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Since 2009, companies have announced new oil palm plantation projects in the Congo Basin covering a total area of 1.6 million hectares. Projects currently underway cover 500,000 hectares. A new report by Rainforest Foundation UK warns that vast areas of the Congo Basin forests are potentially threatened by the expansion of oil palm plantations.

The report, “Seeds of Destruction” (pdf file, 4.7 MB), includes case studies of three of the companies involved. A company called Atama Plantations SARL has started clearing forest in the Republic of Congo for a 180,000 hectare plantation. Rainforest Foundation UK investigated the companies behind Atama Plantations and found a “web of ‘shell’ companies registered in secretive tax havens”.

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A new report from FERN and the Forest Peoples Programme concludes that the safeguards put in place by the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership (FCPF) are inadequate. The report looks at eight Readiness Preparation Proposals (R-PPs) submitted to the FCPF and finds that FCPF safeguards are not clear and do not conform to the World Bank’s own safeguards.

This is FERN and FPP’s second report focussing on the FCPF. A 2008 report, “Cutting Corners” reviewed the REDD concept notes presented to the FCPF and concluded that the process had been rushed “with little or no consultation with indigenous peoples, local communities or civil society organisations, and failed to meet the Bank’s own standards.”

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The forests in the Congo Basin, the second largest area of tropical forest in the world, are receiving increasing interest. Enormous amounts of carbon are stored in these forests, meaning that REDD proponents are increasingly looking at these forests to “offset” continued pollution in the rich countries.

This new short report from World Rainforest Movement calls into question some of the assumptions behind this enthusiasm for REDD in the Congo. The report, “REDD in the Congo” can be downloaded here (pdf file 1.4 MB) and is posted in full below.

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The Australian carbon trading company Shift2Neutral aims to become “the leading neutraliser of carbon emissions in the world”. The company appeared to come closer realising its aim this week when Reuters reported that Shift2Neutral “signed a deal aimed at protecting tropical forests in the Democratic Republic of Congo as well as boosting renewable energy there”.

If true, this would be by far the biggest REDD-type deal between a private company and a government. But is the deal really what it appears to be? As with other Shift2Neutral announcements, little information about the DR Congo deal is publicly available. REDD-Monitor has asked a series of questions to Brett Goldsworthy, chairman of Shift2Neutral, and looks forward to posting his response.

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The Congo Basin forest is the second largest in the world after the Amazon. It accounts for one quarter of the world’s remaining tropical forest and covers an area of 1.8 million square kilometres. Clearly, whatever comes out of Copenhagen on REDD has to work in the Congo Basin.

Two new reports take a critical look at REDD in the Congo Basin. The first, “Global Climate Politics in the Congo Basin: Unprecedented Opportunity or High-risk Gamble?” is written by Korinna Horta of International Finance, Development and Environment, and published by Heinrich Böll Stiftung. The second, “Why Congo Basin countries stand to lose out from a market based REDD“, is written by Kate Dooley of FERN.

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From November 18-20, 2008, over 30 indigenous peoples and civil society representatives from throughout the Congo Basin gathered in Kinshasa to discuss forests, climate change, and proposed mechanisms for reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD). We report below on the outcomes.

 

One of the principal objectives of the meeting was to reorient the forest-climate debate from its current focus on financing to those issues and actions that indigenous peoples in the Congo Basin believe are necessary to ensure effective protection of the forests and the communities that live in and depend on them.

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