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CPF Organizations Discuss Climate Change and Forestry at IUFRO Congress

On the opening day of the XXIII International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO) World Congress, held in Seoul, Republic of Korea, from 23-28 August 2010, the Heads of several member organizations of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF) presented in a sub-plenary session on biodiversity, climate change and forestry.

Eduardo Rojas-Briales, Assistant-Director General of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), presented on the CPF’s objectives and achievements, including the Forest Days at the Conferences of the Parties (COPs) to the UNFCCC. Bill Jackson, Deputy Director General of IUCN, discussed the landscape approach for linking climate change, forest management and the needs of people. Ahmed Djoghlaf, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), highlighted the CBD’s global tree-planting initiative, Green Wave. Emmanuel Ze Meka, Executive Director of the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO), described the ITTO’s programme on reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries (REDD), and enhancing environmental services in tropical forests. He called for financial incentives for sustainable forest management (SFM) and functional markets. Tony Simons, Deputy Director General of the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), highlighted how far forestry has come in the international development dialogue in recent years. Jan McAlpine, Director of the UN Forum on Forests (UNFF), underlined that the UNFF values and creates institutional partnerships beyond the forestry sector to enhance cross-sectoral connections.

The IUFRO World Congress, co-hosted by IUFRO and the Korea Forest Research Institute, brings together over 2700 participants from international organizations, governments, academia, the private sector and civil society. The opening plenary included a welcome address from the President of the Republic of Korea, Lee Myung-Bak. The theme of the Congress is “Forests for the Future, Sustaining Society and the Environment.”

Alternatives to Slash and Burn Partnership Releases Policy Brief on REDD+ in Indonesia

The Alternatives to Slash and Burn Partnership for Tropical Forest Margins (ASB) has released a policy brief on reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries, conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of carbon stocks (REDD+) in Indonesia inside and outside areas officially defined as "forest."

The authors note that, based on Indonesia's definition of institutional forest, approximately one-third of emissions from deforestation occur outside of "forests" and are not accounted for under national REDD+ policy. The authors highlight the potential for leakage to occur based on increased deforestation in areas not technically defined as forest. The policy brief suggests that accounting for emissions through a framework for reducing emissions from all land uses (REALU) will be more effective than Indonesia's current REDD+ approach. ASB is a member of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).


CIFOR Director General Delivers Keynote on Forests, Climate Change and Communities

24 August 2010: Frances Seymour, Director General of the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), delivered a keynote address titled "Forests, Climate Change, and Communities: Making Progress up the Learning Curve" at the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO) World Congress, being held in Seoul, Republic of Korea, from 23-28 August 2010.

Seymour began by providing an overview of research on forests and communities, with the aim of drawing lessons for the multiple challenges of integrating climate change into future research. She warned against the "tyranny" of the case study, allowing scientists to build scientifically supported arguments to corroborate preexisting opinions and assertions. Seymour called for the inclusion of a political economy approach to account for the multiple, often competing, interests involved in forest policy-making.

She then highlighted a series of open questions regarding: whether reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries (REDD) will shape or be shaped by the pre-existing political economies of forests; the significance of climate change’s political dominance for community forests; and which institutions are most supportive of community-level adaptation initiatives. She noted that communication with the "climate world" is imperative, underlining that what may be conventional wisdom to foresters might be novel information to others. She then called for forest scientists to commit to "big science," as too much "small think" can impede evidence-based rural policy-making, and stressed that much is to be gained by investing in global comparative studies. CIFOR is a member of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).

Probe Seeks Climate-Panel Changes


A group investigating the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will recommend in a report Monday that the scientific organization beef up its capacity to ferret out errors in its scientific assessments, a member of the investigating body said.

But the group, appointed by the InterAcademy Council, a consortium of national scientific academies, won't pass judgment in its report on the state of knowledge about global warming and its causes. It also won't address whether IPCC Chairman Rajendra Pachauri should resign—a step that some critics have called for and that the chairman has said he doesn't intend to take.

The IPCC and the U.N. requested the probe in March, under mounting public pressure following the disclosure of a handful of errors in a roughly 3,000-page scientific report the IPCC published in 2007.

The IPCC is a sprawling organization in which thousands of scientists and other experts around the world volunteer their time to help write massive reports about every six years assessing climate science.

The reports influence government policies on energy and the environment across the globe.

The groups of scientists who produce each IPCC report disband once the report is published. And the IPCC, which was founded two decades ago, has only a few dozen paid staff members. That makes it difficult to look into alleged errors that later arise and to fix them, Mario Molina, a member of the InterAcademy Council panel, said in a recent interview.

The IPCC has "no permanent structure that could take care of the sort of questions that came up," he said, referring to the errors in the 2007 IPCC report. "That's the sort of thing we are recommending."

Mr. Molina and others involved in producing the investigative panel's report declined to provide The Wall Street Journal a copy of the document and the Journal couldn't independently confirm its content.

Among the mistakes in the IPCC's 2007 report was an erroneous projection that Himalayan glaciers would melt by 2035. Early this year, the IPCC expressed "regret" for that claim, which IPCC officials say lacked scientific basis.

But IPCC officials have said those mistakes don't impugn the main conclusion of the 2007 report: that climate change is "unequivocal" and "very likely" caused by human activity.

A spokesman for Mr. Pachauri said the IPCC chairman wouldn't comment on the InterAcademy Council report until it is issued Monday.

In May, when Mr. Pachauri met with members of the Inter-Academy Council to answer questions, he endorsed beefing up the IPCC, particularly to respond more quickly to criticism.

"This is a body that is answerable to human society and is going to be called into question on a much more frequent basis in the future," he told them at the time. "But we're not prepared for it," he said, saying the IPCC needs more staff trained in explaining the group's work to the public.

The IPCC and the U.N. didn't choose the members of the investigative panel, say officials of the Amsterdam-based InterAcademy Council.

The council's board picked the 12-member panel from nominations submitted by scientific and engineering academies around the world. The panel is headed by economist and former Princeton University President Harold Shapiro.

Mr. Molina, a professor of chemistry and biochemistry at the University of California, San Diego, helped to write the 2007 IPCC report—experience that the InterAcademy Council wanted reflected on the investigative panel.

Another panel member worked on an earlier IPCC report and a third member gave a presentation at a planning meeting for the IPCC's next climate-science report, due out in phases in 2013 and 2014, an InterAcademy Council spokesman said.

The other members of the investigative panel haven't worked with the IPCC, the spokesman said.

The InterAcademy Council report also will suggest one way to minimize errors in the first place: more caution in how scientists use non-peer-reviewed work in IPCC reports. And it will discuss ways the IPCC could more clearly address views that disagree with the conclusions of the majority of scientists working on an IPCC report.

Mr. Molina said he believes the IPCC's reports "can certainly improve—be more robust, more explicit about opinions that are not the consensus of scientific society." But because of the IPCC's minimal staff, he said, there has been "no possibility of doing this" so far.

Much of the current climate-science controversy began in November, when more than 1,000 emails hacked from a climate-research institute at the U.K.'s University of East Anglia were posted online.

They appeared to show scientists at the lab, some of whom were involved in writing IPCC reports, trying to squelch the views of researchers who challenged the conclusion that climate change is due mainly to human activity.

Since then, three investigations in the U.K. into the hacked emails have concluded that researchers at the institute didn't skew science to inflate evidence of man-made global warming. But the investigations criticized the researchers for not being open enough with their data.

Write to Jeffrey Ball at jeffrey.ball@wsj.com

Indonesia project boosts global forest CO2 market

By David Fogarty and Sunanda Creagh

SINGAPORE/JAKARTA, Aug 24 (Reuters) - An Indonesian project aimed at saving a vast tract of rainforest has past a milestone seen as a boost in the development of a global market in forest carbon credits.

That market under the U.N.-backed scheme reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD) could eventually be worth billions of dollars annually and is central to the goal of driving private sector involvement in forest protection.

The Rimba Raya conservation project covers nearly 100,000 ha (250,000 acres) of carbon-rich peat swamp forest in the province of Central Kalimantan on Borneo island. Forests soak up large amounts of carbon dioxide and scientists say curbing deforestation is a key way to fight climate change.

The project has earned the first-ever approval of an accounting method for measuring the reduction in carbon emissions under REDD and is being developed by InfiniteEARTH, with funding from Shell (RDSa.L: Quote), Gazprom Market and Trading (GAZP.MM: Quote) and the Clinton Foundation.

The Voluntary Carbon Standard programme, the most respected standard for voluntary carbon offsets, approved the methodology after it passed a mandated double auditing process.

The project itself is now undergoing third-party validation and is likely to become the world's first VCS-approved REDD project later this year, Gazprom and InfiniteEARTH say.

The step is a boost for other REDD projects and investors wanting certainty on the quality of REDD carbon credits. There are several dozen REDD projects globally, including more than a dozen in Indonesia at various stages of development.

"This is seen as a landmark moment for the carbon market," Gazprom said in a statement. "Historically REDD projects have suffered due to their exclusion from the Kyoto Protocol," it said, as well as the absence of a recognised global standard.

The project is expected to reduce 18.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide from being emitted in the first 10 years and up to 75 million tonnes in the 30-year life of the project.

At about $10 a credit, that means about $750 million over 30 years.


The future sale of carbon offsets from the project will help boost the livelihoods of more than 11,000 people in the area and save rare species including orang-utans and other primates, the statement says.

REDD aims to reward developing countries that save, protect and rehabilitate forests through large-scale projects. Poorer nations and local forest communities are meant to take a major share of the sale of the carbon credits to rich nations, which can use them to meet mandated emission reduction targets.

REDD is not yet formally part of a broader U.N. climate pact and potential buyers of the credits have been waiting for an approved global standard for forest CO2 credits to ensure the reductions are real and verifiable.

"The methodology was designed for conservation projects that avoid planned land-use conversion in tropical peat swamp forests in Southeast Asia," the statement said.

The project itself borders Tanjung Puting national park and the area has been under growing threat from encroaching palm oil plantations.

"It shows small-scale REDD can be done. This is also demonstrating the ability of project-based activities, that they can do that," Daniel Murdiyarso, senior scientist at Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), told Reuters on Tuesday. (Editing by Sue Thomas)

Source : http://af.reuters.com