil reserves discovered offshore and in the Amazon.  


Australia says No…  

Following in the footsteps of the US, Australia recently passed the Illegal Logging Prohibition Bill, making it  against the law  to import timber from illegal operations. Facing a market worth around $400 million according to the Australian government, the law was supported by businesses, environmental, social and religious organizations, including IKEA, Uniting Church, Kimberly Clark, WWF, Oxfam, and Greenpeace. Sanctions for violating the new law include loss of goods, fines of up to $275,000 for businesses and $55,000 for individuals, and up to 5 years in prison.


… While China says Yes

Not following in  the footsteps of the US and Australia, China now stands as the single  largest  international consumer of illegal timber according to the Environmental Investigation Agency’s recent report, Appetite for Destruction: China’s Trade in Illegal Timber. Although the exact amount of  illegally logged  wood is not known, the report estimates that 20-67% of China’s 108 million m3 of timber imports from 2011 may have been illegally sourced. Highly conservative trade data analysis covering merely half of Chinese timber products illustrated that a minimum of 18.5 million m3 of illegally sourced timber was sold in China last year, valued at around $3.7 billion.  


Onward, Indonesia!

A recent forest governance session was held in Republic of the Congo focused on Indonesia’s work with the UN-REDD Programme on participatory governance assessments for REDD+. The session was organized by the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility, the European Forestry Institute, PROFOR and the UN-REDD Programme, while Indonesia’s  progress  was presented by Mr. Mas Achmad Santosa, Head of the Working Group for Legal Review and Law Enforcement in the Indonesian REDD+ Task Force and Deputy of the President’s Delivery Unit (UKP4). Santosa stated that UKP4 and Indonesia’s Ministry of Forestry are prepared to use the Participatory Governance Assessment data that Indonesia has arranged for since May 2011 and collected since August 2012.  


Tanzania’s CNA

To support REDD+ efforts in Tanzania, the Government of Tanzania conducted a Capacity Needs Assessment with the support of the UN-REDD Programme and in partnership with UNDP. The  Assessment  focused on government institutions at the central, regional, district and local levels in the country and their impact on Tanzania’s REDD+ readiness. One of the key findings of the CNA was the significantly greater amount of information and discussions on REDD+ available at the national level, and not the district and village levels, which have limited knowledge and technical skills despite being an important piece of the puzzle. To that end, the Assessment recommends a 5-year capacity development plan for 2012-2017 that would mobilize existing capacity and increase the types of interventions.



As Indonesia’s 2-year deforestation moratorium nears its end, those for and against the continuation of the moratorium speak up. The Ministry of Forestry aims to keep the moratorium effective until the 2014 presidential election, according to a Ministry representative. However, on the opposing side is the head of the House of Representatives Forestry and Agriculture Commission who stated that Indonesia was losing too much capital developing reforestation projects when it could be distributing more palm oil plantation permits. Lawmakers allegedly also  threatened  to freeze the reforestation projects budget if the Indonesian president left the moratorium active until 2014. The moratorium was set after Norway pledged $1 billion in conservation funding, the majority of which will be disbursed after reforestation efforts have had an effect.  


Vietnam phases into REDD+

Vietnam finishes Phase I (readiness) of its UN-REDD National Programme and starts working on Phase II (pilot efforts), becoming one of the first UN-REDD Programme partner countries to enter this  new stage  in the REDD+ process. During the Phase I closing workshop – organized by the Vietnam Administration of Forestry (VNForest), FAO, UNDP and UNEP – Madam Pham Minh Thoa from VNForest addressed a group of more than 80 stakeholders as she highlighted the major lessons learned and challenges encountered during the three years of the country’s Phase I. The Vietnam REDD+ Office, the REDD Network and 6 active sub-technical working groups have been established thus far, providing a concrete basis at the national level for Vietnam to move forward with.


What came first, the certification or the cash?

Drawing from a recently launched collaborative publication, Improving opportunities for smallholder timber planters in Vietnam to benefit from domestic wood processing, author Louis Putzel discusses the potential  benefits  of having external assistance for smallholder plantation forests seeking eco-certification. According to Putzel, the increasing global demand for eco-certified furniture and the lack of local supply from Vietnam “represents a lost opportunity for local timber planters.” However, many small-scale planters do not have the capital invest in the international standards process. Putzel calls on national forest institutions to look for solutions to this challenge, noting projects CIFOR has previously funded and group schemes for smallholders previously arranged by the Forest Stewardship Council and Fairtrade International.


New Zealand, the next odd man out?

According to New Zealand’s carbon market specialist information service, the country may be  excluded  from using CER units after New Zealand stated it will not take part in the Kyoto Protocol’s second commitment period. After this announcement, China, South Africa and Brazil requested for an already established rule – excluding non-signatories of the Protocol from accessing UN offset credits – to be enforced. However, some are hesitant to believe the rule will be enforced or if it is enforced, that it will have an impact on the NZ market. NZ carbon broker Nigel Brunel from OMFinancial states, “There won’t be an immediate effect, because in 2013/14 we’re in the wash-up period for KP1.”

 (needs to be put up on portal)  


Finance & Economics  

Reading the fine print

In this Ecosystem Marketplace piece, the REDD-related funding protocols and processes for the World Bank-affiliated Forest Carbon Partnership Facility and Forest Investment Program, and UN REDD Programme are outlined and discussed in detail to understand possible reasons why REDD pilot projects, such as Ghanaian businessman John Addaquay’s, are not receiving  funding  from multilateral entities. Such institutions are enabled to provide funds to build up governance structures that will eventually support pilot projects; however, they themselves were not created to provide direct financial support to pilot projects. Read more on this Ecosystem Marketplace exclusive at the Forest Carbon Portal  here.


Demystifying REDD in the DRC  

A new Ecosystem Marketplace article investigates REDD+ finance in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, focusing on the capacity of the Congo Basin Forest Fund – a fund administered by the African Development Bank, the World Bank and the UN – to deliver on its funding commitments to pilot projects like the EcoMakala REDD+ project. In the background, the DRC launched its national REDD+ strategy this week, just weeks after insurgents surrounded and stormed the capital of the country’s North Kivu province. This article is the  sixth  in a continuing series built on the findings of Forest Trends’ REDD+ Expenditures Tracking Project, which aims to provide transparency by tracking REDD+ commitments to 13 countries around the world. Read more on this Ecosystem Marketplace exclusive at the Forest Carbon Portal  here.


Fiesta-worthy news

Through the World Bank’s Forest Investment Program, Mexico is slated to collect $15 million – a $10 million loan and a $5 million grant – to use in support of climate change mitigation initiatives. The loan will be used to establish a financing line for  low-carbon projects  in forested areas in one of five states in the country – namely, Oaxaca, Yucatan, Quintana Roo, Jalisco and Campeche – which have the highest levels of net forest loss. By creating this financing line, the FIP intends to address one of the country’s deforestation drivers, limited access to credit. Meanwhile, the grant will work to support the feasibility of the projects on the financial and technical side.  


Methods & Standards Watch  

CCB tags along closely

Last week, VCS and the Climate, Community & Biodiversity Alliance (CCBA) announced key new provisions that will make it easier to develop and register agriculture, forestry, and other land use (AFOLU) projects using both standards simultaneously. Projects that complete this  streamlined process  are termed VCS+CCB projects. Until now, projects seeking to tag VCU credits with the CCB label have had to go through CCB separately. Now, VCS and CCB have developed a single set of templates to navigate both approval processes at the same time, potentially cutting down the approval process by months and reducing transaction costs.  


Small producers get a golden standard and a fair trade

In Doha, the Gold Standard announced a groundbreaking new  initiative  with Fairtrade, under which the Gold Standard will pull Fairtrade principles into its carbon projects across all project types, whether energy or land-based. For the Gold Standard, Fairtrade’s global network of small producers represents an opportunity to scale up emissions reductions in marginalized communities and the “last miles” of the world. For Fairtrade, the  alliance  provides small producers in developing countries a chance to tap into carbon finance as an additional source of income to support their productive activities. An Ecosystem Marketplace article explores the implications of the alliance, with special insights from Carlos Vargas, coordinator for Fairtrade Latin America and the Caribbean. Read more about this initiative from Ecosystem Marketplace at the Forest Carbon Portal  here.


ALM matters

Last week, VCS approved a new  soil  carbon quantification methodology developed by The Earth Partners, the first VCS methodology to cover all eligible activities in the Agricultural Land Management (ALM) category. The  methodology  credits emission reductions and removals from projects that improve soils in grasslands, rangelands and farmlands. Projects may implement a wide range of activities such as limiting erosion, changing grazing practices and implementing treatments designed to improve the diversity and productivity of plant communities. VCS, The Earth Partners, Environmental Services and SCS Global Services will host a webinar on December 18. Read the full Ecosystem Marketplace coverage of this event at the Forest Carbon Portal  here.


Double win for SCS

Carbon Trading Magazine named SCS Global Services the  Best Validation and Best Verification  Company in its 2012 Carbon Market Survey, where carbon industry actors are encouraged to rate their peers based on their capacity to adapt to dynamic market conditions, reliability in the market, and efficiency and quality of service. In the SCS Global Services portfolio of offset projects assessed previously are the Madre de Dios Amazon REDD Project in Peru, Boa Vista Afforestation/Reforestation carbon project in Brazil and the Avoided Conversion of the Danau Siawan Peat Swamp Forest in Indonesia. SCS also verifies projects in compliance markets, including those participating in California’s cap-and-trade program and the British Columbia Forest Carbon Offset Protocol.  


Human Dimension  

Indigenous representation in Doha

“Indigenous REDD” support was also present in Doha, as more than a dozen indigenous Amazonian leaders made the trek to talk about their concept of what REDD should be. The effort – led by the Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin (COICA) – aims to formulate alternative financing mechanisms that identify ecosystem health and biodiversity as essential values instead of co-benefits. Their support for recompensing quality land stewardship and reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation is in line with traditional REDD frameworks; however, “Indigenous REDD” does not consider carbon markets to be the best approach to access these sought-after funds, arguing instead for a more  holistic  approach. The group held discussions during Amazon Day in Doha to discuss further steps.


Publications & Tools  

State of Forests: Africa Edition

In  Challenges and Prospects for REDD+ in Africa, the Global Land Project, World Agroforestry Center and other partners team up to present the most up-to-date state of forests in Africa and REDD+ implementation strategies. The report reaches an array of topics including political, institutional, technical, social, and economic challenges, and performance monitoring metrics.  


Learning to Share

Author Jessica Camprese hones in on REDD+ efforts in Tanzania in  Equitable Benefit Sharing: Exploring Experiences and Lessons for REDD+ in Tanzania  to help document benefit sharing techniques that are being tested in REDD+ pilot projects in order to develop stakeholders’ understanding of potentially equitable and effective techniques in Tanzania.  


Recipes for Success

The  REDD+ Cook Book  focuses on the measurement and monitoring of forest carbon that is required in a REDD framework. The publication is divided into four sections – introduction, planning, techniques, and references. Each section is designed for a particular REDD+ stakeholder; however, an overall understanding of the Cook Book is encouraged by the authors to grasp the broad message and roles depicted.  



Carbon Program Intern – Ecosystem Marketplace

Ecosystem Marketplace is seeking an unpaid part-time intern for our Carbon Program, with an ideal start time of January 2013 for a four- to six-month commitment. In return for this commitment, the intern will receive invaluable contacts and experience in liaising with international conservation NGOs, for profits and development multilaterals; executing survey research for an international market report; helping to plan/execute an international report launch event; and recommendations as merited. Candidates should be an upper-level undergrad or grad student, preferably able to commute to a Washington, DC office. Read more about the position  here.


Manager, Climate Change Adaptation in Farming Systems – Conservation International  

Based in Costa Rica, the Manager will oversee the daily management of the Ecosystem-Based Adaptation for Smallholder Subsistence and Coffee Farming Communities in Central America project, ensuring close coordination and communication among those involved. Candidates should have a master’s degree in climate change, agroecology, natural resource management or ecology with experience working with interdisciplinary teams. Read more about the position  here.


Conservation Law and Climate Change Coordinator – Defenders of Wildlife  

Based in Washington, DC, the Coordinator will manage the budget and the administration for the climate change, federal lands, international and legal departments, and maintain information for the previously mentioned departments, including the compilation of weekly updates. Candidates should have a bachelor’s degree in a related discipline with 1+ years’ experience in the environmental or legal field. Read more about the position  here.


Postdoctoral Researcher/Research Assistant, Forest Carbon Mapping and Land Use Scenario Modeling – Woods Hole Research Center  

Based in Massachusetts, the postdoctoral researcher or research assistant will conduct research on remote sensing data fusion, advance analysis of forest disturbances, and perform complex geoprocessing. Candidates should have a PhD or master’s degree in environmental science, forestry, biology, geography, computer science or a related discipline with experience in performing GIS tasks in a multi-operating system environment. Read more about the position  here.


Research Officer, Sustainable Finance Programme – International Institute for Sustainable Development

Based in Geneva, the Research Officer will analyze the ongoing regulatory reforms of the financial services sector, and hold formal dialogues with market participants, financial sector regulators and policymakers on the regulation, governance, incentives, risks, fiduciary responsibility and alignment of incentives with longer-term financial returns. Candidates should have a master’s degree in finance, financial economics or a related discipline with 2+ years’ experience in the financial services sector in public finance. Read more about the position  here.


Geospatial Scientist – Blue Ventures

Based in Madagascar, the Geospatial Scientist will be involved in the inventory, acquisition, creation and pre-processing of socio-economic and biophysical GIS data-sets. Candidates should have a Master of Science in geography, forestry or other related discipline with a strong background in remote sensing/GIS of forested environments and considerable experience with its theory and application. Read more about the position  here.


Senior Forestry/Carbon Expert – MGM Innova  

Based in Miami or another listed location, the Senior Forestry/Carbon Expert will be responsible for managing and developing carbon forestry projects, as well as for supporting the company’s project delivery team in the development of low emission strategies, emission baseline studies and other similar topics. Candidates should have at least a Master of Science related to forestry, agronomy, biology or a related discipline with 10+ years’ experience in consulting or industry. Read more about the position  here.


Alliance Manager – Nexus, Carbon for Development

Based in Singapore, the Alliance Manager will develop strong working relationships with members across Africa and Asia to understand and pre-empt needs and expectations, as well as manage and develop community engagement tools. Candidates should have 2-4 years’ experience in a relevant sector, including the carbon markets, nonprofits, development agencies, social enterprises and specialist consultancies. Read more about the position  here.


Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist – Tetra Tech ARD

Based in Arlington, VA, the Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist will identify and track appropriate land tenure and property rights indicators for relevant program interventions, and provide assessment oversight and guidance in multiple aspects of the potential Strengthening Tenure and Resource Rights program. Candidates should have a master’s degree in economics or a related discipline with extensive professional experience in the application of qualitative and quantitative methodologies for assessing project impact. Read more about the position  here.


Media Liaison and Outreach Manager – CIFOR  

Based in Indonesia, the Media Liaison and Outreach Manager will act as the main focal point for CIFOR’s media relations, draft and edit press releases, talking points, op-eds, etc., and oversee social media activities. Candidates should have a master’s degree in communications or a related discipline with 7+ years’ experience in media/communications, preferably internationally. Read more about the position  Additional resources

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