The power of resolve
The Board of the Consumer Goods Forum, a network of CEOs and senior management from about 400 companies representing combined sales of 2.5 trillion euros (US$3.4 trillion), in June issued a resolution pledging to mobilize its members’ resources to help achieve zero net deforestation by 2020. This would be accomplished via individual company initiatives and collaborative efforts with governments and non-governmental organizations, including specific, cost-effective plans for sourcing commodities such as palm oil, beef and paper in a sustainable fashion. The board also resolved to work with other stakeholders to create funding mechanisms to incentivize and assist countries in conserving their forests.
NATIONAL STRATEGY AND CAPACITY
Lucky number 7?
China launched its seventh and final planned pilot carbon market last month in the city of Chongqing along the Yangtze River. The municipal government issued a total of 125 million permits for free to cover the emissions of 242 companies in 2013, though the volume of permits will shrink by 4% per year. At the launch, 16 deals covering 145,000 tonnes were announced, with all permits priced at 30 to 31.5 yuan ($4.83 to $5.07) per tonne. Forestry offsets are expected to be eligible in Chongqing, but the city may target emissions from the forestry sector in the future, according to a paper published earlier this year called Overview of Climate Change Policies and Development of Emissions Trading in China.
Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda pledged to work together and with international police organization INTERPOL and the United Nations to prevent illegal logging and facilitate the sustainable management of forests to reduce emissions in East Africa. The three countries are not only contending with illegal logging within their borders, but are also used as transit countries for timber illegally logged in other countries such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The global economic costs of illegal logging are staggering: an estimated $30-100 billion is lost through illegal logging every year. In contrast, well-managed forests support the livelihoods of 1.6 billion people, while ecosystem services from tropical forests alone are estimated to be worth an average $6,120 per hectare each year.
DelAgua Health is harnessing carbon finance to distribute clean cookstoves and water purification devices to 100,000 households in western Rwanda in 2014. In an interview with Ecosystem Marketplace, Matt Spannagle, DelAgua’s Climate Partnerships Manager, spoke about why the carbon finance model makes sense for their programme of activities. “To maximize revenue [from carbon offset sales], we need to be able to demonstrate that people are using the cookstoves and filters, and therefore reducing their fuelwood use,” he said. “If you demonstrate that, then that implies going back to households again and again to make sure people are using them, and that [human contact] is what is delivering the high uptake rates.”
Just can’t wait to be king
Forest carbon project developer Wildlife Works plans to expand its REDD project in Kenya fivefold, to cover one million hectares. The currently 200,000-hectare Kasigua Corridor has generated 1.2 million metric tonnes of carbon offsets worth $3.5 million to $7 million annually, with revenues flowing to 110,000 residents as well as investors. The project also employs 350 people and protects an important migration zone for elephants, cheetahs and lions. Wildlife Works’ goal is to protect five million hectares of forest globally. Ecosystem Marketplace found that REDD projects generated a record 22.6 million offsets last year, up from 8.6 million tonnes in 2012.
A tough sell
When, back in 2010, the founders of California-based project developer Anthrotect launched a REDD+ project in the post-civil war Choco-Darien region of Colombia, they thought that selling carbon offsets would be the easy part. But since January 2013, the project has sold just 80,000 tCO2e of the total 2.8 million tCO2e it is projected to generate over its 30-year lifetime. After engaging in months of negotiations with individual buyers, Anthrotect co-founder Brodie Ferguson found that selling offsets required much more than making a phone call. He’ll need to be persistent to find buyers for his current inventory. “I’m confident sales will continue to come in and improve. I’m also confident things can’t get much worse,” Ferguson said.
FINANCE AND ECONOMICS
$5 billion goes a long way
Indonesia needs about $5 billion in international aid to hit its target of reducing its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by as much as 41%. The $1 billion already committed by Norway is not enough to conserve the country’s forests and peatlands, said Heru Prasetyo, head of Indonesia’s new REDD+ Management Agency. And Norway’s funding could disappear if Indonesia does not have a system in place for measuring its GHGs by 2016. “To assure successful REDD+ programs, we can’t limit ourselves to the sole support from the Norwegian government,” he said. “We need to be open for new investors.” Average prices for REDD offsets fell to about $4.2 per tonne last year, the story noted, citing Ecosystem Marketplace’s State of the Voluntary Carbon Markets 2014 report.
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
One man’s trash…
… is another man’s treasure. San Francisco startup Rainforest Connection is repurposing discarded smartphones as deforestation watchdogs. The solar-powered devices are programmed to pick up sounds such as chainsaws or alarmed animals that might indicate trees being cut. Then, a text message can be sent to local authorities. The technology has been tested in the Kalaweit Gibbon Sanctuary in Indonesia, where the devices detected illegal chainsaw noises within one day. The company launched a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign in hopes of raising $100,000 by July 29. They’re about a third of the way there.
Indonesia’s deforestation rate is twice the rate previously reported by the country’s government, according to a new study published in Nature Climate Change. The researchers used satellite data to determine that more than two million acres of primary forest were cleared in 2012, while Indonesia reported to the United Nations that the annual deforestation rate between 2009 and 2011 was one million acres annually. Indonesia has now earned the infamous title of World’s No. 1 Deforester, replacing Brazil.
All is not lost
When primatologist Biruté Galdikas learned palm oil company PT Best was about to destroy Borneo’s Seruyan Forest, she thought all was lost. Ecosystem Marketplace recounts the story of how she teamed up with ecosystem entrepreneur Todd Lemons and industrialist Rusmin Widjajam to outmaneuver big palm oil and save the forest. PT Best had claimed the entire Seruyan Forest – a massive natural filtration system that regulates water flows and provides non-timber forest products such as honey, wax and wild rubber to hundreds of villagers. It also acts as a protective buffer to a quarter-million hectares of peat forest in the Tanjung Puting National Park which, if destroyed, could release hundreds of millions of tons of carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere.
STANDARDS AND METHODOLOGY
Keep off the grass
VCS last week released an update to its Avoided Conversion of Grasslands and Shrublands methodology which it hopes will expand opportunities to use carbon finance to conserve these ecosystems, which cover roughly 25% of the Earth’s land surface. Wildlife Works developed the methodology and piloted it at its Taita Hills project in Kenya. “One of the reasons why there are some land units in the area that were not part of the REDD project was because they did not meet the forest definition,” Mike Korchinsky of Wildlife Works told Ecosystem Marketplace. “This new methodology allows us to capture the value of protecting savannah ecosystems.”
Back to fundamentals
The socioeconomic benefits of forests are not adequately addressed by countries, despite their potential to contribute to poverty reduction, rural development and greener economies, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) State of the World’s Forests report. Eva Mueller, director of the FAO’s forestry division, said forests are fundamental to human well-being because trees provide a direct source of food, fuel and income. Wood energy, for example, is often the only accessible and affordable fuel in developing countries such as Tanzania, where wood fuel accounts for about 90% of total energy consumption. But policies barely discuss how to improve wood energy production, make it more sustainable and reduce the burden on women and children who do most of the collecting.
Let’s slow things down
The pace of deforestation is down by 19%, from 16 million hectares per year in the 1990s to 13 million hectares per year in the 2000s, according to new research by the Union of Concerned Scientists. Deforestation Success Stories examined what programs and policies are working, and finds that REDD+ funding “has proved to be money well spent” in Guyana, Brazil, Kenya, Madagascar and Costa Rica. The authors note that payment for ecosystem services programs in Mexico, Vietnam and Costa Rica “have been beneficial for the forests despite not having worked out in the way that economists and policymakers designed them.”
Hardly a dry REDD forest
Dry forests comprise just less than half of tropical forests and support some of the world’s poorest people, according to a recent report by the Center for International Forestry Research. However, research to date on carbon stocks has focused mainly on humid forests, and estimating the carbon content of dry forests is different because of a dissimilar above/below ground carbon ratio. Further research on this topic will be important if more REDD projects begin to focus on dry forests.
Consultants, Vietnam Forests and Deltas Program – Winrock International
Based in Vietnam, the consultants will evaluate the three-year implementation of the Payments for Forest Environmental Services (PFES) policy in Vietnam. The international consultant should have a master’s degree and at least 10 years of experience implementing and evaluating PFES. The national consultant position requires a master’s degree and five years of experience. Fluency in English is required.
Writer/Editor, Forest News – Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR)
Based in Bogor, Indonesia, the Writer/Editor for Forest News (blog.cifor.org) will write articles, edit articles by other writers, help to manage editorial workflow and assist in coverage or major conferences and events. The ideal candidate will have an advanced degree in journalism or science, at least five years’ experience writing and editing professionally, demonstrated experience with scientific research papers and working with scientists and a strong understanding of the uses of visual media and social media.
Coordinator for Coastal Blue Carbon – Restore America’s Estuaries
Based in Arlington, Virginia, the Coordinator for Coastal Blue Carbon will support Restore America’s Estuaries national initiative that seeks to increase public and private investment in coastal habitat restoration and conservation. The position requires excellent organizational skills and attention to detail, a friendly and professional attitude, one to three years’ professional experience, and a relevant graduate degree.
Senior Natural Resources Economist – Rights and Resources Institute
Based in Washington, DC, the Senior Natural Resources Economist will lead the design and implementation of a work program that entails conducting original high-quality analysis of forest and natural resource sector business and development models in the world’s developing and forested countries. The successful candidate will have an advanced degree in natural resource economics, with a particular focus on the forest sector and at least 12-15 years of relevant professional experience, including extensive operational experience in developing countries.
Communications Manager, Forest Program – Rainforest Action Network
Based in San Francisco, California, the Communications Manager will help shape the communications strategy for Rainforest Action Network’s forest program, which has succeeded in pushing leading global companies including Disney, Mars, Kellogg and General Mills to pass policies that eliminate deforestation. The position requires three years’ prior experience as a media liaison or journalist and two-plus years’ experience with online promotion, a proven ability to build relationships with reporters, good framing and messaging skills and a passion for Rainforest Action Network’s mission.
Senior Associate, Forest Certification – Rainforest Alliance
Based in Northfield, Minnesota, the Senior Associate for Forest Certification will provide essential leadership in management and growth of Rainforest Alliance’s U.S. forest management portfolio. The position involves developing and implementing a strategic business plan. The successful candidate will have a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field (advanced degree a plus), five to seven years of work experience, knowledge of the forest products industry and forest management regimes in the US, and strong interpersonal and communications skills.
Policy Coordinator, Forest Campaign – Environmental Investigation Agency
Based in Washington, DC, the Policy Coordinator will work in close collaboration with the Director of Forest Campaigns and the forest team to develop and implement strategies that halt illegal logging and improve forest governance. The successful candidate will have experience in advocacy and campaigns at the national or international level and a strong interest in natural resource management, economic justice and/or human writes. The position requires frequent travel. Knowledge of the Lacey Act, FLEGT (Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade) and the EU Timber Regulation as well as video production and editing skills are a plus.