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Norway, the United States and the United Kingdom unveiled a new finance initiative at the Conference of Parties (COP19) in Warsaw. The Initiative for Sustainable Forest Landscapes (BioC ISFL) will initially select between four and six jurisdictions and funnel between $30 million and $50 million into each of them in the next year – beginning with Ethiopia's Oromia state.
While most of the funds themselves had already been committed for REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation plus pro-forest activities), governments had not previously offered details on how they will be deployed. The new initiative answers that question, and is designed to support the preconditions that companies say they need if they're to develop sustainable supply chains.
While no states have been named beyond Oromia, there is a strong likelihood of participation from Colombia, Indonesia and Guyana as all three countries are developing the kind of carbon accounting infrastructure that can handle performance-based funding, and all have leaders who seem committed to saving their forests.
The BioC ISFL will run under the BioCarbon Fund, which is part of the World Bank and has been piloting REDD+ readiness initiatives since 2005. The new initiative differs in that it focuses on the jurisdictional level and aims to ease company participation. In another scenario, the funds could be used to provide insurance for projects that are climate-safe but economically risky.
When asking NGOs for a reaction after the announcement, Pipa Elias, REDD+ expert for the Union of Concerned Scientists, said, "The amount of new money is lower than I had expected or hoped for, so I'm a bit disappointed on that front, but it's encouraging to see that they're laying the foundation for the private sector, and on a large scale." Josefina Brana-Varela, currently of the World Wildlife Fund, added, "For me, it's really good that the donors are coordinating, because that means their initiatives are complementary."
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REDD coming together
Despite much political posturing, the COP19 ended with a comprehensive REDD+ agreement in Warsaw. The new REDD institutional arrangements will establish a voluntary forum outside of and alongside the Subsidiary Body for Implementation for nations to compare notes and recommendations about REDD+. It seeks to act as an informal center for collaboration among member countries, thus easing the way for formal agreement in official proposals and reducing negotiating times. Of course, such decisions never enjoy full support. Parties disagree over the extent to which the forum can act as a group within the COP. A separate decision on results-based finance creates an information hub for keeping track of REDD+ finance.
Pruning the policy
At the Global Landscapes Forum, more than 1,200 delegates gathered to share their stories, including Otim Joseph, a forest supervisor for Uganda's National Forestry Authority, who first planted trees to protect his female relatives from walking up to 10 kilometers and risking rape. Lindiwe Sibanda from the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network talked about teaching farmers to improve their crops along with the landscape. Despite success stories, participants also expressed concern about agriculture's role in climate change. Agriculture drives an estimated 80% of world deforestation, which in turns makes up 10-15% of all anthropogenic emissions. There is a dilemma, the World Bank's Vice President for Sustainable Development Rachel Kyte noted, if we continue "to fund crop expansion on one hand but forest protection on the other, we are simply wasting taxpayers' money".
Re-entering the heart of darkness
After launching the Congo Basin Forest Partnership (CBFP) in 2002, the U.S. is now renewing its leadership for 2013-2015. The CBFP brings together 70 partners including government, NGO, donor, scientific, and private organizations to promote conservation and sustainable management in the Congo Basin. During the first term (2003-2005), the U.S. facilitated the CBFP webpage, helped launch a recurring "State of" publication, and started defining the now 12 landscapes in the Basin. France, Germany and Canada followed this term, but the U.S. plans to once again take the lead in pursuing key goals, including promoting African leadership, addressing critical forest threats, adapting and mitigating climate change, and promoting effective institutions, regulatory regimes and governance.
BEEing biodiversity friendly
Close on the heels of the landscapes forum, the Netherlands announced the launched of a new public-private partnership: the Platform Biodiversity, Ecosystems and Economy (BEE) REDD+ Initiative. The idea began in 2011, as a result of a task force exploring biodiversity and natural resources. At the time, the task force believed a REDD compliance market would force participation. However, even as the likelihood of compliance declined, several companies remained interested in voluntarily supporting the initiative as a mechanism to address both carbon and biodiversity impacts. Now, four Dutch corporations – carpet manufacturer Desso, energy competitors Eneco and Essent, and development bank FMO – signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on October 31 pledging to invest in REDD projects.
The Carbon Canopy, a carbon exchange developed by Staples and the Dogwood Alliance, just transacted its first carbon offset sales earlier this month. The exchange was created with input from conservation organizations, landowners, paper and wood manufacturers and consumers with the goal of creating a carbon market that enhanced forest conservation and Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification in the South. These stakeholders will prove instrumental to the project's success. Private landowners who participate must follow FSC sustainable forestry practices, while manufacturers must agree to purchase the sustainable timber from these landowners. Corporate partners agree to purchase the forests' carbon assets from the landowners. The first two sales came from forests in North Carolina and Virginia and will create more than 100,000 tonnes of carbon (tCO2e) offsets in the first year alone.
National Strategy and Capacity
Sabah joining the carbon fun?
Sabah, Malaysia may soon create a carbon trading platform. The state's legislative assembly just approved an amendment to its Forestry Enactment that will allow the government to collect money in exchange for maintaining forests. A British firm has already expressed interest in the scheme and signed an MOU with the state to design a business plan for carbon trading. If accepted, Sabah could become a source of carbon credits for developed countries offsetting their emissions under the Kyoto Protocol. Sabah currently has Class 1 forest reserves in addition to forests undergoing rehabilitation that might be considered for forest offsets.
Bales of REDD
In Bale, Ethiopia, REDD+ is on a roll. The local communities have gained legal rights to their forests, and NGOs are initiating programs to alleviate poverty and reduce deforestation. Bale is part of the Ethiopian state Oromia, whose government has displayed interest in REDD's opportunities. Oromia has not defined how revenue from the carbon credits would be distributed. However, it has indicated interest in involving local communities through the Forest and Wildlife Enterprise benefit sharing plan on fuelwood and timber resources. Michelle Winthrop of Farm Africa cautions that "it's important that that money [from REDD] gets reinvested in the system" if reforestation is to be successful. The Bale project could receive up to $5.75 million every year for the next 20 years.
A tale of two villages
The Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) recently compared two villages in Cameroon, Awae and Akok, with regards to REDD+ readiness. The researchers conducted group and individual interviews to determine their technical capacity, resource management, community organization and risk management. Though the study found that the farmers currently aren't REDD ready, they have potential to be. Many farmers already use agroforestry and other forestry techniques in their activities, but need to monitor these activities better. In many cases, co-author Denis Sonwa explained, "The villagers identify very clearly those areas where they need additional training to improve their practices, such as the management of non-timber forest products." Smallholder agriculture is the leading cause of deforestation in Cameroon, so it is important to determine these barriers to REDD readiness.
Social and Human Dimension
Getting the people involved
Participatory Land Use Planning can help communities prepare for REDD, according to Farm Africa. The NGO has been working in the Mbulu District of Tanzania to increase understanding of land use and development issues. In Mbulu, stakeholders including villagers, government officers, and Farm Africa specialists gathered to identify land use plans for village land. A community awareness survey then followed, receiving feedback from the more than 4,000 villagers. Emmannuel Amos, a Farm Africa Community Development Officer, explains the benefits of land use planning: "It helps to reduce conflicts among community groups and reduces encroachment into forest reserves." As a result, the villagers agreed to set aside 72.2 hectares and allocate 38.2 hectares for community-based forests.
Fighting the good fight
While indigenous communities in the Philippines have traditionally respected their rainforests, newcomers seeking economic development do not. In the last decade, mining, palm oil cultivation and more have destroyed indigenous forests. In response, indigenous peoples are joining to form Community Forest Enterprises (CFE's), which combine non-timber forest products from multiple groups to expand their marketing and economic potential. Unfortunately, CFE's often have difficulty getting initiation financing. More financing should go toward teaching indigenous communities to run a business and market products, argues Ruth Canlas of the Non-Timber Forest Products Exchange of South and Southeast Asia. Groups could benefit significantly from better marketing. Canlas' organization helped one women's group sell their cloth to retailer Crate & Barrel for $15, compared to $1 locally.
Finance and Economics
Paying the REDD bills
On the ground level, project developers have worked with local communities to create pilot REDD projects. Now, they say it's time for national and international level organizations to step up. At a COP19 side event sponsored by the CIFOR, Charles Meschak of the Tanzania Forest Conservation Group stated that, "It is now time for the international community to demonstrate their willingness to pay for REDD." Finances are a large worry for many projects. In a new CIFOR study of 23 subnational initiatives, almost half of the participants didn't think they would continue to operate by 2015. There is even evidence of subnational initiatives turning away from REDD, given the uncertainty in support.
Showing the REDD money
Norway announced a $40 million pledge for REDD at a UN Chief Executive Board for Coordination side event at the COP19. The side event examined REDD's past five years of experiences and potential for scaling up to a global level. Since 2008, REDD has expanded from nine to 48 countries and now represents 56% of tropical forests. The funding will be distributed across all 48 countries in collaboration with governments, indigenous peoples and civil society organizations with support from the Food and Agriculture Organization, the United Nations Development Program and the United Nations Environmental Program. It will support enhanced governance and improve technical skills such as forest carbon measurement.
Science and Technology
Charting the forests
During a three-day workshop held by the Environmental Defense Fund, five indigenous organizations met with Woods Hole Research Center (WHRC) and the Amazon Socioenvironmental Georeferenced Information Network (RAISG) to quantify forest carbon stored in indigenous areas. WHRC brought satellite data with estimates of forest carbon storage, while RAISG provided a detailed map of indigenous lands and protected areas. Combined, the new maps show the density of forest carbon specific to the indigenous areas in Peru's Madre de Dios, the Ecuadorian Amazon and rural Colombia. These indigenous groups believe this information will help inform their interactions with the government and with potential REDD+ credit buyers. It may also prove useful in jurisdictional nested REDD+ schemes.
Mangrove's carbon troves
Scientists have known that mangroves store carbon. However, until now no study has determined which mangroves hold the most carbon. New research has produced a global map of carbon storage in mangrove forests that varies widely between regions. Southeast Asia and other equatorial regions store the most carbon, while temperate regions store less. Key conditions for carbon uptake include deltas and estuaries with rainfall year-round. The researchers hope this study can help spur interest and funds into mangrove conservation, as they provide a host of biodiversity and coastal protection benefits in addition to carbon storage. Yet mangroves remain in danger more than other forests, as their location near the sea is ideal for urban development.
Standards and Methodology
Shining a new light
Lawmakers are calling for greater transparency in Indonesia's new REDD+ agency, after realizing the previous REDD+ task force never published an accountability report until disbanding. Satya Yudha, from the Golkar Party, believes that the new "agency's budget should be included within the state budget, even though it receives its funds from Norway." The country agreed to provide $1 billion toward REDD in Indonesia, so one of the agency's primary tasks is to disburse the money. As an ad hoc agency, the REDD+ agency will not have to provide information to House politicians nor will it report to the Environmental Ministry. However, proponents believe the agency "should come from outside the Forestry Ministry and the Environment Ministry, where all the problems are apparently coming from," explains Avi Mahaningtyas, adviser to the Climate and Land Use Alliance.
Towards a Landscape Approach for Reducing Emissions, a new report released by the ASB Partnership for the Tropical Forest Margins, analyzes a recent project Reduced Emissions from All Land Use. The project attempted to integrate REDD+ approaches with agriculture and landscapes in Cameroon, Indonesia, Peru and Vietnam. To do so, it addressed REDD+ through forest carbon conservation and REDD+ through agroforestry intensification.
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Madre de Dios Amazon REDD Project
Based in Peru, the Madre de Dios Amazon REDD Project consists of 100,000 hectares of rainforest. The area is located less than 30 km to the side of the new inter-oceanic road that will unite Brazil with the Peruvian ports, in the region that belongs to the Ecological Corridor Vilcabamba-Amboró in the Peruvian Amazon, one of the world biodiversity hotspots. The forest where the project is located provides the habitat to four endangered rainforest species and eleven endangered wildlife species. From a social point of view, the project will contribute to the sustainable development of rural producers and indigenous communities (Yine tribe, indigenous people in voluntary isolation of Mashco Piro tribe and other tribes not yet identified) living in the nearby areas.
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