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Asean urges Indonesia to sign pollution pact

Asean members are calling on Indonesia to ratify the grouping's Transboundary Haze Pollution agreement in a bid to control the impact of air pollution caused by forest fires.

"The Indonesian government has postponed the ratification of this agreement several times already. It should sign up because this collaboration will help Asean countries deal with the pollution cause by forest fires, especially in Indonesia," Supat Wangwongwattana, director general of the Pollution Control Department, said.

Supat was speaking at the Subregional Ministerial Steering Committee's 12th meeting on Transboundary Haze Pollution held in Bangkok yesterday. Also present at the meeting were several senior environment officials from other countries in the region.

"We have sent many official letters to the Indonesian government asking them to control the haze caused by forest fires, but there has been no formal response from the authorities. Hence, we do not have any answers for our people," Supat explained.

In 2006, more than 29,000 hotspots were detected in Indonesia, and though the number dropped to 8,000 in 2010, it rose again to 17,000 this year.

Every year, during the months of August and September, four provinces in the South of Thailand are covered in smoke from Indonesian forest fires, causing respiratory problems among the residents.

Arief Yuwono, from the Indonesian Environment Ministry's Degradation Control and Climate Change, told the meeting that his government had implemented a plan to deal with haze pollution, which included the prevention and control of forest and land fires. The government has also strengthened lawenforcement measures and will conduct a zeroburning campaign, he said, adding that new laws on plantation, environment and forestry would be enforced among relevant stakeholders.

Source : http://news.asiaone.com

Singapore puts heat on Indonesia to take on haze situation

The Singapore authorities have stepped up efforts to add peer and economic pressure on Indonesia, which is yet to sign the Asean Transboundary Haze Pollution agreement.
The nine other Asean nations have ratified the 2002 agreement to prevent and control haze pollution in the region.
To date, Singapore has collaborated with Indonesia in the province of Jambi to train officials and staff from non-governmental organisations in studying satellite photos.
This is so that they can identify plantations and companies responsible for forest fires.
Air- and weather-monitoring stations have also been set up to detect forest fires and smouldering peatland more efficiently.
Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan said yesterday that Singapore has offered to extend the existing million-dollar project through several sub-projects in Jambi, as part of a second phase.
Jambi, located about 330km south of Singapore, is one of the provinces worst hit by forest fires this year.
Indonesia has yet to respond to Singapore's offer.
While Singapore offers support by providing resources, the Indonesians have to be the ones to decide and take the lead, because "it is their province, their plantations, their agricultural centre", said Dr Balakrishnan.
"There are lessons which have to be taught on the ground, as well as (having) to make sure that there is enough economic and social pressure on people taking a shortcut."
Fires in Jambi and other Sumatran provinces have been faulted for the haze that envelops Singapore and Peninsular Malaysia each year.

Dr Balakrishnan, who has just returned from the Transboundary Haze Pollution meeting in Thailand, believes that "the strongest...stimulus to pro-social behaviour is peer pressure".
He was speaking to the media at the launch of the Public Hygiene Council at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital. Addressing hygiene issues here, he said that anti-social behaviour, such as littering, can also be curbed through exerting peer pressure.
The new council, which has 21 members, is headed by Khoo Teck Puat Hospital's chief executive, Mr Liak Teng Lit.
The council's main aim, said Mr Liak, is to stamp out unhygienic practices and raise standards here "up to the first-world standard".
A National Environment Agency (NEA) survey led by one of the council members, Associate Professor Paulin Straughan, found that nearly four in 10 here would litter if they thought nobody was looking.
Prof Straughan, vice-dean of the National University of Singapore's Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, said that NEA could leverage on the survey findings to reach out to "younger new citizens".
The council also hopes to improve the cleanliness of public toilets, especially those in foodcourts and coffeeshops.
Discussion sessions, public forums and feedback channels will be set up, and a new educational campaign will be rolled out by the end of the year from the findings obtained.
Mr Liak said: "Every Singaporean needs to take ownership in building a clean Singapore. Only then can we say that we are First World and enjoy the place."

Source : http://news.asiaone.com

Norwegian Minister for Environment praises Indonesia’s fight against climate change

Norway’s Minister for the Environment and International Development, Erik Solheim, has praised Indonesia’s commitment to the fight against climate change at today’s Forests Indonesia conference in Jakarta.

“The president has issued an overall policy about how Indonesia will combat climate change…what he has done today is a very positive step in making Indonesia a world leader in the fight against climate change.”

Solheim opened today’s conference Forests Indonesia: Alternative futures to meet demands for food, fibre, fuel and REDD+, hosted by the Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and in this video speaks of Norway’s involvement in the implementation of the bilateral agreement on REDD+, what Indonesia can learn from Brazil’s bilateral agreement and issues surrounding carbon offsets.

Source : http://blog.cifor.org

SBY Vows to Protect Forests

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono delivered the opening address at the Forests Indonesia Conference in Jakarta on Tuesday. Deforestation by palm oil, mining and paper interests has made Indonesia the world’s third-highest greenhouse gas emitter. (Rumgapres Photo/Abror Rizki)
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Tuesday stated his commitment to ensure sustainable development of the country’s environment and forests.

“I will continue my work and dedicate the last three years of my term as president to deliver enduring results that will sustain and enhance the environment and forests of Indonesia,” Yudhoyono said in a speech in his opening address at the Forests Indonesia Conference.

The president said the country’s people, economy, environment and way of life are tightly intertwined with its forests.

“Our success in managing our forests will determine our future and the opportunities that will be available to our children,” Yudhoyono said.

But he will need to work hard to convince the nation’s environmental groups, who have previously accused the government of making grand statements on conservation but failing to deliver results.

The conference was hosted by the Center for International Forestry Research and was attended by 900 participants from the government, the business community and civil society as well as foreign donors.

Its purpose was to discuss the future of forests in Indonesia, which has the third-largest amount of tropical forest in the world.

While many now recognize the importance of safeguarding the country’s many forests, however, they remain under “tremendous” pressure, Yudhoyono said.

“As a developing country, we are prioritizing economic growth and poverty eradication. But we will not reach those aims by sacrificing our forests,” Yudhoyono said.

Indonesia should be able to find a balance, he said.

“We must change the way we treat our forests so that they are conserved even as we drive hard to accelerate our economic growth,” he said.

Yudhoyono said he did not want to have to tell his granddaughter someday that the country failed to save its forests.

To alleviate the pressure on forests, Yudhoyono said the government had set up programs to enhance agricultural productivity as well as ensure an adequate stock of staple food, including rice.

The government has also launched a tree-planting campaign that will aim for at least one billion new trees annually, Yudhoyono said.

“It is said that ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away.’ I would like to say: ‘A billion trees a year shields the world’s lungs from decay,’ ” he said.

Yudhoyono also said that Indonesia remained steadfast in its pledge to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 26-41 percent by 2020.

Globally, deforestation accounts for up to 20 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. In Indonesia, however, that figure is 85 percent, making the country one of the highest emitters in the world, the president said.

“A long journey still awaits us. We know we must do more to address the primary sources of our greenhouse emissions, such as illegal logging, forest encroachment, forest and land fires and peat land drainage,” Yudhoyono said. “And indeed we are working hard and comprehensively to overcome these challenges.”

Yudhoyono emphasized the long-term importance of caring for the country’s forests while continuing to pursue a path of development.

Cifor director general Frances Seymour said that leadership was needed not only from the government but also from business and civil society to chart the best way forward for Indonesia .

“While there are some win-win opportunities to reconcile forest management to meet both global and domestic objectives, there will also be some trade-offs that will require leadership,” Seymour said.

Source : http://www.thejakartaglobe.com

‘Green treasures’ could fuel a new economic sector, says Indonesian President

Opening the inaugural Forests Indonesia conference in Jakarta today, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono called sustainable forests part of his plan for putting Indonesia’s economy in the global top 12 by 2025.

“Indonesia, home to the third largest tropical forest in the world, views itself as the custodian of these great green treasures; and I want to keep it that way,” he said. “I ask you to join me in pledging to safeguard this national treasure, for the sake of our children.”

The wealth of Indonesia’s forests can be counted in their rich biodiversity and the many valuable products they provide Indonesian people. Thanks to a funding mechanism known as REDD+, that wealth can also be counted in carbon.

In an effort to combat climate change, REDD+ (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation) pays countries to preserve carbon in their forests.

President Yudhoyono has pledged to cut Indonesia’s greenhouse gas emissions by 26 percent by 2020, and by 41 percent with international assistance. Norway has since committed US$1 billion to help Indonesia meet its target. Among other initiatives, the deal with Norway includes a two-year moratorium on new forest concessions effective May this year.

President Yudhoyono explained: “These measures give us time and resources to review and revise land use policy and practice. They also provide opportunity to develop a new sector in our economy—through ecosystem restoration concessions for carbon sequestration and emission reduction.”

Some in the business sector are unconvinced. They say the moratorium, conflicting regulations, legal uncertainties, and overlapping concessions make operating in Indonesia more trouble than it’s worth.

But a growing number of businesses will support a low-carbon economy and sustainable resource use, given incentives or proof of REDD’s business opportunities.

Debate about REDD+ and Indonesia’s forests prompted the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) to convene today’s Forests Indonesia conference, where leaders from business, development and government sectors will discuss future challenges and opportunities for Indonesia’s forests.

President Yudhoyono reaffirmed his commitment to ensuring Indonesia plays a leading role in harnessing forestry to address climate change, dedicating the rest of his term to delivering enduring results for Indonesia’s forests.

Efforts to protect the environment have already been included in the 15-year Master Plan for accelerating and expanding Indonesia’s economic growth.

The president also urged business leaders to contribute their experience, and to work with government and international partners to shape the future of Indonesia’s forests.

“We need to take bold initiatives through close collaboration and partnership with all stakeholders. We must change the way we treat our forests, so that they are conserved even as we drive hard to accelerate our economic growth,” he said.

“Our success in managing our forests will determine our future and the opportunities that will be available to our children.”

Source : http://blog.cifor.org

Forest Service letting wildfires burn

Thousands of acres in the Tonto National Forest continued to burn over the weekend.
Ironically enough, Forest Service rangers couldn’t be happier.
Instead of rushing to douse the flames, forest managers are mostly taking advantage of the cool conditions to let the fires burn — mindful of the growing body of research demonstrating the value of low-intensity fires at the right time of the year.
Recent studies have demonstrated that such low-intensity, controlled burns actually increase the diversity of plants and wildlife in the forest. Another recent study of tree-ring data going back hundreds of years has underscored that Southwestern forests have adapted to fire frequencies as often as once every two years.
So the early fall flush of fires burning now may do far more good than harm, say forest managers.
Over near Young, the Tanner Fire continues to burn nearly a month after a bolt of lightning started the blaze at the peak of Armer Mountain in the Sierra Anchas.
Crews this week will close Highway 288 in places to build a fire line around the blaze, according to John Thornburg, fire management officer.
“The fire remains within our management area and continues to burn heavy pockets of fuel which prevents catastrophic wildfires in the future.”
The fire put up a plume of smoke from the Tonto Basin, Globe and Young. Downdraft winds from a thunderstorm off Armer Mountain pushed the fire across Highway 288 Saturday evening around 7 p.m. and the fire burned through a dispersed camping area. No campers were present and no structures were lost.
On Monday, crews closed Highway 288 from Reynolds Creek south to the A-Cross Road.
Meanwhile, the lightning-caused Frio Fire continued to burn in the Pinal Mountain range. The fire has burned 3,600 acres since Aug. 17 and is 90 percent contained. Crews will be setting backfires this week to control the spread of the fire, especially on its eastern flank.
“Resources are assigned again today to ensure that we keep the fire where we want it to be, doing what we want it to do,” said Brad Johnson, Globe Ranger District spokesperson.
“We predict that smoke will continue to be visible for the next several days. As fire activity and spread are reduced, smoke impacts will be lessened considerably. We thank the public for their patience and support as we finish this project which will considerably lessen the danger of catastrophic wildfire in the future.”
Low intensity fires after the monsoon season actually benefit Southwestern forests, removing tree thickets, returning nutrients and preventing destructive crown fires — mostly during May and June. Such high intensity fires leaping from treetop to treetop sterilize the soil, creating a water-resistant crust and consume every tree and shrub over large areas.
Although low-intensity controlled burns reduce the chance of such catastrophic fires, many residents still suffer health problems from the smoke. For health information concerning smoke effects, please contact the Gila County Division of Health and Emergency Services, 5515 South Apache Ave., Suite 100, Globe, AZ 85501, (928) 425-3231 ext. 8888.
Residents can also stay updated on fires at www.fs.usda.gov/Tonto. To report a wildland fire, the fire emergency number is 866-746-6516, or dial 9-1-1.
A recent tree-ring study demonstrated how adapted most forested systems have become to regular, low-intensity fires, according to findings published in Applied Vegetation Science and Physical Geography.
Mature pines more than 500 years old often show 14 or more fire scars dating back to the mid 1600s, which means they generally survived a fire every 2-10 years, according to the researchers from Texas A & M University.
The researchers noted that for centuries Native Americans regularly set grassfires, knowing such frequent fires actually helped the forest.
However, fire frequency began to drop dramatically after the 1930s, when the U.S. Forest Service introduced its “Smokey Bear” campaign to prevent forest fires.
Source : http://www.paysonroundup.com

Discourse: Indonesia may use Norwegian funds for oil palm plantation

Indonesia has signed a Letter of Intent (LoI) to seal US$1 billion fund assistance from Norway to conserve its rain forests under REDD+ projects. In spite of many delays, the government has completed some preconditions for the fund disbursement. The Jakarta Post’s Adisti Sukma Sawitri talked to Norway’s Minister of the Environment and International Development, Erik Solheim, on the progress over the past year. Here are the excerpts:

Question: How does Norway see the progress of REDD+ projects in Indonesia?

Answer: Overall, we are pleased and impressed. It is normal that not everything is done according to plan. We are completely satisfied, however, that all the groundwork has been done. The moratorium is in place, the task force has been given a proper role. Direction is the most important thing and it has been positive.

We will not aim to be involved on how exactly it will be done. Indonesia will design the path and we will supply assistance on the basis of the produced results.

We will not be sitting back in Europe and finger-pointing how Indonesia should use the money. It is not a traditional overseas development assistance (ODA); it is based on the principle of equal partnership.

If the deforestation decreases, Norway will provide money; if it does not go down, however, we will not provide assistance. That is exactly what we did in Brazil and Ghana.

Up to now, only a small amount of money has been allocated to the Indonesian government: approximately US$30 million, a tiny fraction of what has been promised. The bulk of the money will form result-based compensation on the reduced deforestation. It is expected to be paid in 2014.

What should Indonesia do in the near future?

The most important thing for Indonesia is to find a path for the nation, which will ensure rapid economic growth while, at the same time, conserving the forests. That can be done; in Brazil, for instance, over the last seven years, they’ve reduced 70 percent of emissions without any negative impacts on economic growth.

It is important to have a national REDD+ strategy ready before we can have a system to ensure reduced deforestation in all regions, not just localized projects.

The strategy has been discussed by multi stakeholders around the country.

The strategy has been out for public hearings for 30 days and is in its final stage. The strategy will help to see how Indonesia wants to spend the money.

How will the partnership conduct verification and assure transparency?

There must be an independent verification body; it cannot be verified by Norway or by Indonesia, and it must be absolutely transparent. There must also be the highest standards for anticorruption measures and a consultation process with indigenous people. All the final details have not yet been decided.

Apart from that, however, whether Indonesia wants to use the money from the project for agriculture or for industrial projects or road buildings or schools, that’s up to Indonesia.

Would the Norwegian government object if Indonesia used the project money to expand its oil palm plantations, even in the degraded natural forest areas?

That is a feasible policy if it is already degraded land. We have seen some positive developments with some of the big palm oil producers wanting to adopt an environmentally friendly outlook. Some of them have accepted international verification for selling their products without destroying the forests.

But that cannot replace conservation of the rain forests because rain forest cannot be cut down and then reforested. The government has revoked a regulation that would have recognized oil palm plantations as forests. From our perspective, this is positive news.

Norway has a huge petroleum fund from our oil production and that fund is basically making a one percent investment in many companies globally and some of them have palm oil production. But this is a small financial transaction and there is an ethics committee for the oil fund to monitor whether these companies are operating in an acceptable manner; and they will act against the companies that carry out ecological destruction. If it finds any, it will propose to our government to withdraw its investment. So far, we have withdrawn investment from companies producing tobacco, and those employing child labor.

What if there’s a dispute between Indonesia and Norway’s governments, such as regarding the classification of forest plantations; how would this affect the partnership?

It’s completely normal. Indonesia is a country with so many different interests, and palm oil is one of its core political issues.

You can never expect this process to be easy. There will be a lot of discussions on this issue. The most important thing is we treat openess and transparency very seriously.

Source : http://www.thejakartapost.com

President calls on businesses to unite to protect Indonesia’s forests

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono called on leading industries to support international and national efforts to reduce deforestation through the sustainable management of its forest.

“We must change the way we treat our forests so that they are conserved as we drive hard to accelerate our economic growth. I call upon our business leaders, particularly those in the palm oil, pulp wood and mining sectors, to partner with us by enhancing the environmental sustainability of their operations,” said the President.

At the Forests Indonesia conference held by the Center For International Forestry Research (CIFOR) today, the President laid out his vision for the sustainable management of Indonesia’s’ resources which would meet the rising demand for food, fibre and fuel, whilst guaranteeing the long term protection of its forest.

In his speech, which addressed 1,000 representatives from leading business groups, NGOs, development agencies and government ministries, he discussed the challenges and opportunities faced by the country in the sustainable use of its forests.

“As a developing nation, we regard as fundamental the challenge of promoting real growth and poverty eradication.”

“I am especially pleased to see many business leaders here today because they bring decades of experience to the table and help to shape the future of our nation’s forests”.

A sustainable development strategy, he said, would not be possible without “bold initiatives” from leading business and forestry experts, especially in the development of low carbon energy such as micro-hydroelectric power, geothermal, and bio-energy.

He also called for support for existing policies, including the intensification of agricultural production through the use of degraded and disused lands, as well as for international initiatives such as Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation schemes (REDD+).

“We need to go into partnership with all stakeholders to sustainably manage our forest resources…I encourage all of you to forge greater cooperation with international partners”.

Indonesia is home to the third largest tract of rainforest in the world, yet it is one of the world’s largest green house gas emitters. Forest-clearing for paper, pulp and palm oil industries, as well as illegal timber extraction, accounts for nearly 90% of the deforestation in the country.

In 2010, the president issued a two-year moratorium on the issuance of new forest concessions and has been a global leader in the development of REDD+ schemes.

Yesterday the announcement of a National Action Plan to reduce green house gases cemented the government’s commitment to reducing its carbon emissions by 26% by 2020.

However, with economic growth expected to increase by 7% annually and plans to expand to the pulp and paper industries to meet the rising demand from foreign markets, environmentalists and climate experts fear there is little incentive for businesses to invest in sustainable alternatives.

The President declared that despite the progress, he would continue to address issues such as land tenure, illegal logging and the clearing of peat land, which threatened to undermine a sustainable forests strategy.

“On my part, I will continue my work and dedicate the last three years of my term as President, to deliver enduring results that will sustain and enhance the environment and forests of Indonesia”.

Source : http://blog.cifor.org

Bangladeshi villagers kill rare tiger

Villagers in southern Bangladesh have beaten to death a Royal Bengal Tiger, a critically endangered species, after it strayed near their homes.
It was the second tiger killed near the Sunderbans mangrove forests this year.
An estimated 440 tigers live in the forests, which stretch between Bangladesh and India.

Experts warn that confrontations involving tigers and humans will increase

As a rare species, tigers are protected by law in Bangladesh. However, the number of attacks involving the animals has sharply increased.
Forty-one incidents were reported in Bangladesh in the first six months of 2010, compared with 58 in the whole of 2009.
So far this year 26 people have been killed by tigers, officials say.
Villagers are sometimes attacked by tigers when they go into the Sunderbans forests to fish or collect honey.
Experts warn that such encounters will increase as humans and tigers compete for the same natural resources.

Source : http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-11303422

Honey collecting in the Sundarbans is a risky business

Sundarbans forest

The terrain in the Sundarbans forests is one of the most treacherous in the region

For generations poor fishermen and villagers around Bangladesh's Sundarbans, the largest mangrove forests in the world, have been collecting wild honey from April to June every year.

The annual honey gathering season brings lots of expectations in the south-west of the country, as it provides people with much needed extra income.

On average, the fishermen earn around $70 to $80 (£42 to £49) each during the season.

They use the extra money to repay their debts or to repair their boats

Honey gathering may sound like a normal rural occupation but here it is perhaps the most dangerous job in the world.

Lurking dangers

As the fishermen move about in search of beehives in the wild, they run the risk of meeting a deadly foe - the Royal Bengal tiger.

"During this period the biggest danger comes from the tigers. They are always on the prowl and they can kill us instantly," says Abdus Salam, an experienced honey gatherer from Burigoalini village, in the district of Satkhira in western Sundarbans.

"Then there are venomous snakes inside the forests. In these muddy waters, crocodiles lie in waiting," he adds.

Mr Salam says that they also have to deal with the problem of pirates.

"If we don't pay them they will kill us mercilessly. This job is full of risks," he says.

Tiger attacks happen throughout the year but the number of incidents goes up during the honey gathering season.

At least 80 people are killed by the tigers every year in the Sundarbans.

Hunt for beehives

The fishermen normally go from island to island for about three weeks in their creaky boats collecting honey, made by some of the largest and most aggressive bees in the world.

The honey gatherers travel through muddy saltwater rivers, creeks and narrow channels that criss-cross the Sundarbans forests.

Bengal tiger

The Royal Bengal Tiger is an occupational hazard for the honey collectors

We went with the honey gatherers for a day by boat, deep into the western Sundarbans forests, in search of wild beehives.

Our first stop was to practice an ancient custom. The Sundarbans fishermen pray to the forest Goddess Bonbibi, who they believe will protect them from tigers and other dangers.

These fishermen, Hindus and Muslims, have been praying to Bonbibi for generations.

Some of the team members also used the stop to collect leaves and twigs which can be used to prepare a smoke-emitting torch to scatter away the bees.

As our boat moved deeper inside the mangrove forests the eldest member of the group Amzad Mollah urged caution.

"A 12 year-old-boy was killed by a tiger just here last December," he says.

"On my right side near the tree, another honey gatherer was mauled to death by a tiger in February. A young fisherman from my village was killed by the animal in the same area last month."

Prized catch

Deep inside the dense jungle, one of the fishermen soon spotted a huge beehive on a tree branch.

It was at least four-feet wide, with tens of thousands of giant wild bees nesting.

"Cover your face with this cloth otherwise the bees will attack you," warned Mr Mollah as he passed one of his cotton towels, or Gamcha, to me. All the honey hunters also had their faces covered.

Honey combs

If captured the wild honey combs add to the yearly earnings, thus easing the fishermen's burden

As we approached the beehive cautiously, the honey gatherers lit up torches made up of leaves and twigs to create smoke. The smoke forced the bees to fly away but a few of them attacked those who weren't holding a torch.

The honey hunters did not mind the sting. Soon one of them climbed up the tree and started cutting the honey combs. They gathered a few pieces in a bamboo basket and we could see the golden syrup flowing through the comb.

While some were busy gathering honey, others were on guard and were bursting crackers and blowing buffalo horns to scare away any tigers in the area. The fishermen were also in a hurry as they wanted to leave the place as quickly as possible.

As we were returning, the fishermen started singing folk songs praising the Sundarbans for giving them livelihood.

'Lucky to be alive'

Almost everyone in the group had a story to tell about tiger attacks.

A few of them showed deep scars on their heads and shoulders and others said some of their relatives were not as lucky as them to survive the attacks with injuries.

So why do these men take such risks to earn very little extra money?

"If we can get any other work we will happily do that," says Asgar Ali Sheikh, a senior member of the group.

"If a tiger kills anyone of us, we cannot be afraid and stay at home. If we don't come here, we cannot feed our parents and children. It's our life."

With no other jobs on offer, it seems these fishermen from the Sundarbans have little option than to carry on with one of the most dangerous professions in the world.

The BBC's Anbarasan Ethirajan travels with a group of fishermen into the Sundarbans mangrove forests to witness their risky trade.

Source : http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/13556336



Forest fires are burning out of control in forest, plantations and scrub-land chiefly in Sumatra and Kalimantan (the Indonesian part of Borneo); it is now estimated that up to 1 million ha is burning. The fires have originated from timber and plantation companies burning land (often illegally) Conditions in the region are unusually dry because of a severe El Nino event (see below), hastening the spread of the fire. In addition, much of the natural forest is very prone to fire because of the effects of heavy logging.
The smoke from the fires is combining with pollutants from cities in Indonesia and Malaysia to create a suffocating smog that is obliterating the sun and causing serious breathing and respiratory problems. The smog has spread to Singapore, The Phillippines and even southern Thailand, and it is thought it will last until next April. Up to 70 million people are being affected.

Friends of the Earth International - a call for action

Friends of the Earth Indonesia (WAHLI) and Friends of the Earth International is calling on the Indonesian Government to:
  • take decisive and adequate action to put out the fires and provide relief to the people affected by the disaster. The Emergency Relief Fund of US$800-000 announced by the Government on 27 September is woefully inadequate.
  • prosecute the forest and plantation companies that have ignored or broken government policies on burning.
  • implement their own laws and policies, and pass whatever new ones are necessary, to bring the timber and plantation industry under control and make them sustainable.
Friends of the Earth is also calling on the international community and citizens' organizations to hold the Indonesian government accountable for the widespread tragedy caused by the forest fires. The government has for too long flouted the calls of its people for an end to the corruption, incompetence, indifference and pure profit-seeking that has characterized the country's forest management policy.
In the absence of an effective government response, WALHI/ FOE Indonesia has established Emergency Posts in six affected communities. FOE International has issued an urgent appeal for smoke masks and donations to enable WALHI/ FOE Indonesia to continue meeting this immediate and practical need.

Indonesian Government response - too little, too late

The fires have been burning since July. However, the Indonesian government has not responded quickly enough, taking little action to put out the fires in the past months, and only announcing an emergency relief fund on 27 September. The relief fund is also far too little, the fund of Rp. 3.1 billion (less than US$800,000) being shamefully inadequate, given the magnitude of the tragedy. The government spends more than a hundred times this sum to keep powerful pulp, paper and peat barons in business (ref). For example: the Indonesian government subsidizes the aircraft industry to the tune of Rp. 400 billion (US$102 million) and PT Pulp & Paper, a plantation consortium, with up to Rp. 250 billion (US$64 million) [1].
The government has also failed for decades to control its forestry and plantation sector, and not heeded the warnings of previous fires and the calls of environmentalists (see below).

A region choking to death

The smoke from the forest has combined with pollution from cities to produce a deadly smog, referred to in Asia as “the haze”. The haze has already claimed the lives of 19 people in Indonesia and over 40,000 people have been hospitalised. Up to 70 million people across the region are being affected, and health experts have warned that up to 20 per cent of all deaths in the region could be caused by the smog [2].
The haze is affecting Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore, the southern Philippines and southern Thailand. In many of the worst-hit districts, calls have been made for people to stay indoors while special protective masks have sold out or are in short supply in many places.
The most serious health hazard from the smoke comes from the particles suspended in the air. The smoke from burning vegetation also contains a multitude of chemicals, including irritants such as sulphur dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide and ammonia.
Though information is scant, the Air Pollutant Index (API) is reported to have reached 600 in parts of Indonesia [3] (six times the norm) , and 839 in Kuching, Malaysia [4]. The Air Pollution Index used is similar to the system used in the USA, but the readings of 600 and 839 go off the top of the USA scale.
The Total Suspended Particle (TSP) in Indonesia has been reported as 600 microgram, compared to a maximum detailed in a ministerial decree max of 260 microgram [5]. The UK health standard is 50 .g/m3, and the UK government proposes to set its “alert threshold” - at which there is “Risk of more serious adverse health affects, not necessarily confined to sensitive groups ” at 100 .g/m3 [6] (Note: the UK figures are for 24 hour averages and it is not clear if this what the figures reported from Indonesia represent).
The highest pollution reading in Kuala Lumpur so far is equivalent to a 24-hour particulate level (PM10) of 350 .g/m3 (ie seven times the UK health standard). The Kuching reading of 839 is too high to be converted to the scale used in the UK.
These levels of pollution are clearly extremely dangerous to human health. Even the pollution levels in the UK result in the premature death of an estimated 10,000 people a year, from asthma, bronchitis and other heart and lung problems [7].
Whilst the immediate effects of the pollution are most notably on the respiratory tract, it is not known what the longer term impact (eg. cancers) of prolonged exposure to these very high pollution levels will be. Experts have pointed out that inhaling wood smoke can cause throat cancer and long-term damage to the kidneys, livers and the nervous system [8].

Who's to blame?

Although the Indonesian government has named plantation and timber companies responsible for starting the fires (see below), environmentalists have attacked the Indonesian government for failing to control the illegal burning, and for the failure over the past years to control the destruction of the nation's forests, and the widespread illegal practices by the industrialists.
An Editorial in the Thai newspaper The Nation has planted responsibility squarely with industry and government. It said: “The blame must surely go to the logging and plantation companies which callously burn forests in the name of profits. Blame, too, must go to the Indonesian government for providing these companies with subsidies to clear the forests. And blame must also go to Asean - which despite years of meetings, reports and action plans - is impotent in stopping it from recurring”. [9]

The role of the timber and plantation industry - conclusive evidence available

The government has named 117 plantations, 27 Industrial forests and 19 transmigration sites in Sumatra and Kalimantan that have used burning on their land recently (even though it has been illegal since 1994), and given them 15 days to deny the allegations [10]. If they cannot prove they have not used fire, their licences to operate will be reviewed and possibly revoked. Environment Minister Sarwono has stated that 90% of the burning is due to timber estates, plantation owners and transmigration sites [11].
However, other parts of the government are playing down the role of the industries, calling it a natural disaster due to El Nino, or even blaming small-scale farmers and indigenous communities for starting the fires [12].
Satellite observations from the NOAA satellite, however, confirm that the plantation and timber companies, not small-scale farmers or indigenous communities, are responsible for the fires. For example, the satellite images from April 1997 for Riau Province, Sumatra, show that 90% of the fire areas were in plantations, 8% were in forest concessions (known as HPH/HTI areas), and only 2% were on community lands. In June 1997, 87% of the hotspots observed were on plantation areas, 8% percent were in HPH/HTI areas, and only 4% were on community lands [13].

Indonesia's plantation ambition

The plantation sector is expanding enormously in Indonesia, with palm oil, pulp, rubber plantations etc replacing natural forest on a vast scale throughout the archipelago. The government has a plan to develop 4.4 million ha of pulp plantations for timber by 2004 [14], and has an ambition to be the largest producer of pulp and paper in the world.
The area of palm oil plantations in Indonesia is also huge, with an estimated 1.2 million ha in 1995 [15], and a government plan for 5.5 million ha by 2000 [16]. Indonesia is the second largest exporter of palm oil to the UK: in 1995 Indonesia exported 76,000 tonnes of palm oil products to the UK (ref). It is estimated that this would require 33,400 hectares of oil palm plantations [17]. Palm oil is used for the production of edible and inedible products, including frying and cooking oils, margarines, and dairy products. Inedible products produced from palm oil include diesel, soaps, rubber, candles and cosmetics.
Many multinational companies are involved in the plantation sector. For example, Finnish paper giant UPM-Kymmene (member of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and a major supplier of paper to the UK) is involved in a joint venture with APRIL (Asia Pacific Resources International), which owns two pulp mills in Sumatra. APRIL, which clear-fells logged-over natural forest to provide its mills with raw material, is one of the companies named by the Indonesia government as using fire illegally to clear land.
International investment is also involved in plantations. APRIL is listed on international stock exchanges. Another pulp mill development in south Sumatra, PT Tel, is being funded partly by investment from the Bank of Scotland.

Logging out of control

Logged forest is more susceptible to fire than unlogged forest, because of the debris left on the ground after logging, and because logging opens up the canopy, allowing more sunlight to enter and dry the forest floor [18].
The logging industry in Indonesia is huge: forestry is the second biggest earner after oil and gas, and 64 million ha of the forest has been carved up for logging concessions [19]. Indonesia is the biggest player in the international tropical timber market, harvesting approximately 26 million cubic metres from its forests annually [20]; it is the world's largest producer of plywood [21].
Indonesia is the UK's second largest supplier of tropical timber (logs, sawn timber, plywood, veneers and boards); in 1996 the UK imported 201,650 cubic metres of tropical timbers from Indonesia [22]. Even the UK Timber Trade Federation representative Michael James admitted, in a interview for BBC Radio 4 on 28 September 1997, that “The Indonesians haven't quite got their forest management under control”. Mr James also acknowledged the role logging plays in encouraging forest fires, saying in the same interview: “I would acknowledge that if you thin the forest it will burn more easily...”
Natural forest cover in Indonesia has decreased from 80% of the land area in the 1960s to 57% today [23]. Indonesia now has over 100 million ha of natural forest, the third largest area of tropical forest in the world, but this is being destroyed at a rate of 1 million ha a year (or 1% a year) [24].
According to IUCN “The lowland rainforest of Sumatra and Kalimantan [the areas that are now worse affected by fire] have been particularly heavily logged, ...very little is pristine.” [25].
Environmentalists, both within Indonesia and abroad, have been highlighting the poorly regulated, destructive logging industry for decades. The forest companies often operate irresponsibly, destroying the forest or leaving it in such a state that it is unlikely to regenerate. Even the policies and laws that are in place are often disregarded. At the end of 1996, the Indonesian Minister of Forests was reported as saying that 20 million ha of Indonesia's forests were in a critical state and warned that the proportion could increase rapidly, although he put most of the blame on shifting cultivators [26]. 60 of 90 forestry concessions ending in 1996 have not be renewed because the forests were in such a bad state and forestry regulations had not been followed. Government Forestry Department expert Dr Tantra has warned that Indonesia's natural forests could be completely logged out by 2030 unless the selective cutting and replanting policy is properly implemented [26].
The logging industry is controlled by few, very rich individuals, and corruption is rife. Indonesian President Suharto is closely connected to the timber industry and has amassed a huge wealth (Suharto's personal wealth is estimated at US$1.6 billion). The most notorious timber tycoon, Mohammed “Bob” Hassan, who controls approximately 3.5 million ha of forest and is head of the loggers and wood-processing trade association, is a close friend and advisor to the President [27].
Although the state set up a special fund from logging dues supposedly to ensure forests were maintained - the Reforestation Fund - collection rate of dues from logging is appalling (estimated by the World Bank to be 30%). Money that is in the Restoration Fund is not even used for forest management - for example, B J Habibie, the Minister for research and technology, will receive a US$180 million loan from the fund to support the construction of an aeroplane. The money is also being used to support a controversial project to turn 1 million ha of swamp forest in Kalimantan into rice-fields [28].

Transmigration and other projects

Transmigration sites have also been named as using fire to clear land. Indonesia has a massive transmigration programme to move people from the overcrowded islands of Java, Bali and Lombok to outer islands. Nearly 3 million people have so far been moved, and over 6.7 million ha of land is allocated for transmigration programmes. Transmigration programmes and planning for it (the Regional Physical Planning Programme for Transmigration - RePPProT) have been funded by loans from the World Bank and bi-lateral aid from the UK [29].
Other misguided schemes such as the giant rice-growing project in Kalimantan (mentioned above) have made the fires worse. 260,000 ha of the area slated for the project is reportedly on fire, with the fire burning in the peat underground. A canal constructed to start draining the area for the rice project is believed to have dried the peat, making it more susceptible to the fire [30].

Beleaguered biodiversity

Although Indonesia occupies only 1.3% of the land surface of the globe, it contains an estimated 10% of all plant species, 12 % of mammals, 16% of reptiles and 17% of birds, making it one of the most biodiverse countries on earth. Sadly, Indonesia has the longest list of vertebrates that are threatened with extinction [31] eg. 104 bird species are included on the official threatened list. [32]. According to IUCN, most of the threatened vertebrates are in danger because they cannot survive rain forest clearance. Examples include the Clouded Leopard, which once occurred throughout Sumatra, but is now restricted to a few isolated areas, because of the clearance of its forest habitat [33]. The Sumatran Rhinoceros is in a similar predicament, and is on the brink of extinction.

Previous fires - lessons not learnt

This is not the first time fire has devastated Indonesia's forests, but the warning signals have been ignored. In 1982-3, approximately 33,000 square km of forest (the size of Belgium) in East Kalimantan burnt. The forests in this region have been extremely heavily logged, and the fire swept quickly through logged forest, where dead, dry remains of trees littered the floor, and also in the peat forests, where the peat soil caught fire [34].

Although the fire was officially blamed on shifting cultivators and peasant farmers using fire, environmentalists then drew attention to the role of the logging industry, the lack of regulation and control and the poor condition of the forests. However, no action to improve forest regulation was taken, and the timber industry has continued its unsustainable and often illegal practices.

Current weather conditions and El Nino?

El Nino is a periodic climate event which occurs in the Pacific ocean , but has global consequences. The event starts when a part of the Pacific Ocean gets warmer, the warm water rises to the surface and heats the air above it, affecting the water and air movements on a large scale. The body of heat then moves from New Guinea towards the coast of South America. These events have a dramatic effect on climate patterns: regions of south-east Asia and Africa are affected by severe drought while the Americas may experience severe storms and floods.
The occurrence of El Nino is unpredictable, but traditionally it occurred about every seven years or so. Recently, however, El Nino has been occurring more frequently, being longer lived and more intense. The most recent El Nino event lasted from 1990 to 1995. The occurrence of another severe El Nino this year, just two years after the 1990-1995 prolonged event, is extremely unusual [35], and some scientists have suggested this could be due to human-induced global climate change [36].

Global impacts

The fires themselves will contribute significantly to global climate change effects through the massive emission of carbon dioxide. It is estimated that the 1 million hectares of burning forests will produce around 220-290 million tonnes of carbon dioxide - roughly 50% of Britain's annual carbon dioxide emissions (550 million tonnes) [37].
The fire is also threatening over 1 million hectares of peat forest [38], and an additional 220 million tonnes of CO2 (another 40% of the UK's emissions) could be released if just the top ten cm of peat were to burn [39]. Peat soils are densely packed with organic matter and contain large quantities of carbon. Once the fire is in the peat below ground, it is even more difficult to extinguish.

1. WAHLI/FOE Indonesia, pers.comm.
2. WAHLI/FOE Indonesia, pers.comm.
3. WAHLI/FOE Indonesia, pers.comm.
4. Air Pollution Index figures from Internet site
5. WAHLI/FOE Indonesia, pers.comm.
6. UK Government consultation paper
7. Estimate of 10,000 people dying
8. The Nation (Bangkok) 29 Sept 1997
9 The Nation (Bangkok) 29 Sept 1997
10. Burning of fields already visible at 117 companies. Kompas, 18 Sept 1997
11 Down to Earth press briefing, Sept 1997
12. The Straits Times, 29 Sept 1997
13. Taking to court businessmen who are still burning forests WAHLI/FOE Indonesia press release, 2 Sept 1997.
14. Carrere, R. and Lohman, L. (1996) Pulping the South, World Rainforest Movement/Zed Books 15. Calculation from yield of oil palm and total production, as given by FAO
16. Far Eastern Economic Review, 2 Oct 1997
17. Calculation of oil palm export to UK - area of plantation
18. IUCN The conservation Atlas of Tropical Forests: Asia and the Pacific
19. Down to Earth press briefing, Sept 1997
20. Tropical Timbers Dec 1996 and April 1997
21. Down to Earth press briefing, Sept 1997
22. Tropical Timbers Dec 1996 and April 1997
23. IUCN The conservation Atlas of Tropical Forests: Asia and the Pacific
24. FAO State of the World's Forests 1997
25. IUCN The conservation Atlas of Tropical Forests: Asia and the Pacific
26. Down to Earth newsletter, No 32, February 1997
27. Down to Earth newsletter, No 32, February 1997.
28. Down to Earth press briefing, Sept 1997
29. IUCN The conservation Atlas of Tropical Forests: Asia and the Pacific
30. WAHLI/FOE Indonesia - pers comm.
31. IUCN The conservation Atlas of Tropical Forests: Asia and the Pacific
32. Collar et. al (1995) Birds to Watch II. BirdLife International.
33. IUCN The conservation Atlas of Tropical Forests: Asia and the Pacific
34 IUCN The conservation Atlas of Tropical Forests: Asia and the Pacific
35. Trenberth, K and Hoar, T. (1996) The 1990-1995 El Nino Southern Oscillation Event: longest on record Geophysical Research Letters, Vol 23, p. 57.
36. Mike Kelly, East Anglia Climate Research Unit in The Guardian, 22 Sept 1997
37. WWF Press release 29 Sept 1997: Indonesian fires fuel climate change. Assumes 6-80 tonnes of carbon per hectare and a conversion factor of carbon to carbon dioxide of 3.667.
38. Harrison, D. 1997. Fire in the East. Observer, 28 Sept 1997.
39. Using figures of 0.55 tonnes of carbon per hectare per year for a lowering of 1 mm a year with a bulk density of 0.1 g/cm3 and a carbon content of 55%. Immirzi, C., Maltby, E., and Clymo, R. (1992). The global status of peatlands and their role in carbon cycling. A report for Friends of the Earth by the Wetlands Ecosystem Research Group, Dept of Geography, University of Exeter.

Contact details:

Friends of the Earth
26-28 Underwood St.
N1 7JQ

Tel: 020 7490 1555
Fax: 020 7490 0881
Email: info@foe.co.uk
Website: www.foe.co.uk

Source : http://www.foe.co.uk/resource/briefings/indonesian_forest_fires.html

REDD in the news

REDD in the news: 7-13 February 2011

A round up of the week’s news on REDD, in chronological order with short extracts (click on the title for the full article). REDD-Monitor’s news page (REDD in the news) is updated regularly.

Activist Outrage at the UN Climate Conference
By Anne Petermann and Orin Langelle, Z Magazine, February 2011 | Likewise, Global Forest Coalition’s report “Getting to the Roots,” which analyzes the underlying causes of deforestation through a global series of workshops, insists that deforestation will not be stopped until the system driving it is changed. The conclusions of the report state, “Neoliberal economic policies were identified as an underlying cause by several workshops, not least because they themselves are at the heart of many of the other drivers and underlying causes.… It is most unlikely, for example, that climate change can be halted or demand for wood and land can be reduced without a fundamental review of neoliberal economic policies and trade regimes. “Likewise, it is the neoliberal vision of many international financial institutions that causes them to invest significantly more money in forest-destroying industries than in forest conservation (and to justify doing both at the same time).”
No Regrets: Maintaining Forests for Adaptation and Mitigation
By Frances Seymour, World Resources Report, no date | Financial mechanisms being mobilized under the rubric of Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (“REDD+”) have the potential to provide a source of finance for such protection, and for compensating communities for any loss of current income that such protection entails. Depending on how REDD+ benefits are shared at national and local levels, forest protection efforts could help finance rural development, but could also easily make some stakeholders worse off. Thus an important trade-off is between imposing risks on some of the world’s most vulnerable communities in the short run, versus the risk of no action to reduce forest-based emissions, which benefits the global community as a whole in the long run. At the global level, REDD+ funds are likely to be targeted to the “high-carbon” humid forests of the Amazon Basin, the Congo Basin, and Indonesia.
Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions by Forest Protection: The Transaction Costs of REDD
By Lee J. Alston, Krister Andersson, The National Bureau of Economic Research, February 2011 | Understanding and minimizing the transaction costs of policy implementation are critical for reducing tropical forest losses. As the international community prepares to launch REDD+, a global initiative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from tropical deforestation, policymakers need to pay attention to the transactions costs associated with negotiating, monitoring and enforcing contracts between governments and donors. The existing institutional design for REDD+ relies heavily on central government interventions in program countries. Analyzing new data on forest conservation outcomes, we identify several problems with this centralized approach to forest protection. We describe options for a more diversified policy approach that could reduce the full set of transaction costs and thereby improve the efficiency of the market-based approach for conservation.
Approaches to classifying and restoring degraded tropical forests for the anticipated REDD+ climate change mitigation mechanism
By N. Sasaki, Asner, G.P., Knorr, W., Durst, P.B., Priyadi, H. and Putz, F. E, iForest 4, February 2011 | Inclusion of improved forest management as a way to enhance carbon sinks in the Copenhagen Accord of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (December 2009) suggests that forest restoration will play a role in global climate change mitigation under the post-Kyoto agreement. Although discussions about restoration strategies often pertain solely to severely degraded tropical forests and invoke only the enrichment planting option, different approaches to restoration are needed to counter the full range of degrees of degradation. We propose approaches for restoration of forests that range from being slightly to severely degraded.
Common Property Forest Management: Implications for REDD in Ethiopia
Environment for Development, no date | The proposed project seeks to contribute substantively to climate change and community forest management policies and advance the literature by analyzing the relationship between common property forest management (CPFM) in Ethiopia and climate policy within the context of the UN Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation in Developing Countries (REDD) and proposing instruments for channeling REDD benefits to households.
The Planet Keeps Warming, But U.S. Media Interest Cools
By Miranda Spencer, Extra!, February 2011, At least in part reflecting this pessimism, there has been a “steep slide” in climate reporting this year, Columbia Journalism Review’s science blog (Observatory, 11/24/10) noted. Few major corporate news media outlets even planned to send reporters to Cancún; as Washington Post lead environmental writer Juliet Eilperin told Observatory, “It feels like there is absolutely no momentum…. What will there even be to cover in Cancún in terms of public policy or reader interest?” … The Post (12/8/10, 12/12/10) and the Los Angeles Times (12/10/10) were the only two national outlets during the talks to cover REDD… The highly contentious market-based mechanism became part of the eventual Cancún Agreement. The articles mainly discussed the business implications of REDD and mentioned indigenous and global South objections only in passing.
7 February 2011
SBY still pondering planned forest moratorium
Jakarta Post, 7 February 2011 | President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was still studying the concept of a forest moratorium before signing a presidential instruction as a legal instrument to stop the conversion of forest areas. Forestry conversion in Indonesia still measures about 1 million hectare a year. After a month-long delay, it remains unclear whether the forest moratorium would be imposed or not. “The President still needs to learn the [moratorium] concept better,” said Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, head of the taskforce charged with reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD).
Could carbon markets become obsolete?
By Esther Ng, todayonline.com, 7 February 2011 | It should be a happy headache for environmentalists. Yet the possibility of carbon markets becoming obsolete within the next one or two decades – as industralised countries cut their carbon emissions – could have dire consequences, according to three researchers. Currently, carbon markets provide a rich source of funding for United Nations-backed conservation scheme REDD+. The idea is for industrialised countries to offset their own emissions by buying carbon credits from developing countries, thereby giving communities in the latter group an incentive to protect their forests and preserve endangered species.
Rainforest fears slow Indonesia palm oil growth
agrimoney.com, 7 February 2011 | Efforts to preserve Indonesia’s rainforest, in the face of international pressure, look set to accelerate a decline in the plantation expansion which has driven the country to top rank in palm oil. Provincial authorities have already stopped issuing permits for planting on Indonesian land deemed forest by the government, and so protected from development – even if their restraint is far considered reluctant and temporary. “Provincial [officials] insist that land the government considers as primary forest has already been degraded and should be suitable for planting,” US Department of Agriculture attaches in Jakarta said. “There remain fundamental disagreements over the definition of ‘degraded land’.”
Forests Vs. Food?
By Bryan Walsh, Time, 7 February 2011 | 2011 could be the year the world finally stops losing the fight against deforestation. On February 2 the U.N. launched the International Year of Forests, beginning a series of events meant to raise awareness about the vital importance of forests and generate support for sustainable forestry practices. At December’s U.N. climate summit in the Mexican city of Cancun, governments took the first concrete steps towards creating a system for avoided deforestation, or REDD, which would allow companies and countries to claim carbon credits for maintaining trees. But at the same time, record high food prices could reverse all of that progress, if farmers around the world choose to clear forest to make room for more crops. “In my view, 2011 is going to be the critical year,” says Frances Seymour, the director-general of the Center for International Forestry Research. “This is the year we’ll find out whether we’ll be successful or not.”
NGOs Need to Walk Softly – and Hang Tough
By James Gray, Ecosystem Marketplace, 7 February 2011 | Scores of non-governmental organizations are trying to help indigenous people out of poverty by showing them how to earn carbon credits for managing their forests, but not all are getting results. NGO veteran James Gray says that if NGOs really want to help, they have to cede more control to indigenous groups – and they have to convince those groups that they’re in it for the long haul. He offers this example from his own experience with CARE in Guatemala.
Forest Fest Makes Headway in Protection, Poverty Reduction
By Andrea Lunt, IPS, 7 February 2011 | While the U.N.’s premier forest scheme REDD+, negotiated in Cancún last December, has aimed to place local communities at the centre of forest governance, critics say the safeguards are negated by industry-friendly policies and failure of implementation at a national level. Vicky Tauli-Corpuz, an indigenous person from the Besao mountain province in the Philippines, told IPS that despite her people being granted legal titles on their forest lands, the rights were largely symbolic. “The possession by indigenous peoples of these titles still does not guarantee their security of tenure over these forests, as licenses for mining and plantations are still given by the state to private business people and politicians,” Tauli-Corpuz said. Other environmental groups believe the increasing demand for wood-based bio-energy and the continued conversion of forests to plantations are the greatest threats to forest communities.
Dr Seuss and the Amazon
Bleeding Edge Blog, 7 February 2011 | The year 2005 was an exceptionally dry one for the Amazon rainforest. Thousands of square kilometres of rainforest were destroyed. The level of the mighty Amazon river and its tributaries fell to the lowest levels since records began. Fish perished in the abnormally warm waters. Boats were grounded. Locals were forced to abandon their homes. It was the kind of drought that researchers would expect no more than once a century. But then came the drought of 2010. As a new research paper published in the journal Science today reveals, last year’s drought was even more severe than 2005. So Brazil has experienced two “once in a century” climatic events in a decade. Unsurprisingly, scientists are beginning to suspect that something is amiss.
Cancun analysis: Starting the REDD+ dance
CIFOR, 7 February 2011 | “A REDD+ deal wasn’t guaranteed in Cancun either, and if we didn’t get it then, forests would have been off the table for a decade,” said Louis Verchot, CIFOR’s Principal Scientist in environmental services and sustainable use of forests. “We finally have a decision. We know where to start the dance, we know which foot to start on and we know what this program is going to look like.”
UN Year of Forests stumbles in first week
By Bill Gunyon, OneWorld UK, 7 February 2011 | Last Wednesday’s UN launch of the International Year of Forests has been tempered by disagreement over global plans for their protection. The flames of criticism have been fanned by reports of irregularities in pilot projects to reduce deforestation in Guyana and Indonesia… Two projects sponsored by Norway are currently gaining attention for the wrong reasons.
Where does international climate policy stand after Cancún?
Heinrich Böll Stiftung, 7 February 2011 | Negotiations on REDD (forest protection) have taken a big step forward. Nevertheless, the text must still be seen as a compromise. Questions related to inclusion in emissions trading, dealing with subnational activities and the legal status of safeguards were not clarified.
UNDP Administrator Emphasizes Safeguards for REDD+ at the launch of Forests 2011
UN-REDD Programme Blog, 7 February 2011 | In her address at the Ministerial Dialogue with the Heads of the member organizations of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests, on the occasion of the 9th United Nations Forum on Forests, Administrator Helen Clark emphasized UNDP’s commitment to REDD+ safeguards.
Mozambique: Govt Designs Strategies to Curb Deforestation
allAfrica.com, 7 February 2011 | The Mozambican government and its partners are looking at the current level of deforestation and at new strategies to reverse the trend. These issues were discussed in Maputo on Monday at a meeting in preparation for the drafting of the new National Strategy for Reducing Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+). According to the Mozambican Environment Minister, Alcinda Abreu, the process of drafting the National Strategy is reaching an advanced stage. The development of this strategy has had the support of partners, including the World Bank which in this preparatory phase granted 200,000 US dollars. This sum was earmarked for the preparation of the strategy, and additional funds are required for its implementation in the coming years.
A REDD+ manual for botanic gardens
bgci.org, 7 February 2011 | This 19 page publication by BGCI reviews the United Nations Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation programme. There are a number of pilot projects in Bolivia, Cambodia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Indonesia, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, the Philippines, the Solomon Islands, Tanzania, Vietnam and Zambia. The manual notes the gaps in capacity for implementation, and the opportunities for botanic gardens. These might include assisting in planning, monitoring and evaluation of projects. The examples given in the manual show the involvement of botanic gardens based in Austraiia, Brazil, United Kindom, China and the USA.
Putting a positive spin on forests
By Sharon Guynup, CIFOR Forests Blog, 7 February 2011 | Jan McAlpine is the Director of the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF) which addresses all aspects of forests – from complete protection on one end of the spectrum to sustainable use one the other end, and everything in-between, including people, climate change, soils, water and biodiversity. Here she talks about the positive relationship between forests and the people who depend on them, and expectations following the launch of the International Year of Forests… There was also John D. Lui’s film, “Hope in a Changing Climate,” which showed the metamorphosis of a huge area in China: from dry, barren gullies into a natural landscape and agriculturally productive areas. It’s just an amazing story. There are lots of positive stories. It seems like bad stories get more attention, but we also want the public around the world to understand just how essential people are to forests and forests are to people.
Carbon jobs market resilient to recession
carbonpositive.net, 7 February 2011 | Employment and incomes in the climate change and carbon sector appear to be holding up well in the face of ongoing economic hardship, the results of a worldwide survey shows. Average salaries rose and respondents overall reported greater levels of job security and satisfaction compared to 2009, the Carbon Salary Survey 2010 found. The only worldwide job market appraisal in this field surveyed 944 participants in the climate change, carbon markets, renewable energy and clean technology fields in all regions. It was conducted in September and October by recruitment firm Acre Resources and corporate sustainability consultancy Acona.
8 February 2011
NGOs Appeal To Govt to Enact Logging Moratorium
By Fidelis E. Satriastanti, Jakarta Globe, 8 February 2011 | More than a month after it was supposed to have enacted a moratorium on new logging concessions, the government has still not complied, prompting environmental groups to demand immediate action… In order for the moratorium to be legally binding from its Jan. 1 start date, it must be backed by a presidential decree, which has still not been issued. On Monday, a coalition of environmental and civil society groups urged President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to hold up Indonesia’s end of the bargain. “We, the civil society coalition for Indonesian forest protection, appreciate the government’s efforts to take initial action to save the country’s forests,” a statement from the coalition read. “The plan to issue a presidential decree on a moratorium on new permits in forests and peatland is an appropriate area to start before it’s too late.”
China Drought Prompts U.N. to Issue Warning
By Keith Bradsher, New York Times, 8 February 2011 | The United Nations’ food agency issued an alert on Tuesday warning that a severe drought was threatening the wheat crop in China, the world’s largest wheat producer, and resulting in shortages of drinking water for people and livestock. China has been essentially self-sufficient in grain for decades, for national security reasons. Any move by China to import large quantities of food in response to the drought could drive international prices even higher than the record levels recently reached. “China’s grain situation is critical to the rest of the world – if they are forced to go out on the market to procure adequate supplies for their population, it could send huge shock waves through the world’s grain markets,” said Robert S. Zeigler, the director general of the International Rice Research Institute in Los Baños, in the Philippines.
New Report Says Forest Land Reform Stagnating, Posing Risks To Global Efforts To Combat Climate Change, Hunger And Poverty
Indigenous Peoples Issues & Resources, 8 February 2011 | Rapidly-rising food prices and growing demand for all land-based commodities, like palm oil and biofuels, are driving an intensive global land hunt that threatens the rights of hundreds of millions of local people living in tropical forests, according to a report released today by the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI). The growing competition for tropical forests comes as recognition of land and resource rights largely stagnated in 2010-despite new commitments through governments and climate change initiatives to support tenure rights and determined efforts by Indigenous Peoples and other forest communities to secure their lands, according to the analysis presented at RRI’s Ninth Dialogue on Forests, Governance and Climate Change in London.
Monitoring deforestation: an interview with Gilberto Camara, head of Brazil’s space agency INPE
By Rhett A. Butler, mongabay.com, 8 February 2011 | Space engineer Gilberto Camara has overseen much of INPE’s earth sensing work, first as head of INPE’s Image Processing Division, then as head of INPE’s Earth Observation, and since 2005 as director of INPE. During his watch, INPE has released several new exciting capabilities, including DETER, a program to monitor ecosystems outside the Amazon, tools to track forest degradation due to logging and fire, and a way to measure emissions from deforestation. INPE recently announced a LIDAR (LIght Detection And Ranging)-based system that will provide more precision, sensing even through smoke and cloud cover. In a January interview with mongabay, Dr. Camara explained how he went from a boy in northeastern Brazil to director of INPE and discussed INPE’s deforestation monitoring and other projects.
Unlikely road alignment and large forest clearing width for Amaila Falls road
By Janette Bulkan, letter to the editor Stabroek News, 8 February 2011 | So we have an unlikely road alignment, an extraordinarily large forest clearing width, no public news about the prior forest clearing which was to be completed within four weeks of the award of contract, and a roading contractor much behind schedule. Perhaps, Editor, you could send a journalist to have a look at what is actually happening on the ground? And how the estimated 101,000 m3 of commercial timber in road sections 6 and 7 have contributed to alleviation of the domestic timber shortage noted recently by Minister Robert Persaud, during a year in which exports of unprocessed logs to Asia have exceeded 101,000 m3? – as well as being contrary to the National Forest Policy and to the PPP 2006 election manifesto for in-country value addition of timber products.
CAR’s nested REDD+protocol process in Mexico
Tropical Forest Group, 8 February 2011 | The Climate Action Reserve (Reserve) is developing a Forest Project Protocol for use throughout Mexico. The Mexico protocol will be based on the U.S. Forest Project Protocol and will include guidance for the types of projects covered under the U.S. version of the Forest Project Protocol: Reforestation, Avoided Deforestation (Avoided Conversion), and Sustainable Forest Management (Improved Forest Management). Development of all three project types will be conducted contemporaneously, with initial efforts focused on areas of shared application. Reserve staff will work with the Mexico forest workgroup (see below) to refine the Forest Project Protocol for use in Mexico by developing guidance and standards for nested projects within a REDD framework, environmental integrity, land tenure issues, and permanence of forest carbon sequestration specific to projects in Mexico.
Keeping forest dwellers involved in forest protection and REDD
By Laurie Goering, AlertNet, 8 February 2011 | It’s no coincidence that Latin America has had some of the best success protecting tropical forest. That’s because the region, led by countries like Mexico and Brazil, has put more forest land in the hands of indigenous groups and other forest residents than any other part of the developing world, according to the U.S.-based Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI). Forest residents who own or otherwise control the land they live on have a strong incentive to protect it from illegal loggers and other destructive pressures, argues Andy White, head of the initiative, which works on forest policy issues, especially land tenure. The proof? Brazil’s indigenous reserves have become the heart of that country’s Amazon forest protection effort, he says, and in Mexico, where communities own 80 percent of forest land, forests are more effectively managed and protected than in many parts of the world.
Resilient Forest Dependent Communities Need Supportive Government Policies And Strengthened Institutions
ICIMOD press release, 8 February 2011 | A Special Event on ‘Sustaining Forests for Mitigation and Adaptation to the Impacts of Climate Change’ was organised by International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD); The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), India; and the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), Government of India on the sidelines of the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit (DSDS2011) in Delhi on 4 February 2011. Based on the presentations made by Dr. Giridhar Kinhal and Mr. Hari Krishna from ICIMOD and Dr. Yogesh Gokhale of TERI, panellists and participants from Afghanistan, Bhutan, India, Nepal and others deliberated on the various aspects of the topic and called for enabling and supporting policies from governments of the region and strengthening of local forest management institutions to support REDD+ approaches and practices aimed at sustaining forests, reducing poverty, and building community resilience…
Kenyan Carbon Project Earns First-Ever VCS REDD Credits
By Maud Warner and Molly Peters-Stanley, Ecosystem Marketplace, 8 February 2011 | The US-based conservation consultancy Wildlife Works Carbon won the race to issue the world’s first offset credits under the Voluntary Carbon Standard (VCS) from a project designed to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD). Wildlife Works revealed today that they had received the first REDD-based Voluntary Carbon Units (VCUs) for the Wildlife Works’ Kasigau Corridor REDD project, which protects over 500,000 acres of forest in Rukinga, Kenya. “This is a watershed moment for REDD projects everywhere because it demonstrates they can attract private investment to this critical work,” says VCS CEO David Antonioli. It’s also a watershed moment for the VCS, which after years of waiting for REDD project development methodologies to fall out of its pipeline, has brought to the voluntary carbon market four REDD methodologies and the world’s first issued REDD credits…
No Correlation Between Democracy and Forest Governance
By Gabriel Thoumi, Ecosystem Marketplace, 8 February 2011 | It is only when offsets follow the same rules around the world that an emitter in Chicago can offset his footprint by saving rainforest in Brazil, Columbia, and Kenya. Constance L. McDermott, Benjamin Cashore, and Peter Kanowski offer disturbing evidence that this isn’t happening. In Global Environmental Forest Policies: An International Comparison, published last year, they have provided the first concise, systematic approach to analyzing the global diverse forest management landscape. The 22 figures in Chapter Two alone (Selection and Global Context of the Case Study Countries) should be required reading for anyone interested in forest management for production, protection or both.
State eyes carbon credits through tree campaign
By Sayli Udas Mankikar, Hindustan Times, 8 February 2011 | The ambitious rural tree plantation scheme – where the government wanted every villager to plant at least on tree each – will soon be taken to the next level. After having achieved planting of 5.93 crore over the past one-and-half-year, just a few lakhs short of the magic figure of 6.25 crore trees equal to the rural population, the state has already started thinking of earning some green points to support the project further. “I have asked the department to do a survey of the trees and see how they have been planted. Apparently, only trees which are planted in a linear method are eligible for earning carbon credits,” said rural development minister Jayant Patil.
RRI Dialogue Addresses Developments on REDD+
Climate Change Policy & Practice, 8 February 2011 | The ninth Rights and Resources (RRI) Dialogue on Forests, Governance and Climate Change took place in London, UK, on 8 February 2011, bringing together international and non-governmental organizations, civil servants and representatives from civil society organizations, academia and the private sector to discuss the latest developments on reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries, plus the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks (REDD+).
Forests to be a hot topic in 2011
By Sharon Guynup, CIFOR Forests Blog, 8 February 2011 | Eduardo Rojas-Briales is the Assistant Director-General of the FAO Forestry Department and chair of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF). Eduardo participated in the launch of the International Year of Forests 2011 (Forests 2011) during the 9th Session of the UN Forum on Forests in New York where he encouraged people to take action to improve the state of forests during the Year. Here he talks about why forests are so politically important at the moment and what resources needed to implement REDD… From another perspective, it is not ethical to say that we should put more resources on REDD+, and less in education or in health or food security. Because of all this, it is critical that REDD is embedded in the new climate change architecture… Furthermore, the process of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) was too complicated to work, so hopefully REDD can step in as the alternative.
Stewart Maginnis on Poverty and Forest Restoration
By Sharon Guynup, CIFOR Forests Blog, 8 February 2011 | Stewart Maginnis is the Head of the Forest Conservation Programme at the International Union for Conservation of Nature. He has a keen interest in the linkage between forest conservation and livelihood security of the rural poor, the practical application of ecosystem or landscapes approaches in forest management and on the role of civil society in local and national forest governance arrangements. We had a chat to him at the UN Forum on Forests in New York.
9 February 2011
Slow but steady progress on recognizing indigenous land rights is interrupted by commodity boom
By Rhett A. Butler, mongabay.com, 9 February 2011 | Progress over the past 25 years in recognizing indigenous peoples’ rights to land and resources has been interrupted by a worldwide commodity boom, argues a new report published by the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI)… In a conversation with mongabay.com, Andy White, coordinator of RRI, discussed the new report and broader rights issues… I don’t know what a workable REDD mechanism looks like. I think it will take different forms in different countries. I don’t expect to see a global market for forest carbon, at least anytime soon. There need to be social and environmental safeguards (the UNFCCC REDD text is pretty good). And because the REDD world has become so fragmented – with the majority of funds now going through bilateral, rather than the multilateral channels, it’s now critical for bilateral parties to adopt safeguards (e.g. the Norwegians, USAID, DFID, etc).
Palm oil giant vows to spare most valuable Indonesian rainforest
By Fiona Harvey, The Guardian, 9 February 2011 | The world’s second biggest palm oil company has agreed to halt deforestation in valuable areas of Indonesian forest, bowing to pressure from western food processors and conservationists. Golden Agri-Resources Limited has committed itself to protecting forests and peatlands with a high level of biodiversity, or which provide major carbon sinks, as part of an agreement with conservation group the Forest Trust… Scott Poynton, executive director of the Forest Trust, a Geneva-based not-for-profit organisation that helps companies improve their environmental sustainability, added: “Today’s agreement represents a revolutionary moment in the drive to conserve forests. “It’s about going to the root causes of deforestation – we have shown that the destruction of forests is anchored deeply in the supply chains of the products we consume in industrialised nations, and we are showing we can do something about that.”
Kenyan project issues first REDD credits-Point Carbon
Reuters, 9 February 2011 | A Kenyan project has become the first to issue Redd credits under the Voluntary Carbon Standard. NGO Wildlife Works announced Tuesday its reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation (Redd) project in Kenya’s Kasigau Corridor became the first to be issued with VCS carbon credits, known as Voluntary Carbon Units (VCUs)… The VCS said the announcement marked a “watershed moment for Redd projects everywhere” because it demonstrates how the private sector can mobilise capital to preserve forests. “Coupled with being able to measure emissions reductions accurately and generate verified credits, this is exactly what is needed to attract private investment for forest protection,” said VCS CEO David Antonioli in a statement… “We believe the global voluntary carbon marketplace is ready for carbon credits that the average consumer can relate to,” said Mike Korchinsky, president of Wildlife Works.
Will intensified farming save the rainforests?
By Fred Pearce, New Scientist, 9 February 2011 | The idea that intensifying agriculture relieves pressure on land is sometimes called the Borlaug hypothesis after Norman Borlaug, the pioneer of the green revolution, who first articulated it. But before we go ahead we had better be sure that it is true. The counter-argument is that farmers don’t clear forests to feed the world; they do it to make money. So helping farmers become more efficient and more productive – especially those living near forests – won’t reduce the threat. It will increase it. Tony Simons, deputy director of the World Agroforestry Centre in Nairobi, put it this way in Cancún. “Borlaug thought that if you addressed poverty in the forest border, they’d stop taking their machetes into the forest. Actually, they get enough money to buy a chainsaw and do much more damage.”
Reassessing after relocation
By Carol J. Pierce Colfer (CIFOR), RECOFTC blog, 9 February 2011 | In the course of all this work, the Lao Government made the decision to resettle one of the communities where our team was working: the Hmong community of Phadeng. The Government’s official goals were to reduce swidden agriculture as a strategy to reduce deforestation, to protect the nearby Nam Et-Phou Louey National Protected Area, and to improve villagers’ access to services like health and education.
Wildlife Works Wins World’s First Forestry Credits
By Catherine Airlie, Bloomberg, 9 February 2011 | Wildlife Works Carbon LLC, a U.S. conservation business, said its project to safeguard forests in Kenya was the first of its kind to get voluntary carbon credits. The program in the Kasigau Corridor, a strip of land 360 kilometers (225 miles) southeast of the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, aims to reduce carbon emissions and help save 202,000 hectares of forest, Wildlife Works said today in an emailed statement. The Wildlife Works project is the first to get voluntary credits under a forest-protection program known as Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degredation, or REDD, it said. South Africa’s Nedbank Group Ltd. has received credits for its initial funding of the effort and had first rights to buy the credits produced, Kevin Whitfield, head of the African treasuries, carbon and financial products unit at Nedbank, said in a telephone interview from Johannesburg.
Rising land, food prices cause recognition of indigenous peoples’ rights to stagnate
mongabay.com, 9 February 2011 | Rising food, energy, and mineral prices, coupled with new interest in forests for their carbon-storing capacity, are driving a global land grab that threatens the rights of hundreds of millions of people living in and around tropical forests, argues a new report published by the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI). The report, “Pushback: Local Power, Global Realignment,” says that after 25 years of progress on governments recognizing forest peoples’ land and resource rights (recognition of indigenous and community ownership and management tripled between 1985 and 2009), gains stagnated in 2010. “The lack of progress at the global level in 2010 was doubly disappointing,” said Andy White, RRI Coordinator, in a statement.
Video: REDD Road to Cancun
Climate Connections, 9 February 2011 | This video is an important piece of media created by Praxis pictures on behalf of the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN) to profile our REDD ROAD mission to the Conference of the Parties 16 of the United Nations Convention on Climate Change in Cancun, Mexico December 2010. IEN is an environmental and economic justice network, based at the headwaters of the Mississippi River, in Northern Minnesota. Our work focuses on fighting to protect the sacredness of Mother Earth from toxic contamination and corporate exploitation.
UNFCCC Publishes Fact Sheet on REDD
Climate Change Policy & Practice, 9 February 2011 | The UNFCCC Secretariat has published a fact sheet titled “Reducing emissions from deforestation in developing countries: approaches to stimulate action.” The fact sheet highlights the important role that forests play in climate change, and reviews the progression of UNFCCC negotiations on forests and deforestation. It lists relevant decisions of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to stimulate action on reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries (REDD), including a decision taken in 2009 on methodological and capacity building guidance for related activities. The fact sheet further lists ongoing efforts in capacity building, technical assistance and financial support for a number of enabling activities, such as improving data collection systems, institutional reforms and national monitoring systems.
EU Climate Chief Says More CO2 Centers to Open Soon
By Ewa Krukowska and Jonathan Stearns, Bloomberg, 9 February 2011 | The European Union will allow more national carbon registries to reopen this week and is looking at ways to stop “crimes against the system” after hackers roiled the market, EU Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard said. The European Commission, the EU regulator, permitted five out of 30 registries in the world’s largest emissions market to resume on Feb. 4 after demonstrating their systems are secure. The remaining national databases for tracking carbon permits have been halted since Jan. 19, and spot trading is limited after hackers illegally transferred about 29 million euros ($40 million) of permits from Austria, the Czech Republic and Greece.
7.5 million ha of Indonesian forest slated for clearing
mongabay.com, 9 February 2011 | 7.5 million hectares of natural forest will escape Indonesia’s planned moratorium on new forestry concessions, according to a new report from Greenomics Indonesia, an activist group. Under its billion dollar forest conservation partnership with Norway, Indonesia committed to establish a moratorium on new concessions in forest areas and peatlands beginning January 1, 2011. But Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has yet to sign the decree due to debate over the details of what types of forest will be exempted. Presently two versions of the decree are circulating. The one drafted by the country’s REDD+ Taskforce, chaired by Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, is considerably stronger than one prepared by the Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Hatta Rajasa.
10 February 2011
Storm on the horizon? Why World Bank Climate Investment Funds could do more harm than good
By Nora Honkaniemi, eurodad.org, 10 February 2011 | A new Eurodad report provides a critical analysis of the World Bank’s role in Climate Finance. Civil society actors have long been contesting the role of the World Bank as an appropriate channel for climate finance based on the Bank’s questionable green credentials and its history of advising economic policy reforms to developing countries. This report focuses on yet another concern regarding the role of the Bank in climate finance: how the World Bank is planning to disburse climate finance, via its Climate Investment Funds. It concludes that the Bank is not the best-placed institution to channel climate finance, nor does it set high standards for a legitimate and development-friendly climate finance architecture for the future.
Kaaaching! Arcelor Mittal bags a windfall of €103million, but there is plenty more where that came from
sandbag.org, 10 February 2011 | [L]ast year Arcelor Mittal made €103million from the sale of carbon permits. This follows earlier sales of €108 million over 2008-9. Kaching indeed! But there will be plenty more where that came from. Sandbag estimates that Arcelor Mittal has a 2008-2009 surplus of 50.5 million carbon permits with an estimated value of €706 million. Loose change, perhaps, for a company which in 2010 had a turnover of €49 billion, but not bad considering the permits were allocated for free… Sandbag is keen to avoid to misinformation and exaggeration which is why we are so keen on the data. The graph below illustrates Arcelor Mittal’s carbon emissions and allocation of carbon permits. Even when you take into account the recession, the potential to increase production and the need to protect competitiveness… you can’t help get the impression that some companies were simply given far too many free permits…
Ms. Bulkan has emerged again from her cocoon
By Peter Persaud, letter to the editor Guyana Chronicle, 10 February 2011 | I wish to refer to a letter in the Stabroek News under the caption “Almost nine per cent of Guyana’s budget this year hangs on the POYRY – Guyana Forestry Commission Report” in its issue of Thursday February 3, 2011. Ms Janette Bulkan, a known critic of Guyana’s forestry sector, Guyana’s Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) and the REDD + Initiative has again emerged from her cocoon for fresh air which our intact forests are providing as an ecological service to the world. Yet Ms Bulkan, a Guyanese who lives overseas and who does not care about Guyana’s development and the damaging effects of global climate change, wants to see the failure of Guyana’s LCDS, our strategy to fight against global climate change.
WB seeking concrete mitigation programs
BusinessWorld Online Edition, 10 February 2011 | The World Bank esterday said the Philippines will be in a much better position to receive additional funding if the government were to provide concrete programs on disaster risk reduction (DRR) and climate change mitigation, as well as instituting financing mechanisms in which to channel international funding. “There is going to be quite a bit of money available for either adaptation or climate mitigation measures that the Philippines can take… if the Philippines is really ready, as is various channels for absorbing that funding and doing things with it…,” the bank’s country director, Bert Hofman, told reporters in a forum… Mr. Hofman then listed funding opportunities, including Philippine-based private sector-led Post-Disaster Recovery Foundation designed for forestry initiatives, the reduce deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) initiative specifically for tropical countries…
Climate talks in Cancún, Mexico: A step forward?
Consultancy Africa Intelligence, 10 February 2011 | As rainforests produce about 15% of the world’s total carbon emissions, conserving them became a priority during the COPs. REDD projects have provided these incentives. Probably the country at the forefront of these projects’ developments has been Indonesia, who is presumably attracted by the monetary gain – provided by developed countries – to be earned from changing their indigenous logging practices, for example. Developed countries can now provide financial aid and technology transfers to developing nations by assisting in forest projects. These may include reforestation or changing agricultural practices, all of which should provide incentives to prevent forest loss – which adds carbon emissions to the atmosphere. Although the development of REDD projects enjoyed centre stage in Cancún, many of its financial issues have not been resolved.
CDM is a work in progress: UN climate chief
By Rajiv Tikoo, Financial Express, 10 February 2011 | Clearing the air about the future of clean development mechanism (CDM), a market-based instrument under the Kyoto Protocol enabling developed countries to invest in developing countries to offset carbon emissions, UN climate change chief Christiana Figueres said, “CDM is a work in progress.”
11 February 2011
English forest sell-off put on hold
By Fiona Harvey and Damian Carrington, The Guardian, 11 February 2011 | The government has taken 40,000 hectares of public forest off the market, in the latest twist in the furore over the proposed sell-off of England’s woodland. About 15% of England’s public forests had been slated for sale, with the aim of raising £100m for government coffers, but on Friday morning the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said it would hold on to the forest until the fate of the rest of the Forestry Commission’s land had been decided. Defra said the sale was being postponed because of concerns over access rights, and will not affect its broader proposal to sell nationally owned woods, which is still the subject of public consultation.
Kenya forest project claims first REDD credits
carbonpositive.net, 11 February 2011 | An avoided deforestation project in Kenya has become the first of a score of REDD projects around the world to have carbon credits issued under the Voluntary Carbon Standard (VCS). The Kasigau Corridor project developed by Wildlife Works and profiled by Carbon Positive in 2009, has now been issued with its first 1.45 million credits. They are VCUs for the preservation of 200,000 hectares of threatened forest and savannah land over the past five years since the project began. Around 1.15m credits were sold to Nedbank Group in South Africa, an early supporter of the project, while almost 300,000 have gone into a buffer reserve, a requirement for standards certification to cover any future loss of preserved trees.
12 February 2011
Indonesia Remains Committed To Implementing REDD
bernama.com, 12 February 2011 Indonesia remains fully committed although the presidential decree on a moratorium on peat land and natural forest conversion had not yet been signed so far, Vice President Boediono said as quoted by his spokesman, Yopie Hidayat. here on Friday. “Indonesia is committed to implementing the REDD+ but would remain prioritizing the welfare of the people,” Yopie said quoting the vice president. The Vice President made the confirmation when receiving the International Climate and Forestry Initiative Oslo, Hans Brattskar. Boediono said Indonesia was resolved to implement the REDD+ successfully and concretely as a new solution to overcome climate change problems without hurting the people… Hans Brattskar responded well the statement and said he could understand wh Indonesia had not yet been able to sign the decree.
Forest protection for survival, hope
By Conservation International, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 12 February 2011 | Recognizing the role of deforestation in contributing to greenhouse emissions, CI and its partners around the world are pushing for governments to adopt REDD+ mechanisms. REDD+ is a suite of policies, institutional reforms and programs that provide developing countries with financial incentives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to enhance economic growth by preventing the destruction of forests… A global REDD+ mechanism presents a key opportunity to generate the funding, political will and internationally agreed-upon policies, economic incentives and social safeguards necessary to protect forests and combat climate change. The mechanism also seeks to improve human well-being and ensure protection of indigenous people and community rights in developing nations. It is a cost-effective climate-change solution that can be implemented now, without waiting for new technologies.

Source : http://www.redd-monitor.org