Forest Carbon News - November 25, 2014


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November 25, 2014    

From the Editors

The Ecosystem Marketplace's Forest Carbon News
Tracking Terrestrial Carbon

Protecting the world's forests has gained greater visibility as countries battle the often deadly consequences of a warming climate. Demand for carbon offsets earned from forest protection or renewal grew 17% last year as companies and governments invested $192 million in efforts to plant trees, improve forest management, support "climate-smart" agriculture, or avoid deforestation, according to Ecosystem Marketplace's State of the Forest Carbon Markets 2014 report. The report was launched to a full house on November 21 at the World Bank and is available for download here.


The forest carbon market surpassed a critical milestone last year by topping $1 billion in cumulative value. "That brings up the big question of whether $1 billion is enough, and the obvious answer is no," said Allie Goldstein, Ecosystem Marketplace's Forest Carbon Associate and co-author of this year's report. "Although deforestation rates have declined since the early 2000s, deforestation and other land-use change still accounts for 14% of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) in the world. That's more than fossil fuel use in Africa, Central and South America combined."


Though global markets for offsets from agriculture, forestry, and other land-use projects transacted 32.7 million tonnes (MtCO2e) in 2013, tying 2010 for the highest demand, these offsets were sold at an average of $5.2 per tonne – down from $7.8 per tonne in 2012 – as offset issuances more than tripled. Though private sector buyers hailed from diverse industries on almost every continent, only 11% of buyers were "new" to the market in 2013, indicating that the influx of supply was not met by a corresponding influx of demand.


More than 80% of offsets transacted from projects that reduce emissions from deforestation (REDD), and the majority of those were sourced from Latin America, with Brazil and Peru alone supplying more than half of forest carbon offsets globally. Avoided deforestation projects now cover almost 30 million hectares, about the size of the forest area of Malaysia.


An early example of public sector "payment-for-performance" for REDD was evidenced in the state of Acre, Brazil, which secured a $40 million agreement with German development bank KfW for 8 MtCO2e in emissions reductions. Dozens of other jurisdictional REDD programs are under development. 


"What we are seeing is definitely a shift in focus toward going to a jurisdictional scale and going to scale," said Ellysar Baroudy, Lead Carbon Finance Specialist for the World Bank, which manages several funds dedicated to supporting efforts to implement national REDD+ programs on several continents.


Voluntary offset buyers purchased the majority (89%) of forest carbon offsets in 2013, led by energy utilities and food and beverage companies seeking to meet corporate social responsibility commitments or demonstrate industry leadership on climate change. Compliance-driven buyers in California and Australia purchased the remaining tonnes, but emerging carbon pricing regulations in places such as China and South Africa – as well as the scale-up of California's cap-and-trade program – could carve a larger role for compliance markets in the future.


Developers and other stakeholders are also carefully watching the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) process to see what kind of policy signals emerge from the next round of Conference of Parties (COP) negotiations in Lima next month and in Paris in 2015. Agreement on the REDD Rulebook – the guidance on how to harvest available data on forests to create deforestation levels to be recognized by the UNFCCC – at last year's Warsaw COP was a positive development, but only a first step, said Rick Saines, Principal with law firm Baker and McKenzie.


"We're not there yet on REDD to actually create the means by which financing, public and private, can really invest at the scale so that when we meet in a few years from now we're not talking about $200 million – we're talking exponentially greater than that," he said. "That's what the promise is. That's what the obligation is of all of us in the space to make sure it happens."


Inquiries about the report can be directed to the report co-authors Allie Goldstein ( and Gloria Gonzalez ( Also look for us at the Global Landscapes Forum in Lima on December 6th, where we will be launching the Spanish-language Executive Summary and talking more about the report findings.


More news from the forest carbon markets is summarized below, so keep reading!

—The Ecosystem Marketplace Team

If you have comments or would like to submit news stories, write to us at

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Ponying up

New commitments of $1.5 billion by Japan and $3 billion by the United States last week raise the total funds committed to the Green Climate Fund (GCF) to $7.5 billion. The fund was established under the UNFCCC with the goal of leveraging $100 billion from developed country governments for mitigation and adaptation efforts through 2020. Some of this money could flow to REDD efforts. The new pledges come on the heels of a major carbon-cutting deal by China and the U.S., the world's largest two emitters. China pledged to reach peak carbon emissions by 2030 and the U.S. agreed to limit emissions at least 26% under 2005 levels by 2025.



California's scarlet letter

The California Air Resources Board's (ARB) decision to invalidate 88,955 ozone-depleting substances (ODS) offsets generated from the Clean Harbors Incineration Facility in Arkansas may create more interest in forest carbon offsets as buyers shift their perception of risk, market participants say. But project developers also criticized the ARB for invalidating offsets because of a regulatory technicality that was not related to the integrity of the emissions reductions – and expressed concerns that forest projects could also face invalidation. The ODS invalidation "could be the most important topic affecting California offsets right now," said Kevin Townsend, Chief Commercial Officer of Blue Source. "This is immensely important for all California offset types, including forestry." 



An enchanted forest

The community of San Juan Lachao has launched the first pilot project under the Climate Action Reserve's (CAR) Mexico forest protocol, first approved in October 2013. The project will improve forest management across 25,000 hectares, provide 30 direct jobs (and 150 indirect jobs) to the Chatina indigenous community, and generate 20,000 offsets per year. Developed with the assistance of environmental nonprofit Pronatura, Walt Disney is providing financial assistance to get the pilot off the ground. "We developed it to be adaptable to Mexico's REDD+ program as a nested project in the future," said John Nickerson, CAR's Director of Forestry. Disney's internal carbon tax has generated more than $48 million for carbon offset and other projects. 


Bao Bao gets her cake and eats it too

Baby panda Bao Bao of Washington, DC's National Zoo celebrated her first birthday this fall with an apple juice cake. She is one of 2,000 giant pandas alive today. In China's Sichuan Province, an improved cookstove project developed by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), South Pole Carbon, and the Mamize Nature Reserve aims to cut firewood use by up to 70% and protect the tenuous habitat of four wild pandas. Swiss grocery giant Coop purchased the carbon offsets to be generated by the initial 1,600 stoves distributed in Mamize. The stoves reduce indoor air pollution and villagers' firewood collection time and are projected to save 225 hectares of forest per year.


Getting all their ducks in a row

Chevrolet has purchased the first-ever verified carbon offsets from the avoided conversion of at-risk grasslands to cultivation. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the automaker's purchase of 40,000 offsets from a project that spans six counties within the Prairie Pothole Region of North Dakota. Ducks Unlimited and the American Carbon Registry (ACR) developed the grasslands methodology with support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Prairie landscapes are important for wildlife habitat, especially ducks, and for livestock grazing. "This public-private partnership demonstrates how much can be achieved with a modest federal investment and a strong commitment to cut carbon pollution," said Vilsack.


A model train company

Norfolk Southern, a U.S. railroad company, has received the first 10,000 offsets from its 3-year-old Trees and Trains initiative. The offsets, verified and registered by ACR, are generated through the company's $5.6 million investment to reforest 10,000 acres in the Mississippi Delta. The project is expected to generate 1.1 MtCO2e of offsets through its 15-year cycle, about one fifth of Norfolk's annual GHG emissions from its diesel-burning locomotives. This winter, developer GreenTrees will begin its fourth planting season as part of a 5-year collaboration with Norfolk to restore six million native cottonwood and hardwood trees. The railroad is GreenTrees' largest corporate partner in its goal to reforest one million acres in the Mississippi Alluvial Valley.



Send them to the principal's office

Members of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) that have not submitted documentation of their progress to the organization for three consecutive years will be expelled if they do not produce the documents within six weeks. The ultimatum applies to 5% of RSPO members that have been out of touch for that long, though 40% of all members are behind on documentation. "This is not acceptable. RSPO is not a club where payment of membership fees is enough to secure a seat at the table," said RSPO chairman Biswaranjan Sen at the 12th Annual Roundtable last week.



From Warsaw to Arusha

The 13th Policy Board Meeting of the United Nations' REDD Programme rang in new donor pledges of $11 million from Norway and $600,000 from Spain. Held in Arusha, Tanzania, the meeting was attended by more than 100 participants representing 20 REDD+ countries. "Norway's expectations are that these funds will allow for scaled-up activity on the Warsaw Framework for REDD+ and financially support a few select countries to achieve REDD+ National Programmes," said Morten Nordskag, Deputy Director of Norway's International Climate and Forests Initiative. Policy Board members also approved the allocation of $5.4 million in REDD readiness funds – about $3.6 million to Honduras and $1.8 million to Uganda.



In cold blood

"They may have killed my father and his friends, but I am still here," Diana Rios Rengifo told a crowd in New York City as she accepted an award from the Alexander Soros Foundation in honor of her father Edwin Chota. Chota and his colleagues Leoncio Quincima Melendez, Jorge Rios Perez, and Francisco Pineda – all members of the Asháninka people of the Amazon – were murdered in Peru in September, likely by illegal loggers. A recent Global Witness report reveals that a total of 57 "defenders of the environment" have been killed in Peru since 2002. Rengifo traveled outside of her country for the first time to accept the award.



The atmosphere's leaky plumbing

While eliminating deforestation has the potential to prevent 77 billion tCO2e of emissions through 2100, it wouldn't solve the problem, according to new research published in Nature Climate Change. Expanding agriculture into habitats other than forests could still produce 96 billion tCO2e by the end of the century. "Our study shows that, without further management, a global implementation of forest conservation schemes could lead to a new type of carbon leakage," said lead author Alexander Popp. The findings suggest that REDD+ might be expanded to include important non-forest ecosystems such as wet savannahs. The overarching challenge will be to grow more food on less land as the global population reaches at least nine billion people.


3D glasses for forests

A new laser instrument developed by NASA called Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation (GEDI) will use Lidar technology to measure the biomass of standing forests. GEDI will send out about 16 billion laser pulses every year to create 3D maps of forest architecture that differentiate leaves from branches and trunks. The technology will be complete by 2018 and will scan most tropical and temperate forests between 50 degrees north and 50 degrees south latitude. "GEDI Lidar will have a tremendous impact on our ability to monitor forest degradation, adding to the critical data needed to mitigate the effects of climate change," said Patrick O'Shea, chief research officer at the University of Maryland.



A beneficial union

In a nod to the rising attention paid to the community and biodiversity outcomes of carbon offset projects, the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) assumed the day-to-day management of the Climate, Carbon and Biodiversity (CCB) Standards last week. More than 70% of forest carbon offsets developed under VCS also pursued certification with CCB, according to the State of the Forest Carbon Markets 2014 report. Though project developers "should expect no immediate changes," the transfer of management should eventually increase efficiency and reduce transaction costs. "Corporate buyers are really placing an increasing importance on non-carbon benefits," said David Antonioli, VCS's Chief Executive Officer. "At the end of the day, that's often what's creating demand."



Walking the talk?

One hundred and sixty-two companies with market capitalization of $3.2 trillion "demonstrate an understanding of the imperative to tackle deforestation by responding to CDP's forests program," according to the organization's Global Forests Report 2014, released this month. Wilmar International's no-deforestation pledge alone could prevent the emission of 1.5 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide by 2020, and the commitments of the New York Declaration on Forests, if fulfilled, could cut another 4.5 to 8.8 billion tCO2e per year, the report finds. However, implementation of pledges remains inconsistent across commodities and supply chains. At least half of the companies claiming to have already achieved 100% sustainable palm oil are relying on GreenPalm certificates rather than procuring sustainable materials.



Forest and Land Use Officer – Green Climate Fund

Based in Incheon, Korea, the Forest and Land Use Officer will develop the pipeline and oversee the portfolio of forest, agriculture, and other land use projects while providing thoughtful leadership on REDD+ financing. The position requires a master's degree in natural resource management, economics, environment or another related field; at least five years of relevant work experience; and in-depth knowledge of REDD+ and climate change in developing countries. Fluency in English is essential; knowledge of another United Nations language is an advantage.

Read more about the position here


Africa Forests Associate, Global Forests Watch – World Resources Institute

Based in Washington, DC, the Africa Forests Associate will support Global Forest Watch's activities in East and West Africa, with a focus on Liberia and Madagascar. The position requires providing regular technical, analytical, communication and strategic support to staff  and leading the production of policy-relevant research. The ideal candidate will have a master's degree in geography, environmental science, natural resource management or a related field; a minimum of 2-4 years of experience; and significant hands-on experience managing natural resources in Africa. Fluency in French is required and candidates must be willing to travel 20% of the time.

Read more about the position here


Head of Forest Conservation, Forests for Life Programme – WWF

Based at any office within WWF's global network, the Head of Forest Conservation will lead the strategy for the Forests for Life Programme and manage programmatic staff. The position requires at least 15 years of relevant work experience with a track record of leadership in forest conservation, rural development or the global forest products industry, as well as proven experience as an effective senior manager working within a decentralized, multi-national network.

Read more about the position here


Tenure Analyst – Rights and Resources Initiative

Based in Washington, DC, the Tenure Analyst will be responsible for conducting and managing original, high-quality research on forest and land tenure, climate, conservation and women's rights in the world's developing and forested countries. The ideal candidate will have an advanced degree in environmental or human rights law, geography, economics or a related discipline; at least 5-6 years of professional experience researching land tenure issues; and exceptional writing and communication skills. Fluency in English is required; fluency in Spanish and/or French is strongly preferred.

Read more about the position here


Director, Communications and Policy – American Forest Foundation (AFF)

Based in Washington, DC, the Director of Communications and Policy will develop and implement political strategies on a set of assigned woodland policy issues. This may include direct lobbying, "grassroots" advocacy, and establishing and maintaining a presence on Capitol Hill to accomplish AFF's public policy goals. The successful candidate will demonstrate a clear passion for the AFF mission and can easily build and foster new working relationships on behalf of AFF.

Read more about the position here




The Forest Carbon Portal provides relevant daily news, a bi-weekly news brief, feature articles, a calendar of events, a searchable member directory, a jobs board, a library of tools and resources. The Portal also includes the Forest Carbon Project Inventory, an international database of projects including those in the pipeline. Projects are described with consistent 'nutrition labels' and allow viewers to contact project developers.



Ecosystem Marketplace is a project of Forest Trends, a tax-exempt corporation under Section 501(c)3. This newsletter and other dimensions of our voluntary carbon markets program are funded by a series of international development agencies, philanthropic foundations, and private sector organizations. For more information on donating to Ecosystem Marketplace, please contact 


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San Juan Lachao
San Juan Lachao

On the coast of Oaxaca, Mexico, cloud forests surround San Juan Lachao, home to 4,531 members of the Chatina community. Historically, the forests have been harvested for paper production and left vulnerable to wildfires. The San Juan Lachao forest carbon project, developed by the Climate Action Reserve (CAR) and Pronatura and financed by The Walt Disney Company, hopes to reverse these drivers of deforestation by providing economic opportunity for implementing improved forest management techniques. The 25,000-hectare project will directly employ 30 people and reduce 20,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions annually. It is the first project developed under CAR’s Mexico Forest Protocol.  




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