This Week In Forest Carbon: Moving East

Finance talks take over in Ghana and Bangkok as meetings are held to discuss sustainable funding sources at both the international and national level, while investments start in central Africa. Domestically, the Farm Cove project in Maine became the first improved forest management project outside of California to be registered under the Climate Action Reserve.

Finance talks take over in Ghana and Bangkok as meetings are held to discuss sustainable funding sources at both the international and national level, while investments start in central Africa. Domestically, the Farm Cove project in Maine became the first improved forest management project outside of California to be registered under the Climate Action Reserve.

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

18 September 2012 | In this issue, the name of the game is financing – a discussion in which Ecosystem Marketplace parent organization Forest Trends played an integral role at the recent International Conference on Investment in Forestry and Forest Carbon, which took place in Ghana focusing on public-private  investments  in forestry, forest carbon and renewable energy in Africa. Forest Trends’ CEO Michael Jenkins moderated the event alongside organizers including FMO and several African development investment banks, in conjunction with the Forestry Commission of Ghana.

Jenkins reports that one of the major outcomes of the conference – attended by several ministers of state within and outside Ghana – was an accord (the “Accra Accord”) that includes a call for a well-designed fund to support forest carbon and sustainable land use development in Africa. A fund that, as he describes it, is “non-bureaucratic, nimble and not about readiness but about projects.”


“This gathering was interesting because of the evident support from investors and development banks to support the expansion of sustainable forestry and energies in Africa,” Jenkins comments. “Now we need to leverage that interest within the political process to ensure that even if the UN process in Doha remains uninspired, there may be a successful piece going forward that recognizes the global consensus around forestry’s ability to deliver climate benefits – and the need for resources going directly to projects rather than strictly to government preparedness.”


Elsewhere, REDD+ discussions in  Bangkok  centered around sources of funding with multiple options being put on the table, particularly public  funding.  Shifting east, we spot  Nigeria  joining forces with UNDP to implement a $4 million national REDD+ initiative. Shifting further east, we find 10 central African countries take part in an 18-month, $7.7 million project, aiming to prevent deforestation in the world’s second largest rainforest, the  Congo Basin.  


Meanwhile, studies track the potential forest gains and losses in Tasmania, Liberia and Bolivia. One consulting company estimates that  Tasmania’s forest carbon could be valued at $280 million in today’s voluntary carbon markets. Ahead of the game, Liberia – the most heavily forested country in west Africa – is reported to have sold one  quarter  of its forests already to logging companies in the span of two years. Bolivia’s forests face other kinds of threats, as agriculture and cattle ranching top their list of deforestation  drivers.  


Back in the US, Finite Carbon and Downeast Lakes Land Trust register the  first  Climate Action Reserve IFM carbon project outside of California in Maine. Further down the east coast, researchers at Duke University shine light on the economic impacts of losing coastal-marine ecosystems, otherwise known as  blue  carbon.  

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International Policy

Who’s paying?  

During the UNFCCC Climate Change Conference in Bangkok, REDD+ discussions mainly focused on  finance. Most developing countries reportedly advocated for REDD+ funding to come from public sources, in particular the LDCs and Bolivia. The latter country once more expressed its reluctance to take part in carbon offset  markets  and, alternatively, presented a joint mitigation and adaptation mechanism. Meanwhile, Brazil and PNG made their case for excluding additional conditions, such as co-benefits, for REDD+ payments from funding sources. Overall, some observers left with the impression that regardless of whether countries support or oppose carbon markets, most countries do not expect for significant funding to stem from carbon markets until 2020.



Carbon market sees long game in AU “link and scrap” decision

The Australian government has announced plans to link Australia’s Carbon Price Mechanism (CPM) with the EU ETS beginning July 1, 2015. The partial link will allow Australian businesses to buy carbon credits traded under the EU ETS, with plans to structure a two-way link between the Australian and EU schemes to start July 1, 2018. In conjunction, the Australian government will scrap its planned A$15/tCO2e carbon price floor.


In the long run, Australia’s move to  link  its ETS with the EU ETS in 2015 and scrap its price floor could usher in a liquid international carbon market. The short term is more nebulous, despite provisions to bolster demand for the domestic Carbon Farming Initiative. Can the new policy sufficiently navigate carbon price risk and political uncertainty? An EM article provides a breakdown of the Australian government’s decision and its potential implications for domestic project development through the CFI, Australia’s main outlet for domestic AFOLU carbon offset project development. Read the full Ecosystem Marketplace exclusive at the Forest Carbon Portal  here.



US Policy  

The Forest Service Suits Up

Led by the Public Land Council and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the livestock industry 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 stands by their work as they state 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’s  Forest Carbon Portal.  


Project Development

Forestry from sea to shining sea

In Maine, Finite Carbon and Downeast Lakes Land Trust register the  first  Climate Action Reserve IFM carbon project outside of California. DLLT and FC plan to enter the 19,118-acre Farm Cove project into California’s approaching cap-and-trade program. The project obtained an initial credit issuance of roughly 200,000 compliance-eligible carbon offsets valued at more than $2 million once credits are converted to the ARB system. Annually, the project is expected to generate 20,000 additional credits until 2020, accumulating to 400,000 credits. The project complements their goal of conserving the 22,000-acre West Grand Lake Community Forest.



GreenTrees seek Council

The Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE) completed its 2011 annual greenhouse gas inventory and its  first voluntary purchase  of carbon offsets and renewable energy certificates (RECs) to cover its 2010 and 2011 emissions. BCSE worked with its members First Environment, Inc, Native Energy, and the American Carbon Registry to conduct the inventory and identify domestic offset projects. BCSE acquired carbon offsets for staff travel through its purchase of ACR Forestry Version 2.1 ERTs sourced from the  GreenTrees  Afforestation project, a privately managed forest restoration and carbon sequestration program created to reforest at least one million acres in the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley.


A Perfect Ten

By improving their national forest monitoring systems and regional capacity, ten central African countries – namely Burundi, Cameroon, the Central African Republic (CAR), Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Sí£o Tomé and Prí­ncipe – aim to prevent deforestation in the world’s  second largest  rainforest, the Congo Basin. The 18-month, $7.7 million project managed by the Central Africa Forests Commission and UN’s FAO will use satellite images in combination with physical observations to approximate the amount of forest being degraded and enhance legislative capacity regarding governance and sustainable forest management.  



IUCN faces the future

This month, over 5,000 people will fly to Jeju Island in South Korea to participate in the 10-day World Conservation Congress (WCC). As organizer, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is offsetting the event’s carbon emissions, which total about 10,000 tCO2e in flight emissions and 2,000 tCO2e for onsite emissions covering 6,900 participants. The IUCN is offsetting these emissions with the Infapro improved forest management project developed by Face the Future. Launched in 1992, the VCS-validated project is working to rehabilitate 25,000 ha of logged rainforest in  Borneo, Indonesia, home to the endangered orangutan. To date, Infapro has regrown 12,000 ha of the Borneo rainforest.



National Strategy & Capacity

Ghana seeks the greens  

A three-day, international  conference  took place in Ghana focusing on public-private investments in forestry and forest carbon. President Mahama admits that sustainable financing still stands as a challenge for Ghana, particularly for forestry projects. However, he also states Ghana is working both on finances and governance as they explore potential external investors, develop novel legislative and regulatory frameworks and review Ghana’s Forest and Wildlife Policy. New policy would strive to strengthen the decentralization of forest and wildlife governance, address the drivers of deforestation and promote climate change mitigation strategies, including Payment for Ecosystem Services. In  closing, the Minister for Land and Natural Resources, Mike Hammah, stated the conference had paved the way to develop necessary objectives regarding sustainable forestry investments.



Oh, the possibilities!

A government-commissioned report conducted by the consulting company CO2 finds Tasmania’s forests currently hold approximately  4.4 BtCO2. CO2 values this amount at $280 million in current voluntary carbon markets; however, if Australia commits to Article 3.4 on forest management in the Kyoto Protocol, its value could increase ten-fold. The study is reportedly the most comprehensive of its kind conducted in Australia, generating a thorough carbon accounting system and adding to the potential of commercial carbon forest projects in Tasmania. The country’s Climate Change Minister Cassy O’Conner states, “What this report tells us is that our forests are definitely worth more standing.” These findings come in the midst of conversations between environmentalists and forest industry representatives looking for an end to Tasmania’s 30-year forest conflict.



A Hold on permits

The Indonesia-based organization Wahana Lingkungan Hidup Indonesia succeeded in getting a palm oil permit  revoked  by an Indonesian court after reportedly working toward this goal for months. The controversial permit was owned by PT Kallista Alam, a palm oil company charged with destroying orangutan habitat and peatlands in Sumatra, and allowed the company to establish a 1,605-hectare plantation in the Tripa peat swamp. The permit granting violates a 2011 moratorium halting new concessions in peatlands and primary forests. The Tripa peat swamp is especially important as it is one of the largest remaining habitats for Sumatran orangutans.  



CIFOR surveys Bolivia’s Drivers

A new study by CIFOR tracks trends in land use change in Bolivia between 1992 and 2004. Industrial agriculture was the biggest deforestation driver, accounting for 54% of changes. Cattle ranching (27%) and small-scale agriculture (19%) followed. The report’s authors reason that agriculture might be a difficult practice to reduce in Bolivia since it provides an income for more than half a million people; therefore, efforts would be better spent trying to reduce forest conversion for low-productivity cattle  ranching. Bolivia counts with land use legislation that sets fees for deforestation permits; however, the report highlights that only 80% of ranches were in compliance from 2002 to 2006. The paper specifically suggests increasing law enforcement officials and streamlining the country’s land-titling program.


Rumor has it…  

The Oakland Institute and Greenpeace are charging New York-based  Herakles Farms  with planning to establish a 73,000 ha palm oil plantation and refinery in Cameroon in light of a lack of government authorization, two court injunctions and considerable community disapproval. A report published by the two organizations estimated the implementation of the project could negatively impact up to 45,000 and highlight discrepancies in claims between the information the organizations found and what Herakles Farms claims, including the amount of local support and type of forest they have. Due to the fact that HF did not obtain the law-mandated, direct presidential consent for getting the land, the legality of the project is being examined too.

Logging in Liberia

According to a report recently published by Global Witness, Save My Future Foundation and the Sustainable Development Institute, Liberia – the most heavily forested country in west Africa – has sold one quarter of its forests to logging companies in the span of two years. The report claims that logging companies relied on legal  loopholes  to obtain ownership of private lands, which they can log using Private Use Permits. Companies allegedly obtain PUPs without prior consultation with local groups and possibly with forged documentation. Contracts drafted between logging companies and landowners go around stringent laws on sustainability and area limits. The head of the Forestry Development Authority has been suspended and an investigation on the procedures for issuing PUP has begun.  

A close-to-final Forest Code

After passing through the Senate, lower house of Congress and President Rousseff earlier this year, the  Brazilian Forest Code  may be undergoing its final edits. After many a controversy about the amount of forest protection that should or should not be in the legislation, the current text reduces the required width of riverbank forest buffers proposed by Rousseff by half and loosens wetlands protection in the Central Brazilian savannah. The text provides some protection to forests along intermittent riverbanks, but not as much for forests along smaller bodies of water. The Code will need to pass through the Lower Chamber of Congress and again through the Senate before it can be finalized.  



In with the new…

A moratorium on natural forest conversion has been set by the Indonesia-based company  Asia Pulp & Paper. The moratorium spans approximately 55,584 ha of forest in the province of Jambi in Sumatra and includes some APP-owned concessions. APP aims to phase out sourcing of fiber from native forests in its concessions and require suppliers to do high conservation value forest assessments on their holdings by 2015. The sustainability plans come after several accusations from environmental groups claiming APP has been responsible for converting vast areas of tropical forest and peatlands into acacia and eucalyptus plantations to sustain its pulp mills.  



…out with the old.

The Indonesian government plans to update its deforestation  moratorium map  this month as a result of conflicting statements on forest classification. The revisions will build upon previous upgrades and include the use high resolution mapping. To prepare for the map’s upgrade, a two-day seminar was held by the government task force assigned to supervise the moratorium’s implementation. According to Norway’s Environment Minister, the moratorium, which began last year, and more importantly the deforestation reductions stemming from it stand as integral conditions for funding from Norway. Revisions are slated to be finalized by November.  



Nigeria thinks National  

Nigeria and UNDP will join forces to implement a $4 million REDD+ initiative in the African country, funding being provided by UNDP. The interested states are Taraba, Nasarawa, Jigawa, Lagos, Enugu, Katsina, Yobe and Oyo. The Cross River State is already in the pilot stage of the program; the mentioned states would come in during the second phase of the scheme. During the country’s REDD+ Readiness program signing ceremony in Abuja, Nigeria’s Minister of Environment reported that the program document considered a  two-track approach  – at the national and sub-national levels. Capacity building and strategic frameworks are expected to be part of both tracks.  



A 5-Step Approach for Indonesia

With full implementation of Indonesia’s REDD+ National Strategy expected to begin in 2014, the country outlines short-, medium- and long-term goals and the roles specific stakeholders should play to achieve these goals. By  2014, a REDD+ agency, funding mechanism and MRV system should be in place. In the meantime, a strategic development of institutions, governance systems and spatial plans is planned. By 2020, Indonesia aims to reduce emissions by 26% of BAU. CIFOR scientist Herry Purnomo lists five steps to get there, including focusing on specific geographic areas, making REDD+ benefits real and immediate, and establishing REDD-specific bodies.


Finance & Economics

Blue Devils on Blue Carbon

A recent publication by Duke University shines light on the  economic impacts  of losing coastal-marine ecosystems, most of which are reportedly not protected through economic incentives. If coastal ecosystems continue to be lost, the “blue carbon” they have stored possibly for thousands of years is released, which is the real loss since research shows coastal ecosystems can store about 50 times as much carbon as tropical forests. Blue carbon projects that preserve these ecosystems have not been implemented before and therefore, represent risks and expenses for investors. However, interest in these types of projects may be growing; in October, VCS is slated to release a Wetlands Restoration and Conservation project category which will include mangrove forests, salt marshes and seagrasses. Read more on this Ecosystem Marketplace exclusive at  Forest Carbon Portal.  



Human Dimension

CONPAH questions FCPF

As a result of an alleged lack of consultation by the Honduran Government during the formation of Honduras’s R-PP, the Indigenous Peoples Confederation of Honduras (CONPAH) sent a letter to Benoit Bosquet, the World Bank’s FCPF Coordinator highlighting their  concerns. CONAPH admits that meetings have taken place with the Honduran Government; however, they state there is still no agreement on REDD+ among Indigenous Peoples, Afro-Hondurans and the government. CONPAH aims to obtain an agreement in which the rights of Hondurans will be respected and exercised throughout the preparation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of REDD+.  



Science & Technology Review  

Dying Trees  

In a recent publication in Nature Climate Change, lead author William Anderegg and his team explain the potential effects climate change can have on tree mortality. In the report, they note that tree  mortality increases  during periods of excessive heat and drought. If a forest loses its dominant tree species, the remaining tree species can be affected due to changes in sunlight exposure, nutrient mix in the soil and moisture in the air. Another recent study focused on the potential relationship between rainfall in the Amazon and loss of tropical forests. To promote further investigations and collaborations, Anderegg and others are created a website focused on drought and tree mortality.  



Publications & Tools

Splitting the bill

To provide a sense of REDD+ expenses and the level of funding that these initiatives may require, the authors of the study, A Bottom-Up Approach to Estimating Cost Elements of REDD+ pilot projects in Tanzania, take into consideration opportunity, implementation, transaction and institutional costs based on three REDD+ pilot projects in  Tanzania. The report highlights the importance of assessing regional variations when estimating opportunity costs and downfalls of taking aggregated data in highly variable geographic locations.



Tenure Talk

In the WWF publication Community Tenure & REDD+, the authors touch on several topics related to community tenure and REDD+. The main areas it covers are the importance of tenure, its relation to REDD+, the current standing of tenure, examples of community tenure and critical pieces to a successful tenure system. The publication can serve a source of information for project developers attempting to understand the full importance and scope of  community tenure.


Beyond Carbon

In the publication REDD+: An Incentive Structure for Long-Term Performance, Rainforest Foundation Norway describes a  broad approach  to measuring REDD+ outcomes that does not rely solely on carbon results, but instead focuses also on governance reforms and social and environmental aspects involved in REDD+ schemes. The authors go further into discussion as to why broader performance criteria than carbon loss would be more effective at promoting forest protection.  




Change at top for CIFOR

One of the world’s leading forestry research intuitions changes Director General this week as Frances Seymour steps down from her 6-year tenure and lets Peter Holmgren take the reins of the growing organization. Seymour leaves CIFOR after doubling its budget and developing a new approach for research and impact. Holmgren comes with years of experience at FAO to help him lead CIFOR as they head toward their 20th anniversary next year. For more information, read the full announcement on the  Forest Carbon Portal.  



Research Assistant GHG Protocol –  WRI  

Based in Beijing, the RA will work on the GHG Protocol, a part of the GHG Protocol City Accounting Project, involving city-level GHG inventories in China. Candidates should have a Master’s in engineering, environmental sciences, energy, math, physics, or related fields, 1-2 years’ experience in GHG accounting, and fluency in Chinese and English. Read more about the position  here.  


Program Officer, Andes-Amazon Initiative – Gordon and Betty  Moore Foundation

The officer will lead strategy development and grant-making on policy and financial mechanisms to address drivers of deforestation the Amazon, including agricultural commodities. Candidates should have a Master’s, PhD, or equivalent experience in a relevant field, with 5-7 years’ experience in sustainable development and conservation in the Andes-Amazon. Read more about the position  here.  



Consultant, Fairtrade Application and Certification Services – Fairtrade International

Based in Colombia, the Consultant will process applications for Fairtrade certification from customers in South America, prepare assessments on compliance of producer organizations and communicate actively with potential and existing customers. Candidates should have business or commercial professional education or equivalent and 2+ years’ work experience. Read more about the position  here.  



2 Positions, FLEGT & REDD Unit at the Policy Support Office, Barcelona – European Forest Institute

Based in Spain, the  Governance Expert  will provide support to negotiation processes and encourage and guide partner countries in the development of multi-stakeholder participation and broad consultation to inform in-country negotiations. Candidates must have a Master’s of Science or a higher university degree in social sciences, governance, natural resource management, policy science and economics or a related and suitable field with 5+ years’ work experience, 2+ in Africa on governance, development policy, forestry and/or natural resource management. The  Legality Assurance Systems Expert  will support the country stakeholders and the European Commission in the development of timber legality definitions. Candidates will have a Master’s in Science or higher university degree in forestry, wood engineering or a related and suitable field with 5+ years’ work experience in the forest sector in tropical Africa, Asia or Latin America, 2+ in Africa.



Policy Associate – Climate Action Reserve

Based in Los Angeles, the associate will be responsible for maintaining, implementing, and updating existing protocols and assisting in the development of new project protocols. Candidates should have a BA/BS in natural/environmental science, engineering, public policy, economics, or related field, with 1-2 years’ work/internship experience, and experience in GHG emissions measurement and verification. Read more about the position  here.  


Lawyer/Project Leader, Forest Rights and Governance – Client Earth

Based in London, the lawyer will scope and develop a strategic programme of work within the framework of the overall Climate & Energy programme, coordinate work across the Climate & Energy team, and research and produce briefings and submissions. Candidates should have a law degree with 4+ years’ relevant work experience. Read more about the position  here.

Carbon Research Analyst –  Environmental Investment Organisation

Based in London or to work independently from home, the analyst will help collect GHG emissions data from global companies, analyze the information, draw conclusions and categorize it accordingly. Candidates should have a relevant degree. Previous research experience is desirable, but not necessary. Read more about the position  here.




The Forest Carbon Portal provides relevant daily news, a bi-weekly news brief, feature articles, a calendar of events, a searchable member directory, a jobs board, a library of tools and resources. The Portal also includes the Forest Carbon Project Inventory, an international database of projects including those in the pipeline. Projects are described with consistent ‘nutrition labels’ and allow viewers to contact project developers.



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