REDD+ projects often need more rigorous monitoring

A recent study by scientists at the Center for International Forestry Research in Indonesia and Wageningen University in the Netherlands, published in Environmental Research Letters (ERL), has found that half of the 20 sampled climate change mitigation (REDD+) projects do not have adequate capacity to monitor, report and verify (MRV) emissions and removals of carbon at their project sites in Brazil, Peru, Cameroon, Tanzania, Indonesia and Vietnam.

Full Paper Environmental Research Letters, Volume 8, Number 3 by Shijo Joseph, Martin Herold, William D Sunderlin and Louis V Verchot:

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“Mikoko Pamoja” Mangrove Conservation & Carbon Offset Project Launched

A PIONEERING project aiming to save endangered African mangrove habitat and pilot small scale atmospheric carbon offset to fight Climate Change was launched on the 3rd October 2013, managed by and raising money for the local Kenyan community.

The official launch of this Payment for Ecosystem Services scheme was held in Gazi village with senior civil servants and politicians set to attend, including the head of the Kenyan Forest Service, in charge of all forestry in the country.

Edinburgh Napier University scientist Professor Mark Huxham and Dr. James Kairo from the Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute (KMFRI) expect to generate $12, 000 per year, covering project costs and with profits going to the local community making the project work, as guardians of the mangroves and the natural assets they provide for the environment. The project is being independently verified by the Plan Vivo Foundation, a charity that helps ensure that carbon offsetting schemes deliver genuine ecological benefits and help communities in the developing world.

The area, 30 miles south of Mombasa, supports mangrove forests that are amongst the most productive eco-systems on Earth.
Thought to be the first community run project of its kind in Africa, ‘Mikoko Pamoja’ meaning ‘Mangroves Together’ in Kiswahili, aims to generate and sell carbon credits to companies and individuals looking to improve their green credentials.

More than 30% of revenue raised will be channelled in to a special community benefit fund, headed by local representatives, for spending on community projects. The rest of the money generated will go towards employing a project coordinator and local labourers to help protect an initial 117 hectares of mangroves and re-plant lost trees along Gazi’s coastline.
As well as offering crucial nursery habitat for marine life and protecting the coastline from storms and tsunamis, mangrove forests are natural carbon sinks. Able to lock and store CO2 in their sediments, the forests help lessen the impacts of global warming. Their carbon storing powers are thought to be on average five times that of tropical rainforests.

Professor Huxham said: “Mangrove forests are one of the world’s most threatened natural ecosystems, with 20% lost in Kenya in the last quarter century. When mangroves are destroyed, usually for building materials or for fuel, the carbon that has been stored in the forest soil and in biomass, built up over thousands of years, is released in to the atmosphere contributing to climate change.”

Dr Kairo said: “Investment in Mikoko Pamoja is a demonstrable triple win for community livelihood improvement, biodiversity conservation and climate change mitigation. Protecting mangroves through Mikoko Pamoja will not only mitigate impacts of climate change, but more importantly will enhance income for communities whose livelihood is tied around mangrove ecosystem.”

Backed by international NGOs – Earthwatch Institute, World Wildlife Fund, The Ecosystem Services for Poverty Alleviation (ESPA) programme, AVIVA PLC and the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) – and working closely with Dr Martin Skov of Bangor University, Professor Maurizio Mencuccini of Edinburgh University and Dr Fiona Nunan of Birmingham University, Dr. Kairo and Prof. Huxham have spent the last decade working with Southern Kenyan communities to protect the disappearing mangrove forests in their areas.
Prof. Huxham said: “Thanks to the work of Earthwatch volunteers and local people we’ve built up an excellent relationship with nearby communities. Mangrove trees are a really important part of everyday life in Gazi Bay and also have spiritual importance to local people.

“The money raised for local development will be spent on projects decided by local people themselves – we have already invested heavily in education and water supplies.”
Recognising the value of Mikoko Pamoja’s potential to improve the lives of poor people in East Africa, the UK’s Ecosystem Services for Poverty Alleviation (ESPA) programme has awarded a new research grant, to fund a similar project in Tanzania.

The Director of ESPA, Professor Paul van Gardingen said “Mikoko Pamoja’s success illustrates the way that science can improve the lives of the poor in developing countries. The long-term partnership between world-leading Kenyan and UK researchers has significantly improved our understanding of how healthy Mangrove ecosystems are essential to the lives of poor and vulnerable people in Kenya.
“Their commitment to work with local communities, supported by Earthwatch and Aviva PLC has helped to turn research into reality. I am very pleased that ESPA is providing new support for this team to extend their work to benefit many more communities in Kenya and Tanzania.”

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Are sector-based approaches to climate change becoming obsolete?

That was the question posed to participants during the World Bank’s Sustainable Development events, a fortnight ago. The central proposition was that climate change is a cross-cutting issue, and so the World Bank’s traditional, sector-based approach is too narrow and will fail to address adequately the unique challenges posed by climate change.

Warren Evans, Senior Adviser at the Sustainable Development Network of the World Bank and moderator of the event, polled participants at the start of session to get their initial views on the proposition, before the ‘programmatic = promised land’ and ‘programmatic = no-man’s land’ arguments were put forward by people on either side of the debate. Speakers included Idah Pswaryi-Riddihough, Director in the South Asia region; Francoise Clottes, Country Director for 13 Caribbean countries; Todd Johnson, Lead Energy Specialist in Colombia and Mexico; Bill Magrath, Lead Natural Resource Economist in South Asia; Stacy Swann, Head of the International Finance Corporation’s (IFC’s) Blended Finance Unit (blending concessional finance with IFC resources); and Tim Brown, Senior Natural Resources Management Specialist in the Indonesia country office.

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Economic valuation of mangrove ecosystem services: fisheries in the Gulf of California

by Jason Murray, Department of Economics, University of California and Octavio Aburto, Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation, Scripps Institution of Oceanography

This project was to determine the economic importance of mangrove forests in Baja California based on their contribution to the fisheries and their susceptibility to human-induced degradation.

The authors examined 13 regions of Baja California and the Gulf of California and compiled 54,679 records, including monthly crustacean and fish landings reported. They extracted records from: the 25 fisheries offices that have mangrove ecosystems within a 50 km range and biological groups related to mangroves in any part of their life cycle, such as blue crab, grunts, snappers, snooks, mojarra, mullets, and marine catfishes. Additionally, they mapped mangrove distribution and extent including coverage data estimated from Landsat Thematic Mapper (TM) satellite images.

1) Fisheries landings increased positively with total mangrove area in all years analyzed and fisheries landings were not significantly correlated to any other environmental variables.

2) The yearly landings for fish and blue crab in the Gulf of California between 2001 and 2005 averaged 11,600 tons, generating an average annual income of US$ 19 million for fishermen and their communities in the 13 fishing regions.

3) Mangroves in the Gulf of California are producing an important amount of food each year. For fish alone, 31.74% of the small-scale fishery landings from 2001 to 2005 comprised species related to mangrove forests.

4) The annual productivity of fringe mangrove alone is approximately US$ 25,000 to US$ 50,000, with a median value of US$ 37,500, on a per hectare basis.

5) Over 30 years, the transformation of one hectare of mangrove fringe would cost local economies around US$ 605,290.

6) These estimates represent only a lower bound because we considered only the local benefits generated by fish and blue crab fishing activities, without taking into consideration indirect and existence values.

7) In the Mexican government administration time frame (6 years), the fisheries-based long-term value of one hectare of fringe mangrove is an astonishing 200 times higher than the standard value established by the Mexican National Forest Commission (CONAFOR; US$ 1,020 ha).

A scientific article with this information was submitted to the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Funding provided by PADI Foundation & the US National Science Foundation


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Watershed Payments Topped $8.17 Billion In 2011

The Ecosystem Marketplace’s State of Watershed Payments 2012 report has been released today. The report is a comprehensive inventory tracking initiatives around the world that are paying individuals and communities to revive or preserve water-friendly features of the landscape.

For this report, China came out as a global leader in watershed investments as the populous nation’s concern over water security grows.

But countries around the world are attempting a variety of approaches that include in-kind payments for farmers who practice sustainable agriculture in Latin America to employing 30,000 people to root out water-hogging invasive plants in South Africa. Overall the report found that the number of water initiatives has doubled since 2008 and the amount of money being funneled into water projects has increased by $2 billion.

Read more on ecosystem marketplace, forest trends and EAFPES

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6th Annual International ESP Conference 2013, 26-30 August 2013, Bali, Indonesia

Organised by ESP and convened by the World Agroforestry Centre and CGIAR Research Program: Forests, Trees and Agroforestry in collaboration with the Sub Global Assessment Program coordinated by UNEP’s World Conservation Monitoring Centre, the UNCCD-Global Mechanism, The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB), the Society for Ecological Restoration (SER), the International Association for Landscape Ecology (IALE), A Community on Ecosystem Services (ACES), and other ESP partners.

Don’t miss your chance to interact and exchange ideas with the rapidly growing network of ESP members, practitioners, educators, policy-makers, researchers, and many others from all continents.
Be part of special sessions and working-groups producing outcomes ranging from journal articles, white papers, book chapters, grant proposals, database structures, websites, and much more.
The emphasis of this 6th International ESP conference will be on the practical application of the ecosystem services concept in planning, management and decision making, and the development of case studies.

Read more on the conference and EAFPES

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Western Indian Ocean meeting on Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) and the opportunities for Climate Compatible Development Mombasa – Kenya, 14th -15th November 2012

Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute (KMFRI) in partnership with the East African Forum for Payment for Ecosystem Services (EAFPES) and iCoast Project are organizing a regional workshop aimed at identifying the conflicts and deficiencies of, and possible solutions to the existing Kenyan environmental policy associated with PES and climate compatible development (CCD).

The objectives of this meeting will be to:

  1. Review the major environmental policies in Kenya, with respect to the opportunities or conflicts they provide for enabling PES and CCD
  2. Prepare a road map on how to incorporate PES into environmental policies
  3. Introduce EAFPES as an important vehicle to promote PES in the region
  4. Official launch of the iCoast project

As a policy workshop, we are inviting participants likely to influence decisions on ecosystem management, development and climate change in Kenya. Invited speakers will strive to provide cross cutting views on the progress made in PES and CCD, the handicaps and how policy is being used as a tool to overcome some of the hurdles.

About EAFPES and iCoast
EAFPES is a regional forum that strives to enhance the transfer of knowledge and expertise on PES in the Western Indian Ocean region

iCoast is a new research project that seeks to better understand how management of coastal ecosystems may be able to support climate compatible development (CCD) through applying the right policy and regulatory framework.
Both EAFPES and iCoast are hosted at the Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute in Mombasa.
For more information visit

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Updated blue carbon portal Continues to provides home for International blue carbon community

GRID-Arendal and Blue Climate Solutions today unveiled the redesigned ‘Blue Carbon Portal’, the world’s premier comprehensive community-based website for all matters related to blue carbon. Blue carbon is a concept that advances the sustainable management of coastal marine ecosystems that store and sequester atmospheric carbon, thereby helping to mitigate climate change.

Blue carbon ecosystems include mangrove forests, seagrass meadows, and saltwater marshes also important for the vital ecosystem services they provide, such as coastal fisheries, shoreline protection, related eco-tourism and the conservation of marine biodiversity.

The Blue Carbon Portal continues its support of the rapidly growing blue carbon community and international efforts such as the United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) Blue Carbon Initiative. It provides a virtual space to increase transparency and accessibility of information, helping initiatives to connect, share ideas and resources.
Features of the Blue Carbon Portal include:

  • The Blue Carbon Blog and social media connectivity (e.g., Twitter Feed);
  • A geospatial map utility depicting global blue carbon projects and initiatives;
  • A resources page for all blue carbon publications, presentations and videos;
  • A calendar of blue carbon events; and
  • A directory of blue carbon initiatives.
  • Read more click here

    “As started in 2010, the redesigned portal is intended as a platform for community development and you will see things change and evolve: new contributors, additional links, resources and much more,” said Steven Lutz, Blue Carbon Project Manager at GRID-Arendal. “We welcome everyone interested or engaged in blue carbon to participate in the development of this site. If you have a blue carbon story or activity that you would like to see incorporated or if you would like to advertise a meeting, or share a new resource then we would love to hear from you.”

    To get involved, contact the Blue Carbon Portal’s administrator via links on the sites web site.

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Blue Ventures carbon offset

Blue Ventures Carbon Offset (BVCO) works to tackle climate change whilst providing economic, social, health & environmental benefits to vulnerable and impoverished communities in developing countries.

BVCO helps you to:
1. calculate your carbon footprint
2. reduce your carbon footprint
3. compensate your carbon footprint in one of BVCO’s community projects

BVCO helps others by:
1. developing and running small scale community energy projects
2. accessing finance for sustainable development

You can help our projects by offsetting your business, lifestyle, air travel or other travel.

BVCO was recently highly commended by industry watchdog, Which? The report, which looks at the rapidly-growing carbon offsetting market and regulations governing the industry, compares 13 offset providers across UK, highlighting the often bewildering confusion that consumers face when chosing a carbon offsetting option. BVCO scored 5 out of 5 for the quality of project details and information provided, and 4 out of 5 for ease of use of its website.

Read more click here.

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The Soil Carbon Challenge

If you want to find out how fast a human can run 100 meters, do you build a computer model, do a literature search, or convene a panel of experts on human physiology to make a prediction?

No, you run a race. Or a series of them.

The Soil Carbon Challenge is an international and local competition to see how fast land managers can turn atmospheric carbon into water-holding, fertility-enhancing soil organic matter.

There’s been tons of talk about soil carbon, the mother of all ecosystem services, but it’s time to show with good data what’s possible, and recognize those land managers who know how enhance soil water capacity, production, and underground biodiversity. Where things are stuck or the way forward is unclear, a competition can supply creative and unconventional solutions. A competition can leapfrog the decades-long cycle of research, pilot projects, legislation, and incentives, and can showcase leadership based on knowhow and performance rather than on politics, promises, or predictions.

Read more click

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