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July 2009 edition of the East and Southern Africa Katoomba Group e-newsletter

by Portal Web Editor last modified Jan 10, 2013 07:30 AM
Contributors: Alice Ruhweza, Coordinator, East and Southern Africa Katoomba Group
News and events relating to markets and payments for ecosystem services (PES) in the East and Southern Africa region


On June 5-7 2009, The East and Southern Africa Katoomba Group joined legislators from Cameroon, Congo-Brazzaville, Gabon, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, and Uganda at the Earth University in Guacimo, Costa Rica to consider how the Costa Rican system of Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) could be applied in other countries in order to save the world’s rainforests. Legislators from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil Ecuador, Guyana, India, Mexico, Panama, Peru, as well as Costa Rica also attended the gathering.
The 18 legislators –– heard expert presentations about the Costa Rican system and also other successful systems from around the world including experiences from East and Southern Africa which were presented by the Katoomba Group.
Costa Rica was congratulated in developing a successful system of payments for ecosystem services. The legislators were impressed that forested area in the country has increased from a low-point of 29 percent in the 1980s to over 50 percent now – and recognized that this has brought benefits not just to the country but to the whole world. Costa Rica was also congratulated for continuing to develop the system of payment for ecosystem services. While there still appears to be considerable demand from citizens wanting to join the system, legislators have not considered their job to be complete. In particular the participants at the hearing were impressed by the efforts of Costa Rican legislators to involve women and indigenous groups in the scheme.
Participants recognized that each country possesses a unique set of circumstances and that financial incentives for forest conservation will take different forms in different countries.. There was a recognition that the amounts paid for ecosystem services have to be worked out according to circumstances in the locality. In some countries some recipients will be totally dependent on payments for their livelihoods. In other localities this won’t be the case.
 In order to move forward, the participants agreed the following objectives:
    * Cross-party groups in parliament could be effective in promoting financial incentives for rainforest protection. Cross-party support means that there would be no drastic changes to the scheme in case of turnover after elections. The legislators felt that such cross-party groups should be supported in other forested countries where they were already in existence and be formed where they were not. These cross-party groups, and interested individual legislators, should form a global network of parliamentarians from tropical forest nations working together on strengthening forest incentives. The e-Parliament will seek funding to play a secretariat role for such a network.
    * National parliaments in tropical forest nations should initiate an expert review of options for strengthening financial incentives for forest conservation in their own country. An expert group should be instructed to examine examples of best practice, such as the approaches being taken in Costa Rica, India and elsewhere, and to investigate possible revenue sources.
    * Legislators in the developing world can and must establish the financial incentives and initiate schemes in their own countries but there needs to be a close partnership with legislators in the developed world – who can help supply additional funding to schemes once the schemes have been established. The legislators expressed particular interest in rainforest bonds as proposed by Britain’s Prince Charles, as well as in the current negotiations on a system for Reduction of Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD).
Several of the legislators expressed their commitment to taking action along these lines in their home parliaments

  – For more on the hearing visit




Kenya Forest Service (KFS) and San Francisco-based Wildlife Works Carbon, LLC recently announced the initiation of Kenya’s first Carbon Offset project designed to take advantage of the emerging global carbon markets covering Reduced Emissions from Degradation and Deforestation (REDD).  The project aims to protect the 80,000-acre Rukinga forest reserve in southeastern Kenya. The project will create a wildlife corridor that links two of Kenya's largest protected areas — Tsavo East and Tsavo West. The area had previously been under threat from overgrazing, poaching and deforestation. The project will be funded by sales of carbon credits in the voluntary carbon market. The credits will be certified under the Voluntary Carbon Standard (VCS). The project is funding construction of new schools, free health programs, and organic farming and agroforestry initiatives for local communities.

Mike Korchinsky, Founder and President of Wildlife Works, says forest conservation is a compelling way for consumers to reduce their carbon footprint. "Wildlife Works calls this Consumer Powered Conservation," added Colin Wiel, co-Founder of Wildlife Works Carbon.

According to Alfred Gichu, a Chief Forest Officer from KFS, the National Focal Point for REDD Projects: "KFS welcomes the entrance of Wildlife Works Carbon into the market, to assist KFS and Kenya's rural landowners in managing the technical complexity of the global carbon market,

The Kenya Forest Service, as the national REDD focal point, is currently spearheading a local multi-stakeholder effort to among other things develop a national strategy for implementation of REDD activities in the country. This will be done in close liaison with the Ministry of Environment and Mineral Resources, which is mandated to coordinate climate change activities in the country. The Ministry has been very active in enlisting support from the private sector towards climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts.

  – For details on the project and more on this story visit



Ambitious plans to grow 24 million trees to soak up carbon dioxide and restore the rainforest have got underway in Ghana.  The first million seedlings are being planted in a pilot scheme in an area that has been heavily logged in recent years.  The trees are all tropical hardwoods, mostly indigenous, and it is believed this project could eventually become the largest of its kind. It comes amid mounting concern about the impact of deforestation on climate change - a major theme at this December's UN conference in Copenhagen. Ghana has lost an estimated four-fifths of its rainforest in the past 50 years and tropical deforestation globally is estimated to contribute nearly one-fifth of all greenhouse gas emissions.

ArborCarb, a British firm, is behind the reforestation project. It hopes that by growing the trees, and locking up the carbon inside them, it will be able to sell carbon credits. Director Mike Packer is optimistic that the scheme is being launched at the right time and could, over its lifetime, soak up more than nine million tonnes of carbon dioxide.  He told the BBC: "There is a huge market of individuals and companies who will pay for this project to be implemented by buying the carbon credits.  They need those carbon credits to offset their carbon emissions."Forestry offset schemes have attracted criticism because the precise amount of carbon absorption is difficult to verify. But Mr Packer said the plantations would be independently audited every year and that the plan would take account of the carbon cost of the plantation work and of trees dying naturally.  Critics have also warned that forestry schemes can exclude local people or even deny them the chance to grow food.  Mr Packer said that ArborCarb would not seek to own any land but would work with local landowners and farmers and offer them a share of the carbon credits.

ArborCarb's plans involve plantations in several different areas of Ghana.  The pilot scheme, near the border with Ivory Coast, was set up with one of the country's largest timber companies, John Bitar. The company's owner, Ghassan Bitar, said attitudes to forests - and their sustainability - were shifting.  "During the days of my father they were not aware - there were lots of forests around.  Now that the population is encroaching and there is deforestation because of various reasons - agriculture, lumbering and whatever - people are aware and want to change." Suddenly the fate of some of the remotest forests is moving up the international agenda.

However in the run-up to the Copenhagen conference, environmental groups are raising objections to the developed world using forestry to reduce emissions. ForestWatch Ghana, a coalition of more than 30 non-governmental organisations, criticises the basic principle of carbon offsetting.  According to the coalition's co-ordinator, Kingsley Bekoe Ansah, "it feels fundamentally wrong.

"The developed world has had the benefits of industrialisation and now wants to shift the burden of responsibility onto the poor communities," he said. Mr Ansah also said that involving the markets in carbon-reduction projects could "lead to massive land grabs and further entrench poverty".

"Since the markets are volatile and unstable, the prices of carbon would be affected by events in the larger business world and this is not good for developing countries and their rural communities," he added.

  – For more on this story visit



13-16 October 2009, Cape Town, South Africa
Second DIVERSITAS Open Science Conference,


Biodiversity and society- Understanding connections, adapting to change,

DIVERSITAS is pleased to announce its Second Open Science Conference: Biodiversity and society: Understanding connections, adapting to change. The conference is dedicated to biodiversity science and its connections to policy, and is meant to provide in-depth overviews of a broad range of topics in biodiversity research and initiate biodiversity research projects around the world. The symposia of the conference, which may have different formats (series of presentations, panel discussions, short workshops, etc.) will address one of the following broad themes: Strengthening biodiversity science; Supporting the science – policy interface; Focus on African issues

  – For more information and to register see: Announcement-final.pdf.

22-23 OCTOBER, 2009



This is UNEP FI first-ever Global Roundtable in the African continent,.Amid the global financial and economic crisis, the Cape Town Roundtable has become even more timely and relevant as the financial sector reassesses traditional thinking and practices, and explores the best way towards achieving sustainable financial markets and economies. Moreover, 2009 is a critical year for the world with the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen this December that will produce a new global agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. On the road to Copenhagen, the Cape Town Roundtable will help frame discussions on international climate policy that will have resounding impacts on the financial sector and international carbon markets.

UNEP FI invites you to join its vibrant global network of signatories and partner organisations across the banking, insurance and investment communities to discuss the latest developments and emerging issues on finance and sustainability during these challenging and changing times.

With UNEP FI always on the cutting-edge of sustainable finance, the Cape Town Roundtable will offer interactive panel sessions, in-depth debates, and expert training on:

    * Responsible investment
    * Sustainable banking
    * Low-carbon economy
    * Financing renewables
    * Sustainable insurance
    * Transparency, reporting and accountability
    * Responsible property investment
    * Microfinance
    * Finance and water
    * Valuing natural capital
    * Financing for sustainable development

  – For more information visit

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The REALU Architecture project will link knowledge with action by taking a whole landscape approach to reducing emissions. Its main activities will be to 1) providing analyses of the cross-sectoral linkages between actors and institutions in the tropical forest margins, based on long term engagement in Asia, Africa and Latin America; 2) organizing multi-stakeholder events to explore implications for the design of an effective regime in the post-2012 context; and 3) building the scientific and political basis for change through communicating and networking activities. The project which received 6.9 million NOK (approx $1.1 M USD), and will be implemented by ASB partners including ICRAF, IFPRI, CIAT, IITA, the Macaulay Land Use Research Institute, and national level research institutes in Asia, Africa and Latin America, and research partners in Norway

  – For more information visit



The UNFCCC Secretariat has added a webpage to its website titled “Reducing Emissions from Deforestation in Developing Countries: Approaches to Stimulate Action: A Quick Guide to the Agenda Item Under the UNFCCC.”
The webpage includes a list of UNFCCC sessions relevant to reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries (REDD) and associated meeting documents and links. The events are listed in a table and organized chronologically. The table uses the 11th session of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC held in Montreal, Canada, in 2005, as its starting point, given that the REDD agenda item was first introduced then.

  – For the guide visit



Forest Trends’ Business and Biodiversity Offsets Program (BBOP) has published -- biodiversity offset principles, interim guidance (handbooks on biodiversity offset design, cost-benefit analysis and implementation), and  resource papers and case studies -- on their website.

  – To access the resources visit



This ASB initiative will deliver workshops in African and Asian countries, to help national level stakeholders and negotiators negotiate effectively and build strong positions that take into account the opportunities and risks of different REDD scenarios. The ASB Partnership will help ensure that the training is informed by a whole-landscape approach to reducing emissions and increasing carbon stocks. The initiative which received 5 Million NOK (approx $780,000 USD), will be implemented with the International Institute for Sustainable Development.

  – For more information visit


The AfricaAdapt network, which is funded by the joint UK Department for International Development (DFID)/International Development Research Centre (IDRC) Climate Change Adaptation in Africa Programme has launched a new Knowledge Sharing Innovation Fund promoting new ways of sharing knowledge that can help address this problem.The Knowledge Sharing Innovation Fund will offer grants of up to US$10.000 to projects that seek to overcome barriers to share knowledge with ’hard to reach’ or marginalised African communities. These barriers may be related to language, access to information and marginalisation due to gender or disability. Theatre performances, songs, radio broadcasts, visual arts, videos and comics are just a few ideas about how they could be overcome. The key is to ensure these groups can learn and share.Ensuring that vulnerable communities are active in the exchange of African knowledge, best practices and know-how on climate change adaptation is a high priority for AfricaAdapt. These communities are the most directly threatened by climactic impacts, however they also have a wealth of experience in adapting to past changes that could benefit other communities. African researchers, local and civil society organisations, cooperatives and community networks are encouraged to submit their ideas. The first round of submissions opens until 1 August 2009. Shortlisted applicants will be notified by 15 October.

  – For more information visit

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Edited by Ricardo Bayon, Amanda Hawn and Katherine Hamilton

The Guide draws together all the key information on international voluntary carbon markets with commentary from leading practitioners and business people. It covers all aspects of voluntary carbon markets around the world: what they are, how they work and, most critically, their business potential to help slow climate change.

  – Available online at



Authors: Ebeling,J.; Fehse,J.
Produced by: EcoSecurities (2009)

This report explores whether there is a business case for high-biodiversity REDD projects and schemes and how such a business case could be created or promoted. It was commissioned by the Secretariat of the CBD as part of its efforts to support Parties efforts to address reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries.  From the analysis, it is clear that significant potential exists to link the biodiversity conservation and climate change mitigation agendas with current and forthcoming REDD markets and schemes. However, the current business case seems often limited to niche markets and voluntary initiatives.The report however, discusses a range of approaches given below, which could be developed to create a business case for high-biodiversity REDD. For example:

- Voluntary markets do provide a strong commercial incentive to invest in and buy credits from projects with specific biodiversity and social benefit. This is because of the reputational and CSR benefits for corporate buyers that are associated with being perceived as promoting biodiversity conservation and sustainable development. Voluntary markets are however of relatively small size.
- Minimum standards or safeguards could be integrated in an international REDD agreement to limit eligible activities at least to those that prevent negative biodiversity impacts. This could be coupled with reporting and monitoring requirements, and voluntary national-level biodiversity quality standards.
- Non-carbon benefits of forest conservation could be rewarded through broader payment for ecosystem service (PES) schemes.
- Developed countries could adopt ambitious emission targets to create strong demand for carbon credits and at the same time allow the use of REDD credits towards meeting these targets.
- Host countries need to acquire the capacity and create the governance framework to both implement national-level REDD policies and to enable and to promote sub-national and non-governmental REDD activities. This includes reducing corruption and inefficiencies in the forestry and land-use sectors and creating the institutional capacity to create effective incentives on the ground.

The report concludes that fundamentally, creating a strong business case for REDD will be the best and most certain way of creating a business case for high-biodiversity REDD.

  – Available online at



We welcome your feedback, comments and suggestions, including any articles that you may wish to share with our readers. Please send them by e-mail to

Yours sincerely

Alice Ruhweza
Coordinator, East and Southern Africa Katoomba Group


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