Tuesday, 29 July 2008

President respects legal process implicating his ministers

Comment by Nature Alert: The Forestry Minister mentioned below is the same man who last year helped Indonesia's most notorious illegal logger walk free from court. (That's worth reading again) Two judges were subsequently promoted. He is also the same Minister who sells forests to palm oil companies. The same Minister who is ultimately responsible for the deaths of about 3000 orangutans a year. One of his close colleagues is currently blocking the rescue and rehabilitation of 32 orangutans currently being kept in inhumane conditions within Jakarta zoo - more on this to follow.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

President respects legal process implicating his ministers

Antara , Jakarta Tue, 07/29/2008

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono respects the legal process and facts revealed by the Corruption Court implicating his two Cabinet ministers as the recipients of illegal Bank Indonesian funds in 2003, according to his spokesman.

"As for the President, he leaves it to whatever the legal facts are. The people concerned can defend themselves based on the principle of presumption of innocence," presidential spokesman Andi Malarangeng told reporters before accompanying the President at a meeting with visiting OPEC President Chakib Khalil on Tuesday.

Andi referred to the testimony by legislator Hamka Yandhu presented to the Corruption Court on Monday, which revealed that Development Planning Minister Paskah Suzetta and Forestry Minister MS Kaban had received part of the BI funds when they both were members of the Finance Commission at the House of Representatives, in the period of 1999 to 2004.

Hamka Yandhu further said he personally handed over Rp 1 billion (US$110,000) in four installments to Suzetta and Rp 300 million to Kaban.
Cabinet Secretary Sudi Silalahi and State Secretary Hatta Rajasa refused to comment on Yandhu's statements.

"I read about it in the newspapers this morning," Sudi told newsmen. Hatta Rajasa said he had not yet read about it.(*****)

Monday, 28 July 2008

Sunday, 27 July 2008

WWF and my attempt to obtain transparency

Out of sheer frustration and a desire for transparency from arguably the world's most high profile conservation group......WWF, I am posting on the Blog a letter which be of interest.

In February this year I received from WWF an "Investor Invitation". Like any potential investor in anything I had questions to which I sought answers. As this 'Invitation' was about supporting orangutan conservation work, naturally I was especially curious.

I wrote to the Chief Executive of WWF UK on 15th February. He passed it on to their Director of Fundraising for reply. Her answers did not match the questions, so I wrote again and waited, and waited - nearly four months, but still no reply.

I think my letter below is self explanatory. Following it I raised some
questions which I would greatly appreciate your help in asking WWF at the email address supplied. Please try to write today and send me any reply you receive.
As a charity spending public money, don't you think we have a right to some answers? I'm not saying WWF are misuing public money; all I ask for is transparency, which will presumably remove any doubt.

7th April 2008

David Nussbaum
Chief Executive
Panda House
Weyside Park
Godalming GU7 1XR

Dear David,

Further to the reply from Pippa Carte of 5th March.

The information provided by Pippa, whilst interesting, did nothing to reassure me that money ‘invested’ with WWF will save a single orangutan.

In the absence of any budgets etc. I am even less inclined to believe all the money raised will be spent in Borneo. Can you confirm it will be?

I was one of the thousands of people who invested in WWF’s tiger conservation programme some 25 years ago. Despite the millions of pounds raised in the UK alone, for this programme, numerically speaking not a single tiger has been saved; worse than this, they are down to about 1500 in number – all during a time when, like many people, I trusted WWF with my hard earnt money.

Just how much money did WWF raise for tiger conservation and where has it all been spent? Why have you not saved any tigers? I think WWF has a duty of trust to answer this question as well as those below.

In all the time WWF has been raising funds for orangutans, numerically speaking again, not one has been saved. Even the government of Indonesia admits to a loss rate of 3000 a year over the past 35 years. I am not sure how WWF can claim this to be one of their “great successes.”

How will you (we) measure WWF’s performance (value for money) with this new orangutan fundraising campaign? What goals, checks and balances does WWF have in place I wonder? £720,000 is a massive sum of money to raise on orangutan conservation (I am aware this sum represents only a percentage of the overall amount raised globally for this same programme) and one would hope that at the very least you will halt the population decline.

A point I raised in my letter of 15th February regarding your claim “We Know Our Plans Will Work” has not be answered. It is a very brave conservation group who makes such claims concerning Borneo. And, based on the tiger project, why should anyone believe you?

With the odd exception, given WWF’s profile and spending power, in all my trips to Borneo I have to say how underwhelmed I have been by WWF’s presence. It’s really difficult to see what WWF does with all its money. Rightly or wrongly, whilst UNEP last year called the situation an “Orangutan Emergency” (much like the tiger was 25 years ago), the impression I have formed, especially in Indonesia, is one of WWF filing more reports, holding more meetings, whilst all around it the situation is getting worse and worse. A bit like rearranging the deckchairs on the sinking Titanic.

Where is WWF’s leadership and presence in Borneo?

Where is all the money going?

I regret to say I feel your fundraising brochure gives a false impression of what it will (can) do for orangutans. It would be helpful to see precisely what the budget covers and how this conservation programme’s effectiveness will be measured in three years time.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely.

Sean Whyte
Chief Executive

A new Blog: http://naturealert.blogspot.com/

Questions WWF needs to answer:

a) Of the £240,000 you sought to raise for orangutan conservation with your "Investor Invitation", how much was raised and how much of it will be spent directly in Borneo? i.e. not at Head Office, international travel, reports, etc. How much will go to the field/forest work?

b) How many orangutans do you expect to save with £240,000?

c) What makes you so sure “We Know Our Plans Will Work”?

d) How much money was raised during 2007 through your orangutan adoption programme? How much of this was spent directly in Indonesia, on what and where?

Please write to: David Nussbaum, Chief Executive, WWF UK and send to the only address they publish on their web site.

To send an email you just need to click on this address and a new email will be created for you to include your questions.



Thank you to all of you who have kindly supported our orangutan conservation work by sending campaign postcards to, amongst others, the Indonesian Embassy in Washington DC, USA.

Postcards? Not sure what I am talking about? Please click on http://www.naturealert.org/ and see if you can also help.

Recently I had a reply from the Embassy (for some strange reason it took three months to reach me, but that's the Indonesian government for you) with a lot of complete rubbish about the efforts to save orangutans. To make matters worse they say that Terry Irwin (wife of the late TV presenter Steve Irwin) applaudes their efforts. As a frequent visitor to Borneo and in daily contact with people there, I don't know a single thing central government is doing to help save orangutans. I can tell you they continue to sell off rainforest's inhabited by orangutans.

I have written to Terry and asked for some clarification that I can publish on this Blog. I will let you know as soon as I hear from her.

Thanks again to all of you who are helping. You are part of the solution, whilst those who don't help - are part of the problem. Reading Blogs etc won't help save orangutans - only actions will.....and I am pleased to say I know most of you do walk your talk and for this Hardi and I will be forever grateful.

I have been told the President of Indonesia is aware of our campaign and the postcards and he is asking questions of the Ministry of Forestry.

RI resumes tree-planting drive to absorb more carbon

This is yet another example of the Indonesian government telling the world what it wants to hear - in return for big money that is extremely unlikely to be used for its publicised purpose. We should not forget, this same government continues to sell off rainforests to palm oil companies. Money, money, money is all the government Ministers want. Any guesses as to where such money will end up?!

07/25/08 22:14

RI resumes tree-planting drive to absorb more carbon

By Andi AbdussalamJakarta (ANTARA News) -

Indonesia will continue its tree planting drive in order to recover its damaged forests, re-green its denuded land areas and help reduce global warming by providing homes for billions of tons of carbon sink.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono --who launched a nation-wide program to plant 79 million trees late last year-- is expected to announce another drive to plant 100 million threes across the country next November.

"Indonesia will have an additional potential to absorb 2.4 million tons of carbon if the government is successful in its efforts to mobilize the people to plant 100 million trees by the end of 2008," Forestry Minister MS Kaban said on Wednesday.

Kaban said that besides the additional carbon absorption potential from the 100 million trees, Indonesia also had other potentials to absorb billions tons of carbon.The 100 million trees, to be planted on 100,000 hectares-- is worth about US$12 million on the assumption that each hectare could absorb 24 tons of carbon at the price of US$5 per ton, the minister said.

Indonesia which has 120.3 million hectares of forests is designating 37.5 million hectares of its forests to serve as a carbon sink in the global Reduction of Emissions from Deforestation in Developing Countries (REDD) project.

The REDD scheme was discussed in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Indonesia`s tourist resort island of Bali last December."If for each hectare in the REDD project Indonesia is paid US$10 a year, we will earn US$3.75 billion per year," Environment Minister Rachmat Witoelar said at the time.

According to Forestry Minister MS Kaban, the problem is that Indonesia is still facing difficulties in marketing its forest areas which are able to absorb carbon. "There are mandatory and voluntary markets.

The market must be prepared as well as possible. We have to prepare mandatory market at home while the voluntary market must be prepared abroad," Kaban added.He said that voluntary markets abroad already existed. So, the thing that remained to be done was negotiations with other countries.

The potential Indonesia has to absorb carbon is great."The carbon has potential with a plus value which would be obtained from planting trees. It would help reduce global warming and return the genetic resources of forests. This excludes the value to be obtained from the wood," he said.

Therefore, he called on all components of the people to nurture tree planting spirit that had begun to arise since the 79 Million Tree Plantation Movement launched by President Yudhoyono in November 2007."If we look at the double value of planting trees, we will feel obliged to spread the spirit of planting trees.

Regional governments are asked to be active in motivating their citizens, particularly in an effort to overcome natural disasters due to environmental damage," he said.

Indonesian forests which cover 120.3 million hectares, along with those of other tropical rain forest countries --such as Brazil, Cameroon, Congo, Costa Rica, Gabon, Malaysia and Papua New Guinea-- function as the lungs of the world. Indonesia and these countries have joined ranks amid the rising global warming threat.Forest fires and massive illegal logging in Indonesia raise concern that while its forests function as carbon absorber, they also contribute to gas emissions released into the atmosphere.

Actually, Indonesian forests keep potential economic values.Elfian Effendi, executive director of Greenomics Indonesia, a natural resources advocacy non-governmental organization, once said that the economic value of Indonesia`s forests reached hundreds of billions of dollars.

Indonesia still has 36.5 million hectares of conservation and 36.7 million hectares of production forests with, due to their carbon absorption capacity, have a combined economic value of between 216.4 and 234.4 billion dollars, he said.

Apart from that, Indonesian forests also hold almost 9,000 megatons of carbon concentration worth about 134.5 billion US dollars, he said. Elfian said that advanced countries must pay 134.5 billion dollars if they wanted to prevent Indonesia`s deforestation from releasing 7,000 megatons of carbon into the atmosphere.

"If advanced states want Indonesia to be at zero deforestation position on its production forests, they have to pay some 278.6 billion dollars as compensation," Elfian said.Virtually, a mechanism for carbon trade between developing countries and developed nations was discussed in the UNFCCC in Bali last year.

As host country, Indonesia drafted a scheme called the Reductions of Emissions from Deforestation in Developing Countries (REDD). Under the REDD scheme, developing countries would market tons of carbon stored in their forests to developed countries who have obligations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Minister Rachmat Witoelar said that developed states were estimated to have set adaptation fund program amounting to between US$20 and US$30 billion a year.However, Elfian Effendi said the REDD scheme with which Indonesia is expected to get US$3.75 billion incentive a year, belittled the economic value of Indonesian forests. (*)

Saturday, 26 July 2008

Malaysia to take steps to arrest drop in CPO price

I think we can safely assume European importers etc. are sourcing alternatives, or palm oil from elsewhere. Now, if only we can persuade Australian and US importers, retailers etc to also take similar action, we could save a lot of forests and orangutans. We have to leave this to those of you in these countries, though if the Europeans can do this, anyone surely can!

Saturday July 26, 2008 MYT 3:31:00 PM The StarOnline, Malaysia

Malaysia to take steps to arrest drop in CPO price


MIRI: A sharp drop in the price of crude palm oil (CPO) on the international front has raised alarm bells in Malaysia; as the Government had targeted this vital edible oil to bring in up to RM60bil in revenue for our country this year.

The past one week has seen the price of crude palm oil tumble from more than RM3,500 per tonne to RM3,095 per tonne, a worrying decline that may jeopardise the RM60bil target.

The Ministry of Primary Commodities and Industry will initiate urgent measures to arrest the drop.

Minister Datuk Peter Chin Fah Kui said steps must be taken to ensure the decline in the price does not become a long-term trend.

"The ministry expected palm oil to contribute up to RM60bil in revenue to the country's coffers this year, but the constant drop in the global price may upset this target. The drop in the price has been quite substantial. Early this year, crude palm oil fetched up to RM4,000 per tonne. Now, it is RM3,095 per tonne.

"We view this trend with anxiety. We are worried this may be the start of further decline in the price of palm oil. We must counter this so as to maintain a good price," he told a press conference here on Saturday.
Chin said several factors have caused the drop in the price.

It is now summer in Europe and there has been less demand for palm oil from these European countries.

Malaysia's stock of crude palm oil has also reached a very high volume of two million tonnes, creating an excess in supply, thus pulling down the price.

There has also been an increase in the harvest of temperate edible oil like sunflower oil, soy oil, rap seed oil and other vegetable oil, thus lowering the demand for palm oil.

It is also due to possible speculation in the global market.
Chin said his ministry is preparing measures to arrest the decline. Among the measures are:

* Lowering the current stock of crude palm oil in Malaysia by exporting crude palm oil overseas to counties like India, Pakistan, China and also to the Middle East, instead of just exporting refined palm oil;

* Increasing export during the coming winter months to western countries to be used as bio-fuel;

* Increasing the usage of crude palm oil for more bio-fuel production in Malaysia;

* Encouraging power producers in Malaysia to use crude palm oil as raw materials for their energy production; and

* Encouraging more industries and factories to use crude palm oil instead of diesel as their feedstock fuel.

Chin said the good thing that comes with this fall in crude palm oil price is that more of the oil could be channelled towards the production of bio-fuel in Malaysia.

"We have 10 bio-fuel plants in the country now, but only three are operating because the price of crude palm oil and palm olein was too high previously.

"Now that the price has dropped, the bio-fuel producers will have to pay less for the crude palm oil. This may result in them buying more crude palm oil to produce more bio-fuel. In fact, over the past two weeks, there has already been an increase in the amount of bio-fuel produced," he said.
Chin will visit Indonesia next week to discuss with his counterpart there on more measures that Malaysia and Indonesia can jointly undertake to try to maintain a good price for crude palm oil globally.

Malaysia and Indonesia together contribute 85% of the global supply of palm oil.

Unilever leads major brands in new palm oil coalition

Consumers can and do make a difference.

Unilever leads major brands in new palm oil coalition

24-Jul-08 Marketing Week

Unilever is leading a coalition of multinational companies, believed to include Nestlé, Cadbury, Kraft and Procter & Gamble, to tackle the issue of sustainable palm oil production.

The coalition is being formed after talks with Greenpeace, which has been running a sustained campaign on the issue. It published a report last November that branded Unilever, Nestlé, P&G and Kraft as "climate vandals" for their part in the destruction of Indonesia's rainforest and peat forest swamps to make way for palm oil plantations (MW November 8).
The new initiative will run alongside the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), an industry body formed in 2002 to ensure sustainable production.

A Greenpeace report in April heavily criticised the RSPO, claiming that many of the companies involved in rainforest destruction were its key members. The lobby group accused Unilever, the world's largest purchaser of palm oil and chair of the RSPO, of failing to lead the sector towards sustainability.

To coincide with the report, Greenpeace protesters dressed as orangutans and chained themselves to Unilever's Merseyside headquarters and gathered at its London offices. The lobby group singled out Unilever brand Dove for criticism, with posters parodying the brand's Campaign for Real Beauty.

Protesters also targeted Unilever marketing services agencies Ogilvy Advertising, Jackie Cooper PR and Lexis PR, in a bid to persuade them they were doing Unilever's "dirty work" by "greenwashing" its brands (MW April 23).

It is understood that Unilever has accepted Greenpeace's findings that the RSPO has not been effective.

Wild orangutans treat pain with natural anti-inflammatory

Wild orangutans treat pain with natural anti-inflammatory

11:21 28 July 2008

NewScientist.com news service
Matt Walker

Wild orangutans have been spotted using naturally occurring anti-inflammatory drugs.

Four individuals have been seen rubbing a soothing balm onto their limbs, the first known examples of orangutans self medicating. Great apes have never before been seen using drugs in this way. Remarkably though, local people use the same balm, administering it in a similar way to treat aches and pains.

Primatologist Helen Morrogh-Bernard, of the University of Cambridge, UK, made the discovery while studying Bornean orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus) in the Sabangau Peat Swamp Forest in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia.

In 2005, she witnessed an adult female pick a handful of leaves from a plant and then chew them, mixing the leaves with her saliva to produce a green-white lather. The female then scooped up some of the lather with her right hand and applied it up and down the back of her left arm, from the base of the shoulder to the wrist, just as a person would apply sunscreen.
"She was concentrating on her arm only and was methodical in the way she was applying the soapy foam," says Morrogh-Bernard. "I knew this must be some form of self-medication."

After using the leaves, the orangutan dropped them, allowing Morrogh-Bernard and her assistant to find out what they were. The leaves belong to a genus called Commelina, a group of plants that orangutans do not eat as part of their normal diet. However, local indigenous people know the plant well, grinding it into a balm and applying it to their skin to treat muscular pain, sore bones and swellings.

Chimpanzees and gorillas are thought to self medicate, mainly by swallowing rough leaves or chewed plant pith to help flush out intestinal parasites. A few monkey species and one species of lemur are known to rub concoctions, such as tobacco, onion or garlic onto their fur to repel insects or parasites. But wild great apes have never before been seen rubbing ointments onto their fur.

Morrogh-Bernard, who has since seen three other orangutans using the plant in the same way, says the finding "links apes and humans directly".
The apes may not have learnt how to apply the anti-inflammatory ointment from local people, she says, but perhaps ancestors of the indigenous population learnt about the drug from the apes.

Journal Reference: International Journal of Primatology (DOI:10.1007/s10764-008-9266-5)

How palm-oil plantations at Tripa increase disaster risk, contribute to climate change and drive a unique Sumatran-orangutan population to extinction.

How palm-oil plantations at Tripa increase disaster risk, contribute to climate change and drive a unique Sumatran-orangutan population to extinction. Tripa value, peat swamp forest, Aceh, Sumatra, Indonesia.

Executive summary
Tripa is an area of 61,803 hectares on the West coast of the province of Aceh. Aceh lies at the northern tip of the island of Sumatra, Indonesia. Five large-scale palm oil companies covering most of Tripa are destroying the forest, burning the peat and opening canals to install palm-oil plantations.

The total remaining forest in Tripa now covers 31,410 ha, representing 51% of the initial peat swamp forest cover. The total area planted with oil palms within the concessions is 17,820 ha, and other land uses make up 12,573 ha. The total destruction of Tripa’s remaining forest is predicted within less than five years if no action has taken place.

Tripa carbon stock
Tripa contains huge amount of carbon, between 50 and 100 million tonnes. The total amount of carbon found in the peat (around 1,300 tonnes/ha) far outweighs the quantities stored above ground (about 110 tonnes/ha). This is because the peat is deep (more than three meters) in many places.
Tripa is normally a net carbon store. However, huge quantities of carbon are being released from peat degradation (burning, drainage and oxidation) because of palm-oil plantations.

Tripa swamps will release 33 million tonnes of carbon during the next 30 years (by 2038). Even after all concessions are operational, carbon emissions from Tripa will still amount to circa 1 million tonnes per year, as a result of continuing drainage and the resulting oxidation.

Tripa’s role in disaster risk reductions and local livelihood
Tripa acted as an effective buffer zone against tsunami disaster in 2004. Tripa also protects communities from floods as peat swamp forest regulates water flow. Tripa prevents the development of destructive fires by keeping a constant high humidity (above 90%) that keeps ambient air temperature at around 25-26 °C.

Tripa provides an essential freshwater reservoir for domestic needs and agriculture during the dry season. The swamp also provides important fish breeding grounds, fresh fish being a major part of the local diet and the main source of protein in the region.

Tripa also supplies timber for construction and firewood, and non-timber forest products such as honey and medicinal plants. Finally, Tripa stabilizes the local rainfall and temperature that govern agricultural potential in the area.

The highest palm-oil yields in the world are in fact recorded in this very region. Destruction of the peat swamp forest will lead to the loss of all these ecological functions, putting local people at higher risk of tsunami like disasters, floods, freshwater and food shortage. In addition, peat subsidence due to palm-oil, around five centimetre a year, along the coast will lead to serious problems of salination. This will eventually result in a total loss of agricultural productivity, including palm oil plantations themselves.

Tripa biodiversity value
Tripa is part of the Leuser Ecosystem, an area established by Presidential Decree for its exceptionally high biodiversity value. The Leuser Ecosystem includes a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Tripa is one of the six remaining populations for the critically endangered Sumatran orangutang (Pongo abelii). It still hosts around 280 Sumatran orangutans. This is more than 4% of the remaining world population. Tripa also has the highest densities of orang-utans anywhere in the world, which has facilitated a unique culture of tool use within these swamp forests. If Tripa could be allowed to regenerate, the area might once again support 1,000 to 1,500 Sumatran orang-utans as it did before destruction began in the 1990’s. This would constitute more than 20% of the remaining world population.

In addition to the orang-utans, two rare ape species, namely the Siamang and the White Handed Gibbon, are also present. Other recorded endangered species include tigers, clouded leopards, sun bears, estuarine crocodile, reticulated python and giant soft-shelled turtles, birds (storms’ stork, the white-winged wood duck and the masked duck).
Main actions taken and lessons learned.

In 2007, Bupati of Nagan Raya district questioned the legality of the concessions to the central government. Nagan Raya and Aceh Barat Daya, the two districts that straddle Tripa, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Yayasa Ecosistem Lesatri (YEL) to find means to save Tripa. YEL/PanEco found that at least 15 policies and laws had been broken. Tripa should be saved for social and environmental reasons. In November 2007, ICRAF-World Agro-forestry Centre and Unsyiah (University Syiah Kuala, Banda Aceh), YEL/PanEco assessed the carbon stock of Tripa, finding deep peat.

In 2007-08, a large concensus to save Tripa emerged. BPKEL (The Badan Pengelola KEL Wilayah Aceh - authority for the management of the Leuser Ecosystem in Aceh), the Aceh senators, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), UNESCO, IUCN and even the Governor of Aceh all provided support letters to rehabilitate coastal Aceh peat swamps, including Tripa.

In May 2008, BKEL made public statements in Kompas newspaper questioning the legal status of the plantations in Tripa. 20 June 2008, a broad coalition of organisations from the social and environmental sectors (Eye-on-Aceh, Sawit Watch, Green Peace South-East Asia, Fauna and Flora International, Leuser International Foundation, PanEco Foundation, OXFAM and YEL) sent a join letter to Astra Agro, the owner of the greatest track of primary forest, requesting clarification on its objectives.

Even though a broad consensus to save Tripa has emerged, real action on the ground will need serious coalition to make it effectively happen.
Valorise Tripa as an alternative scenario to its destruction.
YEL/PanEco is raising local capacity to develop sustainable palm-oil plantations land on adjacent mineral soil according to the Principles and Criteria of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). This approach has the high potential to relieve pressure on Tripa by boosting local socially and environmentally sound agricultural development. This programme was endorsed in 2006 by RSPO General Assembly. The UNEP and ICRAF-World AgroForestry Centre, agreed to develop a trade certificate for the store of carbon within the forest. Trading carbon under the forest carbon market, emerging from the concept known as Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD), would be an enormous opportunity for local people.

At the recent Bali climate conference, the Governor of Aceh became a leading world figure in protecting forests for the sustainable benefit of local people. He signed the “Forests Now Declaration” that seeks to protect rainforest against payment for its carbon value. Since Tripa is by far the largest unprotected carbon stock in Aceh, is important for local people and hosts unique biodiversity, its restoration would be the most appropriate move.

Full document available on link bellow :
Additional information
On PanEco website. www.paneco.ch, www.sumatranorangutan.org, www.yelweb.org to download the document, Power Point presentation and pictures of the situation.

Ex-governor testifies on Pelalawan corruption trial

Ex-governor testifies on Pelalawan corruption trial

Source: EoF - July 24, 2008 PEKANBARU

Former governor of Riau testified Tuesday (22/7/2008) on Corruption Court, Jakarta, saying his subordinate should bear responsibility for issuing Annual Working Plan permits allowing 10 companies clearing the forest. The trial prosecutes Pelalawan Distric Head Azmun Jaafar whom charged of misusing authority to make money by issuing logging licenses and cause the State loss of Rp1.2 trillion.

Rusli Zainal, former governor who now runs for gubernatorial election in September this year, told the court that he had no much knowledge of RKT (annual working plan) matters as he admitted that he issued 10 RKTs in 2004, Riau Terkini website reported Tuesday (22/7/2008).

His statement looked similar as he told Koran Tempo daily in an interview last week. However, the website reported that two judges, I Made Hendra Kusuma and Andi Bachtiar, told Rusli that the governor had no authority to issue RKT as stipulated by Minister of Forestry’s Decree Number 151 year 2003. It is forestry official’s authority, they said.

Then Rusli admitted that he had no authority to sign RKT or BKT (temporary RKT), but he insisted that the approval he issued due to his position as representative of central government in the province and there is technical consideration provided by the Forestry Service.

”Yes, I have no authority. I signed [the RKTs] because there is technical consideration, and I was not informed by the Forestry Service that I have no authority to sign BKT and RKT,” he told the judges.

Despite the explanation, Riau Forestry Service at that time, Syuhada Tasman, who testified at the same trial just before Rusli, told the judges that he had informed Rusli Zainal that the governor has no authority to issue RKT or BKT.

Azmun Jaafar, the defendant of the corruption case, was given opportunity to ask witness Rusli on the trial. “Is [Riau Governor Rusli Zainal] who signed or Head of provincial forestry service?” Azmun asked his former boss.

Tribun Pekanbaru daily (23/7/2008) reported that Rusli did not answer Azmun’s question clearly, as he only said, “It depends on which matters.” Then the presiding judge reminded Rusli of answering such a question.

Rusli answered Azmun’s question by saying that he himself is not the one who takes responsibility for the RKT issuance, but the Riau Forestry Service head, Syuhada Tasman. “The one who has to be responsible is the head of forestry service,” Rusli told the court, Riau Terkini reported.

Rusli testified on the trial in 40 minutes as he looked nervous and mostly answered the questions by phrases such as “don’t know,” forgot”, or “don’t understand,” Riau Terkini said. Then judge Andi Bachtiar suggested him for not answering that way in order to ease the jury in making judgment.
“In the future, you must be careful, because you have no authority [to issue RKT]," Andi told the witness, Riau Terkini quoted as saying.

Other two suspects of Azmun’s case, former forestry service heads Syuhada Tasman and Asral Rachman, also testified on the court as well as Dominikus, executive of PT Satria Perkasa Agung (APP affiliated company).

Thursday, 24 July 2008

RSPO accreditation for four firms?


RSPO accreditation for four firms?

by Jose Barrock The Edge, Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: Four Malaysia-based plantation companies — IOI Corp Bhd, United Plantations Bhd, Kulim (M) Bhd and Sime Darby Bhd — are likely to secure the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) certification in the next few weeks, industry sources said.

Another planter likely to get the accreditation from RSPO is Indonesia-based PT Musim Mas.

The RSPO certification is important to palm oil exporters because it opens up the European market to them. Buyers of crude palm oil (CPO) in Europe generally shy away from companies that do not practise environment-friendly planting and production.

They find it easier to justify the purchase of CPO and other palm products from companies endorsed by the RSPO.

The certification confirms that a company adheres to sustainable practices in the planting of oil palm and production of palm oil.

The RSPO was initiated about four years ago to promote the growth and use of the commodity in a sustainable manner through cooperation and open dialogue with stakeholders in plantation companies. Members of the RSPO include oil palm growers, processors and traders.

“Perhaps companies which have the accreditation could even charge more for their CPO in the near future. At present there is no distinction (between companies that have the RSPO certificate and those that don’t) but in due course it (the accreditation) will be a plus point, and possibly result in more business,” an industry stalwart said.

At press time, it is not clear what is the status of the other Malaysian companies such as Kuala Lumpur Kepong Bhd and PPB Oil Palms Bhd which had applied for the certification, but it is unlikely to adversely impact their business, at least in the near term.

Plantation companies such as Sime Darby, IOI Corp and KL Kepong have been raking in stellar earnings from strong CPO prices.

CPO hit an all-time high of RM4,200 per tonne in early March. The price has tapered off since then and is currently at about RM3,090 per tonne.
Sime Darby closed yesterday at RM8.10, up 25 sen, while IOI Corp inched up five sen to RM5.60. United Plantations and Kulim ended the day at RM11.50 and RM7.95, respectively.


KPK grills PDI-P politician over graft

Friday, July 25, 2008 Jakarta Post

KPK grills PDI-P politician over graft

Thu, 07/24/2008

JAKARTA: Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) investigators on Wednesday questioned Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle lawmaker Ganjar Pranowo in a bribery case over a forest conversion in Bintan regency, Riau Islands.

Ganjar was questioned after a suspect in the case, Bintan administration secretary Azirwan, earlier this week named Ganjar as one of the lawmakers who had made contact with United Development Party legislator Al Amin Nur Nasution, another suspect in the scandal.

Both Ganjar and Al Amin were members of the House of Representatives' Commission IV, which oversees forestry, fisheries and agriculture, when the alleged bribery took place.

Al Amin is accused of accepting more than Rp 3 billion (US$327,000) from Azirwan and distributing some of the money to several Commission IV members. --JP

Sarawak's Plans To Build Hydro-electric Dams Will Not Harm Mulu National Park

Business. Bernama, Malaysia
July 24, 2008

Sarawak's Plans To Build Hydro-electric Dams Will Not Harm Mulu National Park - Alfred Jabu

KUALA LUMPUR, July 24 (Bernama) -- Plans to build hydro-electric dams in Sarawak to meet the state's future industrialisation needs will not threaten the Mulu National Park, Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Alfred Jabu said Thursday.

"In order to be objective, they must know the truth. If they want to speak about Sarawak, they must know the geography, location, the water shade and the tributaries of Sarawak," he said, quashing claims by environmentalists that the national park would be submerged by the dams' water.

"The National Park and the proposed dams does not share any catchments, so how can it affect the National Park," he told reporters after launching the United Nations Development Programme and Sarawak Rivers' Board photo exhibition and coffeetable book titled "Reflections from Sarawak's Rivers".

He was responding to a statement by the Centre for Environment Technology and Development Malaysia chairman Gurmit Singh that the proposed dams might submerge parts of the National Park.Sarawak plans to build 12 hydro-electric dams at Ulu Air, Metjawah, Belaga, Baleh, Belepeh, Lawas, Tutoh, Limbang, Baram, Murum and Linau rivers.

The plan will also see an extension to the Batang Ai Dam.All these dams are in addition to the 2,400MW Bakun Dam which will push up the total power generating capacity in Sarawak to 7,000MW by 2020, an increase of more than 600 percent from the current capacity.Jabu said Sarawak was in a position to provide clean, sustainable and cheap energy, adding that the state government would continue its focus on the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE).

"In order to be competitive, people will buy and locate their industries to the energy source that is cheap, sustainable and comply to the world environmental order," he said.He said Sarawak received ample rainfall, had high mountain range and potential rivers to be developed into various stages for hydro-electric power to generate clean, sustainable and cheap energy.More countries currently relying on fossil fuel had started to look for cheap sources of energy and Sarawak had an advantage in this respect.-- BERNAMA

Britain 'imports more illegal timber than any EU country'

Britain 'imports more illegal timber than any EU country'

By Paul Eccleston
22/07/2008 Daily Telegraph

Britain imports more illegal timber than almost any other country in Europe, a new report claims.

· Garden furniture for UK 'from illegally logged rainforest', says report
· UK illegal-logging campaign steps up a gear
· Cameron takes on profiteers of illegal logging

Almost one-fifth of wood imported into the EU in 2006 came from illegal sources, according to WWF. And the UK imported 3.5m cubic metres of illegal wood making it the second biggest importer behind Finland.

WWF has called for an EU law to guarantee that only legal wood is sold in the European market.

This included the biggest quantities of furniture, finished wood products, sawn wood and plywood of all EU states.

WWF claims that in total the EU imported between 26.5m and 31m cubic metres of illegal wood and related products in 2006, equal to the total amount of wood harvested in Poland in the same year. Most came from Russia, Indonesia and China.

The conservation organisation claims its findings demonstrated the need for stronger European laws to prevent illegal wood entering EU markets.
Julia Young, manager of the Forest and Trade Network at WWF-UK, said: "Illegal logging reduces the protective function of forests which frequently increases the risk of natural disasters such as floods and landslides and leads to deforestation, one of the main causes for climate change.

"Illegal logging also pushes down wood prices leading to major economic losses for the producer states, industries and local communities.
"As the UK clearly plays a major role in fuelling this illegal trade, the Government needs to ensure the EU urgently introduces legislation to prevent illegal timber entering the EU - and thereby help protect the world's last remaining forests."

The study, carried out by WWF in Germany, showed an estimated 23 per cent of wood-based products from illegal or suspect sources were imported from Eastern Europe, 40 per cent from South-East Asia, 30 per cent from Latin America and 36 per cent to 56 per cent from Africa. Finland, UK, Germany and Italy were the main destinations.

WWF says the findings highlights the ineffectiveness of the existing voluntary scheme, the EU Forest and Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Licensing Scheme, set up to tackle illegal logging.
WWF called for the introduction of an EU law to guarantee that only legal wood is sold in the European market. Traders would have to prove the origin and legality of wood and face a penalty for any violation.

The European Commission is expected to make a proposal on this issue within the next few months.

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Rapid Response Team in action

17th July. West Kalimantan.

A two-man Rapid Response team from the Centre for Orangutan Protection (COP) accompanied by a Forestry Officer close in on the location of an orangutan known to be held illegally by a villager. It took four - five hours to reach this location.

Arrived at last.

Vehicles are a rare sight in places like this, let alone one with people wanting to rescue an orangutan! Hence the amount of local interest. COP is never aggressive or even critical at times like this. Most such people have no idea they are doing anything wrong or, how to take care of an orangutan. It is important to win the trust and respect of these people; if you don't there is every chance they will go and catch or buy another to replace the orangutan you have confiscated.

The rescues are only possible because of this truck, which was kindly provided by the trustees and supporters of Orangutan Appeal UK.

Help is at hand for this chained up orangutan.

"Yonky", an approx. 3 year old male orangutan about to be released from his chains and handed to the Forestry official.

In safe hands

This Forestry official/policeman and his boss are particularly helpful and caring. The man in this photo has put up with a great deal of discomfort over long distances travelling with COP (and me!) - he only does so because he cares.

Look at those chains around her neck.

"Bemby" is a three year old female rescued on this same trip. She is now being looked after in a transit centre pending her imminent transfer to a rescue/rehab centre.

"Bemby's before her chains were removed.

Poor "Bemby" must have been wondering what all the fuss and activities were about. She looks here as if she had given up all hope of better treatment, let alone being rescued. Thanks to COP she has been checked over by a vet and is now receiving lots of TLC.

Rescued last week by COP.

This is "Habibie" a three year old male also
rescued last week by the COP Rapid Response team. He is now in safe hands.

Time to say "goodbye"

The family who had kept "Bemby" now saying goodbye to her.

Two's company.

"Bemby" about to be handed over to the Forestry policeman who is already holding a currently unnamed baby - see below. These situations are rarely easy and can quickly become unpleasant. Friendly persuasion is the best option to avoid conflict a long way from any possible back up.

Close to death

This was the fourth orangutan to be rescued by the COP Rapid Response Team on last weeks trips. She is severely malnourished (probably fed mainly rice and no milk) and we think about 1.5years old. COP rushed her back to base where a vet has checked her over and administered treatment. As of 23rd July she is making steady progress on the road to recovery.

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Britain 'imports more illegal timber than any EU country'

Britain 'imports more illegal timber than any EU country'

By Paul Eccleston

Britain imports more illegal timber than almost any other country in Europe, a new report claims.

· Garden furniture for UK 'from illegally logged rainforest', says report
· UK illegal-logging campaign steps up a gear
· Cameron takes on profiteers of illegal logging

Almost one-fifth of wood imported into the EU in 2006 came from illegal sources, according to WWF. And the UK imported 3.5m cubic metres of illegal wood making it the second biggest importer behind Finland.

WWF has called for an EU law to guarantee that only legal wood is sold in the European market. This included the biggest quantities of furniture, finished wood products, sawn wood and plywood of all EU states.

WWF claims that in total the EU imported between 26.5m and 31m cubic metres of illegal wood and related products in 2006, equal to the total amount of wood harvested in Poland in the same year. Most came from Russia, Indonesia and China.

The conservation organisation claims its findings demonstrated the need for stronger European laws to prevent illegal wood entering EU markets.

Julia Young, manager of the Forest and Trade Network at WWF-UK, said: "Illegal logging reduces the protective function of forests which frequently increases the risk of natural disasters such as floods and landslides and leads to deforestation, one of the main causes for climate change.

"Illegal logging also pushes down wood prices leading to major economic losses for the producer states, industries and local communities.
"As the UK clearly plays a major role in fuelling this illegal trade, the Government needs to ensure the EU urgently introduces legislation to prevent illegal timber entering the EU - and thereby help protect the world's last remaining forests."

The study, carried out by WWF in Germany, showed an estimated 23 per cent of wood-based products from illegal or suspect sources were imported from Eastern Europe, 40 per cent from South-East Asia, 30 per cent from Latin America and 36 per cent to 56 per cent from Africa. Finland, UK, Germany and Italy were the main destinations.

WWF says the findings highlights the ineffectiveness of the existing voluntary scheme, the EU Forest and Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Licensing Scheme, set up to tackle illegal logging.

WWF called for the introduction of an EU law to guarantee that only legal wood is sold in the European market. Traders would have to prove the origin and legality of wood and face a penalty for any violation.
The European Commission is expected to make a proposal on this issue within the next few months.

Brunei To Expand Forest Reserve Cover From 41% To 55%

Brunei To Expand Forest Reserve Cover From 41% To 55%

By Qistina Rangga

Bandar Seri Begawan - Brunei is planning to expand its forest reserve cover from 41 per cent to 55 per cent of the country's forested area, a forestry officer said yesterday.

Muhd Safwan Abdullah Bibi from the Forestry Department of the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources (MIPR) said that the increase in coverage will fulfill the 55 per cent forest reserve commitment embodied in the 1989 National Forestry Policy.

To date, 76 per cent of Brunei's land area of 5,765 sq km is covered by forest, according to Muhd Safwan, a decrease from 78 per cent.

In addition, "logging is limited to an area of 100,000 cubic metres which is a 50 per cent reduction from previous logging area coverage," he told The Brunei Times, noting it as one of the government's preservation strategies.
Muhd Safwan was speaking at the opening of the training workshop on "Timber Verification of Legality Systems" at MIPR yesterday.

Officiating the event was Pg Hjh Mariana PDNLDR Pg Hj Abdul Momin, the Deputy Permanent Secretary of MIPR, who spoke about Brunei's commitment to forest protection and illegal logging, in particular the Heart of Borneo project.

According to Pg Hjh Mariana, 58 per cent of Brunei's total land area is allocated to the Heart of Borneo initiative to sustain the island's natural richness. It is perceived to be a "giant step forward".

"(This is to ensure) that the natural riches of the Island of Borneo is developed and managed sustainably for the benefit of the present and future generations," she said.

Illegal logging contributes to the continued degradation of the ecosystem and has far-reaching environmental and economic implications. As such, implementation of appropriate forest governance to sustain economic growth is needed, she added.

She also said that commitment at all levels, including the government, non-government organisations and the private sectors, is needed in the development of policies in both the consumer and producer countries.
"There is a need to implement appropriate forest governance, cooperation between the local communities, public and private sectors. It would also call for the establishment of collaborations and networking between enforcement agencies of member countries," she said.

She also stressed the importance of investing in the development aspect of forest management. This will see the involvement of the forestry stakeholders and allow them to have abetter appreciation of the basic resource.

Pg Hjh Mariana also mentioned that Brunei has successfully completed the pilot Peer Consultation Framework (PCF) in which Asean member states have assessed the country's National Forest Policy.

Recommendations were made to improve policymaking, emulate best practices and to consider recognised standards and principles.

Also present at the opeling ceremony was Hj Saidin Salleh, Director of Forestry, Dr Andreas Obser, principal advisor of Asean-German Regional Forest Programme and Brunei's senior government officials. -- Courtesy of The Brunei Times
22nd July

Heart Of Borneo ‘At Risk’ Over Illegal Logging

Heart Of Borneo 'At Risk' Over Illegal Logging

By James Ken

Bandar Seri Begawan - Illegal logging continues to be the major cause of deforestation and forest degradation in Southeast Asia. Although five per cent of the world's forests are located in this region, the World Bank estimates that Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) accounted for nearly 25 per cent of the global forest loss over the past decade.

In an effort to overcome the situation, Asean has called for national policies to be intensified and regional collaborations strengthened.
Uncontrolled illegal logging could harm the Heart of Borneo (HoB) project, an ambitious initiative to conserve the richness of the forests that was undertaken by Brunei Darussalam, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Mr Hugh Blackett, a forestry consultant at the training workshop on "Timber Verification of Legality System" held at the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources yesterday, in an interview said, "The Heart of Borneo project can face an uphill task if illegal logging continues in the island of Borneo, especially in Indonesia.

"The Heart of Borneo project is an inter-government project supported by WWF. It's a very good and important idea because there is still a lot of forest cover in the Heart of Borneo and many wildlife habitats need to be conserved. It will require a lot of cooperation between governments particularly Malaysia and Indonesia."

Describing the problem of illegal logging in the region, Mr Blackett said, "Illegal logging happens in remote areas and it's difficult to exercise control. Therefore making money from harvesting timber is very easy and gives a quick return. A lot of people have taken advantage of weak government controls. Unfortunately, there are some instances of corruption being allow it to happen.

"If logging is uncontrolled, and people take out too much of timber (from the forests), it will destroy the forest environment, the animal habitat, erosion control and subsistence for local community, as well as the future access to raw materials in the timber industry," he said.

On countering illegal logging, he said, "NGOs specifically in Europe have been actively campaigning against people using tropical timber and demanding them to take a responsible attitude to ensure that the timber purchased is not from illegal logging. So there is a huge pressure to try to find ways on improving control in a country like Indonesia where there is a high incidence of illegal logging, making sure that the law is applied.

"Now in Europe, the governments' public procurement policies system has set up a standard to see that any purchase of timber for projects come from a responsible source thereby ensuring sustainable, managed forests. We have in existence a certification standard that comes from the forest timber certification council setting the standard for forest management."

About illegal logging at the borders, he said, "It can happen, and there are forest concessions at the border between Malaysia and Kalimantan and I have reports that there are companies doing cross border logging. A lot of wood is coming into Malaysia from Indonesia mainly across the borders of Sarawak and Kalimantan.

"The Malaysian government has accepted to cut down on the activities and it's very much reduced. It's very hard to quantify the volume of illegal trade of timber but it does seem that the cross border illegal trade between Malaysia and Indonesia has drastically reduced," he added.

"There has to be a high level of government cooperation and support to combat illegal cross border activities. However, in addition to Europe, North America and Japan, other big markets like China and India should also set standards for timber import to help reduce illegal logging."
He added, "It's very difficult to detect when timber goes to the mills whether the timber has come from legal sources. Technologies are being developed like timber tracking where details of trees are recorded and marked before they are felled. Therefore timber tracking offers one way of knowing where it comes from to determine whether it's under legal licence.
"Currently, there are technologies to help control the problem through record keeping in computerisation system," he added. -- Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin 22nd July

Monday, 21 July 2008

Sabah moves to permanently conserve 78,000ha of forest and mangrove area

Saturday July 19, 2008 The Star Online Malaysia

Sabah moves to permanently conserve 78,000ha of forest and mangrove area

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah is permanently conserving wetlands and forests three times the size of Kuala Lumpur at a wildlife-rich region in the state’s east coast.

Its Forestry Department director Datuk Sam Mannan said the state Cabinet approved to permanently protect some 78,000ha of mangrove and forest reserves in the Lower Kinabatangan-Segama region, 250km from Kota Kinabalu, for the purpose.

The Cabinet gave the approval following a suggestion by the Borneo Biodiversity and Ecosystems Conservation Phase II programme to list the area as part of the global Ramsar Site Network.

(Ramsar, named after a place in Iran, is an international convention on wetlands which provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources. It was first established in 1971 and came into force in 1975.)

Mannan said the area included the Trusan Kinabatangan and Kuala Segama-Maruap Mangrove Forest Reserves and Kulamba Wildlife Forest Reserve.

He said the site would be tabled and registered at the next “Conference of the Parties” to be held in South Korea in October.

With that, Sabah would have the largest Ramsar site in Malaysia. The total size of the country's other five sites is 55,000ha. The five others are Pulau Kukup State Park, Sungai Pulai Forest Reserve and Tanjung Piai State Park, all located in Johor; Pahang's Tasek Bera and Kuching Wetlands National Park in Sarawak.

Some benefits of being listed as a Ramsar Site are funding for management activities such as forest management plan preparation, enhanced protection, bio-diversity assessments and increased access to expertise, Mannan said.

“The listing will also further raise the profile of Sabah’s conservation efforts internationally and this is bound to have a positive effect on the state’s growing nature-based tourism industry,” he added.


If you would like to learn more about, look at and maybe buy photos by a young American working with tribes in Sarawak, please check out http://hopeinlight.com/printsale.html

I suspect he is doing what many of us would like to do!

Friday, 18 July 2008

At times like this you begin to wonder how good a swimmer you are, and if the crocodiles are friendly.

Travelling with COP is never dull and it
often means either getting wet from the pouring rain or from leaks in the bottom
of small boats.

Nature Alert profile etc.

Until this last visit to Borneo I have deliberately kept my name and photos of me out of this Blog. The primary reason being, I want people to focus on orangutans, their habitat, the Centre for Orangutan Conservation, and not me.

However, I am constantly being asked, especially by family and business friends, 'what do you do in Borneo'? So, by showing photos this time I hope it will help people understand what I do and why.

Everything I do is voluntarily, in my spare time and with my own savings. I do not ask for or accept donations from any organisation. I've lost count of how many times I have been to Indonesia, but it's probably around 12-15.

There are many excellent Indonesian's who do care about what is happening to their environment. I simply do what I can to help them save rainforests and specifically orangutans. The Centre for Orangutan Protection has my full support - you won't find a better, more committed, passionate group of people saving orangutans 24/7.

Although I have yet to make the details public, many people who know me, also know I am very critical of some organisations I see either saying or implying they are helping save orangutans, when I know different. The orangutan population decline is also a consequence of very ineffective use of public money by a number of very large international organisations....and it continues to this very day. I intend to name and shame them, but will choose my time and place - they know they are on my radar screen.

Thanks as always for your concern and if you want to do more for orangutans than just read my Blog, please will you donate to the Centre for Orangutan Protection? Please will you help them? If you have any questions you can always email me at sw@naturealert.org

To donate please click on http://www.orangutan-appeal.org.uk/shop/?category=2

Thank you once again.


A close shave

Location: West Kalimantan (Borneo). Date: First week of July 2008.

Following our visit to this same area in February this year, Hardi (Director/Founder of the Centre for Orangutan Protection) and I returned on a mission. We were determined to help locate and rescue orangutans that local investigators had identified but were unable themselves to rescue for fear of 'blowing' their cover which would make their work even more dangerous in the future.

The following sequence of photographs concern an orangutan we were told was being kept behind the home and workplace of a hairdresser. The first thing we needed to do was to check out the report, which meant Hardi having his haircut in the salon whilst I wandered out the back to see what I could find.

To cut a long story short we then chatted to the 'owner' about the orangutan, but as we had no power to confiscate it we left and reported the matter to the local and very helpful Forestry Police; they agreed to rescue the orangutan as soon as we could provide a carrying crate and the promise of a new life in a rescue centre.

I am pleased to report "Haibi" was rescued earlier this week, is now in a transit centre and will shortly be taken to a rescue and rehabilitation centre to begin its new life with his own kind.

This picture shows Hardi sacrificing his hair in the name of orangutan conservation. It looked to me as the hairdresser had a policy of 'one size/style fits all'!

This and other rescues are only possible thanks to
supporters and sponsors of COP - the Centre for Orangutan Protection.

Alone and desperately sad.

This what I found at the back of the salon/home. "Haibi", who the salon owner later told us he had kept there for five years - virtually all its life.

The end of a five year ordeal is almost over for this orangutan.

The person on the left of the picture had kept "Haibi" chained up at the back of his home for five years. As far as we could tell he had not otherwise been cruel to "Haibi"; in his own, albeit mistaken way, he had cared for "Haibi" as best he knew how to. He subsequently admitted he knew he was breaking the law, but until now had never felt threatened by law enforcement.

A rare and very special experience

Playing with an orangutan is not something we encourage, but there are occasions when the animal itself clearly solicits company and affection. At times like this it would be cruel to reject its appeal for attention. Often the people who keep orangutans, do so as if they are a trophy to be admired but otherwise taken for granted. "Haibi" seemed to know we were on a 'mission' to help him and did all he could to maintain our interest and affection and - despite being chained up for five years, he was so very gentle.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Making way for a new palm oil plantation - the company concerned is called The Agro Group.

When it comes to destroying rainforests, the Agro Group encourages its workers to have a ...................

Once the trees are gone, all remains of natural life are erased from the surface of the earth.

All that is left of a rainforest in Central Borneo ... and the few remaining tress have since be removed.

June 2008

Before our very eyes - the disappearing rainforests.

In the deep south-west of Kalimantan (Borneo) there is a little known but extremely large bauxite mine that has, and continues to, wipe out thousands of hectares of rainforest and all that live(d) in it - including orangutans. Bauxite is a surface based ore that can be mined relatively cheaply and quickly - no tunnelling is required. The ore is primarily used for making aluminium. This mine is owned by the Chinese Harita Group....the influence of Chinese businessmen is spreading like a plague over Indonesian Borneo.

These photos are taken from a distance - guards protect the area. Our local investigator believes there are still a few orangutans literally holding on in the small pockets of forest you can see in these photos. All we do know is, many orangutans will have been either killed or captured in this area - no one has ever seen one come out alive.

On a slow boat to - anywhere.

These general freight boats are moored nearby the bauxite mine. These are the type of boats used to smuggle baby orangutans from Borneo to Java and elsewhere, after which the babies could be sold to anyone.

Of increasing concern is, the mining company are building their own private loading jetty. Which means no outsiders (people like us) will have a chance of seeing any orangutans being smuggled.

All bribery cash was handed over to PKB: lawyer

All bribery cash was handed over to PKB: lawyer

The Jakarta Post , Jakarta Wed, 07/16/2008

All money received by Yusuf Emir Faisal, a suspect in the bribery case relating to a forest conversion in Banyuasin, South Sumatra, went to the National Awakening Party (PKB), his lawyer says.

Lawyer Sela Salomo told Elshinta Radio at the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) on Wednesday that Yusuf Emir Faisal received Rp 800 million (about US$87,512) from an unknown party, handing Rp 300 million over to the then PKB's treasurer Arief Djuanedi. The remaining Rp 500 million was given to the then chairman of the PKB's Tanfidz council Muamir Muin Syam.

Emir has previously admitted to accepting money in relation to the conversion project, but said he had handed the money over to the PKB in accordance with party regulations.

Sela said the Rp 300 million was allocated to medical treatment of PKB's Syuro council chairman Abdurrahman Wahid. The remaining Rp 500 million was allocated to the party's campaign office.

Beside Emir, the KPK has detained lawmaker Sarjan Taher as a suspect in the bribery case over the conversion of a mangrove forest for the construction of the Tanjung Api-Api seaport.

Emir is the chairman of the House of Representatives Commission IV which oversees forestry, agriculture and fisheries, and Sarjan is a member of the commission.(**)

State discussing with plantation firms on conservation

State discussing with plantation firms on conservation

16th July, 2008 New Sabah Times, Malaysia

KOTA KINABALU: The state government is currently in midst of discussions with some major plantation companies to persuade them to dedicate certain areas of their massive land banks for wildlife and forest conservation.

Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment Datuk Masidi Manjun said these companies included Sawit Kinabalu, Golden Hope and Sime Derby.
“They have big land banks and they have said that some of will be dedicated for forest reserve,” he told reporters here yesterday.

Masidi was responding to a report by a non-government organisation (NGO) called HUTAN recently that 60 per cent of mammals are staying outside of the protected areas in Sabah.

The minister replied by saying that the government was trying to initiate a wildlife corridor to connect the orang utans living outside the sanctuary.
“The wildlife corridor is basically a riparian reserve but unfortunately many of our people have converted the land for plantation. The riparian reserve should not be disturbed as it is needed to provide access for animals to move,” he said.

In order to protect wildlife, he noted that a numbers of NGOs from overseas have raised money to buy land of about 50 acres in Kinabatangan from the villagers in order to keep them as a forest reserve.

Indonesia's Corruption Agency Says Another Lawmaker Arrested

Indonesia's Corruption Agency Says Another Lawmaker Arrested

17th July

JAKARTA (AFP)--Indonesian authorities arrested a lawmaker Wednesday for allegedly taking bribes from developers, the sixth parliamentarian to be detained this year in a corruption crackdown, an official said.

Yusuf Emir Faishal, from ex-president Abdurrahman Wahid's National Awakening Party, was arrested by the powerful Corruption Eradication Commission in the early hours of the morning, commission spokesman Johan Budi said.

He's suspected of taking bribes in connection with a parliamentary decision to approve the rezoning of forest land for commercial development.
"He was arrested early Wednesday and has been named a suspect in the case," Budi said.

Yusuf had already returned $81,750 in alleged bribe money but the total he was suspected of taking from developers was not known.

He was head of a parliamentary commission overseeing forest management in 2005 when he allegedly received bribes to allow development on some 600 hectares of mangrove forest in South Sumatra province.

Indonesia's one of the world's most corrupt countries and ranks 143rd on Transparency International's global corruption perceptions index, on an equal pegging with Russia, Togo and Gambia. (END) Dow Jones Newswires

Orang utans survive in forests within estates

DAILY EXPRESS NEWS Malaysia 17th July

Orang utans survive in forests within estates

Kota Kinabalu: New findings by the Borneo Conservation Trust (BCT) show that Orang Utans are surviving in pockets of forest within the oil palm plantations in Sabah and that it is possible for the Orang Utans to travel and live within the plantations.

"This initial finding is part of the effort to realise our goal towards creating a contiguous forest within the landscape and thus will benefit a wider range for wildlife habitat and movement," said BCT Chief Executive Officer, Cyril Pinso.

BCT has been commissioned by Malaysia Palm Oil Corporation (MPOC) to undertake a survey of the Orang Utan population in Sabah, including those residing within oil palm plantations.

Pinso said recent reports (Daily Express July 8, 2008; The Star July 7&8, 2008) that majority of the isolated Orang Utans in the Kinabatangan area would go extinct in less than 50 years if nothing is done is true.

BCT is a state-mandated tax-exempt NGO established in 2006, and promoted by the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment. It was incorporated under the Trustee's Ordinance 1951, Cap. 148 (Sabah), to deal with the pressing needs to preserve the habitat and the migration route of Borneo's most endangered wildlife along the Kinabatangan and the Segama Rivers.

This migration route referred to as BCT Green Corridor is part and parcel of BCT's mission.

As a first token step, BCT has bought five acres in the Kinabatangan area to connect this corridor, supported by funds from Japanese individuals.

At the same time, it also raised awareness to deal with the continuing challenges concerning our conservation efforts for the benefit of wildlife and the environment, including restoring Malaysia's image in the oil palm industry.

In recent years, Sabah oil palm plantation companies have been accused of being insensitive to the existence and the well-being of the highly endangered large mammals of Borneo such as the Orang Utan, Sumatran Rhino, Bornean Elephant and Probocis Monkey.

As a result of this negative portrayal of the industry, the MPOC (responsible for marketing and promotion of oil palm products worldwide) has taken a serious interest and affirmative action to environmental sustainability, biodiversity conservation and wildlife preservation.

"Once we understand a specie conservation (or threat) status, then we know how to move forward. Our joint studies will help identify which species are threatened, where they occur, and what threatens their survival.
With that knowledge, we find ways to act that can begin to reverse the population decline."

Pinso said the survey was in collaboration with the Kinabatangan Orang Utan Conservation Project (KOCP), a conservation project operated by a private non-governmental organisation called HUTAN, which is based in Kinabatangan Sabah, and has been working towards the conservation of the OU in Sabah since 1998.

In addition, the recent signing of a Tripartite Agreement between BCT, MPOC and Bursa Malaysia at the recently concluded International Palm Oil Sustainable Conference (IPOSC) at Kota Kinabalu in April 2008 is "timely and applauded".

Further conservation measures undertaken through this networking would be to ensure that oil palm plantations are doing their part in ensuring that the building up of good wildlife corridor in the Kinabatangan/Segama areas, planting fruit trees as food sources for wildlife, re-stocking the river reserves with trees species helps increase biodiversity and food sources for these animals.

Pinso elaborated that, "such voluntary and self-imposed policies represent a matured approach to resolving the negative perception of the oil palm industry, and how such conservation measures be further improved and appreciated to support endangered wildlife species.

"This will go down well with the global palm oil market and enhances positively Malaysia's Oil Palm products world wide, and in part fulfill its corporate social responsibility (CSR) and governance profiling them further as green investments."

This affirmative step forward is a step in the right direction to save these "pockets" of OU and lends support to the proposed Bio-diversity and restoration of river reserves as well as lands above 20 per cent slope of an oil palm plantation by planting native and fruit trees, he said.

"This should be made a national policy directive, and requires the highest decision makers including the Federal and State agencies, selected companies, the likes of Sime Darby, IOI, KLK, Felda, etc, coordinated by MPOC, and ably assisted by BCT at the Sabah level," he said.

Finally, a deliberate and well funded Community Outreach Programme (COP), which is to instill upon the various stakeholders: shareholders, directors, management, staff (both local and foreign workers) and the public to accept and embrace the co-existence of OU as very much a part and parcel of an oil palm plantation ecosystem.