Kinship wants you
Applications are now open for Kinship Conservation Fellows, a ground-breaking month-long environmental leadership program that provides fellows a $6,000 stipend and training on fresh ways to apply market-based approaches to environmental concerns. Kinship’s dynamic global network of 191 Fellows in 47 countries and 6 continents is collaborative, entrepreneurial, and dedicated to effective conservation. Applications will be accepted until January 27, 2014.
All for one
In the first blog series concerning landscapes, the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) Director General Peter Holmgren explains why landscapes are important. He argues that new high-level interest in landscapes indicates greater willingness to discuss the agriculture and forestry issues in the upcoming Global Landscapes Forum. These sectors are important as they provide income, food, materials and livelihoods for billions of people while maintaining vital ecosystem services. Yet they also cause over one-third of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, leading to a need for cross-cutting solutions. Existing land-based sectors have a “poor record of seeking solutions across their institutional territories”, he explains. The landscape hypothesis suggests that combined solutions across sector economies, professions, and territories will be more effective than isolated attempts to improve emissions.
What’s in a name?
That which we call a landscape by any other name would be as useful. The word landscape has been used for centuries within the different contexts of art, law and geography. While there is not yet a definition for landscapes within the context of the climate negotiations, Holmgren of CIFOR argues that it should encompass both human interests and ecological ones. A landscape should be impervious to scale, relevant from the farm level up to the entire earth, with human ambitions overlaying the physical boundaries. To this, he proposes the following definition of a landscape as “a place with governance in place.” A place denotes an area of any size, with governance in place for existing institutions that set either informal or formal priorities on the area.
Going for the green
Sochi 2014 is aiming to have a carbon neutral footprint for all travel to and from the games, marking a new record for the Olympics. Teaming up with the Dow Chemical Company, the estimated 160,000 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions (MtCO2e) will be both mitigated and offset throughout the duration of the games. Visitor and media travel will be offset from projects recognized by the International Carbon Offset and Reduction Alliance Code of Practice, which will include renewable energy and ecosystem restoration projects. One such project is based in Vladivostok; it is a forest conservation project that aims to protect the Amur tiger and the snow leopard. The majority of the offset projects are in Russia, but some will be in future Olympic game sites of Brazil and South Korea.
Dealing in the DRC
ERA Ecosystem Restoration Associates (ERA), a subsidiary of Offsetters, is selling its share of the Mai Ndombe REDD project to Wildlife Works. Based in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the project was conceived with ERA and Wildlife Works as 50/50 joint venture partners. While Wildlife Works will pay the ERA $1.8 million for all current Verified Carbon Units (VCU), the deal also allows ERA to purchase 500,000 VCUs back so they can sell offsets for an existing sales agreement. Mike Korchinsky of Wildlife Works said as a result of looking “to expand our REDD+ portfolio, it made tremendous sense for us to consider this project first.” The agreement became effective October 22.
Banking on offsets
This September, Costa Rica launched the first carbon trading platform in the developing world. This month saw the country’s Forest Financing Fund issue the first 1.2 million tonnes of carbon offsets and the creation of an environmental bank, named BanCO2, that will broker carbon trades. The bank will have an exchange for companies to buy and sell carbon credits, currently priced at $5 a tonne. Additionally, BanCO2 will offer low interest rates for consumers buying fuel efficient cars and home energy retrofits. These opportunities come amidst a deal with the World Bank’s Carbon Fund to buy $63 million of forest-based carbon credits from the Costa Rican program and availability of Certified Emissions Reductions for polluters to buy from the United Nation’s Clean Development Mechanism.
Carbon at home on the range
The United States Department of Agriculture, Ducks Unlimited, The Climate Trust and The Nature Conservancy broke new ground recently with their Avoided Grassland Conversion carbon project. This collaborative effort piloted projects to preserve soil carbon in North Dakota from avoided cropland conversion. The projects enrolled 114 landowners and protected 50,000 acres. The offsets are generated from untilled soil, which stores carbon dioxide, using the new American Carbon Registry-approved Avoided Conversion of Grasslands and Shrublands carbon offset methodology. The pilot projects successfully demonstrate how “this offset protocol will allow farmers and ranchers from across the United States to earn revenue for conservation practices from emerging environmental markets such as California’s,” says Director Robert Parkhurst of the Environmental Defense Fund.
Double the money
A Brazilian REDD+ project has just achieved third-party validation and verification by SCS Global Services. The Jari-Amapa forest, managed by Biofilica Environmental Investments, already obtained Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) standards for the entire area, but now 65,000 hectares of the 200,000 hectare certified land can sell offsets. The project will avoid an estimated 3 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (tCO2e) over a period of 30 years and will benefit 50 local families. The rest of the FSC-certified land will practice sustainable harvest management to farm the trees for profit.
National Strategy and Capacity
Fiji floating on the cloud
Fiji just launched a REDD+ awareness and educational site online, which will reach rural communities across the country. The Deputy Secretary of the iTauiki Affairs Ministry Loata Vakacegu spoke at the event, explaining that, “The whole idea behind the launch of this website is to disseminate information on REDD+ as wide as possible and through this we give the opportunity to the public to easily access information on REDD+ related programmes like climate change and sustainable forest management practices and also best practices that have been conducted regionally and globally.” Resources on the website include information about the Fiji national REDD+ program, a resources desk, calendar and project listing. The new website can be found at http://fiji-reddplus.org/.
Drawing more lines
Guyana just signed a $10.7 million agreement with the United Nations Development Programme for Amerindian land titling and community demarcation. The agreement will help with the Guyana-Norway forest partnership to advance land titling that is already underway. So far, 97 villages have gained land titles and 77 villages have obtained demarcated lands. The new funding will allow 13 additional titles and 33 new demarcations. The land tenure goals of this project will tie into future REDD+ projects, as villages will have greater land security should they choose to opt into a REDD+ project.
Methodology and Standards Watch
Greenpeace just released a report on Asia Pulp and Paper’s (APP) progress ending deforestation, a move welcomed by the paper company. APP launched its Forest Conservation Policy (FCP) in early 2013, to the surprise and distrust of many conservationists. Though Greenpeace halted its demonstrations against APP after that announcement, many remained skeptical about progress. This report provides an in-depth look at actions APP has taken since then and has concluded that “the company is serious about its FCP plans and its key senior staff are genuinely committed to driving the delivery of these new commitments.” While the report highlights many positive actions, citing self-disclosure and overall implementation effectiveness as examples, it also identifies room for improvement concerning stakeholder engagement, transparent scheduling and more.
Lost in a jungle of rhetoric
A new study reveals that conversations about REDD+ are missing a crucial element: an understanding of the source of the problem. Deforestation drivers are often caused by commercial agriculture, subsistence agriculture, infrastructure or urban expansion. In many cases, these sectors are reinforced by national tax and trade policies, monetary policies and development strategies – all of which must be understood before effective reforestation or avoided conservation may ensue. “It’s not enough just to set up projects, or to say ‘here’s a procedure’ and ‘here’s a mechanism.’ Implementing REDD+ means tackling some very challenging issues, but if they don’t talk about the real problem, they’re not going to be able to solve it,” says co-author Di Gregorio. State actors, NGOs and local communities were all found to be avoiding or ignoring these conversations.
To pay or to park?
At the conclusion of the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, two main legislative bodies were created: the Convention on Biological Diversity and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Now, scientists reviewing both organizations’ tactics say that forests could benefit from a more integrated approach. People working on biodiversity in the tropics recommend protected areas to ensure conservation, while climate scientists will argue for carbon payments schemes like REDD+. This divergence is explained by species’ need for compact areas (best met by parks) while carbon requires less management and needs larger areas (best managed by individual offset sales). However, parks can more effectively conserve biodiversity by considering additionality while payments can more effectively conserve carbon by prioritizing geographically, says Hedley Grantham of Conservation International.
Science and Technology Review
Keep it simple, scientists
Monitoring carbon in a forest might not require complex scientific know-how, a study published in Ecology and Society finds. Carried out by World Agroforestry Centre researchers and colleagues, the team found that local communities produced similar results to scientists even when using only simple instruments like ropes and sticks. The findings have implications for REDD+ projects, where only half of the current official projects engage local communities in data gathering. In the study, researchers trained community members in measuring techniques and equipment before sending them to measure 289 forest plots. The results “corroborates a small but growing body of research suggesting that, when armed with the simplest of techniques and equipment, community members with limited education can accurately measure forest biomass – previously thought to be the domain of highly-trained professionals.”
Women spin a yarn
Also in Fiji, 40 iTaukei women creatively celebrated the completion of their REDD+ training workshop by composing poems, songs and dances. All of the forest-themed stories were created in one and one-half hour group sessions. Inoke Wainiqolo, Permanent Secretary of the Fisheries and Forests, awarded the women their training certificates and encouraged them to use their creativity to spread the word about forests and REDD+ within their own communities. The training workshop was organized with the local ministries and the SPC/GIZ Coping with Climate Change in the Pacific Island Region Programme.
Mis-REDDing the situation
An opinion piece by Ecosystem Marketplace editor Steve Zwick responds to the Atlantic Monthly’s piece associating carbon cowboys with legitimate REDD+ projects. “The Forest Mafia: How Scammers Steal Millions Through Carbon Markets” focuses on David Nillson, a swindler who tried to start a REDD project with indigenous communities in Peru. The Atlantic piece uses this single instance to imply that corrupt practices such as those used by Nilsson are a part of legitimate REDD projects. Zwick argues that “anyone who has worked in media knows what’s happening here: a fun read needs a compelling villain, and Nilsson comes prepackaged….[but] why pick out a clown like Nilsson when scores of interesting and relevant climate heroes are doing private conservation right?” and goes on to list many positive examples of REDD at work in indigenous communities.
Monitors have slow startup
A new study by CIFOR, REDD+ Readiness: Early Insights on Monitoring, Reporting and Verification Systems of Project Developers, has discovered that only half of their sampled REDD+ projects have the capacity to adequately monitor, report and verify (MRV) emissions. The study sampled 20 REDD+ projects in Brazil, Peru, Cameroon, Tanzania, Indonesia and Vietnam. Readiness was calculated through questionnaires, field visits and regional workshops examining the projects’ remote sensing capacity, carbon pool inventory and baseline, intervention and monitoring readiness. Brazil and Peru projects showed higher readiness than the other countries.
Working with women
The “ Scoping Study of Good Practices for Strengthening Women’s Inclusion in Forest and Other Natural Resource Management Sectors” report, produced by the Women Organizing for Change in Agriculture and Natural Resource Management examines challenges and barriers to including women in REDD+ projects in the Asia-Pacific region. The report also identifies positive practices and possible methods for successful replication of these outcomes elsewhere.
Ending Global Deforestation: Policy Options for Consumer Countries, a report by Chatham House and Forest Trends, examines deforestation policies around the world as the past decade has given rise to many governments banning international trade in illegal timber. Yet, the primary cause of deforestation is not the timber markets; forests are cleared primarily for agriculture. The report examines the potential for similar trade policies and other market mechanisms to limit unsustainable agricultural products.
Policy Officer, Controlled Wood – Forest Stewardship Council
Based in Bonn, Germany, the Policy Officer will support the coordination of activities relating to the development, maintenance and review of wood certification and accreditation documents. Candidates should have a university degree and at least two years of professional experience in multi-stakeholder standards development processes, certification, the forest sector or corporate environmental and social responsibility programs. Experience in Geographic Information Systems is a plus.
— Read more about the position here.
Forests and Climate Measures/Communications GLOBE Intern – The Nature Conservancy (TNC)
Based in Washington, D.C., the intern will join TNC for its 10-week summer GLOBE (Growing Leaders on Behalf of the Environment) internship program. Specifically, the Forests and Climate Measures and Communications intern will assess TNC’s conservation impact/REDD+ work and summarize the findings into a final report, as well as work with Forest and Climate team members to write fact sheets and case studies to disseminate knowledge. Candidates should have three years of undergraduate study plus one year of relevant experience and experience working with data.
— Read more about the position here.
Vacancy Team Leader/ Senior Consultant Natural Resource Management – Face the Future
Based in Amsterdam, the Team Leader will be primarily responsible for the management, strategy development and implementation of the Environmental Advisory unit and the Project Development unit, with a strong focus on business development. Candidates should have an advanced degree, preferably in natural resource management or forestry, and a track record of at least ten years of international experience within natural resource management.
— Read more about the position here.
Program Manager – Yale University, School of Forestry & Environmental Studies
Based in New Haven, CT, the Program Manager will primarily be responsible for “Tools for Engaging Landowners Effectively (TELE),” a program of the Global Institute. The majority of the program manager’s time will be devoted to expanding TELE, including new research, outreach and educational initiatives. Candidates should have a related Bachelor’s degree and four years of project management experience.
— Read more about the position here.
STEWARD Communication Manager – PCI Media Impact
Based in Freetown, Sierra Leone, the Sustainable and Thriving Environments for West African Regional Development Program Phase III (STEWARD III) Communication Manager Work with all STEWARD partners to support and implement a STEWARD Strategic Communication and Outreach Plan. Candidates should have a Master’s degree or equivalent in communications and a strong understanding of environmental issues in developing countries. A minimum of five years’ work experience in international development, conservation, or communication is required, in addition to two years’ project management experience.
— Read more about the position here.