Emerald Isles get behind green finance
The Irish government has published a bill that would have the country’s tax code recognize carbon credits, including credits from REDD projects, opening the door for the issuance of forest bonds for Irish and international investors. Paul Harris, head of natural resources risk management at the Bank of Ireland in Dublin says that the finance bill will make establishing a special purpose vehicle to buy forest carbon credits and issue forest bonds based on those credits more tax efficient, hopefully prompting an uptick in the sale of forest bonds. Read more about the bill here
New Forests, new partners
New Forests Inc, the Australia-based asset management firm, has announced the launch of Forest Carbon Partners (pdf). The new initiative will focus on investing in California-compliant forest carbon projects, with expectations of financing more than 100,000 acres of forest land in the US. Not only that, but the fund has already launched into its first two transactions, covering 11,000 acres – one with a family forest owner and another with a Native American tribe. New Forests has yet to reveal the value of the fund or just who the investors are. Read more about the fund from Environmental Finance here and Hedge Week here.
California’s logging industry talks carbon
Timber industry insiders at the Sierra Cascade Logging Conference in Anderson, California discussed how uncertainties in California’s cap-and-trade program could make potential forest carbon projects less attractive to land-owners. According to some attendees, the state may skim as much as ten percent off the top of offset fees paid by emitters. Ed Murphy of timber giant Sierra Pacific Industries said that land enrolled in a carbon project could be tied up for 150 years. Such long time frames would be a big disincentive for small landowners, especially given the relative uncertainty in terms of price and demand for the forest carbon credits in California’s market. Still, the potential of an additional revenue stream offered by the carbon market will likely appeal to many of the state’s land owners, many of whom already employ the kind of land management techniques required to sequester carbon and claim credits. Read about what timber industry insiders are saying here
A forest carbon first for VCS in the US
The Lower Mississippi Valley is the site of the U.S’ first registered VCS forest carbon project. Over 30,000 acres have been converted back to bottomland hardwood forest in the TerraCarbon-developed project, which was verified by Scientific Certification Systems and will sequester around 6 million tons over its 60 year span. The region lost much of its forests due to agricultural development and logging, with only 30 percent original forest cover remaining. In addition to the carbon mitigation benefits provided by the project, the forest will also act as habitat for wildlife and provide other ecosystem services such as erosion control and flood control. Read more about the project here.
Mapmaker, mapmaker, make me a map
GAF AG, the German spatial information consultancy, has secured a contract from GIZ to develop a Monitoring, Reporting and Verification (MRV) system that can be used by Southern African Development Community member states pursuing REDD projects. In addition to providing the usual elements of an MRV system, such as the implementation of an inventory for biomass accounting, GAF AG will have to provide capacity training for local stakeholders. GIZ hopes the system will allow SADC member states to fulfill IPCC requirements in quantifying emissions resulting from deforestation and forest degradations. Read more about the contract here
SCS Validates Anthrotect’s Colombian Carbon Offset Project to Climate, Community and Biodiversity Standards
Situated on the Colombian-Panamanian border, project developer Anthrotect’s Chocí³-Darién Corridor carbon offset project has received validation under the Climate, Community and Biodiversity (CCB) Project Design Standards from Scientific Certification Systems (SCS). The REDD project achieved CCB Gold Level status for providing “exceptional” social and biodiversity co-benefits to the local Afro-Colombian and indigenous landowners, with 50 percent of net profits generated by the project going to local communities. “Carbon assets generated through forest stewardship are one of the most promising economic alternatives for Afro-descendant and indigenous peoples in Colombia,” said Brodie Ferguson, Founder of Anthrotect. Over its 30-year lifespan, the project is expected to provide emission reductions of over 2.3 MtCO2e on the 13,500 hectares of forest. Read more here and here and read the interview with Everildys Cordoba here
Zimbabwe gets its first taste of REDD+
Zimbabwe’s first REDD+ project has been successfully registered with the Community, Climate, and Biodiversity Standard at the Gold level. The project, developed by South Pole Carbon and Carbon Green Africa, is currently undergoing validation under the Verified Carbon Standard. It will cover 800,000 hectares around Lake Kiba and is expected to sequester 3,000,000 tons over five years. The forest around the lake is home to species like the African lion and elephant, as well as provided wildlife corridors between several national parks. Read about the project here (PDF)
Methodology and Standards Watch
Getting technical with nested REDD
The Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) has released updated technical recommendations for the integrated project and jurisdiction-wide accounting and crediting of REDD activities. This update provides flexible options for jurisdictions to develop REDD+ programs that may recognize and integrate project activities into jurisdiction-level accounting frameworks. The recommendations will inform the soon-to-be released VCS requirements for Jurisdictional and Nested REDD+ activities. See the updated technical recommendations here (PDF)
National Strategy and Capacity
REDD funds a touchy subject in Tanzania
The handling of REDD funds in Tanzania is leading to vocal debates between environmental and community activists, NGOs, and government officials. Activists are arguing for a system that would have payments go directly to communities, while officials want to have the Treasury handle payments which will then be distributed to communities. Communities in Kondoa district were negotiating an arrangement which would see 80% of payments go directly to them, a deal which was perhaps announced prematurely at a meeting in Dar es Salaam earlier in the month. Read more here.
REDD+ project moves forward in Laos
The Lao-German Climate Protection through Avoided Deforestation (CliPAD) Program is moving forward with their plans for a VCS REDD+ project in the Nam Phui Landscape in Laos after finalizing two key technical documents. Those documents focus on the feasibility of a project-based activity under the Verified Carbon Standard and Community, Climate, and Biodiversity Standard. The Wildlife Conservation Society is leading development of the project, which will now begin a free, prior and informed consent process with communities affected by the project. Read about the project’s next steps here
1 million hectares lost to moratorium loophole
The verdict is in: more than 1 million hectares of land has lost their protected status under Indonesia’s forest moratorium. A November 2011 review of the moratorium has deemed areas of peatland and primary forest available for conversion to industrial farming and plantations under the Merauke Integrated Food and Energy Estate (MIFEE), a giant agricultural project in southwestern New Guinea. The moratorium allows some food and energy crops to be excluded, but Greenomics, an Indonesian NGO, says some of MIFEE’s plots are allocated to non-exempt crops like oil palm plantations. The project has claimed it would bring improvements in food and energy security in the region, but has also been criticized for profiting agribusiness developers. Since being defined in May 2011, Indonesia’s two-year moratorium has been in flux. Its original purpose was to make way for the country to develop plans for reducing deforestation and forest degradation with its billion-dollar pledge from Norway, but progress on this front has been slow. Read more about the moratorium turn-around here
Science and Technology Review
I’ve been working on my technique
Forests in Madagascar are ready for their close up. A team out of the Carnegie Institution’s Department of Global Ecology, along with the GoodPlanet Foundation and the World Wide Fund for Nature has developed a technique to create high-resolution estimates of forest carbon stocks in rugged, remote conditions. Using airborne laser technology, ground-based plot surveys, and satellite imaging, the team said the technique will be able to fulfil measuring and monitoring requirements for REDD programs. Lead author Greg Asner said of the study, “These results show that we can obtain verifiable carbon assessments in remote tropical regions, which will be a boon not only to science and conservation, but to potential carbon-offset programs.” Read about the new technique here.
Fighting Deforestation in Cyberspace
A new online initiative to track global deforestation will provide data to and a platform for collaboration between scientists, agencies, land managers and others through the new Global Forest Information Center’s Data Basin. The Center will initially focus on intact forests in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska when it launches this fall, and hopes to cover forests worldwide within three years. The Geos Institute and the Conservation Biology Institute will team up for the project, having recently received a $50,000 grant to start the Center. Read more about the Global Forest Information Center here
Publication and Tools
REDD+: Silver bullet or rubber bullet?
Rubber trees are becoming an increasingly popular crop in South East Asia, as national governments see revenue potential and development organizations see poverty alleviation potential in the monoculture plantations. Advocates of REDD in the region were also big fans of rubber trees, citing their carbon mitigation potential. But many of the farmers interested in rubber tree plantations would be switching from other crops grown with slash-and-burn rotational techniques, which a new study says may sequester more carbon in biomass than rubber plantations, particularly in hilly regions. Jean-Christophe Castella, a scientist at the Center for International Forestry Research and the author of the study, also notes that other benefits from the traditional agricultural system could be lost with expanding rubber plantations, including biodiversity and water retention benefits. Read more about rubber plantations and REDD here.
Honesty is the best forest policy
Forest Footprint Disclosure, a project of the Global Canopy Programme, has released its third annual report, out of 357 companies approached for the survey, 87 disclosed data and their supply chain and forest impacts. The report is broken down into sectors, such as Travel and Leisure and Food Products and Soft Drinks, and revealed a lack of disclosure among companies in the Oil and Gas Sector, such as Shell and BP. As with the Carbon Disclosure Project, companies are finding that their investors and shareholders are increasingly calling on them to address risk in their supply chain. Other companies are simply trying to place themselves in a favorable position for national legislation that would impose penalties on companies whose supply chains are not adequately monitored. While the Annual Review has been published, the specific data from each company remains undisclosed to the general public. Read more about the review here and see the press release here.
This brief provides a summary of the responses of 26 submissions on the REDD+ Safeguard Information System (SIS), a mechanism described in Paragraph 71(d) of the Cancun Agreements that would demonstrate how safeguards in Annex 1 of the Agreements are being addressed. In June 2011, the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technical Advice (SBSTA) invited Parties and Observers to submit their views on the design of the SIS, the responses to which have been categorized in this brief under the following categories: the role of the SIS; the type of information Parties should provide; the collection of information; and other elements of this system. Read more about the submissions here.
Calling all grassland experts!
The Verified Carbon Standard has put out a call for experts in Standardized Methods and in Avoided Conversion of Grasslands and Shrublands (ACoGS). Applications must be submitted by March 30. See section 9 of the Methodology Approval Process document for detailed application instructions. See the announcement here.
Another 7 countries join UN-REDD
Welcome, Benin, Cameroon, Chile, Ghana, Myanmar, South Sudan and Suriname to membership of the UN-REDD Program, rounding up the total number of UN-REDD countries to 42. As partners, these countries are eligible to get targeted support from the UN-REDD Global Program and knowledge sharing, and have observer status at UN-REDD Program Policy Board meetings. So far, UN-REDD has allocated $59.3 million to 14 partner countries for their National Programs, and seeks to grow its support base for its other partner countries. Read more about the new countries here.
Senior Program Officer, VCS
The successful Senior Program Officer will oversee the work of validation/verification bodies (VVBs) and be responsible for providing comprehensive and on-going support for all VVBs approved under the VCS Program. Read more about the position here.
Professor of the Practice in Environmental Innovation and Entrepreneurship
Duke University will launch a new, multi-faceted program in EI&E to foster entrepreneurial and leadership skills and seeking a professor to assume directorship of the program, leading the development of a certificate program in EI&E, advance student internship opportunities related to EI&E, and oversee an incubator fund to seed promising student start-up ideas. Read more about the position here
Consultant/Field Research Supervisor – CIFOR
CIFOR is looking for a Field Research Supervisor for its Global Comparative Study on REDD project who will supervise and conduct field research at REDD project sites in Indonesia, including hiring enumerators and preparing field reports. Read more about the position here.
Long term Consultant – African Development Bank
The consultant with the African Development Bank will be based in Tunis to support the Bank in preparing and appraising projects under various Forest Investment Plans. The assignment will be for an initial 6 month period. Read more about the position here.
REDD+ Task Lead – Tetra Tech ARD
Tetra Tech ARD seeks a Natural Resource Management and Climate Change Specialist for the three-year Forests Carbon, Markets and Communities program (FCMC). The position is based in Washington, DC and will require periodic international travel. U.S. citizenship or a valid U.S. work permit is mandatory. Read more about the position here.
Technical Advisor, REDD+ Readiness – Conservation International
The Technical Advisor for REDD+ Readiness will support CI’s technical work on forest-based climate change mitigation, specifically REDD+. At least 5 years of work experience on forestry, climate change, and greenhouse gas inventory issues is desired. Read more about the position here
REDD+ Programme Officer, IUCN
The REDD+ Programme Officer will be responsible for coordinating implementation of IUCN’s Global Forest and Climate Change Programme’s REDD+ project portfolio, and also participate in and contribute to IUCN’s cross-cutting Climate Change coordination team. Read more about the position here.
CEO, ERA Carbon Offsets Limited
ERA Carbon Offsets seeks a charismatic person with a distinctive entrepreneurial mindset, excellent communication skills and strong leadership qualities to lead the organization in Vancouver, British Columbia. Read more about the position here