This week in Forest Carbon: Inching Toward Improvements

Brazil makes strides by launching a new and improved satellite system for deforestation-related emissions measurements, and the first Latin American forest carbon offset project verified under the American Carbon Registry. Ghana and Ecuador also inch toward improvements as Ghana potentially sees REDD+ funds stream from Norway and Ecuador kicks off its UN-REDD National Programme.  

Brazil makes strides by launching a new and improved satellite system for deforestation-related emissions measurements, and the first Latin American forest carbon offset project verified under the American Carbon Registry. Ghana and Ecuador also inch toward improvements as Ghana potentially sees REDD+ funds stream from Norway and Ecuador kicks off its UN-REDD National Programme.    

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

4 September 2012 | In this issue, our global forest carbon market tracking plants us first in Ecuador, which recently kicked off its  UN-REDD National Programme  during the country’s inception workshop in the province of Sucumbios – engaging various stakeholders including provincial and local government officials, national and international NGOs, community members and indigenous groups. Meanwhile,  multilateral groups in Indonesia  and offsite researchers studying  projects based in Brazil, Cameroon and Tanzania  stress participation of local communities and indigenous groups in the REDD+ process.

In REDD+ financing,  Ghana may be getting financial support  from the Embassy of Switzerland in the area of $4 million, while the first glance at Forest Trend’s  Expenditure Tracking Project  progress offers some explanations for regions’ potential gaps in funds reporting. The European Forest Institute’s EU REDD Facility also aims to shed some light on overall REDD knowledge and recent updates through their  newly launched website.  

Brazil made strides in its emissions reduction efforts by launching a  new satellite system  that provides a more accurate measurement of deforestation-related emissions. It also saw its  Boa Vista afforestation/reforestation carbon offset project  become the first Latin American forest carbon project verified under the American Carbon Registry. The country’s land reforms reportedly have also had a positive impact on the establishment of logging arrangements while land tenure reforms in other countries, such as Bolivia, have led to more  barriers to community participation  in REDD+. Brazil’s fruits, or rather its nuts, have benefited other countries as well, such as Peru, as a component of  multiple-use management of non-timber forest products.


Trees are also multitasking in France and Costa Rica. An organic experimental farm in northern France claims to be the  most ambitious agroforestry project  in the region, benefiting from both environmental and economic benefits of having trees in its farm. Meanwhile, Costa Rica is finding “living” fences, formed from trimmed branches of rooted posts, to have greater economic and environmental benefits than “dead”, or manufactured fences.  


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US Policy  

Forest Service Plays Planner

The livestock industry, led by the Public Land Council and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, filed a  lawsuit  against the US Forest Service  claiming updates made to the Forest Planning Rule violate the National Forest Management Act, the Multiple-Use, Sustained Yield Act, and the Administrative Procedures Act. Changes made to the Rule place a greater emphasis on the protection of ecosystem services and require new forest plans to use scientific data. The Forest Service stated they are “confident in the rule as it is the result of an unprecedented collaborative process.” However, debates ensue over whether these modifications support rural economies.  Read more on this issue at  Ecosystem Marketplace.  


Project Development

Long Beach Longing for Funds

In light of a $17.2-million deficit for the next fiscal year, Long Beach City Council voted in favor of studying the possibility of converting its  urban forest  into a carbon offset project that could feed credits into California’s developing cap-and-trade program. The city currently spends roughly $2.5 million maintaining roughly a quarter of its 393,000 trees. The project’s proponent, Councilwoman Gerrie Schispke, stated the project could alleviate some of the trees’ maintenance costs. Climate Action Reserve President Gary Gero has also encouraged this urban forest offset project, stating it may help fill “anticipated supply shortages  in California’s cap-and-trade, especially in [its] second phase.” Next steps include a tree inventory to estimate the number of attainable credits.


Live and in Color

In Costa Rica, “living” fences – barriers formed from trimmed branches of rooted posts – are suggested to have greater economic and environmental benefits than “dead” fences made from torn down trees. According to this article from the Worldwatch Institute, trimmed branches cost less, are cheaper to maintain and last longer than manufactured posts, and can provide livestock feed, firewood, timber and fruits. Given their root system, living  fences  can also reduce soil erosion, prevent excess particulate matter from entering watersheds and provide nutrient transport to the soil surface. After a 2002-2007 regional project to create living fences in CR, Colombia and Nicaragua, small landholder surveys showed the establishment of these fences as high priority. The article states that the government of CR has also prioritized living fences through its Payment for Ecosystem Services program.



Brazil’s Boa Vista Boasts Verification  

This week the Brazilian Boa Vista afforestation/reforestation carbon offset project was verified by third-party certifier SCS Global Services under the American Carbon Registry Standard, becoming ACR’s first forest carbon project in  Latin America. The project involves planting and now managing timber plantations spanning more than 23,000 ha of trees, which are expected to sequester approximately 3.7 MtCO2 over forty years. The project’s plantations are also being managed in compliance with the Forest Stewardship Council’s responsible forestry certification standards. F.I.T Timber Ltd. served as the project proponent, while Switzerland-based TREES Forest Carbon Consulting LLC stands as the project developer.


National Strategy & Capacity

Indonesia Talks Benefits

Indonesia’s UN-REDD National Programme Management Unit recently held a workshop in Central Sulawesi—one of the country’s pilot provinces— to highlight the range of potential  REDD+ benefits, including non-carbon benefits, for different stakeholders. Participation from the provincial REDD+ sub-working group, provincial Forestry Council, universities and NGOs amounted to more than 50 attendees. Speakers included officials from the Ministry of Forestry, provincial Forestry Council and UNEP’s World Conservation and Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC), which covered topics including benefit types, environmental and social risks, the integration of economic value, biodiversity relevance and costs.  



To Grandfather or Not To Grandfather?

Recent forest regulations enacted in Indonesia will allow mining and palm oil plantation companies that previously had licenses from local governments to continue taking their concessions from state-owned forests. The  new regulations  on forest conversions and forest utilization specify that companies wanting to buy state forests in a province with a forest area covering less than 30% of the total provincial area would need to provide twice the amount desired in replacement land. However, conflicts with the 2007 Law on Spatial Planning and Forest Utilization and overall management of the new regulations have caused land disputes leading to confrontations between locals and security personnel guarding mining and palm oil grounds.



Nuts for Brazil

The potential for synergies between rising environmental markets and multiple-use management of non-timber forest products, particularly Brazil nuts, is highlighted in  sub-national REDD+ projects  in southwestern Amazonia. Previous regional research on community Brazil nut management showed minimal deforestation in the communities. Currently, one REDD+ project in Acre uses the state’s System of Incentives for Environmental Services to provide support for multiple-use forestry projects, such as the cultivation of acai, which provides economic benefits and improved forest conditions. A second project is run by a private-sector entity, Bosques Amazonicos S.A.C., in Peru and focuses on sustainably managing Brazil nuts, increasing local governance and building capacity to promote forest and nut conservation.


Forerunners in French Farming

La Bergerie de Villarceaux is an organic experimental farm turned reportedly the most ambitious  agroforestry project  in northern France. In 2011, Olivier Ranke and his Villarceaux team planted more than 600 trees in 23 hectares of farmland. Across France, roughly 3,000 hectares are converted to agroforestry annually, helped by the Common Agricultural Policy which grants agroforestry lands eligibility for European subsidies. The trees provide farmers with a source of income averaging approximately $7,400/ha for 12-year-old trees, but initial costs provide a substantial impediment for some farmers. For the 23-ha project at Bergerie de Villarceaux, costs totaled approximately $52,700, 90% of which was spent on building a metal railing to protect trees from cattle.  



Ecuador Makes the Team

Ecuador recently kicked off the country’s UN-REDD National Programme during its  inception workshop  in Nueva Loja, Sucumbios among various stakeholders, including provincial and local government officials, national and international NGOs, religious groups, community members and Indigenous, Afro-Ecuadorian and Montubio organizations. Participants were able to capitalize on the various positions they represented to engage in discussions and present their concerns to the Ecuadorian government. Meanwhile, the National Programme will aim to build national capacity through financial and technical contributions and move forward Ecuador’s readiness phase.  



R-PP: REDD-Potential Partners  

Following the launch of Ghana’s REDD+ process back in April 2012, it seems like the Embassy of Switzerland may soon be supporting Ghana’s REDD+ initiative with  $4 million. According to the Head of Forests and Climate Change at Ghana’s Forestry Commission, the proposed sum would go towards seven pilot projects intended to identify and propose solutions to drivers of deforestation across Ghana’s various ecological zones. The first portion of funding, roughly $415,000, would be channeled through the International Tropical Timber Organization as a fast-track approach to identify activities that could potentially be funded as part of Ghana’s REDD+ scheme.  



Turning a new LEAF

RECOFTC, the Center for People and Forests, will join forces with the USAID-funded Lowering Emissions in Asia’s Forests (LEAF) program to draft training material on PES, improved forest management and GHG reductions and university curricula on REDD+, forestry and gender and integration and other related topics for distribution in Thailand. Overall, the LEAF program aims to  build capacity in Asia  by taking a regional approach and supporting pilot interventions  in five countries aside from Thailand, namely Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, PNG and Malaysia.  


Panama’s Funds

The UN-REDD Programme in Panama is facing discontent from  COONAPIP, the National Coordinating Body of Indigenous Peoples in Panama, after allegedly promised funds aimed at strengthening COONAPIP were not fully delivered. In May 2011, UN-REDD reportedly announced it would provide COONAPIP with $1.7 million; however, funds were never transferred, and representatives from UN-REDD now state there was never a promise to that amount of funding. In a recent letter addressed to UN-REDD, COONAPIP states it is reluctant to support REDD+ developments currently considering the conflicts that have taken place before the actual implementation of REDD+.  


Finance & Economics

Pulling Forest Carbon Back from the Edge

A new article on the Global Association of Risk Professionals (GARP) site discusses  best practices in risk management techniques  for forest carbon projects that, if scaled up, could further mobilize private finance. The use of registries, for instance, can mitigate transaction non-fulfillment risk. Institutions are also entering multiple-party escrow agreements, adding conditions to potential purchases, and providing clarity for clearing and settlement. Firms can buy directors-and-officers (D&O) insurance to cover both business and legal risks. In the US, conservation easements help ensure that the land-use regime associated with a project stays constant regardless of property ownership. For foreign forest-based investments, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation and the World Bank’s Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency offer political risk insurance.



Methodology & Standards Watch

ACR Wants to Hear from You

The American Carbon Registry announced this week that it will be holding an open comment period for its Nested REDD+ Standard, recently developed by Winrock International with aid from a jurisdictional REDD+ Technical Advisory Team. The Standard covers topics such as the minimum requirements for jurisdictional accounting frameworks, reversals and other risks, safeguards against double counting and environmental and other social safeguards and highlights the potential benefits in undergoing a nested REDD+ approach. A webinar will host a webinar on September 12th to provide an overview of the Standards and obtain feedback. The comment period will span through September 28, 2012.  


A 10-Step Guide

In efforts to support the connection between REDD+ and human rights, poverty alleviation and biodiversity conservation, the REDD+ Social and Environmental Standards initiative is accepting comments through September 19 on revised draft guidelines  for the use of  REDD+ SES  at the country level. The guidelines highlight three guiding elements – governance, interpretation and assessment – as the basis for a 10-step process outlining how to use the REDD+ SES. Steps include holding capacity building workshops, developing draft country-specific indicators and preparing a monitoring plan.



Human Dimension


Co-managing, not co-operating?

A recent publication by CIFOR reports that forest  co-management relationships  between local communities and governments, emerging from land tenure reforms, remain a key challenge in truly providing local communities land rights. Co-author Peter Cronkleton, states that the transfer of rights has typically been incomplete and that reforms “are being undercut by burdensome regulations and start-up costs that actually create barriers to community participation.” The study highlights the case of Bolivia’s Guarayos community, which struggled to get required management plans approved for state-owned land only to obtain a delayed approval for 11% of their request. Other co-management systems studied include those in the Philippines, India and Guatemala.



REDD 101

Recent studies reportedly show communities do not have a  proper understanding  of the goals and potential benefits of REDD+. According to Arild Angelsen, the editor of CIFOR’s Analysing REDD+, anti-REDD+ groups have formed partly as a result of “misconceptions and ideologies.” The publication studied nine projects in Brazil, Cameroon, Indonesia and Tanzania during 2010 and found only a quarter of the households interviewed had heard of REDD+. Some project developers are also reluctant to share with locals the full potential of REDD+ benefits to prevent inflated expectations. However, the publication’s authors state local communities would be better served knowing at least the basics of REDD+.  


Science & Technology Review


A Better View

A new satellite system launched by the Brazilian National Institute for Space Research (INPE) is expected to provide a more accurate estimate of the nation’s GHG emissions by taking into consideration previously unaccounted for deforestation-related elements, such as agriculture, cattle-raising, logging, slash-and-burn techniques, organic matter decomposition and secondary plant growth. The  INPE-Emission Model  gathers its information from the scientific literature, biomass and land use maps and INPE’s Programme to Calculate Deforestation in the Amazon (PRODES), which uses satellite images to detect deforestation. The precision of the new model will also aid in assessing the effects of Brazil’s new forest code.  


Uncovering Tree DNA

Singapore-based Double Helix Tracking Technologies has become the first company to commercialize  DNA testing for wood, allowing them to identify a piece’s species and origin. Within two years, DHTT aims to license the DNA technique to laboratories worldwide at affordable prices, allowing DNA tests to be conducted for companies, customs agents and police departments. The new technology could complement laws against illegal logging in the US, Europe and Australia and assist companies in complying with regulations. DHTT also offers their existing clientele of 14 companies, including Kingfisher, Europe’s largest home improvement retailer, a timber tracking service to detect the addition of illegal timber. DHTT’s growing database currently has 20 tree species.  


Publications & Tools


A New Hub  

The European Forest Institute’s EU REDD Facility recently launched a new website that aims to serve as an  information source  for REDD+, covering topics such as financing, interactions with the Europe Union’s Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan and ongoing REDD+ activities. Overall, the Facility intends to support the development of REDD+ in developing countries and inform European policymakers of developments. The Facility is currently working with the DRC, Guyana, Indonesia, Vietnam and Republic of Congo.  



VCS among MRV standards evaluated by WWF

A recent publication by WWF focuses on defining the most fitting MRV standard for a nested REDD+ system by examining two current MRV standards, the VCS and CCBA, and unofficial approaches, such as drafting a best practices MRV and using simplified methods that would not require certification. The report stresses MRV system  qualities  that would be beneficial for nested REDD+ and mentions other critical issues related to jurisdictional and nested MRV systems, including uncertainty, cost, capacity development and good governance.  




Four Positions, Forest Carbon, Markets and Communities Program, Washington, DC – Tetra Tech ARD

Based in Washington, DC, the  REDD+ Deputy Social Science and Environmental Specialist Task Lead  will represent FCMC to US and partner country government representatives, carry out rapid assessments and evaluations of USAID REDD+ projects and manage the production of deliverables from partner organizations and consultants. Candidates should have an advanced degree in anthropology, rural sociology or a related field with considerable experience in natural resource management, biodiversity, forest conservation, ethnobotany and/or climate change. The  REDD+ Communications and Knowledge Management Specialist  will lead in the development and implementation of a comprehensive communications strategy for FCMC, provide a framework and guidance for task leads to build in communications and knowledge management objectives and oversee efforts of the FCMC Communications and Research Assistant. Candidates should preferably have a master’s degree in communications with 3-5 years’ experience in communications. The  REDD+ Communications and Knowledge Management Assistant  will coordinate, edit and draft language for FCMC Quarterly Reports and support and monitor the FCMC website. Candidates should have a bachelor’s degree. The  REDD+ Operations and Logistics Assistant  will do basic office support functions, manage procurement related tasks, and work with Task Leads and home office staff to develop and manage bids for professional services and procurement. Candidates should have a bachelor’s degree with experience in an administrative capacity and knowledge of office functions and technology.


Two Positions – WWF US

Based in Cape Town, South Africa, the  Internal Communications Specialist for the Global Climate  will ensure optimal impact, reach and engagement for the communication initiatives, support and enable communication and interaction between GCEI and other WWF entities engaged in climate and energy work and ensure effective and timely compliance with all WWF International reporting, performance monitoring and review requirements. Candidates should have a degree in a relevant discipline with 5+ years’ experience in communications. Based in Vietnam, the  Sustainable Landscapes Team Leader for the Vietnam Forests and Deltas Program  will lead the implementation of activities that support adoption of land use practices that slow, stop and reverse emissions from deforestation, provide staff oversight and technical direction and serve as a liaison to the government of Vietnam. Candidates should have a master’s degree in international development, forestry, natural resource economics, social sciences or other related field with 10+ years’ experience in managing international development activities in the forest or land use sectors.


Coordinator, Communications – WWF Canada

Based in Toronto, the Coordinator will be the point of contact for departmental finance inquires, provide coordination support for media and WWF events, campaigns and meetings, lead media monitoring and flag issues for discussion and help manage the Global Photo Network. Candidates should have a post-secondary degree in marketing, communications or a related field and 1-2 years’ experience in project management or communications. Read more about the position  here.



Climate Change and Land Use Consultant – Climate Focus

Based in Washington, DC, the Climate Change and Land Use Consultant will conduct research and analysis on REDD+ policy and projects, help to prepare advice for clients based on this research and analysis, contribute to project due diligence and participate in outreach and acquisition. Candidates should have a bachelor’s degree with 3+ years’ experience in forestry, forest policy or carbon markets or a master’s degree with demonstrated interested in land use and climate change. Read more about the position  here.  



Two Positions, Cambodia – RECOFTC, The Center for People and Forests  

Based in Cambodia, the Cambodia Country Program’s  Provincial Coordinator  will be responsible for the overall coordination, development and delivery (i.e. work planning, budgeting, implementation, monitoring, evaluating, reporting, etc.) of the project’s components to support partnerships working to identify, formalize and develop the alternative community forestry modalities at the cantonment level. Candidates should preferably have a bachelor’s degree in forestry, natural resource management or closely related fields with 5+ years’ experience in community forestry or community-based natural resource management. The Program’s  Project Officer  will support provincial level partners to implement their work plans by providing follow‐up, mentoring and back‐stopping and technical and monitoring assistance among other tasks. Candidates should preferably have a bachelor’s degree in forestry, natural resource management or a closely related field with 4+ years’ experience in community forestry or community-based natural resource management.



Temporary Research Assistant, Office of Chief Scientist – EDF

Based in San Francisco, the Assistant will perform literature reviews and research information on a wide variety of environmental topics, assist in the production of project materials, case studies, reports, speeches, Powerpoint and other visual presentations and prepare information to respond to inquiries from a variety of stakeholders. Candidates should have a bachelor’s degree in environmental science, policy or engineering. Read more about the position  here.  


Chief of Party, International/Sustainable Landscapes – CARE USA

Based in El Salvador, the Chief of Party will lead the planning and implementation of a 4 to 5-year project focusing on improving sustainable landscapes and livelihoods of Latin America’s poor and will oversee all aspects of the project, including programmatic, financial, administrative and personnel. Candidates should have an advanced degree in international development, public policy, social sciences or a related field with 10-15 years of experience with inclusive financial services and sustainable agriculture value chains development with 5+ years at a senior management level. Read more about the position  here.  




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