This Week in Forest Carbon: Where is REDD moving?

REDD may still be at a standstill in Indonesia, but there is positive news coming out of the United Nations REDD Program.  UN-REDD released its five-year strategic plan, and  Nigeria is finalizing its readiness proposal to submit to the UN-REDD policy.  More news inside this week’s Forest Carbon news.

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.

8 March 2011 | Let us first give a big thanks to all of our readers who encouraged others or participated directly in our latest survey round for the next State of the Forest Carbon Markets and State of the Voluntary Carbon Markets reports!   A preliminary count of responses we’ve received to date indicates we’ve more than doubled the number of project developers participating in our forest report this year, including new eyebrow-raising details about the current and near-term supply of forest carbon credits.   We look forward to sharing the findings with you in the coming months.

On to the news, we’re seeing the US Congress and President go back and forth on budget cuts, and the $1 billion the US pledged for REDD+ back in Copenhagen is still somewhere in the fog.   Republicans are keen to backtrack and put the landmark commitment on the chopping block.

VCS, now officially the Verified Carbon Standard, has approved a new methodology for Improved Forest Management developed by GreenCollar Climate Solutions to intervene in forests slated for commercial logging.   This makes the seventh forest methodology VCS has approved, all of which have been finalized within the past 10 months.

The UN-REDD Programme continues marching onwards, with the release of a five-year strategic plan, including expansion to additional countries to support REDD+ Readiness. In Nigeria, the national government convened stakeholders to help finalize the country’s Readiness Proposal which was invited for submission this month to the UN-REDD Policy Board.

As always, read on for all this and more of the latest news and events in this, latest edition of Ecosystem Marketplace’s Forest Carbon News Brief.

—The Ecosystem Marketplace Team

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


International Policy

UN-REDD, the Next Five Years

The UN-REDD Programme has released its first five-year strategy defining the Programme’s role in building capacity and directing finance for UN-REDD activities from 2011 through 2015. The document includes the vision, mission and objectives of the Programme as well as its key work areas and intended outcomes. The strategy also mentions support for up to an additional 20 countries for REDD+ Readiness. View a synopsis from UN-REDD’s newsletter here or download the PDF directly here. Read media coverage about the strategy in La Cronica De Hoy here (translated into English here )

US Policy

Budget Proposals Diverge on Forest Funding

Both parties have released their proposed budgets for fiscal year 2012. The Obama Administration’s budget proposed around $350 million for forest finance, up from $169 million in 2010, while the Republican budget has proposed cutting funding to around $100 million. A year ago, the Obama Administration pledge at the Copenhagen to provide $1 billion for short-term forest finance over three years and is now working to fulfill the pledge. Read commentary about the forest finance figures from NRDC here and from Grist here and here.


The US Experience with Forest PES

A new joint publication from Ecosystem Marketplace, Duke University, and the US Forest Service reviews the major experiences from the federal government and private landowners pursuing compensation for forest and other land-use conservation activities. The report covers the major development of forest conservation compensation schemes, and indicates the total support for forest-based PES programs reached just under $2 billion in 2007, with about one-fifth coming from government sources. Forest carbon offsets remain the smallest source of revenue among programs which most commonly supported a “bundle” of forest services, including conservation easements, hunting fees, and conservation and wetland mitigation banks. Access the joint report here

Focusing on Southern Forests

Logan Yonavjak and Todd Gartner of the World Resources Institute’s Southern Forests for the Future program contributed a new guest commentary covering the values stemming from the forests of the US South, and the business case for maintaining forest health, particularly relating to keeping up the region’s water quality. The article touches on the major findings of a new report from WRI, “Forests for Water: Exploring Payments for Watershed Services in the U.S. South.” Read the feature article here and access the full report here.


Project Development

Moving Past Those Awkward Teenage Years

Looking back over the first 20 years of forest carbon markets, Forest Trends’ Directors of the Katoomba Group (Sissel Waage) and Ecosystem Marketplace (Kate Hamilton) distill the experiences across the marketplace based on interviews with leading market players and project developers. From the emergence of standards and the issues of overcoming uncertainty in financing and policy contexts, see what the movers and shakers of the forest carbon world had to say about their growing pains from the bleeding edge of the forest carbon market. Check out a brief article about the report here, and access all the details for yourself in the full report here.

Timber/Carbon Tradeoffs for Oregon State Forest

Portland-based non-profit Ecotrust recently concluded a study evaluating the potential of Oregon’s Elliot State Forest to store carbon while still producing timber. In the scenario without harvesting, the researchers found the State Forest could store an amount of carbon by 2050 equivalent to 70% of Oregon’s current annual emissions; a reduction in harvesting by 25% (10 million boardfeet) would be equivalent to taking 10,000 cars off the road for a year. Read the press release on Business Wire here and download the report (PDF) here.


Strategy and Capacity-Building

Somehow, Someday, Somewhere… a Moratorium

In Indonesia, the President is still waiting to sign a decree into law that formalizes the moratorium on logging concessions. The moratorium had originally been scheduled to begin January 1 2011. Greenpeace International now estimates the draft decree submitted by the Ministry of Forestry would protect around 42 million hectares of forest, rather than the 60 million hectares the Ministry itself estimated. Several lawmakers from Indonesia’s Parliament have also criticized international NGOs agitating for the declaration considering governments such as the United States still wait to act on reducing their own emissions. Read more about the land protection estimates in the Jakarta Post here and Eco-Business here or see Greenpeace Indonesia’s moratorium analysis here (translated into English here). Read in Kompas about lawmakers’ criticism of International NGOs here (translated into English here).

Nigeria Nears Completion of REDD+ Readiness Plan

Stakeholders met in Nigeria last week to discuss the country’s REDD+ Readiness Proposal under the UN-REDD Programme. The workshop was held primarily to gather stakeholder input about the first draft of the plan, which contains a two year road-map on how Nigeria plans to build capacity for monitoring, reporting, and verification, stakeholder engagement, and awareness of forest co-benefits. Much of the REDD efforts in Nigeria will focus on the Cross River State, a region that contains most of Nigeria’s tropical forests, but the Environment Minister has called on all states to participate in the program. Check out Ecosystem Marketplace’s coverage of the pioneering efforts in Cross River State here. Read recaps about the National Validation Workshop in Abuja at the Daily Independent here.

I’ve Got a Golden Ticket

Environmental NGOs are embracing the spirit of a new conservation plan from one of Indonesia’s largest palm oil producers as a major step forward to reducing Indonesia’s deforestation and related carbon emissions. Golden Agri-Resources, a subsidiary of Sinar Mas, has teamed up with The Forest Trust and the Indonesian government to reduce their impact on forests and peat-lands by developing plantations in areas with lower carbon content and lower conservation value. Read more about the plan from IRIN news here.

UK Abandons Plans to Sell-off Forests

Leaders of the Tory party in Britain’s Parliament have given up on plans to sell state-owned forest land after facing a public backlash. The Tories had initially proposed to sell 150-year leases on forests across England, but a study released by the UK Forestry Commission found that the sale would likely result in lost government revenue over the next twenty years. The Environment Secretary issued a public apology in the House of Commons for proposing the sell-off. Read more about the story in the Guardian here.

Building a Green Foundation in Rwanda

Rwanda is drawing up an action plan including a Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative that will evaluate the state of the country’s forests, grasslands and wetlands so that the country can develop agriculture and the economy in a sustainable way. With first pledges of support already coming in from the Global Environment Facility, the Rwandan Government expects the action plan, supported by members from the Global Partnership on Forest Landscape Restoration including the UN Forum on Forests and IUCN, to be completed by this summer. Read more about the plan on CIFOR’s Forests Blog here.

Finance & Economics

Kiwis Look Outside the NZETS for Offsets

The New Zealand spot market has been relatively quiet recently as buyers have been choosing the slightly more expensive CERs over New Zealand’s own carbon credits. The CERs are believed to be more attractive to New Zealand buyers because they qualify under the broader Kyoto Protocol as well as the New Zealand ETS, and therefore can be traded on a larger, more liquid market at an uncapped price. Read more from Bloomberg here.

Methodology & Standards Watch

New IFM Methodology Sprouts at VCS

The VoluntaryVerified (as of March 1!) Carbon Standard has approved the use of a new Improved Forest Management methodology from GreenCollar Climate Solutions. Covering the conversion of forests from logged to protected areas, read more about the latest VCS methodology on the standard’s website here.

Science & Technology Review

A Sophisticated Heat Beam Which We Called a “Laser”

Although we’re not quite at the point of mounting these things onto sharks, laser technology has found its way onto airplanes and is already being used for forest carbon projects around the world. LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) has been receiving growing interest as a method for estimating the amount of carbon stored in forests, and is reviewed in a new article in V1 Magazine with an introduction to the technology and a brief case study of LiDAR’s application in a forest project in Indonesia. Read more here.

Vines Across the Americas

Scientists from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama and Wageningen University in the Netherlands have published a meta-analysis on the distribution of vines across the Americas for the journal Ecology Letters. The survey collected data from eight previous studies and found that vine abundance and biomass is increasing in forests. The scientists warn that the trend could lead to drier forests and further carbon dioxide emissions. Learn more about the study from the Los Angeles Times here, and read the abstract or full article online here.

Carbon Loves Me, Carbon Loves Me Not

The Department of Plant Biology and Ecology at the University of Sevilla in Spain has identified several tree and shrub species that are particularly efficient at capturing and storing CO2 in urban green spaces, as well as those that are not at the top of the heap. Read more at Info Region here (translated into English here.

Publications & Tools

Good Governing for REDD+

The U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre has published a report on forest-governance and corruption issues relevant for REDD. The report draws evidence from field projects about how REDD can best be implemented while addressing forest-governance and corruption issues. Find “REDD Integrity: Addressing governance and corruption challenges in schemes for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation” on U4’s website here.

Put On Your Thinking Cap

The UN REDD Programme has launched a “UN-REDD Report” series to explore REDD+ issues and potential solutions in-depth through two or three “think-pieces” each year. Check out the news release in the UN-REDD newsletter here and download the first report “Agriculture Expansion and Deforestation” here (PDF).

FAO Releases State of the World’s Forests 2011

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization released its biennial State of the World’s Forests report in February. The 2011 report is the FAO’s ninth in a series and covers a range of topics, including regional assessments of forest resources, drivers of deforestation, the role of climate change, and the local value of forests. Click here to go to the report’s website and here (PDF) to download the report directly.

Study Attempts to Price Carbon in Papau New Guinea

A report out by University of Queensland visiting fellow Colin Hunt examines the opportunity costs that Papua New Guinea stakeholders face by foregoing further deforestation for logging and palm oil plantations. The paper helps inform policymakers of the level of funding that may be necessary to compensate Papua New Guinea stakeholders for retaining carbon within their forests. Read an abstract of the report here and download the report as a PDF here.



Webinars from the Frontlines of Forest Carbon and REDD

Environmental Finance is hosting a series of events digging into the details of REDD+ including forest carbon project development and related strategies. With two webinars already completed, the remaining two webinars focus on the issues of developing and approving a forest carbon methodology, and the investors considerations for putting some money behind forest carbon. Check out the remaining two webinars Thursdays this month from Environmental Finance.

CDM EB Looking for Experts to Join AR Working Group

The Clean Development Mechanism’s Executive Board has issued a call for experts to join as members of the Afforestation and Reforestation Working Group (A/R WG) to replace outgoing members. The call for applications will be open for one month, ending on March, 21 at 18:00 GMT. Experts can apply by going to the application webpage on CDM’s website here.


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