This Week in Forest Carbon: Signals for the New Year

The forest carbon world is regrouping after Durban, where progress on key issues like a REDD+ finance mechanism was less than forthcoming – but where clear signals on other technical and policy issues could nonetheless make for an interesting new year for REDD+ projects.  Read the latest from the world of forest carbon and take the year-end reader poll.

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29 December 2011 |The forest carbon world is regrouping after Durban, where progress on key issues like a REDD+ finance mechanism was less than forthcoming – but where clear signals on other technical and policy issues could nonetheless make for an interesting new year for REDD+ projects.
Along with other sub-national programs with strong forest carbon components – like   California’s cap-and-trade program and Australia’s Carbon Farming Initiative – this issue brings to light some project developers, investors, and standards organizations that are making moves as the new year turns over.
Two countries with long running REDD+ sagas popped up in the news, finding both countries still struggling to assure donor countries of the seriousness of their efforts. Bharrat Jagdeo of Guyana was stepped down as the country’s president, as Donald Ramotar took the position. The new president seeks to assure Norway, which has pledged $250 million for REDD+ efforts in Guyana, that his administration will provide the transparency and safeguards that Jagdeo was unable to deliver.
However, given that the ruling People’s Progressive Party has not changed, the administration is largely the same, and elections may not have been entirely fair, it is unclear that funds will start flowing.
Indonesia was hailed earlier in the year for declaring a moratorium on granting forest concessions, releasing an Indicative Map demarcating areas under protection. The map has shrunk again and again, a phenomenon that Indonesia says is due to an administrative backlog in recognizing legitimate concessions – rather than any nefarious influence of the country’s admittedly powerful agricultural and mining lobby.
In contrast to Indonesia’s controversies, New Zealand’s cap and trade program appeared to be promoting forest growth, as the number of seedling plantings grown at commercial forestry plantations was up 27% from January to April 2011.
However, that was a time when NZUs were fetching around NZ$20, compared to their current price, which is hovering above $10. With lower prices, Forest Owners’ Association Chief Executive David Rhodes says the scheme is unlikely to be providing the same kind of incentive for forest expansion as earlier in the year
As we head into a new year, the Forest Carbon Portal is taking a look back at the big forest carbon stories of 2011 in our next issue. You or your company can be mentioned in the special edition by telling us what were 2011’s biggest stories in the forest carbon world?
This reader poll narrows the playing field to a few big headlines – your response helps us highlight last year’s Top 10. Respond by January 9, 2012.
—The Ecosystem Marketplace Team

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



International Policy

It’s the time of year for giving

Germany has pledged an additional EUR 30 million to the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) on top of their previous EUR 84 million pledge, making the European nation the largest contributor to a $650 million fund. The FCPF is working to develop capacity and policies for national REDD+ programs in 37 tropical and sub-tropical countries. REDD+ gained some traction after climate negotiations in Durban successfully agreed upon many of the technical aspects, but the precise nature of a funding mechanism was left to be established next yearWhile current funding primarily goes toward the REDD+ Readiness – in which participating countries work to develop REDD+ frameworks – it is hoped that the sister fund, known as the “Carbon Fund,” will start providing payments for verified emission reductions in countries that have achieved or are close to achieving REDD+ readiness. Read more about the new German funding pledge here.


How did the “Year of Forests” shape up?

In this thought piece, takes a look back at 2011, designated by the UN as the “Year of Forests.” The year saw a lot of conflict between countries’ stated desire to reduce deforestation and the ground economic development that often led to increased deforestation. For example, this year Indonesia’s president introduced the 7/26 initiative, which would see the country’s economy grow by 7% while reducing GHG emissions by 26% by 2020 – two goals that are already having trouble coexisting. But while private enterprise was behind much of the deforestation, private initiatives continued to combat deforestation, including record sales of palm oil sourced from plantations certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil. See the complete retrospective here.


Project Development


German funds miet Philippines forests

The Young Innovators for Sustainable Economic Development Association, a Philippine organization, has worked with the German development agency Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), to plant 110 hectares of forest in Southern Leyte. Maasin city, along with 14 other townships, participated in the project. The Philippines REDD Readiness proposal was accepted by the UN – REDD Programme in late 2010, and has been primarily concerned with capacity building and establishing safeguards. The project will be completed under the UN REDD Programme, and is currently waiting for the monitoring and evaluation of their completed reforestation project. Read more about the project here.


National Strategy & Capacity

Honey I shrunk the map

Indonesia has released an updated version of its “Indicative Map”, which tracks land covered by the country’s moratorium on forest concessions. Analysis by Indonesia-based Daemeter Consulting has revealed a net decline of 3.6 million hectares from the original Indicative Map, issued in June. This is the apparent result of 4.8 million hectares of peatland being made available to concessions, while 1.2 million hectares of primary forest were added to the moratorium area. The changes are largely a result of “inclusion of pre-existing licenses not accounted for previously in the original map,” according to Daemeter, with more pre-existing licenses to be accounted for in the future, further shrinking the Indicative Map. Read more about the revised Indicative Map here.


Guyana’s new president has eyes on the Norwegian prize

In 2008, Guyana and Norway signed an MoU, under which Norway pledged up to $250 million for Guyana to develop their Low-Carbon Development Strategy, which included plans for a national REDD+ program. However, almost 4 years have passed and although money has been released to the Guyana REDD+ Investment Fund (GRIF), only $350,000 has been made available to the country’s government. Now, Guyana has renewed hopes for the possibility of accessing Norwegian funds as the administration changes hands from Former Head-of-State Bharrat Jagdeo to newly elected president Donald Ramotar. Jagdeo was unable to release funds from the GRIF, which is held in trust by the World Bank, because of a perceived lack of transparency in the government and controversy over the growth of deforestation rates. A cabinet member stated that the new administration would seek an acceptable mechanism for accountability and transparency, but acknowledged the frustrating history of the agreement, saying “I think with the new administration, opportunities exist for us to explore in a bigger way a resolution of this conflict.” Read more about what a new president means for Guyana’s REDD funds here and here.


Finance and Economics

Lord of the Tree Rings

New Zealand saw a 27% uptick in seedling plantings at commercial forestry nurseries from January 1 to April 27. That equals about 67 million new seedlings or 12,000 hectares of new plantings, according to the Ministry of Agriculture & Forestry. The country’s carbon market, which rewards land owners for planting and expanding forests, is one factor accounting for the increase in seedlings. However, given the prolonged dip in international carbon prices since the figures were gathered, Forest Owners’ Association Chief Executive David Rhodes suspects that the current prices being fetched by NZUs are doing little to drive plantings. Read more about the carbon markets effect on new seedlings in New Zealand here.


Methodology & Standards Watch

And on that farm he had some carbon, ee aye ee aye ooh

The Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) has approved a methodology to quantify and credit the greenhouse gas benefits of sustainable agricultural land management practices. Developed by the World Bank BioCarbon Fund, VM0017 Adoption of Sustainable Agricultural Land Managementis the first ALM methodology approved for use under VCS. It is based on the Western Kenya Smallholder Agriculture Carbon Finance project, which aggregated sustainable agricultural land management activities of around 80,000 farms. Project activities such as manure management, use of cover corps, and the introduction of trees into the landscape will be eligible under the methodology. Read more about the new methodology here.


Human Dimension

REDD+ needs people power

Recent studies show that Community Managed Forests (CMF) initiatives have potential to be a key component in the slowing of deforestation and degradation. Case studies from Brazil, Mexico and Bolivia demonstrate that CFM can be used to ensure equitable and efficient governance and benefit sharing, while achieving conservation objectives cost-efficiently. In some cases, CMF has achieved stable or expanding forest cover and sustainable forest-based livelihoods. This then raises the question: could CMF be incorporated as a program component under REDD+? While the answer to this question is not yet clear, this study from David Bray, Professor of Earth & Environment at Florida International University illustrates how community-level stakeholders use CMF to both sustain livelihoods and ensure the health of their forests. “REDD+ proposals show great promise for creating incentives to slow deforestation and degradation, and to maintain and expand carbon stocks in natural forests. CFM could potentially be adopted as a program component under REDD+ initiatives,” the authors conclude. Read about more about Community Managed Forests here.


Science & Technology Review

We’re gonna need a bigger can of bug spray

A research group led by the University of Idaho has modeled the effects of pine beetle outbreaks on forest carbon and nitrogen stocks, finding that a single outbreak will have a impact spanning decades – perhaps up to 100 years – potentially releasing huge amounts of carbon into the atmosphere. While pine beetle outbreaks have in recent history been “once in a century” events, they are now more common due to warming in boreal forests, which allows more of the beetle larvae to survive. Pine beetle outbreaks occur throughout North America, particularly in the West and North, and have been hard hit in the past few years. Read more about the effects of Pine Beetle outbreaks here

and access the paper here.



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