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By Kelley Manrick, Ecosystem Marketplace, 21 August 2014 | There are markets for silver and there are markets for houses, and it doesn’t take a genius to see the difference between the two: an ounce of silver is an ounce of silver, interchangeable with any other ounce of the same quality, but the value of a house – or any piece of property – can fluctuate with the color of the flooring. Carbon markets resemble silver markets because a ton of carbon dioxide has the same impact on the environment regardless of whether it comes from a smokestack in Germany or a forest fire in Brazil. That made it possible to create a global transparent marketplace designed to support sustainable development and identify the most efficient ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Biodiversity markets, however, have always been local because habitat is often unique and irreplaceable.
The Economist, 23 August 2014 | The most successful policies therefore tend to be top-down bans, rather than incentives (though these have been tried, too). India’s national forest policy of 1988 explicitly rejects the idea of trying to make money from stewardship. “The derivation of direct economic benefit”, it says, “must be subordinated to this principal aim” (maintaining the health of the forest). In Brazil 44% of the Amazon is now national park, wildlife reserve or indigenous reserve, where farming is banned; much of that area was added recently. In Costa Rica half the forests are similarly protected. In India a third are managed jointly by local groups and state governments.
By Fidelis E. Satriastanti, Thomson Reuters Foundation, 21 August 2014 | Schemes to reduce climate-changing emissions from deforestation will attract more local support if they offer jobs and concrete income opportunities for forest people, Indonesian villagers and experts say. Indonesians who live in forested areas are increasingly faced with a choice between paid labour on a plantation or participating in a forest protection initiative that could improve their livelihoods down the line. Until recently, plantation work seemed the best option for many, but that may be starting to change as schemes that compensate communities for safeguarding forests get up and running.
By Abdoulie Nyockeh, The Point, 21 August 2014 | A three-day training on forest policy and step of transferring community forest rights to local communities for All Gambia Forest Platform members and community forest committees is currently underway at Sanyang Nature Camp. The sensitization drive, which targeted more than thirty Community Forest Managers operating under the All Gambia Forestry Platform, was geared towards creating awareness on Forest Policy and Regulation Act. The training, which assembled participants in the West Coast Region, was funded by the Forest and Farm Facility under the National coordinator, Kanimang Camara.
By Alisa Tang, Thomson Reuters Foundation, 19 August 2014 | A month after Singapore was shrouded in a thick haze produced by Indonesian fires in June 2013, scientist David Gaveau went to the source of the smoke in Riau province to survey the charred aftermath. News reports attributed the haze to slash-and-burn forest clearance to make way for oil palm plantations. But what Gaveau, a scientist with the Indonesia-based Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), discovered during his five days examining the still-smouldering ground on Sumatra island was different.
By Peter Kahare, IPS, 20 August 2014 | When Mercy Ngaruiya first settled in Kasigau in south eastern Kenya a decade ago, she found a depleted forest that was the result of years of tree felling and bush clearing. “This region was literally burning. There were no trees on my farm when I moved here, the area was so dry and people were cutting down trees and burning bushes for their livelihood,” Ngaruiya, a community leader in Kasigau, told IPS. Back then, she says, poverty and unemployment levels were high, there was limited supply of fresh water, and education and health services were poor. Mike Korchinsky, the president of Wildlife Works, a Reduced Emission from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) project development and management company, remembers it all too well. “When I came here, you could hear the sounds of axes as people constantly cut trees."
Ecosystem Marketplace, 20 August 2014 | Forget presidents, kings and queens – governors may be the ones leading the fight to reduce deforestation, state by state. At last week's Governors’ Climate and Forests (GCF) Task Force meeting in Acre, Brazil, 13 of them penned the Rio Branco Declaration, named after the Amazonian city they met in. Their commitment? To cut deforestation rates in their jurisdictions 80% by 2020 – a move that would prevent four billion tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions (tCO2e) from entering the atmosphere. But they can't do it for free. Deforestation, after all, is largely about economics, and lucrative oilseed crops – mainly palm oil in Indonesia and soybeans in Brazil – are driving deforestation in key rainforest countries. GCF states say that they can slow forest clearing and degradation if performance-based funding for reducing deforestation (REDD) is available, whether through carbon markets or other performance-based payment mechanisms.
By Astrid Zweynert, Reuters, 23 August 2014 | The conservation of Brazil's Amazon is threatened by the poor social conditions of its 24 million inhabitants, the first comprehensive study measuring the situation found on Saturday. Lack of access to clean water, violence, illiteracy and limited opportunities to pursue a better life are among the problems highlighted in the Social Progress Index (SPI) for the Amazon, one of the world's most important ecosystems. The study paints a picture of social injustice and inequality by charting data from all but one of the region's 773 municipalities and nine states. Researchers hope it will become a tool for improving development policy as Brazil elects a new president in October.
Daily News & Analysis, 24 August 2014 | Scientists have warned about the precarious state of the world's primary forests, as a new study shows that say just 22% of these forests are located in protected areas, equivalent of only 5% of the original ones. Brendan Mackey, Director of the Climate Change Response Program at Griffith University in Queensland, Australia, said that international negotiations are failing to halt the loss of the world's most important primary forests and in the absence of specific policies for primary forest protection in biodiversity and climate change treaties, their unique biodiversity values and ecosystem services will continue to be lost in both developed and developing countries.
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)?”
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.
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 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.