Forest Markets Finish Year on (Relatively) High Note

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By Steve Zwick

31 December 2008 | Less than a decade after the First Katoomba Meeting brought government officials, private sector professionals, academic researchers, and non-governmental representatives together in Australia's Blue Mountains for a Spring, 2000, pow-wow on how to tap markets to save forests, awareness of Payments for Ecosystem Services has spread from a small gaggle of scientists and nature-lovers to decision-makers in governments from Washington, DC to Dar es Salaam.


Whither the Trees?

The year also opened with a burst of optimism wafting up from the Indonesian Island of Bali, where United Nations Climate Change negotiators opened the door to the idea of saving standing forests to capture carbon and slow global warming – or Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation. The process hit a wall at this December's meeting in Poznan, however, when negotiators failed to agree on methodologies for rewarding the sequestration of carbon in trees.

REDD features prominently in US regional cap-and-trade initiatives, and also in most proposed national US cap-and-trade legislation, but it's proving a tough sale in the European Union. That could be changing, as France floated a proposal to begin phasing forestry credits into the European Union Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) after 2012.

That scheme would start with funds raised by auctioning credits flowing into capacity building for REDD in the developing world, with governments then being allowed to invest directly in REDD projects, and then the private sector being allowed. Details are expected in January, and Ecosystem Marketplace will bring them to you.

The voluntary markets, meanwhile, made tremendous progress in developing REDD methodologies, with the Voluntary Carbon Standard (VCS) issuing protocols for measuring the amount of carbon captured in all types of land-use change.

Ecosystem Marketplace contributed its share with the launch of the Forest Carbon Portal, an online information clearinghouse for the terrestrial carbon markets.

This satellite website to includes daily news posts, original articles, a calendar of events, and a "tool box" of the latest intro guides, methodologies, software measurement tools and beyond. The site will also map projects selling land based carbon credits across the globe. Users can search for project sites by region, as well as by a variety of criteria such as project type, standard, registry, and credit prices. Projects are described in consistent 'nutrition labels' listing a range of criteria.