Don’t enter carbon trade blindly

My Say, Normal

Joe P.

EVERYONE has heard about carbon trading and has a fair idea on the enormous financial benefits it could bring to our forests.
But before every forest resource owner starts dreaming of the “rewards”, I would like to provide a little helpful summary check list.
This must not be seen as a procedure but something that will help to safeguard an individual or a group of resources owners when venturing into carbon trading activities.
Consider the following that one needs to attend to:
* Social mapping;
* Registering as an ILG;
* ILG constitution;
* Profiling (arising from the ILG constitution);
* Land use planning;
* Registering with the Office of Climate Change and Environment Sustainability (OCCES); 
* Consulting with the Department of Environment and Conservation to do bio-diversity assessment;
* Identifying Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) or clean development mechanism (CDM) projects; and
* Appointing a credible carbon consultant recognised by OCCES to carry out forest appraisal to determine carbon content.
Social mapping is important as it will identify the people, resources and products involved and enable the distribution of benefits to worked out, hopefully to the satisfaction of all parties.
Registered ILGs refer to land titles issued and gazetted by the Government.
The Department of Lands and Physical Planning will issue a ILG certificate which is proof that the land belongs to a particular group.
The ILG constitution refers to a set of laws or rules/guidelines and activities that protects the interest of the registered ILG (and its members) to engage in a project between the Government and carbon consultant.
The Constitution safeguards and protects the activities of the people, groups and resources identified in the social mapping and ILG.
A profile is a summary of the group and should include a general account of the ILG and its activities and its interest to part-take in carbon trade and its spin-off activities.
It is always useful to plan the use all of the land.
The ILG should decide what it wants to use the land for, or for example, how much of the land should be used for carbon trading, for food gardens and other agricultural activities.
The OCCES is the government department responsible for all matters related to carbon trading projects.
It works closely with PNG National Forest Authority and the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) as well as other government department and NGOs.
By registering with the OCCES, an ILG will be able to receive advice on whether the forest it owns can be used to trade carbon falls under REDD, CDM or voluntary carbon agreements (VCA) which is an option where PNG does not want to take.
The Department of Environment and Conservation is responsible for all bio-diversity assessment.
The assessment covers endangered species, critically-endangered species, and species count of both flora and fauna.
The department’s functions include environmental policy development, and administration of the country’s international environmental convention agreements with respect to environment.
There are also private environmental consultants who can be engaged but it is wise to first check their legitimacy with the Department of Environment and Conservation and the Investment Promotion Authority.
Through the OCCES, Department of Environment and Conservation and PNGNFA, an ILG will be able to confirm whether its project activity on the land is a REDD or CDM project.
The OCCES and the PNGNFA Research Institute are the only two government departments which can identify your project.
A carbon consultant should determine the carbon content from the above and below-ground bio-mass in the different sinks.
They should be able calculate the amount of carbon stored in the different sinks.
They must be recognised by the OCCES and is in close consultation with Department of Environment and Conservation, PNGNFA and other governmental departments and NGOs.
It would be better and safer if the consultant is registered with the Investment Promotion Authority.
If all of the above is followed, an ILG will have a fair idea of the value of the land, and all that comes with it.
For instance, during a biological assessment, a new species of plant is might be found that could lead to new medical drug to cure some disease or even a rare and endangered species of animal.
The economical value to both could be significant.
My checklist will protect our people from being exploited by unscrupulous people trying to exploit carbon trading.
It could even help the country achieve its Medium Term Development Strategy.
The Government is taking a leading role in carbon trading in PNG.
As a requirement to push for our rainforest into the carbon trade concept, for our resource owners to be issued with certified emission reductions, from a seller in countries committed to emission reduction, a legal framework must exist.
It is also important that the Copenhagen meeting scheduled for December takes place.
The success or failure to push for the legal framework for our forest resources in carbon trading lies with our Government.