This Week In Forest Carbon: REDD Gains Momentum In California

The REDD Offsets Working Group (ROW) has released its anticipated recommendations on international REDD+ credits’ inclusion in the California cap-and-trade system. Meanwhile, Ecosystem Marketplace debunked a report appearing the next day claiming that the Chiapas government had rescinded support for REDD+ and another EM fact-finding mission overturned a false Greenomics Indonesia report.

The REDD Offsets Working Group (ROW) has released its anticipated recommendations on international REDD+ credits’ inclusion in the California cap-and-trade system. Meanwhile, Ecosystem Marketplace debunked a report appearing the next day claiming that the Chiapas government had rescinded support for REDD+ and another EM fact-finding mission overturned a false Greenomics Indonesia report.

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

27 July 2013 | After two years of consultations with indigenous leaders, environmentalists, and government representatives, the REDD Offsets Working Group (ROW) has  released its final recommendations  on how to work international REDD+ offsets into California’s cap-and-trade program.

Last week, nearly 50 major corporations, indigenous groups and global NGOs signed a  letter of support  of the recommendations. Chief Almir of the Surui tribe, leader of the first indigenous people to generate REDD+ credits under the Verified Carbon Standard, believes REDD can be viewed as a way of bridging collective indigenous values and capitalist non-indigenous values.

“In the indigenous vision, the standing forest has intrinsic value that we collectively must protect, but in the vision of the non-indigenous, capitalist world, the standing forest will only be respected when it yields a result, a payment, some sort of deliverable,” says Almir while  emphasizing the importance of safeguards  for projects involving indigenous people.


Ecosystem Marketplace outlines the social and environmental safeguards portion of the recommendations  here, which call on California to ban credits that don’t conform to international principles and to retain the right to suspend recognized credits if they are later found to be out of compliance.


At a time when California is looking to finalize its climate policy, the fate of these recommendations could have significant impact on both the international REDD+ market and the appetite to support REDD+ in the United States, where momentum is building not only in California but also at the national level  with President Obama’s recent pledge to REDD+  in his Climate Action Plan.


Of the two states thus far considering to feed REDD+ credits into California’s cap-and-trade scheme – Chiapas, Mexico and Acre, Brazil – a day after the ROW recommendations came out, the State of Chiapas was  inaccurately reported by Amigos de la Tierra México, the Mexican affiliate of Friends of the Earth, to have canceled its REDD+ program.  The Chiapas state government has since then released a  response  reaffirming its commitment to jurisdictional REDD+.


We ran into another instance of misrepresentation across the Pacific, where an Indonesian organization called Greenomics  claimed  that the Rimba Raya Conservation Project – one of the world’s largest REDD projects, being developed by Infinite Earth in accordance with Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) guidelines – had failed to secure proper tenure rights and overstated the amount of forestland preserved. Upon further investigation, Ecosystem Marketplace  found both claims to be false  after learning of Greenomics’ selective referencing of government documents.


With the redesign of our  Forest Carbon Portal  and continued expansion of our  Spanish language sister website, Ecosystem Marketplace hopes to continue to bring you this kind of fresh information in the second half of 2013! If you value what you read, consider supporting Ecosystem Marketplace’s Carbon Program by contacting  Molly Peters-Stanley. We’re $75k away from being able to publish this year’s State of the Forest Carbon Markets report in a few months’ time – can we count on your support?


For those of you developing forest carbon offset projects, we invite you to describe your project and any 2012 transactions by participating in our survey before July 31, 2013. This will be the final deadline for organizations wishing to take part in this year’s State of the Forest Carbon Markets report. Submit your data  here!

—The Ecosystem Marketplace Team

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



In climate we trust

Based in Portland, Oregon, The Climate Trust is  deploying approximately $5M in funding to purchase carbon offsets  from projects,  preferably located in Oregon, that reduce, avoid or sequester carbon dioxide, methane or nitrous oxide and promote the implementation of agriculture, biogas and forestry projects in the carbon market.  While the Trust is prioritizing projects that produce 2013 and later vintage offsets, it is open to allocating a small portion of funding to earlier vintages. Projects must be able to achieve third-party certification under ACR, ARB, CAR or VCS. Proposals will be accepted until 5pm PST on Monday, August 19.  


Newcomers take a stand

In support of its expansion into forestry and land use, the Gold Standard Foundation has appointed  three new members to its Technical Advisory Committee. Newcomers include Jacqueline Gehrig-Fasel of TREES Forest Carbon Consulting in Switzerland, Tony Knowles of the Cirrus Group in South Africa, and Asep Suntana of Surya University in Indonesia, who together offer decades of land use and forest carbon experience to the standard. Requirements for afforestation/reforestation projects under the Gold Standard are anticipated for public release in August.


US Policy

From the ground up

Recently, nearly 50 representatives from international NGOs, indigenous communities and major corporations  signed a letter of support  to back the inclusion of REDD+ carbon credits in California’s cap-and-trade program based on the ROW’s  final recommendations. Of the two states considering to feed REDD+ credits into California’s cap-and-trade scheme – Chiapas, Mexico and Acre, Brazil – the State of Chiapas was  inaccurately reported to have canceled its REDD+ program. The Chiapas state government has released a  response  reaffirming its commitment to jurisdictional REDD+. The momentum of the broader movement to recognize forestry within compliance carbon markets is building not only in California but also at a national level with US President Barack Obama’s  recent pledge to REDD+  in his Climate Action Plan.


Project Development

The rumble in the jungle continues

A new Ecosystem Marketplace  article  delves into Greenomics’ recent accusations regarding the Rimba Raya Conservation Project in Indonesia. Greenomics claimed that the Rimba Raya Conservation Project had not secured proper land tenure and had overstated the amount of forest it saved. However, after a brief analysis of project documents, Ecosystem Marketplace found the Greenomics claims to be inaccurate. The Indonesian organization selectively referenced government documents and did not differentiate between the project’s accounting area and its management zone, leading to a discrepancy in the size of the forest plot. Furthermore, Greenomics disregarded the state’s park boundary change which occurred after the Rimba Raya Conservation Project had already protected that land area.  


Infinite Earth, the project developer behind Rimba Raya, itself  refuted Greenomics claims  and confirmed that while the total project management area is 64,000 hectares, only 47,000 hectares are generating carbon credits, contrary to Greenomics’ previous assertion. The project only recently garnered approval in May and is projected to offset 131 MtCO2e over 30 years.


Carbon couple dreams big

A recent article profiles the Rabieys, the entrepreneurial couple behind  The Carbon Farmer, a tree-farm business in Alberta, Canada  that converts previously tilled land into forests with native trees, shrubs and grasses in support of biodiversity and carbon sequestration. Customers have the option of paying $2 to have a tree planted on their behalf, or $15/tCO2e for carbon credits. Started as a project on a Rabiey family farm, the couple has expanded to partner with other landowners and landtrusts to afforest and reforest across Alberta. To date, they have planted over 300,000 trees, within plans to plant another 330,000 this year, expected to offset the annual footprint of 25,000 Albertans.


National Strategy & Capacity

Marketing Trees Instead of Timber

The Maharashtra Government in India  is on the verge of completing a draft law  this November that will introduce “tree credit” trading to the state. The draft Act makes purchasing credits mandatory for polluting industries, as well as owners of 12-tonne motor vehicles and projects resulting in deforestation or the creation of large hydro dams. The “tree credits” are modeled after carbon credits, with credits issued to each tree grown on private land; however, the credit value for each tree would increase every year with the tree’s growing capacity to sequester carbon. The Maharashtra government will be the primary seller and buyer of credits initially, with plans to eventually introduce the credits into the market for trading with a minimum fixed price.    

The double-edged lifebuoy

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced last week that the country’s controversial national carbon tax  will be replaced by an emissions trading scheme  in July 2014, a year ahead of schedule. The advance launch is anticipated to cut the cost of carbon from a projected AU$25.40/tCO2e in July next year to around AU$6/tCO2e. While the lower price tag on carbon is expected to reduce pressure on both polluters and consumers, it  would also mean less income  to support projects developed under the government’s Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI) and funds like the Biodiversity Fund which currently rely on carbon tax revenue.


Fully dedicated

The Dedicated Grant Mechanism for Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities (DGM), funded by the Climate Investment Funds, plans to  invest $6.5M over a five-year period to encourage indigenous people in Brazil to participate in REDD+  and to build local capacity to sustainably manage natural resources. In partnership with Brazil’s National Policy for the Indigenous and Environmental and Territorial Management, the DGM will involve consultations with indigenous people regarding the type of activities they hope to see on their land. The first DGM meeting was recently held in Mato Grosso, and additional meetings are slated to take place in Mina Geraias, Maranhí£o and Brasilia.


Burkina Faso on the fast track

Burkina Faso recently received a  $30M grant from the World Bank’s Forest Investment Programme (FIP). The small African nation is one of eight pilot countries selected to receive funding to help reduce GHG emissions associated with deforestation. While Burkina Faso has relatively low forest cover and low levels of deforestation, the “semi-arid ecosystem makes it a good site to test the relevance and the operationalization of REDD+ in that kind of ecosystem,” states Climate Investment Funds Coordinator and African Development Bank Chief Climate Change Specialist Mafalda Duarte. The FIP in Burkina Faso is projected to reduce between 30 and 70 MtCO2e over a 10-year period.


Building blocks for Zambia

The $3.1M USAID-funded Nyimba Forest Project is intended to inform the development of a national REDD system  tailored to Zambia’s forests, which are home to a large forest-dependent population but suffer from high rates of deforestation. The two-year project will help policy makers and forest practitioners lay the groundwork for REDD+ through a thorough analysis of forest inventory, carbon stock monitoring and detailed surveys, with an emphasis on building capacity to carry out monitoring, reporting, and verification (MRV) activities and to eventually establish sub-national and national reference levels.


What Happens in Panama Stays in Panama

Indigenous leaders from Costa Rica  remain skeptical  about the proposed monitoring social and environmental safeguards in the country’s REDD+ strategy, which were put forth by UN-REDD Program officials at a recent National Forestry Financing Fund meeting. UN-REDD acknowledged that its equivalent safeguard efforts in Panama had run into difficulties with indigenous peoples in Panama; groups in Costa Rica fear the same mistakes may be repeated. In particular, the proposal’s safeguards are only applicable to REDD+ projects, not other public and private investment projects, and indigenous groups worry that their superficial nature could potentially  represent mere bureaucratic formalities instead of comprehensive change.  


Methodology & Standards Watch

What wood Markit do?

The Woodland Carbon Code (WCC) – launched in 2011 to encourage domestic afforestation activities in the United Kingdom –  has just gone live on the Markit Environmental Registry. Until now, the UK Forestry Commission which oversees the standard had operated an internal register of WCC projects. The move to Markit is intended to enhance transparency and accountability in the trade of Woodland Carbon Units (WCUs) by enabling the tracking of project registration and credit listings, ownership, and retirement. In addition, Markit’s registry provides an introductory mechanism to convene buyers and sellers of WCUs.


Finance & Economics

Businesses Ready for REDD+ Safeguards

Private sector investment in REDD activities – which still rely primarily on overseas development budgets –  will require stronger evidence of effective forest governance  in order to scale up. With many public investment schemes now constrained by the global financial crisis, there is an urgent need to create an enabling environment for more private investment and public-private partnerships. Business and thought leaders from the Indonesia Global Compact Network, Yale University, the International Union of Forest Research Organizations, and CIFOR have highlighted the deficiency in transparency, accountability, equity and inclusiveness in forest projects as a major barrier to investment. CIFOR stresses that the implementation of REDD+ safeguards could help mitigate the governance risks associated with REDD+ projects.


Human Dimension

Conflicting Views of Congo REDD+ Readiness

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)  is almost set to unlock $60 million for its REDD+ program  – its emissions reduction program idea note (ER-PIN) having just been reviewed by the World Bank Forest Carbon Partnership Facility’s Carbon Fund – yet poor governance, unclear tenure rights, and a history of conflict and displacement could potentially undercut any benefits. Currently, WWF and other NGOs have issued five guiding principles for REDD+ efforts with a focus on improving local rights and safeguarding livelihoods; however, none of the principles explicitly addresses the need for conflict resolution. A recent report by International Alert and the London School of Economics highlights this missing component, recommending that REDD+ programs include mechanisms for conflict resolution.


Science & Technology Review

Panama on the map  

Through integrated field data, high-resolution airborne Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) data and satellite imagery,  Panama recently became the first country to publish a high- resolution national carbon map. This development marks the first time researchers have mapped the above-ground carbon density of an entire nation. This combined mapping approach can be used across a variety of landscapes around the world and has the capability to quantify carbon stocks in areas as small as a single hectare. Carbon Balance and Management claims that the new approach is expected to “greatly boost conservation and efforts to mitigate climate change through carbon sequestration” and to provide technical support for REDD+ and other carbon-based economic activities.  


Mapping Swidden in Cycles

Scientists recently created a methodology  to identify swidden agriculture and its impact on forest degradation, historically the more elusive ‘D’ in ‘REDD.’ Until now, remote sensing methods could not differentiate between forest degradation and forests undergoing temporary loss due to agricultural swidden techniques. Swidden agriculture follows a cycle of crop growth, harvest, fallowness, young and secondary forest growth, and deforestation, followed by crop growth again. In stable swidden systems, this process is reversed on nearby landscapes. The methodology capitalizes on this by analyzing neighborhoods instead of individual pixels to identify large shapes termed “landscape mosaics.” By assessing changes in mosaics over time, researchers can monitor, report and verify changes in swidden farming – crucial for undergirding REDD+ claims and compensation.


Comparing Carbon in the Caribbean  

Holding some of Mexico’s largest carbon sinks, Caribbean ecosystems are now the subject of studies analyzing their potential to absorb atmospheric carbon dioxide. In a new  research study, scientists have measured the carbon intake of different tree species of the Yucatan – a region home to Mexico’s highest levels of buried carbon. Several native tree species were found to have high carbon sequestration abilities, while industrial tree plantations had significantly lower carbon absorption. Researchers warn that there is a growing need to protect the Yucatan forests, as the area is susceptible to degradation from farming, tourism and other risks.


Sink-ing Worldwide Carbon Emissions

A recent Nature Climate Change journal article  calls for increased attention to the role of carbon sinks in mitigating climate change  – and in turn informing policymakers on the impact of countries not only based on emissions but also sequestration via regional sinks. In an effort to model industrialized countries’ emissions, scientists discovered that much of the emissions from industrialized countries have been offset by carbon sinks in Africa and Latin America. In all, tropical regions have developed sinks containing 13 years’ worth of current-level emissions since the 1850s. This “massive sink service” from tropical developing countries to developed nations could have broader implications for North-South climate change politics.


Publications & Tools  

Business As Usual

Assessing Risks to Forest Cover and Carbon Stocks: A Review of Tools and Approaches to Compare Business-As-Usual to REDD+ Scenarios, a WWF report, analyzes tools capable of mapping areas at risk for deforestation and forest degradation. The report describes each tool and provides guidance on when to select one tool over another. Categories for evaluating the tools include requirements around the software package, data input, the number of land cover transitions that can be addressed, and efficiency of use.  


Indexing Indonesia

A new UN-REDD and UNDP-Indonesia publication,  Participatory Governance Assessment: The 2012 Indonesia Forest, Land, and REDD+ Governance Index, discusses governance in relation to REDD+’s success or failure. In consultation with stakeholders from civil society organizations, the private sector and government, the assessment identifies key issues in forest, land and REDD+ governance in Indonesia and includes baseline data and policy recommendations and serves as a roadmap to monitor specific forest governance issues.  



Project Manager, Africa – TREES – The Rainforest Alliance

Based in New York City, the Project Manager will provide the necessary technical guidance and inputs to ensure successful implementation of specific project tasks and monitor and evaluate the implementation of the sub-regional activities and the three pilot projects by local partners. Candidates should have a Bachelor’s Degree in forestry, natural resource management or a related field and 7-10+ years’ experience in forest management or policy. Read more about the position  here.


Land Use Policy Officer – Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB)

Based in Edinburgh, the Land Use Policy Officer will support colleagues with information on GHG emissions as a result of land use and promote conservation policy to Scottish institutions and elected representatives regarding land use implications of climate change. Candidates should have a Bachelor’s Degree with honors in a relevant subject and a good understanding of land use and climate change policies (both mitigation and adaptation). Read more about the position  here.    


Evaluation Intern – World Resources Institute (WRI)

Based in Indonesia, the Intern will assist with an evaluation of the project’s outcomes to date, working closely with WRI’s POTICO (Sustainable Palm Oil on Low Carbon Degraded Land) Outreach Officer based in Jakarta. Candidates should have or be working towards a Bachelor’s or Master’s Degree in forestry, agriculture, environmental science or a related field and experience conducting surveys and analyzing results. Read more about the position  here.  


AFOLU Carbon Quantification and Development Senior Specialist – Terra Global Capital

Based in San Francisco, the Senior Specialist will review technical aspects of AFOLU carbon projects and provide guidance to project developers regarding project typology, eligible methodologies and mechanics of carbon monitoring, reporting and verification. Candidates should have a PhD in applied natural science and 5+ years of experience in environmental consulting. Read more about the position  here.  


Technical Officer – Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP)

Based in London, the Technical Officer will produce supporting documentation for companies disclosing to CDP and write and proofread technical documents. Candidates should have academic and/or professional experience in the area of deforestation and supply chains and familiarity with CDP’s Forests Program. Read more about the position  here.  


Scientist/Senior Scientist, Forests and Governance Programme – CIFOR

Based in Indonesia, the Scientist/Senior Scientist will design and implement a global comparative study on preventing the risks of corruption in forest-related financing and definite impact pathways for CIFOR’s Integrated Law Enforcement Approach (ILEA). Candidates should have a PhD in social science and previous experience with ILEA or similar approaches. Read more about the position  here.  


Project Coordinator, Community MRV – Global Canopy Programme (GCP)

Based in Oxford, the Project Coordinator will manage the Community Monitoring Reporting and Verification work plan in Guyana and Acre State, including oversight of data gathering/analysis and collaboration with rural communities/partner organizations. Candidates should have a background in conservation or forest management and 1-3 years of experience in field project management in tropical countries. Read more about the position  here.  


Good Woods Program Manager – BioRegional

Based in Surrey, the Program Manager will lead the Good Woods project by working with project partners B&Q and the Sylva Foundation and deliver a funding strategy to continue the project past its first year. Candidates should have a degree in forestry and demonstrable experience at the management level. Read more about the position  here.  



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