This Week In Forest Carbon: Heated Debate About REDD

At the COP19 climate talks in Warsaw, negotiators faced critical decisions on the future of forests. The Coalition of Rainforest Nations, led by Papua New Guinea, argued for the creation of a REDD+ body before discussing financing arrangements. Those opposed said it adds another layer of bureaucratic complexity to an already cumbersome process. In the end, a REDD package was adopted as the Coalition backed down.

The Coalition of Rainforest Nations, led by Papua New Guinea, argued for the creation of a REDD+ body before discussing financing arrangements during COP 19. Those opposed said it adds another layer of bureaucratic complexity to an already cumbersome process. In the end, a REDD package was adopted as the Coalition backed down.

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

25 November 2013 | Negotiators face critical decisions on the future of forests during the COP19 climate talks in Warsaw. The formal talks will resume on how to disperse funds for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) projects. Like Goldilocks, participants face three choices, but if they disagree on what is ‘just right’, they could significantly delay a final decision.

The first two options call for continued engagement under existing institutions, but the third – advocated primarily by Papua New Guinea (PNG) and the Coalition of Rainforest Nations – calls for the creation of a new “REDD-plus body” that would act as “the overall advisory body to the Conference of the Parties to improve coherence and coordination in the delivery of financial and technical support for the implementation of the [emission-reduction] activities.”
PNG proposed the creation of the REDD+ body last year in Doha, and argues that it’s needed so developing countries will not assume the expense of creating reference levels if they do not see money on the table and clear guidance on how it can be earned. Countries opposed to the committee’s creation argue that existing mechanisms operating under the World Bank, such as the Green Climate Fund and other entities, already provide the money and the guidance, and that a new committee adds another layer of bureaucratic complexity to an already cumbersome process.
In a harsh critique, Stephen Leonard of the REDD+ Safeguards Working Group said: “The reality is that a new REDD+ committee will take years to establish and will hold up financing of REDD+. It comes as a surprise that this idea would even be supported by Rainforest nations when finance is so desperately needed. The underlying pieces are in place and Warsaw has the potential to provide a REDD+ package. This positive outcome is currently being held hostage by the Coalition for Rainforest Nations, led by PNG.”
Last week, negotiators signed off on detailed guidance for two critical issues: namely, how to develop reference levels that measure a country’s rate of deforestation and how to determine which activities can be recognized and incentivized under a pay-for-performance mechanism. Much of the text regarding activities, however, is contingent on negotiators reaching agreement on finance.
The Polish government is pushing for a quick solution to the financing issue this week in order to leave the talks with a solid and comprehensive REDD+ text.
Ministers are meeting to map out high-level guidance for all land-use issues after 2020, and several countries – notably Norway, Germany, the United States, the United Kingdom, Indonesia and Colombia – are rumored to be announcing a multilateral arrangement on Wednesday.
These and other stories from the forest carbon marketplace are summarized below, so keep reading!  

—The Ecosystem Marketplace Team

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



Forest carbon webinar…en espaí±ol

Ecosystem Marketplace’s Spanish language sister site, Valorando Naturaleza, is offering a webinar on Tuesday, November 26 to present the Latin America-relevant results of our 2013 State of the Forest Carbon Markets report (Spanish press release available here). You can learn about forest carbon trends and progress in Latin America in this article, and soon you will be able to download the Executive Summary in Spanish here. However, if you don’t want to wait for the translation, the webinar is your opportunity to get the scoop on the report’s most important results. The details: November 26 at 9:30 a.m. México DF/Lima; 10:30 a.m. Bogotí¡/Quito/Washington DC; 11:30 a.m. Manaus/Puerto Rico; 1:30 p.m. Buenos Aires/Brasilia; 3:30 p.m. London.

Register for the webinar here.


You’re Invited: Exclusive Warsaw Debrief Event, Washington DC

Forest Trends’ Ecosystem Marketplace, McGuireWoods LLP and the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA) invite you to attend a special event exploring the interplay of progress and paralysis at COP19 in Warsaw, and its implications for new market mechanisms – including forest conservation finance. IETA President and CEO Dirk Forrister will headline the event, to be held on Tuesday, December 4th in Washington DC at the law offices of McGuireWoods LLP (2001 K Street N.W., Suite 400). An expert panel will present at 4:30PM, including a brief presentation of 2013 forest carbon market findings from Ecosystem Marketplace – with discussion and reception to follow. Space is limited!


To RSVP, please email your name and organization/company to Allie Goldstein ([email protected]). Looking forward to seeing you there!


Forest Carbon Portal webinar: join us

Our Forest Carbon Portal has a fresh new look and enhanced capabilities. The Portal is a one-of-a-kind clearinghouse for land-based carbon market offset projects. It tracks operational and pipeline forest carbon projects around the world, putting project overviews and project developer contact information at the fingertips of potential investors, offset buyers, researchers, and policy-makers. The half-hour webinar will walk participants through how to upload their project information to the Portal, and how to get the most out of the clearinghouse, including how to become a featured project in our Forest Carbon News Brief. The webinar will be held on Thursday, December 5 at 11:30 EST. Sign up here.


International Policy

Adaptation, Mitigation Do Mix

Forestry and agricultural projects have numerous opportunities to link adaptation and mitigation benefits, sometimes without even realizing or aiming for it, according to a new study by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR). The study examined 235 adaptation and mitigation projects and found that many projects that specified a focus on one goal actually had the potential to contribute to the other objective, although the rationale for doing so is sometimes unclear. Projects certified to the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Standard are already ahead of the curve in achieving such synergies, CIFOR found. Many projects implemented primarily for humanitarian reasons are leaders in contributing to both goals.

U.S. Policy

ARB starts hugging trees

The California Air Resources Board (ARB) took a major step forward in the development of its offset program by issuing the first forest carbon offsets eligible for compliance with the state’s cap-and-trade market. The offsets come from two improved forest management (IFM) projects: the Willits Woods project and the Farm Cove Improved Forest Management Project. To reach this point, the projects had to undergo dual verification: the first under the Early Action Offset Program and the second by a separate, ARB-accredited certifying party. Finite Carbon’s President Sean Carney has high hopes that the ARB’s action will encourage other land owners to enter the market by proving that the compliance market is real, and so is the revenue.

Project Development

Buzzing around the forests

Burkina Faso just received $11.5 million from the African Development Bank and Climate Investment Funds’ Forest Investment Program. Almost half of Burkina Faso’s land is forested; much of the country’s development relies on forest services. With deforestation an increasing problem, this money will support the Gazetted Forests Participatory Management Project, which will create sustainable livelihoods while protecting gazetted forests. More specifically, the project will develop a measurable, reportable and verifiable (MRV) system to manage 284,000 hectares of forests in addition to establishing socio-economic infrastructure support. By developing diverse income sources from the forest including almond/shea processing and beekeeping, the project will directly benefit 5,400 locals and indirectly benefit an estimated 850,000 people.

Putting on some hectares

Africa’s first large-scale carbon trading forestry project has arrived. The Humbo project, developed by World Vision Australia and the Ethiopian government, seeks to re-establish 2,728 hectares of native forest. Currently, deforestation has ravaged the country with less than 3% of native forests remaining in Ethiopia. The project will support local communities by employing locals in community-managed natural regeneration programs, and contributing to sustainable development by utilizing forest and non-forest benefits. Additional income will stem from the estimated 880,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e) sequestered over a 30-year period. Humbo is being piloted under the Clean Development Mechanism.

Forests are in the bag

Major British retailer Marks and Spencer (M&S) just signed a three-year partnership with the charity Cool Earth to protect more than a million Amazonian trees. For an undisclosed sum, the Ashaninka project will encourage sustainable forest management through payments to indigenous peoples. The price offered is equivalent to the amount they might receive through illegal logging or palm oil plantations, both key drivers of deforestation in the Amazon. One byproduct of the project will be sustainably-produced cacao, which M&S currently does not have plans to purchase, but Cool Earth indicates a commercial agreement might be established in the future. The project is based in Peru, covering more than 5,000 acres of forest, and will protect 1.3 million tCO2e from the atmosphere.

Off the beaten path

The Empresa Brasileira de Conservacao de Florestas (EBCF) aims to conserve Brazil’s rainforests and reduce poverty. Unlike government or NGO programs, the EBCF operates on private finance. As such, it takes a non-traditional approach to forest conservation. The company identified environmental sponsorship, carbon credits, eco-tourism, scientific research partnerships and the development of new businesses managing non-timber forest products as viable streams of revenue. “The unique thing about us is that we were licensed by the government to detimber, to deforest part of the rain forest, but we decided not to,” says Owner Leonardo Barrionuevo. Instead, EBCF has become the first private company focused on conservation and sustainable development in the Amazon, helping an estimated 1,750 individuals in the area.

United crunches the numbers

An enhanced carbon emissions calculator released this month will allow United Airlines customers to more easily calculate their shipping emissions, based on origin and destination of flights and shipment weight. United Cargo says that the calculator will help them efficiently respond to shipping request-for-proposals, which more and more often require emissions data. After calculating their emissions, customers can choose to offset them through United’s current project portfolio, which includes a forest conservation project in California’s redwoods, a wind project in Texas, and an avoided deforestation project in Belize.

National Strategy and Capacity

A silver lining

Despite cutting back its 2020 commitment targets, Japan announced that it has met its Kyoto Protocol requirements. The global financial crisis, tree planting and international carbon offsets are the main reasons cited for achieving an 8.2% greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction compared to 1990 levels. However, the country has only agreed to reduce emissions for the first Kyoto commitment period (through 2012) and will not be joining the second commitment period. Emissions have already increased since 2011, when most of Japan’s nuclear plants went offline as a result of the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami that caused a meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear facility. Although Japan is the world’s fifth-largest GHG emitter, it has withheld Kyoto Protocol involvement until the larger emitters, China and the U.S., agree to reductions.

Two steps forward, one step back

Tanzania, Brazil and Indonesia have made headway in clarifying land tenure, but they may need renewed political will to continue these efforts. In Tanzania, the country has emphasized Participatory Forest Management as a key prerequisite for REDD+ projects. While natural resource laws at the village level are enforced even at the national level, only some of Tanzania’s 10,000 villages have completed their land use planning. Meanwhile, Brazil has been a leader in tenure security. However, while more than 40% of Brazil’s forests are recognized indigenous territories, land rights are only for above-ground resources. This leaves territories vulnerable to proposed legislation that would allow mining on indigenous lands. Lastly, Indonesia’s Constitutional Court ruled that forest people’s land was not state-owned but it will only be meaningful to REDD+ if the decision actually leads to a situation where these rights are effective for the people who claim them.

Fighting for the forest rights

Stronger indigenous land tenure rights result in greater forest cover, a new study unveiled at the Oslo REDD Exchange 2013 finds. The study, a collaboration between the El Salvador research institute PRISMA and the Mesoamerican Alliance of Peoples and Forests, looked at deforestation throughout Mesoamerica and discovered that areas with effective land rights outperform governments and industry players in conserving local forests. In many cases, indigenous territories are surrounded by deforestation. “On the map of Guatemala, our lands look like islands in a sea of devastation,” says Marcedonio Cortave, from the Association of Forest Communities of Petén. Indigenous communities now want to spread their success story, as they believe their struggle can serve as a model for both indigenous rights and successful REDD+ projects.

Methodology and Standards Watch

REDD-y 2 Launch

The Global Canopy Programme (GCP) just launched REDD Desk 2.0, upgrading the previous site with new tools, new analysis and more. In particular, REDD Desk 2.0 now includes: a REDD countries section, a database on information and REDD readiness of 26 countries; REDD Markets and Standards, a platform offering comparative information on REDD+ markets and methodologies; REDD Encyclopedia, an online resource that defines and explains more than 300 concepts related to REDD+; and REDD Resources, a global knowledge hub of the latest news and analysis. “This makes [the REDD Desk 2.0] an extremely important tool for anyone with a stake in the REDD+ process, helping to understand how REDD+ can deliver to its full potential,” says Executive Director of GCP Andrew Mitchell.

Declaring the fight not over

Amid declining hopes for REDD+, business and environmental groups issued a joint declaration that supports REDD+ programs and urges diplomats and ministers to recognize the long-term emissions reductions from REDD+. Other policies supported by the declaration include environmental and social safeguards; REDD+ crediting using a “Jurisdictional and Nested Approach”; risk management related to the performance of REDD+ programs; and administration/oversight of a REDD+ mechanism. Prominent signatories of the declaration include the Climate Markets and Investors Association, Code REDD, Environmental Defense Fund, GCP, and IETA. “We are committed to working with our fellow signatories to create lasting change through REDD+,” says Karin Burns, Executive Director of Code REDD.

Separation a fruity idea

As the UNFCCC negotiations began, the President of EcoAgriculture Partners Sara Scherr wrote an opinion piece advocating for increased integration of mitigation and adaptation strategies. Critics argue that finance for adaptation and mitigation is equivalent to comparing apples and oranges. However, EcoAgriculture’s work has demonstrated that land mitigation strategies that ignore adaptation experience lost time and resources. Particularly with landscapes, mitigation and adaptation strategies must have awareness of the other to promote the same long-term goals. For example, an adaptation project that increases agricultural inputs for food production could lead to increased emissions, while a mitigation project to grow biofuels may negatively impact food production. She concludes that, “Perhaps we shouldn’t compare apples and oranges, but ultimately, there is a limited amount of money to spend on all the fruit we need.”

Seeing the landscape for the trees

The Gold Standard recently announced its Land Use & Forests Framework and Requirements for afforestation and reforestation projects in conjunction with the start of the UN climate negotiations. “Rather than just paying people to stop cutting forests, this approach recognizes that for genuine and long-lasting success, governments and other buyers of carbon must consider and address the drivers of deforestation and the nexus of energy, water, land use and development – reflecting the integrated nature of human activity,” the press release explains. Forest projects in Uganda, Panama, and Costa Rica have already transitioned to the land-use approach, with five new projects – in Honduras, Peru, China, Nicaragua, and Hawaii – currently being developed under the framework.

Science & Technology Review

An air-map to success

The University of Maryland and Google just released a new interactive tool for viewing forest change. The tool uses more than 650,000 Landsat satellite images collected between 2000 – 2012 to track forest changes around the globe. It only shows areas of the world that experienced increases or decreases in forest cover. Areas with no change are blacked out. In general, deforestation has outpaced reforestation by 3:1, with a reported loss of 888,000 square miles of global forests lost compared to 309,000 square miles gained. However, the study does confirm that Brazil has experienced slowing rates of deforestation. Researchers hope the tool will be used to examine the effectiveness of forest policies over the past decade.

One size doesn’t fit all

Zero net-deforestation goals do not always help forests or the climate, a recent study published in Science reveals. One unintended consequence of this policy happens when natural forests are cleared and reforested with plantation trees. While meeting zero net-deforestation goals, these newly-planted trees store less carbon and don’t contribute to the ecosystem as well as local trees. Another problem with this policy is that it does not allow developing countries with large areas of forest cover to expand infrastructure or agricultural production. These and other examples highlight the need for individualized deforestation and reforestation targets, instead of aiming for wide-sweeping, zero net-deforestation targets.

Forests not aging gracefully

Tropical forests cleared for agriculture, logging, or livestock lose more than just trees, a new study finds. It can take more than a century for those forests to re-absorb the same amounts of carbon previously held, and can take even longer for biodiversity to recover, if at all. The authors analyzed 74 studies in more than 600 locations in the tropics. The results found that a secondary forest had only 80% carbon sequestration of the original even after 80 years of growth: it might take up to 200 years for the new forests to be equal to the first. While that might sound like a long time, biodiversity takes even longer to recover. The authors estimate 150 years or more are needed. However, even with comparable biodiversity levels, many species may never return to the area.


NAMAS and REDD+ joining forces

NAMAs and REDD+: Relationship and Main Issues for Consideration, a new study produced by Climate Focus on behalf of the Deutsche Gesellschaft fí¼r internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, examines the possibility of developing countries integrating both nationally appropriate mitigation actions (NAMAs) and REDD projects into their climate change mitigation strategies. Both concepts have been examined in their own right, but not often in relation to the other. The study has a regional focus on Southeast Asia.

MRV in the Spotlight

The recent USAID report, REDD+ Measurement, Reporting and Verification Manual, is intended to provide a review of all major data, models, techniques and accounting methods that can be used in MRV programs. It provides an overview of all program components needed for a national MRV system, followed by thematic reviews of REDD+ negotiations, community-based MRV and near-real time monitoring.


Forest Governance, Law Enforcement and Trade Associate – Forest Trends

Based in Washington, D.C., the Associate will support Forest Trends’ Forest Trade and Finance Program with administration/coordination, research/editing, and event planning support. Candidates should have at least 4 years college-level education, preferably in economics, geography or related social science, combined with 2-3 years of relevant professional experience. This position is ideal for a self-starter who can prioritize competing demands, demonstrate responsibility, and become an integral member of our team.
– Read more about the position here.

Programme Manager, Amazon Basin – Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI)

Based in Bogota, Colombia, the Programme Manager will support the development of GGGI’s emerging program in Colombia, and manage the large-scale Payment-for-Performance scheme targeting reduced deforestation and green growth options in the country’s Amazon Basin. Candidates should ideally have a Master’s or PhD, exceptional analytical and quantitative skills, and a solid understanding of land use and REDD+ policy.
– Read more about the position here.

Campaign Administrator, Forests – Environmental Investigation Agency

Based in London, UK, the administrator will support the Forest Campaign as a liaison between the finance, communications and fundraising departments as well as assist with budgets and reporting. Candidates should be experienced in Microsoft Office, financial procedures, and project finance.
– Read more about the position here.

Executive/Research Assistant – Earth Innovation Institute

Based in San Francisco, CA, the Executive/Research Assistant will assist with research analysis; coordinate the preparation, writing, editing and publication of research results/reports and manuscripts; and manage administrative details. Candidates should have at least five years of experience providing scientific research and editing support, preferably in non-profit or international environment. Knowledge of Portuguese, Spanish, and/or Bahasa Indonesia is desired.
– Read more about the position here.

Forest Management Coordinator – The Rainforest Alliance

Based in Ottawa, Canada, the coordinator will manage the execution of certification services for the Rainforest Alliance Forest Management (FM) portfolio in Quebec. S/he will be directly involved in all aspects of FM certification pre-assessment, assessments and audits including scheduling, project management, customer service, auditor management and quality control. Candidates should have a Bachelor’s Degree in Forestry or related field required and a minimum of two years’ relevant experience.
– Read more about the position here.

Analyst, Economics and Business Investment Specialist – Climate Policy Initiative (CPI)

Based in Jakarta, Indonesia, the analyst will support the delivery of CPI’s technical assistance program in Indonesia in two main focus areas of analysis: fiscal and economic policies and mechanisms relating to a sustainable green economy; and options for optimizing land use, enhancing forest protection efforts and promoting a more sustainable business investment model for high productivity oil palm. Candidates should have a relevant Master’s degree and more than four years of experience analyzing climate finance or economics of policies (particularly related in land-use and agriculture).
– Read more about the position here.

Technical Advisory Committee Member – Gold Standard

Based anywhere, the two new members of the Technical Advisory Committee will provide expert advice and strategic input to The Gold Standard, with a specific focus on climate-smart agriculture and land use and forestry. Candidates must have 5-10 years of experience in applied agricultural science. Experience with Fairtrade Standards is an asset. Committee members are expected to commit at least 5% of their time to Gold Standard activities.
– Read more about the position here.


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