REDD and Rainforests
For years climate change activists and environmentalists have been clamoring for a high-profile, high-impact TV series about climate change to make Americans more aware of an issue that will affect billions of people around the globe in coming decades. This week they finally got it when Showtime released the first episode of Years of Living Dangerously, a big-budget TV series featuring a number of Hollywood's biggest stars as reporters and corespondents.
Mark Mulligan makes maps for the masses. In his work on tropical forests, Mulligan uses GIS, modeling, remote sensing, and lab experiments to turn research into datasets and policy support systems, which are available online for use in development, decision-making, and education.
Aru, an area made up of about ninety-five low-lying islands in the Maluku province of eastern Indonesia, has suspended a plan to clear half of its total forest cover for sugar cane. However, the island paradise is still not safe from large-scale deforestation, according to a report from Mongabay-Indonesia.
Nearly 70 percent of "officially inspected" logging concessions in Peru have had their permits canceled or are under investigation for major breaches of forestry laws, finds a new study published in the journal Scientific Reports. Worryingly, the research also concludes that forestry permits are being widely used to launder timber illegally logged from outside concession areas.
The head of an informal militia and poaching group, Paul Sadala a.k.a. 'Morgan,' was killed on Monday after surrendering himself to the army in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). A well-known elephant poacher and terrorist, Morgan became most famous for leading an attack on the Okapi Wildlife Reserve station in 2012.
Hastings and St. Leonards Observer, 14 April 2014 | A salesman who took part in a boiler room scam which fleeced investors out of more than £4m was today jailed for three years today (MON). John Curtin, 38, sold worthless shares for up to four times the agreed value and then siphoned off the profits as part of the scam run by American Brian O’Brien and his British wife Lynne D’Albertson. O’Brien and D’Albertson, who used to live in Westfield, were also jailed for their role in the scam. D’Albertson’s son Damien Smith, of Eversfield Mews North, St Leonards was jailed for three years and four month... Prosecutor Amanda Pinto QC said: “Between 2005 and 2007 the defendant was a sales manager involved in the fraudulent sale of company shares at vastly inflated price. “The defendant would call potential investors and over a couple of months £4m was acquired..."
By Marcello Teixeira, Reuters, 15 April 2014 | Brazil, looking to offset the carbon emissions generated by construction, travel and other activities related to hosting the 2014 Soccer World Cup, said on Tuesday it wants holders of United Nations-backed carbon credits to swap them for publicity during the games. The World Cup begins June 12 and Brazil's Environment Ministry said it has launched a program to convince owners of credits to exchange them for publicity in official documents of the event. The country, which is spending 26 billion reais ($11.6 billion) to prepare for the world's top soccer tournament, has no plans to buy offsets in the market, even if carbon prices are at historical lows. "We talked to some holders of credits and they were receptive to the idea of donating the credits", said Eduardo Valente, an official working with the program. The government will accept only certified emission reductions (CERs) from Brazil-based projects of the U.N.'s CDM.
By Lauren Cooper, Ecosystem Marketplace, 15 April 2014 | A new survey, by UC Berkeley, SIU-Carbondale, and Illinois Wesleyan University is bringing some much-needed positivity in global biodiversity news. Despite species and biodiversity figures dropping all over the world, Manu National Park of southern Peru has surpassed its own record for species biodiversity. The park continues to hold title as the richest biodiversity hotspot in the world for reptiles and amphibians. Located in the Department of Madre de Dios in southern Peru, Manu Park is already a world-renowned attraction for “eco-tourists” – specifically bird watchers, scientists, and conservationists. The World Heritage List in 1987. The nearly 1.5 million protected hectares hosts a variety of ecosystems, including lowland moist Amazonian rain forest, high-altitude cloud forest, and Andean grasslands.
New Study: Global Paper Company Makes Progress, but Continues to Face Challenges in Ensuring Legality of Land Holdings in China
Rights and Resources Initiative press release, 15 April 2014 | Despite headway in addressing land rights violations made in recent years, Stora Enso has yet to fully ensure legality of all lands acquired in the past. A new report reveals that Stora Enso Oyj (Stora Enso), one of the world’s largest pulp and paper companies, has made substantial progress in reviewing the legality of its land acquisitions in China, but has not yet fully ensured respect for local land rights in their operations. These challenges continue despite important steps by the company since 2009 to improve its land acquisition practices against the backdrop of China’s ongoing nationwide forest tenure reform.
Stabroek News, 14 April 2014 | The Chinese logging firm Bai Shan Lin is moving to construct a wood processing facility, ship building operation and exhibition centre and has applied to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for environmental authorization. In an ad in the Stabroek News, the EPA said that it has determined that an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is not required for the projects and an environmental authorization with specific conditions for environmental management may be granted to the applicants for the implementation of the projects. [R-M: Subscription needed.]
The Malaysian state should play a more active role in supporting the transition toward less environmentally destructive palm oil production, says a coalition of Malaysian NGO's. In a statement issued Sunday, the Malaysian Palm Oil NGO Coalition (MPONGOC) urged Malaysian banks, palm oil associations, and other government-backed institutions to commit to 'improving social and environmental standards in the palm oil industry'.
In what is a major victory for environmentalists, campaigners with United for Yasuni have collected 727,947 signatures triggering a national referendum on whether or not oil drilling should proceed in three blocs of Yasuni National Park in Ecuador.
Plans for an industrial site threaten one of Malaysia's only marine turtle nesting beaches and a forest home to rare trees and mammals, according to local activists. Recently, the state government of Perak approved two industrial project inside Tanjung Hantu Permanent Forest Reserve. But activists say these will not only cut into the reserve, but also scare away nesting turtles from Pasir Panjang.
Deforestation is destroying forests around the world, but its effects are especially obvious in the Amazon Basin. Due to cattle ranching, soybean farming, logging, and slash-and-burn agriculture, the rainforest is disappearing at a rapid pace. But a recent study published in the Journal of Ecology offers a unique solution to replanting the deforested landscapes: ants.
By Jonah Busch and Nancy Birdsall, Center For Global Development, 7 April 2014 | We found some noteworthy successes. The performance-based payment system has functioned as designed: Guyana has built an excellent national system for monitoring deforestation, and Guyana’s continued low rates of deforestation are being assessed relative to a reference level that is appropriate for a country with high forest cover and low deforestation rates. Three tranches of performance-based payments of about $115M have been approved, of which about $65M has been delivered. Payments have been lower in years when deforestation emissions are higher, consistent with a credible contingent payment system. Furthermore, buy-in for the principles of the Low Carbon Development Strategy is broadly shared, and some notable strengthening of institutions of forest governance has taken place. However, we found some worrisome developments as well.
By Susanna Twidale, Reuters, 7 April 2014 | Dutch utility Eneco has agreed to pay above market rates for hundreds of thousands of carbon credits to back an environmental project in Nepal under the U.N. scheme to fund emission reduction projects in poor countries. The project, which was registered last week, aims to provide poor households with new wood-burning stoves that require 60 percent less fuel, which helps reduce family fuel bills, air pollution and deforestation as well as improving household health conditions. Eneco, owned by 55 Dutch municipalities, said it was willing to pay more than the market rate to ensure the project goes ahead.
By Angela Dewan, Landscapes, 11 April 2014 | The world is transitioning to a green economy, but the many synergies between greater sustainability and the forest-focused REDD+ mechanism are underutilized, according to a recent United Nations report. Countries with tropical forests have for years been preparing for a full-scale implementation of REDD+, and can offer a wealth of knowledge and lessons learned for the broad shift towards a green economy, according to the report. “If designed well, REDD+ can thereby contribute to the key elements of a green economy: low-carbon development, social inclusiveness, increased human well-being and respect for natural capital,” says the report, “Building Natural Capital: How REDD+ Can Support a Green Economy” by the UN Environment Program’s International Resource Panel.
Code REDD press release, 11 April 2014 | On April 9th, 2014, Code REDD and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) presented an historic, first ever event - REDD+ Talks: Colombia in Cartagena. The packed event brought together leaders from the private, public, and civil society sectors to advance the role of Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) in sustainable business and development. The event provided a platform for Latin American and global REDD+ stakeholders – including project practitioners, indigenous peoples, business leaders, multilateral institutions, and policy makers – to explore the contributions the private sector can make to REDD+ through finance, sustainable operations, project investment, and public-private partnership.
By Eliza Rogers, ABC Rural, 11 April 2014 | The change of Federal Government is expected to make it easier and quicker for farmers to take part in the Carbon Farming Initiative. The CFI allows farmers to earn and sell carbon credits by storing carbon or reducing greenhouse gas emissions through activities like capturing methane from piggeries and landfills, and reducing cattle burping. It also helps farmers increase their efficiency and productivity. Since its inception three years ago, the Carbon Farming Initiative has rolled out a number of projects. But managing director of Australian Carbon Traders, Ben Keogh, says new government policy could kick it up a gear. "The Coalition is moving to a direct action plan where the government will purchase (carbon) credits from farmers and other industries. Hopefully the government will honour its commitment to make it much quicker, simpler and easier for farmers to participate."
By Kim Lewis, Voice of America, 10 April 2014 | Research conducted by the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI) reveals that there are no laws to guarantee that indigenous peoples and local communities will benefit from the global trade of carbon credits as nations cope with carbon emissions that impact global climate change. As deforestation threatens the livelihoods of remote forested regions, governments and investors may profit while rural communities suffer. “Carbon grab is sort of an offset of land grabbing,” says Alexandre Corriveau-Bourque, the lead researcher for the RRI study. He explained that any sort of grab of a resource is based on the idea that the rights of local communities are not necessarily respected.