REDD and Rainforests
By Juliam Moll-Rocek, mongabay.com, 18 August 2014 | At first glance, the statistics tell a hopeful story: Chile’s forests are expanding. According to Global Forest Watch, overall forest cover changes show approximately 300,000 hectares were gained between 2000 and 2013 in Chile’s central and southern regions. Specifically, 1.4 million hectares of forest cover were gained, while about 1.1 million hectares were lost. On the ground, however, a different scene plays out: monocultures have replaced diverse natural forests while Mapuche native protesters burn pine plantations, blockade roads and destroy logging equipment. At the crux of these two starkly contrasting narratives is the definition of a single word: “forest.”
Kaieteur News, 19 August 2014 | The Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) has defended its handling of logging activities in the country by saying that all is above board and nothing is wrong. During a testy press conference at its Kingston headquarters yesterday, which was peppered with questions regarding the operations of foreign investors, the regulatory body in defence of the delays to invest in a timely manner in value-added processing, also said that it may be a case where producers are finding it more economical to export. Along with his senior management officials, GFC’s head, Commissioner James Singh also criticized reporting by both independently-owned Kaieteur News and Stabroek News in their coverage of the forestry sector in recent weeks. Two companies especially – Chinese-owned Bai Shan Lin and Indian-controlled Vaitarna Holdings Private Inc. – came under intense scrutiny recently amidst reports of their logging activities.
Guyana Chronicle, 18 August 2014 | The Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC), responding to “mass allegations and misinformation” regarding the operations of Chinese logging company Bai Shan Lin (BSL), has “set the record straight” in order to dispel the many rumours circulating about this company. At a news conference held yesterday at the GFC in Kingston, Georgetown, Commissioner James Singh put paid to the many claims that BSL has been involved in exploitation of Guyana’s forestry resources... The Guyana Chronicle caught up with one such member of the logging community, who identified herself as Assistant Secretary for the Rockstone Loggers Association, Ms. Celestine Peters... “They are trying to say that the GFC is doing the wrong things, and that we are condoning it too; but these are laws that we have to abide with, even at the small loggers’ level. “So it would affect us, because if the big ones are not adhering to (the laws), then why should the small ones adhere to (them)?”
Since 2008 Norway has been the single largest foreign donor to tropical forest conservation, putting more than 10 billion Norwegian Krone, or $1.6 billion, toward programs in several countries under its International Climate and Forest Initiative. But how effective have those funds been in actually protecting forests?
By Stian Reklev and Kathy Chen, Reuters, 18 August 2014 | As China lays down plans for a national carbon trading scheme, the world's biggest emitter of greenhouse gases risks repeating mistakes made in carbon trading in Europe by flooding its pilot markets with free permits. The European Union's scheme, the world's largest, suffered a collapse in prices hurting its credibility when the EU gave away too many permits just as the global financial crisis was slashing demand and in turn curbing pollution levels. Fifteen traders, brokers and consultants speaking to Reuters said that most of China's pilot markets launched last year were riddled with an over-allocation of permits, bar pockets of scarcity, such as parts of the Beijing market and the electricity generation sector in Shanghai.
By Janette Bulkan, Stabroek News, 18 August 2014 | During the period 08-14 August, the daily newspapers Kaieteur News and Stabroek News have published photographs of large stockpiles of timber logs destined for export by Bai Shan Lin (BSL) to China and VHPI to India. Both companies have previously made formal but vague commitments to process logs in Guyana, but appear to be doing little or nothing to build modern processing facilities. Both companies secured generous foreign direct investment (FDI) tax and other concessions from the Jagdeo administration which give them unbeatable competitive commercial advantages over Guyanese-owned enterprises. A recent hearing by the natural resources sectoral committee of the National Assembly established that neither Go-Invest nor the Guyana Forestry Commission had copies of the FDI arrangement(s) made by Cabinet with Bai Shan Lin, and the Minister certainly did not offer copies.
At first glance, the statistics tell a hopeful story: Chile’s forests are expanding. On the ground, however, a different scene plays out: monocultures have replaced diverse natural forests while Mapuche native protesters burn pine plantations, blockade roads and destroy logging equipment. At the crux of these two starkly contrasting narratives is the definition of a single word: “forest.”
By Stian Reklev, Reuters, 14 August 2014 | South Korea decided on Thursday that its carbon trading market will go ahead as planned on Jan. 1 of next year, despite the finance minister's calls last month for it to be delayed. South Korea's scheme - the government's key policy to meet its targets of cutting greenhouse gas emissions in 2020 to 30 percent below business-as-usual levels - will be the world's second biggest carbon market when it launches. As proposed, the scheme will cap greenhouse gas emissions from over 400 of the country's largest energy generators and manufacturers, and force companies to buy extra permits if they emit more than they have free allowances for.
By Thomas Hubert, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 13 August 2014 | The recent surge in Chinese investment in Africa has exposed the need for local policymakers to boost regulation and administrative capacity if they are to manage their forests and other natural resources sustainably, a recent study of Zambia shows. The study, conducted by scientists with the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), sought to assess the developmental implications of China’s increasingly prominent economic and political role in Zambia. The southern African country proved a useful place for such a study, thanks to its long and diverse history of relations with Beijing — from the completion of the 1,860-kilometer Tanzania-Zambia railway in 1975 (then China’s largest-ever construction project in Africa), to the 2011 election of President Michael Sata, who opposed terms seen as too favorable to Chinese firms operating in Zambia.
By Tom Arup, Sydney Morning Herald, 17 August 2014 | Instead of clearing everything, Mr Yench has promised to keep almost 7000 hectares of forest on Bulgoo standing for 100 years. In exchange he receives carbon credits under the federal government's Carbon Farming Initiative. It has proved a healthy alternative revenue stream. Quietly, another 30-odd landowners in western NSW have promised to do the same or are exploring the option. Like Mr Yench, many are based around the mining and grazing town Cobar. It has quickly become an unlikely national centre for carbon farming. Mr Yench says the new income is turning around marginal farms in the western district, allowing landowners to reinvest in their properties. Mr Yench used his first tranche of carbon cash to buy The Meadows and put on new workers. But the Abbott government's repeal of the carbon price, and the political uncertainty surrounding its much-criticised replacement, direct action, could bring it all undone.
The Jakarta Post, 16 August 2014 | The government will maintain its deforestation targets despite its pledge to control emissions. Forestry Ministry secretary-general Hadi Daryanto said on Tuesday that the government would proceed with plans to clear 14 million hectares (ha) of degraded forest from 2010 to 2020. Indonesia currently contains 180 million ha of forested land. According to Hadi, the degraded forest would be transformed into convertible forest as the country’s growth has forced the government to provide more space for development needs, such as infrastructure, energy and food supply. “Deforestation is inevitable [for development], but we will allocate the land for better use,” Hadi told The Jakarta Post. He added that the government would carefully select which degraded forest to clear. He emphasized that this would be strictly supervised so as to prevent illegal logging and other environmentally detrimental activities.
Stabroek News, 14 August 2014 | Months after Minister of Natural Resources Robert Persaud had said that Vaitarna Holdings Private Inc (VHPI) is in an “advanced” stage of setting up its promised wood processing facility at Wineperu, the company is still to do so and continues to export large quantities of logs. In January this year, Persaud told Stabroek News that construction of the facility was expected to commence in the first quarter of 2014 and start-up of processing was scheduled to commence within six to eight months. Since 2010, the Indian logging company has controversially controlled 737,814 hectares of forest – around 1.822 million acres – in Guyana and has been exporting logs to Asia.
The Indonesian government is pressing forward with plans to clear 14 million hectares of forest between 2010 and 2020 despite a commitment to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
The Jakarta Post, 14 August 2014 | Having been in operation since June with the support from the US-based environment and development think tank, the World Resource Institute (WRI), GFW-Fires has become a part of the agency’s forest fire monitoring system (KMS), an integrated system that provides near-real-time information about forest and land fires in the country for related institutions, including the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB), the Forestry Ministry, the police and local administrations. “Just imagine a village resident who beat bamboo tubes to warn others about an ongoing fire. This system works just like a giant bamboo tube that alerts officials and agencies responsible for handling fires on a massive scale,” BP REDD+ head Heru Prasetyo said.
SpyGhana.com, 13 August 2014 | The Forestry Commission (FC) has initiated key policy reforms to effectively respond to environmental safety and boost forest carbon stock. Forest management strategies highlight the critical importance of reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. Mr Samuel Afari Dartey, the Commission’s Chief Executive, addressing a workshop at Fumesua in the Ejisu-Juaben Municipality, said it was no accident that the Forest and Wildlife Policy (2012), for example incorporated “Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+)” in forest governance. REDD+ mechanism is the international community’s recognition of the climate-regulating role of forests and trees. The goal is to slow down the destruction of tropical forests, enhance conservation, their sustainable management and forest carbon stock.
The Korea Herald, 14 August 2014 | The Korea Exchange appeared to be in a rare fix over the Finance Ministry’s intentions to ease carbon emission duties for companies in a move that would put a damper on gas trading aimed at reducing the nation’s carbon emissions. The state-run stock operator had been gearing up to launch the Carbon Emission Reduction market to trade carbon emission credits. These credits are allotted to companies based on the amount of gas they emit. Firms emitting gas above the government-set limit would have to acquire credit from other firms in the CER market. The market is due to launch next January, but Finance Minister Choi Kyung-hwan recently hinted that the government was seeking to revise regulations to ease the burden for the corporate sector. “We must prepare for all possible side effects under the CER trading system,” Choi reportedly said during a meeting with the leaders of the nation’s top five economic organizations in July.
By Bruce Smith, AP, 12 August 2014 | A black water swamp in South Carolina owned by the Audubon Society is helping companies in California meet carbon emission goals to ease global warming. About 5,200 acres of the 17,000-acre Audubon Center & Sanctuary at Francis Beidler Forest near Harleyville have been registered with California's cap-and-trade program as carbon offsets in a program that also brings dollars to preserve the South Carolina landscape. In cap and trade, the government issues permits allowing companies to emit a certain amount of greenhouse gases but gives them flexibility on how they comply. They can trade emissions permits with each other and, in California, can purchase credits to offset as much as 8 percent of their emissions. The offset credits can be purchased from registered projects that prevent greenhouse emissions. In the case of the Beidler Forest, it is land that will remain the same, and the carbon stored in the trees will never enter the atmosphere...
Survival International, 14 August 2014 | A second wave of highly vulnerable uncontacted Indians has made contact with outsiders in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest, just weeks after Brazilian experts warned of “genocide” and “extermination” of the tribe. The group of around two dozen Indians is believed to include men, women and children who reported fleeing attacks by invaders in Peru. According to Brazil’s Ministry of Health, the Indians are in good health and have been residing at the “Xinane” government monitoring post. The contact follows a similar incident at the end of June 2014, when seven Indians from the same tribe made contact with a settled Asháninka indigenous community and agents of FUNAI, Brazil’s indigenous affairs department, in Brazil’s Acre state near the border with Peru. The Indians were given emergency medical treatment for an acute respiratory infection and briefly kept in “quarantine” before returning to their community in the forest.
By Bill O'Toole, Myanmar Times, 11 August 2014 | The United States Treasury Department granted a special one year licence beginning in late July for certain US companies to trade with Myanma Timber Enterprise and other members of the timber industry currently under sanction by the United States. The announcement has drawn both praise and concern from forestry experts, with some applauding the hands-on approach to reform and others warning that the scheme could end up reinforcing the corruption that has defined the timber industry for decades. The Myanma Timber Enterprise is a state-related outfit dedicated to extracting timber. As an industry leader, it has been targeted by environmental groups claiming a broad range of corruption, unsustainable production and human rights abuses.
By Joel Winston, SciDev.Net, 7 August 2014 | Local knowledge mixed with scientific enquiry lets indigenous community enterprises profit from forests, reports Joel Winston. Spanning over 650 million hectares globally and boasting plentiful resources, community-run forests provide important income for 400 million indigenous people who generate up to US$100 billion annually, according to a recent report by the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED). They provide a variety of opportunities and products, from fruits to herbal medicines, but to make the most of what they have to offer some communities are now combining their traditional practices with new technologies. So how can Community Forest Enterprises (CFEs) best mix modern scientific practices and indigenous knowledge so they thrive as sustainable alternatives to private and government-owned logging companies?