The Ecosystem Marketplace's Forest Carbon News Tracking Terrestrial Carbon
California's Yurok people and Australian project developer New Forests yesterday announced that they have successfully registered the first forest carbon project developed under the California Air Resources Board's (ARB) protocol for US forests. Located near the Klamath River, the Improved Forest Management project over 7,660 acres of Douglas fir and mixed hardwood will issue 704,520 offsets, destined for California's compliance carbon market.
"Our partnership with New Forests will provide the Tribe with the means to boost biodiversity, accelerate watershed restoration, and increase the abundance of important cultural resources like acorns, huckleberry and hundreds of medicinal plants that thrive in a fully functioning forest ecosystem," said Thomas P. O'Rourke Sr., Chairman of the Yurok Tribal Council.
On the voluntary side, the last installment of Ecosystem Marketplace's buyer series explores why the National Geographic Society – perhaps best known for the stunning photos featured in its magazine – has been investing in forest carbon. Nat Geo purchases offsets from a reforestation project in Panama, an avoided deforestation (REDD) project in Brazil, and another REDD project in the Yaeda Valley of Tanzania to neutralize the impact of various aspects of its operations.
"Some people are not going to be comfortable using carbon offsets to counter their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions," National Geographic's Chief Sustainability Officer Hans Wegner admits. "But we feel they are a viable way to deal with those emissions we cannot eliminate in our operations. So long as they are third-party certified, audited, and properly accounted for, we consider them an important tool."
In global news, the United Nation's (UN) Millennium Development Goals are set to expire in 2015, and countries are hard at work coming up with some new resolutions to rudder global development over the next generation. Forests are one of 32 themes addressed in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which a 30-member UN Open Working Group discussed in Indonesia last week.
Peter Holmgren, the Director of the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), made a presentation to the group, highlighting the fact that forests are relevant to many of the other items on the world's to-do list, from poverty eradication to food security to sustainable agriculture to water. Unlike the Millennium Development Goals, which were sector-specific, the SDGs will be set more holistically – lending themselves to a 'landscape approach,' Holmgren says. He suggests nine specific forest metrics that could be used to track progress going forward.
More news from the forest carbon marketplace is summarized below, so keep reading!
Here at Ecosystem Marketplace, we're getting ready to begin data collection for our 2014 State of the Forest Carbon Markets and State of the Voluntary Carbon Markets reports, and we'll also be launching a revamped survey of clean cookstoves projects in collaboration with the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves.
We look forward to again providing reliable and transparent market information in 2014, with many thanks going to those organizations that support our research. In addition to the gratification of helping us provide market information and insight to the world free of charge, sponsoring organizations (above a certain level) receive a few perks. To inquire, email Molly Peters-Stanley.
APRIL GETS A TIMEOUT Asia Pacific Resources International (April) has come under fire from the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, which put April on probation in January and threatened to expel the company unless it can demonstrate an end to its deforestation practices. The pulp and paper company has now released a sustainable forest management policy that states it will stop clearing forests for new plantations by December 2014, but will continue using some wood from forests for up to six years. World Wildlife Fund gave a cautious thumbs-up to the plan, but Greenpeace was critical.
NATIONAL STRATEGY AND CAPACITY
TAKING IT SUBNATIONAL The Governors' Climate and Forests Task Force, which works with 22 states and provinces across the world on reduced deforestation strategies, has announced that more than $840,000 in funding has been awarded under the Fund's first Request for Proposals to improve forest carbon assessment and capacity. Civil society organizations, national forest and environmental ministries, universities, and local communities in Mexico, Peru, Nigeria, Brazil, and Indonesia were among the awardees. Ecosystem Marketplace's 2014 State of the Voluntary Carbon Market report will take a closer look at these and other jurisdictional-level developments. THE FIRE UNDER INDONESIA'S EMISSIONS TARGETS A preliminary assessment report by the Indonesian National Council on Climate Change and the Japan International Cooperation Agency estimated that forest fires in Sumatra and Kalimantan led to 183 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (MtCO2e) emissions and 55 MtCO2e of emissions in 2013, respectively. These unplanned burns are making it harder for Indonesia to meet its target of reducing its carbon emissions 26% by 2020, or 700 MtCO2e. The worst fires last year occurred in the Riau province where, despite a moratorium on logging since 2011, timber and palm plantations continue to drive the clearing of peatland. Efforts to reduce deforestation through REDD have mostly focused on the Central Kalimantan province, said Rico Kurniawan, executive director of the Riau chapter of the Indonesian Forum for the Environment.
SCHOOLED IN CARBON
The International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), which currently includes Brazil and Indonesia as national members but may add Malaysia and Vietnam, is undertaking a multi-year project focused on reducing tropical deforestation. One key element of the Tropical Flagship Project will be a research school focused on on-site quantitative assessment using tools such as IIASA's global economic land use model. The Brazilian National Institute for Space Research as well as two Indonesian organizations – UKP4 and the newly founded REDD+ Agency – are partners on the project, which will be officially launched in Jakarta on 17 February.
GOLD-STUDDED IN THE LOWER ZAMBEZI BioCarbon Group has invested an undisclosed sum in the Lower Zambezi REDD+ project, a community forest conservation project in Zambia that will protect 39,000 hectares of forest adjacent to the Lower Zambezi National Park, home to buffalo, elephants, lions, and leopards. Zambia has one of the highest deforestation rates relative to land area in Africa, according to UN estimates, due to unsustainable agricultural practices and urban charcoal demand. The only pilot REDD+ project in the country has already achieved outstanding 'triple gold' validation under the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Alliance (CCBA) standard and is currently undergoing Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) verification.
SUN NOT SETTING IN AUSTRALIA The Sunset Ranch Native Forest Protection Project in New South Wales, which protects about 8,500 hectares of native forest for a minimum of 100 years, is eligible for Australia's Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI) program. The CFI's future has been uncertain due to plans to abandon the country's carbon pricing regime, but the federal government has indicated that its proposed Emissions Reduction Fund will be implemented through the existing CFI and other arrangements, allowing CFI to continue delivering emissions reductions and extra revenues for farmers. Climate Friendly, South Pole Carbon, and Carbon Farmers of Australia are developing the project.
TEAM EARTH TACKLES REDD The recently launched ALLCOT Sustainability Challenge pits Team Earth and Team Water against each other to see who can raise the most funds before Earth Day 2014, which is April 22. Team Earth donations will support the Portel Para REDD Project in Brazil to stop deforestation on 177,899 hectares. The project aims to provide social benefits by improving air quality through the use of energy-efficient cookstoves and food security through implementation of agroforestry practices, and establish a trust fund of 5% of carbon revenues to create local sustainable initiatives. The project has received VCS and CCBA gold certification.
FINANCE AND ECONOMICS
MONEY TO BURN The Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves (GACC), the Gold Standard Foundation, and Nexus Carbon For Development have created the Clean Cooking Loan Fund to help leverage private sector finance to scale up the global roll-out of clean cookstoves. The lack of commercial financing for clean cookstoves and fuels has been an obstacle to stakeholders trying to build a market for these technologies, according to the organizations. The GACC has contributed $290,000 to capitalize the fund, which will offer loans to offset project developers to help them overcome the timing gap between registration and the first revenues generated from credit sales.
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
NEW THEORY ON ANCIENT WARMING CATCHES FIRE Yale researchers recently published new findings on ancient warming patterns – asserting that the release of volatile organic compounds from Earth's forests and smoke from wildfires had a greater global warming impact than did atmospheric levels of CO2 alone. The study doesn't dispute the warming impact of anthropogenic emissions, but underscores the complexity of climate change and contributions that tropospheric ozone, aerosol particles, and methane made to altering Earth's radiative balance. "We might do a lot of work to reduce air pollution from road vehicle and industrial emissions, but in a warmer future world the natural ecosystems are just going to bring the ozone and aerosol particles right back," says study lead Nadine Unger.
...WHILE DROUGHT THROWS AMAZON EMISSIONS OUT OF WHACK A 2010 drought in the Amazon basin led to a greater volume of CO2 emitted from the region's forests than was taken in, according to a study recently published in Nature. Both smoke from wildfires and a related slowing of natural photosynthesis contributed to the net gain in forest emissions, researchers concluded. Having studied Amazonian forest emissions in both a very dry 2010 and more "normal" 2011, the study found that the forests' emissions balance in the wetter 2011 largely returned to normal. "We cannot say yet whether the forest will switch to another system where it is losing carbon year on year," says Professor Emanuel Gloor from the University of Leeds, one of the study's authors. "But if this happens too often, the forest will suffer."
A LEARNING PLANET Scientists say that the Earth's relatively stable climate – averaged over the last 24 million years – is truly a force of nature. Researchers observe that temperatures affect the thickness of forests' "leaf litter" and organic soil layers, and the rate at which the tree roots grow. In a warmer world, they find that tree roots are more likely to grow into the mineral layer of the soil, breaking down rock which will eventually combine with CO2 to draw GHGs out of the atmosphere. But every novel planet-sparing development comes with a caveat. Says Oxford professor Yadvinder Malhi, "These responses take thousands to millions of years and cannot do much to slow the rate of global warming we are experiencing this century."
ROARING FOR CARBON First Nations communities in British Columbia could benefit financially if they reach agreement with the provincial government to protect an additional 500,000 hectares of the Great Bear Rainforest, which is home to marine mammals, bears and other species. Offsetters CEO James Tansey says protecting 70% of this forest from logging would yield about 1.2 million tonnes of carbon credits per year. Selling these credits at an estimated $15 to $25 per tonne could generate $18 million to $30 million annually for the communities. The now-defunct Pacific Carbon Trust was an early investor in this improved forest management project.
CHARCOAL: NAUGHTY OR NICE? Charcoal production has become a major driver of deforestation in Zambia, but no one really understood what was behind its surge. Enter CIFOR, which set out to uncover evidence of the socioeconomic implications of charcoal production. The forestry research center discovered that it was incredibly easy to produce charcoal, due partly to the absence of tenure constraints, and that it has become a major source of income for local residents. The organization is developing a subnational monitoring, reporting and verification program, but also introduced a participatory forest inventory at the village level to complement its district-level efforts.
STANDARDS AND METHODOLOGY
VCS SPRINGS A NEW LEAK... Last week, Naomi Swickard, VCS Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Uses (AFOLU) Manager, alerted market participants to the standard's release of a new Leakage Tool for Jurisdictional Nested REDD (JNR) programs implemented at the sub-national scale. VCS highlights two modules that account for leakage – or the idea that deforestation avoided in one place might 'leak' to another – from the production of global commodities by applying an "Effective Area Approach" or a "Production Approach". Jurisdictions can alternatively apply a simplified default approach. VCS will host two webinars on 27 February 2014 to present the tool and modules.
...AND OFFERS UP A NEW METHODOLOGY Restore America's Estuaries proposed a new VCS methodology for Tidal Wetland and Seagrass Restoration, which went up for public comment 11 February. Wetlands store more carbon than almost any other land type, and their draining and degradation – largely people's fault – releases large quantities of GHG emissions. Restoring tidal wetlands should slash these emissions, and this methodology is a new attempt to quantify and monetize them in order to incentivize restoration projects. VCS will hold a webinar about the methodology on 20 February, and the public comment period will end 13 March.
MIND THE FOREST/REDD GAP The demand for REDD+ emission reductions is only 3% of the available supply, according to a new report from the Interim Forest Finance Project. This is likely due to the major gap that exists between the urgency of reducing deforestation and the fact that an international compliance carbon market is still a long ways off. "However, large-scale demand for REDD+ emission reductions is expected to materialize only after a global compliance market comes into existence, under the auspices of the UNFCCC, in the year 2020," said Nick Oakes, Finance Manager of the Global Canopy Program.
SCIENTIST: CLIMATE CHANGE, FOREST ECOLOGY – CIFOR Based in Yaoundé, Cameroon, the scientist will join CIFOR to work as part of a team of researchers in developing a scientific basis for biodiversity management and forest conservation. The successful candidate will have a PhD in forestry and/or forest ecology, and at least five years of relevant experience in tropical forestry, including research. Fluency in English and French is required.
PROJECT MANAGER – GLOBAL CANOPY PROJECT Based in Oxford, United Kingdom, the project manager will join Global Canopy Project to be in charge of the Interim Forest Finance project. The successful candidate will have effective communication skills; MSc or PhD in environment, economics, finance or similar field; excellent knowledge of REDD+, forest carbon markets, and climate or forest finance; and relevant experience in the environment or climate change sector.
PROJECTS FINANCE OFFICER – FOREST PEOPLES PROGRAMME (FPP) Based in Gloucestershire, UK, the Projects Finance Officer will join the FPP Finance team to assist with the management of the finances of a range of grants, and liaise with project partners. The successful candidate will be well-organized and self-motivated, with strong bookkeeping and financial management skills. - Read more about the position here
GHANA PROJECT DIRECTOR – US FOREST SERVICE Based in Takoradi, Ghana, the project director will manage the USFS Sustainable Landscapes project and lead the development, implementation, and monitoring of all project activities and partnerships. Eligible candidates will have at least five years of experience managing US Agency for International Development programs in Africa, Masters/PhD and/or significant experience in forestry, climate change, natural resources, conservation biology, or environmental sciences. Professional proficiency in English and strong interpersonal and communication skills required. - Read more about the position here
PROJECT MANAGER – GLOBAL FOOTPRINT NETWORK Based in Orissa, India, the project manager will join Global Footprint Network for 18 months, and will lead the successful execution of the Sustainable Development Return on Investment project in a timely manner and under a budget. The ideal candidate will have at least four years of experience managing international development projects, expertise in metrics, and an advanced degree in a related field. Strong leadership skills and proven ability to inspire an international cross-cultural team are required.
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.
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HIMA Community REDD Zanzibar
The HIMA Community REDD Zazibar project aims at promoting a pro-poor gender-equitable approach to community forest management in Zanzibar. Through avoided deforestation, the project is expected to achieve 375,250 tCO2e of emissions reductions over its 30-year crediting period. It is being implemented in 29 community forest sites in seven districts, covering 60,000 hectares of forest and benefiting and estimated 16,000 rural households. Key implementing partners are Terra Global Capital, CARE International Tanzania, and the Zanzibar Department of Forestry and Non-Renewable Natural Resources, as well as 3 local NGOs in Zanzibar.
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