ASB Partnership for the Tropical Forest Margins

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The latest on land use, livelihoods and environmental services in the tropical forest margins.
Updated: 5 years 23 weeks ago

Making progress on Reducing Emissions from All Land Uses

Tue, 08/10/2010 - 1:32pm

This year so far has brought important progress to link agricultural landscapes in developing countries with climate change mitigation approaches. Peter A Minang, Global Coordinator of the ASB Partnership for the Tropical Forest Margins, highlights achievements to date, and lays out key questions for the road ahead.

In developing countries, agriculture is major driver of deforestation and forest degradation, and therefore a significant contributor to global Carbon emissions, as well as ecosystem degradation and biodiversity loss.

Trees on this farm in Lushoto, Tanzania, can greatly increase the effectiveness of any REDD+ strategy. Photo by V. Meadu

Agricultural landscapes, particularly mosaic-lands and agroforestry systems, can also be part of the solution; these areas hold significant potential for storing and enhancing land-based carbon, while also creating economic benefits for poor farmers. For over fifteen years, the ASB Partnership for the Tropical Forest Margins has worked to understand which landscapes produce a balance between healthy ecosystem and livelihood benefits. As the debate about Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+) has evolved, ASB and partners have  called on the climate change community to look beyond the forest, and address the drivers of change as well as the opportunities for creating sustained benefits for smallholder farmers. We have argued that taking into account the value of trees outside forests, such as those found on farms, can greatly increase the effectiveness of any REDD+ strategy. Moreover, we have found the distinctions between ‘forest’ and ‘nonforest’ to be political constructs that may hinder a truly successful REDD+ initiative (see ASB PolicyBrief 15: If we cannot define it, we cannot save it: Forest definitions and REDD – pdf).

Political, and scientific, progress

So far in 2010, we have seen promising political action and research initiatives in this domain, starting with a call for technical work on agricultural mitigation in developing countries (PDF) at the UN Climate Change meeting in Copenhagen in December. Discussions continued at the UN technical meeting on climate change held in Bonn this June (SBSTA 32), where parties were asked to consider which issues would need to be resolved for COP16 this December in Mexico in order to initiate a programme of work on agriculture. The group addressed cooperative sectoral approaches and sector-specific actions in agriculture, with many parties supporting the establishment of a work programme that would highlight the impacts of agriculture on food security, poverty reduction and sustainable development. Ahead of this meeting, the FAO made a formal submission to the UNFCCC, Towards a Work Programme on Agriculture (PDF), which captures many of the political and scientific arguments we have also put forth. In Bonn, ASB and the World Agroforestry Centre jointly hosted a technical side event, showcasing our work on measuring carbon in complex landscapes with trees. We think that there are few technical barriers for measuring, reporting and verifying carbon outside the forest, and now we know enough to build on.

There has been steady momentum on agriculture in the international research community as well.

Some heavy hitters, including the CGIAR, FAO and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are all working on initiatives for carbon and livelihoods across the broader agricultural landscape.

The Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) initiative on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security has taken on a mandate to overcome the threats to agriculture and food security in a changing climate and explore new ways of helping vulnerable rural communities adjust to global changes in climate. At a conference in Nairobi in May, experts gave input into the 10-year programme, which will require a new approach for conducting and realizing international agricultural research.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has a new project called MICCA – Mitigation of Climate Change in Agriculture which aims to ‘help realise the substantial mitigation potential of agriculture, especially that of smallholders in developing countries’. A key activity in the next year will be to assess the synergies and trade-offs between agricultural mitigation, agricultural development and food security.

The Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases, which was officially announced in Copenhagen, also recently laid out its research agenda, and agreed to consider studying the role of soil carbon in agricultural emissions. Similarly, the Agricultural Development Team of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation convened an expert meeting this June, focused on understanding the feasibility of soil carbon sequestration in small-scale farmers’ systems in Sub-Saharan countries. ASB scientists and collaborators participated, sharing results from our work looking beyond REDD+.

Moving ahead

As these initiatives get moving, we are confident that many of the technical questions, such as those relating to measurement, will be resolved. This is the easy part, as we collectively have enough knowledge and expertise to answer these questions. The hard part is understanding how to integrate competing social and institutional interests and concerns, and making a REDD+ or REALU regime fair and equitable. We look forward to continuing work in this domain and sharing early results with the international community.

Categories: Agroforestry

Reducing emissions from deforestation, inside and outside the ‘forest’

Tue, 08/10/2010 - 12:41pm

New analysis from Indonesia suggests that one-third of greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation originate from areas not officially defined as ‘forest’. The research, summarized by the ASB Partnership for the Tropical Forest Margins in a new policy brief, finds that 0.6 Gt (Gigatonnes) of carbon are emitted each year outside of areas not that are not officially considered forests in Indonesia. As a result, these emissions are not accounted for under the current national policy for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+).

Reducing emissions from deforestation, inside and outside the 'forest'. Click to download PDF.

The report’s authors, based at the World Agroforestry Centre in Bogor, Indonesia and Nairobi, Kenya, argue that if current emission levels continue according to business as usual, there will be no forest left by 2063. Moreover, Carbon stocks outside of institutionally-defined forests are more at risk than those inside, and may be depleted by 2032. This is partly due to emissions leakage from protected forests. Although Indonesia has shown leadership in committing to voluntarily reduce emissions by 26%, the large quantity of carbon emissions from outside forest areas may cancel out any net emissions reductions that are achieved.

The brief recommends that tropical forest countries embrace a new approach to Carbon accounting: accounting for all the carbon in the landscape. Reducing emissions from all land uses can be more effective in reducing emissions, and can also overcome unclear forest definitions and help capture leakage of emissions between sectors.

Read the PolicyBrief:

Ekadinata A; van Noordwijk M; Dewi S and Minang P A. 2010. “Reducing emissions from deforestation, inside and outside the ‘forest’”. ASB PolicyBrief 16. ASB Partnership for the Tropical Forest Margins, Nairobi, Kenya. Download PDF.

Categories: Agroforestry

Expert Workshop on Monitoring Governance Safeguards in REDD+: Report and Background Papers

Tue, 08/03/2010 - 3:21pm

On 24-25 May 2010, a workshop, supported by the UK Department for International Development (DfID) and the UN-REDD Programme, was convened at Chatham House, London, to discuss the scope, needs and priorities for monitoring and assessing governance for REDD+. The workshop brought together 40 experts from government, international donor agencies, academia and non-governmental organisations from around the world.

How does one ensure that REDD+ mitigation actions are effective in terms of emissions reductions but do not result in negative social and environmental impacts? At the 15th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in December 2009, consensus was reached that a number of safeguards should be supported and promoted when undertaking REDD+ actions. These include the existence of transparent and effective national forest governance structures, respect for the knowledge and rights of indigenous peoples and local communities, and full and effective participation of relevant stakeholders. Further, the need to monitor governance, to ensure the effective implementation of REDD+ actions, was recognised.

The workshop concluded that REDD+ governance monitoring should draw from existing initiatives, best practice, knowledge and case studies; take into account particular national circumstances and fragile governance situations; and build on existing institutions and monitoring systems where possible. It was considered that monitoring governance parameters would require an initial, one-off, assessment effort, as well as continued monitoring, and that monitoring requirements will change as progress is made through the REDD+ phases. Broad agreement was reached on a draft framework of three core governance parameters for REDD+ and key considerations (i.e. ‘what to monitor’), and discussion initiated on fifteen practical principles for implementing monitoring derived from best practice and lessons learned. The approach of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) to revenue transparency and reconciliation was considered for potential application to REDD+ financial flows.

The workshop marked a first step in a process towards an effective and feasible framework for monitoring governance for REDD+. Next steps should entail further clarification of the draft framework of governance parameters and practical principles for designing and implementing monitoring systems.

  • Background paper 1 (PDF) Monitoring Governance for Implementation of REDD+, analyses existing initiatives on monitoring governance inside and outside the forest sector and examines relevant best practice in international environmental law. It clarifies concepts and definitions of governance for REDD+, traces the evolution of MRV (measurement, reporting and verification) in the climate negotiations and assesses evolving provisions on monitoring and MRV in relation to REDD+. Practical lessons are drawn from existing initiatives and best practice to inform the development of parameters and guidance for monitoring governance for REDD+.
  • Background paper 2 (PDF) Governance in REDD+: taking stock of governance issues raised in readiness proposals submitted to the FCPF and UN-REDD Programme, provides an overview of how readiness proposals submitted to the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) and the UN-REDD Programme consider governance-related issues and their monitoring.

The full report of the workshop, together with background papers and powerpoint presentations, can be accessed at the following websites:

Categories: Agroforestry

REDD-plus briefing paper for developing country negotiators

Tue, 08/03/2010 - 3:13pm

FIELD, the Foundation for International Environmental Law and Development, has prepared a short briefing paper to assist developing country negotiators who are working on REDD-plus. The briefing paper focuses on the UNFCCC negotiations taking place from 2-6 August in Bonn, Germany. The paper is available in English and will soon be available in French and Spanish.

The short briefing paper considers recent REDD-plus negotiations and highlights key issues coming up at the next UNFCCC negotiating sessions in August in Bonn, Germany, where the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention (AWG-LCA) and the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP) will be meeting.

Download the paper

  • English (PDF)
  • Spanish (to follow soon)
  • French (to follow soon)

via REDD-plus briefing paper | Foundation for International Environmental Law and Development.

Categories: Agroforestry

The REDD Opportunities Scoping Exercise

Tue, 08/03/2010 - 3:05pm

Forest Trends has published a synthesis report of the REDD+ Opportunities Scoping Exercise for Tanzania, Uganda, and Ghana

The REDD+ Opportunities Scoping Exercise (ROSE) is a tool for classifying and prioritizing potential REDD+ sub-national activities and for assessing critical constraints to project development, especially those associated with the legal, political, and institutional framework for carbon finance. The ROSE tool was developed and refined during 2009 in the course of conducting case studies in Tanzania, Uganda, and Ghana. The tool has two main stages: a 2-3 day key informant or expert workshop, and an analysis of policy, legal and institutional constraints by a small in-country team following the workshop. In the first stage, workshop participants work through a set of steps aimed at identifying high potential REDD ‘project types’ and the main legal, political, and institutional ‘gaps’ constraining development of the identified project types. The ROSE tool is therefore relevant to the development of REDD+ at both the sub-national and national levels; in the three case study countries, the ROSE studies have provided key inputs to national ‘REDD+ Readiness’ processes. This report explains the ROSE methodology and process, and summarizes key findings of the three case studies, including a brief description of the high potential project types identified, and the main gaps or constraints to realising that potential.

Download the report: Forest Trends – The REDD Opportunities Scoping Exercise.

Categories: Agroforestry

Ford Foundation Commits $85 Million to Advance Rural Land Rights and Reduce Climate Change

Tue, 08/03/2010 - 3:01pm

The Ford Foundation has announced a five-year, $85 million initiative that will make rural and indigenous people a stronger part of the world’s response to climate change, saying that engaging these populations is essential to reducing poverty and building long-term climate solutions.

“We believe that incorporating the voices of the people who live on these lands will bring three positive outcomes: strengthening communities and boosting local economic activity while advancing the health and sustainability of the environment. There is the potential for triple-bottom-line impact from this approach,” said  Luis Ubiñas, president of the Ford Foundation

Read the press release at the Ford Foundation Newsroom.

More information for grant seekers: Climate Change Responses That Strengthen Rural Communities

Categories: Agroforestry

Agriculture and Rural Development Day, 4 December 2010, Cancún Mexico

Tue, 08/03/2010 - 2:54pm
4 December 2010

Agriculture and Rural Development Day 2010 will be a parallel event to the UNFCCC 16th Conference of Parties in Cancún, Mexico. Read more: Agriculture and Rural Development Day Website.

Categories: Agroforestry

Forest Day 4, 5 December 2010, Cancún, Mexico

Tue, 08/03/2010 - 2:51pm
5 December 2010

Forest Day 4 will be the fourth in this series of influential events. It will take place on 5 December 2010 alongside the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change 16th Conference of the Parties in Cancún, Mexico at the Cancún Center. Forest Day 4 is hosted by the Government of Mexico, through the National Forestry Commission, the Collaborative Partnership on Forests and CIFOR.

Our goal for Forest Day 4 is to build on the momentum of past events and the heightened global awareness of the role forests play in mitigating and adapting to climate change.

This year Forest Day 4 aims to:

  • reinforce and clarify the position of forests as key to the emerging global climate change strategy;
  • inform UNFCCC negotiators of new knowledge, consensus and controversy relevant to issues under discussion;
  • provide a forum where a wide range of stakeholders and world leaders can discuss new challenges and issues arising from the implementation of REDD+ and adaptation schemes to alleviate climate change;
  • ensure a diversity of opinion and stakeholder participation;
  • provide a platform for the presentation and discussion of new science relevant to forest and climate policy and practice;
  • achieve an optimum level of integration and coordination with other policy arenas and events, such as those focused on biodiversity and agriculture; and
  • engage international and local media in issues of forests and climate change.

More details: Introduction to Forest Day 4.

Categories: Agroforestry

Does the Opportunity Cost Approach Indicate the Real Cost of REDD+?

Tue, 08/03/2010 - 2:50pm

The focus of this new paper from the Rights and Resources Initiative is that in most tropical developing countries, there are many contextual issues that influence the adequacy of using REDD+ opportunity costs as a proxy for the full cost of implementing successful REDD+. Resolving these issues can be expensive and time consuming.

Download full report: Does the Opportunity Cost Approach Indicate the Real Cost of REDD+? Rights and Realities of Paying for REDD+ (PDF). by Hans Gregersen, Hosny El Lakany, Alain Karsenty, Andy White – Rights and Resources, CIRAD

Download the executive summary brief (PDF)

Categories: Agroforestry

Calling for an ‘old-fashioned’ green revolution

Wed, 07/07/2010 - 8:00am

In an opinion piece on BBC’s Green Room, Tensie Whelan, president of the Rainforest Alliance, argues that smallholder farmers in the forest margins possess the skills and knowledge to protect the forests while farming productively.

Our experience at the Rainforest Alliance shows that by using “good old fashioned” farming techniques, such as good land-use management and harvesting practices, or reintroducing native tree cover to provide shade for the crops, leads to an improvement in the productivity and quality of farmers’ crops and reduces susceptibility to pests and natural disasters.

via BBC News – Calling for an ‘old-fashioned’ green revolution.

Categories: Agroforestry

Protected forests in Brazil more prone to fire, or contributing to reduced deforestation?

Tue, 07/06/2010 - 8:52am

New research from the Amazon is showing that despite a reduction in the overall rate of deforestation, forest fires – and resulting Carbon emissions from burning forests – are on the rise. The research, conducted by Luiz Aragão of the University of Exeter, UK, and Yosio Shimabukuro at the National Institute of Space Research in São Paulo, Brazil (Science, vol 328, p 1275) found that the fires occur at the forest edges, where agricultural lands and forest areas meet. These marginal areas are growing in number as deforestation continues, albeit at a slower pace.

Reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD) may curb carbon emissions, but the consequences for fire hazard are poorly understood. By analyzing satellite-derived deforestation and fire data from the Brazilian Amazon, we show that fire occurrence has increased in 59% of the area that has experienced reduced deforestation rates. Differences in fire frequencies across two land-use gradients reveal that fire-free land-management can substantially reduce fire incidence by as much as 69%. If sustainable fire-free land-management of deforested areas is not adopted in the REDD mechanism, then the carbon savings achieved by avoiding deforestation may be partially negated by increased emissions from fires.

Meanwhile, another study in the Brazilian Amazon recently found that protected areas in the Brazilian Amazon are proving highly effective in reducing forest loss in Earth’s largest rainforest; 37 percent of the recent decline in deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon can be attributed to newly established protected areas. The research was co-authored by 12 researchers across five institutions in Brazil and the United States (PNAS, vol. 107 no. 24, 10821-10826.).

Protected areas (PAs) now shelter 54% of the remaining forests of the Brazilian Amazon and contain 56% of its forest carbon. However, the role of these PAs in reducing carbon fluxes to the atmosphere from deforestation and their associated costs are still uncertain. To fill this gap, we analyzed the effect of each of 595 Brazilian Amazon PAs on deforestation using a metric that accounts for differences in probability of deforestation in areas of pairwise comparison. We found that the three major categories of PA (indigenous land, strictly protected, and sustainable use) showed an inhibitory effect, on average, between 1997 and 2008. Of 206 PAs created after the year 1999, 115 showed increased effectiveness after their designation as protected. The recent expansion of PAs in the Brazilian Amazon was responsible for 37% of the region’s total reduction in deforestation between 2004 and 2006 without provoking leakage. All PAs, if fully implemented, have the potential to avoid 8.0 ± 2.8 Pg of carbon emissions by 2050. Effectively implementing PAs in zones under high current or future anthropogenic threat offers high payoffs for reducing carbon emissions, and as a result should receive special attention in planning investments for regional conservation. Nevertheless, this strategy demands prompt and predictable resource streams. The Amazon PA network represents a cost of US$147 ± 53 billion (net present value) for Brazil in terms of forgone profits and investments needed for their consolidation. These costs could be partially compensated by an international climate accord that includes economic incentives for tropical countries that reduce their carbon emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.

Read the full articles:

Luiz E. O. C. Aragão  and Yosio E. Shimabukuro. 2010. The Incidence of Fire in Amazonian Forests with Implications for REDD. Science . Vol. 328. no. 5983, pp. 1275 – 1278. 4 June 2010. DOI: 10.1126/science.1186925.

Britaldo Soares-Filho, Paulo Moutinho, Daniel Nepstad, Anthony Anderson, Hermann Rodrigues, Ricardo Garcia, Laura Dietzsch, Frank Merry, Maria Bowman, Letícia Hissa, Rafaella Silvestrini, and Cláudio Maretti (2010). Role of Brazilian Amazon protected areas in climate change mitigation. PNAS. June 15, 2010 vol. 107 no. 24 10821-10826. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0913048107.

Categories: Agroforestry

Saving tropical forests helps protect U.S. and Brazilian agriculture: new reports

Fri, 07/02/2010 - 10:22am

As part of their campaign for US climate legislation that includes reducing tropical deforestation, Avoided Deforestation Partners have released a report and video arguing that these measures will be good for U.S. agriculture.

From the press release:

[O]verseas agriculture and logging operations are expanding production by cutting down the world’s rainforests, allowing them to flood the world market with cheap commodities that undercut American goods. The report estimates that ending deforestation will boost revenue for U.S. producers by between $196-$267 billion by 2030 – approximately equivalent to the entire amount projected to be spent by farmers on energy during that time.

Download the report (PDF): Farms Here, Forests There: Tropical Deforestation and U.S. Competitiveness in Agriculture and Timber

AD Partners have also published research showing that reducing deforestation in the Amazon will “substantially increase gross revenue for Brazil.” In addition to REDD payments, the research essentially argues for agricultural intensification as a way to reduce pressure on forests and add value to existing agri-business activities, particularly in the cattle ranching sector.

Building on other published research, the report finds that Brazilian agriculture has significant competitive advantages, including relatively constant temperatures and tens of millions of hectares of degraded land that can easily be put into production as demand increases. The country also has significant capacity to increase the efficiency, productivity and profitability of its cattle sector. As a result, non-deforestation Brazilian agriculture is well-positioned to benefit from a gradual shift away from deforestation-based production.

Download the report (PDF)

The research does not, however, explain how the US might cope with improved and more competitive Brazilian agriculture.

Categories: Agroforestry

US climate legislation and REDD+: progress and complications

Wed, 06/30/2010 - 1:04pm

World Agroforestry Centre climate change expert Jonathan Haskett reports back from the Carbon Markets, Forestry & REDD USA conference in Washington DC, June 10-11 2010.

The conference, which brought together leading industry actors, policymakers and scientists, showcased progress in North American forest carbon markets and beyond,  with a special focus on current and potential links to international mechanisms for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+), land use, and sustainable development.

The evolution of US climate legislation is critical and is already shaping REDD+ initiatives internationally.

The climate legislation currently wending its way through the United States Congress featured prominently on the first day. The current incarnation of the legislation is the  ‘American Power Act‘, which includes a cap-and-trade system for utilities and industries, and has provisions for funding international actions to avoid deforestation.

David Hunter of the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA) gave a lengthy account of the ups and downs of the US climate change legislative process to illustrate the on-again-off-again status of the bill. He emphasized that the bill had been declared “dead” a number of times and that each time it had been revived and moved forward. The oil spill in the gulf also seemed to be giving the legislation momentum and he remained cautiously optimistic that the legislation would pass in some form.

Hunter was followed by Jeff Horowitz of Avoided Deforestation Partners (ADP), who initially stressed the need for universal REDD methodologies and then moved on to a discussion of the pledge of the United States of $1B in support of REDD to be matched by $2.5B pledged by other countries, as part of the interim partnership on REDD currently being led by Norway and France. Of this funding 25% was to be allocated to technical readiness activities to help nations prepare to participate in REDD activities, 60-70% was to go for demonstration activities (innovative, large scale, low-carbon development programs), with the balance of about 10% going for the purchase of REDD credits. USAID will be the gatekeeper of these funds on the US side and will be administering a centrally managed, performance based, landscape sustainability fund. On the legislative side ADP has been working an interesting argument with farm state Senators that stopping deforestation will help American farmers and producers by limiting the availability of cheap, deforestation sourced soybeans, beef, and timber. REDD payments are then seen as a vehicle for saving American jobs.

More large-scale private investment in REDD+

Eric Bettleheim, founder and past Executive Chairman of Sustainable Forestry Management (SFM) Ltd, gave the day’s starkest assessment of the current state of REDD. In his interpretation, current additionality rules create a contradiction in which project developers must tell investors that a project is inherently economically feasible while simultaneously telling the Clean Development Mechanism reviewers that it is infeasible so as to meet additionality requirements. Of more consequence was Mr. Bettleheim’s view that the vast majority of the current inventory of REDD projects are too small to be economically viable and are too dependent on public or donor support, and that these projects would vanish when priorities shift. Without large scale private investment, he said, there is no way that small sub-national REDD efforts can survive as commercial ventures. He finished by stating that separating forests from agriculture and from agroforestry was a meaningless distinction in the tropics as agricultural encroachment was virtually always an important component of deforestation and went on to mention that land use remained a viable as a low risk, low tech abatement opportunity for climate change mitigation.

Bettleheim’s remarks were underscored to an extent by Yemi Katerere , head of the UN-REDD secretariat, who stated that while public sector finance was insufficient to fully support REDD, grant funding would be necessary initially for institutional capacity building. The private sector will only engage in a meaningful way when enabling legislation is in place. As a general matter, business is not positioning itself proactively to take advantage of REDD when legislation arrives. As a result a huge gap will occur after legislation passes, as project development takes 2-3 years. Finally he emphasized the importance of both viable, credible MRV systems and social safeguards in REDD implementation.

Benoit Bosquet of the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) also emphasized the importance of Measurement, Reporting and Verification (MRV) with respect to REDD, combined with credible baseline emissions assessments and subsequent development of REDD management arrangements. Benoit’s noted that while progress was needed to scale REDD up to the national level, there was also a need for progress that can be executed at the district or project level. FCPF has not yet determined what price they might pay for REDD credits;  this will ultimately be based on a valuation made by the FCPF’s governing body.

Forestry makes up one quarter of the voluntary carbon market, but needs further incentives

The subsequent discussion panels outlined the importance of REDD in the voluntary carbon market – 24% of total projects are forest carbon , with most projects being implemented in North America and Latin America, specifically the US, Brazil and Peru. The lack of US legislation creates regulatory and policy uncertainty, and is seen as a severe hindrance to project development. This in turn was an obstacle to mobilizing the $17-28B need to finance REDD. It was also emphasized that the current legislative language before the US Senate does not recognize the legitimacy of individual REDD projects in regional schemes. This was viewed as an important difficulty in both the “launch” phase of REDD and the development of compliance market for REDD credits. While there are investors who are willing to take on REDD project risks in hope that with appropriate legislation that the value of their investment will markedly increase, most companies currently view REDD investment under a more limited Corporate Social Responsibility rubric.

Experience shows how people can, and must, be at the centre of REDD projects

On the second day of the conference the presentation by Derek Charter of Helveta Inc, was very interesting from the point of view of community based REDD measurements. The company have developed a hand held device for verifying many important aspects of REDD implementation. The device is operated by a symbol-based interface that allows community members who may not be literate to gather and record information that is then transmitted electronically to a central database. The device can be used to verify both intact forest and illegal logging as well as other ecosystem values such as water, biodiversity and cultural resources. The company is currently working on carbon stock assessment addition to the device’s capability.

On the REDD implementation side there were interesting presentations from Brazil and Indonesia. In Brazil, the Amazonas Sustainable Foundation led by Virgilio Viana has developed a large scale REDD implementation that seeks to address deforestation driven by smallholder migration to the forest margin. The project seeks to improve livelihoods and give standing forests more value. Participants do a three day course and receive certificate of understanding of REDD and value of forests. Thereafter families receive monthly cash payment to women via an ATM card they can use in town. Participating communities receive USD $70K that they can manage and spend as they see fit for economic development uses that have included: a brazil nut processing factory, internet access and the purchase of a motor launch. This is a very large REDD project with 10M ha and 7000 registered families participating in a CCBA certified scheme. The project fits well within current Brazilian REDD legislation that takes a nested approach across National regional and project scales, uses a stock and flow approach, and provides a legal definition of a forest carbon credit.

The Berau Forest Carbon Program in Indonesia was described by Greg Fishbein of The Nature Conservancy, a major participant in the program. The focus of the program is job creation and economic growth to support forest conservation. The programme creates specific interventions for specific sectors, for example the conversion of conventional logging to low impact logging which reduces emissions by 50%, and an effort to divert oil palm plantation creation from areas of standing forest to degraded areas that have already been deforested.

Ralph Dubayah of the University of Maryland rounded out the end of the second day with a presentation on advances in remote sensing. After a presenting a general on biomass relevant remote sensing techniques including active and passive systems,  Dubayah emphasized the utility of recently improved wave-form LIDAR, an active, laser-based system that is able to map larger areas in a single pass than conventional LIDAR systems and thus able to do large areas more rapidly with a corresponding reduction in cost per unit area. A new planned mission by NASA will combine LIDAR and Interferometric RADAR to study deforestation, ecosystem structure, biomass and biomass dynamics, but is years away from launch.

All in all seemingly the conference provided valuable the insights into the critical US legislative process and the corresponding overview of the current status of REDD-plus.

Categories: Agroforestry

Realising Rights, Protecting Forests: An Alternative Vision for Reducing Deforestation

Tue, 06/29/2010 - 5:03pm

The Accra Caucus on Forests and Climate Change is a network of southern and northern NGOs representing around 100 civil society and Indigenous Peoples’ organizations from 38 countries, formed at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) meeting in Accra, Ghana in 2008. The Caucus works to place the rights of indigenous and forest communities at the centre of negotiations on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD), and to ensure that efforts to reduce deforestation promote good governance and are not a substitute for emission reductions in industrialised countries. In this report the Caucus proposes an alternative vision for achieving the objective of reducing deforestation, arguing for policies and actions that would tackle the drivers of deforestation, rather than focusing exclusively on carbon. Drawing on case studies from organisations with experience of working with forest communities, the report highlights problems linked to the implementation of REDD and suggests ways in which policies to reduce deforestation can actually work on the ground. Through case studies from selected countries the report highlights three critical components: full and effective participation (Indonesia, Ecuador, Democratic Republic of Congo); secured and equitable land rights (Brazil, Cameroon, Papua New Guinea) and community-based forest management (Tanzania, Nepal).

The report is available for download (PDF) in the following languages:

Realising Rights, Protecting Forests (ENGLISH)

Realising Rights, Protecting Forests (FRENCH)

Realising Rights, Protecting Forests (SPANISH)

Press release: 40 Country Strong Coalition warns: Rights of 350 million forest-dwellers at risk

Source: The Rainforest Foundation UK

Categories: Agroforestry

Tenure Trends: Rights, Rollback and the Recentralizing Tendencies of REDD

Tue, 06/29/2010 - 1:16pm

New commentary from the Rights and Resources Initiative highlights the risks that Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+) poses to local rights and land tenure.

Most major policy documents since the Stern report, including the safeguards in the UNFCCC draft text on REDD+, have noted that local rights, tenure and governance reforms must be addressed for REDD to work. So, are the REDD texts, warnings and safeguards sufficient?  Will we be surprised by the effects of REDD?

The full article is available for PDF download in English, French and Spanish:

Categories: Agroforestry

Safeguarding Multiple Benefits of Forests

Fri, 06/25/2010 - 9:59am

Scientists working for the United Nations programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (UN-REDD)  share insights on the many ways forests provide benefits to society, beyond carbon. UN-REDD Programme Officer, Wahida Patwa-Shah and UN-REDD Natural Resources Officer, Linda Rosengren highlight steps the programme is taking to ensure these benefits are safeguarded in national REDD+ strategies.

Click to read the full story at

Categories: Agroforestry

Measuring Carbon in Complex Landscapes with Trees – Report back from Bonn

Thu, 06/24/2010 - 8:31am

The growing interest in monitoring, measurement and verification (MRV) was highlighted in a side event hosted by the Centre during the UNFCCC climate change meeting in Bonn, Germany.

More than 40 people attended the side event on 7 June organized by the World Agroforestry Centre and the Alternatives to Slash and Burn (ASB) partnership. Measuring carbon in complex landscapes with trees discussed many of the approaches which can be taken and the varying challenges posed.

Johannes Dietz, Henry Neufeldt and Peter Minang at the ICRAF-ASB side event

“The current definition of forests being used by the UNFCCC does not account for all emissions,” said Peter Akong Minang, Global Coordinator for the ASB Partnership as he put forward the rationale for Reducing Emissions from All Land Uses (REALU).

Minang cited the example of Indonesia, where one third of the country’s emissions occur outside institutionally defined forest and are not accounted for under current REDD+ policy.

“The reality is that landscapes are a mosaic and there is a need to look at the broader picture and account for all carbon stocks,” Minang said. “There is no clear line between forest and non-forest.”

Measuring Carbon in Complex Landscapes with Trees - ICRAF and ASB at UNFCCC SB32View more presentations from ASB Partnership for the Tropical Forest Margins.

Minang spoke about the need in carbon measurement for a legend that has consistent categories for different landscapes at the project and national levels, but also with variables that can be aggregated at a higher scale.

Centre scientist, Johannes Dietz, presented four case studies demonstrating a range of techniques for measuring carbon across different landscapes and agroecosystems.

Johannes Dietz (ICRAF) presents research on Reducing Emissions from All Land Uses

In the Peruvian Amazon, Google Maps are proving a useful free resource to identify trees that occur outside the forest, such as on agricultural land and in urban areas. Measurements taken by a team on the ground are fused with the Google data to provide information on carbon stocks that would otherwise be omitted from carbon stock measurements.

In the complex and heterogeneous landscapes of Western Kenya, remote sensing is being combined with ground-based, practical and affordable approaches to assess above and below ground biomass in trees. Early results show that the size of trees is extremely important, with trees greater than 40cm in diameter accounting for 75% of biomass.

For the peatlands of West Kalimantan, Indonesia it has been possible to overlay maps of peat depth and land cover which show changing land uses, however intensive sampling in such areas is extremely laborious. There is a need to improve modeling and to test scenarios at the local level as well as evaluate illegal and institutional constraints.

The final case study, from the Africa Soil Information Service, looked at land degradation surveillance involving sentinel sites which comprise 16 clusters, 10 plots and 4 sub-plots. Soil and vegetation within the site are randomly sampled and their spectral properties analyzed to create a ‘fingerprint’ for the landscape. Using reflectance corrected satellite imagery, soil conditions can be inferred from the spectral information. Using improved technology, it is now possible to derive a biomass index from this information, but ground-truthing is still required.

Henry Neufeldt, Head of the Centre’s Climate Change research program, summarised the key challenges with MRV, including: high costs; the issue of unreliable ground measurements; difficulties in up-scaling; leakage; and the lack of a comprehensive, standardized, robust methodology to assess and report terrestrial carbon.

“There are no easy answers,” said Neufeldt, “Currently we rely on complex techniques and modeling which makes it even more difficult for this to be done at the community level.”

Neufeldt outlined key components of the Global Environment Fund’s Carbon Benefits Project which is being executed by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The project aims to develop cost-effective tools and methodologies, including community-based measurement materials, to show the carbon benefits of natural resource management projects. These will be applicable to a wide range of soils, climates and land uses

In concluding, Neufeldt emphasized that different MRV tools are necessary at different levels. “Because the costs are significant, the carbon benefits to smallholder farmers will generally be small,” he said. “This means there is a strong need for co-benefits such as tree products and better connections to markets.”

Participants had questions ranging from ‘shouldn’t we work out how to implement REDD first before trying to account for the whole landscape?’ to ‘how can we map soils below the vegetation canopy with remote sensing?’ There was discussion about whether REDD is an initiative, an approach or an action, who supports it, and what the economical and social values of REDD might be. Others raised issues of how carbon markets will account for definitions that vary from country to country and where consideration for ecosystem values and biodiversity lies.

Staff at the ICRAF-ASB booth in Bonn.

In addition to the side event, the World Agroforestry Centre exhibition booth at the UNFCCC Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice 32nd session (SBSTA 32) displayed a range of publications on related issues.

Story by Kate Langford, World Agroforestry Centre Communications Unit

Categories: Agroforestry

EX-Ante Carbon-balance Tool for agriculture and forestry projects

Thu, 06/24/2010 - 7:32am

EX-Ante Carbon-balance Tool (EX-ACT) is a tool developed by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). It is aimed at providing ex-ante measurements of the mitigation impact of agriculture and forestry development projects, estimating net Carbon (C) balance from greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and C sequestration. EX-ACT is a land-based accounting system, measuring C stocks, stock changes per unit of land, and CH4 and N2O emissions expressed in t CO2e per hectare and year. The main output of the tool is an estimation of the C-balance that is associated with adoption of alternative land management options, as compared to a ‘business as usual’ scenario. EX-ACT has been developed using primarily the IPCC 2006 Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories, complemented by other existing methodologies and reviews of default coefficients where available. Default values for mitigation options in the agriculture sector are mostly from the 4th Assessment Report of IPCC (2007). Thus, EX-ACT allows for the C–balance appraisal of new investment programmes by ensuring an appropriate method available for donors and planning officers, project designers and decision makers within agriculture and forestry sectors in developing countries. The tool can also help to identify the mitigation impacts of various investment project options, and thus provide an additional criterion for consideration in project selection. These technical guidelines for using EX-ACT aim at providing the user with the details of procedures and numbers used to perform calculation of C balance.

Download the tools: EX-ANTE Carbon-Balance Tool (EX-ACT: Technical Guidelines)

Categories: Agroforestry

Forests and climate change after Copenhagen: An Asia-Pacific perspective

Thu, 06/24/2010 - 7:25am

The 15th Conference of Parties (COP15) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change was held 7-18 December 2009, in Copenhagen, Denmark. The spotlight fell on forests, forestry and REDD+ and although no legally binding agreement was reached, some significant outcomes were achieved. Following Copenhagen, forestry stakeholders in the Asia-Pacific have raised many questions about the meaning of COP 15 for people, forests, and forestry.

In this context, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, in collaboration with RECOFTC – The Center for People and Forests, convened a meeting on 3 February 2010, in Bali, Indonesia. The meeting had two aims:

  1. To discuss and answer questions that forest stakeholders have been asking following the COP15 negotiations.
  2. To debate the key issues that foresters and forestry institutions will face in developing climate change policies and strategies.

Twelve regional and international experts attended, along with 29 observers affiliated with the Responsible Asia Forestry and Trade Program’s REDD Learning Network.  The newly published report, Forests and climate change after Copenhagen: An Asia-Pacific perspective (PDF), provides answers to a dozen key questions.

Categories: Agroforestry

XXIII IUFRO World Congress, 23-28 August 2010, Seoul

Thu, 06/24/2010 - 7:15am
23 August 2010to28 August 2010

“Forests for the Future: sustaining Society and the Environment”, 23-28 August 2010, Seoul, Republic of Korea

Details on the scientific program, congress themes and registrations are now given in the First Announcement that includes also the invitation letters of the host organization and the IUFRO President.

Download the First Announcement

More information is available from the official Congress webpage at

A summary of key information is published here:

Categories: Agroforestry