Archive for July, 2008

14 countries win REDD funding to protect tropical forests
MongaBay | 24 July 2008


Fourteen countries have been selected by the World Bank to receive funds for conserving their tropical forests under an innovative carbon finance scheme. The 14 developing countries include six in Africa (the Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar); five in Latin America (Bolivia, Costa Rica, Guyana, Mexico, Panama); and three in Asia (Nepal, Lao PDR, and Vietnam). The countries will receive grant support as they build their capacity for REDD, including establishing emissions reference levels, adopting strategies to reduce deforestation, and designing monitoring systems.

The initiative, known as the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF), was unveiled last year as a way to kick start Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD), a proposed mechanism that would reward countries with carbon credits for preserving their forest cover. Globally deforestation accounts for nearly one-fifth of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions — more than the transport sector.

“Deforestation and forest degradation together are the second leading man-made cause of global warming. They are responsible for about 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions, and the main source of national emissions in many developing countries. For that reason, we have been eager to initiate this partnership and assist countries while building a body of knowledge on how best to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by protecting forests and helping the people who benefit from them.” — Joëlle Chassard, Manager of the World Bank’s Carbon Finance Unit

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FAO place the spotlight on forest monitoring
Environmental Expert | 16 July 2008

SPAIN: Earlier this year, countries and FAO reconfirmed their commitment to jointly prepare the next Global Forest Resources Assessment (FRA), a comprehensive data collection on the state of the world’s forests which is scheduled for release in 2010. As part of the FRA 2010, FAO, its member countries and partner organizations will undertake a global remote sensing survey of forests. The survey will substantially improve knowledge on land use change including deforestation, reforestation and natural expansion of forests. The assessment will cover the whole land surface of the Earth with about 9000 samples and is intended to strengthen the capacity of all countries to monitor their own forests.

“The need to improve national forest monitoring is overwhelming as the demand for information has never been greater. National policy processes are striving to address cross-cutting issues such as poverty alleviation and food security related to forests.” — Jan Heino, FAO Assistant Director-General for Forestry

During last week’s G-8 Summit, world leaders “encouraged actions for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (REDD) including the development of an international forest monitoring network building on existing initiatives”.

The main global initiative will be the FRA 2010 survey with key outcomes:

  • Baseline information at the global and regional level on trends in the rate of deforestation, afforestation and natural expansion of forests over the past 30 years;
  • A global framework and commonly agreed methodology for monitoring forest change;
  • An information gateway providing easy access to remote sensing imagery;
  • Enhanced capacity in all countries for monitoring, assessing and reporting on forests and land use changes.

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World Bank told to step back from forest reform
Carbon Positive | 16 July 2008

NETHERLANDS: Forestry experts agree on the need for a new global partnership to ensure sustainable forests initiatives deliver on environmental needs and work for the poor. But they say the World Bank, which last year proposed the collaboration, should not take an active role in the initiative. That’s the message in a report by the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), based on a survey of more than 600 forest experts in Brazil, China, Ghana, Guyana, India, Russia and Mozambique, as well as those attending international meetings.

The World Bank last year proposed a new global programme, the Global Forests Partnership (GFP), to reduce deforestation and unsustainable forestry use, drawing together the Bank’s and other forest initiatives under one umbrella. The thrust of the IIED report conclusions is that the World Bank should step away from such a process and take a “hands off” approach that allows smaller, forest-dependent stakeholders to build a truly effective alliance from the bottom up. It appears this feedback to some extent reflects resistance among some NGOs about the World Bank taking an active role after what they felt was a negative experience with its programmes in the past. The survey respondents also agreed that the programme has to tie in with sustainable forests initiatives at global, national and local levels to be effective.

The IIED says a key challenge of relevance for a GFP is how it can add value beyond the the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF), an alliance of 14 mostly UN forest-related organisations to support the work of the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF) and enhance cooperation and coordination on forest issues. The IIED report suggests a staged development process targeting a launch of the partnership within three years. It recommends the World Bank review its processes and mechanisms before revising its Forest Sector Business Plan. This would, among other things, remove “the contradictions created by actions in other sectors affecting forests”.

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Record Land Grab Predicted As Demand Soars For New Sources Of Food, Energy And Wood Fiber
Science Daily | 15 July 2008

Escalating global demand for fuel, food and wood fibre will destroy the world’s forests, if efforts to address climate change and poverty fail to empower the billion-plus forest-dependent poor, according to two reports just released by the U.S.-based Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI), an international coalition comprising the world’s foremost organisations on forest governance and conservation.

According to the new findings in RRI’s comprehensive study, Seeing People through the Trees: Scaling Up Efforts to Advance Rights and Address Poverty, Conflict and Climate Change, the world will need a minimum of 515 million more hectares by 2030, in order to grow food, bioenergy, and wood products. At the same time, a second RRI study, From Exclusion to Ownership? Challenges and Opportunities in Advancing Forest Tenure Reform, finds that developing country governments still claim an overwhelming majority of forests and have made limited progress in recognizing local land rights, leaving open the potential for great violence, as some of the world’s poorest peoples struggle to hold on to their only asset–millions of hectares of the world’s most valuable and vulnerable forestlands.

The studies also report a sharp increase in government allocations of forests to industrial plantations, and suggest that the booming growth in demand for food and fuel is rapidly eating up vast forestlands in the Amazon and Southeast Asia.

“Arguably, we are on the verge of a last great global land grab. Unless steps are taken, traditional forest owners, and the forests themselves, will be the big losers. It will mean more deforestation, more conflict, more carbon emissions, more climate change and less prosperity for everyone.” — Andy White, Coordinator of RRI and co-author of Seeing People through the Trees

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Putz et al. Improved Tropical Forest Management for Carbon Retention. PLoS Biology, 2008; 6 (7): e166 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.0060166

A key aspect of the international climate change agreement slated to replace the Kyoto Protocol in 2012 focuses on reducing carbon emissions due to deforestation and degradation (REDD). But most REDD discussions focus on tropical deforestation while ignoring the potential carbon savings that could be realized from reduced forest degradation.

Botanist Francis Putz and colleagues argue that by ignoring evidence that better forest management practices can substantially reduce carbon emissions, negotiators are missing an obvious and cost-effective approach to mitigating the effects of global climate change. This oversight is troublesome, the authors write.

“carbon losses due to degradation could be of the same magnitude as those from deforestation” — Francis Putz et al

Logging practices can be designed to minimize ecological impact, but even when trees are picked selectively there is often collateral damage–ten to twenty times the number of harvested trees are destroyed through human error and poorly designed procedures for locating and removing correct targets. Putz et al. argue that worker training in directional felling and better planning of timber extraction paths can reduce these effects by at least 50%. The carbon benefits of improved forest management are illustrated with a large-scale, long-term study in Malaysia.

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Carbon payments may not protect biodiversity
EurekaAlert | 7 July 2008

USA: Paying rural landowners in Oregon’s Willamette Basin to protect at-risk animals won’t necessarily mean that their newly conserved trees and plants will absorb more carbon from the atmosphere and vice versa, a new study has found. The study “Efficiency of Incentives to Jointly Increase Carbon Sequestration and Species Conservation on a Landscape“, to be published this month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, analyzed hypothetical payments that were given to landowners to voluntarily take their acreage out of production for conservation. Scenarios conserving different types of land were also developed. The study then examined the relationship between the absorption of carbon, a contributor to global warming, by trees and plants and the protection of 37 different types of animals under each of these scenarios and payment schemes.

“The main thing we found is that if you want to conserve species, that policy might not be compatible with carbon sequestration. On the other hand, if you want to get carbon out of the atmosphere, it’s not clear that will be good for species.” — co-author Professor Andrew Plantinga, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at Oregon State University

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Indonesia aims to balance coal and forests
Reuters | 7 July 2008

FRANCE: Indonesia, the world’s number one coal exporter and a major greenhouse gas emitter, is struggling with conflicting green and growth aims. The world’s fourth-most populous country, with 226 million people spread across 17,500 islands, needs a substantial growth in electricity production to fuel economic growth. It wants to increase coal-fired electricity generation by over 40 percent in the next decade, cut emissions and preserve rainforests at the same time. Analysts doubt it can manage all three.

“Indonesia is not in a position to be reducing greenhouse emissions at all. Their coal-fired power plant construction programme is already under way and Indonesia is quickly expanding coal production to be able to supply its own growing domestic demand and exports” — Brian Ricketts, coal analyst at the Paris-based International Energy Agency

Indonesia’s energy-related CO2 emissions must rise because, according to government figures, its coal consumption is going to at least quadruple to 90-100 million tonnes a year by 2017. But while poised to boost its own emissions, in addition to exporting its own polluting coal, Indonesia is attempting to add a new income stream as a high earner of carbon credits if it agrees to be paid to preserve its forests. Until its coal-fired power initiative takes effect, Indonesia is a leading polluter due to deforestation, peatland degradation and forest fires, a World Bank report said. Environmentalists say that if these activities are taken into account it ranks as the world’s number three emitter of greenhouse gases. Deforestation accounts for 20 percent of man-made carbon emissions.

“Indonesia emits a rather modest 380 million tonnes CO2 a year from fossil fuels, the serious emissions are the ones from logging, burning and drainage of peatswamp forests: 2 billion tonnes a year CO2.” — Wetlands International

If the REDD initiative agreed at last December’s climate talks in Bali goes ahead, Indonesia could earn tens of billions of dollars annually. This would be a strong revenue stream in addition to perhaps $50 billion a year from coal exports in years to come.

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