Forestry and Poverty Project Newsletter – Issue 22, April 2011

WWF Plans to Dictate What People Buy

WWF recently reiterated its target to achieve a 20 per cent reduction in per capita consumption of paper products in OECD countries by 2020. The tool is to be its ‘Market Transformation Initiative’ (MTI) which aims to pressure processors and retailers to corrupt the supply chain to limit availability of products of which WWF disapproves. Through the strategy, WWF ultimately aim to control key commodity markets and pressure operators to adopt their standards.

This WWF strategy would distort markets by creating barriers to entry of certain products and restricting availability of products to consumers. The effect will be to slow growth in developing countries by influencing consumption habits in the economies that drive their economic growth.

According to the United Nations, global population is projected to grow: by 2025 world population is expected to reach between 7.3 – 8.4 billion up from approximately 6 billion in 2000. Increasing population and economic growth is creating greater demand for pulp and paper products. For instance, global consumption of printing and writing paper has experienced sustained growth, with strong future prospects:

Source: FAO

Increasingly pulp and paper comes from developing economies, with the industry contributing significantly to their development. Traditionally paper producers in North America and Europe are increasingly losing market share to operators in developing countries. The share of traditional producers in industrialized global markets is projected to fall from almost 80 per cent in 1990 to under 50 per cent by 2015.

Indonesia for example, is an emerging producer that is particularly well placed to meet growing demand.  Indonesian industry has already experienced growth with exports of pulp soaring over the past five years.

OECD countries currently account for 50 per cent of global pulp and paper consumption, while making up only 20 per cent of the world’s population. A reduction of consumption in OECD countries would have a negative effect on emerging economies such as Indonesia’s. At the same time, it would not necessarily achieve positive environmental outputs. Forestry is a renewable resource that can assist in economic development while provide valuable environmental services.

Reducing consumption is not an environmental goal – it is a political one.  WWF’s campaign is neither beneficial to the poor, nor the environment.

World Bank Forestry Projects in Liberia Criticized

The World Bank’s Inspection Panel has rejected a request by Global Witness to investigate claims that the Bank’s forestry programme harms indigenous communities in Liberia.

Global Witness claims that the World Bank is “helping to parcel out the country’s tropical forests to companies that lack the necessary expertise or finances to operate and have, in many cases, broken the country’s forestry laws.”

In 2010, the NGO produced a report for the Sustainable Development Institute (SDI) who submitted it on behalf of several communities in Liberia. The report was used by SDI and Friends of the Earth Liberia as background evidence to request the World Bank open an investigation into its forestry program in Liberia. The groups filed an official request that the Bank’s Inspection Panel investigate the World Bank’s Development Forest Sector Management Project in Liberia.

In the report, Global Witness claims that the companies did not produce the jobs or revenue from forestry that was projected. According to the NGO by July 2011, only US$13.7 million in forest taxes will have been collected out of an expected US$107 million.

Based on the NGO’s evidence, the World Bank program is failing to achieve its declared goals. This is not surprising, given the Bank continues to follow the policies of organizations such as WWF, whose objectives include restricting commercial forestry in developing countries. If the Bank wants to achieve sound development outputs, then it must cease adopting the policies of anti-growth environmental NGOs.

At the same time, Global Witness should do a bit of introspective investigation; they continue to support failing forestry related projects by sitting on the UN-REDD policy board. There is now widespread evidence that the REDD pilot projects are similarly failing to deliver the goods, and encouraging more carbon trading scams.

Local Community in Indonesia Requests End to REDD+ Funding from Australia

Local communities are becoming increasingly vocal in their opposition to REDD+ (Reducing Emissions for Deforestation and forest Degradation). In Indonesia a local NGO, Yayasan Petak Danum (YPD), has written to the Australian Government to voice the objections of local communities against a REDD+ Pilot program in Kalimantan. They have asked that the Australian Government withhold funding for the project until their concerns are addressed.

The REDD+ pilot program is part of the Kalimantan Forests and Climate Partnership (KFCP), signed by the governments of Australia and Indonesia in 2007. Australia has committed $30 million to the partnership.

But local communities have raised a number of concerns with the REDD+ project: bias reporting of the project progress; lack of recognition for customary rights; inadequate inclusion of community input in the project and activity design; absence of effective community consultation and engagement; poor understanding of REDD policy; and failing confidence in the international NGOs contracted to implement the pilot project.

Brazilian Forest Service Aims to Expand Logging Areas

The ITTO reported that the Brazilian Forest Service (SFB) has announced its intention to increase forest concession areas for logging companies and forest areas for community management in Brazil.
According to the SFB, at least 35 million hectares of national managed forests are required to meet the current timber demand. The SFB believe there is ample room for forestry expansion, with 50 million hectares of forests which can potentially be turned into national managed forests. SFB have reportedly stated that they intend on speeding up the process for approval of forest concessions.

The announcements come on the back of encouraging assessments of Brazil’s forest resources, suggesting significant improvements in the country’s forestry management.

Data indicates that deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon has stagnated. Brazil-based NGO – Imazon – recently calculated that deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon was stagnant for the 7 months up to February 2011, compared to the same period a year ago. The findings were based on data collected by a satellite-based deforestation tracking system.

According to Brazil’s national institute for space research (Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais) deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon has fallen to the lowest rate on record. Data indicates that deforestation in the Amazon has fallen 75 per cent since 2004.

This has been achieved without controversial carbon trading projects or REDD programmes. Improving national forestry management and strong economic growth are more effective methods of reducing deforestation rates. Brazilian data indicates that responsible commercial forestry has a positive effect on the sustainable management of forest resources. Brazil’s decision to increase national concession areas shows they understand this.

Deforestation in Indonesian Protected Areas Spells Problem for REDD Implementation

New research shows high levels of deforestation in Indonesia’s protected areas, despite an overall decline in national deforestation rates. Documented forest cover loss from within Indonesia’s protected areas raises concerns that the Government will be unable to enforce complex forest carbon projects such as REDD+.

The study, led by Mark Broich of the South Dakota State University, found that the Indonesian provinces of Kalimantan and Sumatra saw widespread forest clearance in conservation and protected areas between 2000 and 2008.

More than 20 per cent of forest clearing occurred in areas where conversion was either restricted or prohibited indicating that the Indonesian government has failed to enforce its forestry laws. At least 6.5% of all mapped forest cover loss occurred in land allocation zones prohibiting clearing, while an additional 13.6 per cent of forest cover loss occurred where clearing is legally restricted.

Researchers mapped forest cover loss for 2000–2008 using remote sensor data and analysed annual trends across official land allocation zones. By analysing and interpreting the annual trends of forest cover loss for different sub-regions of the study area, researchers were able to pinpoint areas with high levels of forest loss.

The study found that the “high observed fraction of forest cover loss in zones where clearing should be restricted, or where clearing is prohibited, points towards a significant potential for reducing forest cover loss in Indonesia via the effective enforcement of existing forest land use designations.”

In other words, effective enforcement of forestry and land-use regulations must be achieved before REDD+ can work. But the finding shows the inability of the Indonesian Government to enforce the conservation of protected areas.

Meanwhile, international donors continue to dream about the potential gains from carbon projects. It is time they got real.

There is some good news, however. Overall forest loss appears to have decreased in recent years. According to the study, forest loss in Sumatra peaked in 2003 and in Kalimantan in 2005. Together, total forest cover loss appears to have decreased by approximately 1,000,000 ha from 2005 to 2008 (roughly 10 per cent of total forest cover loss).

Findings suggest that REDD+ is little more than a development pipe-dream – unworkable and unwarranted.

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