Forest Carbon News May 13, 2015

By Evan Neyland


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May 13, 2015    

From the Editors

The Ecosystem Marketplace's Forest Carbon News
Tracking Terrestrial Carbon

One of Africa's largest REDD+ projects, the Kulera Landscape Reduced Emissions for Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+) Program in Malawi, has officially made its first sale of carbon offsets to software giant Microsoft. These Verified Carbon Standard-certified offsets will go towards reducing Microsoft's net emissions while the revenue will help reduce deforestation in protected areas and finance home-building projects in rural Malawi.


The sale marks an important step in the project's transition from donor-backing to a results-based finance model. Initially financed by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the project now is part of a broad value chain made up of foreign public donors, private buyers, local community associations and Malawi's Department of Parks and Wildlife. Together these groups protect three areas under significant risk of deforestation: Nyika National Park, Vwaza Marsh Wildlife Reserve, and Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve.


The Microsoft sale brings more than money, however. The tech giant, which has implemented an internal carbon fee and has long been a fan and supporter of forestry projects, will also provide the project with its mobile phone technology


"These phones will help us achieve our goals of easing communication and will have an added benefit of reducing fuel costs by allowing us to share critical information with communities that are many kilometers away," said James Sadalaki, Chairman of the Nkhotakota Community Association. 


The Kulera Program covers nearly half a million hectares, and improves the livelihood of more than 300,000 people in 800 villages across Malawi. The program is one of only three projects in the world to achieve triple gold recognition for its social, biodiversity and adaption benefits under the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Standard.  


During its first four years of existence, Kulera has reduced emissions amounting to more than one million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e).

More stories from the forest carbon markets are summarized below, so keep reading!

—The Ecosystem Marketplace Team

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Calling all suitors for a strong arranged marriage  
With 1.6 billion people worldwide depending on forests for basic needs, it is critical to have a concerted effort to address forest-related sustainable development goals and climate change, said Jan Eliasson, Deputy Secretary-General of the UN. Eliasson called for a stronger International Arrangement on Forests. "The post-2015 agenda calls on us to leave no one behind. The sustainable management of forests – in partnership with those who live in the forest regions – will be critical for meeting our ambition to eradicate poverty in all its forms." He sees a July conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia resulting in a framework to finance these efforts.  


The forest gift that keeps on giving
Guyana received another $40 million from Norway last week for maintaining low deforestation rates and improving forest governance. This marks the 5th consecutive payment Guyana has received from Norway, which has provided $190 million out of a potential $250 million payment. Only Brazil has earned more from a bilateral REDD+ partnership. Guyana's rate of deforestation has declined by 14% from 2012 levels and the country is discussing another 5-year partnership with Norway. 


Missouri strikes gold
The Conservation Fund's Go Zero program has been awarded Gold Level verification by the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Alliance for its third reforestation project at Mingo National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) near Puxico, Missouri. The project is funded by a host of individual and corporate donors, including big names like Dell, U-Haul International, L'Oréal and Travelocity, interested in offsetting their own emissions. Since 2010, with the help of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, The Conservation Fund has restored 367 acres of Missouri woodlands at Mingo NWR, or in carbon terms, has taken in 100,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide. "Verification demonstrates Go Zero's commitment to delivering the climate, community and biodiversity benefits our donors and partners expect," said Carrie Gombos, The Conservation Fund's director of carbon compliance.
Putting the carbon in community
The Cheakamus Community Forest (CCF) will now be able to sell carbon offsets under an agreement reached with the Canadian province of British Columbia (BC). Of the CCF's more than 30,000 hectares, about 15,000 hectares are protected through legal and voluntary mechanisms from being commercially harvested. The nearby Resort Municipality of Whistler has previously purchased carbon offsets from other parties to counterbalance its emissions, but can now buy directly from its CCF partners: the Lil'wat and Squamish First Nations. The project has about 12,500 offsets – verified under the BC Forest Carbon Offset Protocol – available for purchase through Brinkman Climate at $25 per tonne until May 31. 
Happy campers
By purchasing offsets from the nearby Lower Zambezi REDD+ Project, two safari camps within Zambia's Lower Zambezi National Park (LZNP) may have become Africa's first carbon neutral campsites. Chiawa Camp and Old Mondoro chose to purchase local offsets because of their own vested interest in protecting the LZNP. The Lower Zambezi REDD+ Project is also Climate, Community & Biodiversity Standard triple gold certified for its role in enhancing local communities and biodiversity. Revenue from the offsets will go towards a host of conservation, carbon accounting and community services within the project's boundaries. 


Removing chainsaws out of supply chains
Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), the world's third largest agricultural commodity provider, has implemented a no-deforestation policy across its supply chain. But ADM's new commitment will largely target its soy producers, unlike previous sustainability pledges by large agro-commodity traders such as Wilmar that focused mainly on palm oil production. Soy has received less attention than palm oil in the fight against deforestation yet estimates show that 50%-70% of soy exports have resulted in forest loss in Latin America. Private corporate actions such as ADM's commitment may be necessary as research shows that farmers are five times more likely to violate governmental policy than they are to violate private sector agreements on deforestation. 
Another "+" standard
The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) recently announced more stringent voluntary standards, RSPO+, on issues of deforestation, peat land development and indigenous people's rights. The announcement comes at a time of growing corporate awareness of deforestation liabilities and trend towards sustainable supply chains. Some environmentalists have said that RSPO's previous standards were "too weak," while some companies on the other side of the fence have protested the cost of the guidelines. Darrel Webber, Secretary-General of the RSPO, said: "We are confident that this addendum will promote the work of growers who have decided to move faster in their sustainability practices, while making sure we keep everyone on board and travel together towards market transformation". 


Pooled funds shallow on finance
National forest funds (NFF) – financing mechanisms managed by public institutions and designed to support the conservation and sustainable use of forest resources – can play a critical role in supporting targeted forest investments, according to a new publication by the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization titled Towards effective national forest funds. As of 2014, 70 NFFs were operating globally and nine more were in the process of being established. Carefully designed NFFs can help harmonize investment streams from multiple donors, including within the framework of national REDD+ programs. However, many existing funds have struggled to achieve financial stability while some exist only on paper, according to the publication. 


Door to door offset sales
Despite the many difficulties in finding voluntary buyers for carbon offsets, the Tolo River community's Choco-Darién Forest Conservation REDD project and its developer Anthrotect have proven that hard work pays off. After what was described as a "never-ending process" of sales pitches, Anthrotect has now recorded sales with Independence Drilling, a local oil services company, and with additional help from retailers and brokers, has sold nearly all of the project's current supply of offsets. Located in the remote rainforests of Chocó, Columbia, the project has brought more than just a source of income to the Tolo community. "Our organization gives power to the people, not cash," says Everildys Córdoba, the project coordinator.
Forests contribute to the chaos theory
"There's a need to take political instability around the world far more seriously when devising strategies for protecting our planet," argued Paul Steinberg, a Professor of Political Science and Environmental Policy at Harvey Mudd College, in Geographical magazine. Today, tropical forests are predominantly located in developing countries, where political chaos and the rate of party turnover is high: 111 successful military coups took place in 36% of countries eligible for REDD+ funding between 1971 and 2009. Implementing conservation efforts across a more diverse political portfolio may be one solution to the problem while placing a premium on payments for ecosystem services from stable states could be another. 


Digging for gold
The Gold Standard's recently approved Low Tillage Methodology aims to reduce emissions from agricultural soils by changing tillage systems. The standard is applicable across a wide range of agricultural practices and provides flexibility and feasibility for project developers lacking precise data. Cropping systems must have been active for at least five years for the methodology to apply and projects located on wetlands will not be eligible. Project participants must also demonstrate other motivations besides carbon offsets to qualify for accreditation. 


Palm reading reveals missing carbon
For years climate models have been unable to account for a portion of Earth's annual carbon dioxide emissions. Now scientists think they have found what they have been looking for. A new study out of the Imperial College London has revealed that partially logged rainforests may be producing far more emissions via decomposing dead wood than previously thought. Primary researchers accredit palm oil production and selective logging as the sources of these newfound emissions, although more data is needed before quantifiable conclusions can be made. These findings could mean that current models have so far overestimated existing forests' ability to sequester carbon.


What's carbon right is right
The Center for International Forestry Research recently released two separate case studies on carbon rights in REDD+ countries and the effects of shifting cultivation on deforestation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The first study reviewed different allocation methods for distributing carbon rights within the REDD+ framework in several different countries and concluded that while defining carbon rights is a precondition for successful REDD+ projects, ownership can be complicated due to vague pre-existing property rights. The second assessment found the DRC's high national deforestation rate is mostly confined to urban areas and that shifting cultivation is not a significant driver of forest loss and degradation. 


Forest Carbon Analyst - Finite Carbon
Based in Wayne, Pennsylvania, the Forest Carbon Analyst will work with Finite Carbon's existing team of foresters to assist in the project development phase as the company expands its compliance carbon offset project portfolio in the United States and Canada. The Forest Carbon Analyst will help manage forest databases, configure growth and yield models and conduct geographic information system (GIS) analyses. The successful candidate will have a bachelor's or master's in forestry or a closely related field; a minimum of one to two years of experience related to carbon offset standards and protocols and/or carbon markets; and a minimum of one to two years of experience in forestry consulting.
-Read more about the position here
Forest Inventory Analyst - GreenWood Resources 
Based in Portland, Oregon, the Forest Inventory Analyst will be responsible for working with the other members of the Resource Planning & Analysis group to provide inventory support along with basic GIS support to fulfill needs across GreenWood Resources, Inc. The successful candidate will have a minimum of a master's degree in forest management, biometrics or silviculture; an understanding of the fundamental principles of forest management and analysis; and strong technical skills with relational databases and forest records.
-Read more about the position here
Environment and Biodiversity Expert (EBE) - Winrock International
Based in Madagascar, the Environment and Biodiversity Expert will be a key component of USAID's natural resource management and biodiversity portfolio in Madagascar. The EBE will work with project team and partners to implement an integrated program that supports improved environmental governance, payment for ecosystem services, reduced deforestation and biodiversity conservation. The successful candidate will have an advanced degree in a relevant field, a minimum of seven years of experience implementing donor-funded environment and biodiversity projects and experience working with USAID projects.
-Read more about the position here
Foundations Manager - Rainforest Action Network (RAN)
Based in California, the Foundations Manager will share responsibility to fulfill RAN's Foundation revenues and support the Development Director by overseeing all aspects of Foundations from budget to actuals tracking, research, prospecting, and building the pipeline of potential unrestricted institutional funders. The successful candidate will have superior writing and editing skills; have excellent project management skills; and have a proven track record of soliciting grants from foundations in the six to seven figures range.
-Read more about the position here
Trade and Policy Analyst - Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA)
Based in Washington, D.C., the Trade and Policy Analyst will be responsible for developing and implementing strategies to halt illegal logging and improve forest governance globally, with particular emphasis on the Eurasia region, as well as conduct investigations of forest-related crimes and supply chains tracking illegal timber. The successful candidate will have strong language skills in verbal and written Mandarin, Japanese, Russian, Spanish and/or French; a master's in economics, business, finance or international trade; and experience in advocacy and campaigns at the national or international level.
-Read more about the position here
Forest Campaign Manager - Bank Information Center
Based in Washington, D.C., the Forest Campaign Manager will oversee implementation of a research project focused on understanding developing finance flows that impact forests and lead a campaign to strengthen forest-related standards and practices at the International Finance Corporation. The successful candidate will have a strong understanding of key forest issues and drivers of deforestation; be pro-active with the ability to reach out and work with Civil Society Organization groups, forest communities, World Bank Group decision makers, donors, and other stakeholders; and have strong communication skills.
-Read more about the position here
Team Leader, Global Forests and Sustainable Land Use Program - GRM International
Based in London, United Kingdom, the Team Leader will closely engage with the Department for International Development on development projects, host governments in priority countries and regions, private sector and public sector organizations and NGOs. The successful candidate will have a minimum of a bachelor's in social sciences or business; 15 years of experience in international forestry, land use or commodity trade policy; and relevant experience in sustainability markets and supply chains for agricultural or forest commodities associated with deforestation.
-Read more about the position here


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