A symbiotic affair
Forest Carbon Asia (FCA) and other Asian stakeholders gathered in Bangkok on June 7-8 for a policy dialogue on the prospects for CDM forestry and REDD+ heading into Kyoto’s second commitment period. With CDM forestry projects limited to A/R, most forest mitigation activities occur in the voluntary carbon markets. Granted, the capacity of CDM A/R rules and supporting institutions has grown, with an increasing number of projects over the past years. Even as the CDM improves and draws lessons from REDD+, however, FCA says forest carbon projects cannot be conducted as stand-alone activities going forward. Will REDD+ be included under the CDM, or vice versa? Countries continue to develop bilateral and national mechanisms, unclear on how they will fit under any future international framework.
USAID commits anew in India and Peru
Recalling the 2009 US-India MOU, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Minister of External Affairs SM Krishna have agreed to continue bilateral collaboration on climate adaptation and REDD+. This summer, USAID will award India a $15 million Partnership for Land Use Science (Forest-PLUS) technical assistance program to scale up REDD+ as a part of the Indian government’s Green India Mission. USAID and the US Forest Service will work with India’s Ministry of Environment and Forests to inventory and monitor carbon storage levels and pilot carbon estimation methodologies. USAID will also be investing $4.5 million in climate change programs in Peru. The funding will support forest inventory development, including tracking systems to monitor carbon fluxes and forest mapping using LIDAR technologies.
Code REDD’s big haul
Code REDD will be launched today, ahead of Rio+20. Five major corporations – Insurance giant Allianz, French retail conglomerate PPR, energy companies Eneco and Entega, and South African bank Nedbank – are joining by pledging to buy buy millions of dollars in emission reduction credits generated by VCS/CCB-certified REDD+ projects. Forest carbon credit providers include BioCarbon Pty Ltd. (Ecuador), ERA (DR Congo), Forest Carbon Offsets (Belize), The Surui Project (Brazil), Wildlife Alliance (Cambodia), Wildlife Conservation Society (Madagascar), and Wildlife Works (Kenya). By publicly announcing the intent to purchase a large number of credits, Code REDD aims to push other companies to voluntarily commit to offset their carbon emissions with forest carbon credits while steering them away from dodgy REDD+ projects.
Bain and M&S broaden their portfolios
Boston-based consultancy Bain & Co and London-based retailer Marks & Spencer both announced carbon neutrality recently, zeroing out their footprints via internal reductions and carbon offsets sourced through The CarbonNeutral Company – a number of which covered forest carbon projects. Bain has invested in six offset projects covering forestry and other project types in the US, Brazil, Turkey, India, and China. M&S, the first big UK retailer to go carbon neutral, is helping finance offset projects with direct community benefits, including Meru and Nanyuki reforestation in Kenya (VCS/CCBA), Sabah rainforest rehabilitation in Borneo (VCS), and the Kasigau Corridor REDD+ project in Kenya (VCS/CCBA).
A deep dive into Great Bear carbon
Starting this year, the Gitga’at and seven neighboring First Nations (together the Coastal First Nations) plan to harvest 1 MtCO2e of carbon offsets in a 50/50 profit-sharing deal with BC’s government over the next century, based on improved forest management covering 5.4 million ha of BC’s Great Bear Rainforest. Coastal First Nations policy analyst Gary Wouters says the Pacific Carbon Trust has agreed “in principle” to buy the offsets in order to cover emissions from BC public service. The project is the first to follow the BC Forest Carbon Offset Protocol, which the province is seeking acceptance for under VCS. BC policymakers hope to see BC-grown forest carbon offsets qualify for use in the Western Climate Initiative next year. ForestEthics Solution’s Valerie Langer estimates the first tranche of offsets will earn close to $3 million.
TNC brings Delta and other change to Sweet Louisiana
Delta passengers can now offset emissions via the Tensas River Basin Forest Carbon Project in Franklin Parish, Louisiana – one of two projects registered with VCS last Thursday. The other – the Bayou Bartholomew Project in Morehouse Parish – gets most of its funding from Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI). The Nature Conservancy spearheaded both projects, which were designed with the help of TerraCarbon and validated by Rainforest Alliance under VCS. The projects are registered through VCS on the Markit Environmental Registry and VCS Project Database, but won’t begin issuing credits once the trees have grown. The 164.5-ha Tensas River Basin project is estimated to remove up to 83,700 tCO2 over 70 years, while the 60-ha Bayou Bartholomew project is estimated to remove up to 34,037 tCO2 over 64 years.
33 Forest Capital Cikels its way into Amazon
33 Forest Capital, in partnership with Brazilian company CKBV Florestal (part of Grupo Cikel) has been awarded registration under VCS for a landmark REDD project in the Amazon Rainforest in Para, Brazil. The Cikel Brazilian Amazon REDD APD Project, validated by VCS and the Rainforest Alliance, is expected to receive carbon credits over the next 10 years based upon a projected reduction of 9.4 MtCO2 in emissions. The project leverages sustainable logging practices certified by the Forest Stewardship Council to avoid the deforestation of 27.4 thousand ha of rainforest.
Germany works new panorama in Panama
The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) announced Thursday that it is planning to develop a REDD+ project in the Panama Canal Basin, as part of a collaborative agreement signed with the German Agency for International Cooperation and Panama’s National Environmental Authority (ANAM). The agreement sets the terms and conditions for a pilot, which will provide incentives for producers in the Basin to replace livestock grazing and monoculture plantations with sustainable forest management. The Basin concentrates the main water sources that supply water to accommodate over half of Panama’s population.
Hope in the Himalayas
In Responding to Climate Change’s latest series of case studies, Seema Karki from the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) explains how Himalayan communities have benefited from REDD+. Since 2009, ICIMOD and its partners have been piloting REDD+ in three Nepalese watershed-based community forests, extending over 10,000 ha. The project has created a pilot Forest Carbon Trust Fund (FCTF), which integrates equity related concerns while paying communities with REDD+ proceeds. While the project area has enjoyed increased forest cover, key challenges include the expense of MRV mechanisms, sustainability of the FCTF after the project period (ending mid-2013), and the threat of non-permanence activities like forest fire.
Israelis in essence
London-based Carbon Essence, owned by Israeli entrepreneurs, has entered a contract with the Central African Republic government to manage rainforest preservation efforts across 2.25-6 million acres over 25 years, during which the country is projected to receive an eventual €35-80 million in annual returns. Carbon Essence Chairman Shapira says that over the next year, the company will mediate a deal between the government and a buyer for the sale of credits. Carbon Essence will receive a percentage of proceeds, the remainder of which will be used to finance hospitals, education and welfare services, infrastructure, and modern agriculture in the CAR.
Indonesia’s maze walkers
Aceh! Bless you. Another Australian-owned forest carbon project in Indonesia has stalled. The Ulu Masen project, run by Dorjee Sun’s company Carbon Conservation, was intended to generate millions of carbon credits, but no credits have been generated or sold, nor has the project achieved verification. Seven-figure Australian investor Jeff Carmichael fears he may lose his investment as Zaini Abdullah, Aceh’s new governor, has not yet agreed to a meeting to continue the project certification process. Sun said if Australia could agree to buy Indonesia’s REDD credits bilaterally with its $23/tCO2 price, it might push the governor to support the project.
In contrast, a Sydney Morning Herald article quotes Hadi Daryanto, Indonesia’s forestry department secretary-general, as saying, “Logs are priced in the market at $100 per cubic metre of log. [REDD credits] would have to be $70/tCO2 to compete.’’ Australia’s carbon tax will pay only 1/3 of this amount, and the EU market is paying about 1/7. The same article recounts the experiences of investors – like Norway and Australia or Macquarie Bank and Merrill Lynch-Bank of America – and project developers like Todd Lemons and Dharsono Hartono trying to field Indonesia’s bureaucracy and logging threats.
Green Belt warms the bench
The Kenya-based Green Belt Movement said recently that its campaign to earn carbon credit revenue from reforestation in the Aberdares and Mount Kenya forests has lost momentum. Intended to grow 4,000 ha of trees, the project would have been the first of its kind to earn money from A/R efforts, with the World Bank agreeing to buy the carbon credits. Another project in Tsavo National Park, however, has already overtaken it. Green Belt had hoped to start earning carbon credits last year but the Kenya government allows controlled farming and grazing to enable locals to benefit from forest resources. Karanja Njoroge, Green Belt’s Executive Director, says Green Belt has been discussing with the government the possibility of completely banning these practices.
National Strategy & Capacity
A mixed bag in Brazil
A blogger reflects on Brazil’s state of affairs as it juggles Rio+20, a delayed carbon market launch, and Forest Code reforms. While Congress is slated for a final vote on President Rousseff’s controversial changes to the Code in July, some question whether the reforms will really matter in parts of Brazil where law enforcement is weak. In fairer weather news, the state-led INPE says the Amazon has seen the lowest deforestation rates since 1988, and Rousseff has announced the creation of two nature reserves (in Paraní¡ and Rio Grande do Norte) and seven indigenous Amazon reserves. Ironically, only 22% of Brazilians know what Rio+20 is, according to a recent survey by the Ministry of Environment.
This weekend, Brazil announced plans to cut industrial emissions by 5% below business as usual by 2020, mining emissions by 4%, and transport by 2%. Some find the targets too modest to stimulate demand for REDD credits in a future Brazilian carbon market. It remains unclear as to whether the government will actually require these targets, as it also released documents this weekend that said previously announced plans in the forest, energy, and ag sectors could cut emissions by up to 40% below expected levels in 2020.
Zimbabwe holds itself to new standard
While Zimbabwe hasn’t yet begun formal preparations for REDD mechanism, later this year the Standards Association of Zimbabwe will be launching a new certification scheme for sustainable forest management to help Zimbabwe certify forestry management practices and regulate the local timber industry. Plantation forest managers will be able to obtain independent, third party certification of their forest management practices. In addition, the standard may provide benefits for the local timber industry, drawing from higher prices for wood from certified forests. The standard reflects requirements from the Forest Stewardship Council and the Programme for the Enhancement of Forest Certification.
Brainstorming on CFI buy-in
RMIT’s Nooshin Torabi shares thoughts on how to boost participation in the Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI) and Biodiversity Fund, the Australian government’s two initiatives designed to help private landholders earn income while benefiting climate change abatement and biodiversity management. According to The Climate Institute, about a third of 1,500 Biodiversity Fund applicants expressed interest in the CFI as well, suggesting potential for cross-marketing. Torabi recommends that the CFI budget accommodate research on social and cultural drivers, which are often overlooked in program design but may help market the initiatives to landholders. In addition, she stresses the need for the CFI to help offset project expenses to avoid having farmers opt to recoup their money in the timber market instead of the biodiverse carbon market.
Finance & Economics
A not so private, private matter
Bloomberg New Energy Finance and the Inter-American Development Bank’s multilateral investment fund (MIF) have set up an index called Climatescope to spur private investment in Latin America and the Caribbean. The inaugural Climatescope report says Brazil has the region’s most favorable environment for climate-related investments, though Nicaragua attracted the most investment as a share of GDP. The index identified green capital flows of $9.4bn in the region, mostly public finance – about half the funding Latin America should be attracting, according to MIF. In contrast, about 60% of finance mobilized globally to support low-carbon development is already private, suggests data from the Climate Policy Initiative. The US has made it clear its $1bn contribution to REDD – which needs up to $30bn a year – is contingent on private-sector involvement.
Methodology & Standards Watch
Forest standard, gold edition
After focusing only on renewable energy and energy efficiency projects in its first decade, The Gold Standard (GS) is expanding its project scope into land use and forestry. The new land use and forestry segment will provide for carbon accounting, safeguards and MRV for co-benefits, combinations of activities, scale, longevity and recognition of the value of non-carbon attributes. GS is seeking funding to develop its new focus, while assessing potential pilot projects and partners. Beyond the forest, GS has also established a new Cities Programme, researching how renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies can be deployed to support city and regional level initiatives, with a pilot underway to finance improved informal housing in Delhi.
Trees, atmosphere, and water raise the roof
The Forest Footprint Disclosure Project (FFDP) is joining hands with the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), producing the world’s most holistic disclosure system for data on natural capital. Launched by the Global Canopy Programme in 2009 as a mirror to CDP, the FFDP asks firms for information on their deforestation-driving use of commodities like soy and timber. While CDP will begin managing FFDP operations in February 2013 with integration to be complete the following year, GCP will still act as the project’s key advisor on forests and forest risk commodities. Bringing forests, which are critically linked to climate and water security, into the CDP system will enable companies and investors to rely on one source of primary data for interrelated issues, said CDP CEO Paul Simpson.
The forgotten piece of pie
When policymakers and planners look to enhance local quality of life, they often base their decisions on a variant of the UN Human Development Index (HDI), a basket of indicators ranging from income to life expectancy. A new CIFOR paper finds that the HDI fails to capture how much forest dwellers care about forests, or more broadly, how much communities care about the environment. This omission, Garcia says, risks omitting environmental concerns from policy agendas. Garcia recommends supplementing project research with on-the-ground interviews, convinced that they could contextualize global metrics like the HDI beyond a purely economic quantification of quality of life.
Science & Technology Review
UK satellite imaging company DMCii has led a multi-disciplinary consortium to secure a spot as a part of the Department for International Development Forest Governance Markets and Climate (FGMC) Framework Agreement, which supports developing countries in strengthening forest governance efforts. In support of broader UK REDD+ efforts, the inFORm consortium can now compete for projects to monitor land use and forests, build forest protection methods, introduce a financial results-based payment system for carbon, and analyze the impact of forest management scenarios.
Progress since the 80s
Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE) estimates that 6,418 square kilometers of Amazon forest were cleared between August 1, 2010 and July 31, 2011. While this is 3% higher than the estimate released last December, it still marks the lowest rate of forest clearing since annual record-keeping began in the late 1980s. Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon has fallen by 75% since peaking in 2004. The trend seems to be continuing into 2012. Last month, Imazon reported a further decline in deforestation and forest degradation this year based on preliminary data.
Publications & Tools
Put your double blinders on
A new brief by the U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre shares lessons from a case involving the World Bank/GEF, the Ugandan Ministry of Trade, Tourism, and Industry, and the Uganda Wildlife Authority, illuminating how corrupt processes can unfold across multiple governance levels in the Ugandan context. The brief recommends that donors seeking to support REDD+ schemes in East Africa should consider double-blind MRV assignments involving staggered or autonomous visits from evaluators who are not otherwise familiar with each other and have limited opportunities to develop informal connections with recipient-country officials.
If only they came laminated
Cheers to reference material that can explain sustainable forest management (SFM) to your stakeholders. The Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF) has released eight fact sheets (available in English, French, and Spanish) underlining the role of forest ecosystems, SFM, and REDD+ in the search for solutions to global challenges like climate change, food security, job creation and biodiversity loss, as well as their importance to indigenous people and rural women. The sheets capture current issues, experiences and knowledge, identify gaps in information, and note what is at stake if no action is taken.
CIFOR taps FAO expert as new Director General
CIFOR recently announced the appointment of forestry, climate change and food security expert Peter Holmgren as its new director general as Frances Seymour steps down. Holmgren will join CIFOR in September from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), where he is Director of the Climate, Energy and Tenure Division. Since 2007, he has led the Climate, Energy and Tenure division at FAO, developing the profile and coordination of FAO’s climate change work and contributions of FAO to the UNFCCC process. He also took the lead in setting up the UN-REDD programme.
Ruiz Corzo of Sierra Gorda
Martha “Pati” Isabel Ruiz Corzo, founder of Grupo Ecolí³gico Sierra Gorda I.A.P. (GESG) has received this year’s National Geographic Society/Buffett Award for Leadership in Latin American Conservation. Ruiz Corzo founded the organization with her husband and local residents in 1987 to rescue Mexico’s Sierra Gorda bioregion from unregulated development, setting a new paradigm in natural protected area management with widespread local community participation. She also pioneered the concept of valuing “natural capital” in the region — the Sierra Gorda has been validated by the Rainforest Alliance, the first forest carbon project to achieve this milestone in Mexico.
VARIOUS POSITIONS, THAILAND – RECOFTC
Based in Bangkok, three positions involve working with the USAID-funded REDD+ Community Benefits Program. Candidates should have 10 years of forestry experience for the Chief of Party position, 3 years of relevant experience for the Communications Officer position, and experience in financial monitoring for the Program Assistant position.
INTERNATIONAL CONSULTANT (LAC REGIONAL ADVISOR), GREEN COMMODITIES FACILITY – UNDP
Based in Panama, the consultant will identify and develop opportunities and financing for projects in target countries for target commodities, provide support to project implementation, and manage key partnerships. Candidates should have an advanced university degree in natural resource management or agriculture, 3 years of work experience in sustainable agriculture supply chains, and excellent command of English and Spanish. Read more about the position here.
ADVISOR, CLIMATE, COMMUNITY & BIODIVERSITY – CONSERVATION INTERNATIONAL
Based in Arlington, Virginia, the advisor will support the development and use of CCBA standards particularly for smallholder and community led land-based carbon projects. Candidates should have 3+ years of experience working on a related initiative and a Bachelor’s degree or higher in relevant field. Read more about the position here.
PROTECTED AREAS AND LCDS/REDD+ POSITION – WORLD WILDLIFE FUND
Based in Georgetown, Guyana, the position will support the Government of Guyana in implementing its Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) by creating a protected area system and identifying WWF’s most strategic areas of intervention within the LCDS going forward. Candidates should have a relevant PhD/Masters and 10 years of relevant work experience (3-5 years in the region). Read more about the position here.
PROJECT MANAGER, THE REDD DESK – Global Canopy Programme
Based in Oxford, the project manager will be responsible for managing and developing The REDD Desk, a core project within the Policy program. Candidates should have a Master’s degree in environment, climate change, or development, a minimum of 3 years of project management experience and experience managing donor relations and grant and budget management. Read more about the position here.
TWO POSITIONS, USAID-FUNDED PROGRAM – Tetra Tech ARD
Based in Washington, DC, the Senior Project Design and Planning Specialist and Senior Researcher will work on a USAID funded Measuring Impact program. Candidates should have at least a Master’s degree (PhD preferred) in international development, biodiversity conservation, ecology, public administration, or related degree; and at least 10 years of work experience. Read more about the specialist position here and the researcher position here.