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Putting A Price On Nature Can Benefit The Poor If Done Right b ySimon Roach

Although payments for ecosystem service programs have social aspects that can benefit the poor, all too often local communities are ignored. But Bolivia may offer a solution with a holistic approach-known as the Bolivian mechanism-that can balance environmental protection with poverty reduction. However, the trade-off between social and ecological goals isn't eliminated entirely with this approach.

You don’t have to go far in Bolivia to find treasure. It’s everywhere: in the vast Amazonian forests; in Lake Titicaca, which lies nearly four kilometres above sea level in the Andes; in the peaks and rain-gathering waterways of the Andes mountains; or in Bolivia’s 2,000 animal species.

And to call all this treasure is hardly romantic — because, to some, Bolivia’s natural environment is worth a lot of money.

Bolivia is not alone on that front. Programmes that pay people to sustainably manage ‘environmental assets’ are increasingly popular, especially in the global South. But questions about the money’s impact on efforts to reduce poverty and inequality have persisted for decades. Does the cash help poor or indigenous people living in valuable ecosystems? Or is it more likely to benefit rich landowners? In Bolivia and elsewhere, research is beginning to show that these two goals — environmental protection and poverty reduction — need not be mutually exclusive.

Pricing up nature

A recent estimate of the planet’s ‘natural capital’ is US$125 trillion a year. [1] This figure attempts to capture the value of the ‘ecosystem services’ — essentially all the benefits of a healthy, natural environment — provided by such things as carbon-storing trees, drainage basins that prevent flooding and insect life that helps agriculture flourish.

Natural capital is a controversial concept. Many feel putting a price on nature is either impossible or ethically unsound. But its supporters argue that without doing so ecosystem services are at risk of being left out of economic models and decision-making.

“We’re degrading the natural environment and losing species at an alarming rate. So let’s put a value on nature and get it incorporated into these models so that we can start investing in the maintenance, protection or possibly even enhancement of those ecosystem services,” says Darren Evans, a conservation biologist from the University of Hull in the United Kingdom.

Programmes to quantify and pay to maintain the value of ecosystem services have existed in one form or another since the 1950s. Today they are known as payments for ecosystem services (PES) initiatives. These schemes pay farmers and landowners for managing land in a way that conserves some targeted environmental resources, for instance a forest, river or species.

But for as long as they have existed, efforts to price nature have been divisive. What has emerged, however, is evidence that the better a scheme is tailored to benefit all stakeholders, the more likely it is to succeed.

Bolivian dissent

One country involved in this battle — and its possible resolution — is Bolivia. In 2010, the nation hosted the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth, a global meeting attended by 30,000 government and civil society delegates. Bolivia consulted the conference on whether to sign up to the UN’s REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) programme.

REDD has some similarities to a PES scheme, but it operates at a global rather than a national scale. It is funded by selling certificates known as ‘carbon credits’, which represent carbon emissions saved through the programme, on international carbon markets. At present, 56 developing nations have signed up to the programme, but Bolivia decided against joining after the ‘People’s Agreement’ drawn up by the World People’s Conference emphatically rejected this move. [2] Later in 2010, President Evo Morales further hardened his nation’s position in an open letter to indigenous peoples entitled: “Nature, forests and indigenous peoples are not for sale.” [3]

Lykke Andersen, director of the Center for Environmental-Economic Modelling and Analysis at think-tank the Institute for Advanced Development Studies (INESAD) in Bolivia, says: “Bolivia is really an ideal candidate for participating in a REDD mechanism. It is promising because it has so much forest and so much deforestation. But at the People’s Conference, the people there rejected REDD strongly. The government accepted that decision and made it a national policy.”

Bolivia’s opposition to REDD illustrates tensions that can cause schemes that put a price on nature to come unstuck, Andersen says. In the case of REDD, the unhappiness was triggered partly because poorer countries would have to reduce emissions while richer countries carried on raising theirs.

Alternative inspiration

With REDD branded a prohibited concept in Bolivia, Andersen says the country’s conservation scientists instead turned for inspiration to smaller, local PES schemes that took poverty alleviation into account.

In 2012, INESAD carried out a countrywide analysis of the likely social and environmental impacts if Bolivia had adopted REDD. [4] The results showed that large-scale adoption of REDD would have decreased deforestation, but would also have increased competition for agricultural land, pushing up food prices and worsening poverty. More than 90 per cent of REDD-related revenues from carbon credit sales would have gone to just five per cent of the population, it forecast.

INESAD also ran the analysis based on an alternative mechanism that Anderson and her team designed. This included financial and technical assistance for sustainable development projects within the forest — and taxes and fines for deforestation. Under this theoretical situation their model showed that the nation’s poor benefitted more and food prices were more stable.

The mechanism Anderson’s team designed has come to be known as the ‘Bolivian mechanism’. [5] In 2013, UN-REDD decided to support it with US$1.1 million and Denmark pledged US$26 million. Four pilot projects testing it are currently underway.
“The Bolivian mechanism is based on looking more holistically at forests, by supporting local communities who protect their forests and engage in economic activities that are forest-friendly, while punishing deforesters with taxes and fines,” Andersen explains.

“What we showed in the analysis is that the benefits of the REDD mechanism almost exclusively went to the side of reducing emissions, with very little benefit for the people of Bolivia, the rural inhabitants who would have to modify their livelihoods,” she says. “With the Bolivian mechanism, there was a much fairer distribution of the benefits, helping the poor while hurting the big deforesters.”

Reward and punishment

Unlike REDD, which lacks punitive elements, the Bolivian mechanism goes further than simply paying landowners not to cut down trees — which Andersen tartly likens to paying a thief not to steal — by also rewarding activities that protect the country’s forests. “It’s a much more healthy system of incentives where you reward the behaviour that you want to see and punish the behaviour that you don’t want to see,” she says.

Those most likely to be punished under the system are wealthy agricultural producers, while those most likely to receive payments are poorer Bolivians living and working in forest areas. And the mechanism also aims to make payments to poorer communities more straightforward by requiring legal evidence of land ownership only when levying fines and taxes, rather than when managing payments. This is vital for equity and wealth redistribution as many people that live on the land do not have legal proof of ownership, despite it unequivocally being their home.

Rejecting REDD means losing access to a larger potential pot of funding, but Andersen argues that financing the Bolivian mechanism through foreign aid offers greater stability than relying on volatile carbon markets. Nonetheless, she acknowledges that securing ongoing funding is the mechanism’s biggest challenge.

Paul van Gardingen, director of UK research programme Ecosystems Services for Poverty Alleviation, agrees that PES schemes must be well designed to equitably reward both the poor and wealthy for activities that protect the environment.

“There’s absolutely no question that PES can work,” he adds. “But one of the challenges is how you link that up to poverty alleviation.”

The problem of land ownership

Land tenure has been a persistent stumbling block for PES, with the worst cases reinforcing rather than alleviating inequalities. This is because many older or poorly designed PES schemes require proof of land ownership, something often only the wealthy have, for payment. Land ownership is often unclear, especially in countries with indigenous or remote rural communities.

But Ina Porras, an economist at UK-based policy research organisation the International Institute for Environment and Development, says there may be better ways of framing a PES programme than by using property rights and land ownership.

Even introducing such a system within a developed country would benefit big landowners most due to land ownership being concentrated among the rich, Porras says. “So we need to think carefully about how benefits are applied.”

Costa Rica offers an interesting model in this regard. There, a national PES scheme has been a success since it started in 1997. It has helped raise the country’s forested land cover from a low of 20 per cent in the 1980s to over 50 per cent in 2012. It works by providing contracts to landowners for different types of forest conservation: protection, reforestation, sustainable management and regeneration.

Funding allocations for indigenous associations have also risen steadily, from three to 26 per cent between 1997 and 2012. This was partly due to ongoing redesigns of contract procedures: in 1997, the scheme did not prioritise different social groups on the basis of economic need, resulting in low uptake for indigenous groups with little money; in 2012, however, they were being allocated a set amount of contracts before others could bid.

While the principle of setting aside some contracts for indigenous groups resolves some problems around land tenure, the persistent challenges of fair access to the programme and equitable distribution of benefits still require further analysis, says Porras.

She is studying participation in the Costa Rican programme. In 1997, 44 per cent of funds were paid to cooperatives and associations, but these types of organisations had virtually ceased receiving money by 2012. Meanwhile, payments going to ‘legal entities’ such as businesses or other legally registered groups have risen from just over a quarter to almost half of total payouts. Understanding these shifts is key to designing PES schemes and ensuring they work for both communities and conservation over the long term.

Looking at the studies by INESAD and Porras, it apparent that there is a need to understand the risk of a PES scheme exacerbating social inequality at the expense of environmental protection, and to design it accordingly.

Van Gardingen says there is now an emerging understanding that “if you are serious about using PES as a method to deliver poverty alleviation then you need to be thinking about the efficiency of the environmental benefits, the efficiency of the social benefits, accept that there’s going to be a trade-off and find the appropriate balance”.

Source: http://www.ecosystemmarketplace.com/pages/dynamic/article.page.php?page_id=10766&section=news_articles&eod=1

Stand For Trees: Forest Carbon For The Masses? by Steve Zwick

High-profile corporates like Disney and Microsoft have traditionally been among the leading buyers of carbon offsets that save endangered rainforest, but a new initiative is betting that these offsets – with their unique, compelling stories – will resonate with individuals as well.

Forest carbon has always been a touchy-feely way to reduce your carbon footprint – after all, by purchasing a REDD offset, you're doing more than just fulfilling the requirement of the acronym and "Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forestDegradation." If the project is properly-structured, you're helping a specific community save a specific patch of endangered rainforest – and in a way that often helps them build schools, fund healthcare, and develop sustainable sources of income for the future.

These features could make REDD offsets ideal for individuals – the millions of people around the world who want to be carbon-neutral but don't know how to offset the few tons of emissions they inevitably generate. The overwhelming majority of REDD offsets, however, are purchased by corporations.

Today, the Code REDD consortium announced a new initiative called "Stand For Trees", which aims to change that by using social media and crowd-funding to tell the stories of individual REDD projects and make it easier than ever for individuals to make direct purchases. The site, www.standfortrees.org, was created with funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and is mobile-enabled.

The site offers short summaries of each project, and makes it possible to purchase in quantities as low as a half-tonne. (For reference, the average American household emits about 7 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year.) For now, the site only lists projects that have been dual-certified by both the Verified Carbon Standard and the Climate Community and Biodiversity Alliance, but the palette may be expanded to include projects certified under other standards as well. The credits are registered on the world's largest environmental registry services provider, Markit.

For project developers, the program offers higher payouts than they would generally receive in the wholesale market and also a higher profile. The offsets on Stand for Trees are priced at $10 each, with the projects themselves receiving nearly $9 of that. Code REDD charges a 75-cent per tonne administrative fee, and the Markit registry charges an additional 2 cents to track the offsets. On top of that, there's a 2.9% sales fee and a transaction fee of 30 cents per transaction – regardless of size.

Academy Award nominated actor Edward Norton, who also serves as the United Nation's Goodwill Ambassador for Biodiversity, said:  "Stand For Trees can be a game-changer by harnessing the power of crowd-funding to protect forests, the air we breathe, and the climate that sustains us. It offers a clear and affordable way to make a real difference."

Source: http://www.ecosystemmarketplace.com/pages/dynamic/article.page.php?page_id=10790&section=news_articles&eod=1

New Initiative Tracks 500 Entities That Could End Tropical Deforestation by Kelli Barrett

2014 was a year for zero-deforestation pledges. The New York Declaration on Forests brought governments, businesses, civil society and indigenous leaders together to cut forest loss in half by 2020 and end it completely by 2030. Then there is the Consumer Goods Forum's resolution to achieve zero-net deforestation by 2020. States within forested nations are making pledges of their own under the Rio Branco Declaration. Meanwhile NGOs have been making similar commitments for some time. In 2008, for instance, WWF initiated a campaign calling for zero net deforestation by 2020. 

These pledges, however, mean nothing if they’re not made by entities big enough to actually make a difference and, obviously, they mean even less if the entities that make them don’t keep them. 

This month, an initiative is launching to address each of these issues. 

The Forest 500, is being launched today by the Global Canopy Programme (GCP), a tropical forest think tank focused primarily on natural capital. The Forest 500 ranks 500 “powerbrokers of zero deforestation” with the potential to eliminate deforestation.

Who are the Forest 500?

The Forest 500 includes 50 jurisdictions, 250 companies, 150 investors and 50 other “powerbrokers” (industry associations, development banks and so on). Together, they control the global supply chain of “forest risk commodities,” the Forest 500 press release says. 

“We are currently all part of a global deforestation economy," says Mario Rautner, the GCP's Drivers of Deforestation Programme Manager. “Deforestation is in our chocolate and our toothpaste, our animal feed and our textbooks, our buildings and our furniture, our investments and our pensions.” 

Palm oil, beef, pulp and paper and soybean are a few of these 'forest risk commodities', which have a trade value of almost USD $100 billion. They're also the reason for two-thirds of the tropical deforestation happening. 

The Forest 500 identifies who the 500 are and then assesses them based on their policies and impacts on forests. They're identified based on a link to tropical deforestation through exposure to forest risk in their supply chains and also through their influence within the tropical deforestation sector. This could be in the form of rainforest conservation or agriculture development. 

"Our goal with the Forest 500 is to provide precise and actionable information to measure the progress of society to achieve zero deforestation,” says Rautner. “Together, these 500 countries, companies and investors have the power to clean up global supply chains and virtually put an end to tropical deforestation.”

Identifying the Gaps

The Forest 500 assigns points to companies based on their policies, but only seven companies and four jurisdictions scored the maximum amount of points. Among companies, the seven highest-rated are Groupe Danone (France), Kao Corp. (Japan), Nestle S. A. (Switzerland), Procter & Gamble (US), Reckitt Benckiser Group (UK), Unilever (UK) and banking and financial services giant HSBC (UK). Among jurisdictions, Germany and the Netherlands scored the highest among countries importing forest risk commodities, while Brazil and Colombia were the highest among exporters.

But 30 countries, mostly in the Middle East and Asia-Pacific didn't receive any points. Madagascar and Nigeria hold the lowest scores with India and China, two big importers of forest risk commodities, also received low scores. 

As for the investors, none of them have zero or net zero deforestation commitments regarding forest risk commodities. 

On the bright side, the analysis found that individual actors are making progress. Many consumer-facing businesses selling cosmetics and other home care products received high marks. And of course, money makes a difference. Companies surpassing $10 billion in revenue a year did better than those making below that. Being a publicly-listed company and having headquarters in North America also led to higher marks. 

And while the sovereign wealth and hedge funds didn't do very well from the investment and lending category, banks scored very high signaling that progress is possible in this sector. 

Combining the good and bad news wrapped up in this report means the right steps-like building a more inclusive approach-must be taken in order to make a lasting long-term difference, Rautner says.

“Though the Forest 500 findings highlight that much work needs to be done, the good news is that a number of big players across sectors are demonstrating the leadership that is needed," he says. "Putting policies in place is just the necessary first step in addressing tropical deforestation. Their implementation will be critical in order to transition to deforestation free supply chains by 2020.”

Source: http://www.ecosystemmarketplace.com/pages/dynamic/article.page.php?page_id=10791&section=news_articles&eod=1

New European Carbon Exchange Bets On Revival Of Spot Trading by Kelley Hamrick

The European Environmental Markets, a new spot trading platform for European Union Emissions Trading System participants, is betting the problems that have plagued the granddaddy of carbon trading programs are a thing of the past. CEO Adrian Rimmer hopes the launch of the new platform marks a new wave of investing and interest in the European market.

Watch out, European compliance traders – there's a new player in town.

The European Environmental Markets (EEM) launched on February 11 as a new exchange platform for spot transactions of European Union Allowances (EUAs) and Certified Emissions Reductions (CERs), meaning that participants can conduct transactions in real time.

While EEM is not the first spot exchange for the European Union's Emissions Trading System (EU ETS), the once-popular trading option hasn't been available since 2012. That was when the French exchange BlueNext dissolved after handling more than 1.1 billion metric tonnes of European Union (EU) permits during its prime.

European policymakers saw a bright, shining future for the newly created EU ETS when it launched in 2005. The system enacted pollution caps on nearly 12,000 power plant and other industrial entities. Those that could not reduce their emissions could trade EUAs to comply.

But the EU ETS experienced growing pains that ultimately led to the demise of exchanges such as BlueNext, including outright fraud and a phishing scam that tarnished the reputation of the trading program. However, the bigger challenges for these exchanges may have been the regulatory policies that led to a glut of allowances, with an estimated 1.5-2 billion tonnes flooding the market, and a global recession that pressured demand for the permits.

After years of these challenges, only two exchanges remained standing: the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) and the European Energy Exchange (EEX).

Spotting a New Opportunity

Despite this turbulent history, newly-launched European Environmental Markets' CEO Adrian Rimmer believes the time to enter the market is now, especially after EU officials signed off on a plan last year to shore up the EU ETS by withholding 900 million permits from 2014-2016, a temporary solution known as backloading.

"We're in the fortunate position of having been able to wait for what we think is the right time - clear rules, backloading appearing to be addressed, clarity that the emissions regulation is entrenched and expanding and that the ETS will remain a core part of EU policy," he said.

But with two exchanges already on the market, why a third? The answer comes back to spot transactions.

Both ICE and EEX offer same-day trading under a daily futures contract, but neither offers spot trading. While the length of time between the two transaction options may be small, it can translate into major differences for corporate compliance entities.

Many organizations do not have a mandate to trade in futures. Even if they do, futures require lines of credit, which entail more management and overhead that spot transactions can skip. "Certainly from a CFO perspective, the lack of a need for credit will be very attractive," Rimmer said

The organization's single-minded focus on spot will also lower running costs, to the benefit of its users. Many of the failed exchanges from the past combined multiple sets of proprietary software in their operations - leading to extravagant information technology costs. The older software also required a large back office, since hardly anything was fully automatic.

"It was a lot of behind the scenes," Rimmer said. "You'd have an electronic front end, but actually a lot of manual processes in the background. People would be running around with bits of paper, posting things and downloading forms."

EEM's trading platform is fully automated. It was created by the exchange's Executive Chairman Wayne Sharpe 25 years ago when he founded the commercial organization Bartercard. Since then, Bartercard has become one of the largest online exchanges in the world and has facilitated over $40 billion in trade via more than 30 million transactions.

What this means for the carbon market is that Sharpe's platform has been tested for more than 20 years and been upgraded at a cost of more than tens of millions of dollars. The past 3-4 years has been spent tailoring the platform for the European environmental markets.

Looking to the Future

While EEM will test the waters with the compliance markets, Rimmer will not be letting go of his Gold Standard Foundation past completely. The exchange will begin with compliance markets, but then seeks to cover all European environmental markets – including voluntary carbon, renewable energy, water and biomass.

"My goal through the Gold Standard has been two things: to continue to demonstrate why carbon markets and climate finance can be credible," he said "And the second piece is trying to bring that tangible financial value to a wider range of environmental impacts and social impacts than just carbon."

With the Gold Standard still working on measuring non-carbon impacts through, for example, a proposed Water Benefit Standard, Rimmer hopes to now broaden the financial instruments available to the carbon markets.

"Having focused on credibility for the last five years, I want to focus on liquidity in the market," he said "It doesn't matter how credible it is if nobody can access the market and no one can trade in it."

Source: http://www.ecosystemmarketplace.com/pages/dynamic/article.page.php?page_id=10806&section=news_articles&eod=1

Switzerland Becomes First Country To Post Climate-Action Plan by Kelly Levin, David Rich, Eliza Northrop

Most developed countries have agreed to submit their post-2020 climate action plans by the end of March, and Switzerland became the first out of the gate on Friday. In this analysis, the World Resources Institute (WRI) says the Swiss proposal is clear and comprehensive, but they also said the country may be relying too heavily on international offsets instead of domestic reductions.

Switzerland announced its post-2020 climate action plan on Friday, making it the first country to officially submit its contribution to the international climate agreement to be finalized in Paris at the end of this year. More countries are expected to propose their commitments, known as intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs), over the coming months. These plans are an important piece of the puzzle to determine whether the world can reduce emissions enough to limit global temperature rise to 2 degrees C (3.6 degrees F), thus preventing some of the worst impacts of climate change.

The Swiss climate plan is in many ways a promising start to the global INDC submission process, articulating a long-term pathwayfor the country’s emissions reductions. Yet there are also some areas where the INDC could be strengthened, such as focusing more on a domestic transition to a low carbon economy and limiting the use of emissions reductions beyond Swiss borders towards its own target.

Here’s our quick take on some of the pros and cons:

Pathway for Emissions Reductions

The way Switzerland has submitted its plan is simple and straightforward. It’s comprehensive enough that the INDC can serve as a starting point for other countries when submitting their own plans.

Switzerland commits to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 35 percent below 1990 levels by 2025, 50 percent below 1990 levels by 2030, and 70-85 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. Their proposal also includes a wide coverage of greenhouse gases and sectors, allowing for maximum reduction opportunities.

However, the INDC allows for the country to heavily use international market mechanisms, such as offsets or through carbon trading, to reach its goals. For the 50 percent reduction goal, for example, up to two-fifths of the reductions could come from projects to reduce emissions beyond Swiss borders. It would strengthen the contribution if Switzerland undertook further domestic emission reductions, where much potential still exists, in order to drive ambition and usher in a low-carbon economy.

High Marks for Transparency

The Swiss INDC is also noteworthy in being highly transparent. This will build trust among countries, and make it easier to track whether global efforts are collectively ambitious enough to limit global warming. Through our Open Book initiative, WRI researchers have developed suggestions for what information countries should provide to be adequately transparent. The Swiss INDC aligns with many of the key elements, clearly describing:   
  • The timeframe for the contribution, including expected emissions reductions in both 2025 and 2030;
  • How use of credits from market mechanisms, such as offsets, would avoid double-counting of reductions by more than one country and maintain environmental integrity; and
  • How the country views its contribution as fair and ambitious, as well as how it contributes to achieving the objective of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. For example, the INDC explicitly recognizes that GDP per capita, along with greenhouse gas emissions per capita, are important considerations in determining whether a contribution is fair. Yet there’s still room for improvement as countries should also include the underlying data and analysis to support their statements on fairness and ambition. For example, Switzerland could have been more transparent in explaining its capabilities and the limitations on its domestic mitigation potential, particularly given its reliance on international emission reductions.

 Switzerland emissions graph

WRI’s CAIT Equity Explorer enables users to compare different countries based on a range of indicators – balancing emissions against capability and mitigation potential. Although Switzerland’s per capita CO2 emissions (including LULUCF) are 6.55tCO2 - lower than the EU at 9.3tCO2 or the US at 20.22tCO2 it has one of the world’s highest GDP per capita at USD 84,518 in 2013. 

Kicking Off Post-2020 Climate Action

While just a tiny country with a small fraction of global emissions, Switzerland has put forward a good starting model. It’s important that other countries follow suit with their own ambitious, comprehensive plans—both to curb climate change globally, and to keep the glaciers on top of Switzerland’s majestic mountains.

Throwback to when UMaine took New York City! #PeoplesClimateMarch by brookebailey4

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This Week In Forest Carbon: Indigenous People Explore Parallels, Possibilities of REDD

Indigenous people have been developing Life Plans, the long-term sustainable methods to revive and support their way of life, for years. But as they seek funding for implementation, these forest peoples are finding their plans have a lot in common with the carbon finance mechanism that protects forests

Even in the Amazon, you can't escape PowerPoint. Last month, 80 members of the Gavião people met in their territory (called Igarapé Lourdes) in the state of Rondônia, Brazil to discuss their "Life Plan." Dressed in a combination of traditional and western clothes – feathered headdresses, ceremonial beads, and jeans – the group hung shrouds around the open-air structure to block out sunlight for the presentations.

Life Plans for indigenous peoples have been proliferating across the Amazon for the last 20 years, starting in Colombia in 1992. The plans are shared visions for the future, often built around spatial maps that identify important hunting and harvesting areas, sacred sites, and forested areas, detailed with the quality of cover and species. The Gavião's Life Plan is based on low-impact agriculture and the sale of native crafts and non-timber forest products such as nuts and copaiba oil. It lays out a strategy for preventing unwanted logging by building monitoring stations and strengthening cooperation with police and government agencies.
As they knock up against funding challenges, one question that many Amazonian indigenous groups are now asking is this: Are Life Plans a version of REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation of forests), the carbon finance mechanism that pays for forest protection?

At first glance, Life Plans and the project documentation required around REDD projects seems very different. REDD requires reference levels of deforestation and measurement of carbon stocks – technical aspects not found in Life Plans. But the basic principle of fighting the threats to forests by creating long-term economic alternatives is analagous.

During the climate change negotiations in Lima last December, leaders from COICA (Coordinadora de las Organizaciones Indígenas de la Cuenca Amazónica), a federation of indigenous organizations across Latin America, discussed the idea of REDD+ Indigena Amazónico (RIA), or indigenous REDD.

"We've been working on our Life Plan since the 1990s," said Fermín Chimantani, co-president of Peru's Amaracaeri Reserve. "We've created governance structures, we've valued our ecosystem services – such as water filtration, biodiversity conservation, andevapotranspiration – and we've shown that we can use our indigenous vision to save and manage our forest."

The Gavião and the Arara, a neighboring tribe, are exploring the possibility of using carbon finance not at the project but at the jurisdictional level, as has been done in the state of Acre, Brazil. There, the state handles the carbon accounting and earns payments for reducing emissions but then distributes income based on its own criteria – and some of it flows to indigenous peoples. Juan Carlos Jintiach, former head of COICA, says most indigenous people will likely bypass project-level REDD – which is more directly tied to the carbon markets – and go the jurisdictional route.

"Think about all the mega projects that are going to be developed," said Jintiach. "We know what´s going to happen: islands of deforestation, contamination, and criminal activities – but we, the indigenous people of the Amazon, have an answer."

Read the full story on Life Plans and Indigenous REDD from Ecosystem Marketplace.

And if your organization is developing or transacting offsets from forest carbon projects, be sure to respond to our annual survey&nnbsp;here. The survey informs our State of the Forest Carbon Markets report and is used to understand market dynamics and shape policy around avoided deforestation. The deadline for filling it out is today, March 4 but please get in touch with Allie (agoldstein@ecosystemmarketplace.com) if you'd like to provide information.

More stories from the forest carbon market are summarized below, so keep reading.
—The Ecosystem Marketplace Team
If you have comments or would like to submit news stories, write to us at general@forestcarbonportal.com.




Switzerland became the first developed country to submit its post-2020 climate action plan last week. The World Resources Institute says the Swiss proposal is clear and comprehensive, but that the country may be relying too heavily on international offsets instead of domestic emissions reductions. More countries are expected to propose their commitments, known as intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs), over the coming months. But Indonesia, which displaced Brazil as the top deforester in 2012, will not be one of the countries submitting its INDC in that timeframe as government regulators say they need more time to avoid making unrealistic pledges.



In the first two years of California's cap-and-trade program, the state's economy has grown while its capped emissions have dropped nearly 4%. But offsetting – the aspect of the program that allows for investments in emissions reductions in non-capped sectors such as forestry – is so far underutilized. Of the potential 11.6 million offsets compliance entities could have purchased from the first compliance period (2013-2014) under the regulation, they bought only 1.7 million offsets. "On the offset side, there is still a little bit of mystery about it," said Tim O'Connor, Director of the California Climate Initiative at Environmental Defense Fund. "It's only really the very well-trained, well-versed, and probably well-consulted companies that have the capacity to really go out there and procure offsets."



Developer Green Assets has completed the first avoided conversion compliance offset project in the United States. The company's Middleton Place project has been issued more than 250,000 offsets by the California Air Resources Board, allowing the offsets to be used for compliance with the state's cap-and-trade program. The offsets would have a total value of more than $2 million based on current prices if sold at once, said Colby Hollifield, Middleton's woodlands manager. The project conserves more than 3,700 acres of southern coastal habitat near Charleston, South Carolina.


UPS won an award for Excellence in Greenhouse Gas Management at last week's Climate Leadership Awards in Washington D.C., where sustainability leaders are recognized by the US Environmental Protection Agency. The company exceeded the carbon intensity target it set in 2011 and is also an active buyer of carbon offsets, engaging customers by allowing them to neutralize the emissions of individual shipments. The offsets are sourced from The Conservation Fund's Garcia River Forest project in California, Wildlife Works' Kasigau Corridor REDD project in Kenya, and others. Chevrolet also took home a top honor for its innovative partnership with college campuses around carbon offsetting.


Offsets from the Wildlife Conservation Society's Makira Natural Park project in Madagascar are now up for sale through the Stand for Trees campaign, which allows individuals to purchase offsets from avoided deforestation projects. The 1,438-square-mile park is home to more than 20 species of lemur. Half of the revenue from offset sales goes to local communities to support initiatives such as ecotourism, improved rice cultivation, and sustainable vanilla and clove production. The project joins 10 other REDD projects that are part of the Stand for Trees campaign, with two more coming soon.



Multinational bank Santander announced it will not renew financing to the pulp and paper company Asia Pacific Resources International Ltd. (APRIL). This move comes after a Greenpeace campaign to share information with customers of Santander about APRIL's unsustainable practices causing deforestation in Indonesian rainforests. Other companies and organizations are coming under increasing pressure by advocacy groups, including The Forest 500 that produces rankings, to work toward a target of zero deforestation. Greenpeace called for Santander to share and revise its forest lending policy to close loopholes. Greenpeace is also withdrawing its support for Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) after a farmer was allegedly beaten to death in Jambi province, Indonesia by guards contracted to a pulpwood supplier owned by APP. Previously, Greenpeace had supported APP’s initiatives on forest conservation after APP pledged to stop using logs from Indonesia’s natural forests. APP’s past logging practices had resulted in the loss of packaging contracts with big brands such as Kraft and Mattel.



In Colombia, finance for REDD+ projects continues to improve, with 51% of committed funds already disbursed, observes Jessica Breitfeller, REDDX associate with Forest Trends Association, Ecosystem Marketplace's parent organization. This flies in the face of trends in other countries that show a lag between commitments and disbursements for REDD+ finance, according to a report by the REDDX initiative. Colombia has received more than $33 million in commitments and the national government has provided over $2.1 million to private companies to implement forest carbon projects. But a recent national validation workshop highlighted continued underfunding for forest conservation projects in the country.


2-year study on blue carbon in Louisiana estimates that carbon finance can provide up to $1.6 billion to assist wetland restoration over the next 50 years. The study, supported by Entergy Corporation in partnership with Tierra Resources and The Climate Trust, estimates that restoring Louisiana wetlands has the potential to produce over 1.8 million carbon offsets annually, the equivalent to removing 350,000 cars from the road per year. The estimate of $1.6 billion is from the value of carbon offsets plus avoided loss of wetlands. Tierra Resources is developing pilot projects through private-sector partnerships with Entergy, ConocoPhillips, and others to test the efficacy of carbon finance and restoration. Listen in to their webinar this Thursday for more information.


Guyana signed a loan agreement valued at $17.2 million with the Inter-American Development Bank for an environmental program that will facilitate consolidation of the country's low-carbon development strategy and REDD+ activities. This includes organizing multi-stakeholder consultations, supporting the implementation of an accountability and enforcement system for forest governance, and aiding efforts to minimize and manage forest degradation from extractive activities. Nearly 90% of Guyana's land area is covered in forest, and the South American country is an example of a place with high forest cover but low historical deforestation rates – sometimes a challenge for REDD funding that is tied to reducing documented deforestation threats.



Ezequiel Antonio Castanha was detained this week by Brazilian authorities, and will face charges for illegal deforestation and money laundering with a potential sentence of 46 years in jail. Castanha is being held responsible for clearing about 58 square miles of government-owned Amazonian rainforest, equivalent to two and a half Manhattans, and selling the land to cattle grazers. Deforestation in the Amazon may be one of the culprits in the current drought facing southern Brazil. Scientists have shown that because of deforestation, vapor clouds are unable to reach the south and central areas, ultimately preventing rain delivery. Without rain, these areas will desertify and the economic powerhouse of South America will disappear, they warn.


In the eyes of his government Mr. Aboubakar, a carpenter in Côte d'Ivoire, does not exist nor do any of the hundreds of thousands of people who are directly or indirectly involved in the artisanal timber sector throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Domestic timber production and demand in African countries is missing entirely from international and national databases, according to a 7-year study by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and the French agricultural and development research center CIRAD. Although the artisanal sector is fragmented, efforts are being made to integrate artisanal logging operators into roundtable discussions with government officials, large industrial timber companies, and the European Union (EU) to bring African countries in line with EU regulations under the new Voluntary Partnership Agreements.



A new study by University of Maryland (UMD) determined that tropical deforestation increased by 62% over the last two decades. The findings run contrary to the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization's (FAO) assessment of a 25% slowdown. UMD researchers analyzed Landsat data and found the deforestation rate across 34 forested countries holding 80% of tropical forests rose from four million hectares annually between 1990 and 2000 to six-and-a-half million hectares annually between 2000 to 2010, equivalent to the size of Sri Lanka. Tropical Latin America had the greatest increase in annual net loss, followed by Asia and Africa respectively. The FAO study relied on on-the-ground tree surveys supplemented with imagery, and reported zero deforestation for 16 of the 34 countries.



A Center for Global Development paper, The Indonesia-Norway REDD+ Agreement: A Glass Half-Full, evaluates the origins, successes, and lessons learned from a pay-for-performance agreement between Indonesia and Norway to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. The authors find that pay-for-performance has been a success and has at least moderately strengthened the hand of advocates who are in favor of controlling deforestation and protecting indigenous rights. And by not paying when Indonesia failed to meet its deforestation target, it is a successful case of "non-payment for non-performance."



Based in Hamburg, Germany, the Specialist will conduct multi-temporal analysis of deforestation and reforestation patterns based on Landsat, Normalized Difference Vegetation Index, or other data sources, conduct landscape modeling based on land-use simulation models and incorporate policy scenarios. An advanced degree in geography, forestry sciences, landscape ecology, or related discipline is a must, doctoral degree is an asset.


Based in Palo Alto, California, the Associate will support the Program Director and Officers of the Andes-Amazon Initiative. The primary responsibility will be grant process management and program coordination for the Initiative. Successful candidates will hold a bachelor's degree in a related field, have proven experience in administration, and be proficient to fluent in Spanish and/or Portuguese.


Based in Washington, D.C., the Associate will support Global Forest Watch activities in East and West Africa. The position will focus on supporting the World Resource Institute's engagement in countries outside of the Congo Basin, and support on-the-ground implementation of tools and information to improve land use decision-making and resource monitoring in priority countries. A master's degree or greater in geography, environmental science, natural resource management or a related field plus a minimum of five to seven years of experience is required.


Based in Incheon, South Korea, the Special Assistant will support the day-to-day running of the Secretariat, including stakeholder communications, operations oversight, and Board meeting preparation. The position requires seven years of professional experience, and an advanced university degree in economics, international relations, law or related subjects. Specialized studies relevant to climate finance or policy, public policy, or related areas are an advantage.


Based in Oxford, United Kingdom, the Researcher will undertake in-depth analysis on integrated landscape approaches and synthesize desk-based research for the forthcoming publication "The Little Book of Integrated Landscapes," and support the delivery of research outputs and communications. A master's in environment, natural resource management, agriculture or similar field is desired. Strong knowledge of policy challenges relating to sustainable natural resource management and at least 3 years of post-master's work experience.

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.

Source: http://www.ecosystemmarketplace.com/pages/dynamic/article.page.php?page_id=10834&section=news_articles&eod=1