East Africa: An urgent need to monitor the forests

Uganda, 2008.©Center For International Forestry Research/Douglas Sheil
Source: CIFOR, 2017 – Tropical forest landscape in Uganda. Photo credit: Douglas Sheil/CIFOR

ANALYSIS by:  & : – The region looks to a new observatory to help protect its remaining forests.


Africa – East Africa is home to some of the world’s most diverse forests: Montane forests, which include some of the highest and oldest mountains in Africa; coastal forests; Miombo woodlands; tropical rain forests; and mangrove forests.

Like many forested areas across the globe, they are increasingly threatened by agricultural expansion and deforestation for fuelwood and timber purposes.

Although regional authorities, governments, NGOs and international organizations are working hard to protect these forests, without an accurate data set, there is no effective way to monitor the ecological, environmental, and social aspects of these forests.

Today, there are a number of observatories in East Africa monitoring forest activities. However, they lack precise country and regional level data that will help determine future strategies for protecting forests, reporting on countries’ obligations under the Paris Agreement, and evaluating the success of their initiatives under Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) schemes.

ALL ABOUT THE DATA

Experts from the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) are now working with the Regional Center for Mapping Resources for Development (RCMRD) and the French Agricultural Research Center for International Development (CIRAD) to lay the groundwork for a new regional observatory in East Africa.

Throughout the year, scientists will be conducting a comprehensive study to gather forestry data and assess the status of forests, REDD+ activities, institutional systems and monitoring capabilities across four East African countries (Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda).

CONVERSATION: Protecting Tanzania’s Mangroves

This past February, a meeting was held in Nairobi, Kenya, with government representatives from the four countries to get the ball rolling. This new project will draw upon the experience of Observatoire des forêts d’Afrique Centrale (OFAC), a similar observatory now operating in Central Africa.

 

CIFOR scientist Paulo Cerutti, who helped establish OFAC, says the biggest advantage of having an observatory is that the information can be verified by the government.

“The data collected is more reliable because it focuses on a smaller scale, rather than on a global scale.”

Experts like Cerutti point out that global data sets, which are meant to compare larger regions, are not always effective when it comes to smaller regions because they can contain disparities.

GETTING ON THE SAME PAGE

Before the new observatory can become fully operational, all four countries need to have the same capacity and expertise level to effectively contribute to the platform. Currently, the countries have different levels of technical skills, scientific equipment and data collection methods. Even the terms used to describe the types of forests can vary across borders.

The availability of data is another key issue for experts to overcome. For example, in Uganda, information on taxes and revenues from non-timber forest products is not available because they are not formally traded. Meanwhile, in Mozambique, remote sensing data on forests is only available at the national level. In Tanzania, there is a lack of remote sensing data for forest monitoring.

The new observatory would offer the region a more compatible, streamlined data system that would unite the four countries. It would also provide a new avenue for regional collaboration.

“The Observatory will provide strong opportunities for synergies between the different focal points in each country and strengthen national capacity to monitor the forests,” says Alfred Gichu, head of the Climate Change Response Program at the Kenya Forest Service.

Countries in the region would be able to access a platform for sharing, exchanging and accessing data and information related to regional forests and REDD+. It would also provide a unified system for reporting on each country’s obligations to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Stakeholders agree that regional cooperation gives everyone an opportunity to share their experiences and challenges and to build a stronger platform for the entire region.

“The Observatory will help bring East Africa together as a collective working group to give it a voice in high-level discussions,” says Joaquim Macuácua from Mozambique’s Department of Inventory of Forest Resources.

Experts point out that the current lack of coordination is resulting in different agencies producing the same data.

“The Observatory will help avoid this duplication of efforts across the region, and even within individual countries,” says Mugisa Micheal, the executive director of Uganda’s National Forestry Authority.

NEXT STEPS

The project will be carried out through March 2018. Upon its completion, a database and website for the regional forestry observatory will be developed. This data will be made available to the public through the Observatory.

Additionally, a thorough analysis of the state of forests and REDD+ activities across the four countries will be completed.

If these above objectives are successfully met, a five-year project will then be initiated to bring the Observatory to life as part of the project’s second phase.


For more information on this topic, please contact Esther Mwangi at e.mwangi@cgiar.org or Laura Vanessa Mukhwana at l.mukhwana@cgiar.org. This research forms part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry. This research was supported by the European Commission.


 

 


Article Disclaimer: This article was published by the contributors of the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and was retrieved on 04/28/2017 and posted at INDESEEM for information and educational purposes only. The views and contents of the article remain those of the authors. We will not be held accountable for the reliability and accuracy of the materials. If you need additional information on the published contents and materials, please contact the original authors and publisher. Please cite the authors, original source, and INDESEEM accordingly.


 

 

 

Collective forest tenure reforms: Where do we go from here?

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Source: CIFOR 2017. The March 2017 – World Bank Conference on Land and Poverty provided an important forum to reflect on collective land tenure reforms. Photo credit: CIFOR

 


ANALYSIS – A scientist’s reflection on the 2017 World Bank Conference on Land and Poverty


The recent World Bank Conference on Land and Poverty, held this past March in Washington D.C., provided a unique opportunity to reflect on collective land tenure reforms not only from a research point of view, but also from that of governments.

The Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) organized a South-South Exchange at the Conference, as part of its Global Comparative Study on Forest Tenure Reforms. Seven government officials from Peru, Colombia, Indonesia, Nepal, Uganda and Kenya were invited to participate. These officials represented land offices from Latin America and forestry offices from Africa and Asia.

The Conference speakers and participants provided me with much room for thought on the subject of land tenure reforms, which I will outline below.

Tenure reform: Lessons from the Global South
Overall, the topic of collective tenure reforms reminded me of that simple chromatography experiment in elementary school where you put black ink on a wet coffee filter and watch the colors of the spectrum emerge and spread.

 

The black ink represents the idea of forest reforms to recognize or grant rights to communities living in or near forests. Although some developing countries began to address such issues by the early 20th century – such as Mexico, which granted land (including forest land) rights to communities after the 1910-1917 revolution – the ink hit the wet coffee filter in a few key Asian countries (i.e. Nepal and India) in the late 1970s and for most countries after 1980. Others are just beginning to consider community forest rights.

FIRST-GENERATION QUESTIONS ON REFORM: CONTENT AND EXTENT OF RIGHTS

The result today is that some countries are still grappling with first-generation questions, while others have moved on to the other colors in the spectrum, including second and third-generation challenges.

The former were exemplified at the Conference in the frustrations of those who have been working on these issues for 10 to 20 years or more, who asked, “Haven’t we come further than this by now?”

But some countries are still questioning what types of rights (content, extent, duration), if any, communities should have over forests and/or forestland.

In fact, it is notable that even in the countries that have moved into second and third -generation questions, this first question is still relevant. It concerns new geographical locations, new rights and the relationship between land and forest rights.

In Colombia, as discussed during CIFOR’s Policy Roundtable at the Conference by Andrea Olaya, Principal Advisor to Colombia’s National Land Agency, this refers to new institutions emerging from the recent peace accords, as well as the demand for land from former combatants and displaced peoples in relation to existing rights.

In Indonesia, it refers to the new “asset agrarian reform”, as stated by Pak Hadi Daryanto, Director General for Social Forestry and Environmental Partnership at the Indonesian Ministry of Environment and Forestry. These reforms resulted in the return of the first 13,000 hectares of customary land to nine indigenous communities in January of this year.

 

Ronald Salazar, Director of Agrarian Property and the Rural Cadaster Office at Peru’s Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation, pointed out that the distinction between forest rights and land rights in Peru leads to separate laws and government institutions. This is not uncommon among countries, and follows a logic that people in communities may find baffling, or outright oppose. For instance, indigenous activists in Peru are now demanding that their titles recognize “territorial integrity,” covering not only agriculture and pasture but also forestlands.

This fundamental question about what rights for communities also concerns rollbacks to rights where new demands, or sometimes political and economic constituencies, threaten rights that had already been recognized, such as those behind economic reforms in Peru or Brazil.

SECOND-GENERATION QUESTIONS: TENURE SECURITY AND LIVELIHOODS

The second-generation questions are about rights protection and livelihoods. Formal rollbacks are not the only challenges to tenure security. Even after formal recognition, communities need access to justice if rights are infringed upon or eliminated.

And even secure rights are not enough to secure livelihoods. As one government official said during a private forum: “Why do we have reforms if not also to improve livelihoods?”

At the Policy Roundtable, Krishna Prasad Acharya, Director General of the Department of Forests at Nepal’s Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation, said there are now 20,000 organized groups in Nepal, and forest area has increased from 39 percent to 44 percent, but more still needs to be done to support forest use and management.

At the same event, Gerardo Segura, Senior Natural Resource Specialist at the World Bank, highlighted the importance of removing barriers to communities for forest management.

“Tenure reforms take time, but are urgent”

Gerardo Segura, Senior Natural Resource Specialist at the World Bank

THIRD-GENERATION QUESTIONS: GENDER AND ELITE CAPTURE

Third-generation questions are focused on problems such as community differentiation, gendered outcomes and how to prevent elite capture at the community level – that is, assuring that livelihood improvements reach those most in need.

At the Policy Roundtable, Dr. Prasad noted that women leaders are emerging in community forestry in Nepal. Bob Kazungo, Senior Forestry Officer at Uganda’s Ministry of Water and Environment, spoke of the importance of affirmative action and a gendered approach.

On other panels, speakers expressed concern that reforms may be detrimental to women’s tenure rights. For example, researchers reported cases where rights were registered to men as household heads, whereas under customary systems both men and women had previously held rights.

GENDER & TENURE
Advancing equality in Uganda

 

Emilio Mugo, Director of the Forest Service at Kenya’s Ministry of Environment and Water, asked: “How do we address community leaders who, on the one hand, serve as custodians, but on the other, play the role of gatekeepers?” This question speaks to institutional strengthening as a way to fight elite capture.

WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?

The invited officials were quick to distinguish themselves as public servants, from the politicians who define policy direction and priorities. Dr. Mary Goretti Kitutu, Ugandan State Minister for the Environment, introduced herself on the Roundtable as “the only politician here” and stressed the importance of packaging information on tenure and linking it to development, in order to reach politicians. Dr. Daryanto highlighted the importance of having the budgets necessary for implementation.

When asked by the audience how officials should “insulate themselves from politics”, Dr. Mugo reminded them, “Everything you touch in natural resources is political.” This underscores the importance of building a community of practice and coalitions for change.

“Everything you touch in natural resources is political.”

Emilio Mugo, Director of the Forest Service, Kenya’s Ministry of Environment and Water

No country has addressed all forest demands from communities, and most still face competing claims or outright opposition to the recognition of collective forest tenure rights.

On the one hand, these three generations of questions suggest that countries are at different places and thus, research for impact needs to prioritize accordingly.

On the other hand, they highlight the importance of South-South exchanges and knowledge sharing. As some countries begin to address the multi-colored spectrum of challenges, mutual learning can suggest ways to address complex issues such as tenure security, livelihoods, and gender from the beginning of reform processes, therefore increasing the potential for success.


For more information on this topic, please contact Anne Larson at a.larson@cgiar.org.

This research forms part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry. This research was supported by FAO, IFAD, EC and GEF.



Article Disclaimer: This article was published by the contributors of the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and was retrieved on 04/26/2017 and posted at INDESEEM for information and educational purposes only.The views and contents of the article remain those of the authors. We will not be held accountable for the reliability and accuracy of the materials. If you need additional information on the published contents and materials, please contact the original authors and publisher. Please cite the authors, original source, and INDESEEM accordingly.


Sharing results of a project to increase farmers’ production in Senegal

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Photo Credit: Gert-Jan Stads/IFPRI A girl sells mangoes at a roadside stand in Senegal. Participants at recent workshops reviewed the achievements of a pilot program to help Senegalese smallholder farmers boost production with cash transfers and management planning.


Workshops reveal successes, inform agricultural policies

APRIL 17, 2017


Since 2014, IFPRI’s Markets, Trade and Institutions Division has partnered with FONGS, a federation of farmers’ associations in Senegal, and GRET, an international NGO, to test a pilot program that provides smallholder farmers with cash transfers and assistance in preparing farm management plans. Toward the end of the project, FONGS led a series of workshops and village-level meetings in which partners shared results (PDF), developed a deeper understanding of how the project affected local households, and discussed lessons learned with stakeholders at several different levels. The process capitalized on FONGS’ skills, experience, and networks to enable a deeper understanding of the project’s quantitative and qualitative results and to strengthen the project’s impacts on both policy and future interventions.

The process began with three four-day workshops, covering each of the project’s three geographical zones. Each workshop grouped together representatives from IFPRI, FONGS, and GRET, as well as leaders and project facilitators (“animateurs”) from implementing farmers’ associations and some household heads from each of the project’s treatment groups. These workshops provided a platform for partners to discuss results with project implementers and beneficiaries and also prepared animateurs to conduct village-level meetings in each of the 120 project villages.

A pair of animateurs then visited each village to facilitate a meeting with both beneficiary and non-beneficiary households. Animateurs shared the key project results discussed during the initial workshops with meeting attendees, and beneficiary households shared their perceptions of project services. This allowed the project implementers to gain first-hand knowledge of perceived strengths and weaknesses of the project; these perceptions were then passed on to FONGS.

Many households reported that the project helped them to increase their agricultural production through the adoption of new practices, including improved crop planning and storage. Other households suggested that project services could be improved by providing beneficiaries with much-needed information related to climate and market prices, while building the capacity of animateurs so that they would be better able to advise farmers on a wide range of topics. Confirming our empirical results, many households also suggested widening the services provided to include more households across the country.

FONGS reported that these meetings provided an ideal setting for project beneficiaries to shed light on project results and to suggest future actions to help further address their needs. The emphasis on sharing results and discussion at the end of the project also provided an important way to build buy-in from farmers and to lay the groundwork for strong partnerships in the future; beneficiary households expressed appreciation for this involvement and for the opportunity to share their experiences and concerns.

The results-sharing activities culminated with a national workshop in Dakar on January 31, attended by the three partners as well as by representatives from farmers’ associations and numerous governmental and non-governmental stakeholders (including CNCR, ANSD, DAPSA, ANCAR, AFAO/WAWA, and ISRA). This workshop gave IFPRI and FONGS a chance to share results from the project with Senegalese policy actors, as well as to discuss future adaptations and research gaps.

Disseminating results to these national policy actors, who are involved in designing policy in Senegal and are part of West African agricultural networks, will reinforce some of the project’s impacts at the national and regional level. For example, FONGS is one of 28 member organizations of the CNCR (the National Council for Rural Dialogue and Cooperation), a member of the West African agricultural initiative ROPPA. The CNCR will seek to share and scale up lessons learned from this project among their other member organizations in Senegal, as well as in the other 13 country-level organizations across West Africa.

The national workshop was particularly timely, as the CNCR and Senegal’s national Ministry of Agricultural and Rural Equipment (MAER) recently negotiated a national agricultural program called the National Scheme for Local Support of Family-Owned Farms, or SNAAP/EF, a partnership between the government and farmers’ associations. FONGS is a member of the SNAAP/EF national committee, and plans to integrate several recommendations from the project into SNAAP/EF, including improved advisory services and the use and adaptation of several project tools and procedures. The committee will also be proposing a draft ministerial decree to establish SNAAP/EF as a long-term component of Senegal’s agricultural policy.

End-of-project meetings and workshops such as these can play an important role in constructing an enabling environment for future interventions. The meetings and workshop ensured that stakeholders who both make and benefit from agricultural policy in Senegal were informed of our project results; and that beneficiaries could share their voices about ways to alleviate constraints faced by smallholder farmers and to improve agricultural policy in the region.

Anna Vanderkooy is a Project Coordinator with IFPRI’s Markets, Trade, and Institutions Division (MTID) based in Dakar; Kate Ambler is a Research Fellow with MTID; Susan Godlonton is an Assistant Professor of Economics at Williams College; Alan de Brauw is a Senior Research Fellow with MTID.

 


Article Disclaimer: This article was published by the contributors of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and was retrieved on 04/24/2017 and posted at INDESEEM for information and educational purposes only. The views and contents of the article remain those of the authors. Please cite the original source accordingly.


 

A new era for development

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On the island of Lesbos, Greece, a newly arrived refugee from Syria is carried by a volunteer, himself a former refugee. The UN’s role in supporting refugees is one of the most visible reminders of why the UN is needed © UNICEF/UNI197517/Gilbertson V

By Jeremy Greenstock Chairman, United Nations Association – UK, Natalie Samarasinghe Executive Director, United Nations Association – UK


Making the SDGs count will require global cooperation, public involvement and effective institutions that transcend the buzzwords of “partnerships”, “engagement” and “reform”

The adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris agreement on climate change in 2015 – a year marked by instability and violence – is testament to the UN’s enduring ability to forge global solutions.

Since 1945, the UN has worked to realise the vision expressed in its Charter of “social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom”. Most people today live longer, healthier and freer lives. For all their flaws, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were arguably the most successful anti-poverty initiative in history. Over the past 15 years, the goals have served as a development blueprint, generating programmes and funding that have helped to lift over a billion people out of extreme poverty, fight hunger and boost health and education.

The extent to which the UN deserves credit for these developments is debated. But there are areas where its impact is obvious, in the targeted campaigns on maternal and infant health and on school enrolment for example. Less successful areas – such as gender equality and a fairer trade system – are invariably those that require greater political will and cultural compromise, and broader social and structural transformation.

As we embark on the SDGs, the context for progress is dramatically different from that of 2000. Today, we are witnessing the fading effect of the UN’s guiding principles in restraining nationalistic ambitions, as well as rising big power tensions and cross-border extremism. Recent conflicts have broken the 70-year downward trend in casualties and contributed to the biggest displacement crisis since records began.

Global economic power has shifted east and south, and financial volatility has triggered crises on all continents. Twenty years ago, 93 per cent of the world’s poor lived in low-income countries. Now, the Institute of Development Studies reports that 72 per cent are in middle-income countries. This should generate a re-think in development assistance and trade/investment approaches.

Inequality has emerged as a key challenge. While the number of people in the working middle class (living on more than $4 a day) almost tripled between 1991 and 2015, the gap between rich and poor has barely narrowed. This year, Oxfam reported that the world’s richest 62 people own as much as the poorest 50 per cent. Many experts acknowledge that lifting the ‘next billion’ out of extreme poverty, and improving the lot of those who fall just outside that definition, will be much harder.

Aid – as a concept and practice – is increasingly challenged, driven by domestic pressures in donor countries, but also by calls for transparency and results by people in recipient countries. It is also a much smaller element of the funding mix, as foreign direct investment, remittances and portfolio equity flows have grown.

The impact of conflict, human rights abuses, poor governance and climate change on development is now more widely understood and accepted. This is clear from the range of issues covered by the SDGs.

The number of development actors, too, has increased. New institutions, regional organisations, companies and NGOs are now heavily involved in policy-making, delivery, financing and evaluation. In many environments, they are the leading actors.

And then there is the growing voice of the people, who are making themselves heard by taking to the streets, to social media and movements, and to the ballot box, where populist leaders are increasingly gaining ground.

This latest volume in UNA-UK’s global development goals series brings together authors – from the UN, national governments, business, academia and civil society – to provide an appraisal of the SDGs and the context for achieving them, as well as evidence-based recommendations on implementation. From the range of issues covered, four themes emerge:

  • This is a universal agenda – the goals require all 
 countries, developed and developing, to undertake 
 programmes within their own borders and to work
 together on major structural reforms, such as 
 improvements to international financial and tax systems.
  • This is a local agenda – targets need to be prioritised 
 and adapted at the community level. This is a key 
 lesson from the MDG period, during which gains on 
 the ground were often delivered by small-scale NGOs 
 that understood their beneficiaries and worked closely 
 with them.
  • This is a collective agenda – implementing the goals 
 will require global cooperation on a scale and 
 intensity that transcends traditional concepts of 
 ‘partnership’. The global mobilisation to tackle HIV/
 AIDS and CFCs are two examples of successful cross-
 sectoral collaboration.
  • This is a people’s agenda – civil society is more 
 than NGOs. People must be involved in the design, 
 delivery, monitoring and evaluation of the SDGs 
 on an ongoing basis. This will improve effectiveness 
 as well as accountability, and sufficient time, money 
 and energy must be spent on facilitating meaningful 
 participation.

What role should the UN play in this? The last two articles in this volume focus on institutional change and leadership. Both are vital to addressing the reforms needed, as well as the bigger question of whether the UN should move away from on-the-ground delivery over the next 15 years and focus on capacity building, advocacy and funding.

In this regard, the appointment of a new Secretary-General in 2016 offers opportunities. UNA-UK has played a leading role in 1 for 7 Billion – the global campaign for a selection process that genuinely engages all UN member states and civil society.

International peace is invariably at the top of any Secretary-General’s agenda, but this has been reinforced by the selection process, which has hitherto put the decision in the hands of the Security Council, guided by five rich military powers, instead of the wider UN membership that is more development-oriented. This time, broader involvement, including by civil society and the media, is likely to result in more emphasis on development, particularly in the first ‘implementation’ year of the SDGs.

A better selection process, along with a single term of office, could give the next post-holder a stronger mandate to deliver on these commitments, and free her or his hand in making high-quality appointments, particularly a Deputy Secretary-General who could focus on the development system.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was instrumental in galvanizing support for the SDGs. It is only fitting that his successor takes up the mantle by generating serious debate on the structural and operational changes needed at the UN to achieve them.


Article Disclaimer: This article was published by Sustainable Goals and was retrieved on 04/21/2017 and posted at INDESEEM for information and educational purposes only. The views and contents of the article remains those of the authors. Please cite the original source accordingly.


 

Explainer: What is carbon farming and the Emissions Reduction Fund?

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PHOTO: Under carbon farming, Fairlight Station can get carbon credits worth millions. (Supplied: Cheree Callaghan)

As the pot of money for carbon farming projects runs out, ABC Rural explains what the Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) is and how agricultural projects have benefited.


What is the ERF auction?

The Emissions Reduction Fund is an allocation of $2.55 billion of Federal Government money to pay for carbon abatement projects.

The energy sector is not able to participate in the scheme.

The government is the only buyer, so it’s taxpayer money, not private sector finance, paying for the carbon credits.

The scheme works via a reverse auction system, so proponents put in their lowest bid of what they can afford to do for the price.

The first auction was held in April 2015 and there is $440 million remaining in the fund for the fifth auction.

So far, the ERF has bought contracts to abate 180 million tonnes of carbon for up to 10 or 20 years.

The results from the fifth ERF auction held on April 3 will be announced on April 13.

What projects have been winners?

Australia’s system of awarding carbon offsets for carbon farming is considered one of the highest quality, best regulated, and with the strongest legal backing of any carbon offsets in the world, according to the Climate Institute.

Avoided deforestation:

The first auction spent $660 million, with the majority going to a small area of drought-affected NSW.

Sixty per cent of the contracts were awarded to projects at Bourke and Cobar, in western New South Wales, where farmers committed to avoiding clearing native vegetation.

Since then, up to 115 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) has been contracted from landholders around Australia, fencing off native vegetation or creating new plantings.

Methane from piggeries:

Methane is a greenhouse gas that is 23 times heavier than carbon dioxide.

By collecting methane off effluent dams and generating biogas, piggeries can power their sheds and sell electricity back to the grid.

So far, 11 piggeries have registered with the ERF, for $10.4 million, to abate 200,000 tonnes of CO2e.

This equates to 13.5 per cent of Australia’s pork being sourced from farms with biogas systems.

Piggeries with more than 500 sows can potentially save up to $5 on the cost of producing each pig.

Savanna burning:

Raging savanna fires contribute 4 per cent of Australia’s greenhouse gases.

Savanna burning projects have won contracts for northern Australian Indigenous landowners and graziers, where mosaic burns are conducted in cooler months of January to June to reduce hot tropical fires.

Cattle, sheep producers:

Meat and Livestock Australia calculated that of the first three auctions, $1.7 billion spent by the ERF, landholders and red meat producers had won 65 per cent or $1.1 billion worth of contracts.

Since then there have been more.

The money largely went to projects for revegetation, avoided deforestation, pig methane offsets, soil carbon, and savannah burning.

Overall, the ERF has delivered timely income for farmers, generating $239 million annual revenue for landholders, according to the Australian Farm Institute.

Is the scheme flawed?

Economists argue many projects would have been done anyway as good business sense.

The price started higher, at $14 per tonne of carbon dioxide, when landholders in western NSW were big winners.

A handful of landowners fenced off native vegetation, protected it from feral animals and weeds, and secured 60 per cent of the first auction contracts, at least $300 million over 10 years.

Paul Burke, an environmental economist at the Australian National University, said it was an expensive way to buy carbon offsets that could have been done anyway, to make economic sense.

“Large sums of money, often many times the value of the land, have been awarded to projects for little effort,” Dr Burke said in September 2016.

Since then, the price for carbon has been pushed so low that other critics claim many seeking contracts find it is not worth their while.

Reputex, analysts of energy and emissions markets, said many contracts already secured were “stranded” seeking better carbon prices on the voluntary market overseas.

Why are greenhouse gas emissions still growing?

On current government figures, based on 2016 carbon dioxide levels, Australia’s emissions will grow by 10 per cent by 2030, to 592 million tonnes a year.

That is falling well short of the Paris commitment to reduce emissions by 26 to 28 per cent on 2005 levels over that time.

Analysts point to a lack of focus on energy, despite the closure of the Hazelwood power station in Victoria.

“While 80 per cent of Australia’s emissions come from burning fossil fuels, 80 per cent of the Government’s Emission Reduction Fund has been spent on land carbon sequestration,” Reputex stated.

In its 2016 report, the Climate Council said burning of Australian fossil fuels both here and overseas, produced 6.5 times as much carbon as the land can sequester.

“While storing carbon on land is useful for combating climate change, it is no replacement for reducing fossil fuel emissions,” Martin Rice and Will Steffen from the Climate Council said.

Eighty per cent of the money from ERF is dedicated to land emissions, which has managed to secure only three per cent abatement a year, while emissions from fossil fuels continue to contribute 75 to 80 per cent of our greenhouse gases.

Is there any more money?

Industries are closely watching the forthcoming Federal budget to deliver more money for landholders to sequester carbon.

A Federal review of climate change policy was released on March 27 this year. A six-week public consultation period is open until May 5.

The review states that Australia’s commitment to the Paris climate change agreement of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 26 to 28 per cent on 2005 levels by 2030.

It expects Australians will halve their emissions, per capita, and energy intensity will be reduced by two thirds.

A statement from Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg gave no indication there was any consideration for more money in the budget. The statement said the government’s climate policy was under review.

“The government is committed to adopting a non-ideological approach to emissions reduction to ensure we secure the lowest cost of abatement,” the statement said.


Article Disclaimer: This article was published by the contributors of the ABC Australia and was retrieved on 04/16/2017 and posted at INDESEEM for information and educational purposes only. The views and contents of the article remain those of the authors. Please cite the original source accordingly.


 

Using tropical microbes to improve the environment

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Source: Phsy.org, 2017. Researchers found that bioencapsulated brine shrimp larvae (pictured) provide a level of disease protection to a commonly eaten fish in Asia, called climbing perch. Credit: Napat Polchoke / 123rf Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2017-04-tropical-microbes-environment.html#jCp

Researchers in Malaysia are harnessing properties in tropical microbes to address a variety of environmental, agricultural and aquacultural issues.

Dr. Adeline Ting Su Yien and her colleagues at Monash University’s School of Science are investigating the highly diverse genetic pool of tropical microbes for crop improvement; disease control in agriculture and in aquaculture; the removal of toxic metals and dyes from the environment; and accelerating waste recycling.

“The general idea is to tap into the diversity of microbes in the tropics, as we are a region rich with various microbial species,” explains Ting. “We emphasize the use of novel groups of microbes, such as the indigenous microflora of the fish gut system, endophytes [fungi that live in plants] and non-white rot fungi for applications.”

The team has discovered, for example, that native bacteria in fish guts have the potential to be used as probiotics to protect other fish grown in aquaculture against diseases.

Brine shrimp larvae are commonly used as fish feed and are therefore the most appropriate vector for delivery of probiotics. The researchers isolated and cultured the bacterium Lactococcus lact is from catfish and treated brine fish larvae with a suspension of the bacteria, a process known as ‘bioencapsulation’. The larvae were investigated and found to have a higher nutritional quality compared to larvae that weren’t bioencapsulated with the bacteria. The team then fed the bioencapsulated brine shrimp larvae to a commonly eaten fish in Asia called climbing perch and found it offered the a level of disease protection.

Using tropical microbes to improve the environment
Formulations made with strains of Streptomyces bacteria found in soil had antibacterial and antifungal properties that could be used to protect banana crops from the fungal-borne Panama wilt disease. Credit: Anont Wongfun / 123rf

The team also found that formulations made with strains of Streptomyces bacteria commonly found in soil had antibacterial and antifungal properties that could be used to protect banana crops from the fungal-borne Panama wilt disease. Plants can also be protected from wilt disease by extracting organisms—called endophytes—that live in plants to ‘pre-colonize’ other target plants.

In another study, the researchers extracted common fungi from river sediments, indoor wastewater, and plants to use in the removal of and dyes from the environment. For example, they extracted the common fungus Trichoderma asperellum from the Penchala River in Kuala Lumpur and found it had the potential to remove triphenylmethane dyes (used extensively in the textile, leather, food, pharmaceutical, cosmetic and paper industries) from the water.

The Monash University researchers also isolated a filamentous bacterium called Actinomycete from empty fruit bunches of oil palms. They found that these bacteria could be used to accelerate the composting process of these empty fruit bunches, in addition to being used as biocontrol agents against Ganoderma boninense, a serious pathogen of the oil palm.

The team next plans to look for bioactive compounds produced by endophytes living in medicinal plants. “Our preliminary studies show endophytes from medicinal are highly diverse and have good antimicrobial and antioxidant properties,” says Ting. The researchers will also further develop the microbes identified in their studies for potential use in large-scale settings.

Using tropical microbes to improve the environment
The fungus from the Penchala River in Kuala Lumpur has the potential to remove dyes in the textile, leather, food, pharmaceutical, cosmetic and paper industries from water. Credit: Anirut Rassameesritrakool / 123rf

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