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March 12, 2014
From the Editors
The Ecosystem Marketplace's Forest Carbon News Tracking Terrestrial Carbon
All-nighters are usually associated with college students prepping for final exams. But on Monday, 28 Democrats in the United States Senate pulled an all-nighter for climate change, making impassioned speeches on the floor. "There is no emergency room for the planet," said Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts, whose 2009 climate bill while a member of the House would have established a nationwide cap-and-trade system for greenhouse gas emissions.
Here at Ecosystem Marketplace, we too are burning both ends of the candle as we collect data from all over the world for our 2014 State of the Forest Carbon Markets and State of the Voluntary Carbon Markets reports. If you transacted carbon offsets in 2013, or if your organization develops forest or cookstove projects, be sure to respond to our survey by the March 12 deadline (that's today) or March 19 for the Spanish version of the survey to receive a personalized market brief (to be distributed in late May/early June).
Organizations that already have a login to the survey can sign in HERE
(http://survey.ecosystemmarketplace.com/carbon2014/) First-timers may create a username and password HERE
In other forest carbon news, the UK has posted a 'for sale' sign for future offsets: Starting this week, companies can buy 'Pending Issuance Units' – or carbon set to be stored in the future under the Woodland Carbon Code (WCC) – from listings on the Markit Registry. The WCC launched in 2011 as a domestic voluntary carbon offset program, and 63 woodland projects covering 2,500 hectares have been validated under the domestic standard, with 130 more projects in the validation pipeline.
And in Kenya, Wildlife Work's Taita Hills project received a $10 million infusion (over eight years) from Althelia Climate Fund. The project is doing avoided deforestation (REDD+) with a twist: it's actually preventing the conversion of grasslands under a Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) methodology that Wildlife Works helped develop in the last year.
"Those community landowners that see their neighbors benefiting from carbon finance because their neighbors' land happens to have forests are wondering why they can't benefit from conserving their savannah ecosystems," Mike Korchinsky of Wildlife Works told Ecosystem Marketplace. "This new methodology allows us to capture the value of protecting savannah ecosystems." Other forest carbon news is summarized below, so keep reading!
KATOOMBA IN IGUAZU FALLS Forest Trends' 19th Katoomba event will be held in Iguazu Falls, Brazil on March 19 and 20. The goal? Developing new relationships, creative approaches, and new sources of finance to meet the twin challenges of increased agricultural production and zero deforestation. In typical Katoomba fashion, the meeting will bring together a set of unusual actors. Representatives from Walmart and McDonald's will be in the same room as folks from Greenpeace and National Wildlife Federation. The event will focus on cattle and soy value-chain actors in Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, the US, and China. Ecosystem Marketplace will be covering the event closely next week, so stay tuned.
HABLAMOS ESPAÑOL Ecosystem Marketplace's Latina sister, Valorando Naturaleza, held its first event February 27 and 28 in Bogotá, Colombia. The event convened government officials, indigenous representatives, carbon project developers, private sector actors, and experts from Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Brazil, Costa Rica, and Mexico to discuss Latin America's role in the upcoming United Nations climate negotiations. Presentations focused on emerging markets for ecosystem services, in particular REDD+. In 2012, Latin America produced 80% of the REDD credits in the world, said Carina Bracer, director of Valorando Naturaleza. Of the 956 million hectares of forest across the region, 11.3 million are under carbon management.
WATCHING THE WATCHERS After Global Forest Watch, the Google-powered view of forest loss and gain, launched in February, people flocked to the site to do the predictable: they zoomed in. What they saw in their home forests often surprised them. Writing in CleanTechnica, Roy Hales zoomed in on Canada, which lost a whopping 17.2 million hectares of forest between 2000 and 2012. Journalist Rina Saeed Khan took a look at Pakistan, which lost 10,000 hectares since the turn of the millennium while gaining only about 800 hectares. "Looking at a finer scale map of the loss, it appears that most loss is in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa followed by Azad Jammu and Kashmir," Khan writes. The remote sensing data contradicts a study by Pakistan's Forest Institute.
NATIONAL STRATEGY AND CAPACITY
FREDDI TO THE RESCUE It's a race against time in Indonesia, where much of the country's 27 million hectares of forested peatland are slated to be converted to palm oil plantations. With a goal of reducing national emissions 41% by 2020, stopping this planned deforestation is the new mantra. Now, the government itself may enter the voluntary carbon market through a mechanism called FREDDI (Financing Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation in Indonesia). The goal? To throw projects a lifeline and to give private-sector offset buyers more confidence in them. "If I buy from multiple projects in such a way that if one dies I have 200 others that survive, then any buyer will look at us as a secure intermediary," Agus Sari, who proposed FREDDI, said. COSTA RICA TO KICK THE CAN DOWN THE ROAD? Luis Guillermo Solís, who is expected to be elected as Costa Rica's next president on April 6, will likely suspend the country's goal to be carbon neutral by 2021 in favor of a 'more realistic' 2025 target. Much of Costa Rica's emissions reductions gains have been made in the forestry sector. The country has increased forest cover from around 20% in the 1980s to about 50% today. The transportation sector, which is responsible for 70% of Costa Rica's emissions, is the sticking point. More than a third of vehicles in the country are 13-20 years old. "Have you been in an electric taxi recently? Because I certainly haven't," said Leiner Vargas, the head researcher for the carbon neutrality plan.
FAUX FORESTS IN CHINA? Massive flooding of the Yangtze River in 1998 was China's wake-up call. Deforestation was leaving their waterways vulnerable. Since 2008, the country has planted 13 million hectares of new trees, and forests now cover 21% of China's landmass (the goal is 23% by 2020). This quick regrowth conserves 581 billion cubic meters of water and 8.4 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide (tCO2) annually, according to the State Forestry Administration (SFA). But critics say that much of the reforestation uses non-native species such as rubber and fruit trees, and that natural forests are still disappearing. "The SFA only looks at forested land, but they forget the full picture," Xu Jianchu, a professor at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, told Reuters. GETTING SOILED If the Carbon Farmers of Australia gets its way, farmers will be able to receive soil carbon-based payments from the Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI). Its soil carbon sequestration method is going through the approval process with Australian regulators. However, Australia's national science agency has downplayed the role of soil carbon sequestration in reducing CO2 in the atmosphere. Research scientist Jeff Baldock said studies did not find a statistically significant impact from defined management practices on soil carbon stocks. But soil carbon has a major backer in Environment Minister Greg Hunt, who is part of an administration looking to do away with the country's carbon tax, but willing to preserve the CFI as a mechanism to meet Australia's emissions reduction targets. br />
A TREE GROWS IN BRITAIN Grown in Britain, an initiative launched last year to promote sustainable timber in the UK, announced its first partner woodland last week: a 55-hectare planting at Cranborne Estate in Dorset certified under the UK Woodland Carbon Code. The project planted 123,000 native and coniferous trees. BWOC, a fuel distributor, purchased 21,000 tCO2 to help finance the project and offset their emissions. "What we particularly liked about Cranborne was its productive element – the chance to contribute to creating a woodland that would be able to ensure its own permanence through the sustainable extraction of timber," said Mark Wayne, BWOC's Managing Director.
FOR PEAT'S SAKE Which palm swamps contain peat, and why? How much of Peru is covered in peatlands? These are questions that researchers from the aptly-named SWAMP (Sustainable Wetlands Adaptation and Mitigation Program), a collaboration with the US Forest Service and the Peruvian Amazon Research Institute, are trying to answer by studying swamps in the Loreto and Ucayali regions. The results have important implications for carbon emissions – peat stores huge amounts of carbon – and for developing REDD+ in Peru. It also will affect people who live off the forest products, such as aguaje, a juicy fruit, from Peru's swamps. The fruit can be harvested without cutting down the trees, and may be a good economic alternative to replacing peat forests with palm. DON'T BOOK EARLY, BOOK OFFSETS Procrastinators take heart: Hot.co.uk, a mobile application that allows those who leave their travel arrangements until the last minute to use their smart phones to book hotels, has committed to offsetting the carbon emissions generated through its mobile service. Hot.co.uk consolidated the total bookings done in 2013 and offset 2,000 tonnes. The program, developed with ALLCOT, uses offsets from the Cikel Brazilian Amazon REDD Project, registered with the VCS. The main project activity is cancellation of planned deforestation activities in favor of conserving the forest area and continuing forest management activities under Forest Stewardship Council certification.
FINANCE AND ECONOMICS
STEEP CLIMATE INFLATION Updated numbers from the World Bank show billions flowing to carbon-reducing projects over the last decade. Since it became operational in 2008, the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility has seen $750 million invested in REDD+ readiness in 44 countries. The BioCarbon Fund has invested $90 million to reduce deforestation on 350,000 hectares since 2004. However, the Bank acknowledges that "a step-change in financing is needed," with some estimates putting the cost of a low-emissions transition at $1 trillion per year through 2050. One new(ish) idea to leverage this financing is green bonds, which have already mobilized $4.5 billion and have attracted private-sector investors, including Ford and Microsoft, as well as the central banks of Brazil and Germany.
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF PINE Aerosols are one of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) big question marks. However, a new study published in Nature offers fresh insight into the vapors emitted by pine trees: Researchers found that the particles can grow from one nanometer in diameter to 100 nanometers in about a day as they react with oxygen and ozone. Though still microscopic, the particles are large enough to condense water vapor, thus contributing to cloud formation, which in turn reflects solar radiation and cools the planet. The aerosol effect could play a role in forests worldwide, but since boreal and pine forests emit the largest amounts of these compounds, the findings are particularly interesting for North America, Europe, and Russia. LASERS > SATELLITES A recent study by Carbomap, an environmental survey company, reveals that actual carbon content in Costa Rica's forests is at least 19.8 million tonnes – 22% more than the 14.4 million to 16.3 million tonnes previously estimated through satellite data. Working with the Global Conservation Standard, Carbomap used NASA's experimental LVIS airborne laser to scan for above-ground carbon stocks. The group says that the value of protecting this forest carbon stock may have therefore been underestimated by as much as $800 billion. OUT OF BALANCE A forest growth model called GOTILWA+ (Growth Of Trees Is Limited by WAter) has offered up some stark news for Spain's Mediterranean forests: By mid-century, they may be emitting more carbon dioxide (CO2) than they absorb. A report published in Ecosistemas shows that increased aridity and evaporation rates in Spanish forests – both symptoms of climate change – could mean that decomposition will soon exceed photosynthesis, thus tipping the CO2 balance in the wrong direction. The study's authors emphasize that management strategies are key to avoiding this fate.
NO RESPECT FOR ELDERS Though land rights are better defined and enforcement resources are more robust in the US than in many parts of the world, domestic forests are not immune to illegal poaching and logging. A particularly egregious example is the recent hacking of California's great redwoods in Redwood National and State Parks, a designated World Heritage and International Biosphere Reserve. Since most of the illegal activity occurs at night, the Park Service has closed a major road through the park from sunset to sunrise, beginning March 1. Redwoods can live up to 2,000 years and have a beautiful grain, which makes them very valuable. FORESTS OWN THE RUNWAY On March 21, the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe will celebrate the International Day of Forests in style in Geneva, Switzerland, with a conference that brings together forests and fashion. Cellulose fibers produced from wood pulp and rayon are increasingly used in clothing and textiles, and they can be a sustainable replacement to synthetic materials as well as other natural clothing ingredients such as cotton and wool. The conference organizers see fashion as a fast-moving vehicle for creating change because "its messages are spread quickly, its new ideas are followed, its products widely purchased and used." The event will include a forest fibers fashion show, speeches, and dance and art performances. BIRD'S EYE VIEW The Global Forest Observations Initiative (GFOI) in February released a methods and guidance document for estimating future carbon emissions and removals from REDD+. The methodology integrates remote sensing and ground-based observation and is meant to assist nations with measurement, reporting, and verification under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). GFOI is an initiative of the Group on Earth Observatories in partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Their goal is to ensure comparable, transparent forest carbon assessments, in part by providing satellite earth observation data to countries.
STANDARDS AND METHODOLOGY
EXPERT GUIDANCE The IPCC in February released two methodology reports aimed to help countries estimate and report anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and removals. The first is a supplement to previous 2006 guidelines on wetlands emissions, offering new guidance for determining emissions or carbon sequestration from mangroves, tidal marshes, seagrass meadows, and constructed wetlands for wastewater treatment. The second is a Kyoto Protocol supplement that revises good practices for reporting land use emissions – both sources and sinks.
CALLING ALL FOREST GURUS The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), the Northeast US carbon trading program, has issued a request for proposals for a consultant to develop supporting materials and guidelines to be included in its offset handbook for the program's US forest carbon offset protocol. Some of the participating RGGI states have adopted the new forest protocol, which covers improved forest management, avoided conversion and reforestation activities. The new protocol, developed during a comprehensive program review in 2012, aimed to replace the afforestation project type included in the original RGGI model rule. Responses are due April 15.
MOZAMBIQUE FORESTS STRIP DOWN About two-thirds of the logging occurring in Mozambique is unlicensed, according to a new report by the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) program of the European Union. A large proportion of the illegal timber is consumed within Mozambique, and local efforts to slow the flow – such as strengthening legal frameworks and promoting plantation species – haven't made much of a dent. Illegal logging increased 88% between 2007 and 2012. Report authors recommend increased support for sustainable forest management and implementing monitoring systems for logging in order to stop the illicit chopping.
REDD+ Coordinator (Asia & Africa) – Verified Carbon Standard Based in Washington DC, the REDD+ Coordinator for Asia & Africa will advance a number of emerging VCS Jurisdictional and Nested REDD+ (JNR) pilot activities. The Coordinator will manage outreach and collaboration with governments, NGOs, and local partners; coordinate the development of pilot activities; support JNR program validation and verification processes; and coordinate events and learning exchanges. The position requires excellent knowledge of REDD+ voluntary and regulated carbon markets, excellent technical writing and oral communication skills, and experiences working with governments. Fluency in English is a must; French or another language relevant to Africa or Southeast Asia is an asset. - Read more about the position here
Director of Development – Verified Carbon Standard Based in Washington DC, the Director of Development will be a key member of VCS's senior management team, helping to lead the strategic direction of the organization. The Director will develop an integrated fundraising strategy, build a fundraising team, take primary responsibility for all funding proposals, and establish relationships with target donors. The successful candidate will have at least 10 years of relevant work experience developing and implementing fundraising plans; experience in voluntary carbon markets would be considered an asset. - Read more about the position here
Blue Carbon Manager – Blue Ventures Based in Antananarivo, Madagascar, the Blue Carbon Manager will support the development of blue carbon projects along the west coast of Madagascar. The position is for a scientist/forester experienced in the successful development of forest carbon projects. The job will entail developing and validating a VCS REDD+ project and presenting the blue carbon science outputs at high-level forums. - Read more about the position here
Carbon Accounting Coordinator – BioCarbon Partners Based in the Eastern Province of Zambia, the Carbon Accounting Coordinator will fulfill a two-year contract supervising community-based forest inventory teams who will be quantifying carbon stocks across several different parts of Eastern and Muchinga Provinces in Zambia as part of a large REDD+ project. The ideal candidate will have a degree in botany, ecology, forestry, or conservation biology as well as practical experience with vegetation assessment and monitoring techniques. - Read more about the position here
Remote Sensing and GIS Specialist – BioCarbon Partners Based in Cape Town, Zambia, the Remote Sensing and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Specialist will support the BioCarbon Partner's (BCP) accounting department by maintaining map applications and identifying opportunities for improving operations using GIS technology. The Specialist will have the opportunity to contribute to BCP's work developing and managing REDD+ projects in Africa. The successful candidate will have a degree in GIS, geography or computer science and two years of relevant experience. - Read more about the position here
Senior AFOLU Consultant – South Pole Carbon Based in Zurich, Switzerland, the Senior Consultant will generate business opportunities and acquisition of consultancy mandates in REDD, and develop projects related to land-based Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions, nature and species conservation, and land based mitigation. The ideal candidate will have a university degree in forestry, engineering, environmental science, geoecology, geography, economics or related disciplines; excellent oral and written English; at least five years of experience in project management and consultancy positions; and understanding of forest biometrics and monitoring, reporting and verification, REDD, land use policy and finance, and market-based GHG mitigation. Knowledge of French, Bahasa Indonesia, Spanish or Portuguese is an advantage. - Read more about the position here
Forest and Climate Programme Intern – World Wildlife Fund Based in Washington DC, the Forest and Climate Programme (FCP) intern will support the day-to-day administration of FCP's internal Google site and the online REDD+ community platform, which will be launched in the spring. The intern will edit site content, monitor site engagement, research REDD+ news items for posting, and provide feedback for site improvements. The successful candidate will have strong information management skills, experience with Content Management Systems, excellent writing and research skills, and be attentive to detail. The position is paid, for a minimum of 15 hours per week. - Read more about the position here
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Amigos de Calakmul Mexico
The Amigos de Calakmul, Mexico improved forest management project protects 56,700 hectares of forest in the Selva Maya through conservation agreements that reduce logging and burning. Started in 2008, the project is expected to sequester 225 million tonnes of carbon dioxide over its 30-year lifetime. Developed by Terra Global Capital, the project is seeking verification by the Verified Carbon Standard and the Climate, Community, and Biodiversity Alliance. It is currently at the Project Design Document stage. Its offsets will likely be marketed to voluntary buyers.
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