Category Archives: REDD

REDD could lead to a “carbon grab” – new report from the Rights and Resources Initiative

By Chris Lang, March 20, 2014. Source: REDD-Monitor

Image: Santiago Armengod and Melanie Cervantes

Image: Santiago Armengod and Melanie Cervantes

The World Bank continues with its push to trade the carbon stored in forests. But new research shows that safeguards and legal protections for indigenous peoples and local communities in these new forest carbon markets are “non-existent”.

The research was carried out by the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI) together with the Ateneo School of Government in the Philippines. It includes a survey of 23 countries in Latin America, Asia, and Africa, covering two-thirds of the Global South’s forests. 21 of these countries are members of the UN-REDD programme and/or the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility. Brazil has a US$1 billion REDD agreement with Norway. India is the only non-REDD country included in the research.

In a press release, Arvind Khare, RRI’s Executive Director, said,

“As the carbon in living trees becomes another marketable commodity, the deck is loaded against forest peoples, and presents an opening for an unprecedented carbon grab by governments and investors. Every other natural resource investment on the international stage has disenfranchised Indigenous Peoples and local communities, but we were hoping REDD would deliver a different outcome. Their rights to their forests may be few and far between, but their rights to the carbon in the forests are non-existent.”

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Forest peoples demand their rights be made central to global efforts to curb deforestation

March 19, 2014. Source: Forest Peoples Programme

After a major inter-continental gathering on Deforestation and the Rights of Forest Peoples held between 9 and 14 March 2014 in Palangka Raya, Central Kalimantan, Indonesia, indigenous and forest peoples called on the international community, governments and international organizations to secure and respect their customary rights to their forests, lands, territories and natural resources in conformity with international law.

They issued this call in the form of the Palangka Raya Declaration, which urges governments, the private sector, financial institutions, international agencies and the international community to:

  • halt the production, trade and consumption of commodities derived from deforestation, land grabs and other violations of the rights of forest peoples;
  • stop the invasion of forest peoples’ lands and forests by agribusiness, extractive industries, infrastructures, energy and “green economy” projects that deny forest peoples’ fundamental rights;
  • take immediate and concrete actions to uphold forest peoples’ rights at all levels including the right to land, territories and resources, the right to self-determined development and to continue to own, control and manage their customary lands according to their knowledge and livelihoods.

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Are Norway’s REDD deals reducing deforestation?

By Chris Lang, March 6, 2014. Source: Development Today

Protest outside of a Norwegian government meeting to promote REDD in Oslo, Norway highlights the social and ecological costs of the REDD scheme and draws attention to a scandalous Norske Hydro project that threatens to destroy Amazon rainforest in Brazil. Photo Courtesy: Friends of the Earth Norway

Protest outside of a Norwegian government meeting to promote REDD in Oslo, Norway highlights the social and ecological costs of the REDD scheme and draws attention to a scandalous Norske Hydro project that threatens to destroy Amazon rainforest in Brazil. Photo Courtesy: Friends of the Earth Norway

When I started the REDD-Monitor website in 2008, REDD – Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation – was promoted as the “low-hanging fruit” that would save the rainforests and address climate change. In 2006, for example, the economist Nicholas Stern had described REDD as “highly cost-effective” and explained that it could reduce emissions “fairly quickly”. More than seven years on, REDD is neither cheap nor quick. (In 2012, I asked Stern whether he has reconsidered his views on REDD in the interim. He didn’t reply.)

The Norwegian government is the biggest funder of REDD, including US$1 billion REDD deals in Indonesia and Brazil, two countries with large areas of forest and high rates of deforestation. The money is payable when deforestation is reduced. But have Norway’s rainforest billions had any influence on rates of deforestation in either country?

Forest Politics

Forest politics in the two countries are different. Brazil is opposed to REDD offsets but Indonesia is in favour. Deforestation in Brazil has fallen since 2004, but in Indonesia it is increasing. Brazil has reliable deforestation data, produced annually by the National Institute for Space Research (Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais). Indonesia’s deforestation data is produced by the Ministry of Forestry – and the data is not supported by satellite data. Continue reading

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Mangrove territories: “Culture, tradition and a vital space for coastal peoples”

By Carlos Salvatierra. Source: World Rainforest Movement

Photo: WRM

Photo: WRM

Communities, peoples and civil society organizations have worked for years to raise the visibility of the significant benefits of the mangrove ecosystem and the importance of its existence. They have fought for the recognition of mangroves as highly productive systems that provide livelihoods and a space for the practice of the cultures and traditions of coastal peoples. “The mangrove is our natural enterprise, it is our employment, it does not ask us for our qualifications or a CV or identification. As long as we are in good health we can cast our nets and harvest our food,” declared Enrique Bonilla, president of COGMANGLAR and a fisherman from Champerico, Guatemala.

Today, the former perception of mangroves as mosquito-infested swamps has changed, but the struggle to defend them has become increasingly difficult in the face of the new and aggressive actors threatening their existence and the survival of the peoples and communities who inhabit them, from Latin America to Asia to Africa. “They are slowly exterminating us. Government policies criminalize and impoverish us. We are not poor; we have great wealth that the powerful want to appropriate, and we call that environmental racism,” said Marizhelia López of the Movement of Fishermen and Fisherwomen of Bahia, Brazil, expressing her concern over the loss of territories. Continue reading

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Forest Stewardship Council certification does not guarantee reduced forest carbon emissions

By Chris Lang, February 19, 2014. Source: REDD Monitor

fscA recent study in East Kalimantan revealed no difference in carbon emissions between Forest Stewardship Council certified logging operations and conventional logging concessions.

This has potentially huge implications for REDD. “Sustainable management of forest” is one of the “plus” parts of REDD as agreed in December 2010 in Cancun. “Sustainable management of forest” could mean subsidies to industrial-scale commercial logging operations in old-growth forests.

The findings of the recent study also have serious implications for the Forestry Stewardship Council which is expanding its certification system to include forest carbon.

The Forest Stewardship Council was formed in 1993, with the aim of promoting environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial and economically viable forest management. It does so through a certification system. An FSC accredited “certifying body” assesses whether the company’s forestry concession complies with a series of FSC principles and criteria. Continue reading

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REDD myth no.1: Deforestation accounts for 25% of greenhouse gas emissions

Note: Yes, deforestation needs to be addresssed–and NOT through the development of massive-scale industrial monoculture tree plantations, but by addressing deforestation at its very source–namely agro-industrial expansion, especially of GMO crops, livestock production and overconsumption of paper and timber products.

As far as climate change is concerned, the tunnel vision of the UN, World Bank and other bodies on deforestation as a driver of climate change has been a deliberate misdirection to keep the focus away from where it needs to be–reducing fossil fuel consumption, and preventing its replacement with plant-based fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel, which also put out huge emissions.

-The GJEP Team

By Chris Lang, February 15, 2014. Source: REDD-Monitor

Photo: Arnoldo Garcia

Photo: Arnoldo Garcia

Myth: “Deforestation accounts for 25 percent of all man-made emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide.”

That statement comes from a 2005 press release from the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation. A year later, FAO had decided that the figure was too low:

in fact between 25 and 30 percent of the greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere each year … is caused by deforestation.

In its 2007 report, the IPCC estimated that deforestation accounted for 17% of emissions.

Two years later, in a paper published in Nature Geoscience, Guido van der Werf and colleagues, argued that the figure was actually closer to 12%. While estimates of the rate of deforestation globally are fairly steady, emissions from burning fossil fuels are increasing rapidly. As such, the percentage of emissions from deforestation is falling. Continue reading

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Report: Fossil fuel carbon not equivalent to carbon stored in trees

By Chris Lang, January 31, 2014. Source: REDD-Monitor

evergreen-forest-646x433“It is a mistake to think that emissions from fossil fuels can be negated by increasing or protecting the storage potential of forests and other land based carbon.”

So says a new report from Brussels-based NGO FERN. The report exposes the myth that fossil fuel emissions can be offset by planting trees or preserving forests. Titled, “Misleading Numbers: The Case for Separating Land and Fossil Based Carbon Emissions”, the report can be downloaded here.

The report summarises the difference between greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels and those from land use change:

Land use change, through both natural causes and human impact, accounted for approximately 12 per cent of annual global CO2 emissions over the past decade. However, there are fundamental differences between ‘terrestrial’ and ‘fossil’ carbon pools and their impact on the climate. Emissions from fossil carbon are irreversible for all practical purposes as it will be millennia before fossil carbon released by human activity is removed from the terrestrial carbon cycle. Land-based carbon stocks such as forests, on the other hand, are highly reversible: their carbon is held for years or centuries at the most, and is easily returned to the atmosphere. In addition, while immense volumes of fossil carbon are held in the earth, there is a natural limit to the amount that can be held at any one time by terrestrial ecosystems. Continue reading

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Kenya: Preparing for REDD in the Embobut Forest and forcing Sengwer People “into extinction”

January 31, 2014. Source: No REDD in Africa Network

Forest guards arrive in Kenya's Embobut Forest in preparation for the evictions.  Photo: Forest Peoples Programme

Forest guards arrive in Kenya’s Embobut Forest in preparation for the evictions. Photo: Forest Peoples Programme

Last year the Government of Kenya was getting “ready” for REDD in the Embobut Forest, now it is violently evicting the Sengwer People and forcing them “into extinction.” According to Survival International, “as many as a thousand homes have already been torched.”[i]

Sengwer spokesman Yator Kiptum denounced the “disaster” caused by combined force of the Kenya Forest Service and Administration Police, a paramilitary unit of the police, which is now evicting the Sengwer not just from the Embobut Forest but from the entirety of the Cherangany Hills, destroying property and burning homes. “The government of Kenya is forcing us into extinction,” he said.[ii]

Sengwer houses being burnt by Kenya Forest Service guards on January 16, 2014. Source: Forest Peoples Programme

Sengwer houses being burnt by Kenya Forest Service guards on January 16, 2014. Source: Forest Peoples Programme

The extension of the evictions to all other areas in the Cherangany Hills forest complex to include Kapolet and Lelan/Kamolokon “means the removal of the entire population of Sengwer indigenous people living in the Cherangany Hills from their ancestral lands.”[iii] Some13,500 Sengwer live in the Cherangany Hills in Kenya’s Northern Rift Valley, and are one of the few hunter-gatherer groups left in eastern Africa.[iv]

According to Forest Peoples Programme, the Sengwer are not squatters. “The Sengwer have their rights to their ancestral forest lands enshrined in the Constitution and international law.” [v] The Sengwer obtained court orders to prevent further evictions to no avail. Continue reading

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Video: Indonesia’s rate of deforestation has doubled under the moratorium

By Chris Lang, 11th December 2013  Source: REDD-Monitor

A recent study revealed that the Indonesian government has been telling lies about its rate of forest loss. The study found that between 2000 and 2003 the rate of deforestation in Indonesia was about one million hectares per year. In the years 2011 and 2012, the rate doubled to about two million hectares per year.

The researchers, who were led by the University of Maryland and received help from Google and NASA, published their findings in Science magazine in November 2013. Part of their work included synthesising 12 years of satellite data to produce an Global Forest Change map.

A video of a presentation organised by Google’s Earth Outreach is available here. During the presentation, the lead researcher, Matthew Hansen of the University of Maryland, talks about deforestation in Indonesia:

Going over to Indonesia, another hot spot. Indonesia’s the bookend to Brazil, and it has the highest annual increase in forest cover loss over the study period, of around 1,000 square kilometres per year. And this is coincident with you know, in 2011 they instituted a deforestation moratorium meant to mimic in some sense the Brazilian effort, and the news in this study is that the first full year of our results, inside the moratorium was the highest forest loss in Indonesia. So Indonesia has this ramping up of forest loss.

A lot of our preliminary discussions were speculating there’s this perverse incentive when you try to send the alarm out that there’s going to be a halt to deforestation it can actually accelerate deforestation. That’s not a confirmed conclusion, but we do see here in some of these, this peninsula, area here in Riau province, in Indonesia, deep peatland soils, this is a wetland and a ring of clearing in 2012, new concessions that are being cleared. You see this in a lot of the wetlands in Indonesia. As they’ve exhausted the upland resources, they are going down into the wetlands.

And the patch size in the clearings of the wetlands are industrial scale, big change.

Strictly speaking, Indonesia’s moratorium never was a “deforestation moratorium” – it was a moratorium on new concessions. But Hansen’s point remains valid. Indonesia’s rate of deforestation has increased since the moratorium was announced.

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Statement from IEN on the Outcomes of the Bali WTO Meeting for Indigenous Peoples

Statement by Tom B.K. Goldtooth, Executive Director, Indigenous Environmental Network On the Outcome of the World Trade Organization 9th Ministerial Conference that ended Saturday, December 07, 2013

Turtle Island, December 09, 2013 - Even though the WTO and its 159 member countries resurrected itself in its first multilateral trade pact in the WTO’s history, I feel it was a desperate fight by rich developed countries such as the United States to revive an economic and trading system that is all about capitalism.

The WTO is all about free trade for the corporations that are destroying our Mother Earth.

The Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN) historically participated in WTO conferences, mostly in outside strategies rather than inside strategies. IEN took part in the “Battle in Seattle” at the 3rd Ministerial conference in Seattle, Washington in December 1999 and in Cancun, in the 5th Ministerial conference in September 2003.

At the Seattle WTO 14 years ago, IEN and Indigenous groups came together, (to name a few), such as the Seventh Generation Fund, Indigenous Peoples Council on Biocolonialism, Eyak Alaska Preservation Council, Interior Alliance of First Nations in Canada and internationally, Tebtebba of the Philippines and Movimiento de la Juventad Kuna of Panama to analyze and articulate our position on the WTO. The Indigenous Peoples’ Seattle Declaration was the outcome document of 1999. The Indigenous Statement from the WTO 5th Ministerial Conference in Cancún, Mexico, in September 2003 was not any different in its listing of all the negative effects of the WTO neoliberal trade agreements on Indigenous peoples.

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