Forest Carbon News May 27, 2015

By Evan Neyland

Forest Carbon News

Ecosystem Marketplace is an initiative of Forest TrendsView Archives
  Ecosystem Marketplace, Marketplace Mitigation Mail

May 27, 2015    

From the Editors

The Ecosystem Marketplace's Forest Carbon News 

Tracking Terrestrial Carbon

Though they came onto the voluntary carbon market scene just a few years ago, projects that reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) have quickly risen to become one of the most sought-after offset types, according to Ecosystem Marketplace's State of the Voluntary Carbon Markets 2015 report. 


For the first time, the report culls together over a decade of historical data to look at key trends in transaction volumes, prices, standard use, and other phenomena over time – with a focus on how the experience of the voluntary market has informed carbon pricing policies from California to South Africa.


Though you'll have to wait until June 3rd to get the details, we can tell you that forestry plays strongly in this narrative. Voluntary offset buyers are increasingly interested in the additional benefits that carbon projects provide in terms of job creation, biodiversity conservation, watershed protection and climate change adaptation – an interest that has accelerated the purchase of REDD offsets in recent years, according to Ecosystem Marketplace research. 


Also driving demand for REDD offsets are the government-to-government agreements in which the German and Norwegian governments are funding avoided deforestation in Brazil's Acre state and nationally in Ecuador and Colombia. Each country has the opportunity to earn up to $50 million for up to 10 million tonnes of emissions reductions due to forest protection. These "payments for performance" are not market-based per se, but they rely on traditional carbon market infrastructure and represent the kind of government-to-government deals that may become increasingly common as countries seek to preserve the world's remaining tropical forests. These REDD agreements were responsible for a substantial percentage of the overall market value in the voluntary carbon markets in 2014, the report will show. 


Watch for publication of the State of the Voluntary Carbon Markets 2015 report online or join Ecosystem Marketplace at the Sustainable Brands conference in San Diego on June 3rd where high-level findings from the report will be released. 


More stories from the forest carbon market are 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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Ecosystem Marketplace is seeking support for our forest carbon research. Our plans for 2015 include a joint report with Forest Trend's REDDX initiative bringing together new research from both programs to offer a comprehensive picture of forest carbon finance in 2015, to be released ahead of the United Nations (UN) climate negotiations in Paris. We're also diving into new research tracking the beyond-carbon impacts of land-use carbon projects – in particular how co-benefits are verified and how they influence demand. Our in-depth journalism will continue to cover major project and policy developments while exploring emerging topics such as indigenous REDD, carbon rights, and the connection between sustainable commodities and avoided deforestation. See our Forest Carbon Sponsorship Prospectus for more information.


Follow the leaders
Through the 'Under 2 MOU' signed this month, 11 subnational jurisdictions committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions between 80 to 95% below 1990 levels by 2050 or to achieving a per capita annual emissions target of less than two tonnes by the same year. The signatories are: the U.S. states of California, Oregon, Washington, and Vermont; the Canadian provinces of British Columbia and Ontario; the Mexican states of Baja California and Jalisco; the Brazilian state of Acre; Baden-Württemberg, Germany; Catalonia, Spain; and Wales, United Kingdom. The agreement is non-binding and largely symbolic (California already had its target in place) but continues a trend of cities and states demonstrating leadership ahead of the international climate negotiations in Paris.


The importance of being REDDy
Papua New Guinea (PNG) will continue to build capacity for REDD+ projects and promote sustainable forest management through its new Forest Carbon Partnership Facility project. PNG's tropical rainforests are some of the most intact and biologically diverse forests in the world and remain vital to local indigenous economies. The project is an extension of a United Nations Development Programme initiative that helped the PNG Office of Climate Change and Development and National Forest Authority establish support for REDD+ readiness activities. With a contribution of $3.8 million over three years from the World Bank, the project will now address sub-national programmatic issues to help PNG locales develop and carry out REDD+ initiatives.
Sri Lanka announced plans to protect all 8,815 hectares of its carbon-rich mangrove forests. The joint program is a collaboration between the Sri Lankan government, the Sri-Lankan based NGO Sudeesa and the U.S.-based NGO Seacology. It will cost an estimated $3.4 million over the next five years – money that will be used in part to provide microloans to 15,000 women living in coastal communities adjacent to the mangroves. The program also aims to replant 3,885 hectares of mangroves that have been cut down. Seacology has already raised half the amount needed. The project does not intend to use carbon finance, though there is growing interest in accounting for "blue carbon" as part of avoided deforestation strategies.
Freebies for Kiwis
New Zealand landowners can now receive direct payments for planting trees on their land under the national government's renewed Afforestation Grant Scheme (AGS). Participating landowners receive NZD$1,300 per hectare for up to 300 hectares of planted forests. In total, the government has allocated funding for the reforestation of 15,000 hectares. The previous program triggered the establishment of 12,000 hectares of forests between 2008 and 2012. Priority will be given to projects that would result in increased water quality or decreased erosion. All registered transactions under the new program also result in the landowner forfeiting his or her carbon rights for up to 10 years. 
No worm for early birds
At 9.6 million tonnes, forestry projects account for the largest volume of offsets issued by the California Air Resources Board (ARB) to date. The offsets come from 17 forestry projects, 10 of which were "early action" projects that transitioned from the voluntary to the compliance market. But project developers say the transition of these projects has been extremely slow, with early movers being penalized by being sent to the back of the line. They argue that the ARB wastes time by re-verifying offsets that have already been vetted under voluntary standards. "We feel like there is a little bit of duplication of efforts in this overall process to getting credits issued," said Roger Williams, President of Blue Source.


The magic kingdom in Mississippi
As part of its corporate sustainability initiative, Disney is partnering with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) to help restore 2,000 acres of forest along the Mississippi River Delta. In exchange for its financial contribution, Disney will receive voluntary carbon offsets over the life of the project. The goal is to use public-private funding to incentivize landowners to enter into conservation easements with TNC. The program has been getting more applications for easements than it can fund so Disney's commitment will help supply catch up with demand. The restored forests are expected to sequester more than 500,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide over the next 70 years.


Deadlines are made to be broken
Brazil has postponed the deadline for soy farmers to register their farms under the Rural Environmental Registration, a national initiative to stop deforestation in the Amazon within the soy industry, to May 2016. The new regulations will replace the voluntary commitments undertaken by soy market participants in 2006 to not grow, source or finance soy linked to post-2008 Amazonian deforestation. Replacement of the voluntary commitment, which has reduced soy-related deforestation by roughly 20-fold, risks defaulting on this progress as full regulation is likely years away. Meanwhile, soy stakeholders from around the world met in Brussels last week and pledged to increase the market supply of sustainable soy from its current 1.3 million tonnes to 10 million tonnes by 2017.
Bungled response
Shareholders of Bunge, one of the biggest agribusinesses in the world, did not approve a proposal to set quantitative, time-bound goals for reducing supply chain impacts on deforestation. The shareholders behind the proposal, Green Century Funds, believe that failing to act quickly to curb deforestation puts the company's long-term value at risk. Bunge's board actively opposed the proposal, arguing that it already has no-deforestation policies in place. Other companies have reacted differently to shareholder activism. In response to investor concerns, Archer Daniels Midland recently set a strong no-deforestation policy with specific commitments and a plan for implementation. Shareholder concerns about the long-term impact of environmental risks on growth have prompted Kellogg's, ConAgra, Smuckers, Safeway, General Mills, and Target to set deforestation policies. For more information on sustainable commodities, please visit


Making the right connections
Financiers, scientists and policymakers will meet in London in June for a&nbsnbsp;special investment symposium of the Global Landscapes Forum where they will discuss how to facilitate the investment needs of sustainable land-use activities. High interest rates and short maturities typical of capital markets are often incompatible with sustainable forestry and agriculture projects. One proposed solution to this discord is the Landscape Fund: an instrument connecting affordable public-private funding to small-scale borrowers through aggregate lenders. In addition to taking long-term financial viability into account, the fund evaluates projects for verifiable social and environmental attributes. The fund will rely on credible scientific data to inform investors of these non-financial metrics on which funding decisions will be made. 


Abide by the guide 
The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) recently released guidance materials in support of the U.S. Forest Projects Offsets Protocol detailing what types of projects qualify for emissions offsets and how they are to be managed. Under RGGI guidelines, compliance entities are allowed to submit offsets for up to 3.3% of their total emissions, while the remaining emissions must be accounted for using auctioned allowances. While RGGI permits five different categories of offsets outside of the electric power sector, it limits forestry-based projects to reforestation, improved forest management and avoided conversion projects. Ecosystem Marketplace did not track any offset transactions under RGGI in 2014, meaning compliance entities likely relied entirely on allowances to meet their emissions reduction obligations.
Sharper tools in the shed
The UN-REDD Program recently updated an Excel-based Benefits and Risks Tool (known as "BeRT") to help countries consider the set of seven REDD safeguards developed at the Cancún climate talks. These safeguards include transparent forest governance, respect for the knowledge and rights of indigenous peoples, and full and effective participation of stakeholders, among others. The revamped BeRT aims to support decision-making around benefits and risks and allow countries to more easily report on safeguards. The modular tool is intended to be used with multi-stakeholder groups and is available in English, French and Spanish.


Economic roots
A new report published by the United Nations Environment Programme highlights the major role Zambia's forest ecosystem services play in the country's greater economy. The authors estimate the direct and indirect economy-wide value of Zambia's forests at about US$1.3 billion, or 6.3% of the country's GDP. The report also concludes that forests in Zambia provide jobs for 60% of rural households who depend heavily on natural resources for their livelihoods and that the economics behind REDD+ projects in parts of the country are not sufficient to overcome the opportunity costs associated with other forms of development.


Forest Risk Commodities Senior Project Manager – Global Canopy Programme (GCP)
Based in Oxford, United Kingdom, the Forest Risk Commodities Projects Manager will oversee research investigating ways to reform major commodity supply chains driving deforestation and degradation: beef/leather, biofuels, palm oil, soy and timber/paper with a focus on GCP's Forest 500 project. The successful candidate will have a master's or PhD in geography, economics or an environmental field; familiarity with global supply chains and deforestation issues; three years of post-degree experience working in an area related to supply chains; and strong quantitative data analysis skills.
-Read more about the position here
Researcher, Forest 500 – Global Canopy Programme
Based in Oxford, United Kingdom, the Researcher will provide support to an innovative project on the drivers of tropical deforestation. Specifically, the research is on global commodity supply chains of six key 'forest-risk' commodities. The researcher will conduct in-depth analyses into different supply chain routes and processes and the different actors involved, from producers to consumers. This is a full-time, two-month position commencing in mid-June 2015.
-Read more about the position here
Woodland Projects Development Officer – Exmoor National Park
Based in Exmoor National Park (South West England), the Woodland Projects Development Officer will play a lead role in working with a range of partners to coordinate and deliver forestry-led activities which will ensure the park's woodlands fulfill their special cultural and economic potential. The successful candidate will have the ability to create and communicate a strategic and integrated approach to woodland and landscape management, have a clear understanding of forestry and forest products, woodland conservation and the regulations and incentives to support these practices.
-Read more about the position here
Forest Inventory Analyst – GreenWood Resources, Inc. (GWR)
Based in Portland, Oregon, the Forest Inventory Analyst will work with the other members of the Resource Planning & Analysis group to provide inventory support along with basic Geographic Information Systems (GIS) support to fulfill needs across GWR. The successful candidate will have a master's in forest management, biometrics or silviculture, plus two years of experience in a related field or a bachelor's with five years of experience; strong technical skills with relational databases; and familiarity with GIS systems including ESRI/Arc products.
-Read more about the position here
China Forest Finance Intern – World Resources Institute (WRI)
Based in Washington, D.C., the China Forest Finance Intern will work with WRI's Forest Legality Team and the Finance Center to examine the impact of Chinese development finance on forests, and will research and analyze information surrounding best practices and positive and negative examples of Chinese forest companies operating in Africa. The successful candidate will have experience with development finance, governance and/or policy; robust research, analytical and oral/written communication skills; and basic knowledge of financial markets.
-Read more about the position here
Forest Planning Analyst – American Forest Management (AFM)
Based in Charlotte, North Carolina, the Forest Planning analyst will work in a team environment to provide harvest scheduling, resource management and planning services, acquisition and disposition analysis, and forest investment decision support to AFM's clients. The successful candidate will have a master's in forestry or natural resource management; a minimum of two years of work experience in a forestry-related field; and strong analytical skills for evaluating model behavior and problem solving.
-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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Face the Future
Located in Sabah, Borneo, the Face the Future Improved Forest Management project has restored 25,000 hectares of Malaysian rainforest since 1992 and allowed some of the world's most unique biodiversity to flourish there once again. The project also employs more than 50 people and teaches them valuable skills such as species identification, carbon monitoring and data entry. Face the Future generates Verified Carbon Standard accredited climate benefits which can be purchased on the voluntary over-the-counter market.

-Read more about the project on the Forest Carbon Portal



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