Despite the huge potential of Mozambique’s 40 million hectares of natural forests, they are being rapidly depleted at a yearly annual rate of approximately 0.35 per cent, representing an annual loss of almost 140,000 hectares.

This rapid rate of deforestation is posing huge risks to rural livelihoods and biodiversity habitats, and on top of this, the amount of greenhouse gas emissions generated by deforestation is significant.

In response to this, The World Bank is supporting Brazil and Mozambique’s cooperation on the matter, particularly with regard to sustainable rural development.

With that in mind, a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) covering a range of issues from land management and biodiversity to climate change mitigation was signed on 11 May between the two countries.

Oldemiro Baloi, Mozambique’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, said: “We are pleased with this MoU with Brazil and the World Bank. We look forward to learning from Brazil’s commendable efforts to promote sustainable rural development.”

“This MoU is also unique in that it is a tripartite agreement between two countries with a long history of collaboration, and a key development partner.”

Brazil and Mozambique share many of the same challenges and opportunities. Both countries are ecologically rich and grapple with exploitation challenges. Brazil’s experience in supporting natural resource-dependent communities and managing large forest ecosystems will aid Mozambique’s efforts to improve the lives of their rural population and promote sustainable resource management.

“We are happy to strengthen this relationship through this MoU” says Aloysio N. Ferreira, Minister of Foreign Affairs Brazil. “We remain available and eager to contribute to Mozambique’s efforts towards the promotion of sustainable rural development, and glad to learn about Mozambique’s experiences.”

Bookmark and Share

The USA’s first ever high-rise wooden structure has been given the go ahead after US legislation banning buildings with load-bearing wooden structures over 30 metres tall was overturned.

After rigorous testing to meet seismic, acoustic and fire requirements, the 12-storey building in Portland’s Pearl District which was designed by Lever Architecture to be built from mass timber, has been approved for construction by the State of Oregon and the City of Portland.

Recently, wood has become an increasingly popular choice for architects, with some even claiming that timber is set to be the ‘architectural wonder material of the 21st century’ – taking over from steel and concrete.

“Receiving a permit is a critical juncture for Framework and demonstrates the feasibility of using wood to build high-rise buildings in the US,” said project developer Anyeley Hallova.

“With our path now clear to start building, Framework will start to unlock the demand for mass timber products at all scales justifying new investment into rural manufacturing and job creation.”

Steve Lovett, CEO of the Softwood Lumber Board organisation that contributed to the research and development work on the project, added: “The innovations in wood construction that are part of the design of the Framework building will help change how America builds in the years to come.”

At the end of 2016, a seven-storey mass-timber building was finished in Minneapolis, but this 12-storey construction will overtake it as the largest.

Elsewhere on the continent, new details of Shigeru Ban’s plans for the “world’s tallest hybrid timber structure” in Vancouver have been revealed.

Bookmark and Share

In recent years, as the social, economic and environmental benefits of our forests have become more widely understood, governments across the world have begun to mobilise in an effort to protect their own.

The process can sometimes be costly and so funds, bonds and private investment opportunities are often touted as the means to a greener future.

A recent example of this came at the end of last year when the International Finance Corporation (IFC) issued an innovative bond to support a project in the Kasigau Corridor of east Kenya.

This project is one of the largest to have ever been approved under the UN’s REDD+ programme – an initiative to reduce deforestation, among other things.

The new project will enable thousands of rural farmers to benefit from a voluntary agreement to protect an important migration corridor for endangered elephants.

The five-year bond was originally sized between $75 million and $150 million but was increased to $152 million in response to strong demand.

A special feature of the bond is investor’s choice to either have the coupon paid in cash, carbon credits, or a combination of the two. By receiving carbon credits you can offset some of your carbon footprint or sell them in the voluntary offset market.

However, “If investors choose cash, then BHP takes the credits, thereby ensuring that the project gets an assured minimum revenue every year for the next five years,” explained Vikram Widge, head of IFC climate finance and policy.

Currently, deforestation and forest degradation account for around 20 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions. It’s estimated that this initiative will help to sequester 11.8 million tonnes of carbon dioxide over its lifetime.

In addition, the sale of the REDD+ credits will provide revenues for wildlife conservation, jobs for women and other benefits for local communities.

This latest project is being hailed as a viable model for others to replicate similar investments in the fight against deforestation.

Bookmark and Share

In a positive step against the ongoing fight against deforestation, Gabon has signed an $18 million deal to protect woodland and cut its carbon emissions by half by 2025.

As one of the world’s most densely forested countries, Gabon is the second African country, after the Democratic Republic of Congo, to sign an agreement with the Central African Forest Initiative (CAFI); a partnership launched in 2015 and backed by European donor nations. It also covers the Central African Republic, Cameroon, Congo Republic and Equatorial Guinea.

The aim of the initiative is to increase protection efforts in the Congo Basin which is at risk from expanding palm oil plantations. Overall, the forests cover around two million sq km – nearly the size of Mexico – but are rapidly shrinking at a rate of 5,600 sq km per year.

Protecting forests in this way is largely seen as one of the most effective ways to reduce the emissions behind global warming – and it is also one of the cheapest. In total, the loss and degradation of forests accounts for about 15 per cent of emissions each year.

In a statement, Vidar Helgesen, Norway’s climate and environment minister and chairman of the CAFI, said “This agreement is a big step forward.

“Gabon is committing to measures that, if implemented, would preserve about 98 percent of its rainforests”.

This new deal will create national investment plans to address the pressures driving deforestation and the illegal deforestation methods that are endangering wildlife and destabilising habitats. It’s hoped this new move will inspire other countries to take similar steps towards sustainable development.

Bookmark and Share

The future of reforestation is very small, and very fast.

Drones are set to revolutionise the costly and time-consuming process of reforestation as new companies launch plans to replant and restore forests that have been stripped of trees by industrial-scale deforestation.

A fast worker can plant around 800 trees, or 2 acres, in a single day. But a single person, equipped with 15 drones, can plant 800 seeds in an hour, which equates to over 360 man hours at 1/10th of the cost of human labour.

The UK-based startup BioCarbon Engineering has launched a global mission to counter the widespread effects of clear-cutting – a harmful process which strips the planet of more than 26 billion trees each year.

Lauren Fletcher, BioCarbon’s CEO who spent more than 20 years as an engineer with NASA, says the only way to fight industrial-scale deforestation is with industrial-scale reforestation. Her plan is to plant as many as 1 billion trees a year – beginning with South Africa and the Amazonian jungles.

“Precision forestry,” as BioCarbon calls it, is a process of 5 parts. First, an aerial survey is undertaken which creates 3D maps of the area to be deforested. Then a seeding plan is made and a pattern decided on (based on the terrain data). Next, the seed pods are loaded into pressurised cannisters with germinated seeds immersed in a nutrient-rich gel.

Once the drones are loaded they are sent out. Flying at a height of 1 or 2 meters they follow planting patterns, firing the biodegradable seed pods into the ground. The pods break open upon impact, allowing the germinated seed a chance to take root.

The final step is to monitor the plant’s growth. This is done by the drones, which conduct low-level flights to assess the health of the sprouts and saplings.

The drones can reach places humans can’t typically reach, and they’re able to spread a variety of tree species as well as microorganisms and fungi designed to improve the soil quality.

The full operation will consist of a team of two operators running seven or eight drones simultaneously. Planting at about 10 pods per minute will equate to roughly 36,000 trees per day for each team. With 100 two-member teams—BioCarbon’s goal in the next 5-7 years—it expects to plant 1 billion trees a year over roughly 500,000 hectares.

According to a study published by the American Geophysical Union (AGU), the rate of tropical deforestation has risen 62 per cent between the 1990s and 2000s, thanks to the efficiency of tractors and more advanced equipment.

By rebuilding these forests, we can increase the quality of the local water and air, protect our environment, support families and bring jobs and products to the local areas.

Bookmark and Share

Recent research from Michigan State University has shown that reserves set up in China to protect Pandas have had far reaching consequences for the conservation of forests and protection of habitats for other important animals and plants.

The study in Ecosphere presented data which showed the forests inside reserves, and in areas outside the reserves’ borders, are providing critical canopy materials – the leaves and branches – that soak up carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change.

“Reserves are created thinking about the pandas – but we wanted to see if they provide more benefits than just the pandas. A lot of work is focused in regards to the pandas, but we wanted to ask about other animal and plant species. How are these nature reserves doing for biodiversity and for carbon sequestration?” said Jianguo “Jack” Liu, MSU’s Rachel Carson Chair in Sustainability and director of Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability.

“Sometimes unintended consequences can be happy ones – and give us ways to do even better as we work toward sustainability. Pandas are leading us to even greater ways to care for nature and health of humans and the planet.”

The researchers also discovered that forests in lower elevations – areas not generally targeted for panda habitat – are not being protected in the same way, and so have called for forests outside reserve areas to be treated with the same care and consideration as those within.

Andres Vina, a researcher who worked on the project said: “We are seeing efforts that are moving in the right direction and showing positive results for nature and for humans. Now it’s time to continue those efforts and fine tune them to continue to get even more benefits.”

The research was supported by the National Science Foundation.

Bookmark and Share

A new Kenyan initiative called Goldenscape Tree Ltd is aiming to help restore the country’s tree cover and assist in boosting the country’s timber economy.

The company, founded by Peter Wengai in 2004, has already planted more than 500 acres of trees across Kenya and plans to expand this by helping individual landowners who lack the time of money to develop their own land.

“Once a client allows us plant trees on their land, we manage the trees from the time we plant them until they are mature. This is advantageous to the clients in that they do not have to participate in the management of the trees or anything related to their growth since that is done by the company, so they do not have to worry about having to constantly check on the land,” says Mr Wengai.

When the trees are mature, they are sold locally or exported and the profits go to the clients.

Mr Wangai adds that not only does the planting of trees help the environment by acting as water catchment areas in the dry parts of the country, but it also helps with the country’s current timber shortage.

“There is shortage of timber in the country and as a result, construction companies are turning to imported timber to satisfy their needs”.

Mr Eluid Kipkorir, a real estate valuer at Daima Prime Management Agencies in Nakuru, highlighted why investing in Timber was especially beneficial.

“Any investment on land in this day and age is a prudent move. However, the different types of investments yield different returns,” he says.

“Timber is a necessary commodity in the market today, and especially in construction, which gives it the advantage of never going out of style”.

Bookmark and Share

In a move to improve the transport of timber in Scotland, almost £1m has been invested in improving five roads near Hawick used by timber traffic, plus another near Tweedsmuir.

The Forestry Commission Scotland’s strategic timber transport fund will be contributing £590,000, while the Scottish Borders Council will be adding another £360,000 to that sum.

The work will include edge reconstruction, carriageway strengthening, junction improvements, drainage upgrading and edge widening.

Gordon Edgar, a Selkirkshire councillor who’s the council’s executive member for roads and infrastructure, said: “We are delighted to receive almost £600,000 from the strategic timber transport fund. “With the council’s funding, it means nearly £1m will be invested in these six routes which are vital to the rural communities they serve.

“It will lead to improved road safety, reduce overall damage to the public road network and help sustains local employment and the rural economy.”

The strategic timber transport fund was set up by the Scottish Government in 2005 and is administered by Forestry Commission Scotland.

Scottish Government rural affairs secretary Fergus Ewing highlighted the importance of the investment by saying: “Forestry’s continuing £1bn success story will see our timber production rate increase from 7m to 10m tonnes over the next few years, generating significant benefits for our rural economy and providing climate-friendly raw materials, but it is imperative that we bolster this success with efforts to mitigate the impacts of timber lorries on local communities and on the environment.

“This year we have invested an additional £5m in the timber transport fund, a commitment that has encouraged additional investment from seven local authorities and private landowners determined to facilitate forestry’s important role in our rural economy.”

These projects are expected to significantly boost the timber trade in Scotland and deliver valuable economic, social and environmental benefits.

Bookmark and Share

A project, entitled ’Promotion of Sustainable Management of Production Forests by Forest Companies in Vietnam’, has been jointly implemented by the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD).

The project supports sustainable forestry management and has three main objectives: Strengthening sustainable forest management in the selected state forest companies, establishing a training centre for sustainable forest management and establishing a training centre for sustainable forest management and forest certification.

The Forestry Development Strategy 2006-20 is at the forefront of concerns for the Vietnamese forestry sector, and has set a target of having at least three per cent of production forest areas certified as managed in a sustainable fashion by 2020. However, currently, the implementation of sustainable forest management and forest certification in the country is far behind expected targets.

This new project will be carried out in the period between 2017 and 2019, with a total funding of 692,185 euros (US$772,000) and a counterpart fund of 55,000 euros ($61,000).

It is expected to make a significant contribution to capacity building for the stakeholders in the field of sustainable forest management in Vietnam, contributing to the implementation of a forest sector restructuring project.

Bookmark and Share

The Rainforest Alliance has announced an intention to “redefine the certification landscape” by merging with fellow sustainability certifiers UTZ – streamlining the certification process within agriculture supply chains.

The merger will bring the two companies together under the Rainforest Alliance brand and will combine the Rainforest Alliance’s history of tackling deforestation with UTZ’s work with agricultural farmers.

A single standard will allow the 182,000 cocoa, coffee and tea farmers, who are currently certified under both companies, to more easily invest in sustainable practices. It would also provide blanket conservation of entire landscapes from rainforests, pastural land, farms and carbon sinks.

UTZ’s executive director Han de Groot, who will be acting as the new CEP of the Rainforest Alliance, noted that alongside better management in relation to child labour and human rights, the new merger would finally provide cost and efficiency benefits for farmers and businesses.

“Certification teams have more in common than we’d like to admit so that calls for more cooperation,” de Groot said. “Our merger is an important step towards redefining the certification landscape in the right direction.

“Our new standard will combine the best of both the organisations and will incorporate the best of what we currently know and will help farmers be certified more efficiently. Many farms at the moment are either double certified or even triple certified to other standards, and this doesn’t do a good service to them or bring many additional benefits. The new standard will give them better guidance and one system to comply with; it saves them a lot of costs and efforts.”

Bookmark and Share

Ogun, a state in southwestern Nigeria, has announced plans to start using drones as part of security measures to protect its forests.

Kolawole Lawal, the Commissioner for Forestry, announced the plans to journalists, explaining that the plan was part of efforts by the ministry to checkmate the activities of illegal loggers towards sustaining the forests in the state.

The benefits of drones is that they can be placed in strategic areas across the reserves to capture pictures and ensure 24 hours video recordings of activities being undertaken in even the most remote areas, protecting foresters from armed illegal loggers and reducing the cost of patrolling the forest.

This is just the latest move in an increasing trend for using drones in forestry. U.S. built DroneSeed provides precision forestry services that include tree spraying, tree seeding and growth monitoring.

They claim that, although forest restoration is a £48 billion industry, tree-planting techniques have not changed in a century. The manual planting of seeds by a team is slow and expensive.

“The only reason forestry didn’t automate sooner was the terrain and precision required. Drones are the obvious technology to overcome terrain issues with flight,” said Grant Canary, CEO of DroneSeed.

The company is currently focused on spraying vegetation, but they are also looking at moving into the restoration of wildfire-affected areas.

Bookmark and Share

The Chief Executive Officer of EcoAgriculture Partners, Dr Sara Scherr, has claimed that agroforestry has the potential to improve food production, grass for livestock, and forest products as well as creating a comfortable habitat for wildlife.

Dr Scherr, an agricultural and natural resource economist specialising in land management policy in tropical developing countries, said that the best way to ensure efficient land use is to generate it for different functions.

At the recent Forest and Landscape Investment Forum in Kigali, Dr Scherr suggested that agroforestry could help to solve certain issues such as food production to help support the growing population. The number of people on earth is expected to rise to 9.3 billion by 2050, meaning the demand for food will have to increase by over 60%.

“The beauty of agroforestry is that you have a small way of mixing animal crops, grass, shrubs, short trees, tall trees, timber trees, fruit trees, fodder trees and you can mix them with food crops… and you are also provide much more comfortable habitat for many kinds of wildlife than you do on monoculture agricultural system. That is why agroforestry is so wonderful,” Dr Scherr said.

She said that the system is much more sustainable on slopes, reduces the need for soil conservation structures and gives financial value to the conservation structures.

She highlighted Rwanda as a great example of agroforestry in action.

According to Rwanda State of Environment and Outlook Report of 2015, 29.2 per cent of Rwanda’s territory was covered in forest, and their goal is to increase this to 30 per cent by 2020.

“Given its high population density and the significance of agriculture to the economy, agroforestry represents the most important and wide-reaching restoration opportunity,” states the report by REMA.

Bookmark and Share

Prices for forestry land in Ireland remain strong, the latest agricultural land study has revealed.

The Institute of Professional Auctioneers and Valuers’ (IPAV) agri survey found that investors are increasingly opting to plant on marginal lands traditionally used for grazing, with younger farmers more interested in the quality of land and are willing to “migrate” to other parts of the country.

Despite the fact that Brexit and other economic difficulties make the future of the Irish forestry and agriculture markets difficult to predict, there have been promising signs of of growth.

John Earley of Property Partners Earley, Roscommon, reported a pick-up since last autumn. He said there has been high demand for marginal lands of over 40ac for forestry, with prices achieved in the €4,000-5,000 region.
In the south, agri consultant Mike Brady of Brady Partners, Cork, said prices are static in all areas except forestry, which has seen a rise.

Irish farmers are also being attracted to forestry land through a new form of sustainable forest management called ‘continuous cover’.

Continuous cover is an approach whereby forest stands are maintained in a permanently irregular structure, which is created and sustained through the selection and harvesting of individual trees, and appeals to farmers who are keen to get income from land not suitable for growing crops or feeding farm animals.

“There is about 4,000 hectares of forest managed by the continuous cover forestry principles in the private sector. These are people who are more aware of the environment, who want a steady income stream from their woods, and who don’t want to clear fell their own forests. Some of them have also experienced the continuous cover forestry principles while living abroad,” explains Paddy Purser, forester and chairman of ProSilva Ireland.

While still a new concept in Ireland, this approach is standard practice in many parts of Germany, Slovenia, Norway, Denmark and some parts of France, Belgium and Austria.

Bookmark and Share

This year’s Global Landscapes Forum, held in Jakarta, focused on peatlands and the importance of their continued and successful conservation.

The Forum is led by the Centre for International Forestry Research, and has been held yearly since 2013. The aim of the event is to shed light on the significance of peatlands not only for climate change mitigation, but also for community development and livelihoods.

Senior programme officer for Forests and Climate Change with the UN Environment Programme, Tim Christophersen, described them as “one of the least-understood ecosystems”.

A new global wetlands map shows South America housing most of the world’s peat by area and volume. The peatlands are great for the environment in that they store such large amount of carbon, but until recently it was uncertain how the areas could be used and what could be grown in these infertile, carbon-rich and waterlogged soils. Amazonian farmers found a way around this by growing aguaje, the fruit of the mauritia flexuosa palm.

“We are lucky that we have that plant and everybody likes it,” says Dennis del Castillo, director of the Forest Management and Environmental Service Programme, Peru, and one of the panelists on the Forum. “What we are doing is looking for new markets for the fruit. We believe that it’s going to help the economy and people and help preserve those environments,” he says.

Agricultural specialists around the world are looking to follow in Brazil’s footsteps and are beginning to harvest the plant themselves.

Most recently, Indonesia, whose 2015 forest fires spread toxic haze across South-east Asia – drawing attention to the country’s habitual abuse of their vast peatlands, most of which have been drained to develop plantations and agricultural fields. Whether by big corporations or small-scale farmers, the damage to the environment has been palpable and a direct link has been made between these activities and the forest fires that have become a seasonal phenomenon.

The aguaje plant offers a new and profitable way to use this land whilst at the same time conserving these valuable eco-systems.

Aguaje fruit can be used to make juice, jam, ice cream, a fermented “wine”, desserts and snacks as well as threads and cords. The palm tree is also very important to many animal and bird species who use it for nesting and food.

In 1800, when travelling through the Llanos region of Venezuela, famous explorer Alexander von Humboldt documented the tree and the ecosystem it supports. He “observed with astonishment how many things are connected with the existence of a single plant” and called it the “tree of life”.

The trees can naturally reach very high densities and, in Peru, require harvest of more than 50 tonnes per day, making them a profitable option for farmers.

It’s undeniable that wetlands and peatlands play a vital role in climate change management as they store huge amounts of carbon. Knowing how to protect and utilise them successfully will have positive effects on both the environment and the future of the Amazon rainforest.

Bookmark and Share

A world-first MDF waste recycling solution has caused interest among retailers and investors.

The North Wales-based firm recently received a £250,000 investment from SUEZ Recycling and Recovery UK, one of the UK’s leading recycling and resource management organisations. The company has also received funding from Innovate UK and a group of angel investors.

The process involves recovering wood fibre from used or off-cuts of MDF. It offers the first ever alternative to landfilling or incinerating the material as part of an energy recovery solution for leftover MDF.

Craig Bartlett, co-founder and managing director of MDF Recovery, said: “We are in talks with some of the world’s biggest retailers about harnessing our technology’s capabilities in their organisations. Sustainability is right at the top of the retail agenda and our solution offers retailers and MDF manufacturers a genuine world first.

“Refurbishment and fit out inevitably result in tons of material heading for landfill. Increasingly, retailers are aiming to reduce their environmental impact by using a larger percentage of recycled materials in their outlets.

“For furniture manufacturers, shaping and finishing MDF creates waste. Over 20% of MDF is wasted during the production of MDF sheets.”

The new technology ushers in a new era of sustainability in the wood industry.

Bookmark and Share

As it does each year, the College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF), has compiled a list of the most fascinating plants and animals discovered around the world this year.

The Top 10 New Species of 2017 were announced this week to mark the birth of Carolus Linnaeus, the 18th century Swedish botanist who is considered the father of modern taxonomy.

This year’s list includes an omnivorous rat, a spider that looks like the Sorting Hat from Harry Potter, a bright pink cricket, an orchid with the face of the devil and a marine worm that looks like a fried pastry. There’s also a remarkable millipede with more than 400 legs and an amphibious centipede.

According to ESF, each of the discoveries was made in a different country, including four in Asia (India, Indonesia, Laos and Malaysia); two in South America (Brazil and Colombia); two from North America (Mexico and United States) and two from Oceania (Australia and Papua New Guinea).

The discoveries highlight the importance of protecting our forests through sustainable forestry.

ESF President Quentin Wheeler, says “Of all the devastating implications of climate change, none is more dangerous than accelerating species extinction.

“We can engineer our way through many impacts of climate change but only hundreds of millions of years will repopulate the planet with biodiversity.”

Taxonomists have identified more than 18,000 new organisms to science over the past year, and during the decade since the Top 10 list first began, nearly 200,000 new species have been discovered and named.

“This would be nothing but good news were it not for the biodiversity crisis and the fact that we’re losing species faster than we’re discovering them. The rate of extinction is 1,000 times faster than in prehistory. Unless we accelerate species exploration we risk never knowing millions of species or learning the amazing and useful things they can teach us.”

Bookmark and Share

Brazil’s economy seems to have turned the tide on a near two-year recession by posting growth of between 0.7 per cent and 0.8 per cent in the first quarter of this year.

This growth is in stark contrast to the end of last year when Latin America’s largest economy shrank by 0.9 per cent – its eighth straight quarter of retreat.

The boost to the economy can in part be attributed to the recent strong performance of Brazil’s agricultural sector, which is expected to harvest record crops. Nowhere is success more evident than in the forestry sector, making it a prime time to invest.

In the years since the recession began, the economy contracted 3.6 per cent and 3.9 per cent, and unemployment hit a record 13.7 per cent with more than 14 million Brazilians looking for work.

Henrique Meirelles has named Brazil’s costly social security system as the main cause of the budget deficit, and insisted that reforming it would create jobs and boost growth, despite its unpopularity.

For example, changes to the pension system which will extend the number of years Brazilians must work to retire on full benefits, are opposed by 71 per cent of those surveyed by pollster Datafolha.

Pension reform is a contentious issue in Brazil, which has one of the world’s most generous social security systems, allowing retirement on average at the age of 54 with almost full benefits, compared with 72 years in Mexico.

The government coalition is currently trying to secure votes in favour of over-hauling its existing social security system. They’ve delayed a vote in the full house to buy them more time to muster the 308 votes needed.

Bookmark and Share

Guidelines for issuing green bonds in Brazil have been named initiative of the year by a respected environmental investment website.

Environmental Finance’s Green Bond Awards 2017 heaped praise on Brazil’s green bonds system, noting that since the guidelines were issued, the number of Brazilian green bonds issued has more than doubled.

Green bonds are debt instruments where money is used to fund green investments, such as in forestry, water, waste management, energy efficiency, land use and infrastructure.

Brazil’s guidelines, first issued in October 2016, were designed to “mobilise investment” in projects with positive environmental and climate characteristics and drive growth of green bonds in a fast-growing international investment market.

That same year, Brazil’s green bond market reached nearly $3 billion, according to Environmental Finance.

Awarding Brazil’s Green Bond Guidelines with Initiative of the Year, experts said they had helped “galvanise the concept” of the green bond market, as well as “eliminate confusion” among potential issuers, underwriters and investors.

Before the guidelines were issued, Brazil had issued just two green bonds, but since they came out, that number has more than doubled and is expected to “grow considerably” through 2017.

Brazil’s banking federation Febraban, which co-developed the guidelines alongside the Brazilian Business Council for Sustainable Development, said it expected Brazil to exit recession this year, pointing to a new emphasis on collaboration between the government and private sector, which will be of benefit to the green bond market.

“This year, our hope is to start a new cycle of development,” said Mario Sergio Fernandes de Vasconcelor, director of institutional relations at Febraban.

“So there is a tremendous effort between government and private initiatives to open the market and financial sector to infrastructure, green finance project and green bonds.”

The guidelines also identify forestry and agribusiness as two areas where Brazil has “strong potential”, thanks to its low-carbon agriculture plan, which aims to recover 15 million hectares of degraded pasture by 2020.

Bookmark and Share

The Green Climate Fund (GCF) is considering ways in which it could help countries to reach their climate change commitments through investments in forestry.

Participants from developing and developed countries took part in a “ground-breaking” workshop in Bali where they brainstormed how the GCF could make the most of progress in developing countries to address climate change by protecting their forests.

The workshop discussions explored funding opportunities, but also helped to spread knowledge about the initiative REDD+.

REDD+, a programme works to reduce emissions from deforestation and promote conversation and sustainability, refers to a UN-moderated process which gives developing countries money for “achieving emissions reductions from deforestation and forest degradation and to conserve and enhance carbon sinks”.

Yolando Velasco, a climate finance and capacity building manager with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, highlighted how the workshop provided clarity on issues surrounding REDD+ finance, and pointed to the key role REDD+ is now playing globally in the new landscape of climate cooperation under the Paris Agreement, both in terms of financing and more general advice.

However, as well as the positive response to the workshop, some worried that there was a lack of funding in the REDD+ scheme. Tosi Mpanu-Mpanu, who works in the Prime Minister’s office of the Democratic Republic of Congo, and who is also a GCF board member and GCF REDD+ champion, said: “A lack of funding certainty is a killer when it comes to REDD+.”

“If we don’t have certainty, how can we embark on a long-term endeavour such as REDD+, when there are other development areas demanding attention such as health, infrastructure and security?”

Bookmark and Share

China’s investments in Brazilian export products – including forestry, other agribusiness and food – have increased significantly over the past decade, new research suggests.

The latest edition of the Panorama Internacional of the Foundation of Economics and Statistics (FEE) shows that Chinese investment in Brazilian exports totalled $51.7 billion between the years 2005 and 2016, reports.

In their report researchers Sergio Leusin Jr and Robson Valdez outlined the relationship between the Latin American and Asian “giants”, noting how China has become Brazil’s lead partner in agribusiness exports as the world’s number one exporter of rice and tobacco.

China, too, is the second largest producer of wheat and corn and the fourth largest in soy. Brazil is the world’s second largest producer of soy, after the US.

“Since 1974, when Brazil relaunched its diplomatic relations with the Popular Republic of China, the Asian country became the principal destination of Brazil’s exports, competing with the European Union, Latin America, and the Caribbean,” Valdez commented.

What’s more, Leusin said Brazil’s public and private agribusiness sectors must pay attention to China’s economy. The country could well learn important lessons for growing its economy by looking at China’s example of guaranteeing its food security and self-sufficiency over the years.

“Brazil, an indispensable commercial partner for China, needs to have a profound knowledge of the rural reality of the Asian country,” said Leusin. China’s mistakes will lead to Brazil’s advantages, the researcher added.

Bookmark and Share