This Week in Forest Carbon: Translating Data

With forest carbon projects continuing to expand in Latin America and French-speaking Africa, the Ecosystem Marketplace team is excited to announce the translation of the State of the Forest Carbon report into Spanish and French.  Details on this and other news from the world of Forest Carbon inside.

NOTE: This article has been reprinted from Ecosystem Marketplace’s Forest Carbon newsletter. You can receive this summary of global news and views from the world of forest carbon automatically in your inbox by clicking here.

10 February 2012 Hola and bonjour! With the expanding presence of forest carbon projects and their stakeholders in Latin America and much of French-speaking Africa (as well as Spain and France), there is an increasing need for accessible information in those regions. Our French and Spanish speaking audience will be happy to know that the State of the Forest Carbon Markets 2011 report is available in the two languages. You can download the executive summary of the French version and the full report in Spanish here. If you haven’t downloaded a copy of the English report, you can find it here.
We’re also excited to announce that the gears are turning at the Ecosystem Marketplace, as we get ready to launch our State of the Forest Carbon and State of the Voluntary Markets survey. Even better, we’ve developed a new, user-friendly survey that feels a little less like a tooth extraction.
Many of you have responded to the survey before, and it’s those responses that make the State of reports a go-to global market resource. Last year 209 organizations provided data on 412 forest carbon projects in 49 countries.
To ensure that we capture this same stellar response – and then some!   – in 2012, we’ve upped the ante. For forest carbon project developers that submit project-level data by February 28th, 2012, we will highlight each as a featured project on the Forest Carbon Portal Project Inventory in the months of March-May.
These and other stories from the voluntary 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.

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Reach out to inboxes worldwide and make your contribution HERE (select “Support for Forest Carbon News Briefs” 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

Indonesian Ministry draws the line

Those interested in forest concessions in Indonesia will soon have to define the boundaries of their land to prove that there are no overlapping claims with local communities. This decision by the Forest Ministry could potentially reduce widespread conflicts between forest developers and those residing in the forests, but also complicate investments in the forest sector. Areas with overlapping claims may be removed from the concession, designated as an enclave, or recognized as a customary forest. Residents may be given access to certain areas for co-management with concession owners. Previously, concession holders often failed to delineate their borders, even using state security forces to displace forest dwellers. In the absence of marking posts in the field, overlaps were common between different sectoral uses. According to the Agency for Forestry Area Consolidation, only 5 percent of Indonesian forests have clear boundary demarcations. Read more about the new rules here and from Mongabay here

US Policy

Bio-amassing a case for accounting consistency

The National Alliance of Forest Owners (NAFO) has publicly urged the EPA’s Biogenic Carbon Emissions Panel to align their recommendations for biomass emissions accounting with science-based approaches “consistent with real-world forest practices in the United States.” This statement is in response to the Panel’s draft recommendations in its report “Accounting Framework for Biogenic CO2 emissions From Stationary Sources.” NAFO posits that several recommendations in the draft report are unreasonably complex and would be unworkable in practice. Instead of focusing on factors such as carbon changes in small forest stands, which NAFO believes are outside of the scope of the EPA’s mandate, NAFO suggests that the EPA focus on the carbon cycle at a broad scale. Carbon accounting in a broadened scale, NAFO believes, will show that biomass emissions do not increase net carbon in the atmosphere. Read more about NAFO’s take on the rules here

Climate and timber the new southern cross, says WRI brief

The World Resources Institute has issued a brief on the activities of the Carbon Canopy, a consortium of companies, woodland owners, and NGOs that are trying to use ecosystem service markets to conserve and expand southern U.S. forests. Carbon Canopy has so far focused on linking forest carbon offset generation with certified forest management. Revenue from the forest carbon offsets is intended to fund certification efforts, leading to sustainably managed forests with long-term sustainable finance models. The brief, Insights from the Field: Forests for Climate and Timber, is intended to inform companies, NGOs, and other organizations interested in developing or participating in similar programs that link forest certification with carbon offsets. Read more about Carbon Canopy’s work here and access the brief here

Project Development

It’s nuts how this Peruvian partnership worked

Indigenous communities in Peru stand to benefit from a partnership with Bosques Amazonicos, an organization with plans to implement an independently certified REDD+ project on the land where the community harvests Brazil nuts. This land is under threat due to its close proximity to the Interoceanic Highway, which leads to Peru’s ports and has spurred the onset of illegal loggers, poachers, miners, and farmers. Bosques Amazonicos plans to share the revenue generated by sales of REDD+ offsets between investors and locals in a 70/30 split. In addition to REDD+, Bosques Amazonicos helps communities with reforestation by providing small loans at the beginning of each Brazil nut harvest. Read more about the project here

What do 30 angry Matses and five FEPYRA communities have in common?

An Australian carbon cowboy has reportedly attempted to lasso yet another indigenous community in Peru. David Nilsson’s first bid was to the Matses people from the region of Loreto in the northeastern Peruvian Amazon. Their negotiation ended in angry complaints by indigenous leaders to Defensoria del Pueblo, a human rights watchdog, and a failure to reach any agreement. Abandoning the Matses, Nilsson then approached the isolated Yagua community, and has been criticized for presenting the illiterate leader of the indigenous communities a thick contract— in English. The deal was signed, the leader claiming that those who criticized the project from other communities were simply “envious”. The presence of Nilsson in Loreto and the controversy of these deals have sparked bitter tension among indigenous federations in the area, who are split between those interested in project revenues and others who are strongly skeptical. Read more about the “carbon cowboys” here and here

Pakistan REDD deal Safi-cated by community concerns

Pakistan’s Sarhad Awami Forestry Ittehad (SAFI), the agency tasked with managing the country’s forests, has rejected a deal between the forestry department and British company Merlyn Wood, fearing social unrest would result from approval of the deal. The agreement would see Merlyn Wood leasing more than 200,000 acres of forest for 40 years at 12 million sterling pounds from the forestry department as part of a REDD+ initiative. Under the agreement, 80 percent of the profits would have gone to Merlyn Wood and 20 percent to the forestry department, with no mention in the deal of payments to other stakeholders or forest communities, who claim they have traditional rights to the forest. Read more about why the deal went sour here

National Strategy & Capacity

C-MRV. C-MRV move forward in Guyana. Run, MRV, run!

Guyana, one of Norway’s REDD+ funding recipient countries, has given communities a prominent role in the country’s REDD+ national strategy. A Community Monitoring Reporting and Evaluation (C-MRV) strategy, which includes plans for indigenous communities to contribute to monitoring forests, land use, and ecosystem services, has been included in Guyana’s funding application to the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility. Guyana believes that the inclusion of communities in their REDD+ strategy speaks to the country’s commitment to sustainable development. Guyana hopes that the C-MRV strategy may eventually serve as a model for a standardized system for C-MRV for the rest of the world. Read more about Guyana’s C-MRV strategy here

Latest updates form the Tanzanian Gazette

At a Climate Change Impacts, Adaptation and Mitigation Programme meeting in Dar es Salaam, an official from Africa Wildlife Foundation announced that the Tanzanian government would dedicate 80% of REDD+ funds to forest communities. The decision was made after an intense lobbying effort by environmental activists, who argued that because forest communities bear the responsibility and cost of preserving forests, they should receive the majority of benefits. The government also announced plans to gazette the Masito-Ugalla forest reserve. Part of the forest reserve area is already part of a REDD project run by the Jane Goodall Institute, but gazetting the reserve would give legal protection to the forest, hopefully deterring loggers. Meanwhile, the Norwegian ambassador to Tanzania, Ingunn Klepsivik, was in Bagamoyo addressing members of parliament on the sidelines of a seminar on climate change and REDD. She praised the country’s efforts, noting that nine projects had been initiated in the country. Read more about Norway’s praise here, more about the gazetting here, and the governments payment decision here

”Let’s say it together now. ‘REDD+ Strategy.’”

The Liberian Media Initiative and representatives from civil society gathered for a two day workshop intended to promote a REDD+ awareness campaign in the country. Staring down a potential $3.6 million in funds from the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility in late 2012, the Liberian government is emphasizing the importance of informing stakeholders before REDD+ implementation activities begin. Among the participants were local media groups, forest owners, and experts from Flora and Fauna International, which organized the workshop. Read more about the workshop here

Critics say Ugandan “tree banking” in ‘de Nile

The Ugandan government is promoting investments in forestry by providing free seedlings (for “tree banking”) and technical assistance. Wealthy businessmen are taking advantage of the opportunity and investing in tree planting, citing high demand for timber coupled with the possibility of additional revenue from carbon credits. While there are not yet systems in place for leveraging benefits from carbon credits, investors are anticipating their imminent arrival. However, social and environmental concerns have been raised about creating large-scale tree plantations. Local populations have been displaced, generating resentment among forest communities. The most popular trees to plant — non-native eucalyptus and pine — will potentially put native species at risk, while locating plantations near the water could affect the flow of the Nile and impact countries downstream. Read more about the tree investment craze here

Finance & Economics

GRIF gets green light

Guyana has long waited for the disbursement of its Guyana REDD+ Investment Fund (affectionately known as GRIF), which was held up under former president Jagdeo. Newly elected President Ramotar made releasing the funds a part of his campaign, and just a few months into his tenure appears to be at least partially successful. The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has agreed to release almost $6 million from the fund after approving projects presented to the Steering Committee. The previous hold-up of funds was apparently due to a perceived lack of transparency in the Guyanese government. It’s difficult to know how much of that issue has been resolved given that Ramotar and Jagdeo belong to the same party and kept much of the same cabinet. The GRIF is administered by the World Bank and consists of funds donated by the Norwegian Government of up to $250 million. Read more about the GRIF disbursement here and here

Methodology & Standards Watch

It’s just your standard standard standard update

The Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) has released updates to its Version 3 Program Documents. The update includes expanded requirements on the timing of emissions after land-use change or disturbances for AFOLU methodologies, a clarification and update to VCS “double counting” rules, and updated regulatory surplus rules to distinguish between Annex I and non-Annex I countries. There was also the release of requirements for developing “’standardized methods”‘ (PDF) – tools and methods that streamline the process of establishing baselines and additionality. Standardized methods reportedly reduce costs and improve the efficiency of project development. In light of the program updates, VCS is conducting a review of methodologies – paying particular attention to AFOLU methodologies – to make sure they align with the updates. Read more about the updates here and here

American Carbon Registry looks to nest with the rest

The American Carbon Registry is developing technical guidance on nested REDD+, meaning that REDD+ projects will be able to register with ACR using requirements developed at the jurisdictional level. Because national programs are still in the process of being established, the market has a real need for subnational and jurisdictional approaches that allow nested REDD+ projects to take place. However, there is still the question of whether nested REDD+ projects meet the same standards as non-nested projects. ACR is trying to address that question by providing criteria that jurisdictional baselines, leakage assessments, monitoring, and reversal risk mitigation must meet in order for projects to register. Read more about ACR’s nested REDD+ approach here

World Bank methodology breaks new ground for VCS

The Verified Carbon Standard has approved its first methodology on soil carbon for a Kenyan project developed by the World Bank. Known as Adoption of Sustainable Agricultural Land Management, or SALM, it can be used to monitor and measure a range of project activities that increase carbon stocks in the agricultural landscape, such as mulching, cover crops, manure and plant waste management. In the pilot project, smallholders adopted improved farming practices that sequester carbon in soil, improving crop yields and generating carbon credits. 60,000 farmers were involved in the project, which was supported by the World Bank’s BioCarbon Fund. Read more about the new methodology here and access the methodology documents here

Science & Technology Review

Oh, so global warming isn’t good for forest systems? Wait…

Scientists from the University of Quebec and several Chinese institutions have released a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), linking the diminished carbon sink of Canada’s western forests to the effects of global climate change – in particular, drought. Researchers report that if tree degradation in Western Canada due to drought worsens, these forests could release more carbon than they absorb. While the phenomenon of net carbon emissions release in degrading forests has been observed in the tropics, this study reveals that the problem could be more globally widespread than previously believed. In addition, these findings could overturn previous beliefs that global warming could improve growing conditions for the Boreal forests. Read more about Canada’s forest troubles here and here

Tropical forests’ ace in the Hole

Hey forest carbon enthusiasts, here’s some good news for you: tropical rainforests store almost 21 percent more carbon than previously thought! A study that combined remote sensing and field data by the Woods Hole Research Center has produced a high-resolution world carbon map of tropical Africa, Asia and Latin America that even estimates carbon densities in places that had never been measured before. With the new data, researchers say that current models overestimate the net flux of carbon into the atmosphere due to tropical vegetation loss by 11 to 12 percent. This breakthrough finding is important because it will allow countries to better track their carbon sequestration capacity and measure their net emissions, and enhance the quality of reporting CO2 emissions under the UNFCCC. Apart from presenting progressive steps for REDD+ participant countries, the boost in technology and information could also build confidence in latent carbon markets and ease fears that the tropics are becoming a carbon source, rather than a carbon sink. Read more about the map here, and how that may affect investors’ outlook here

Tripping the Amazon fantastic

Your eyes aren’t playing a trick on you, that is a psychedelic Amazon! Sophisticated technology in the form of LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) has mapped the luscious, green Peruvian Amazon in a splash of color that represents the chemical composition of tree species in the forest. Bouncing laser beams off the canopy at 400,000 times per second means we now understand the biological diversity of these forests and the amount of carbon they store, and can determine the effects that the 2010 Amazon drought has had on the forest ecosystem. This method developed by the Carnegie Airborne Observatory also accurately monitors deforestation and degradation, which has significant implications for the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+) initiative and will allow governments to target specific conservation areas. This first map revealed surprisingly high levels of biodiversity in the forest on the Andean rim of the Amazon basin but also a drastic increase in gold mining in Madre de Dios, making it the region’s main driver of deforestation. Read more about the map here and here

Publications & Tools

“Don’t give me no lines and keep your hands to yourself”

Widespread civil unrest could become commonplace if national governments and investors do not intervene in the global grab for land and natural resources in developing countries. This was one conclusion of the Rights and Resources Initiative’s new report, “Turning Point”, which gives an overview of what REDD might present in the context of land-grabbing, population and consumption growth, development and protests. An analysis of tenure rights in 35 African countries revealed that “local rights are being repeatedly and tragically ignored during an astonishing buying spree across Africa”, despite the potential for violent conflict. Contrary to popular belief, the report says, indigenous and traditional communities are generally not opposed to economic development – but rather, their outcry is from their exclusion from decision-making processes that ultimately decide their removal from land and resources they depend on. Access RRI’s new report here, and read coverage from the Guardian here

CIFOR Assesses Indonesian Moratorium on Forest Concessions

The Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) has released a working paper examining Indonesia’s post-moratorium forest governance. Signed two years ago as part of their $1 billion agreement with Norway, the moratorium was intended to stop the granting of forest concessions in certain environmentally sensitive areas of the archipelago, which were demarcated by an ‘indicative map’. CIFOR states that governance is weak in peatlands, the most carbon-sensitive areas, and that loopholes for food and energy security could undermine the moratorium. In order to address those and other issue, CIFOR recommends that the indicative map be continually updated, and that a transparent, participatory approach to forest governance be adopted. Read more about CIFOR’s look at the moratorium here


New tool Taking Root to promote forest offsets to consumers

Taking Root, a Canadian project developer, has released a communications toolkit that will help businesses explain their offsetting purchase to customers. The toolkit, called CO2 Responsible, uses videos, photos, and other materials to engage with the Limay community, who are involved with Taking Root’s social carbon project taking place in Nicaragua. The project is certified under the Plan Vivo standard. Read more about the toolkit here and see it for yourself here

Public consultation period for REDD+ SES is open

The REDD+ Social and Environmental Standards (REDD+ SES) Initiative has opened REDD+ SES Version 2 for public comment until April 9. The standards have been developed for stakeholders to design and implement REDD+ programs that generate environmental and social co-benefits. Both sub-national and national REDD+ initiatives are exploring the standard. Submit your comments here

FCPF Civil Society Organization Observer Voting

There is one spot per region up for grabs: Asia, Latin America, Africa, and the “North”. From now till the 23rd of February, 2012, voting is open for civil society observers to the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF). Selected CSO representatives will attend FCPF meetings, and will be expected to coordinate civil society views within their regions and share their opinions as an observer who has voice, but not vote, at the Participants Committee. Observers should have a strong understanding of the REDD+ policy and issues, as well as good networks with community-based and grassroots organizations in their regions. CSO voters are to vote according to their own region, which is a first in this bi-annual selection process. Read more and apply here


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