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Environment, Carbon and Forests

CIFOR Publication Explores Impacts of Land-Use Changes in Tropical Landscapes

GFIS - Thu, 11/02/2016 - 18:07
‘Agrarian change in tropical landscapes' documents the results of a research project that explored what happens when significant environmental change occurs in forested tropical landscapes, primarily driven by agricultural development. Coordinated by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), a member of the CGIAR Consortium, the Agrarian Change project conducted in-depth studies of seven landscapes around the world that exhibit various scenarios of changing forest cover, agricultural modification, and integration with local and global commodity markets.

FAO Updates on Implementation of the Voluntary Guidelines

GFIS - Thu, 11/02/2016 - 18:07
The latest edition of the Governance of Tenure newsletter, produced by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), provides a roundup of trainings and consultative activities aimed at enhancing the implementation of the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security (Voluntary Guidelines).

How Does China’s Growing Overseas Investment Affect Africa’s Forests? 5 Things to Know

GFIS - Thu, 11/02/2016 - 17:53
By Bo Li and Yaxin Yan China’s investments in Africa have exploded in recent years, with outward foreign direct investment (OFDI) stock growing from $1 billion in 2004 to more than $30 billion in 2014. Investment in forests—particularly the timber sector—is no different. China’s overseas forest project investments grew from eight in 2007 to 84 in […]

Another 19 carbon credit boiler room scams bite the dust. Including (not before time) Carbon Neutral Investments

GFIS - Thu, 11/02/2016 - 17:16
On 3 February 2016, the High Court in London ordered 19 companies into liquidation, following an investigation by the Insolvency Agency. One of the companies is CNI (UK) Ltd, whose director Edward Carlton had previously worked as “Head of UK Operations” at Carbon Neutral Investments. REDD-Monitor first wrote about Carbon … read more

From Devastation to Restoration

GFIS - Thu, 11/02/2016 - 16:00
Wildfires in sagebrush and other range ecosystems are increasing in frequency and severity, often in relation to drought conditions and intrusive species like cheatgrass, a non-native, highly flammable invasive species that establishes itself as a monoculture and crowds out native grasses and forbs. “What’s preferable to a monoculture is a diverse plant community that includes [...]

Research needs for sustainable cocoa production in Ghana

GFIS - Thu, 11/02/2016 - 13:10
Low cocoa productivity, poor livelihoods of cocoa farmers and a negative impact on ecosystems have led to a global realisation that cocoa production should be made more sustainable. In the previous years, many new projects have been established in this field. However, the complex reality in which these projects operate, makes it difficult to get a full understanding of the issues at hand and to effectively design projects to improve the situation on the ground.

February issue of Update Magazine out now

GFIS - Thu, 11/02/2016 - 12:52

In this issue: Maurice Koné, TREE AID’s Country Officer in Mali, answers questions from our  supporters and tells what life is like in Mali, a country that has seen extensive environmental damage and social unrest. We take a look at our Regreening Mapti project, where we work with villagers to restore degraded land. Local farmer Allaye […]

The post February issue of Update Magazine out now appeared first on TREE AID.

Investments in forest industry do not decrease this year

GFIS - Thu, 11/02/2016 - 11:35
Among Finnish branches of industry, the forest industry has long been one of the largest investors. According to the most […]

Forest monitoring skills on the rise

GFIS - Thu, 11/02/2016 - 10:54

Efforts to beat climate change have helped boost tropical countries’ capacity to measure their forest carbon.

Learning the lessons of land protection from Africa’s justice advocates

GFIS - Thu, 11/02/2016 - 10:28

By Rachael Knight. Originally published at The World Bank’s “People, Spaces, Deliberation” blog. Rural communities across Africa face a variety of threats to their customary and indigenous land and natural resource claims. The drivers of these threats are diverse: increasing foreign investment, national elite speculation, rising population densities, climate change, and national infrastructure mega-projects, to […]

International Day of Forests - 21 March, 2016

GFIS - Thu, 11/02/2016 - 10:16

“Forests and Water”

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Seeds of the post-capitalist forest?

GFIS - Thu, 11/02/2016 - 09:59

Could innovative local organisations working with forests, together with the Paris climate agreement, the Sustainable Development Goals and global financial crisis help deliver us into a post-capitalist era?

Trees are good, generally, I am sure you will agree. What if they were also helping to grow us a post-capitalist future? Give me a minute before you conclude for sure that these are the ravings of a lefty tree-hugger.  

I recently attended an unusually lively conference on tropical forests and sustainable development at Yale University exploring how different local initiatives to grow and look after forests, and improve the lives of those connected them, might be boosted by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris climate agreement.

SDGs for the trees

Local forestry initiatives really are exciting these days – a wide range of vibrant local organisations are generating values not based solely on the market.

Initiatives like these speak to SDG 15 (Life on Land) – the one SDG that explicitly covers forests, and as such should gain policy relevance. But some of the other SDGs offer even greater potential to optimise what forests could do for sustainable development. Here are three examples:

  • Achieving 'Affordable and clean energy' (Goal 7) means extracting ourselves from fossil fuel use – decarbonising power systems at massive scale. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) says the world spends an estimated US$5.3 trillion per year on subsidising the fossil fuel industry and the market valuation of the top 200 carbon burners totals $4 trillion – with some 60-80 per cent of coal, oil and gas reserves of these listed firms being unburnable – in the sense that if we burn them, global temperatures will rise to a catastrophic degree.

    Huge shifts in public policy are required, away from corporate petro-capitalism and towards recognising that one in three households worldwide currently rely on fuelwood for their energy. Given some attention, safer, technologically cutting-edge fuelwood energy derived from well-managed wood sources could become the norm for many more.
  • 'Reduced inequalities' (Goal 10) will remain a pipedream as long as forest-based resources are ransacked by elites. In Myanmar military elites, drug lords and crony companies control mining and trade in jade worth $31 billion a year – equivalent to half of the country's spending on health – but this industry is devastating forests.

    Meanwhile lax legal frameworks and investment treaties are being used to bolster unsustainable and inequitable investments. Yet we know that tactics for working on governance frameworks can be effective, and investment treaties can foster sustainability and secure local rights.
  • Secure land and resource rights are key to 'Peace, justice and strong institutions' (Goal 16), but far from the norm. It is estimated that tenure of about half of rural forest and dryland areas in the developing world is insecure – affecting some 2 billion men and women. 

And while small forest enterprises account for over half of forest sector employment in many developing countries – often with profits recycled in the local economy and strong incentives to operate sustainably – all too often policy frameworks see these as a problem to eliminate rather than as an opportunity.

Yet evidence suggests that well-organised communities and producer groups are the best managers of forests in the tropics.

Jame's talks is informative and fun. We are all laughing and applauding! #ISTF2016 @YaleISTF https://t.co/MP7ennLZgJ

— Wenman LIU (@liuwenman) January 28, 2016

Forests in the Paris Agreement

If the SDGs give us some useful levers, the Paris climate agreement gives us a boost to do something with them and scale up local action.

Forests are all over the Paris Agreement – in national emissions reduction plans, in Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+) and in non-market mechanisms now known as 'joint mitigation and adaptation'.

True, there are no actual binding targets for limiting greenhouse gas emissions in the agreement, but when it comes into force in 2020, all countries are legally-bound to have a plan, to regularly update it to make it stronger, and to communicate with citizens about progress.   

Meanwhile, as Paul Mason points out in PostCapitalism, climate-change deniers are perhaps less worrying than the fantasists who believe that existing market mechanisms can stop climate change, that the market alone must set the limits to climate action and that the market can be structured to deliver the biggest re-engineering project humanity has ever tried.

Instead, this project needs social action, policy action and accountability. For this, I would add, it needs reputational incentives, peer pressure, policy advocacy and activist litigation.

See Mayer's presentation at Yale University above or on IIED's SlideShare site.

A resurgent public will for non-market values?

Could we be at one of those moments in history when the rules by which markets work are reshaped by public will? We certainly need to be thinking and acting differently. The gambling rife in the global finance system is bringing entire states close to bankruptcy.

Unlike previous boom and bust cycles over the last 200 years, the recent financial crisis could herald capitalism's terminal decline. The seeds of its replacement can be seen in forms of value not based entirely on the market. Goods and services that no longer respond to the dictates of neoliberalism are appearing, from parallel currencies (not just Bitcoin) and time banks, to self-managed online spaces (not just Wikipedia) and a wide range of cooperative organisations, credit unions, and peer-networks. Have a read of Mason's book.

Seeds for a post-capitalist forest

People are valuing new forms of ownership, lending and doing business that are distinct from the current system of state-backed corporate capitalism. We could stop seeing these alternatives as mad experiments, and promote them with public policy just as vigorously as that which enabled capitalism to drive the peasants off the land in the 18th century.

For forests to contribute effectively to sustainable development we need such policy change and action to focus on:

  • Rights to be installed in investment frameworks and practices – REDD+ included
  • A major shift in favour of small forest enterprises in jobs and economies, and
  • Organisation and partnership to integrate actions in different sectors and govern investment.

In seizing this chance to create a more socially just and sustainable global economy – the myriad forms of local organisation nurturing forest goods and services can teach us a great deal about how this 'post-capitalist forest' might be grown.

James Mayers (james.mayers@iied.org) is director of IIED's Natural Resources Group.

Further resources

Watch the keynote speeches from the 22nd Annual International Society of Tropical Foresters Conference at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies

BP stresses need for global carbon pricing as world faces 25% rise in CO2 emissions to 2035

REDD monitor news - Thu, 11/02/2016 - 09:42
By Ben Garside, Carbon Pulse, 10 February 2016 Policymakers must accelerate moves to global carbon pricing to help rein in energy-related CO2 emissions projected to rise 25% between 2013-2035, oil giant BP said on Wednesday in its long-term energy outlook. BP projected that annual emissions growth will slow from 2.5% over the past decade to 0.7% by 2030, but recognised that “the profile for emissions is well above that recommended by the scientific community”. The projections came in BP’s Energy Outlook to 2035, the company’s influential annual report updating its view of global energy markets. BP CEO Bob Dudley said no single change or policy is likely to be sufficient on its own to tackle the “most likely” unsustainable path for carbon emissions, and that identifying which changes are likely to be most effective is fraught with difficulty.

Ecosystem Marketplace's Carbon Newsletter

REDD monitor news - Thu, 11/02/2016 - 09:01
Ecosystem Marketplace, 10 February 2016 Here in Washington D.C., ‘tis the season of a melting blizzard, (American) football, presidential posturing, and… the Ecosystem Marketplace carbon survey. Many Carbon Chronicle subscribers already know the drill: organizations active in the carbon market receive a username and password in their inbox, they enter information about 2015 activities in our online survey platform, and a couple of months later we produce the only market-wide, freely available quantitative reports tracking corporate trends in voluntary offsetting and results-based payments for forest conservation. Last year’s State of the Voluntary Carbon Markets report has been downloaded more than 300,000 times since it’s release in June and the State of Forest Carbon Finance report has reached 100,000 downloads since November...

Trade of Logs in Baltic Sea Region Fell 10% in 2015 Because of Substantially Lower Demand for Softwood Pulplogs in Finland and Sweden, Reports the Wood Resource Quarterly

GFIS - Thu, 11/02/2016 - 09:00
After reaching a record high in 2014, log trade in the Baltic Sea fell by 10% in 2015. Most of the decline was that of softwood pulplogs, while trade of sawlogs actually increased to reach its highest level since 2007, according to the Wood Resource Quarterly. Russia has been surpassed by the Baltic States as the major softwood log supply region. [PR.com]

North American Overseas Pellet Exports Rose for the Second Consecutive Quarter to Reach a New Record High in the 3Q/15 with the US South Shipping 77% of the Volume

GFIS - Thu, 11/02/2016 - 09:00
The wood pellet industry keeps investing in new production capacity in the US South because of higher pellet demand in the United Kingdom, reports the North American Wood Fiber Review. In the 3Q/15, 77% of North America’s pellet exports were from the southeastern US. [PR.com]

Into the no-go zone – and back for old maps

GFIS - Thu, 11/02/2016 - 06:29
Stanford Wood, Bedfordshire In our dogs days this wood was a favoured spot, now I began to understand its origin

A ghost came with me to the local wood that I had not visited in over 12 years. I imagined him sitting in the car panting at my shoulder all the way and then yipping with excitement when we pulled into the layby. I half reached for a lead that was not there and shut the car door quietly.

In our dog days this was a favoured spot, a conifer plantation where he could do no harm, a springy floored place without seasons where a wee up a tree was all he could leave behind.

Related: Conifers face axe to save British woodland

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Success in thirsty Sumba a challenge for researchers

GFIS - Thu, 11/02/2016 - 02:46
Dryland tropical agroforestry is a little-researched area that is likely to be increasingly in demand as climate patterns change. Researchers on the island of Sumba in Indonesia are working hard and fast to meet the challenges.   Sumba’s...


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by Dr. Radut