This Week In Forest Carbon News…

Payments for reduced deforestation in Acre, Brazil have finally started to flow, four years after the state first passed its payment for ecosystem services law. In corporate news, major clothing brands H&M, Zara and Stella McCartney announced that they will find alternatives to fabrics sourced from endangered forests within three years. Personal products company Johnson & Johnson released a new palm oil sourcing policy to protect people and forests – a bold move considering the complexity of the company’s palm supply chain.

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


12 May 2014 | The Brazilian state of Acre is “the best in the world when it comes to subnational jurisdictions working on REDD, (Reduction of Emissions from Deforestation or Degradation of forests),” Brian McFarland of the Carbon Fund told Ecosystem Marketplace. The state’s 2010 payment for ecosystem services (PES) law, known as SISA from the Portuguese acronym, aims to place economic value on forests, biodiversity, water, soil, climate – and even traditional knowledge – to create mechanisms to invest in ecosystem and cultural survival. The forest carbon aspect of the law is the furthest along, and in 2012 Acre partnered with the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) to pilot their Jurisdictional Nesting REDD+ framework.

However, it was a long road before finance actually began to flow, especially for the rubber tappers and small farmers who constantly face competing demands. Last November, Chief Jose Maria Arara of the Arara people expressed his frustration at a workshop in Acre.

“When will PES arrive?” Zé Maria asked. “We’ve held about five different meetings…”

This year, he got his answer – at least in part. The Acre Association of Indigenous Agroforesty Agents received 3.6 million Reais (US $1.6 million) in January, and the state put up an additional 3 million Reais (US $1.35 million) in April. The funding is part of the German development bank KfW’s commitment to spend 50 million Reais (US $24.2 million) in Acre through 2018 – and it marks the German government’s first grant to a state rather than a country.

To disperse the first 1.5 million Reais this year, Acre’s government will issue a series of calls for proposals to support indigenous people’s long-term development visions, known as “life plans.” The awards will range from 50,000 to 210,000 Reais and can be used for a variety of activities, from strengthening land management practices to generating income for women. Though international REDD+ payments are based on the state’s ‘performance’ against emissions targets, Acre’s government has the leeway to distribute the funds internally based on a variety of activities consistent with the SISA law, including payments for watershed services and payments for habitat restoration. The state government believes these targeted payments will ultimately result in lower deforestation rates across its territory – and that means more REDD+ income down the road.

“We’re talking about 2.4 million hectares of forest being managed by indigenous peoples,” said Beto Borges, who heads Forest Trends’ Communities and Market Initiative, which has been working in Acre for years. “That’s 15 distinct ethnicities dispersed among 35 indigenous territories. Their traditional territories have been demarcated. They’re official. Now, the new funding from SISA will strengthen the management and conservation of their forests.”

More stories from the forest carbon markets are summarized below, so keep reading!

—The Ecosystem Marketplace Team


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Passing the torch

Speaking to the nearly 2,000 attendees of the Center for International Forestry Research’s (CIFOR) Forests Asia Summit on May 5, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, the outgoing President of Indonesia, called on his successor to continue the moratorium on deforestation he declared in 2011. Indonesia reduced its deforestation rate from 1.2 million hectares annually between 2003 and 2006 to 450,600 hectares annually between 2011 and 2013 under the policy, he said, avoiding the emission of 211 million tonnes of carbon dioxide. However, more work remains to be done. Illegal logging and slash-and-burn practices contributed to the recent debilitating fires in Riau province, and more than a hundred individuals and a dozen corporations are currently facing court trials for related crimes.


All smoke and mirrors?

Australia’s Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI) will be folded into the Emissions Reduction Fund partly to create new opportunities for land-based carbon projects, perhaps including offsets developed under a proposed methodology that would allow soil carbon sequestration projects in grazing systems. The CFI announcement was made in an April white paper outlining the details of the fund, which the federal government sees as the centerpiece of its plan to repeal and replace the country’s carbon tax. However, the Labor Party’s Shadow Environment Minister Mark Butler said the plan was “nothing more than smoke and mirrors” because of the lack of funding certainty in future years. CFI offsets can be used for compliance under the carbon tax until February 2015.

Drafting REDD into service

India has released a draft national policy on REDD+ that aims to enable local communities to receive financial incentives for forest conservation and sustainable forest management initiatives. The proposed policy could allow India REDD+ projects to access millions of dollars provided by developed countries by creating a national regulatory body, establishing policies to safeguard local community rights, and developing a mechanism to fairly channel REDD+ funds to these communities. India’s Ministry of Environment and Forests noted that forest cover in the country neutralizes 11% of its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. But India only added three million hectares of forest from 1997 to 2007, according to its State of Forest Report. Comments can be made on the draft policy until May 27.


Plan Vivo looking lively

After a relatively slow year of project development in 2013, with only two projects added to its pipeline, Plan Vivo, a standard for payment for ecosystem services projects, has already approved seven new Project Information Notes in the first quarter of 2014. Among these are the standard’s first non-forest carbon project, located in Mongolia, through which the University of Leicester and the Mongolian Society for Range Management will work with herders to conserve threatened grasslands. Another proposed project called ‘Two Worlds – One Bird‘ will finance habitat restoration for the Bicknell Thrush, a bird that migrates between the Dominican Republic and New York in the United States. Project activities will include reforestation in both countries.


You snooze, you lose

Pakistan has failed to sign a formal agreement worth $3.8 million with the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility’s (FCPF) Readiness Fund by a March 31 deadline. The FCPF assists developing countries through compensation for REDD+ activities, including conservation, sustainable management and enhancement of forest carbon stocks. Pakistan was one of eight new countries to be selected from 27 that competed for the funds in December 2013. A pledge of $100 million to the fund from Norway allowed new entrants into the program, including Bhutan, Burkina Faso, Cote d’lvoire, Fiji, Dominican Republic, Nigeria and Togo, aside from Pakistan.


Houston, we have a problem

Since 2011, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has been monitoring forest loss using a global imaging satellite called MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer). So far in 2014, Bolivia, Malaysia and Cambodia have recorded some of the worst losses, and NASA officials suspect the cause is human activity. NASA releases deforestation reports quarterly that can assist conservationists and officials in detecting illegal logging or burning. The Quarterly Indicator of Cover Change identifies land areas that have lost at least 40% of their green vegetation cover annually.

Reverse the carbon curse

The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report describes the actions that people need to take to maintain a safe and stable global climate, including carbon capture and storage (CCS) efforts to keep global temperatures from rising more than 2 °C. But trees remain the only CCS “technology” that can deliver on a meaningful scale. Jonah Busch of the Center for Global Development dissects the latest IPCC report and offers his own meta-analysis. “Not many models project that it’s possible to limit warming to +2 °C without CCS technology, but those that do require not only stopping deforestation altogether, but reversing it to create a massive terrestrial carbon sink of regrowing forest vegetation by 2030,” he wrote.

Putting the trees out to pasture

A recent study from the University of California, Berkley finds that if Brazil subsidized more productive use of pastureland and taxed less sustainable practices, deforestation rates in the country could be cut by half (or 25% of all global GHG emissions). Recommended practices include rotating where animals graze, planting better grasses more frequently, and amending the soil to unlock more nutrients. These practices result in doubling productivity for a given land area, potentially reducing pressure to clear more forest for pasture. “These practices are already used commercially on some ranches in Brazil, but they’re not yet cost-competitive because of higher upfront costs, so subsidies can provide a needed boost to make the investment worthwhile,” said study lead author Avery Cohn.


What not to wear

Major clothing brands H&M, Zara and Stella McCartney recently announced that, within three years, they will find alternatives to the viscose and rayon fabrics that may be sourced from endangered or ancient forests. Straw and recycled fabrics are possible substitutes for fabrics made from dissolvable pulp. H&M’s environmental sustainability manager, Henrik Lampa, said that prior to working with non-profit Canopy on the issue, company officials hadn’t been aware that their viscose and rayon might be driving deforestation. “The sustainability issue is a big learning curve for fashion companies. Consumers are expecting us to make good choices for them – and yet we can only make good decisions with good awareness of what is going into our products,” he said.

No more (forest) tears

From mouthwash to baby powder to Band-Aids, you probably have your medicine cabinet well-stocked with Johnson & Johnson (J&J) products – and, by association, palm oil. As of May 1, the personal care products company has committed to a new, comprehensive palm oil sourcing policy that includes no conversion of high conservation value areas, high carbon stock forests or peatlands, as well as social criteria such as respecting the land rights of indigenous peoples. Implementing the sourcing policy will not be straightforward, since most of the palm oil J&J buys is in a derivative form that doesn’t come directly from the plantation. But NGO The Forest Trust says that J&J is eager to take on the challenge

Not fit for man or beast?

Between 1990 and 2010, Zimbabwe lost nearly 30% of its forest cover – an alarming average of 327,000 hectares were felled per year. This destruction of habitat is at least in part to blame in the apparent spike in human-wildlife interaction in recent years. “If the lions are not eating our livestock, they are trying to eat us,” Zimbabwean villager Donotio Nyoni told Reuters. Organizations such as Carbon Green Africa are trying to change the financial incentives around forest conversion by developing REDD+ projects, but forests have stiff competition against the lucrative tobacco and timber industries and smallholders’ need for fuelwood. Lions, cheetahs, hyenas and buffalos may continue to be displaced.


All risks being equal

Since the launch of California’s cap-and-trade program, buyers of forest carbon offsets have dodged a bullet faced by purchasers of other types of compliance offsets: the invalidation risk that could force them to replace problematic offsets. But the risk is one that all California offset buyers will soon have to bear as regulators approved a change shifting the invalidation risk for forestry offsets away from forest owners to the buyers. The change – designed to ensure consistency – was approved by the California Air Resources Board as part of a package of amendments that will become effective on July 1.

The Sixth Sense

A new tool developed by Terra Global Capital could allow project developers to use remote sensing instead of traditional ground-based forest inventory plots to estimate forest carbon pools. The remote sensing biomass measurement tool could help mitigate the challenges in estimating Aboveground Live Forest Biomass through a combination of remote sensing data and field measurements. This tool is designed to be used with VCS methodologies in the Agriculture, Forestry, and Other Land Use arena. The methodology is open for public comment until May 24.

Technically speaking

The UNFCCC Secretariat has published a technical paper on land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF) under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). The paper explores options for more possible LULUCF activities and alternative approaches to address the risk of non-permanence under the CDM, as well as their implications for validation, monitoring and verification of projects under the CDM.


Perception is nothing

The ‘gender debate’ in forest communities has seesawed from pre-1970s perceptions that men were the main contributors to family income to the post-1970s view that overemphasized women’s role in collecting forest products. An analysis of forest and rural livelihoods covering 8,000 households in 24 developing countries twists the assumptions again, finding that men and women contribute almost equally to the household income from unprocessed forest products. However, the study also shows considerable regional variability. In Latin America, men bring in about seven times more income from forest projects such as Brazil nuts than women. In Africa, “women tend to dominate,” said Terry Sunderland, a principal scientist with CIFOR.

Some pain, little gain

A review of REDD+ pilot projects in Nepal found that community forest user groups received little overall gain from these projects. There were some noticeable benefits, including better control over forest fires, but local groups had to make sacrifices to maximize the carbon offsets developed under the projects, such as cutting back the amount of wood they would normally use. “REDD+ is not a poverty reduction strategy; it is for reduction of emissions,” said Bhaskar Singh Karky, resource economist at the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development. “But given our context, the drivers of deforestation and forest degradation stem from livelihoods needs. We have to enhance the livelihoods of forest dependent populations to prevent it.”


Forest Carbon Program Research Assistant – Ecosystem Marketplace

Based in Washington, DC, the Forest Carbon Program Research Assistant will help in the development of a research product focusing on public-private partnerships for financing REDD+ projects, and support the development of the State of the Forest Carbon Markets report. The ideal candidate will have excellent writing and research skills (journalism skills a plus); strong Spanish-language speaking and writing skills; and the ability to work well in a team environment, but also with minimal management. This is a three-month position, paid hourly.

Read more about the position here

Program Associate – Forest Trends’ Katoomba Incubator

Based in Washington, DC, the Program Associate will support the development of pilot payment for ecosystem services projects in Latin America, Africa and Asia under the Katoomba Incubator. The successful candidate will have excellent analytical, research and time management skills; demonstrated interest in valuing ecosystem services; intercultural experience and language proficiency in Spanish, Portuguese or Chinese; and the capacity for extended travel. A master’s degree and/or experience with Geographic Information Systems, forest carbon standards, hydrology or forestry are highly desirable.

Read more about the position here

Senior Ecological Economist and Team Leader – Asian Development Bank

Based in the Philippines, the Senior Ecological Economist and Team Leader will review and synthesize methods and tools for ecosystem service valuation and REDD+ and analyze barriers, constraints and opportunities for their wider adoption in Asia and the Pacific, including potential entry points for the Asian Development Bank. The successful candidate will have a master’s degree in environmental or ecological economics and at least 10 years of experience related to PES or carbon finance; experience in Asia and the Pacific is highly desirable.

Read more about the position here

Malawi REDD+ Advisor – US Forest Service International Programs

Based in Lilongwe, Malawi, the REDD+ Advisor will advise the Department of Forestry in convening and coordinating governance structures of the Malawi REDD+ Program and lead coordination of REDD+ activities in Malawi. The successful candidate will have a master’s degree in natural resource management or a related field; at least five years of international work experience, preferably related to REDD+; experience living and working in Africa; and experience in program management and monitoring.

Read more about the position here

Product Manager Fairtrade Certification – FLO-CERT

Based in Bonn, Germany, the Product Manager will develop, implement and drive FLO-CERT’s strategy for its core Fairtrade service, representing FLO-CERT at industry events and driving business development activities. The ideal candidate will have at least five years of work experience in product management, a background in certification, and extensive know-how about the Fairtrade core services. Advanced language skills in German and/or Spanish would be a plus, as would experience with other schemes such as Rainforest Alliance or Utz Certified.

Read more about the position here


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