This Week In Forest Carbon News…

Thirteen governors from rainforest states signed the Rio Branco Declaration, a commitment to cut deforestation 80% by 2020, if funding for avoided deforestation (REDD) materializes. Brazil, the country receiving the most performance-based payments from climate funder Norway, has successfully prevented the clearing of 6.2 million hectares of forest between 2007 and 2013, but many other countries are on the edge of deforesting… or not. The Indonesian government, for instance, has commitments to curb greenhouse gas emissions but also plans to clear 14 million hectares of degraded forest by 2020. Other countries, such as Ghana and South Korea, recently made strides forward in their REDD readiness processes.

Thirteen governors from rainforest states signed the Rio Branco Declaration, a commitment to cut deforestation 80% by 2020, if funding for avoided deforestation (REDD) materializes. Brazil, the country receiving the most performance-based payments from climate funder Norway, has successfully prevented the clearing of 6.2 million hectares of forest between 2007 and 2013, but many other countries are on the edge of deforesting… or not.

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


21 August 2014 | Forget presidents, kings and queens – governors may be the ones leading the fight to reduce deforestation, state by state. At last week’s Governors’ Climate and Forests (GCF) Task Force meeting in Acre, Brazil, 13 of them penned the Rio Branco Declaration, named after the Amazonian city they met in. Their commitment? To cut deforestation rates in their jurisdictions 80% by 2020 – a move that would prevent four billion tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions (tCO2e) from entering the atmosphere.

But they can’t do it for free. Deforestation, after all, is largely about economics, and lucrative oilseed crops – mainly palm oil in Indonesia and soybeans in Brazil – are driving deforestation in key rainforest countries. GCF states say that they can slow forest clearing and degradation if performance-based funding for reducing deforestation (REDD) is available, whether through carbon markets or other performance-based payment mechanisms.

So far, this financing has been hard to come by, though many developed nations have promised it. The Rio Branco Declaration explains that the six Brazilian GCF member states have already reduced deforestation 70% between 2006 and 2012, avoiding three billion tCO2e of emissions, but that GCF jurisdictions have seen little of the $7.3 billion pledged for REDD+ by donor governments since 2009.

“Humanity is in grave danger over the destruction of the Amazonia – the climate regulator of the planet,” Edwin Vasquez, the leader of the Huitoto People of Peru and Coordinator General of COICA (Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon River Basin), said at the meeting. “The 5,000 indigenous communities continue to protect the forests and preserve our cultures and the world, as we have done for thousands of years. We are the proprietors of 210 million hectares, covering 25% of the Amazon, which calls for an urgent proposal—’Indigenous Amazonia for Humanity,’ a $210 million project addressing the fact that climate funds have not reached our communities.”

The GCF is a collaboration of 22 states and provinces from Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria, Peru, Spain and the United States. On the buy-side, the US state of California is considering the inclusion of REDD offsets in its cap-and-trade program, which would be the first significant compliance market demand for offsets from avoided deforestation.

“Without action to reduce emissions from the deforestation of tropical forests, we are missing one of the keys to mitigating climate change,” said California Air Resources Board (ARB) Chairman Mary Nichols. “We think the sector-based offset crediting approach being evaluated for jurisdiction-wide programs, like the one in Acre, is the next frontier for California’s carbon offset program.”

Here at Forest Trends’ Ecosystem Marketplace, we’re tracking these developments closely – and putting out a last call to forest project developers to respond to our survey informing the State of the Forest Carbon Markets 2014 report. The survey is available in English HERE and in Spanish AQUí. Questions? Email us.

More news from the forest carbon marketplace is summarized below, so keep reading!

—The Ecosystem Marketplace Team


If you have comments or would like to submit news stories, write to us at [email protected].



Top marks for Brazil

Brazil has successfully avoided deforestation of 6.2 million hectares between 2007 and 2013, averting three billion tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions and generating large results-based payments from Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative. Brazil has received by far the most funding under the initiative with 44% of the $1.7 billion in total funds disbursed. Indonesia has only received 2% to date, but Norway’s development agency has pledged up to $1 billion to prevent deforestation in that country. However, there is concern that the upcoming presidential leadership change in Indonesia and weaknesses in its legal basis for REDD+ could derail those efforts. The agency has established bilateral partnerships with five other REDD+ countries: Ethiopia, Guyana, Mexico, Tanzania and Vietnam.


An inconvenient truth

What is the actual rate of deforestation in Indonesia? It’s a tough question to answer, say Agus Sari, deputy chair of the country’s REDD+ Management Agency, and Nirartha Samadhi, deputy chair of the Presidential Working Unit for the Supervision and Management of Development. Indonesia’s Forestry Ministry issued a decree that sets the country’s forest emission level at 0.816 billion tons, meaning actual emissions below that reference level constitute a reduction. The ministry estimated Indonesia’s deforestation rate at 628,000 hectares annually, but an independent study pegged it at about 850,000 hectares in 2012. The government is moving forward with plans to clear 14 million hectares of degraded forest between 2010 and 2020, despite a commitment to curb greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Ghana thinking strategically

A study in three districts in Ghana aimed to identify REDD+ strategies that reverse agriculture’s adverse effects on forests and trees as part of the work being done to ensure that REDD+ becomes a key component of the country’s climate change mitigation and adaptation strategy. “Ghana’s REDD+ readiness process is nearing completion and a REDD+ package that would outline Ghana’s strategy and framework for safeguards, among others, would be completed by 2015,” said Samuel Afari Dartey, Chief Executive of Ghana’s Forestry Commission.

Building a forest foundation

South Korea’s Forest Service (KFS) is also working to incorporate REDD+ into its national strategy amid expectations that the country will have GHG emissions reduction requirements as part of a new international climate agreement. The country has a target to voluntarily reduce carbon emissions 30% by 2020. The KFS is developing a customized REDD+ model that features close bonds with local residents, the application of advanced information technology, and its experience overcoming post-war deforestation in the 1960s. “A successful REDD project not only involves the reduction of greenhouse gas but also considers the livelihood of local residents,” a KFS official said.


For the birds

The Audubon Society has sold half of the 450,000 offsets from its Beidler Forest project in South Carolina to companies in California’s cap-and-trade program. The 5,200-acre forest conservation project is registered through Blue Source and the offsets are selling at a minimum of $8/tCO2e. The Audubon Society receives 80% of the proceeds and directs the funds towards an endowment that will support the forest in perpetuity. Jeff Cole, the vice president of portfolio development for Blue Source, expects additional offsets to be generated in the future as the forest grows.

Making new friends

Wildlife Works’ Kasigau REDD+ forestry project is having a positive impact in the local community, not just in terms of stopping unchecked deforestation, but also providing a new source of income for impoverished residents and improving the habitat for elephants, lions, cheetahs, zebras and other native animals. “We were losing everything, but thanks to the project we have learnt even how to live with the wild animals,” said Mercy Joshua, a mother of four. “These days, we don’t cut down trees… they are our friends”. Buyers of the voluntary carbon offsets generated by the project include Microsoft, Barclays Bank and Kenya Airways, which have invested $3.5 million each since the project started.


Back to school

Seven palm oil giants are jointly funding a year-long study to define what constitutes a High Carbon Stock (HCS) forest since many of these companies have agreed not to cut down these trees. The HCS has been a subject of debate among palm oil corporations, green groups and forest experts. The study underpins the Sustainable Palm Oil Manifesto, which sets criteria for sustainable palm oil production, including barring conversion of forests and peatlands for plantations, as well as creating traceable palm oil supply chains. But environmental groups such as Greenpeace and Rainforest Action Network have sharply criticized supposed loopholes in the manifesto.

The right kind of palm oil policy

U.S. food giant ConAgra has adopted a new policy that will bar palm oil produced from new plantations established on HCS lands and require suppliers to have no-burn policies and respect the right of communities to give or withhold their Free, Prior and Informed Consent to new development. The policy change comes after Green Century Capital Management and the New York State Comptroller’s Office filed a shareholder resolution alleging the company purchased so-called GreenPalm credits from other sources growing palm oil sustainably, rather than preventing deforestation in its own supply chain. Investors say they are becoming more sensitive about palm oil deforestation, scaling back development plans to only clear degraded forests and setting aside some lands for conservation.


Give the EU some credit

The European Union (EU) has declared its commitment to reduce tropical deforestation 50% by 2020 – but what’s its game plan? A recent paper by ClimateFocus and The Nature Conservancy looks at opportunities for the EU to mobilize REDD+ finance in the short to medium term. The authors identify two of the most promising options as being REDD+ Compensation Credits and voluntary sustainable supply chain initiatives. A structurally weak and economically depressed EU has stymied funding streams, but the authors offer some hope: “As European policy makers begin to realize that the current system is not providing the levels of funding that are needed, attention is beginning to shift to new and innovative funding streams,” they write.


Bamboo beat

Only in operation since June, Global Forest Watch-Fires (GFW-Fires) is already making some peoples’ jobs easier. GFW-Fires is an online platform that combines high-resolution satellite imagery, real-time fire alerts and land-use and concession maps to monitor and respond to fires. The system allows Indonesia’s REDD agency to warn communities in Indonesia of dangerous fires and also to track potentially illegal activity such as slash-and-burn agriculture. “Just imagine a village resident who beat bamboo tubes to warn others about an ongoing fire,” said agency head Heru Prasetyo. “This system works just like a giant bamboo tube that alerts officials and agencies responsible for handling fires on a massive scale.”


Trouble Down Under

In western Australia, sheep farmer Peter Yench holds a permit to clear his properties of trees, which would open up more land for grazing. But he has agreed to keep almost 7,000 hectares of forest standing for 100 years in exchange for revenue through the government’s Carbon Farming Initiative. However, the recent repeal of Australia’s carbon price has left farmers such as Yench in limbo, and 140,000 hectares of semi-arid woodlands may be up for clearing if the 154 accredited carbon farming projects in Australia cannot find an income stream.


VCS sees REDD in Golden State

The Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) is ready to move into California’s regulated market in a major way. The leading voluntary carbon markets standard has now been authorized by the state’s ARB to pre-screen coal mine methane and other types of offset projects for California’s carbon trading program. In addition to evaluating currently eligible projects, the VCS has set a specific goal of helping California welcome REDD+ projects into the program. According to the related job posting, VCS sees California potentially as their first step towards involvement in other compliance markets throughout North America and worldwide.


Recipe for success?

Secure tenure, stakeholder engagement, clear monitoring frameworks and methods to ensure permanence are among the key “enabling conditions” for successful payments for ecosystem services (PES) programs, according to a new United Nations (UN) report. The report explores forest services through 14 detailed case studies and provides guidance on PES programs, suggesting that a “code of conduct” should be established for valuation, engagement and compliance. It was jointly produced by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN, the UN Economic Commission for Europe and the UN Environment Programme.

Bigger, safer, stronger

With much of the pledged financing for REDD coming from bilateral donors, these funders are beginning to move from a “do no harm” approach to proactively promoting positive social and environmental outcomes. In its recently released report, ClimateFocus looks at how the REDD safeguards adopted at the Cancun climate negotioations are currently being used, and how safeguard compliance may need to rely more heavily on country systems as REDD moves from the project scale to the jurisdictional scale. The paper calls for a strong Feedback and Grievance Redress Mechanism to catch major violations and for certain indicators for example, displacement without compensation and high-value biodiversity loss to be prioritized in safeguard monitoring.


Director of North America Compliance Markets – Verified Carbon Standard (VCS)

Based in San Francisco, California, the Director of North American Compliance Markets will ensure that VCS plays a prominent role in the success of California’s cap-and-trade program, and other emerging programs. The position will include engaging the California ARB and the broad community of stakeholders in the development of new offset protocols and how to incorporate sector-based offsets such as REDD+.

Read more about the position here

Senior Program Officer, Training and Learning Network – The Center for People and Forests (RECOFTC)

Based in Bangkok, Thailand, the Senior Program Officer will manage RECOFTC’s capacity development activities, including customized courses and study tours for community forestry. The successful candidate will have at least 10 years of experience in participatory training in community forestry or natural resource management. Fluency in one or more languages from RECOFTC focal countries – Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam – is preferred.

Read more about the position here

Tropical Forest and Climate Initiative Assistant – Union of Concerned Scientists

Based in Washington, D.C., the Tropical Forest and Climate Initiative Assistant will develop a more comprehensive understanding of the drivers of deforestation, policies to mitigate deforestation, and the importance of reducing deforestation rates as a climate change solution. The ideal candidate will have strong research and organizational skills, be attentive to detail, and be able to prioritize many tasks and communicate with diverse audiences. This is a one-year, paid, benefits-eligible internship position.

Read more about the position here

Executive Director – Non-Timber Forest Products Exchange Programme for South and Southeast Asia (NTFP-EP)

Based in Manila, Philippines, the Executive Director will lead NTFP-EP, a collaborative, regional network of grassroots NGOs and peoples’ organizations that seeks to build the capacity of forest-based communities in the conservation and trade of non-timber forest products. The successful candidate will have at least 10 years of experience in development work and at least five years of experience in organizational and program management.

Read more about the position here

Manager, East & Southern Africa – Rainforest Alliance

Based in Nairobi, Kenya, the Manager for East & Southern Africa will be responsible for the successful implementation of Rainforest Alliance Sustainable Agriculture projects, managing and implementing partnerships and maintaining relationships with important stakeholders and partners. The successful candidate will have 7-10 years of experience in the tea and/or coffee sector and farmer training, as well as experience with certification/verification issues and systems. The position requires travel to Kenya and other countries in Eastern and Southern Africa up to 40% of the time.

Read more about the position here

Senior Science Writer and Producer – Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR)

Based in Bogor, Indonesia, the Senior Science Writer and Producer will work across a range of mediums and topics to turn out compelling, innovative and high-quality communications materials designed to help translate CIFOR’s high-caliber research into meaningful, real-world impact. The ideal candidate will have a strong editorial background, be an excellent writer, and have a rich, varied body of work that demonstrates the ability to think across multimedia platforms.

 Read more about the position here


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