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ABC Radio Australia, 24 May 2013 | An illegal logger in Cambodia has dropped an address book during a bust, leaving behind details of corrupt government officials and spying rangers. An illegal logger in Cambodia has dropped an address book during a bust, leaving behind details of corrupt government officials and spying rangers. The man fled after being intercepted by police over an illegal haul of rare rosewood in Koh Kong province earlier this month. Beth Eisenstaedt from Wildlife Alliance helped coordinate the bust and has told Radio Australia's Connect Asia the perpetrator left behind an address book of his clients and an accounts book including details of bribes. "We were able to confiscate the wood, and we stumbled upon this treasure trove of names and pay off amounts of all the people he had been dealing with, including some government officials," she said.
By Thomas Hubert, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 22 May 2013 | As the world grapples with implementing a U.N.-backed scheme aimed at slowing forest loss and degradation (REDD+), new research from Cameroon shows that the complexity of the scheme demands expertise from a variety of players within and outside government. “The variety of aspects covered by REDD+ means the Ministry of Environment can no longer be expected to lead the way on its own,” says Denis Sonwa, scientist with the Center for International Forestry Research and co-author of REDD+ policy strategy in Cameroon: Actors, institutions and governance. “It is critical that the state reinvent itself as a learning organization that takes advantage of the expertise offered by other actors in global networks so that it can perform the required leadership and coordination role in designing a national REDD+ strategy.”
By Ana Madigibuli, Fiji Times, 23 May 2013 | Fiji is looking at ways it could improve its logging practices so less harm is done to its forests. This was highlighted during the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) plus strategy workshop in Suva last week. "The workshop is to largely develop the Fiji REDD plus strategy which started in 2011," said Christina Fung, the German Technical Co-operation landuse planning and facilitation specialist, during the REDD plus stakeholders workshop in Lami last week. REDD is a concept that links financial incentives to forest conservation, sustainable management, and enhancing and increasing carbon stocks for credits for carbon emissions avoided and or carbon sequestered.
By Margareth S. Aritonang and Yuliasri Perdani, Jakarta Post, 20 May 2013 | Antigraft and police watchdogs suspect that the sudden arrest by the National Police of Papua policeman Adj. First Insp. Labora Sitorus was part of plot to protect higher ranking officers who could be dragged into the mire of a major graft case. “It’s inconceivable that LS [Labora Sitorus] acted alone for five years. There have been reports of illegal logging and fuel smuggling that might involve members of the police in Papua, but it has all been ignored. “It’s impossible for members of the police to be involved in this kind of thing unless they have the support of their superiors,” Neta S. Pane, chairman of the Indonesian Police Watch told The Jakarta Post on Sunday. Labora was detained for holding suspicious bank accounts containing more than Rp 1 trillion (US$102 million), allegedly the proceeds of illegal logging and fuel smuggling.
By Yuliasri Perdani, Jakarta Post, 21 May 2013 | Adj. First Insp. Labora Sitorus, a Papua Police officer accused of owning fat bank accounts, has said he wired money for “charity-related programs” to several of his superiors. Labora, who allegedly controlled accounts through which passed over Rp 1 trillion (US$102 million) over a five-year period, made his statement during a closed-door meeting with National Police Commission (Kompolnas) members on Saturday, moments before his arrest. The officer was then transferred back to Papua, where he will be held at the Papua Police detention center until the end of the police investigation, when a decision will be made whether to forward the case to prosecutors. “He channeled some funds for social activities, but we are not sure about the motive,” Kompolnas commissioner M. Nasser said after meeting with officers from the National Police’s Criminal Investigations Division (Bareskrim) in Jakarta on Monday.
By Yuliasri Perdani, Jakarta Post, 20 May 2013 | Adj. First Insp. Labora Sitorus, a Papua cop with a suspicious amount of money in his bank accounts, was taken to the Papua Police's detention center on Monday. National Police spokesperson Brig. Gen. Boy Rafli Amar said that Labora was flown back to Papua two days after he filed a report to the National Police Commission (Kompolnas) in Jakarta. The Papua Police have named Labora a suspect in illegal logging, fuel smuggling and money laundering cases. The investigation centering on Labora was in response to a Financial Transaction Reports and Analysis Center (PPATK) report, stating that Labora was linked to bank transactions totaling Rp 1 trillion (US$102 million) between 2007 and 2012.
By Jim Armitage, The Independent, 17 May 2013 | It’s not too often that I’m alerted to stories for this column by football fans, but in the case of Vietnamese billionaire Doan Nguyen Duc, an Arsenal blog was the prompt. The piece referred to the Gunners’ partnership with the tycoon’s company, called HAGL, and expressed serious concerns as to whether the club should be involved. Why? Because of its alleged activities logging rainforests, forcing farmers off the land and replanting with rubber trees over vast tracts of Cambodia and Laos.
Jakarta Post, 20 May 2013 | The case in point implicates Adj. First Insp. Labora Sitorus of the Sorong Police in West Papua, who is suspected of involvement in illegal logging and fuel smuggling and was found to have bank accounts containing billions of rupiah. The case against him was first raised by the Financial Transaction Reports Analysis Centre (PPATK), which filed a report with National Police chief Gen. Timur Pradopo in March stating that the low-ranking officer was linked to bank transactions totaling Rp 1.5 trillion (US$153 million) between 2007 and 2012... The Papua Police, under the direction of the National Police, is now building their case against Sitorus, who will be charged under the 1999 Forestry Law, the 2001 Papua Special Autonomy Law and the Money Laundering Law.
By Patrick Kipalu & Joelle Mukungu, Forest Peoples Programme, 15 May 2013 | The considerable threats faced by the forests of the Democratic Republic of the Congo continue to draw global attention because of the crucial role these large forests play in regulating the global climate. Estimates indicate that the forests of the Congo Basin as a whole capture and store about 10 to 30 billion tons of carbon, an increasingly significant ecosystem service in light of concerns about climate change. In recent years, projects aimed at the reduction of emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) have been developed to provide financial incentives based on performance to the owners of large areas of forests in order to reduce the loss of forests and promote the improvement of carbon stocks through conservation and tree planting.
mongabay.com, 17 May 2013 | Panama's largest association of indigenous people will sue the Panamanian government to shut down the country's Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+) program. The National Coordinator of Indigenous Peoples in Panama (COONAPIP) announced its intent after it failed to reach agreement with the United Nation's REDD+ program, which has been working to establish a forest conservation framework in the Central American country. REDD+ aims to compensate tropical countries for cutting forest loss. The dispute dates back to 2009 and stems from COONAPIP's view that indigenous peoples in Panama have not been properly engaged in the REDD+ process. Earlier this year COONAPIP said it was pulling out of negotiations with the UN-REDD Program over a financial dispute. COONAPIP alleged that UN-REDD failed to delivery on a $1.8 million payment to begin REDD+ activities.
By Nadya Natahadibrata, Jakarta Post, 18 May 2013 | Forestry Ministry secretary-general Hadi Daryanto said the ministry had launched a program in 2010 to allocate 2.5 million hectares of forest areas as village forests, as a substitute for customary forests for indigenous people. The program is slated to be completed in 2014. “With the annulment by the Constitutional Court, we will redefine the designated areas of village forests that are not located in state forests or private forests,” he said. Hadi added that customary forest areas could not be regulated by the central government as, according to Article 67 of the Forestry Law, customary forests were to be regulated under bylaws. “Article 67 of Law No. 41/1999 on forestry was not annulled by the MK [Constitutional Court] and currently, no regional administration has issued a bylaw on customary forests,” Hadi told The Jakarta Post.
By Rhett A. Butler, mongabay.com, 17 May 2013 | In a landmark ruling, Indonesia's Constitutional Court has invalidated the Indonesian government's claim to millions of hectares of forest land, potentially giving indigenous and local communities the right to manage their customary forests, reports Mongabay-Indonesia. In a review of a 1999 forestry law, Indonesia's Constitutional Court ruled [PDF - Indonesian] that customary forests should not be classified as "State Forest Areas". The move is significant because Indonesia's central government has control over the country's vast forest estate, effectively enabling agencies like the Ministry of Forestry to grant large concessions to companies for logging and plantations even if the area has been managed for generations by local people. In practice that meant ago-forestry plots, community gardens, and small-holder selective logging concessions could be bulldozed for industrial logging, pulp and paper production, and oil palm plantations.
Bangkok Post, 19 May 2013 | Global Witness released a 49-page report on alleged illegal land grabs by two Vietnamese companies, state-owned VRG and privately owned Hoang Anh Gia Lai (HAGL) with investment backing from Deutsche Bank and International Finance Corp (IFC), a wing of the World Bank. It was released about the first anniversary of the death of Chhut Vuthy, a prominent environmentalist killed by security guards while investigating land grabs, and Heng Chanta, a 14-year-old girl shot dead not far from here, again by security guards during a village protest over land. The response from Prime Minister Hun Sen was typical. He announced more rubber plantations would be grown and on a vast scale _ seemingly indifferent to the plight of hundreds of thousands of impoverished people who have lost their land or been bullied into selling at rock bottom prices. ''In the next few years, we can have more rubber than Vietnam."
Jakarta Globe, 18 May 2013 | Rudi Putra, an environmental activist, started another petition for the same cause on Avaaz.org, which has garnered more than 1.2 million signatures in its first 11 days. “Aceh rainforests, home to endangered animals like orangutan and Sumatran rhino, have been destroyed by illegal hunters and loggers, but this new exploration will be an ultimate disaster,” he said. Rights groups say the plan will allow around 1.2 million hectares that were previously protected to be cleared... “Yudhoyono has the options: to leave an important legacy to protect the rich natural resources or to trash his own track record by allowing this disaster,” Avaaz’ campaign director Ian Baasin said.
RECOFTC, 16 May 2013 | REDD+ capacity building is fundamental to achieving REDD+ readiness, recognized as a priority area by the UNFCCC since COP 13 in 2007. There is little data, however, that describe the type of capacity building and the number of people that are reached with these initiatives in REDD+ countries. The lack of information makes it difficult to determine where additional investments in capacity building are needed. These reports are part of a multi-country assessment of REDD+ capacity building initiatives that were implemented in Cambodia, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Indonesia, Liberia, Madagascar and Papua New Guinea (PNG) between September 2010 and June 2012. It was funded with a grant from the Climate and Land Use Alliance (CLUA) to the Alliance for Global REDD+ Capacity (AGRC), which is a partnership between 16 organizations, including RECOFTC, that are committed to enhancing the quality and availability of training on REDD+ worldwide.
World Resources Institute, May 2013 | Germany’s fast-start finance (FSF) contribution reflects a significant focus on financing climate action in developing countries. Germany exceeded its self-defined FSF pledge for the 2010-2012 FSF period, providing a total of EUR 1.29 billion, and also pledged to deliver EUR 1.8 billion in 2013. It is also one of the few countries to have published and adhered to a specific definition of what constitutes “new and additional” climate finance. This working paper provides policymakers and other climate finance practitioners with an assessment of German FSF project data. It examines characteristics of the finance such as channeling institutions employed and the extent of support for mitigation and adaptation activities. It also discusses innovative institutions for climate finance, Germany’s definition of additionality for FSF, and the degree to which the finance might be considered new and additional.
By Tom Woody, Quartz, 10 May 2013 | Urban trees in the US absorb 25.6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide annually and help lower energy costs by shading the asphalt and concrete jungle. The US Forest Service estimates all that carbon storage is worth $50.5 billion and growing by $2 billion a year, according to a new study from the agency. That’s a lot of green. Just one problem—how do you profit from all that photosynthesis? Figuring out how to monetize the urban forest could be key to keeping it—and the planet—healthy. As urbanization continues—cities are expected to account for 8.1% of US land area in 2050, up from 3.1% in 2000—the population of street trees is falling by 4 million trees a year, the report says. That’s the equivalent of losing 20,000 acres (8,094 hectares) of trees annually.
By Thomas Hubert, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 16 May 2013 | Implementing a U.N.-backed scheme to slow forest loss in the Democratic Republic of Congo will be difficult, a new study says, until the government addresses corruption, a lack of state authority in some regions, and intermittent fighting between rebels and government forces in the country’s east. Despite these challenges, the authors say that the scheme could actually help improve governance in the country. The report, The context of REDD+ in the DRC: drivers, agents and institutions (publication in French), to be launched at a forestry conference in Yaoundé, Cameroon, this week, contains an in-depth review of the governance, socio-economic and environmental situation in the central African nation.
By Julie Mollins, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 13 May 2013 | The view that increased crop production is the strategy most likely to achieve global food security could in reality allow farmland to encroach on valuable ecosystems, have a disastrous impact on forests and might not solve food security and nutrition problems, scientists say. Further research is essential for understanding the full impact forests and tree-based agricultural systems have on dietary and nutritional needs for at least 1 billion people whose livelihoods are directly affected by forests, the scientists said in a discussion paper released ahead of the International Conference on Forests for Food Security and Nutrition hosted by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Rome. “A rampant increase in agricultural production as global population increases could encroach on nutritional food sources found in forests,” warned Terry Sunderland, a scientist at CIFOR.
By Terry Sunderland, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 13 May 2013 | Recent news headlines, a plethora of scientific publications and the creation of new academic think tanks all reflect growing concerns over how to achieve global food security — a centerpiece of donor commitments and the focus of many research and development organisations. The renewed emphasis on global food security is stimulated by projections that show the global human population will grow from 7 billion to an estimated 9 billion people by 2050. Central to the current discourse on food security is the perceived need to increase food production to feed the 870 million people — one in eight worldwide, according to U.N. food agencies — who do not have enough to eat.