REDD and Rainforests
Human-caused changes to our biosphere—the global total of the world's ecosystems—are now so great and alarmingly rapid that human lives and societies undoubtedly face epic challenges in the near future as our biosphere deteriorates, planetary boundaries are reached, and tipping points exceeded. We may survive, we may painfully adapt, but it is a fair bet that grave hardship, loss, and sacrifice lay ahead. The nature and extent of impacts among human populations hinges on how successfully we respond to the biosphere crisis with extraordinary leadership, balanced solutions applied at global scales, and unprecedented cooperation—or not.
Peru has delayed auctioning off 27 oil blocs in the Amazon in order to conduct legally-required consultations with indigenous groups in the region, reports the Guardian. Perupetro S.A., Peru's state oil and gas company, has announced it will auction 9 blocs off the Pacific coast, but will hold auctioning off the controversial oil blocs in the Amazon rainforest at least until later this year.
By Jim Armitage, The Independent, 17 May 2013 | It’s not too often that I’m alerted to stories for this column by football fans, but in the case of Vietnamese billionaire Doan Nguyen Duc, an Arsenal blog was the prompt. The piece referred to the Gunners’ partnership with the tycoon’s company, called HAGL, and expressed serious concerns as to whether the club should be involved. Why? Because of its alleged activities logging rainforests, forcing farmers off the land and replanting with rubber trees over vast tracts of Cambodia and Laos.
Jakarta Post, 20 May 2013 | The case in point implicates Adj. First Insp. Labora Sitorus of the Sorong Police in West Papua, who is suspected of involvement in illegal logging and fuel smuggling and was found to have bank accounts containing billions of rupiah. The case against him was first raised by the Financial Transaction Reports Analysis Centre (PPATK), which filed a report with National Police chief Gen. Timur Pradopo in March stating that the low-ranking officer was linked to bank transactions totaling Rp 1.5 trillion (US$153 million) between 2007 and 2012... The Papua Police, under the direction of the National Police, is now building their case against Sitorus, who will be charged under the 1999 Forestry Law, the 2001 Papua Special Autonomy Law and the Money Laundering Law.
By Patrick Kipalu & Joelle Mukungu, Forest Peoples Programme, 15 May 2013 | The considerable threats faced by the forests of the Democratic Republic of the Congo continue to draw global attention because of the crucial role these large forests play in regulating the global climate. Estimates indicate that the forests of the Congo Basin as a whole capture and store about 10 to 30 billion tons of carbon, an increasingly significant ecosystem service in light of concerns about climate change. In recent years, projects aimed at the reduction of emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) have been developed to provide financial incentives based on performance to the owners of large areas of forests in order to reduce the loss of forests and promote the improvement of carbon stocks through conservation and tree planting.
mongabay.com, 17 May 2013 | Panama's largest association of indigenous people will sue the Panamanian government to shut down the country's Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+) program. The National Coordinator of Indigenous Peoples in Panama (COONAPIP) announced its intent after it failed to reach agreement with the United Nation's REDD+ program, which has been working to establish a forest conservation framework in the Central American country. REDD+ aims to compensate tropical countries for cutting forest loss. The dispute dates back to 2009 and stems from COONAPIP's view that indigenous peoples in Panama have not been properly engaged in the REDD+ process. Earlier this year COONAPIP said it was pulling out of negotiations with the UN-REDD Program over a financial dispute. COONAPIP alleged that UN-REDD failed to delivery on a $1.8 million payment to begin REDD+ activities.
By Nadya Natahadibrata, Jakarta Post, 18 May 2013 | Forestry Ministry secretary-general Hadi Daryanto said the ministry had launched a program in 2010 to allocate 2.5 million hectares of forest areas as village forests, as a substitute for customary forests for indigenous people. The program is slated to be completed in 2014. “With the annulment by the Constitutional Court, we will redefine the designated areas of village forests that are not located in state forests or private forests,” he said. Hadi added that customary forest areas could not be regulated by the central government as, according to Article 67 of the Forestry Law, customary forests were to be regulated under bylaws. “Article 67 of Law No. 41/1999 on forestry was not annulled by the MK [Constitutional Court] and currently, no regional administration has issued a bylaw on customary forests,” Hadi told The Jakarta Post.
By Rhett A. Butler, mongabay.com, 17 May 2013 | In a landmark ruling, Indonesia's Constitutional Court has invalidated the Indonesian government's claim to millions of hectares of forest land, potentially giving indigenous and local communities the right to manage their customary forests, reports Mongabay-Indonesia. In a review of a 1999 forestry law, Indonesia's Constitutional Court ruled [PDF - Indonesian] that customary forests should not be classified as "State Forest Areas". The move is significant because Indonesia's central government has control over the country's vast forest estate, effectively enabling agencies like the Ministry of Forestry to grant large concessions to companies for logging and plantations even if the area has been managed for generations by local people. In practice that meant ago-forestry plots, community gardens, and small-holder selective logging concessions could be bulldozed for industrial logging, pulp and paper production, and oil palm plantations.
Bangkok Post, 19 May 2013 | Global Witness released a 49-page report on alleged illegal land grabs by two Vietnamese companies, state-owned VRG and privately owned Hoang Anh Gia Lai (HAGL) with investment backing from Deutsche Bank and International Finance Corp (IFC), a wing of the World Bank. It was released about the first anniversary of the death of Chhut Vuthy, a prominent environmentalist killed by security guards while investigating land grabs, and Heng Chanta, a 14-year-old girl shot dead not far from here, again by security guards during a village protest over land. The response from Prime Minister Hun Sen was typical. He announced more rubber plantations would be grown and on a vast scale _ seemingly indifferent to the plight of hundreds of thousands of impoverished people who have lost their land or been bullied into selling at rock bottom prices. ''In the next few years, we can have more rubber than Vietnam."
Jakarta Globe, 18 May 2013 | Rudi Putra, an environmental activist, started another petition for the same cause on Avaaz.org, which has garnered more than 1.2 million signatures in its first 11 days. “Aceh rainforests, home to endangered animals like orangutan and Sumatran rhino, have been destroyed by illegal hunters and loggers, but this new exploration will be an ultimate disaster,” he said. Rights groups say the plan will allow around 1.2 million hectares that were previously protected to be cleared... “Yudhoyono has the options: to leave an important legacy to protect the rich natural resources or to trash his own track record by allowing this disaster,” Avaaz’ campaign director Ian Baasin said.
Gabon has agreed to help battle poaching in protected areas in the Central African Republic following an elephant massacre at a renowned World Heritage site, reports the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS).
RECOFTC, 16 May 2013 | REDD+ capacity building is fundamental to achieving REDD+ readiness, recognized as a priority area by the UNFCCC since COP 13 in 2007. There is little data, however, that describe the type of capacity building and the number of people that are reached with these initiatives in REDD+ countries. The lack of information makes it difficult to determine where additional investments in capacity building are needed. These reports are part of a multi-country assessment of REDD+ capacity building initiatives that were implemented in Cambodia, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Indonesia, Liberia, Madagascar and Papua New Guinea (PNG) between September 2010 and June 2012. It was funded with a grant from the Climate and Land Use Alliance (CLUA) to the Alliance for Global REDD+ Capacity (AGRC), which is a partnership between 16 organizations, including RECOFTC, that are committed to enhancing the quality and availability of training on REDD+ worldwide.
World Resources Institute, May 2013 | Germany’s fast-start finance (FSF) contribution reflects a significant focus on financing climate action in developing countries. Germany exceeded its self-defined FSF pledge for the 2010-2012 FSF period, providing a total of EUR 1.29 billion, and also pledged to deliver EUR 1.8 billion in 2013. It is also one of the few countries to have published and adhered to a specific definition of what constitutes “new and additional” climate finance. This working paper provides policymakers and other climate finance practitioners with an assessment of German FSF project data. It examines characteristics of the finance such as channeling institutions employed and the extent of support for mitigation and adaptation activities. It also discusses innovative institutions for climate finance, Germany’s definition of additionality for FSF, and the degree to which the finance might be considered new and additional.
By Tom Woody, Quartz, 10 May 2013 | Urban trees in the US absorb 25.6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide annually and help lower energy costs by shading the asphalt and concrete jungle. The US Forest Service estimates all that carbon storage is worth $50.5 billion and growing by $2 billion a year, according to a new study from the agency. That’s a lot of green. Just one problem—how do you profit from all that photosynthesis? Figuring out how to monetize the urban forest could be key to keeping it—and the planet—healthy. As urbanization continues—cities are expected to account for 8.1% of US land area in 2050, up from 3.1% in 2000—the population of street trees is falling by 4 million trees a year, the report says. That’s the equivalent of losing 20,000 acres (8,094 hectares) of trees annually.
By Thomas Hubert, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 16 May 2013 | Implementing a U.N.-backed scheme to slow forest loss in the Democratic Republic of Congo will be difficult, a new study says, until the government addresses corruption, a lack of state authority in some regions, and intermittent fighting between rebels and government forces in the country’s east. Despite these challenges, the authors say that the scheme could actually help improve governance in the country. The report, The context of REDD+ in the DRC: drivers, agents and institutions (publication in French), to be launched at a forestry conference in Yaoundé, Cameroon, this week, contains an in-depth review of the governance, socio-economic and environmental situation in the central African nation.
By Julie Mollins, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 13 May 2013 | The view that increased crop production is the strategy most likely to achieve global food security could in reality allow farmland to encroach on valuable ecosystems, have a disastrous impact on forests and might not solve food security and nutrition problems, scientists say. Further research is essential for understanding the full impact forests and tree-based agricultural systems have on dietary and nutritional needs for at least 1 billion people whose livelihoods are directly affected by forests, the scientists said in a discussion paper released ahead of the International Conference on Forests for Food Security and Nutrition hosted by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Rome. “A rampant increase in agricultural production as global population increases could encroach on nutritional food sources found in forests,” warned Terry Sunderland, a scientist at CIFOR.
By Terry Sunderland, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 13 May 2013 | Recent news headlines, a plethora of scientific publications and the creation of new academic think tanks all reflect growing concerns over how to achieve global food security — a centerpiece of donor commitments and the focus of many research and development organisations. The renewed emphasis on global food security is stimulated by projections that show the global human population will grow from 7 billion to an estimated 9 billion people by 2050. Central to the current discourse on food security is the perceived need to increase food production to feed the 870 million people — one in eight worldwide, according to U.N. food agencies — who do not have enough to eat.
By Joshua Chaffin, Financial Times, 16 May 2013 | The surplus of permits in the EU’s carbon market more than doubled last year to 2bn, according to fresh data that Brussels hope will rally support for its controversial plan to boost carbon prices. The data – released by the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm – reveal that free permits given over the past five years to makers of steel, glass, cement and other heavy industries exceeded their carbon emissions during that period by nearly 300m tonnes... The latest figures come amid a debate between Brussels and European industry about the merits of intervening in the carbon market – the world’s largest – to prop up prices that have fallen from more than €30 per tonne five years ago to less than €4 today. That price collapse has removed an incentive for companies to invest in clean technologies. It stems from a glut of free permits as well as an unforeseen economic crisis that has damped industrial activity across Europe.
By Denis Sonwa, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 17 May 2013 | Responses to climate change are grouped into two main categories: mitigation (reducing greenhouse gas emissions responsible for climate change) and adaptation (adjusting livelihoods and life styles due to the influences of climate change). Amongst adaptation strategies, ecosystem-based adaptation (EBA) is an approach that promotes ways to use natural resources and biodiversity to help develop adaptation strategies for vulnerable communities. In this context, recent studies highlight the role that the Congo Basin forests play in generating rainfall, both regionally and in the continent as a whole. Rainfall in an ecosystem originates from three main sources: moisture that is already in the atmosphere, moisture from outside the region, and evapotranspiration from surfaces within the ecosystem (forests and other land uses).
By Thomas Hubert, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 17 May 2013 | There have been hunters and gatherers for as long as mankind can remember and members of many communities in the Congo Basin still extract their food, medicines, fuel and cultural artefacts directly from the forest. Should such long-established livelihoods be integrated into the modern economy? Abdon Awono, a Cameroon-based scientist with the Center for International Forestry Research, thinks so. “Can we recognise that local communities need things like televisions and modern healthcare? My answer is yes,” said the co-author of Guide for small and medium enterprises in the sustainable non-timber forest product trade in Central Africa. “If so, they need money. How can they get it? From their direct environment.”