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C LEVEL, 21 October 2014 | In the worlds wettest place, Meghalaya, the Federation of Indigenous Khasi are powering ahead with India’s first REDD+ Project. You can watch the short film we made, the 101Vision in just 4 minutes here. Sacred forests, scattered with ancient stone monoliths, are home to a multitude of endangered species. Yet, due to pressures from logging, mining, forest fires and agriculture, deforestation was rapidly undermining ecosystems and peoples livelihoods. Community Forestry International worked with a Federation of 10 indigenous kingdoms to develop India’s very first REDD+ initiative, certified under the Plan Vivo (living plan) Standard. Businesses are able to make payments for ecosystem services by buying carbon credits – making these kind of projects happen and aligning business interests with those of the worlds great forests and indigenous peoples like the Khasi.
By Damian Carrington, The Guardian, 23 October 2014 | The fast-growing campaign to persuade investors to dump fossil fuel stocks has set its sights on a twin target of the world’s biggest mining company and one of the globe’s best universities. The mining giant BHP Billiton will face protests at its AGM in London on Thursday over its £6m association with University College London (UCL) and the effects of its activities around the world... The BHP Billiton AGM will also hear protests from people affected by its operations around the world. Rogelio Ustate Arregocés, has travelled from Colombia, where his village Tabaco was destroyed by the opencast Cerrejon coal mine, one of the largest in the world and part-owned by BHP... Pius Ginting, from Friends of the Earth Indonesia, will also use proxy shares to tell the BHP Billiton AGM that company should give up its huge areas of coal mining permits in the rainforests in the heart of Borneo. UCL declined to meet Arregocés or Ginting.
By Steve Zwick, Ecosystem Marketplace, 22 October 2014 | Over half the world’s known species are found only in tropical forests, and companies that invest in forest carbon projects often do so as much to conserve endangered habitat as to sequester carbon. Indeed, most privately-funded forest-carbon projects explicitly identify and tout their biodiversity impacts to attract top dollar, which is why voluntary carbon markets have succeeded in using carbon finance to both reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) and to conserve biodiversity. But can governments replicate that success at a national or at least state-wide level? That question was central to last week’s 12th Conference of the Parties (COP 12) to the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD) in Pyeongchang, South Korea, where delegates explored the synergies between sustainable forestry and biodiversity conservation.
Northampton Chronicle and Echo, 20 October 2014 | Investors are being warned by council officers that they cannot build on a plot of land in Northamptonshire that was at the centre of a £10 million fraud. The site in Hulcote, near Towcester, is being sold by the liquidators of Matthew Noad and Clive Griston, who were jailed for conning people into investing in it and other plots with a view to huge profits when the land was developed. But South Northants Council has warned that its policy is not to develop open countryside and any permission to build the land is highly unlikely to be granted... After pleading guilty in December, and combined with a scam in relation to Carbon Credits, Noad and Griston were jailed for four years and eight months each and disqualified from being company directors for 10 years at the Old Bailey on April 22.
By Brian Palmer, OnEarth Magazine (NRDC), 20 October 2014 | There are two basic ways to reduce deforestation: REDD, which the UN wants to promote, is the carrot. Brazil, which has more rainforest than any other country in the world (by a lot), has been using the stick. The stick works (or at least, it used to). Deforestation in Brazil has fallen 79 percent in a decade, and the country recently boasted four straight years of declining deforestation rates... This punitive, top-down approach was amazingly effective—until last year. With little warning, deforestation jumped 29 percent. What happened? Although Brazil is still doing better than most countries, many observers worry that the regulations are beginning to grate. Farmers have complained for years that the restrictions are too harsh, and large landowners successfully lobbied to loosen deforestation laws two years ago. The economy has stalled. The soybean moratorium ends this year.
Ecosystem Marketplace, 20 October 2014 | What’s happening to Paraguay’s forest is, unfortunately, a well-told story. The forests are under pressure from a multitude of threats that are undermining its health. A changing climate continues to alter rain patterns and affect food security. Drought plagues the farming and indigenous communities that rely on the forests for their livelihoods. Meanwhile, poor local people living nearby are over-hunting and illegally logging. And the forest people receive little help from authorities in the way of law enforcement toward preventing these crimes. Because of these threats, Paraguay’s 16 million hectares of forest are diminishing. This includes the Gran Chaco, the largest dry forest in South America. But as in several other countries struggling with similar challenges, REDD (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation) could serve as a solution. With REDD, sustainable forest management is fundamental.
By Roland Mbonteh, Cameroon Tribune, 22 October 2014 | The impact of Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade" (FLEGT) examined in Buea. Following the consequences of illegal forest exploitation, some of which includes the degradation of the environment, loss of public finance and poor living conditions of indigenous forest communities amongst others, the European Union (EU) adopted a strategy in 2000 dubbed "Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade" (FLEGT) in a bid to curb the illegality in countries in Africa and South America exporting timber to Europe. Cameroon with a forest surface area of 19.6 million hectares (3rd largest in Africa) ratified the agreement through law no. 2011/238 of 9 August 2011 while the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife signed an Ordinance in 2013 to implement the agreement.
By Anne Sandbrink, blog.annesandbrink.com, 21 October 2014 | Tomorrow a spin-off of the TED talks will happen in London: the REDD+ Talks. This event will catch the eye of only a specific crowd because it’s not as generic as the TED Talks. All talks will focus on REDD+: Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation + Conservation and Sustainable Development. This international mechanism initiated by the United Nations aims to increase the value of standing forest and provide forest communities and developing countries with a new, sustainable pathway to economic growth. Recognizing the economic value of ecosystem services that standing forests provide will not only result in greenhouse gas emission reduction, but will also contribute to forest conservation, biodiversity preservation and sustainable economic development of forest communities.
By Kate Evans, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 22 October 2014 | A declaration by the governors of 21 tropical states and provinces announced recently at the United Nations Climate Summit is one of the “best deals going” for mitigating climate change and protecting tropical forests, a top scientist says. And one non-tropical place—California—could be “key” to the success of the declaration. The Governors’ Climate & Forests Task Force (GCF) signed the Rio Branco Declaration in August, committing to reduce deforestation by 80 percent by 2020—if pay-for-performance financing can be secured from donor governments and the private sector. Significantly, the governors pledge to channel a substantial share of that revenue toward indigenous people and forest communities. Daniel Nepstad, the Executive Director of the Earth Innovation Institute, said on the sidelines of the Colloquium on Forests and Climate that although the task force has been a long-term collaboration...
By Carlos Paath, The Jakarta Globe, 23 October 2014 | A list of the ministries that President Joko Widodo plans to merge has come to light, confirming earlier speculation that the Education Ministry would be split up, among other changes. The affected ministries and their new incarnations are listed in a letter submitted to the president to the House of Representatives on Tuesday, a day after his inauguration. “The letter is a request for input on changing the ministries,” Fahri Hamzah, a deputy speaker of the House, told reporters on Thursday morning. “We’ll follow up on it with the rest of the House leaders and the party leaders at two this afternoon.” The proposed changes are as follows: ... The Environment Ministry and the Forestry Ministry will be merged into the Environment and Forestry Ministry.
Book reviews on the environment: Don't Even Think about it by George Marshall and This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein
By Victoria Finlay, The Independent, 18 October 2014 | If Christianity were promoted like climate change is, “it would amount to no more than reading a Gideon’s Bible in a motel chalet and trying to be nice to people” says the climate educator George Marshall. It is time, he argues in Don’t Even Think About It ... to learn from the religions, as well as from advertisers, teachers, film-makers, behavioural scientists and others, to work out how to make climate change something people really care about. There are no graphs in Marshall’s book and he leaves the science until the end. His point is that it’s not really the statistics that will change people’s minds: it’s the story. Instead of numbers, he gives examples, meets people around the world, listens to different points of view, and explores how some people persuade other people to do things (including tricks of rhetoric such as using narratives and the word “we”).
By Sisonke Msimang, africasacountry.com, 19 October 2014 | The Ebola crisis in Liberia has also shone a spotlight on the faults of the international development system that has propped up Sirleaf’s political leadership. In many ways, one could argue that Ebola serves as a cautionary tale about the dangers of ignoring cronyism in countries where a government that is friendly to Western governments is in place. Liberia is one of the most dependent countries on Earth: 73% of its gross national income comes from aid agencies and Monrovia, its capital city, is crawling with aid agencies. There are literally hundreds of international NGOs with offices in the city, and in addition to the 800 million the country receives in foreign assistance each year, the UN spends an additional $500 million annually on maintaining a peacekeeping force. So one might have expected that the easiest place to contain Ebola would have been Liberia.
environmentalresearchweb, 20 October 2014 | Rane Cortez from The Nature Conservancy, Chief of Party of the Allianza MREDD+ states, “Mexico is quickly becoming a leader on REDD+ and can serve as a model for other countries. This biomass map and dataset represent one of the important advancements that Mexico has made in developing its national monitoring system and will help the country prioritize its strategies and investments for reducing emissions from deforestation.” This work was made possible by USAID within the framework of Mexico’s REDD+ project, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Google.org, and the David and Lucille Packard Foundation. Partners include CONAFOR, MNP, NASA, the University of Maryland, the National Commission for Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity (CANABIO), the U.S. Forest Service, The Nature Conservancy, Rainforest Alliance, and Natural Areas and Sustainable Development (ENDESU).
By Kevin Smith, World Development Movement, 22 October 2014 | Representatives from Colombia and Indonesia have arrived in London to tell the BHP Billiton board that coal-mining is destroying communities. On Thursday morning the board of controversial mining company BHP Billiton will be facing a series of angry community representatives at their AGM who have come to London to describe the impact that coal mining is having in different parts of the world. We're going to be supporting them in a demonstration outside the AGM at 10am at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in Westminster. Rogelio Ustate and Francisco Tovar are from communities impacted by the Cerrejón coal mine in the La Guajira region of Colombia. The mine, which is part-owned by BHP Billiton has led to the forced removal of numerous farming communities, almost all of Indigenous or African descent.
By Rhett A. Butler, mongabay.com, 21 October 2014 | A law passed by the Indonesian government last month makes it even more difficult for palm oil companies to conserve tracts of wildlife-rich and carbon-dense forests within their concessions, potentially undermining these producers' commitments to phase deforestation out of their supply chains, warns a new report published by Greenomics, an Indonesian environmental group. The report focuses on the zero deforestation policy established in 2011 by Golden-Agri Resources (GAR), Indonesia s largest palm oil producer. It looks at how well that commitment is being implemented for a pilot project across eight concessions in West and Central Kalimantan, provinces in Indonesian Borneo. Based on analysis of satellite imagery and government data, the study finds that GAR is effectively protecting high carbon stock (HCS) areas in seven of those concessions, all located in West Kalimantan.
By Manu Bansal, Guyana Chronicle, 22 October 2014 | Pinnacle Green Resources (Guyana) Inc. notes the letter written by Assistant Professor Janette Bulkan, University of British Columbia, Canada, regarding our proposed investments in Guyana (SN 15/10/14). We wish to state that the company is quite happy to release information regarding itself and its activities in Guyana (and indeed around the world) to anyone that requests that information, particularly concerned Guyanese. The letter writer has provided us the opportunity to highlight the areas of concerns raised, and while we would have been equally pleased to provide this information in response to a polite request, we seek your indulgence in allowing us to publicly provide some information regarding our company, its antecedents, and our proposed investments in Guyana.
Reuters, 20 October 2014 | Britain wants reforms to Europe’s Emissions Trading System (ETS) to start from 2017 to tackle the scheme’s massive oversupply and boost investment in clean technologies. Siding with an earlier view from Germany, the British government said in a statement on Monday that it wants the so-called market stability reserve (MSR) to be in place four years earlier than proposed by the European Commission. The Commission, the EU executive, has proposed from 2021 to set aside hundreds of millions of surplus carbon allowances from the ETS to help firms cope with economic shocks. Britain also wants 900 million carbon allowances from a more limited backloading reform programme to be cancelled or inserted directly into the reserve.
By Robert Nasi and John E. Fa, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 21 October 2014 | “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche”—Let them eat cake—is the phrase supposedly uttered by a great princess (though often attributed to Marie Antoinette) upon learning that France’s peasants had no bread. This is a similar response, in our estimation, to what seems to be permeating from certain quarters with respect to the consumption of bushmeat and its links to the outbreak of Ebola virus disease (formerly known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever). A number of opinion pieces have appeared in reputable magazines such as New Scientist and The Ecologist containing the suggestion that disease outbreaks from the Ebola virus could have been avoided if only people stopped eating wild meat. This argument is unsound. One of the reasons for this misjudgment has to do with what seems to be a general misunderstanding of human diseases, their origins, and what we have to do to live with them.
By Joan Baxter, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 20 October 2014 | Policymakers working on forests and climate change in Central Africa often lack knowledge of fundamental concepts of those issues, according to a sobering new study. The research points to a greater need for capacity-building in the countries that are home to the world’s second-largest area of tropical forest. It is all but undisputed fact—few exceptions aside—that tropical forests can be a powerful force in the fight against climate change, absorbing carbon from the atmosphere even as they age, while emitting carbon when they are cleared. But not enough of this information has reached people where findings meet forests, according to the study, “What are we talking about? The state of perceptions and knowledge on REDD+ and adaptation to climate change in Central Africa.” This knowledge gap could hamper efforts to help local people manage their natural resources and slow the uptake of programs such as REDD+...
By Isobel Frodsham, Leicester Mercury, 20 October 2014 | Last December, East Midlands Airport became the first UK airport to announce that its entire ground services were carbon neutral. One way of achieving this is by a process known as “offsetting” carbon emissions by funding trees to be planted in forest locations. The Carbon Tree, based in Leicester, provides such a service. Founded by Tom Riley and Dennis Marshall-Hasdell in January, the Carbon Tree offers the opportunity for businesses to purchase woodland carbon capture units in Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire and Scotland.