REDD and Rainforests
By Michael D. Goldhaber, The American Lawyer, 29 September 2014 | Terra Global will devote some of the proceeds of carbon credit sales to fuel-efficient cookstoves and sustainable farming practices to stop the clearing of new land for vegetable plots by migrant farmers. It will also support 13 community groups to patrol the forests with motorbikes—including a group of Buddhist monks. To date, Terra Global's trades have not been very profitable because existing markets for carbon credits are limited. The U.S. hasn't ratified the Kyoto Protocol, nor has it passed a cap-and-trade law. Markets such as California are limited to local offsets, and the European Union excludes forestry credits. So Oddar Meanchey must rely on the "voluntary market." That means depending on companies in the social responsibility vanguard like The Walt Disney Company, eBay Inc., and Microsoft Corporation to voluntarily buy emission reductions in a quest for carbon neutrality.
By Peter Kanowski, The Conversation, 30 September 2014 | The New York declaration is yet another entrant on the scene. The first was 22 years ago, at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. In that sense the declaration is another coalition of the willing, with the same limitations that have constrained effective global action on forests since the 1992 Rio Statement of Forest Principles. But engaging with major business, and getting commitments, is a vital foundation for forest conservation and climate action. The Declaration is accompanied by a voluntary Action Agenda. This includes more forest conservation deals between the Government of Norway and tropical forest nations – in this case, Liberia and Peru (to which Germany is also contributing). 21 consumer goods companies (beef, palm oil, pulp and paper etc) committed to zero deforestation in a “Supply Chain Revolution”.
[Indonesia] Evidence of illegal logging activity detected by conservation drones in Gunung Leuser National Park
ConservationDrones.org, 30 September 2014 | The ConservationDrones Asia Team and the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme (SOCP) flew two separate missions over a part of the Gunung Leuser National Park (Indonesia) between two time periods barely a few months apart. In these two drone images you can see clear evidence of illegal logging within the national park. The loggers even left a strip of forest on the river bank to conceal the patch of logged forest from view. These images were given to park officials who subsequently acted to stop the logging activities.
By Erik Meijaard, The Jakarta Globe, 29 September 2014 | A few years ago, I was talking to a local community on the forest frontier in West Kutai district in East Kalimantan. They were saying themselves that communities in their area were the biggest driver of deforestation through illegal logging and fire. Because of the high number of coal exploration concessions given out in the area, communities were actively opening up forest wherever they could to claim “ownership” and drive up land prices. This had been much reduced since the anti-illegal logging actions instigated in 2008 by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. But by their own admission, those communities were looking for any signs of weakness from police and army enforcing anti-illegal logging legislation, to take up their land-clearing activities once again.
By Jonathan Smucker and Michael Premo, The Nation, 30 September 2014 | Last Sunday, we joined 400,000 people in the People’s Climate March (PCM) to demand action on climate change. The next day, we joined with 3,000 others to participate in Flood Wall Street (FWS), disrupting business as usual and naming capital as the chief culprit of climate change. In the days leading up to these mobilizations, a few critics on the left framed a stark dichotomy between these two kinds of actions. The PCM was cast as a depoliticized, corporate-friendly sellout, in contrast to more militant direct action, which Flood Wall Street soon emerged to organize. Chris Hedges, for example, called the PCM “the last gasp of climate change liberals,” and argued that the real resistance would come afterward “from those willing to breach police barricades.” Resistance, according to Hedges, can only be effective “when we turn from a liberal agenda of reform to embrace a radical agenda of revolt.”
The largest biosphere reserve in Southeast Asia: Vietnam’s success story or a conservation failure? PART I
In 2010, poachers shot and killed the last Javan rhino in Vietnam, wiping out an entire subspecies. The Sumatran rhino, the Malayan tapir and the civet otter, too, have disappeared from the country. Moreover, charismatic species like tigers, elephants, gibbons and the secretive saola discovered recently in Vietnam’s forests are at risk of extinction in the coming decades as threats to wildlife continue unabated in the country.
Studies in conservation biology often focus on rare, threatened species faced with impending extinction, but what about common animals of least concern? Could they too help conservationists fine-tune their approach? Doctoral researcher Laurel Yohe not only claims that they can, but demonstrates how in a new study. She and five other researchers compared ranges of five babblers with development across Vietnam.
Malaysian palm oil company Genting Plantations is continuing to destroy forests despite a high-profile pledge by one of its customers to eliminate deforestation from its supply chain, alleges a report published by Greenomics, an Indonesian environmental group.
CIFOR Forests News Blog, 30 September 2014 | For forests, it was a historic moment. The New York Declaration on Forests, signed last week at the UN Climate Summit, was notable not just for its ambition—halving deforestation by 2020 and ending it by 2030—but also for its broad-based support from governments, corporations and indigenous groups. History will show whether the pact can actually deliver, said experts who lauded the aims of the declaration but expressed concerns about some of its limitations. “This broad support is really something good that has come from Climate Week,” said Peter Holmgren, Director General of the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR). “It is not every year that we have heads of states gathered and you hear them speak about forests, agriculture and commitments.”
By Chris Meyer, Alisha Staggs and Dana Miller (EDF), GreenBiz, 29 September 2014 | What do companies, governments, civil society organizations and indigenous peoples have in common? Despite their differences, they share a common interest in reducing deforestation, which accounts for 12 percent of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. Leaders from all of these groups met Sept. 23 at the U.N. Climate Summit in New York City to spark action on climate change issues including deforestation. The Climate Summit hoped to rally action around two forest efforts, creating incentives to reduce deforestation in tropical countries through REDD+ policies (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation) and eliminating deforestation from the supply chains of commodities such as palm, beef, soy and paper.
By Jessica Shankleman, BusinessGreen, 29 September 2014 | Perhaps the one positive thing to come out of the spate of cyber-attacks on the EU carbon markets from 2009 to 2011 was that it forced the European Commission to tighten up its lax security measures... The fact that carbon credits are a virtual commodity made them particularly vulnerable to VAT fraud, says Stig Schgolset, head of carbon market analysis at Reuters Point Carbon... In late 2011, the EU voted through new security measures including "know-your-customer" checks, a 24-hour delay on permit transfers between registry accounts; the "four eyes principle" that requires at least two people to authorise a permit transfer; and stopping anyone who has been convicted for money laundering, tax fraud or terrorist financing in the past five years from having carbon accounts. Since then no incidents of carbon market fraud have been recorded and a spokesman for the Commission said the new measures were working effectively.
By Suze Metherell, The National Business Review, 29 September 2014 | Rural Equities, the farming group majority-owned by the Cushing family, sold its carbon credits and halved its stake in Australian agricultural company, Tandou, to fund the dairy conversion of its Eiffelton farm and reduce debt. The Hastings-based company gained $250,000 from the sale of its carbon units at $4.20 apiece, it said in a statement. Reducing its stake in Tandou to 6.35 percent, from 12.66 percent, at 44 Australian cents per share saw the company gain $400,000 on book value, taking proceeds of its divestments to $6.3 million.
By Bagus BT Saragih, The Jakarta Post, 29 September 2014 | Meanwhile, to deal with the country’s chaotic land management, Jokowi also plans to turn the National Land Agency (BPN) into the Agrarian Ministry. Andi of the transition team said the ministry was aimed at expediting the land consolidation processes necessary to support Jokowi-Kalla’s ambitious development programs. “In the past, development programs were frequently hampered by land disputes. Jokowi wants a system that is able to settle this kind of issue more effectively, so he can ensure that his programs can be delivered on time,” he said. Jokowi’s ambitious programs, such as the development of ports as part of his vision for a maritime axis, would need to procure massive amounts of land, Andi said.
By Rachel Smolker, Truthout, 29 September 2014 | Clearly, the United Nations is not going to do what is necessary to change the path we are on, but rather is mired in blame and conflict, relegated to endlessly reenacting and rehashing the history of colonialism, apparently utterly incapable of taking any steps that could be construed as challenging to the economic status quo much less calling out capitalism. Why? Because the UN itself is beholden to corporate puppet masters. With apparent naïveté, the UN insists on taking its cue from the very corporations who are responsible for degrading the planet, destroying lives and creating the crisis in the first place. This is pervasive throughout institutions and governments across the globe, not only the UN. The reason is money. With a handful of corporations owning and controlling most of the world's wealth, little can be funded and executed on a large scale without the funding, involvement and decision making of the handful of ultra wealth
Tropical forest restoration projects are exciting research sites for scientists studying factors that affect ecosystem recovery. Here, scientists are trying to understand plant community succession, i.e. the process of recovery after cleared lands are abandoned and allowed to regrow naturally. One of the most important components of this recovery process is seed dispersal, since seeds from nearby forests allow a deforested habitat to become populated again by native plants and trees.
Climate change is likely to alter how we humans grow adequate amounts of food for a swelling global population. Assessing just how much and where those changes will occur has been difficult. But a new study takes aim at those very questions and could provide a guide for the debate over feeding the planet while also preserving biodiversity and the forests that filter out the carbon we produce.
By Zubaidah Nazeer, The Straits Times, 29 September 2014 | At first glance, this room on the fourth floor of a commercial building in central Jakarta could pass off as a conference room. But three large wall-mounted flat television screens displaying wind direction, weather data and real-time maps of 11 provinces betray its real function - a "situation room". This is the nerve centre where updated information on hot spots across Indonesia's fire-prone provinces is tracked by 12 officials. They gather and process the information before disseminating it every morning to others, including provincial police chiefs and local governments. "What we are doing is to organise information... and it is amazing how organised data makes a difference," said Mr Agus P. Sari, an official manning the data at Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation Management Agency (BP REDD+), the agency that oversees the situation room.
By Steffen Böhm and Katherine Rockett, The Conversation, 29 September 2014 | First, are US$300m and US$150m, as in the Peru and Liberia deals respectively, enough to change decisions and development paths for the long term? The underlying problems generating deforestation are complex and require multiple approaches to correct, including changes in buying behaviours of companies and consumers in the industrialised world. Indeed, deals have been struck with Liberia and other countries before, but deforestation has continued and hence their results have been mixed. Some have claimed that changes to deforestation rates have generally followed trends begun before the Norwegian interventions and have been driven by other indigenous changes in attitudes, laws, and enforcement. So, deals with Norway alone will not be enough. Political will and leadership in developing countries, and being able to confront economic elites, are essential to address the drivers of the problem.
By Dan Klotz, National Geographic, 22 September 2014 | In a controversial opinion piece that ran in the New York Times, the Yale professor presented a new argument for chopping down trees. The massive amounts of forest loss since the mid nineteenth century have supposedly cooled the planet by reducing the biogenic volatile organic compounds (BVOCs) released by forests, compounds that exacerbate the climate impacts of ozone, methane, and other industrial pollutants. Trees are also darker colored, and thus absorb more sunlight than light colored cropland. The op-ed and its theories, however, don’t hold up under scrutiny. According to forest ecologist Michael Wolosin, the piece’s underlying research establishes that the impact of forests on carbon is three times larger than the impact of forests on BVOCs. Many more variables need to be included, he argues, before calculating whether forests should be devalued in any climate equation.
By Gloria Gonzalez and Allie Goldstein, Forest Carbon Portal, 23 September 2014 | Heading into this week’s United Nations Climate Summit in New York City, it would have been easy to take the pessimistic view that this would be another exhausting round of discussions where no concrete action was taken to address the climate challenge. But this summit is off to a fast start as governments, multinational corporations, civil society and indigenous peoples have issued the New York Declaration on Forests – a joint commitment to cut forest loss in half by 2020 and completely end it by 2030. The pledge, if successfully implemented, would reduce global emissions by anywhere from 4.5 to 8.8 billion tons of carbon dioxide each year – equivalent to removing the carbon emissions produced by the one billion cars currently on the world’s roads. The declaration also calls for restoring more than 350 million hectares of forests and croplands – an area greater than the size of India.