The Ecosystem Marketplace's Forest Carbon News Tracking Terrestrial Carbon
Before we review the latest market news, Ecosystem Marketplace is surveying readers for their input on the "biggest" stories of 2013, and predictions for 2014 – to be published in our end-of-year special edition. Tell us what you think here! We will randomly select several predictions for publication in the special edition, along with a link to your website – so gaze into your crystal ball and make a call!
Returning to the news, we present a summary of the latest on REDD funding. Just scant weeks after the Conference of the Parties (COP19) in Warsaw, the World Bank's Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) announced a new methodological framework for its Carbon Fund. The framework unshackles nearly $390 million already committed to these programs, which will set an important precedent for other policy initiatives that are aiming to protect tropical forests, explains The Nature Conservancy Director Duncan Marsh.
The Carbon Fund is designed to pilot reduced emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) programs that use performance-based payments – but only in countries that have completed an initial "readiness" phase through the FCPF's Readiness Fund. Previously, countries had begun readiness preparations but had little incentive to see it through completion. Now, countries hoping to receive REDD+ finance must develop an Emissions Reduction Programme Idea Note under the readiness phase and apply for funding by the end of 2015.
The final framework has not yet been released, but a draft posted in September showed a detailed set of criteria consistent with the best practices laid out by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and based on a reference period of roughly 10 years. For countries with high rates of deforestation, the framework uses a reference level based on historical rates of deforestation, but a more complex set of options were offered for countries with historically low deforestation rates. Emissions levels, however, will still be capped at 0.1% above historical averages.
These and other stories from the forest carbon marketplace are summarized below, so keep reading!
And finally, a heartfelt thank you to those who supported Forest Trends (Ecosystem Marketplace's parent organization) in the Skoll Entrepreneurship Challenge. With your help and matching funds from the Skoll Foundation, we raised over $60,000, finishing in 13th place out of 57 organizations. This funding will help keep us "small, global and nimble" as we pursue new ideas in the New Year. This videogives a sense of just how far crowdrise dollars will go – and features some of the beautiful people who work here.
Experts convened at the Ecosystem Marketplace, McGuireWoods and International Emissions Trading Association debrief to express their views on the Warsaw results. "Can I say it was disappointing?" asked Charlotte Streck, director of Climate Focus. "Probably not, because that would mean that I had expectations." Streck's criticism was leveled at the guidance on reference levels, which she believed was not rigorous enough to attract the kind of pay-for-performance funding needed to enact change on a meaningful scale. Marnie Funk, Senior Government Relations Advisor for Shell Oil company, was discouraged but nevertheless found some silver lining. "You at least didn't come out with a weak agreement," she said. "You preserve the option of potential meaningful progress at a future COP."
Blast to the past
This week, Secretary of State John Kerry returned to Vietnam for the first time since his service in 1968. This time, his concern was the very waters he sailed through as a naval officer - in addition to other environmental issues. The trip highlights several U.S.-Vietnamese programs, including the Lower Mekong Initiative, the U.S. Agency for International Development's (USAID) Forests and Deltas Project, the U.S. Initiative to Enhance Capacity for Low-Emission Development Strategies (EC-LEDS), USAID's Lowering Emissions in Asia's Forests (LEAF), and the U.S. Geological Survey's Forecast Mekong and more. EC-LEDS and LEAF are two prominent U.S.-led climate initiatives; the first providing technical support for long-term low-carbon growth strategies and the latter working to reduce deforestation and forest degradation by strengthening capacity, improving policies, demonstrating sustainable land management practices, and strengthening regional learning networks in Asia.
National Strategy and Capacity
Sabah joins the REDD fun
Sabah, Malaysia has now launched a RM16 million program with the European Union to promote sustainable forest management and community development. In particular, both parties will work together on a REDD+ strategy to manage the conservation and enhancement of forest carbon stocks. Sabah Forestry Department Director Datuk Sam Mannan said the program will benefit the poorest communities, adding that, "there is no point having conservation and what not at the expense of the people's livelihood and people's standard of living. This must be addressed." The program will last four years and will target Batu Putih, Kampung Gana and Kinabalu, three areas of Sabah.
High debate in the Himalayas
Despite the possible benefits from REDD+, Nepali officials remain unsure about the program's benefit-sharing features. In a recent study, Dil Bahadur Khatri from Forest Action Nepal found that external actors, such as donors and international organizations, currently play a larger role than civil society in REDD policymaking. Even major domestic organizations such as the Federation of Community Forestry Users' Nepal have weak representation at meetings, and the most recent Nepalese REDD Working Group gives civil society groups only two seats out of twelve. As the current approach to REDD in Nepal emphasizes donor-funded pilot projects, forest communities often are left out or fail to receive information about the schemes.
Chemonics International has hired Ecological Carbon Offset Partners, ClearSky Climate Solutions and Offsetters to develop project documentation for its ongoing BioREDD+ program in Colombia. The team will be responsible for developing and writing complete Project Design Documentation for four unique REDD+ projects being undertaken by Chemonics and its partners in Colombia. The four projects will be developed using both the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) to recognize the carbon benefits and the Climate, Community and Biodiversity (CCB) Standards to recognize their social, environmental and biodiversity impacts. USAID is providing $27.8 million for the BioREDD+ program, which will run through 2014.
Palming the forests
Wilmar International doesn't have much environmental cred, coming in dead last in Newsweek magazine's ranking of the environmental performances of the world's 500 biggest companies in 2012. But the palm oil producer is trying to reform its image by agreeing to ensure that the oil it supplies does not result in additional rainforest loss – preserving the forests as a habitat for endangered species such as Sumatran tigers, orangutans, elephants and rhinos – and better protecting the rights of its workers and the forest communities where it operates. Revamping the producer's practices could be a game changer in preventing future deforestation as its subsidiaries process or trade 45% of the world's palm oil – a $5 billion a year global industry.
Finance and Economics
In the Land of the Eternal Spring
The Mayan forests of northern Guatemala were wiped out 2,000 years ago by the ancient Mayan civilization, but have been reborn to become home to countless wildlife species. However, forests in the Land of the Eternal Spring are once again facing the threat of deforestation largely due to ranching and agriculture, a threat that could wipe out these forests forever. But there is hope as the deforestation rate is 20 times slower in forests designated for community use, according to Code REDD and the Rainforest Alliance. These communities are engaged in sustainable forest management practices that generate millions of dollars in revenue ever year.
Science and Technology
A tree grows in Mexico
In a new project started by the Center of Geography and Geomatics, researchers are analyzing the quantity of carbon stored in Mexican trees. The project's long-term goal is to implement a permanent monitoring system for all of Mexico's forests, in order to establish an evaluation system for all national forest resources. So far, parts of Chiapas and Mexico City have been examined. Results from Mexico City's conservation floor indicate that the oyamel trees are most efficient at sequestration. By identifying regions and trees best at sequestering carbon, the project hopes to gain more payments for ecosystem services (PES) schemes in regions with the highest potential.
"Like" to save forests
Social media platform Facebook is helping researchers and forest rangers communicate as part of a joint study by the Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union, Wageningen University and the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR). The researchers use remote sensing to monitor forests in Ethiopia's Kafa Biosphere Reserve. When they detect a change in forest cover, forest rangers are notified on the ground through a private Facebook group. "It works interactively, it works in near real time, and so you get a complementary data stream going," explains Martin Herold, a professor at Wageningen University and a CIFOR associate. Researchers chose Facebook as the medium of communication due to its popularity, but say new data sharing software might be used in the future.
Settling with the original settlers
The government of Panama and the National Coordinating Body of Indigenous People in Panama (Coonapip) just resolved a year-long conflict over a proposed REDD scheme. The $5.8 million project had been halted when indigenous groups withdrew from the process over land rights concerns. As Coonapip members' territories cover 85% of non-protected forests in Panama, the group sought to reaffirm its central role in the process. Since reconciliation, both parties have expressed excitement that the project is back on track. Gabriel Labbate, a coordinator for the UN's Forest Programme in Panama, optimistically notes that, "The situation in countries can be complex and mistakes can be made... the programme is ready to acknowledge the mistakes, and it is ready to take the corrective actions."
Standards and Methodology
What's in a name?
What is meant by the term "degraded forest"? A new report by CIFOR attempts to consolidate the hundreds of available definitions within a set of five guidelines. Criteria include the long-term production of forest goods and services; biodiversity; unusual disturbances such as fire or invasive species; carbon storage; and the forest's ability to protect soil. Forest managers can weigh the criteria differently depending on their unique needs and responsibilities. Researchers created this framework because of policymakers' tendency to write off degraded forests. Ian Thompson, co-author of the report, explained, "If you use good logging practices to harvest timber, it won't be the same as an old-growth forest, but it will still be a productive forest. We wanted to... show that there are many dimensions to degradation."
Three times the best practices
The Climate, Community & Biodiversity Alliance just released the third edition of its CCB standards. Highlights from the new update include the use of programmatic approaches to allow project area expansion; the clarification of free, prior and informed consent and other stakeholder requirements; the promotion of gender equality and empowerment; and the simplification of demonstrable climate benefits requirements. The Third Edition results from a year-long revision process that solicited feedback from the variety of groups affected by the standard. The CCB Standard is often paired with the VCS and other standards to recognize the multiple benefits of a project.
The Little Book of Big Forest Dreams
The last decade had seen growing demand for agricultural and forest products, which has been estimated to cause more than 50% of all tropical deforestation. The Little Book of Big Deforestation Drivers, released by the Global Canopy Programme at the COP19, examines global drivers of deforestation and provides a framework of regulations and catalysts that can reverse those trends.
Hindsight is 1997
Learning from 20 Years of Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) in Costa Rica, released by the International Institute for Environment and Development, examines Costa Rica's long-standing PES program. The program contains both successes and failures that could be useful to other countries hoping to develop a similar scheme. Since implementation in 1997, more than one million hectares have been a part of the program and forests have increased from 20% of land area to 50%.
Paying homage to PES
In a joint report by the United Nations Environment Programme, the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe and the Food and Agriculture Organization, The Value of Forests: Payment for Ecosystem Services in a Green Economy calls on European governments to integrate PES into public-private partnerships to protect forest areas. It includes many case studies, such as a Coca-Cola bottling plant in Portugal that paid forest owners to maintain the forests that filtered water used by the plant. The final publication will be launched at a side event at Metsä2013, a major European forestry conference, in Rovaniemi, Finland.
Carbon Markets Program Research Assistant - Forest Trends
Based in Washington, D.C., the Carbon Markets Research Assistant will work with both Ecosystem Marketplace and Valorando Naturaleza, our Spanish-language sister site. The assistant will conduct research, analysis and writing in support of our weekly newsbriefs and articles on both sites, in addition to helping research and survey for the annual State of reports. Candidates must be fluent in Spanish and English; a graduate degree and a demonstrated interest in conservation finance/carbon markets is a plus.
Based in Cambridge, UK, the Timber Trade Programme Officer will assist in the development and planning of the TRAFFIC regional timber trade program in Europe. In particular, the officer will coordinate and lead the implementation of a European Commission-funded Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade project. Candidates should have a university degree in forestry or conservation and significant professional experience in the aforementioned subjects within a government or international organization.
Based in London, UK, the Campaigner will help plan and advocate EIA's Forest Campaign, in part by representing EIA at meetings and monitoring campaign-related information. Candidates should possess a minimum of two years experience as part of a campaigning organization and have an understanding of international forest policy initiatives.
Senior Project Manager, Community Forest Monitoring - Global Canopy Programme (GCP)
Based in Oxford, UK, the Senior Project Manager will lead one of the key strategies within GCP's new REDD COMPASS (Community-powered Assessment of Ecosystem Services and Safeguards) Project funded by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation. The project aims to scale the adoption and impact of community-based forest monitoring to help achieve equitable, efficient and effective REDD+. Candidates should have a Master's or PhD in a related field and have project management experience.
Based in London, UK, the Project Assistant will support the implementation of projects undertaken by lawyers working to enforce the EU Timber Regulation – a law concerned with stopping the trade in illegal timber. Candidates should have a Bacheolor's degree in a related field and at least two years' relevant experience.
Based in Zurich, Switzerland, the Consultant will generate business opportunities related to REDD and prepare/submit proposals in reaction to public tenders. Candidates should have a university degree, ideally in Forestry, Engineering, Environmental Science, and at least five years of relevant experience in project management and consultancy positions.
Based in Indonesia, the Landscape Support Specialist will support the Indonesian government in its commitment to lower GHG emissions through the conservation of high-value forests and peat lands. The position requires a master's degree in natural resources management or a related discipline; at least 10 years of professional experience promoting conservation and low emissions development; experience working at the community level in Indonesia; and fluency in English and Bahasa Indonesian.
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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Oceanium Mangrove Restoration Project
The Oceanium Mangrove Restoration Project is located in the degraded mangrove lands of the Sine Saloum and Casamance deltas, at the southeast Atlantic coast of Senegal. The project activity contributes not only to environmental protection but also to socio-economic improvement in the rural area including: capacity building of local people, employment creation and increase of mangrove productivity. Several activities will take place to improve the knowledge of the local communities on environment conservation, mangrove restoration and management. During the implementation of the project, short-term employment will be generated for the management of the plantations and during the monitoring process. The mangrove restoration will improve the mangrove production leading to a potential income increase for local people.
The pilot plot, launched in 2006, planted 65,000 mangrove trees near the village of Tobor and experienced a successful 85% recovery rate. Since then, more than 150 million mangrove trees have been planted in approximately 500 villages in the Sine Saloum delta and in the Casamance. This result makes it the largest effort of mangrove reforestation in the world.
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