This Week In Forest Carbon: To Agree Or Disagree

Debates and agreements take over this issue of Forest Carbon. Greenpeace speaks out against the GCF’s attempts to make REDD offsets qualified for California’s cap-and-trade scheme, obtaining a prompt response from a REDD Offsets Working Group member. Meanwhile, VCS and Fundacion Natura will be joining forces to establish the framework for a Colombian voluntary carbon market, and the Gold Standard announces its acquisition of the CarbonFix Standard and MOU with the Forest Stewardship Council.

Debates and agreements take over this issue of Forest Carbon. Greenpeace speaks out against the GCF’s attempts to make REDD offsets qualified for California’s cap-and-trade scheme, obtaining a prompt response from a REDD Offsets Working Group member. Meanwhile, VCS and Fundacion Natura will be joining forces to establish the framework for a Colombian voluntary carbon market, and the Gold Standard announces its acquisition of the CarbonFix Standard and MOU with the Forest Stewardship Council.

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

2 October 2012 | Before jumping into the news, Ecosystem Marketplace is seeking your feedback for the upcoming State of the Forest Carbon Markets report (due soon, so stay tuned!). This year, the report will list a small selection of interesting, diverse forest carbon offset buyers in the private sector – to give readers a sense of what kind of companies seek forestry offsets.

Do you want to give some additional exposure to your buyer(s)? Know of a company we should mention, even if they’re not your clients? Send the company name to  [email protected]  by COB Thursday, October 4th for them to be considered (through an impartial, independent selection process) for listing in this year’s report.  

We are also seeking one more report supporter (US$3-5.5K) in order to get this year’s issue out the door! Benefits for contributions range from a logo on the inside to front of the report, company description inside, recognition in all press and event outreach and the opportunity to engage directly with authors about preliminary findings via a 1-hour long personalized consultation. If interested, contact Carbon Program Manager  Molly Peters-Stanley  for details.  


With the fast-approaching launch of California’s cap-and-trade program, opinions surface on everything from the supply of offsets to the type of offsets available. The Forest Carbon Portal’s  California update  discusses different viewpoints expressed by project developers and the American Carbon Registry on the program’s offset supply and participation. Greenpeace also published a report in which it expresses  opposition  to REDD offsets in the carbon crediting scheme, to which California REDD Offsets Working Group member Daniel Nepstad provided a  response. In the midst of these talks, the Governor’s Climate and Forests Task Force (GCF) met last week to discuss  progress  in its member states’ REDD+ initiatives.


Mergers and partnerships were also seen this week, as the  Gold Standard  announced it acquisition of the CarbonFix Standard and MOU with the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), while Ecosystem Restoration Associates, Inc. (ERA) entered into non-binding  letters of intent  to acquire shares in two offset suppliers: Offsetters, which specializes in clean technology carbon offsets, and Carbon Credit Corporation, which specializes in land-based carbon offsets. VCS and Colombia-based Fundacion Natura will also be joining forces shortly to establish the necessary framework for a  Colombian voluntary carbon market.


Meanwhile, REDD progress is seen at both the national and sub-national level with  Oaxaca, Mexico establishing a state committee on REDD+, pilot activities advancing in  Tanzania, Vietnam’s Prime Minister approving the World Bank’s  R-PP program  and Indonesia planning to test their  safeguards system.


As Brazil’s  Forest Code  passes onto the President’s hands for more drafting, Vietnam officials from five provinces agree a  deforestation halt  is necessary for non-forestry projects. Japan and Indonesia take steps to portray their deforestation through improvements in their  mapping systems, while in the Amazon seven countries join forces to depict their deforestation in an  Amazon-wide map.


These and other stories from the forest carbon marketplace are summarized below, so keep reading! And if you value what you read in this news brief, consider supporting Ecosystem Marketplace’s Carbon Program as a Supporting Subscriber. Readers’ contributions help us keep the lights on and continue to deliver forest carbon market news and insights to your inbox biweekly and free of charge.


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Reach out to inboxes worldwide and make your contribution  here  (select “Support for Forest Carbon News Brief” in the drop-down menu). You will receive an email from the Forest Carbon News team confirming your sponsorship listing and weblink information.  

—The Ecosystem Marketplace Team

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



International Policy

Checking into Chiapas

Governors, delegates, civil society representatives and other stakeholders from 17 states in 6 countries – namely Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria, Peru and the US – met last week in Chiapas, Mexico for the 6th annual  GCF meeting. The four-day meeting was an opportunity for member states, representing more than 20% of the world’s tropical forests, to provide updates and challenges on their REDD+ and low emissions rural development progress. The plan was to discuss the need for collaboration between national and sub-national REDD+ initiatives, a balance between economic growth and environmental preservation and the consideration of local knowledge in REDD+ design and an increase in technical capacity.



No peace for GCF

In response to a Greenpeace article expressing disapproval of the GCF and California’s REDD offset provision in AB32, Daniel Nepstad, a scientist and member of the California REDD Offsets Working Group, sheds light on the progress of some GCF member states, particularly Brazil who reduced its emissions by roughly 1.5 BtCO2e from 2008 to 2010 – and, reminds readers of the criteria  REDD offsets  would need to satisfy to be considered for inclusion in California’s cap-and-trade program, which is still uncertain. The Institute for the Conservation and Sustainable Development of Amazonas’ Mariana Pavan adds, “My view regarding the  article  is that there are some misunderstandings about the GCF and what it does.” Greenpeace representatives planned to be in attendance at the annual GCF meeting that took place last week in Mexico. In response to these responses, Mongabay published Greenpeace’s  rebuttal  in which Climate and Forests Senior Policy Advisor Roman P. Czebiniak argues for attention to be paid to the inherent problems seen by Greenpeace in REDD Offsets, not when they are implemented.



US Policy

All dressed up and nowhere to go?

As California’s Air Resources Board prepares to launch the state’s  cap-and-trade program  in November, market players predict different outcomes from the long anticipated scheme. ARB held a mock auction in late August with around 150 entities participating. However, the trading volumes and prices were not revealed, and many participants and spectators are speculating about the level of participation and trading that will take place in November. During a recent webinar, the American Carbon Registry forecasted an increasing offset supply shortage starting in the first compliance period; however, forest carbon project developers anticipate a sufficient supply, dependent on the capacity of ARB to process projects. Read more on this issue at the Forest Carbon Portal  here.  



Project Development

ERA, CCC, & Offsetters tie the knot

ERA Carbon Offsets announced it has entered into two non-binding letters of intent to acquire shares in two Vancouver-based  project developers  – Offsetters, which specializes in clean tech carbon offsets – and Carbon Credit Corporation, which specializes in land-based carbon offsets. An Ecosystem Marketplace  article  explores the impetus behind the merger as the three suppliers tap into synergies and prep for the emerging Western Climate Initiative program. ERA is also conducting a private placement financing of Cdn $220,000 and plans to appoint James Tansey (Offsetters’ CEO) as ERA’s CEO post-acquisition and financing, in place of Duncan Manson.



REDD+ moves in Mexico

A state committee on REDD+ was established this week in Oaxaca, Mexico as a result of agreements made during a previous workshop attended by federal and state government officials. The  agreement  outlines that the committee will be composed of state representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Fishery and Aquaculture Development (SEDAFPA) and the State Institute of Ecology and federal representatives from the National Forest Commission (CONAFOR), National Commission for the Use and Knowledge of Biodiversity (CONABIO) and the National Commission of Natural Protected Areas (CONANP), in addition to the Federal Environmental Protection Office (PROFEPA), the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) and the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fish and Food (SAGARPA). Original article in Spanish available  here.



Pennsylvania’s in the market

Following a 22,000-acre project in Bethlehem, Lock Haven became the second Pennsylvanian city to enroll in The Nature Conservancy’s  Working Woodlands  program, which provides landowners with sustainable forestry certification and income from carbon offset markets. Lock Haven’s 5,200-acre parcel of forested watershed is part of TNC’s goal of expanding the program to 300,000 forested acres, owned by public water suppliers, families and social and hunting clubs. The city could see improvements in forest management and $10-20/acre/year from the carbon market.  Carbon credit sales are managed by the broker Blue Source.



BC gets Cheak-y

The Government of British Columbia has officially approved the  Cheakamus Community Forest  (CCF) project in principle, leaving CCF partners to hammer out final details and go through the accreditation process. CCF is the first forest to seek carbon credit revenue on leased Crown land. In consultation with Ecotrust Canada, the CCF is also the first forest in the province to develop an ecosystem-based management (EBM) plan, and will tap into Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification. The final version of the plan is currently out for public review, and forest sink developer Living Carbon has been tasked with calculating the quantity of carbon offsets that can be sold from the project. The Whistler municipality has agreed to voluntarily buy $52,000 in offsets from the CCF once it is accredited.



National Strategy & Capacity

No-Limit New Zealand?

Foresters, environmental organizations and carbon market actors are lobbying against New Zealand’s proposed ETS Amendment Bill which allows ETS-regulated companies to have limitless access to  international carbon offsets. A  report  released by the New Zealand Government shows that, already, 4.1 MtCO2e in credits surrendered in 2011 were CERs, compared to 2.1 MtCO2e from domestic forestry. Nine of New Zealand’s largest forestry firms, including Blakely Pacific and Ernslaw One, drafted a letter to Prime Minister John Key saying, “If the Amendment passes as it stands there will be no incentive for land owners to plant trees to store carbon… greatly increasing the potential for deforestation.” They urge Key to limit regulated entities’ use of Kyoto offsets to 50%. However, carbon market stakeholders are skeptical about the government’s reaction. Given the decreasing price of NZUs, brokers fear this bill could severely impact the market.



Brazil’s Forest Code: Round Two

With revisions to her May decree, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff receives the  latest version  of the country’s Forest Code from Brazil’s Congress. The current version requires those who clear areas around rivers wider than 10 meters to replant out to 15 meters on each bank instead of Rousseff’s proposed 20 meters. The draft also allows fruit trees to be used for replanting. Given that Rousseff has previously used her veto power to reject items in earlier drafts of the Forest Code, it is possible this draft will also receive some vetoes.



Dining and Strategizing in Europe

The inaugural ThinkForest dinner took place recently at the European Parliament, spearheading a series of high-level events. The dinner was attended by members of the European Parliament, the European Council, and the European Commission, representatives from stakeholder organizations and scientists and centered on developing a future  EU forest strategy  and its role in a forest-related policy scheme given the parallel negotiations taking place on a legally binding forestry agreement in the pan-European region. Suggestions included considering lessons learned in previous experiences, whether there is a widespread idea of European forests and what that may be. The types of stakeholders involved and market versus regulatory mechanisms were also discussed.



Vietnam’s Stamp of Approval

Vietnam’s  Prime Minister  approves the World Bank-funded “Readiness Preparation for the implementation of REDD+ in Viet Nam” program, which commits the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to complete the DPO, appraisal and approval of projects and oversee the project implementation schedule. In preparation for REDD+, the Government of Vietnam has begun the design of a benefit distribution system, which highlights their priorities. Recommendations include a comprehensive legal framework, which may require a legal reform to address governance issues, a fund to manage REDD+ revenues, and a comprehensive monitoring process, including mechanisms for participatory monitoring.



Tanzania Talks REDD+

REDD+ Tanzania pilot activities have been taking place in  Dar es Salaam  through financial support from the Government of Norway. Since the program’s inception in 2009, 36 villages have agreed to participate in the 5-year project being implemented by the Tanzania Forest Conservation Group (TFCG) and the Community Forest Conservation Network of Tanzania (MJUMITA). The 215,000-ha project aims to create direct and equitable incentives for the sustainable management of forests by engaging local communities in participatory carbon and social impact assessments at the village and site levels. MRV activities are also taking place to develop the project design documents for VCS and CCB approval.



REDD+ Safeguards 101

With more than 40 REDD+ pilot projects in the country, the Indonesian government intends to run a trial of their  SIS REDD+ system, which will provide guidance on the implementation of social safeguards. Dharsono Hartono, the Director of PT Rimba Makmur, emphasizes the need to distinguish between available international social and environmental standards, including CCB and SESA, and the actors they serve in order to ensure project compatibility. The trial run is slated for December in East Kalimantan. Afterwards, the Indonesian government plans on having feedback sessions to get the perspective of national, provincial and district level stakeholders on the system’s success.



Just Say No

Vietnamese authorities from five Central Highland provinces met at a forest management seminar organized by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and agreed all projects that are not using forested land for forestry purposes should  cease  and forest management practices should be improved. This seminar comes after a loss of 130,000 ha in the Central Highlands region from 2007 to 2011. Several reasons for the deforestation were identified, including the lack of uniformity among relevant agencies surrounding forest management and protection. The Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Ha Cong Tuan, urged regional forestry management departments to inspect wood processing facilities constantly and enforce strict sanctions in attempts to tighten forest protection measures.



Finance & Economics

The waiting game

The second article in a continuing series following Ecosystem Marketplace publisher Forest Trends’  REDD+ Expenditure Tracking Project  discusses possible reasons for the delay in REDD+ funding delivery from developed to developing nations. While estimates of REDD+ funding pledges range between $4.5-3 billion, developed nations claim they have seen less than $1 billion. According to the article, the lack of execution stems from the drawn out processes governments need to go through to decide where to invest and then provide their contributions, different country fiscal years and an overall lack of coordination in monitoring REDD finance. Altogether, it could take around 5 years after countries have been promised a sum of support before they can cash that check. Read more about this Ecosystem Marketplace exclusive at the Forest Carbon Portal  here.



Methodology & Standards Watch  

VCS in Colombia  

VCS and Fundacion Natura sign a memorandum of understanding agreeing to collaborate to establish the necessary framework for a Colombian voluntary carbon market, which will recognize VCUs as one of the major credits to transact. VCS agrees to provide seminars for key market actors, including project developers, auditors, potential buyers and government officials, in order for them to understand the VCS Program elements and crediting mechanisms, such as their upcoming jurisdictional and nested REDD+ methodology. Both organizations will also be involved in promoting the development of this new  emerging market  and the advantages of carbon neutrality to Colombian companies.



The golden touch

On Tuesday, the Gold Standard announced it has acquired the CarbonFix standard to integrate into a (literally) greener Gold Standard version 3.0. Insofar as the Gold Standard for carbon offsets has focused on projects that deliver energy-efficient technology while CarbonFix has focused on tree-planting projects, the acquisition represents the first effort of its kind to begin  consolidating  demand and expertise under one brand – in a market that otherwise continues to proliferate new standards for project certification. The Gold Standard also announced an MOU with its sibling Forest Stewardship Council, which will see the two organizations leverage their respective approaches to social and environmental safeguards and carbon certification. Ecosystem Marketplace provides  coverage.



δ on the delta

The American Carbon Registry (ACR) has just approved the deltaic  wetland restoration methodology, which enables project developers to draw from carbon credit revenues in their efforts to restore the Gulf of Mexico’s disappearing coastal wetlands, Louisiana’s first line of defense against hurricanes. Developed by New Orleans-based Tierra Resources and funded by Entergy, the methodology is modular and credits a wide range of restoration techniques, including reforestation and hydrologic management techniques like wetlands assimilation. An EM article discusses the new methodology and St. Charles Parish pilot project with Sarah Mack, founder and CEO of Tierra.



Human Dimension

Communities Speak on REDD+ Chiapas

In anticipation of the 6th annual GCF meeting held in San Cristobal, Chiapas, Mexico this week, the international movement  Via Campesina  expresses its disagreement with REDD+ in Chiapas’s Lacandon forest. According to Via Campesina’s legal specialist, Ana Valadez, the Chiapas governments abused locals’ rights when it signed an agreement with California for the sale of carbon credits from forests in Chiapas without informing locals beforehand. During the meeting, sentiment for and REDD+ was expressed.  Protesters  from nearby villages stood outside the meeting chanting against REDD+, while Chankin Chambor, the president of the Lacandon Communal Goods group, spoke at the meeting to  recognize  the benefits that community members have seen in relation to REDD+ development in Chiapas.



The Tenure Issue: Vietnam Edition

Considering the current legal environment in Vietnam for REDD+, the CIFOR report Evidence-based Conservation: Lessons from Lower Mekong concludes that REDD+ will only be able to provide co-benefits, such as poverty alleviation, if  modifications  are done to Vietnam’s land tenure system. With the widespread use of co-management, state companies and management boards control more than 50% of natural forests, with individual households managing and protecting less than 20% and village communities roughly 1%. Since individuals are only granted the right to protect the land, not land titles, REDD+ payments arrive indirectly. Additional arguments are made on the ability for these payments to successfully dig communities out of poverty without an efficient benefit sharing system in order.



Asia Pacific Needs

The Indigenous People’s Dialogue, organized by the Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact and UN-REDD Programme, in Bangkok was attended by representatives of Indigenous Peoples organizations, government representatives and civil society organizations from Bangladesh, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Philippines, PNG, Solomon Island, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam. The discussion centered on the effective engagement of  indigenous peoples  in REDD+, bringing to light concerns such as land grabbing, the need for national policy reform and customized information materials based on local conditions. Working groups were also formed addressing different issues. The common theme raised was the need to properly recognize the wealth of knowledge carried by local communities and ways to effectively channel such information into REDD+.



Science & Technology Review  

Japan & Indonesia join forces for peat

The Science and Technology Research Partnership for Sustainable Development project, a research collaboration between Japan and Indonesia, developed an integrated  MRV system  that could provide more detailed scientific data on peatlands, such as density and thickness, and assist in estimating the magnitude of carbon reservoirs in peat forests and annual carbon flux. By providing information to develop effective carbon management of peat forests, the new mapping system could help in the restoration and conservation of tropical peat forests in Indonesia. Southeast Asia houses 70% of tropical peatland, with Central Kalimantan, the research location for the project, known as one of the most important carbon reservoirs globally.



The big picture

A group of 11 member country organizations from Amazon countries – namely, French Guiana, Ecuador, Bolivia, Colombia, Peru, Brazil and Venezuela – came together under RAISG to update reportedly one of the most comprehensive maps of the  Amazon basin. The results of their research show that protected areas and indigenous lands account for 45% of the basin, while another 6% is currently proposed for separation. The research also shed light on the ratio of officially protected Amazon lands; French Guiana ranks number one with 73% protected, and Guyana ranks last with less than 20% protected. The map is based on official government data.



Publications & Tools  

Nesting in Vietnam  

The Forest Trends publication  REDD+ in Vietnam  looks at the current implementation of nested REDD initiatives in Vietnam and provides preliminary advice to the Government of Vietnam on how to combine national and sub-national approaches to REDD+ effectively. The report highlights the possible opportunities and challenges of a nested approach by focusing on three pilot sub-national activities in Dien Bien Province, Kon Tum Province and Lam Dong Province.



Of Risks and REDD

In CIFOR’s publication  Reducing REDD risks: affirmative policy on an uneven playing field, the case for support for rural poor in forestry policy is made. The article touches on the obstacles that are present for the rural poor, preventing them from benefiting as much as other individuals from programs such as REDD. In order to achieve poverty alleviation through REDD, the authors suggest significant changes to forest policies and the establishment of social safeguards.



What drives deforestation?

Researchers from Canada and the Netherland’s Wageningen University joined forces to provide  Drivers of Deforestation and Forest Degradation, which focuses on properly identifying the causes of deforestation and their relevance to REDD+ policy development and implementation in order to address drivers in a more permanent and sustainable fashion and increase the potential success of initiatives such as REDD+.




2 Positions, Indonesia – CIFOR

The  Communication Specialist for the Asia Region  will develop the Asian elements of a multilingual CIFOR website, prepare multimedia packages for the web and media and liaise with media in the region to disseminate information on our research. Candidates should have a degree in communications or a related discipline and 5+ years’ experience in media relations. The  Researcher for the Forests and Governance Programme  will participate in research and capacity building through literature reviews and database management, and provide management assistance through progress reports, minutes and translations. Candidates should have a master’s degree in social science or other related discipline with a specialization in law and experience conducting research on forest-related crime issues.



3 Positions – Tetra Tech ARD

Based in Washington, DC, the  Program Officer  for the Forest Carbon, Markets and Communities program will coordinate the development of FCMC-supported REDD+ Readiness activities in Central and South America. Candidates should have a master’s degree in environmental policy or a related field with 4-6 years’ experience with REDD+, voluntary carbon markets, and multilateral programs and policies. Based in India, the  Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist  for the Partnership for Land Use Science program will be responsible for the collection, processing, and distribution of information generated by the FOREST-PLUS project using a monitoring database. Candidates should have a graduate degree in community development, demographics, sociology or other relevant discipline with 10+ years’ experience related to the design and implementation of M&E systems. Based in India, the  Forest Management Technical Advisor  for the Partnership for Land Use Science program will develop tools, techniques, and methods for better ecosystem management and increasing sequestration. Candidates should have a post-graduate degree in forestry management, environmental management, conservation or related discipline with 10+ years of forestry and natural resource management sector expertise.



Program Manager, Latin America Program – Ecosystem Marketplace

Based in Washington, DC, the Program Manager will support and expand Ecosystem Marketplace’s presence in Latin America and manage, build, and promote Ecosystem Marketplace’s upcoming website for Spanish speakers. Candidates should have a graduate degree and experience in payment for ecosystem services and environmental markets. Read more about the position  here.


Research Assistant – Resources for the Future

Based in Washington, DC, the Assistant will help in constructing a GIS comprising data on land cover change, using these data to evaluate the environmental and socioeconomic impacts of forest conservation and REDD+ policies and developing computational tools to target such policies. Candidates should have a master’s or bachelor’s degree in economics, natural sciences, mathematics, geography or a related field and experience with ArcGIS and Python. Read more about the position  here.



Associate, Sustainable Agriculture Division – Rainforest Alliance

Based in Indonesia, the Associate will organize the development of local interpretation guidelines for different crops using workshops and other stakeholder outreach techniques and participate in field testing activities in Asian countries during standard review and development. Candidates should have a bachelor’s degree in agriculture, biology, natural resources or a related field with 5-7 years’ experience in the agricultural sector with knowledge of agricultural processes and certification systems. Read more about the position  here.



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