This Week in Forest Carbon: Going Once, Going Twice…

The survey for the State of the Forest Carbon Markets report closes March 15, so be sure to register and submit your response today.

 March 12 |  Before we launch into the latest forest carbon headlines, a gentle reminder that the deadline to respond to the State of the Forest Carbon Markets 2012 report survey is extended to March 15, 2012.


If your organization developed forest carbon projects for the voluntary or compliance carbon markets (or sold forest carbon offsets to, well, anyone) in 2011, we invite you to contribute your data by COB Thursday.  LOGIN TO THE SURVEY HERE.


What’s in it for you? Forest carbon project developers can opt to let us feature your project on the front page of the  Forest Carbon Portal. Everyone who provides a complete response can choose to be featured on the  Ecosystem Marketplace  homepage and in our news briefs (with weblink). We are grateful to the over 150 organizations that have already signed up to the survey from over 30 countries worldwide (see the latest below).


Now on to the news, Ecosystem Marketplace launched a new report last week, with 13 case studies from around the world exploring the way governments are engaging with the voluntary carbon markets (VCM).  Bringing it Home: Taking Stock of Government Engagement with the Voluntary Carbon Market    reveals that of the 13 programs profiled in the report, 11 allow credits from a variety of forest and terrestrial carbon project types, from afforestation/reforestation, IFM and REDD to rangeland and grassland management.  


Just today, forest carbon giants ERA Carbon Offsets and Wildlife Works announced that they have entered into a Joint Venture Agreement to complete the 299,645 hectare Mai Ndombe REDD project in the Democratic Republic of the Congo which was announced by ERA in late summer 2011.


The last two weeks also saw forest carbon investments continue to blossom in Asia, as South Korea signed an MoU with the Indonesian government, worth $10 million and expected to net around 100 million tons of carbon emission credits through 2020 from reforestation in Sumatra. The European Investment Bank and China also worked out an agreement that would secure EU $250 million for forestry projects with carbon mitigation and biodiversity elements under the “China Forestry Framework Loan”.  


The governance issue reared its head again, as a WWF-led REDD initiative funded by Norway was halted after reports of corruption. The WWF is on the line for the approximately $85,000 that is missing.  


Malaysia was busy completing its forest inventory, while a Wetlands International-commissioned study found that Sabah and Sarawak, two of the country’s states, were rapidly losing forests, contradicting the estimates of Malaysia’s Forestry Department.


Keep reading below for these and more forest carbon market news, hot off the presses. And a special thanks to those organizations that have so far contributed complete responses to our State of the Forest Carbon Markets 2011/2012 survey:  REDD Forests,  Sierra Gorda Reserve,  Greenfleet,  GET Carbon,  GFA Envest,  Carbon Project Solutions,  Greenoxx,  Carbon Credit Capital,  Grupo Financiero de Occidente,  Camco,  Forest Carbon Offsets,  CarbonVerde, LLC,  Mountain Association for Community Economic Development,  Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust,  Oklahoma Carbon Program,  Equator, LLC,  Envirotrade Carbon Ltd.,,  The Climate Trust,  China Green Carbon Foundation,  Conservation International,  Carbon Tanzania,  Green Resources,  Permanent Forests International,  Plan Vivo Foundation,  Climate Neutral Group,  CF Partners,  U YOOL CHE AC,    Carbon Credit Corp.,  Mpingo Conservation  ,  Forest Carbon Group,  and  South Pole Carbon.


The survey deadline is fast approaching, so create a profile and submit your response  HERE.

—The Ecosystem Marketplace Team

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



International Policy

Governments worldwide embrace voluntary carbon offset market

Governments around the world are turning to the voluntary carbon markets and engaging the private sector in a wave that could shape tomorrow’s carbon market, and interestingly but somewhat unsurprisingly, forest carbon has a very definite place. Although long spurned by the Kyoto protocol and the EU ETS, forest carbon projects have found a home in many of these voluntary programs. Ecosystem Marketplace profiles 13 of the most advanced efforts across the Americas, Europe, Asia and Latin America in Bringing it Home: Taking Stock of Government Engagement with the Voluntary Carbon Market, a report which grew out of a meeting of national governments and carbon market participants convened by the International Emissions Trading Association’s (IETA) International Carbon Reduction and Offset Alliance and the Carbon Markets & Investors Association (CMIA) during climate talks in Durban in 2011. In a show of confidence in the voluntary markets as a valid complement to regulation, the study finds governments moving beyond their traditional role of providing oversight for voluntary offsetting programs to also developing methodologies and certifying projects. The report highlights these innovative domestic programs that in some cases are a testing ground for regional regulatory tools. Read more and download the report  here


Not out of the woods yet

The Ecosystem Marketplace report highlighted some challenges to forest carbon offset programs in Annex I countries – like the UK’s Woodland Carbon Code – that are currently grappling with the topic of how you create a genuine carbon offset in a country with Kyoto accounts. The WCC, at least, remarked in a follow-up article that they are looking to address the issues that have arisen since the scheme’s deployment in 2011. On the docket is a way to confront its double counting issue – the Forestry Commission, which runs the program, is reportedly in discussions with Markit Environmental Registry to list a “Woodland Carbon Unit” in order to improve transparency around the program’s reductions. A domestic media article also points out another challenge to the program – the reduction of carbon stocks due to disease and drought, which are both on the rise in Britain and call into question the effectiveness of using forests to sequester carbon, according to some of the country’s forestry experts. The Forestry Commission has responded by a buffer amount of around 35%.  Read more about the Woodland Carbon Code’s challenges and potential fixes  here  


Australian soil carbon methodology stuck in the mud

An article from an Australian  agricultural news publication, Stock and Land, reports that despite the UN and others in the global community getting behind soil carbon, Australia’s efforts to reward the building of soil carbon stocks is lagging. Although a soil carbon methodology is in the works under the Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI), it has yet to be approved by the Domestic Offset Integrity Committee. That’s due to a number of factors, including the complexity of soil carbon dynamics, as well as the difficulty of ensuring compliance with Kyoto’s rules. Meanwhile, the Carbon Farming and Trading Association warns that some Australian farmers may have fallen into “the additionality trap,” by employing carbon-sequestering land management techniques before formally implementing soil carbon projects. Read more about the methodologies slow move towards approval  here


Project Development

Two project developers are better than one

A REDD project being developed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, announced by ERA Carbon Offsets Ltd.,  in August of last year, will benefit from a joint venture agreement with Wildlife Works, a project developer  with REDD project experience in Africa. Both companies will contribute to project finance, technical development, implementation, and sales of the offsets from the project. The Mai Ndombe REDD project concession covers 299,645 and is expected to generate 1.5 to 3.0 million tonnes of carbon offsets per year under the Verified Carbon Standard and Climate, Community and Biodiversity Alliance Standard. Read more about the joint venture  here


Korea inks deal for Indonesian carbon credits

The South Korean and Indonesian governments have signed an MoU that will result in tree planting on a 200,000 hectare plot in Indonesia in exchange for 100 million tons of carbon emission credits over the next decade. The first step under the MoU will be reforestation in a 14,000-hectare area of rainforest in Indonesia’s Sumatra region at a cost of $10 million. Korean news service Chosunilbo notes that the amount of credits Korea hopes to receive through 2020 would normally cost almost $2 billion, or $20 per ton, but Korea will save more than $1 billion through MoU, and hopefully meet its national voluntary target. Read more about the MoU  here


Banking on China’s forests

The European Investment Bank (EIB) has announced a EU $250 million loan that will fund forest carbon projects in China. Known as the “China Forestry Framework Loan,” it will support several individual forestry projects across China that contribute to the forestry programme of the People’s Republic of China and that achieve  environmental and biodiversity preservation and improvement, climate change adaptation and mitigation. The EIB has loaned close to EU $1 billion through 2010 to forestry-focused operations. Read more about the loan  here


Merlin’s Wood casts REDD spell in Pakistan  

In our last newsletter we wrote about a dispute between UK-company  Merlin’s Wood and forest owners in Pakistan  over a proposed REDD project. There’s also been some back and forth between Chris Lang of REDD Monitor, who  highlighted the story, and  Surriekha Khan, the Director of Merlins Wood Limited. Now, a new piece of the story has emerged. Merlins Wood has signed MoUs with the governments of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Azad State of Jammu and Kashmir, with Terra Global Capital joining on to develop the large REDD project. The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) project covers 300,000 hectares of Himalayan forest, which is being lost due to illegal commercial timber harvesting, fuelwood gathering, free grazing of livestock, and agriculture and settlement expansion. Khan, in her letter to Lang, mentions that the project is seeking validation under VCS and CCB. Read more about the project  here


Methodology & Standards Watch

Speak your mind on VCS updates

The Verified Carbon Standard has released revisions to two REDD methodology module updates and an avoided deforestation methodology. The standard also released an update to a tool that calculates historical deforestation rates using incomplete remote sensing imagery when complete scenes are not available. The updates are still in the approval process and are open to public comment through April 4. Read more and submit your comments  here


National Strategy and Capacity

Kiwis watch NZU price climb

New Zealand’s forest owners continue to hold on to their NZUs in the face of low prices. NZUs saw prices of around $20 fall to below $10 starting mid-last year in the face of a weak European market. Now, the price spread between CERs and NZUs has narrowed, as New Zealand’s carbon-emitting firms buy up cheap CERs to meet upcoming compliance targets. Nigel Brunel, an analyst at OM Financial, says that NZUs may find themselves back in double digits if the CER market rallies, which may be in the cards after the announced plans to withhold credits from the EU ETS. Read more about the NZU price rally  here


Forest Code veto date uprooted

We’ve been tracking the saga of Brazil’s updated Forest Code for some time, and know by now that whenever a vote is at hand, there’s another delay. True to form, Agencia Brasil said the vote has been rescheduled for next week. Brazil’s congress decided on the delay to ensure that there is adequate support among lawmakers to pass the bill, which has been updated and includes some provisions championed by environmentalists. That could lead to another outcry and forced stalemate from the ‘ruralistas’, the large pro-agriculture coalition that has championed a more lax Forest Code. Read more about the vote delay  here


Borneo burning

Malaysia will complete an inventory of its forests by the end of the year, as part of the country’s national forest inventory efforts that take place every 10 years. The country has a target of 50 percent forest cover in every state, excluding the most developed state, Selangor. The peninsula is estimated to have 44 percent cover. However, two states that are in need of forest protection, Sarawak and Sabah, are governed by separate rules and conduct their own assessments – although officials from the states reported 70 percent and 50 percent forest cover, respectively. However, a recent Wetlands International report based on satellite imagery shows that the two states on the island of Borneo have lost 10 percent of their forest cover over the last 5 years, and that deforestation is progressing at a much faster rate than the Malaysian government has acknowledged.

Read about Malaysia’s forest inventory  here  and read about the Wetlands International report  here


Finance and Economics

BioCarbon Fund reports on A/R CDM experience

The World Bank’s BioCarbon Fund have been working to finance A/R projects under the CDM for the past seven years, supporting over 20 projects around the world. In a new report, launched at an event last week, the challenges, such as developing greenhouse gas accounting protocols and addressing land tenure issues are described alongside successes and future opportunities, like those in soil carbon and REDD. The BioCarbon Fund Experience: Insights from Afforestation/Reforestation Clean Development Mechanism Projects touches on CDM regulations, non-permanence, financing, legal and institutional challenges, and assessing under-delivery risk. While the CDM has provided the platform for A/R projects, its complicated and drawn out rules and procedures have been a hindrance to developers, and while the voluntary market has embraced co-benefit standards, there has also been difficulty in getting the CDM to account for project co-benefits. Read more about the report launch  here  and  here  and download the report  here  


Possible embezzlement halts WWF-run REDD project in Tanzania

A REDD project run by the WWF in Tanzania has been halted after reports of possible corruption. An interim management team has been assigned to the project while an investigation, led by Ernst and Young, takes place. In the meantime, Norway has suspended its $2.5 million funding of the project. Around $85,000 may have been misappropriated, which the Norwegian government has said must be paid back by the WWF. Despite the setback, Norway has said they remain committed to pushing REDD forward in Tanzania and elsewhere. Read more about the halted project  here


Human Dimension  

REDD might not be rosy for Indonesia’s indigenous communities

Indonesia continues to be the site of arguments over the impact of the country’s REDD activities on indigenous peoples and forest communities. The Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) are objecting to plans for a pilot REDD project in the Kayan Mentarang National Park, which they say will further marginalize the indigenous groups, an estimated 20,000 to 25,000 Dayak tribesmen that live in the area. Indonesia’s government plans to move ahead with the pilot later this year, and said it will ensure that some of the revenue will be invested in local communities. Read more about the Dayak’s possible REDD troubles  here  


Science and Technology Review

Scientists paint a clearer picture of soil carbon

Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory have found that current models and methods for estimating soil carbon stocks are creating very different pictures of the amount of carbon actually sequestered in soil in North America, from offsetting 20 percent of total fossil fuel emissions from the continent up to 50 percent. The top-down method, which uses atmospheric models, gives a high estimate of the soil carbon potential, while bottom-methods, which rely on land ecosystem models, give a lower estimate, and inventory models a lower estimate still. The researchers ultimately suggest that the different approaches begin to converge in order to produce fully integrated monitoring systems. Download the paper  here  (PDF) and read more about the 12-year study  here


Publication and Tools

Where does all the money go?

While attention to social and environmental protections around REDD+ has grown, there is a gap for safeguards addressing fiduciary risks and financial transparency under the scheme. Along this vein, Global Witness reviewed a wide range of existing international multilateral funding mechanisms, from those in the forest and climate sectors to AIDs and malaria, to produce this analysis of how REDD+ financial flows can be optimally managed. The paper offers lessons learned and recommendations for the design and improvement of REDD+ funding mechanisms to limit misappropriation and corruption, to instead promote transparency, accountability and efficiency. Specifically, it focuses on how performance-related criteria could be incorporated into the financial flow system. Download the report  here


Africa’s road to REDD+

This report produced by The Global Land Project highlights the challenges in implementing REDD+ in Africa and provides a data base of existing REDD+ initiatives and their status of implementation. The report covers the political, institutional, technical, social and economic challenges to REDD and also touches on funding and monitoring issues.  Read more  here


Final report for building REDD+ policy capacity should help developing countries at next COP

This report is part of the third and final phase of the Building REDD+ Policy Capacity for Developing Country Negotiators and Land Managers project by the Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) and ASB Partnership for the Tropical Forest Margins at the World Agroforestry Centre. It was birthed out of a meeting of an advisory group of experts on the fringes of the climate talks in Durban in December 2011. Participants of the meeting decided on a focus thematic area, informed by the project’s two earlier phases, under which they developed case studies and lessons learned. The report therefore brings out the key messages from the discussions and provides an overview of the meeting proceedings, and concludes by offering perspectives on how outcomes of the meeting will influence the future trajectory of the project. Read more and access the final report  here



A friendly reminder for New Zealand’s forest owners

If you’re a forest owner living in New Zealand and want to participate in New Zealand’s ETS, but haven’t registered yet, get a move on! The Waikato Regional Council has written to land owners reminding them that if they live on land where forests were planted after 1989, they can take part in the scheme.  Forests can be registered with the NZ Emissions Unit Registry by 31 March 2012 for credit claims back to January 2008, and must be registered by 31 December 2012 to claim NZ units or credits for the first Kyoto commitment period. Read more  here



REDD Projects Grant Specialist – The Nature Conservancy

Based in Mexico City, the Grant Specialist will work closely with project managers to ensure that the terms and conditions of agreements are met and properly documented, and communicates directly with agency contracting officers to clarify or negotiate financial and administrative requirements. Read more about the position  here

Technical Experts, REDD+ and Climate Change Adaptation – Tetra Tech ARD

Tetra Tech ARD are looking for regional and local technical experts in Central and South America to work on anticipated USAID-funded climate change adaptation and REDD+ projects in Latin America and the Caribbean. Five years of experience of technical experience and a masters degree in  forestry, climate change, natural resource management, or other related field are required. Read more about the position  here

Senior REDD+ Policy Consultant – Climate Focus

The senior forestry and land use consultant will lead Climate Focus’ USAID-funded “Lowering Emissions in Asia’s Forests” (LEAF) work from Bangkok, Thailand. Travel within South East Asia and elsewhere is required. Read more about the position  here


Technical Specialist, Climate Program – Rainforest Alliance

The Technical Specialist will be responsible for technical project coordination, verification systems and tools development, training, and supporting the growth of Rainforest Alliance’s Climate Program. Read more about the position  here


Technical Advisor (REDD+), Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, Australian Government

The advisor will primarily support the development of Australia’s international policy REDD+, with a focus on providing advice on its technical dimensions, including forest carbon accounting. Read more about the position  here


Policy Officer, Forestry Inventory Unit – Australian Government

The officer will contribute to the production of the land aspects of the Australia’s National Greenhouse Accounts and provide technical and policy advice on measurement issues related to land sector projects under the Carbon Farming Initiative. Read more about the position  here


Policy Manager, Forest Stewardship Council

The Policy Manager will manage the implementation of projects under the current FSC Climate Change Engagement Strategy and other activities for the certification of ecosystem services. Read more about the position  here  (PDF)


Senior GHG Inventory Officer – CD REDD II

Take the technical lead for project activities in 3-4 countries in Latin America and/or Africa and accompany the work on the forest-related national GHG inventory. At least 3 years experience in working on GHG inventories and REDD+ is desired.  Read more about the position  here

Please see our Reprint Guidelines for details on republishing our articles.