This Week In Forest Carbon News…

In an exclusive interview with Ecosystem Marketplace, Heru Prasetyo, who took the helm of Indonesia’s new REDD+ Management Agency in December, talks about Indonesia’s plan to move palm production to degraded land, why REDD+ is the new oil, and everything in between. And in other news, teen activists won’t rest until the Girl Scouts ensure its cookies are deforestation-free.

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


21 May 2014 | Indonesia’s peat forests are a climate change ‘line in the sand.’ The country’s 22 million hectares of peat contain an estimated 200 billion tonnes of carbon – a third of Earth’s remaining ‘carbon budget’ through 2050 if we are to limit global temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius. Through a $1 billion REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation of forests) agreement with Norway in 2010, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono imposed a two-year moratorium on the palm oil concessions that have turned one of the largest carbon sinks in the world into a carbon source.

That moratorium has now been extended through 2015, but it doesn’t affect concessions already in place before it was signed, leaving millions of hectares of forest slated for conversion to palm oil. Heru Prasetyo, who took the helm of Indonesia’s new REDD+ Management Agency in December, is tasked with preventing this climate nightmare. In a wide-ranging, exclusive interview with Ecosystem Marketplace’s Steve Zwick, Prasetyo talks about Indonesia’s plan to move palm production to degraded land, why REDD+ is the new oil, and everything in between.

“We’ve spent 50 years developing this economy, and if we simply stop producing palm oil, we will be taking a massive economic hit, and production will just go elsewhere,” Pratseyo explained. “So we have to engineer a land-swap. This means identifying degraded land that could be used for palm oil and trying to see if there is a way to persuade the people who have palm-oil concessions to switch over.”

Zwick describes such a land swap as “a task comparable to asking the corn farmers of the American Midwest to move their crops en masse to the apple orchards of the Northeast.” Pratseyo recognizes that it won’t be easy, but he sees REDD+ as an essential tool for rebalancing the economic equation to make standing forests more valuable. He advocates for incorporating site-specific reference levels into a national strategy, and for taking the time to do multi-stakeholder consultation, even if it’s “messy.” When asked which complexities on the ground surprised him most, Pratseyo had an interesting answer:

“We knew that we’d have a lot of issues with tenure. That’s a problem we inherited from the Dutch, and then we made worse ourselves. So, we knew that, but the biggest surprise was that our institutions were not prepared for doing what needs to be done to make REDD+ work. But then we also found this benefit: that the reforms we needed to make for REDD+ were reforms that would have knock-on benefits across the agriculture sector. So, we’re using REDD+ to align our institutions and straighten out all of our tenure issues,” he said.

The interview, available here, is worth reading in full.

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

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We’ll address questions such as: What were the most popular standards and project types in 2013? What average prices were forestry and other carbon offsets sold at? What buyer sectors are interested in forest carbon offsets, and how does offsetting fit into corporate supply chain management?

Join us, and panelists from BioCarbon Group, ClimateCare, EcoAct and the International Carbon Reduction and Offset Alliance (ICROA) on Wednesday, May 28, 13:00 – 13:45 in the Plenary Room. Our latest report builds on data collected from a global pool of offset suppliers worldwide to provide insights that will once again become an industry benchmark.




—The Ecosystem Marketplace Team

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No to déjí  vu

Speaking at the Forests Asia Summit in Jakarta, Indonesia, Peru Environment Minister Manuel Pulgar-Vidal called for a bottom-up climate agreement at the United Nations talks in Lima this December. “It should be clear that we are not going to repeat Kyoto,” he said. Pulgar-Vidal called for a central role for forestry, recognizing that deforestation is the biggest source of emissions in some countries in Latin America. “For me the forestry topic, it is still the younger brother of the climate debate,” he said. The Minister lamented the low price of carbon and said that resolving tenure rights will be key to building trust in forest carbon mechanisms.


Less loopy

A new budget bill has closed a loophole in New Zealand’s emissions trading scheme (ETS) which allowed foresters who planted their trees after 1989 to earn New Zealand Units (NZUs) from the government, sell them to emitters, and then buy cheaper international Emissions Reduction Units (ERUS) to give back to the government. NZUs are currently worth 23 times ERUs, and foresters were able to earn several hundred million dollars through trading – with zero benefit to the climate. The budget bill came as a surprise to the Forest Owners Association, which said foresters who have bought ERUs in the last year will now be selling them at a loss.

If you abandon it, they will come

A report by Italy’s National Inventory of Forests finds that the country now has more than double the trees it hosted just after World War II. The widespread abandonment of farmland, particularly in the south, has led to massive reforestation, and forests now cover 27 million acres – about 35% of the country. As a Kyoto Protocol signatory, carbon sequestered by Italy’s forests is counted against its emissions targets, but that hasn’t stopped some Italian forest owners from participating in the voluntary carbon market. “There is the need to organize in a way to make sure that we are not monetizing twice the same credits,” Lucio Brotto, a researcher involved in developing the Italian Forest Code, told Ecosystem Marketplace.


Zambia zooming

BioCarbon Partners, a Zambian-based REDD+ project developer, announced last week that its Lower Zambezi REDD+ project achieved Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) verification. The project has also achieved validation against the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Alliance Standard at the ‘triple gold’ level, indicating ‘exceptional’ biodiversity, social, and climate adaptation benefits. It protects 39,000 hectares of intact miombo forest along the northwestern boundary of the Lower Zambezi National Park and supports sustainable charcoal production, among other efforts to improve local livelihoods and reduce the drivers of deforestation. BioCarbon Partners is now actively seeking buyers to purchase carbon offsets from the project.

How hospitable

Hotel Verde in Cape Town, South Africa recently announced a partnership with impactChoice to neutralize carbon emissions by purchasing carbon offsets from the Sofala Community Carbon Project in Mozambique. The Plan Vivo REDD project, which has now been running for seven years, covers 11,744 hectares in Gorongosa National Park and is estimated to avoid the emission of 1,000,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year (342,423 Plan Vivo certificates have been issued so far). “We have committed to offsetting each guest’s stay or conference with us at no additional cost to the guest, taking straight from our bottom line,” said Mario Delicio, the hotel owner.


Above and beyond

A recent study commissioned by the Gold Standard (GS) and published by NetBalance valued the environmental, economic and social initiatives associated with 109 GS projects at $686 million. GS held 14% of market share in 2012, according to the State of the Voluntary Carbon Markets 2013, and its co-benefits-centric approach led to prices that were among the market’s highest – an average of $10 per tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent. Some buyers may actually be more interested in the co-benefits than the carbon, but carbon provides a straightforward metric for monitoring and reporting. “People don’t give money for good causes anymore – they give money for results,” said Thomas Vellacott, CEO of World Wildlife Fund Switzerland, at this year’s GS conference.

Carbon Map taking off

The Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) Carbon Map and Model project, financed through Germany’s KfW Development Bank to the tune of six million euros, was important to the Carbon Fund’s acceptance of DRC’s Emissions Reductions Program Idea Note. Implemented through World Wildlife Fund and GFA Consulting Group, the mapping project used a combination of field plot measurements and remote sensing data from an airplane-based sensor to create a national biomass map. DRC hopes to receive $60 million in emissions reduction payments through 2020 for avoided deforestation in Mai Ndombe Province. It will be the first jurisdictional REDD+ program in Africa.



Carbon queens

Mirror mirror on the wall, who stores the most carbon of them all? A new study published in the Journal of Ecology yields an answer: the rainforests of Borneo beat out the Amazon for the fastest woody growth – 49% faster, in fact – and therefore the most above-ground carbon storage. The research is based on 12,000 trees that were monitored for more than two decades. Borneo’s forests, however, have been under siege: more than 29,000 square kilometers of the lowland forests of Kalimantan were chopped between 1985 and 2001. In 2011, the first forest carbon project in Borneo was registered in Sabah under the VCS.


Hand-to-forest combat

Rudi Putra of Indonesia is one of six winners of this year’s Goldman prize, the most prestigious global award for environmental activists. Putra is fighting to save the 2.25 million-hectare Leuser Ecosystem in Sumatra, home to elephants, rhinos and orangutans – a quarter of which has already been destroyed. His efforts exposed illegal deforestation by more than two dozen palm oil plantations and helped to stop a 2013 provincial government plan to open up new tracts of forest to mining and palm. “We have basically no funding for the work we are doing, but we all stood together to protect the Leuser,” he said. The $175,000 prize money will go right back to the effort.

Scout’s dishonor

At age 11, Madison Vorva and Rhiannon Tomtishen started a campaign to get Girl Scouts of America to source more sustainable palm oil for their cookies. The result was Kellogg Company’s eventual adoption of a zero deforestation policy. But Vorva and Tomtishen – who are now of voting age – aren’t satisfied yet since ABC Bakers, the other company that bakes Girl Scout cookies, has not adopted a zero deforestation policy. The Girl Scouts’ bakers source palm oil from members of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm, a standard-setting body for social and environmental safeguards that does not explicitly exclude land conversion.

Miss Deforestation

Critics call her ‘Miss Deforestation,’ but she’d prefer ‘Miss President.’ Kí¡tia Abreu, a senator from the Brazilian state of Tocantis, is known as the staunchest supporter of agribusiness in the country. “There are many things holding back progress – the environmental issue, the Indian issue and more,” she told a journalist from The Guardian. Abreu does not plan to run in October’s election, but she says that campaigning someday is “fate.” Abreu is a stark contrast to Marina Silva, Brazil’s former environment minister who introduced policies to slow deforestation and who last month announced she will run alongside Socialist party candidate Eduardo Campos against current president Dilma Rousseff.


Let’s play 20 questions

The Center for International Forestry Research’s (CIFOR) 2013 annual report, released this month, highlights gains for forest carbon, including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s adopted Wetlands Supplement, which allows national governments to include peatlands and mangroves in carbon accounting. At its Forests Asia Summit in early May, the organization launched its Top 20 Questions for Forestry – “t20q” – survey, which will steer coming research and policy work.

Getting engaged

A recent study by Tetra Tech for the Forest Carbon, Markets and Communities program of the United States Agency for International Development compared four forest carbon projects in Eastern Africa – one in Uganda, one in Ethiopia, and two in Kenya. The study found that all the projects “effectively engaged” thousands of farmers to plant trees or regenerate forest, but “at current carbon prices, carbon revenues seem insufficient incentive for tree-planting.” Investment costs for Clean Development Mechanism and VCS compliance were often upwards of $1 million, and continue throughout the project.


Forester / Forest Biometrician – Green Assets

Based in Wilmington, North Carolina, the Forester/Forest Biometrician will evaluate large forested tracts for development of forest carbon projects, utilizing forest management plans, inventories, mapping and harvest data to make recommendations to Green Assets. The successful candidate will have a bachelor’s degree in Forestry with at least five years of experience in forest inventory design and mensuration. Strong understanding of remote sensing analysis techniques and experience with forest carbon project protocols such as Climate Action Reserve, American Carbon Registry, and California Air Resources Board preferred.

Read more about the position here

Forestry Senior Program Associate – American Carbon Registry

Based in Sacramento, California (preferred) or Washington, DC, the Senior Program Associate will provide support on all aspects of registry management, support business development and outreach activities, and help to coordinate the development and/or approval of new quantification methodologies. A master’s degree in forestry and three to six years of experience working with forest projects in the carbon market or related fields is required. Candidates who have completed California Air Resources Board training and passed the exam in the US Forests Compliance Offset Protocol are preferred.

Read more about the position here

Senior Associate Forest Certification – Rainforest Alliance

Based in Northfield, Minnesota, the Senior Associate will provide essential leadership in management and growth of Rainforest Alliance’s US forest management portfolio in the US Region. Responsibilities will encompass management and leadership, client service, and quality assurance. Preferred candidates will have an advanced degree with five to seven years of experience in forestry or a related field.

Read more about the position here

Director of Finance – EcoZoom

Based in Portland, Oregon or Nairobi, Kenya, the Director of Finance will drive the global growth of EcoZoom’s suite of clean cookstoves products for developing countries. The position involves working with senior management to develop a strategy for bilateral aid mechanisms such as carbon finance and Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions. The ideal candidate will have at least seven years work experience in finance, with a minimum of five years at a multinational company, preferably with offices in Africa.

Read more about the position here

APX – Renewable Energy and Carbon Markets Intern

Based in Washington, DC, the Renewable Energy and Carbon Markets Intern will kick-start an analytics and research program through APX Environmental. The internship will emphasize learning and preparation for a potential future career in the field. Candidates must have a passion for research and analysis, strong communication skills, and enthusiasm about working in a start-up environment. Proficiency in Spanish is a plus.

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.


Ecosystem Marketplace is a project of Forest Trends, a tax-exempt corporation under Section 501(c)3. This newsletter and other dimensions of our voluntary carbon markets program are funded by a series of international development agencies, philanthropic foundations, and private sector organizations. For more information on donating to Ecosystem Marketplace, please contact [email protected].


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