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This Week In Forest Carbon News…

Ben Dappen

A sustainable agriculture project in the Nyanza and Western Provinces in Kenya became the first to market offsets from carbon sequestered in soils, with financing flowing to smallholders. But elsewhere in Kenya, in the Embobut forest, the Sengwer people are being evicted from their homes.

A sustainable agriculture project in the Nyanza and Western Provinces in Kenya became the first to market offsets from carbon sequestered in soils, with financing flowing to smallholders. But elsewhere in Kenya, in the Embobut forest, the Sengwer people are being evicted from their homes.

This article was originally published in the Forest Carbon newsletter. Click here to read the original.

30 January 2014 | It’s only January, but 2014 has already seen much development on the forest carbon front, with a project in the Nyanza and Western Provinces in Kenya becoming the first to earn credits under the Verified Carbon Standard’s (VCS) sustainable agriculture methodology. The Kenya Agricultural Project (KACP) engages 60,000 farmers on 45,000 hectares to, for the first time, monitor their soil carbon – a quantification that then allows them to bring those metric tons of sequestered carbon to market. The project, implemented by the Swedish NGO Vi Agroforestry, has reduced 24,788 tonnes of carbon dioxide (tCO2e) so far.

The World Bank’s BioCarbon Fund (BCF) has committed to purchasing 150,000 tonnes of emissions reductions, estimated at $600,000, generated by the project between 2009 and 2016. Carbon-centric cropland management practices such as cover crops, rotation, mulching, and green manure can also help increase agricultural yields by 15-20%, according to the World Bank.

“This proves, yet again, that good environmental practices make good business practices, and in this case they are making for good farming practices which have tremendous ancillary benefits,” said David Antonioli, VCS Chief Executive Officer.
 

However, it’s not all good news from Kenya. From the Embobut forest, organizations such as the Forest Peoples Programme are reporting that 150 police and forest guards have been orchestrating a forced eviction of the Sengwer people, burning as many as 1,000 homes this month. The Sengwer are nonsensically blamed for threatening urban water supplies, though the ‘fortress conservation’ approach has been denounced by the international community as both unjust and ineffective.
 

On the policy front, Quebec officially linked its cap-and-trade program with California’s on January 1, opening up the possibility for forest carbon credits to flow between the state and the province. Market experts say that Quebec will be a buyer rather than a seller during the honeymoon phase of the union.
 

Other compliance markets are not doing so hot. Facing a repeal of Australia’s carbon tax, Andrew Grant, the head of the largest carbon project developer in the country, resigned last week. CO2 Group mainly developed forestry offsets, but without a market-based carbon reduction policy, demand has been, well, non-existent: “We haven’t had any investment interest in 18 months,” Grant told Reuters in October.
  

And in Europe, a recent proposal to ban the use of Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) credits in the European Union’s Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) unless climate negotiators reach an international agreement in 2015 sets an ultimatum for an already crushed market.
 

However, it’s unlikely the proposal will have a large impact on the forest carbon market. The EU ETS never allowed many types of forestry credits anyway, and the BCF, the major buyer of the only eligible forestry offsets – CDM afforestation/reforestation – has backed off of those purchases. Ecosystem Marketplace’s 2013 State of the Forest Carbon Markets report unveiled a major decline in 2012, with only 0.5 MtCO2e CDM A/R offsets transacted compared to the all-time peak of 5.9 MtCO2e in 2011; the overall value dropped from $23 million in 2011 to less than $1 million in 2012.
 

These and other stories from the forest carbon marketplace are summarized below, so keep reading!


Here at Ecosystem Marketplace, we’re getting ready to begin data collection for our 2014 State of the Voluntary Carbon Markets and State of the Forest Carbon Markets reports, and we’ll also be launching a revamped survey of clean cookstoves projects in collaboration with the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves.
 

We look forward to again providing reliable and transparent market information in the New Year, with many thanks going to those organizations that support our research. Most recently, this includes Impact Carbon, ClimateCare, and the Forest Carbon Group. In addition to the gratification of helping us provide market information and insight to the world free of charge, sponsoring organizations (above a certain level) receive a few perks. To inquire, email Molly Peters-Stanley.

 

—The Ecosystem Marketplace Team

If you have comments or would like to submit news stories, write to us at general@forestcarbonportal.com.



News

ANNOUNCEMENT

Katoomba with us

Forest Trends is hosting two exciting Katoomba events in stunning locations this spring: Katoomba XIX in Iguazu Falls, Brazil from March 19-20 will look at scaling up sustainable commodity supply chains and Katoomba XX in Lima, Peru from April 22-25 will work towards aligning climate policy and finance with investments in forests and water. For 15 years, the Katoomba Group has convened global experts and leaders to advance the frontier of ecosystem services approaches. Our events convene government, industry, nonprofits, and communities – people who are not often in a room together, but should be – to solve problems on specific landscapes (and water-scapes!). To find out more about attending these exciting events, email Jennifer Baldwin (jbaldwin@forest-trends.org) for Iguazu Falls or Gena Gammie (ggammie@forest-trends.org) for Lima.

INTERNATIONAL POLICY

CDM knocking on death’s door?

The European Union could deal a death blow to the CDM market if it follows through on a proposal to ban the use of CDM credits in its emissions trading system. The offsets would only be allowed into the EU system if international negotiators reach a new climate agreement at the 21st Conference of Parties in Paris in 2015. The CDM market has been under significant pressure with prices dropping 98% in the past six years.

A marriage made in forest heaven

Quebec is going to eventually look to its new spouse California to supply carbon offsets, including forestry credits, to its cap-and-trade program, but demand from buyers in the Canadian province will be limited during the honeymoon phase of their linkage, listeners to a recent Climate Action Reserve webinar were told. Quebec’s compliance entities will ultimately turn to California to supply offsets as the three protocols so far approved by the province – livestock manure management, landfill gas capture, and destruction of ozone depleting substances – are expected to produce a finite number of credits, while California’s program has a greater reach since it also covers forestry offsets.

Jumping off carbon’s sinking ship

The likely dismantling of Australia’s carbon pricing scheme has claimed a major corporate casualty. Chief Executive Andrew Grant is leaving the CO2 Group, which blamed his departure and a plan to scale back the company’s carbon operations directly on the politically-charged decision by the new federal government to abolish the carbon tax regime, as well as the ongoing chaos in the carbon market. CO2 Group was the first company to generate carbon credits through creation of new forests under the Carbon Farming Initiative and to create credits from newly planted trees under the New South Wales Greenhouse Gas Abatement Scheme.

NATIONAL STRATEGY AND CAPACITY

Burkina Faso is in!

Burkina Faso has officially been qualified as a REDD country after being awarded a US$3.8 million grant to put in place the necessary policies and systems needed to effectively reduce deforestation and forest degradation. This is a significant step forward for a country where forests cover approximately 43% of the total land area, and where high forest loss rates are driven by a combination of socio-economic, political, technological and cultural factors, among others.

Urgency and reality juxtaposed

The Indonesian government has appointed Heru Prasetyo as the head of its newly established REDD+ Agency. His mission will be reducing climate-changing emissions from deforestation, accelerating tree planting and reinforcing forest protection, as well as raising more funds for this work. The agency will look at urgent reforms to the ownership and usage of forests in Indonesia. Although changes are drastically needed, these cannot happen overnight, but gradually, according to Prasetyo.

Bolivia, Costa Rica REDD-y for their close-ups

Bolivia and Costa Rica have been added to the list of REDD Desk profiles. Bolivia has always been a good candidate for REDD given its high forest cover, high deforestation rates and low opportunity costs to reduce deforestation. Nonetheless, the country has publicly opposed the implementation of REDD+ since 2008. More recently, the Peruvian government started to realign its vision on sustainable forest management with UN-REDD. On the other hand, Costa Rica contains 4.8% of the global biodiversity in only 0.03% of the world’s landmass. Although the country experienced high deforestation rates until the 1980s, it is now a pioneer in the use of market mechanisms to reduce deforestation and is well known for its environmental policies.

PROJECT DEVELOPMENT

Finite Carbon adds another notch

Finite Carbon and Potlach Corporation rang in the New Year by registering their improved forest management project in Arkansas with the California Air Resources Board (ARB). The Moro Big Pine project covers 15,809 acres of Red-cockaded woodpecker habitat (a federally protected species) and received an initial issuance of 220,208 ARB offsets for potential sale on California’s compliance market. The project joins the very first ARB-approved forest projects – the Farm Cove project in Maine, also developed by Finite Carbon, and the Willits Woods project in northern California – which both received credit issuances in November.

SOCIAL AND HUMAN DIMENSION

Wrongful evictions

Thousands of indigenous Sengwer people are being evicted from Kenya’s Embobut forest. Despite an appeal by more than 40 Kenyan and international human rights groups to stop forced evictions, the Forest Peoples Programme reported from the ground last week that Kenya Forest Service guards have burned as many as 1,000 homes, displacing thousands of people. The Kenyan government describes the Sengwer as ‘squatters’, though their ancestral land rights are written into the Constitution. Some Sengwer were offered money to move, but most did not want it. The evictions have been likened to a ‘fortress conservation’ approach that is now largely denounced by the international conservation community.

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

It gets better with age

A team of 38 international researchers published in the journal Nature discovered that trees accelerate growth as they get older and bigger, actively fixing larger amounts of carbon compared to younger, smaller trees. Since trees lose carbon back into the atmosphere as they decompose after dying, the rapid carbon absorption rate of individual trees does not necessarily translate into a net increase in carbon storage for the entire forest. Yet these results have important implications for forest management because while they are alive, large old trees play a disproportionately important role in a forest’s carbon dynamics. The finding contradicts earlier assumptions that younger trees are growing more quickly and therefore sequestering more carbon.

Sometimes less is more

Restoring pastures and agricultural plots back into functioning forest ecosystems often involves high costs and time. Typically, trees are planted in rows and cover the entire restoration site. However, a recent study by researchers from Las Cruces Biological Station in Costa Rica and UC Santa Cruz showed that planting ‘tree islands’ – clusters of trees throughout a plot – may result in an equally effective and more economical reforestation strategy. As trees in these ‘islands’ grow, they shade out competitive pasture grasses, animals start spreading seeds, and the restoration process continues without further intervention. Soon the ‘islands’ begin to cover the entire plot, despite a much smaller upfront investment in tree planting. These results are promising, but there are still some logistical issues.

Oceans, the new climate change oracle

Scientists from the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) found that by measuring sea surface temperatures off the shores of Brazil in the Atlantic Ocean, they could predict whether the dry season would be drier than usual in the Peruvian western Amazon. They also found that the greater the differences in temperature are between the sea surface in the northern and southern regions of the tropical Atlantic Ocean, the higher the likelihood of drought. These predictions could lead to better fire management programs during the dry seasons in the Amazon.

Too good to be true

Some doubters of the severity of climate change impacts have cited the fertilization quality of carbon dioxide (CO2) as evidence that higher concentrations of the stuff in our atmosphere will actually benefit forests by causing them to grow faster. But mounting research, including a recent study published in Nature, is showing that the negative effects of increased temperature and drought may outweigh any carbon-induced growth spurts. Compared to the same amount of warming in the 1960s and 1970s, a one-degree-Celsius rise in CO2 concentrations now releases about two billion extra tCO2e, the study found, using long-term atmospheric records from Mauna Loa and the South Pole.

STANDARDS AND METHODOLOGY

Lower-carbon logging

VCS’s new Reduced Impact Logging methodology is now up for public comment, through February 13. The methodology aims to reduce emissions around the three main logging activities that release carbon: felling, skidding, and hauling. For instance, a project might earn credits for reducing the number of trees cut and then abandoned or by narrowing logging roads. This is the first land use/forestry methodology to use a performance method, with the baseline set by region rather than by project. So far, a benchmark has been set for East Kalimantan, Indonesia. If logging operations are already meeting the additionality threshold, they can earn carbon credits.

Amazonian standard in the archipelago

The Rainforest Standard (RFS) launched in January at West Bali National Park in Indonesia. RFS is the first carbon credit standard to fully integrate the requirements for carbon accounting, sociocultural and socioeconomic impact, and biodiversity outcomes. Columbia University’s Center for Environment, Economy, and Society worked with national funds in Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru to create the standard, taking into account the ecological conditions and social realities of the Amazon region. Adapted for Indonesia, the standard will be tested out at the West Bali National Park, which covers 190 square kilometers.

PUBLICATIONS

Highway through the forest zone

Economic growth is usually viewed positively, but not when it comes at the expense of the rainforest, as is happening in the Peruvian Amazon, according to a new CIFOR report. The country has a relatively low deforestation rate of 0.15% and the government has committed to achieving zero net deforestation, but deforestation currently accounts for nearly half of Peru’s greenhouse gas emissions. And the historical deforestation rates do not reflect the impact of new activities driving economic growth – a key priority for the poverty-stricken country – such as major road and energy infrastructure projects.

Landing on community chest

The REDD+ sector can learn a thing or two from those engaged in community forestry in Latin America, according to a new report called Lessons Learned from Community Forestry in Latin America and their Relevance for REDD+. Latin America is arguably the world leader in community forestry and offers multiple advantages for REDD+, according to the report. It makes a series of recommendations that REDD+ projects can build on, including supporting land tenure, reforming sectoral policies and stopping illegal activity, a major threat to community forestry activities in the region.

Blame it on the pine beetles

The government of British Columbia should take steps to reverse the trend of provincial forests emitting more carbon dioxide (CO2) than they absorb, according to the Sierra Club. Pine beetle infestation, slash fires, wood waste and clear cutting have all contributed to an alarming rate of CO2 emissions. The forest sector accounts for more than half of BC’s total official emissions, but that figure does not include forestry-related emissions beyond those associated with deforestation and afforestation. In November 2013, the BC government dissolved the Pacific Carbon Trust following a controversial report that questioned its support of forestry and other offset projects.

JOBS

Carbon Sourcing Manager – The CarbonNeutral Company

Based in London, the Carbon Sourcing Manager will source emission reduction projects from identification, evaluation, structuring and negotiation of ERPA through close; conduct technical due diligence on projects; and work closely with a sales team in London to source credits for client portfolios. The successful candidate will have a postgraduate degree, a minimum of two to three years of experience within primary carbon origination, and a strong working knowledge of carbon market standards: CDM, VCS, and Gold Standard.

- Read more about the position here

Campaigns Assistant, Forest Program – Environmental Investigation Agency

Based in Washington, DC, the Campaigns Assistant for the Environmental Investigation Agency’s Forest Program will support its work to document and expose illegal logging and associated trade and implement policy to stem the flow of illegal timber imports to consumer countries. The successful candidate will have excellent organization and time management skills, experience in advocacy and campaigns at the national or international level, and a strong interest in natural resource conservation.

- Read more about the position here

Director, CGIAR Research Program – CIFOR

Based in Bogor, Indonesia, the director will manage the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees, and Agroforestry (FTA): Livelihoods, Landscapes and Governance, which brings together several hundred scientists from across the organization. The director will provide intellectual leadership for the FTA, facilitate the delivery of research outputs, and coordinate work plans, budgets, and reporting.

- Read more about the position here

REDD+ Knowledge Sharing and Learning Consultant – World Wildlife Fund (WWF)

Based in Washington, DC, the REDD+ Knowledge Sharing and Learning Consultant(s) will assist WWF’s Forest and Climate Programme to share knowledge about REDD+ through a regular webinar series, online community, and other platforms. The successful candidate will have experience in the field of development-based knowledge sharing, excellent communication skills, and experience working in an international, multi-cultural environment.

- Read more about the position here

Senior AFOLU Consultant – South Pole Carbon

Based in Zurich, Switzerland, the senior AFOLU consultant will generate business opportunities in the area of REDD monitoring, support South Pole Carbon’s forestry project department in technical work, and more. The ideal candidate will be well-networked with multilateral agencies, NGOs and donors in the REDD field; have at least five years of relevant experience in project management and consultancy; and an understanding of forest biometrics and monitoring, reporting, and verification (MRV). English required; French, Bahasa Indonesia, Spanish or Portuguese would be an advantage.

- Read more about the position here

Malawi REDD+ MRV Specialist – Terra Global Capital

Based in Malawi, the REDD+ MRV Specialist will support the upcoming USAID-funded Malawi Integrated REDD Demonstration Program. Candidates must have an advanced degree in forestry, ecology or a related field and a minimum of eight years of relevant work experience, including at least five years of experience in Africa (preferably Malawi).

- Read more about the position here

Research Associate, Greenhouse Gas Protocol – World Resources Institute (WRI)

Based in Washington, DC, the Research Associate will join WRI’s GHG Protocol Corporate Team and be tasked with capacity building for Scope 3 accounting in the financial sector. The successful candidate will have two to four years of professional work experience related to the financial sector and/or corporate sustainability, preferably with a master’s degree in a relevant field, as well as experience with corporate GHG reporting and/or corporate value chains.

- Read more about the position here


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The Forest Carbon Portal provides relevant daily news, a bi-weekly news brief, feature articles, a calendar of events, a searchable member directory, a jobs board, a library of tools and resources. The Portal also includes the Forest Carbon Project Inventory, an international database of projects including those in the pipeline. Projects are described with consistent ‘nutrition labels’ and allow viewers to contact project developers.


ABOUT THE ECOSYSTEM MARKETPLACE

Ecosystem Marketplace is a project of Forest Trends, a tax-exempt corporation under Section 501(c)3. This newsletter and other dimensions of our voluntary carbon markets program are funded by a series of international development agencies, philanthropic foundations, and private sector organizations. For more information on donating to Ecosystem Marketplace, please contact info@ecosystemmarketplace.com.

Additional resources
Ben Dappen has worked with Forest Trends since November 2000 as Webmaster and IT Associate, and also provides design and publishing support. He also serves as a web developer for a number of Forest Trends' partners, including the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI) and Ecoagriculture Partners. Ben graduated from Reed College in 2004 with a History degree.

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