This Week in Forest Carbon: Lessons From Vietnam

A new Forest Trends brief compares and contrasts case studies from two villages in Vietnam to highlight the implications of illegal logging on REDD+ and FLEGT as well as the role of community participation and land tenure agreements in forest governance. Meanwhile the Ecosystem Marketplace Carbon Program gears up for its final round of data collection in preparation for the 2013 State of the Forest Carbon Markets report.

A new Forest Trends brief compares and contrasts case studies from two villages in Vietnam to highlight the implications of illegal logging on REDD+ and FLEGT as well as the role of community participation and land tenure agreements in forest governance. Meanwhile the Ecosystem Marketplace Carbon Program gears up for its final round of data collection in preparation for the 2013 State of the Forest Carbon Markets report.

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

15 July 2013 | Hot off the Forest Trends press, a  new brief  explores the implications of small-scale illegal logging on REDD+ and Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) initiatives in Vietnam.

The brief highlights the rationale of clear and secure tenure rights for local people living near forests containing timber – not just to occupy them, but also to sustainably harvest forest assets if they so choose.  Without these rights, locals are excluded from forest benefits and more likely to illegally log. According to the brief, “increasing resources dedicated to law enforcement in the absence of changes in incentive structures” is not enough to stop illegal logging.

To contrast what hasn’t worked in  forest governance in small-scale forest management  and what has worked, Forest Trends presents case studies from the villages of Ban Y and Phuc Minh (whose names have been changed) in Hoa Binh and Binh Dinh provinces. In Ban Y, forest tenure rights granted to villagers by the government excluded tree harvesting rights. As a result, community members were barred from extracting timber from these forests, despite their historical claims on the forests, legal tenure rights, and livelihood needs. Harmful illegal logging ensued, with Ban Y villagers taking on the largest risk and least benefits while government officials, brokers, and traders captured most of the benefits.


Conversely in the village of Phuc Minh, while villagers received similar tenure rights as in Ban Y, their forest was not under the prohibitive protection category and instead received support from the German Development Bank for a community forestry project that combined forest protection with sustainable harvest techniques. Villagers actively participated in decision-making on how to distribute timber revenues and remaining harvested timber, prioritizing community members in need and those who complied with forest protection responsibilities.


The lessons learned from Vietnam’s forest governance experience have direct implications for FLEGT and REDD+, whose missions both prioritize actions against illegal logging. For forest carbon in particular, the brief stresses that the effectiveness of community-based REDD+ efforts relies on the reorientation of law enforcement to support rather than oppose small-scale forest management. In addition, the brief says the design of REDD+ should combine performance-based payments for forest protection with active use and management by smallholders, since REDD+ payments alone are unlikely to provide sufficient incentives for forest protection.


Learn more about Forest Trends’ recommendations on FLEGT and REDD+ in Vietnam  here and keep reading below for the inside scoop on other important forest carbon developments!


Here at Ecosystem Marketplace, we are in the final stages of data collection in preparation for our 2013 State of the Forest Carbon Markets report. If your organization has developed forest carbon projects for the voluntary or compliance carbon market in 2012, we invite you to describe your project and any 2012 transactions by participating in our survey before July 31, 2013. This will be the final deadline for organizations wishing to take part in this year’s report.  


Forest carbon project developers that provide project-level information – whether or not you have transacted credits yet – can also choose to have their project profiled as the Forest Carbon Portal’s Featured Project. You can also specify your preferred level of confidentiality – from completely open (including transaction prices and volumes) to completely confidential. Create a profile and submit your responses here!


—The Ecosystem Marketplace Team

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International Policy

Mission accomplished

After a mission to Panama in early June, an independent investigation and evaluation team  recently published its initial findings regarding Panama’s withdrawal from the UN-REDD+ Programme. After receiving input from a range of in-country stakeholders, the report was compiled by the investigation and evaluation team and later presented at the UN-REDD Policy Board meeting in Lombok, Indonesia at the end of June. Preliminary findings confirm faults in the National Programme design as well as the absence of a participatory process, leading to the exclusion of indigenous peoples in program activities. The investigation and evaluation team plans to return to Panama and release a final report in August.


US Policy

Follow the golden rule?

Following a  ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit  in  Center for Biological Diversity v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency  (EPA), forest owners are encouraging the EPA to prioritize the completion of amendments to its greenhouse gas regulations in order to take advantage of the carbon benefits of forest bioenergy. The ruling concluded that the EPA “did not adequately justify its decision to temporarily defer biogenic emissions from its greenhouse gas regulations”, but did not clarify whether the EPA could finalize “permanent amendments to its rules regarding the treatment of such emissions.”  The greenhouse gas amendments are expected to greatly impact the degree to which private forest owners in the U.S. are able to provide forest carbon offsets.  


Project Development

Disney helps dreams come true

A new  article  translated from Ecosystem Marketplace’s  Valorando Naturaleza  provides an in-depth look into Conservation International’s VCS/CCB-validated Alto Mayo REDD+ project in Peru, and Disney’s $3.5M contribution to the project. Tracing its roots back to 2008, the project has resulted in the mainstreaming of sustainable agriculture practices in the area, preservation of local biodiversity, and the generation of 3 MtCO2 in emissions reductions to date. Of that, 400,000 tCO2e has been attributed to Disney’s contribution and gone toward offsetting the company’s carbon footprint. Disney has since agreed to provide a second grant of $3.5M to Conservation International’s work in Alto Mayo.  


A rumble in the jungle

Greenomics Indonesia, a non-governmental conservation organization, recently  accused the Rimba Raya Conservation project for its alleged false claim  of obtaining approval from the Indonesian government for a 64,000-hectare carbon project, reportedly the world’s largest. Vanda Mutia Dewi, national program coordinator for Greenomics Indonesia, asserted that Rimba Raya conservation received an ecosystem restoration permit in March 2013 for only 36,331 hectares of land and believes that of the remaining hectares, 18,642 hectares are in the possession of the Tanjung Putting Conservation Park. Indonesia’s Forestry Ministry said that a cooperation plan agreed to by the Tanjung Putting Conservation Park and Rimba Raya Conservation could not yet accommodate carbon market activities.


A minor setback  

Elsewhere in Indonesia, AusAid – the Australian government’s foreign development assistance agency – recently announced its  plan to end its support for a major forest restoration project on the island of Borneo. The $47-million project, known as the Kalimantan Forests and Climate Partnership (KFCP), aimed to restore 200,000 hectares of peatland and reduce 700 MtCO2e over 30 years. However, it encountered approval delays and objection from officials and local communities. Australia’s withdrawal, along with the challenges of Indonesia’s bureaucracy and opposition from multiple parties, could potentially set back Indonesia’s REDD Programme. While the “main thrust” of KFCP has ended, both the Australian and Indonesian governments are discussing which parts of the project could benefit from additional work over this next year.


Yunnan in the thicket of it

While seven pilot emissions trading schemes are in various stages of initiation across China,  Yunnan Province launched its own carbon sequestration program  on June 17, when China debuted its National Low-Carbon Day. Yunnan Forestry Investment Company (YFI) sold 17,800 tCO2e worth of carbon credits at 1.07M yuan (US$174,000) to the Guangdong-based Friends of Iron and Steel. The Yunnan Development and Reform Commission brokered the deal. The offset purchase will help finance YFI’s work to plant and maintain forest and bamboo groves, supported by a 30-year lease granted by the provincial government to manage 3,500 ha of unused land in Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture. The project is expected to sequester 550,000 tCO2e over three decades.


Judgment day for co-benefits

The following Climate Community & Biodiversity Alliance projects, Abote Community-Managed Reforestation Project, Buffelsdraai Landfill Site Community Reforestation Project, REDD+ de la Concesií³n para Conservacií³n Alto Huayabamba Project, and the New Leaf Carbon Project are  now accepting public comments  on whether their project documents meet CCB requirements. The first two projects will accept comments through July 24, while the latter two will accept comments through July 28.  


National Strategy & Capacity  

Binh there, done that  

An Ecosystem Marketplace  article  summarizes Forest Trends’ recent paper on Vietnam’s Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) and REDD+ initiatives, exploring policies pertaining to illegal logging. Through two case studies in the provinces of Hoa Binh and Binh Dinh, the paper discusses the history behind deforestation in the two regions and examines the lack of clear and secure tenure and land use rights, which has further contributed to deforestation and aggravated an already corrupt forest governance system. According to the paper, in order for FLEGT and REDD+ to succeed, forest governance must support small-scale community forest management with equitable distribution of tenure rights and other benefits to local people.


Bridging the Great Wall

As China rolls out seven domestic pilot emissions trading schemes this year – with the city of Shenzhen’s debuting last month – market actors are wondering how carbon offsets will fit into the picture.  A new Ecosystem Marketplace article  provides a breakdown of the types of offsets eligible for trading, existing supply and potential demand, as well as what’s on the horizon. Offset methodologies approved for use by China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) do not yet cover forestry and land use, which is still in the process of being vetted. Domestic initiatives like the Panda Standard, China’s first voluntary carbon standard, are seeking NDRC approval for their afforestation/reforestation methodologies.  


Beyond the forest

In the district of Tanjung Jabung Barat on the Indonesia island of Sumatra, a  Reducing Emissions from All Land Uses (REALU) project  is in full swing. REALU, an initiative funded by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation, “operates in several countries to find out how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions within an entire landscape rather than just from a particular activity or sector.” The REALU project provides technical assistance to help support the Indonesian government’s low-emissions development plans, currently concentrating its efforts on a 16,000-hectare plot of protected peat forest. Central to the work is a low-carbon land-use planning method developed by the World Agroforestry Centre in collaboration with the government’s district planning and development agency.


To log or not to log

A new report by The Australia Institute  asserts that it makes more financial sense to conserve the native forests of southern New South Wales for carbon credit generation than to continue logging, valuing forest carbon abatement opportunities at $222 million over the next 25 years. The government of New South Wales does not agree, stating that the report used incorrect assumptions and is based on an unrealistically high carbon price. While the federal government’s Carbon Farming Initiative could broaden its reach in the future, to date, native forestry logging operations are not yet eligible under the scheme.  


Ethiopia off on good foot

The REDD Desk recently added  Ethiopia to its collection of REDD+ readiness profiles. As part of the Climate Resilient Green Economy Strategy (CRGE), Ethiopia joins the ranks of the Guyana, Vietnam and Indonesia in building a development plan intended to reduce emissions from the forestry sector and encourage a low-carbon development path. In addition to developing a green economy, the CRGE Strategy intends to help Ethiopia achieve a middle income country status by 2025. Ethiopia is in its second phase of REDD+ readiness with two pilot projects, Bale Mountains Eco-Region REDD+ Project and the Oramia Region REDD+ Pilot Programme, currently underway.  


Columbian consultations

At a recent UN-REDD Programme Policy Board meeting, Colombia presented its Readiness Preparation Plan, highlighting both government and non-government participation and consultations with woman and youth. In response, the Policy Board approved  $4 million in funding earmarked for Columbia’s National Programme, as well as another $4 million for a community grant initiative that will provide resources and build capacity in local communities while empowering them to engage in REDD+ activities. Last year, Colombia held an inception workshop for the creation of a Colombia-based market platform for voluntary carbon offset transactions, to have an initial focus on forest carbon.


The crown jewel

Over the last ten years, wildfires and mountain-pine beetle infestations have taken their toll on forest land in British Columbia. The B.C. provincial government recently announced a partnership with the Carbon Offset Aggregation Cooperative to plant trees on Crown land,  allowing private-sector companies to engage in carbon offset activities through reforestation efforts. Through the B.C. Forest Carbon Partnership Program, more than one million trees could be planted in the next five years. According to Ben Parfitt, a resource policy analyst with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, “the success of the private-sector project will likely hinge on the market value of carbon offsets.


Science & Technology Review

Seeing hotspots

Recently launched, the  Mitigation Lab, a new laboratory under the World Agroforestry Centre’s Climate Change Unit,  is intended to help researchers identify and quantify GHG emissions from “hotspots” across a variety of ecosystems including forests, agriculture, and dairy farming. The lab’s gas chromatographs are capable of analyzing 120 GHG samples over an eight-hour time period, allowing researchers to compare GHG emissions between landscapes on which climate-smart agriculture has been practiced and those on which it has not – ultimately expected to provide evidence that climate-smart agriculture in fact contributes to climate change mitigation while increasing farm production.


Speaking volumes

Scientists and climate change experts are now able to access tree models for forest volume, biomass and carbon stock through an online platform for the first time.  GlobAllomeTree, launched by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, uses allometric equations to evaluate different forest services like timber production and bioenergy strategies involving forest volume, biomass, and forest carbon, and is expected to support REDD+ efforts. “This is the first time that countries have access to an extensive database of tree models used to evaluate resources worldwide,” says FAO Forestry Officer Matieu Henry. “It allows them to get a clear picture on their forests’ capacities to store carbon.”


Publications & Tools

REDD+y to integrate

Integrating Communities into REDD+ in Indonesia, a PROFOR working paper, addresses how REDD+ can tackle underlying community issues such as lack of access to forest land. The report provides background on REDD+ in Indonesia and highlights the need to integrate community development approaches into a REDD+ framework, the role of communities in Indonesia’s forestry sector, as well as mechanisms for addressing a multitude of community-level funding needs.


Keep your options open

Published by Forest Carbon Asia,  REDD+ Biodiversity Safeguards: Options for Developing National Approaches  explores the potential to develop a national safeguard approach that would comply with both international policy commitments and national policy frameworks. In light of the Cancun Safeguards and Aichi Biodiversity Targets, this brief discusses REDD+ readiness activities in relation to biodiversity across 20 Asian countries, including a discussion of Vietnam’s national safeguard approach.  



2 Positions– The Nature Conservancy  

Based in Mexico, the  Agricultural Economist, Yucatan Peninsula  will contribute to the establishment of Mexico’s REDD+ Program on the Yucatan Peninsula and develop the regional/local assessments, tools, and frameworks for the design and implementation of sub-national REDD+ strategies. Candidates should have a Bachelor’s and 5+ years’ experience in conservation practice. Based in Brazil, the Coordinator, Amazon Forest  will provide technical and political leadership and support for The Nature Conservancy’s REDD+ work in the Amazon and will build strategic, scientific and technical capacity among staff and partners on REDD+. Candidates should have a Bachelor’s and experience in REDD+, forest conservation and/or sustainable agricultural production.  


Global Climate Change Specialist – ECODIT  

Based in Washington, D.C., the Global Climate Change Specialist will identify ways to integrate clean energy, land use and carbon sequestration, and adaption to climate change and development efforts. Candidates should have a Master’s Degree in a field relevant to climate change-related science and policy and 5+ years of experience in environmental management. Read more about the position  here.


Technical Specialist – Plan Vivo Foundation

Based in Edinburgh, the Technical Specialist will select and prepare approved methodologies for projects to use under Plan Vivo Standard 2013 and coordinate and conduct technical reviews of project documents. Candidates should have a Master’s in ecosystem services or a related discipline such as environmental management or forestry. Read more about the position  here.  


Junior REDD+ Policy Consultant – Climate Focus

Based in Thailand, the Policy Consultant will support the USAID funded “Lowering Emissions in Asia’s Forests” (LEAF) project and will help coordinate work and prepare advice on issues affecting REDD+ policy design. Candidates should have a Bachelor’s Degree and 3+ years of experience in natural resource management, forest policy, or the carbon markets. Read more about the position  here.  


2 Positions – Conservation International

Based in Botswana, the  Manager, Government Liaison and Environmental Policy  will be responsible for liaising with the Government of Botswana on matters related to the Gaborone Declaration and supporting policy research on Natural Capital Accounting, PES and REDD. Candidates should have a Master’s or PhD in environmental, political or social sciences and 2+ years’ experience in environmental policy. Based in Indonesia, the  Deputy, Chief of Party  will oversee a team in the North Sumatra program area and will be responsible for local coordination, monitoring and development of the annual Sustainable Landscapes Partnership program workplan. Candidates should have a Bachelor’s in natural resource management or a related field and 7+ years’ experience with public-private partnerships.  


2 Positions – World Wildlife Fund

Based in Zambia, the  Community Forest Lead, Community-Based Forest Management Program  will be responsible for leading efforts to sustainably manage 700,000 hectares of Participatory Forest Management Areas in Zambia. Candidates should have a Master’s in rural development, forestry, natural resource management or a related field and 7+ years’ experience. Based in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the  Chief of Party, Central Africa Forest Ecosystems Conservation  will direct staff, oversee grant, sub-grants and consulting contracts and coordinate with staff from WWF and partner organization on a daily basis. Candidates should have at least a Master’s in forestry, conservation biology or a related field and 8+ years’ field experience.  


Chief of Party – CARE  

Based in Zambia, the Chief of Party will contribute to the USAID/Zambia’s Climate Change Program Objective and the Community-Based Forest-Management Program for REDD+ Readiness. Candidates should have at least a Master’s Degree in forestry, ecosystem services, natural resource management, or international development and 10+ years of leadership experience in managing international development programs. Read more about the position  here.



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