Friday, 29 February 2008

Another orangutan victim. Shame on the government of Indonesia

29th February 2008

This baby orangutan was bought by a mining worker of PT. HARITA. The price
to buy it from him is about £27 (about US$54).

It is located in the village of Banjarsari Kendawangan. The Forestry Ranger who was made aware of this (illegally held) baby orangutan dared not attempt to confiscate it as the owner demanded compensation.

No one should pay for orangutans as it only creates a market and encourages loggers etc to capture more in the hope they can sell them.

The baby orangutan, having seen its mother killed, remains in these terrible conditions whilst COP attempts this weekend to persuade the Forestry Department to mount a more robust rescue.

Illegal logging - Indonesia


West Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo)
Despite the government policy to eradicate illegal logging in
Indonesia, Nanga Tayap district is still outside of the law. These
logs will be sent along the river to Ketapang. This photo was taken
by COP last week.
Illegal logging like this is happening right now, as you read this, all over Indonesia.

Smash and grab - palm oil company style.


The progress of and destruction by
loggers and palm oil companies is relentless...
despite promises by the President to save
orangutans and their habitat.

The district of Nanga Tayap, the plantation company follows the track of illegal loggers. It is forest clearing by PT. SIS Company.
Photos: Hardi Baktiantoro/February 2008












Thursday, 28 February 2008

Palm oil companies continue their forest destruction.

These photos were taken last week in south-west Kalimantan by Hardi Baktiantoro.
As you can see the forest destruction continues apace, everywhere, despite claims by the President and Minister of Forestry that they would offer forests and orangutans more protection.

Last year they both said forest fires (set by palm oil companies) would be stopped. It is now very early on in the dry season and the fires have already been started again. It's business as ususal.











Sumatran deforestation driving climate change and species extinction, report warns

Sumatran deforestation driving climate change and species extinction, report warns

Jessica Aldred
guardian.co.uk,

Wednesday February 27 2008


The destruction of Sumatra's natural forests is accelerating global climate change and pushing endangered species closer to extinction, a new report warned today.

A study from WWF claims that converting the forests and peat swamps of just one Sumatran province into plantations for pulpwood and palm oil is generating more annual greenhouse gas emissions than the Netherlands, and is endangering local elephant and tiger populations.
The fastest rate of deforestation in Indonesia is occurring in central Sumatra's Riau province, where some 4.2m hectares (65%) of its tropical forests and peat swamps have been cleared for industrial plantations in the past 25 years, the study shows.

Since 1982, about 30% of the province's natural forest has been cleared for palm oil plantations, 24% for industrial pulpwood plantations, and 17% has become so-called wasteland – land that has been deforested but not replaced by any crop cover. Twenty-five years ago, according to the report, forest covered 78% of the Riau province. Today it covers just 27%. In just one year, 2005-06, it lost 286,146 hectares – 11% of forest cover.

Illegal and legal forest clearance for the development of settlements, infrastructure and agriculture has traditionally driven deforestation in Riau, but the "speed and finality" of forest conversion for the rapidly expanding pulp and paper and palm oil industries is matched "by no other type of deforestation", the report says.

Satellite image of smoke from forest fires and land clearance in Riau. Photo: EPA The resulting average annual CO2 from forest loss, degradation, peat decomposition and fires between 1990-2007 in Riau province alone was 0.22 gigatons – higher than that of the Netherlands, or equivalent to 58% of Australia's total annual emissions, or 39% of the UK's annual emissions, the report says.

The report, a joint effort between WWF, Remote Sensing Solutions and Hokkaido university in Japan, claims to be the first piece of research to analyse the connection between deforestation and forest degradation, global climate change and declining wildlife populations.

It has analysed deforestation and forest degradation over a 25-year period between 1982-2007. By using satellite images to map land cover and usage it has identified the main drivers of forest clearance. Researchers used remote sensing analysis and two different land management scenarios to estimate historical and future CO2 emissions related to deforestation up to 2015.

Riau is home to vast peatlands that are estimated to hold south-east Asia's largest store of carbon, and contains some of the most biodiverse ecosystems that are home to critically endangered species such as Sumatra elephants and tigers, rhinos and orang-utans.

In the past 25 years, WWF says there has been a clear correlation in Riau between the clearance of forests and declining wildlife populations, largely thought to be due to an increase in human-wildlife conflict as animals are driven from their disappearing forest habitats.

Elephant numbers may have declined as much as 84% in Riau. Photo: Wayne Lawler/Corbis The report shows there has been a huge decline in elephant numbers – from an estimated 1,067-1,617 in 1984 to possibly as few as 210 individuals today. If this trend continues and the two largest remaining elephant forests are not protected, Riau's wild elephant population will face extinction, the report warns.

Similarly, figures in the report show that Riau's Sumatran tiger population has declined by 70% in 25 years, from 640 to 192 today. Unless the last remaining patches of tiger habitat are connected by wildlife corridors, these too will face extinction, the report says.

"We found that Sumatra's elephants and tigers are disappearing even faster than their forests are in Riau," said WWF International's species programme director, Dr Susan Lieberman. "This is happening because as wildlife search for new habitat and food sources, they increasingly come into conflict with people and are killed.

"The fragmentation and opening up of new forest areas also increases both the access and the opportunities for poaching. Therefore, a concerted effort to save these forests will contribute significantly to slowing the rate of global climate change, and will give tigers, elephants, and local communities a real chance for a future inSumatra."

About 20% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions are estimated to come from global annual deforestation, which often takes place in the most biodiverse regions of the world, such as Brazil and Indonesia.

Indonesia's carbon emissions are likely to increase, the study predicts, as most future forest clearance will be conducted in areas with deep peat, which releases greenhouse gases when it decomposes or burns.

During December's UN climate change conference in Bali, the Indonesian minister for forestry promised to provide incentives to stop unsustainable forestry practices, and to protect Indonesia's forests. The governor of Riau province has also made a public commitment to protect the province's remaining forest. WWF is urging the government to uphold these promises.

"If the commitments by the Indonesian government are implemented, it will not only save its endangered species, but actually slow the rate of global climate change through the carbon savings," said Ian Kosasih, the director of WWF Indonesia's forest programme.

"If government and local industry were to create positive incentives for projects to reduce emissions by saving forests in Riau province, it would both protect the province's massive carbon stores and also contribute to the economies of local communities that are dependent on these forests," Kosasih added.

The demand for palm oil, which is fuelling much of the forest clearance, has risen in recent years to meet a global demand for biofuels.

Last week, the transport secretary, Ruth Kelly, ordered a government review of the environmental and economic damage caused by growing biofuels.

Ministers say a number of studies have emerged recently that question the environmental benefits of biofuels, and the government wants to check that UK and European biofuel targets will not cause more problems than they solve.

Monday, 25 February 2008

Activists Demand Justice For Illegal Logging Cases in Riau

Activists Demand Justice For Illegal Logging Cases in Riau

Source: The Jakarta Post - February 22, 2008

By Rizal Harahap, Pekanbaru

Members of the Indonesian Forest Protection Committee and the Riau chapter of the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) rallied Thursday at Riau Police Headquarters here demanding the immediate prosecution of illegal logging suspects.

Riau Police named six regional heads and dozens of executives from 23 forestry and plantation companies as suspects in illegal logging cases in early 2007, but none of these suspects have been brought to trial.

"We handed over data and facts from the field between January and April 2007 to help the police in their investigations. It has been a year now, but the illegal logging cases have not yet been resolved. We hope Riau Police chief Sutjiptadi keeps his promise to settle the cases," Riau Walhi executive director Joni Setiawan Mundung said during the rally.

He cast doubt on whether Riau Police had investigated the six officials who issued forestry licenses critics say sped up the destruction of the province's forests."We were initially very impressed by the actions taken by Sutjiptadi, who expressed his commitment to combat illegal logging in Riau, especially when we were told the National Police had asked for the President's permission to question the regional heads in Riau on Sept. 27 last year.

"Sixty days have passed but there is has still been no reply from the President. The police should have immediately questioned the officials, who have been identified as suspects.

Surprisingly, the Riau Police have yet to question them, with the police chief instead issuing a statement saying they won't be examined," said Mundung.Riau Police spokesman Adj. Sr. Comr. Zulkifli declined to comment on the charges."Please ask the Riau Police chief about the illegal logging issue," he said.

The police also have not completed 15 case files on illegal logging suspects returned by prosecutors in December last year, preventing the cases from moving forward.Prosecutors are also very careful about handing over cases to the courts, especially after a number of illegal logging suspects were acquitted."We don't want to be blamed by the public if we lose in court due to a lack of evidence," said Riau Prosecutor's Office spokesman Darbin Pasaribu.

It's Not Easy Being Green: Things That We Can Do

It's Not Easy Being Green: Things That We Can Do

Source: The Jakarta Post - February 19, 2008
By Jonathan Wootliff

Indonesia is sick. This nation has one of the richest ecosystems in the world but its environmental health is hanging in the balance.

In a bid to achieve economic growth, it seems that looking after the environment is all too often ignored. Putting profit before the planet is a mistake. There is no doubt that economic development is vital for Indonesia. But surely not at any cost?

Without fresh air and clean water, money is useless. And yet the drive for prosperity is all too often being done without due care for our fragile natural surroundings.The surge in green consciousness during the UN climate change conference in Bali last December could have led the optimist to believe that respect for nature was on the rise.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono led the call for Indonesians to understand the importance of nurturing the country's natural resources. Government ministers were talking passionately about the need and the importance of conservation. But the enthusiasm seems to have been short lived.

Sadly, the good intentions appear to have evaporated and Indonesia has returned to business as usual. Jakarta has among the most polluted air of any city in the world. The lack of a decent sewage system is constantly contaminating the city's water. And the recent bout of flooding has once again wreaked havoc and destroyed lives.

Not a month goes by without some terrible natural disaster -- mudslides, fires and the like.The much respected environment minister, Rachmat Witoelar, is on record saying these catastrophes are the consequence of neglect. He has called for greater responsibility and accountability among those leading the country's economic development and has accused construction companies of ignoring the ecological impacts of their projects.

Environmental degradation, which is rife in this country, is endangering far more than the orangutan and the tiger. It is threatening the human race. Public awareness is an essential part of the effort to address Indonesia's environmental problems, from disaster risks to biodiversity conservation. Informed and aware citizens can take action to address environmental issues, and can form constituencies for improved efforts at the political and local government level. But at the broader level, environmental values have yet to become embedded in society. This leads to the undervaluation of natural resources and environmental services. Public participation in decision making is essential. Recent environmental disasters may have stimulated greater environmental concern, but not enough.

The voices of concerned Indonesians must become louder.Our politicians are more often followers than leaders. They have short-term goals directly connected with concern for winning votes. We need to give them the confidence to put environmental protection high on their list of priorities. How much more irreversible damage to Indonesia's natural resources be tolerated?

How much worse must basic qualities of life get? How many more lives must be put at risk through environmental neglect?Of course, people's own attitudes and practices need to change. We must learn about what we can do as individuals to protect our surroundings. There's much we can all do to make a difference.

But the government needs to receive a strong message that the people of Indonesia really care about the environment and demand action. Many difficult challenges face this vast country.

Economic growth is without doubt of real importance. But there has to be a balance between wealth creation and ecological protection.At the Bali climate conference, I was privileged to meet Gro Harlem Brundtland, who established the World Commission on Environment and Development.

The work of this former Norwegian prime minister led to the publication of the well-known report, Our Common Future, back in 1987.This UN-sponsored report first introduced the concept of sustainable development to the world, making the compelling case that development should meet the needs of today's generation without compromising those of future generations.

Brundtland was ahead of her time. She articulated the need to balance economic and environmental imperatives. Some 20 years on we are still struggling to achieve this.Establishing priorities in Indonesia is not easy, either for individuals of the government. Getting through each day can be tough.

Poverty and general social problems have to be tackled. Providing for people's basic needs is an ongoing challenge. But we cannot afford to ignore the health of our planet. There is much that both government and individuals can do to improve the quality of our lives and protect our future.

We can and must become more environmentally aware and responsible.It was Kermit the frog who said that "it's not easy being green". Over the weeks and months ahead, Green-Watch will provide ideas about what can be done to protect and enhance the ecological health of this great country.Jonathan Wootliff is an independent sustainable development consultant specializing in the building of productive relationships between companies and NGOs. He can be contacted at jonathan@wootliff.com

Indonesian Police To Undergo Training To Combat Forest Looting

Indonesian Police To Undergo Training To Combat Forest Looting

Source: DPA - February 18, 2008

Jakarta: Senior field officers in the Indonesian National Police are to undergo training aimed at cracking down on wildlife smugglers and illegal loggers, who are threatening the country's biodiversity and natural resources, a regional wildlife alliance said Monday.

The training over the next two and a half weeks is on how to detect and arrest members of organized crime syndicates looting the nation's forests, the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Wildlife Enforcement Network said in a statement.

"It's great news for Indonesia that the police have committed to work with other agencies to protect the country's wildlife and forests," said Steve Galster, director of field operations for PeunPa and the Wildlife Alliance, conservation groups that support the ASEAN network. "Laws exist to protect endangered species and ecosystems."The fate of Indonesia's wildlife and forests has been in the global spotlight in recent weeks after the discovery that the population of critically endangered Sumatran tigers had plummeted because of poaching and illegal wildlife sales.

Researchers had found tiger bones, claws, skins and whiskers being sold openly in eight cities on Sumatra despite laws banning such trade. The Sumatran tiger is the world's most endangered tiger subspecies with fewer than 500 of the big cats remaining in the wild.

To improve capacity to detect and prevent these and other crimes involving wildlife and forests, Indonesian police officers are to join forestry and customs officers for nature crime investigations training at the National Police's criminal investigations training centre in Bogor, West Java.

Galster said officials hope the intensive Wildlife Crime Investigation Course would pave the way for more joint training to help the government tackle poaching and smuggling networks. The ASEAN wildlife network involves the law enforcement agencies of all 10 ASEAN countries and facilitates cross-border collaboration in the fight against illegal wildlife trade in the region.

Indonesia is a global hotspot for trade in wild animals and plants. It is second only to Brazil in richness of biodiversity. Its forests are also under threat from illegal and unregulated logging.

Once abundant in Indonesia, species such as tigers, orang-utans and rhinoceros are now close to extinction because of a lethal combination of habitat destruction, persistent poaching and smuggling, weak enforcement and lack of public awareness.

Losing Ground (The Human Cost Of Palm Oil Expansion)

Losing Ground (The Human Cost Of Palm Oil Expansion)

Executive Summary – Losing Groundhttp://www.sawitwatch.or.id
February 2008

In Brief: The challenge of tackling climate change has created a growing world market for agrofuels – vegetable crops which can be used to produce fuel for transport and power stations.

As a result, many developing countries are turning to crops such as oil palm to feed this demand. Indonesia, currently the world’s biggest producer of crude palm oil, is continuing a massive expansion of its palm oil industry, despite serious concerns about the impact of oil palm on the environment.

Now a new report by Friends of the Earth, Sawit Watch and LifeMosaic has revealed how Indonesian government policies and palm oil industry practices are harming the rights of local communities and indigenous people. This summary highlights the importance of these findings to policy makers in Europe and argues that in the face of such evidence, targets to increase agrofuel use in the UK and the rest of the EU are misguided, risking environmental damage and human rights abuses on an even bigger scale.

Contact :Sawit watch : Jefry Saragih (jefry@sawitwatch.or.id)FoE EWNI : alison dilworth (alison.dilworth@foe.co.uk)Life Mosaic : serge marti (serge@lifemosaic.net)

Sunday, 24 February 2008

News about Orangutans

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Friday, 22 February 2008

Call for new laws on stolen logs

BBC News Online

Last Updated: Thursday, 21 February 2008, 16:52 GMT

By Tim Hirsch In Environment reporter, Brasilia

Deforestation in the Amazon accelerated at the end of 2007. Suppliers of illegally logged timber could be prosecuted in the countries where it is sold, under new proposals.

The move is being tabled at a gathering in Brazil of legislators from the Group of Eight (G8) richest economies and five key developing countries.

It calls for countries to pass domestic legislation making it a criminal offence to handle such timber.

The risk of prosecution would make wholesalers pay attention to the origin of wood they supply, advocates argue.

One of the authors of the proposal is the British Labour MP Barry Gardiner, who is Prime Minister Gordon Brown's Special Envoy on Forests.

Illegal timber means stolen wood, and that's what we are trying to combat
Barry Gardiner, MP

He told BBC News that the consumer countries of tropical timber had a responsibility to reinforce the laws passed in producer countries, which are estimated to lose £8bn ($15bn) a year in revenues due to illegal logging, according to World Bank figures.

"If a tree was felled illegally, let's say in Ghana, and the wood from that tree ends up coming into the UK, then anybody who tries to sell that wood, who imports it or trades it in the UK, would be subject to a criminal prosecution," he said.

"It would ensure that some of the poorest people in the world recapture the full value of the product that is being stolen from them at the moment. Illegal timber means stolen wood, and that's what we are trying to combat."

Lacey Act
A step in this direction has already been taken in the United States, where an amendment to the so-called Lacey Act has been passed in the Senate, which would extend penalties currently applied to traders in illegally obtained wildlife to trees and plants harvested abroad.

Similar measures are under consideration by the European Commission, and Mr Gardiner himself said he planned to propose legislation in the British House of Commons.
The executive director of Greenpeace UK, John Sauven, said the EU must act to crack down on the trade in illegal timber.

"Greenpeace has repeatedly exposed how illegal timber continues to freely enter the UK and it is vital that European legislation is introduced to ensure that all timber products come from environmentally and socially responsible sources," said Mr Sauven.

"As things stand today, companies who try to source timber responsibly are placed at a competitive disadvantage by others who choose not to question where their timber is sourced from. This situation is clearly unacceptable."

2015 vision
As the politicians put forward their proposals in Brasilia, the chief executives of 15 leading forestry companies issued a new "vision of tropical forestry for the year 2015", acknowledging the problems caused by deforestation and degradation of rainforests.

It calls for the implementation of credibly certified forest management practices and greater collaboration between forest enterprises and local communities.

More effective protection of rainforests has taken on a new urgency in Brazil, following the publication of figures last month showing that deforestation in the Amazon had accelerated again in the final months of 2007, after three years of decline.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/7257008.stm

Thursday, 21 February 2008

Conservation Camp Construction

In Central Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo) Feb 2008

Working closely with local villagers COP are
planting thousands of trees and building a
Conservation Camp which will used as a base
and a deterrent to illegal loggers and palm
oil companies. The forest concerned is home to
some 50 orangutans and was being cut down until COP
and local villagers made very strong, vocal protests
to the government.






Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Trading in Trees

The Star Online, Malaysia

Trading in Trees
By MICHAEL CASEY

Turning trees into tradable securities can be a way out to preserve the world’s rainforests.

FOR decades, a flood of aid and an army of conservationists couldn’t save Indonesia’s rainforests from illegal loggers, land-hungry peasants and the spread of giant plantations.Now the world is looking at a simpler approach: up-front cash

Whether it was arming forest police or backing schemes to certify legal logs, no tactic could silence the chainsaws or douse the intentional fires that each day destroy another 50sqkm of Indonesia’s rainforests, and an estimated 285sqkm elsewhere in the world’s tropics.

The problem was pure economics: neither local authorities nor the rural poor, in Indonesia and elsewhere, have a material incentive to keep their forests intact.

That could now change because of a decision at December’s UN climate conference in Bali, Indonesia, to negotiate a deal, as part of the next international climate agreement, under which countries would be rewarded for reducing their galloping rates of deforestation, a big contributor to global warming.

The cash might come directly from a fund financed by richer northern nations, or through “carbon credits” granted per unit of forest saved. The credits could be traded on the world carbon market, where a northern industry can buy such allowances to help meet its own required reductions in emissions of global warming gases.

Indonesia and other tropical countries backing the “avoided deforestation” concept hope this carbon price will outpace what landowners could get from logging the forests or clearing them for palm oil, rubber, soybean or other plantations.

“There will be a lot of money going in there,” said Benoit Bosquet, head of a World Bank project to prepare poorer countries to take part in the new initiative, known as REDD, for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation.

“You will see actors currently converting forest to plantations and cattle ranches saying, ‘Wait a minute. If I get more money to preserve my forest than to produce beef, then of course I will keep my forest standing.’” – AP

Indonesian police to undergo training to combat forest looting

Indonesian police to undergo training to combat forest looting

Posted : Mon, 18 Feb 2008 08:58:00 GMT
Author : DPA Asia World News

Jakarta - Senior field officers in the Indonesian National Police are to undergo training aimed at cracking down on wildlife smugglers and illegal loggers, who are threatening the country's biodiversity and natural resources, a regional wildlife alliance said Monday.

The training over the next two and a half weeks is on how to detect and arrest members of organized crime syndicates looting the nation's forests, the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Wildlife Enforcement Network said in a statement.

"It's great news for Indonesia that the police have committed to work with other agencies to protect the country's wildlife and forests," said Steve Galster, director of field operations for PeunPa and the Wildlife Alliance, conservation groups that support the ASEAN network. "Laws exist to protect endangered species and ecosystems."

The fate of Indonesia's wildlife and forests has been in the global spotlight in recent weeks after the discovery that the population of critically endangered Sumatran tigers had plummeted because of poaching and illegal wildlife sales.

Researchers had found tiger bones, claws, skins and whiskers being sold openly in eight cities on Sumatra despite laws banning such trade.

The Sumatran tiger is the world's most endangered tiger subspecies with fewer than 500 of the big cats remaining in the wild.

To improve capacity to detect and prevent these and other crimes involving wildlife and forests, Indonesian police officers are to join forestry and customs officers for nature crime investigations training at the National Police's criminal investigations training centre in Bogor, West Java.

Galster said officials hope the intensive Wildlife Crime Investigation Course would pave the way for more joint training to help the government tackle poaching and smuggling networks.

The ASEAN wildlife network involves the law enforcement agencies of all 10 ASEAN countries and facilitates cross-border collaboration in the fight against illegal wildlife trade in the region.
Indonesia is a global hotspot for trade in wild animals and plants. It is second only to Brazil in richness of biodiversity. Its forests are also under threat from illegal and unregulated logging.

Once abundant in Indonesia, species such as tigers, orang-utans and rhinoceros are now close to extinction because of a lethal combination of habitat destruction, persistent poaching and smuggling, weak enforcement and lack of public awareness. Copyright, respective author or news agency

Monday, 18 February 2008

Siz Sumatran Orangutans to Be Released Into Jambi National Park

Six Sumatra Orang-Utans to Be Released Into Jambi National Park

Source: Antara News - February 17, 2008

Jambi: Six Sumatra orang-utans (Pongo pigmaeus abelii) from the Sumatra Orang-Utan Quarantine Center in Batu Mbelin Village, Sibolangit Subdistrict, Deli Serdang, North Sumatra province, were scheduled to arrive at Bukit Tiga Puluh National Park (TNBT) in Tebo Regency, Jambi, on February 19, 2008.

They are leaving North Sumatra for their destination by land on February 18, 2008, and were slated to arrive in Tebo regency on the following day, Head of the Jambi Province Natural Reserve Conservation Institute (BKSDA) Agung Setyabudi said in Jambi on Sunday.The government has turned the Jambi-Riau TNBT into a protection and breeding ground of the Sumatra orang-utan.

Previously the six orang-utans were quarantined for 20 months at the Sumatra Orang-Utan Quarantine Center of the North Sumatra Lestari Ecosystem Foundation (YEL).The six big apes as confiscated objects of the Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam (NAD) Natural Reserve Conservation Agency (BKSDA) are called Ahmad (13), Mopi and Deknong (8), Cut and Yanti (6), and Anjeli (5).

The six orang-utans will bring the total number of orang-utans set free into the Bukit Tiga Puluh National Park to 100.It was estimated that only 6,500 Sumatra orang-utans still survived today and are living in the Leuser exosystem area and in the Batangtoru protected forests in North Sumatra. (*)

Illegal Logs, Ships Seized in E. Kalimantan

Illegal Logs, Ships Seized in E. Kalimantan

Source: The Jakarta Post - February 16, 2008 PASER, East Kalimantan

Police arrested Wednesday an Indonesian citizen and confiscated 720 cubic meters of illegal logs allegedly stolen from rainforest in Paser regency.

The man identified as JD was detained and the logs and three ships used to transport the logs were seized as material evidence for further investigations. East Kalimantan Police water police chief Sr. Comr. Harris Fadillah said the arrest was made on the Kerang River on a routine patrol of the regency.

"The logs and the ships were confiscated because they had no necessary documents from local forestry and transportation authorities," he said. Over the last two weeks, the military confiscated more than 32,000 logs allegedly stolen from rainforests in West Kalimantan. Illegal logging is still common in Kalimantan, despite tough laws and increased surveillance from security authorities. --JP

Ministry Threatens To Revoke 21 Forestry Licences

Personal note to readers not familar with the
government of Indonesia.
Basically, I never believe a word they say.
Much better to wait and see what they 'do' rather
than place trust in what they say, particulary the
Minister of Forestry.

Ministry Threatens To Revoke 21 Forest Licences
The Jakarta Post - February 15, 2008
By Adianto P. Simamora, Jakarta

The government threatened Thursday to revoke licenses of 21 natural forest concession holders for their failure to meet requirements in sustaining their forest estates.Forestry Minister Malam Sambat Kaban said among 40 forest concession holders that underwent a sustainable operations audit last year, only 19 companies met the standards.

"I promise I will take firm steps, including to revoke the licenses of bad concession holders, so you don't need to lobby other officials to have your licenses extended," Kaban said to a number of forest concessionaires.

He refused to identify the bad concession holders. Forest Protection and Natural Conservation director general Soenaryo said the companies operated in Sumatra, Kalimantan and Papua. The companies have six months from now to improve, otherwise their licenses will be revoked, Kaban said.

The ministry commended 19 forestry companies, seven of them for good performance, while the remaining 12 were considered "moderate". As of 2007, the office had audited 143 concession holders to check whether companies managed forests sustainably, Kaban said. "Only 48 of the forest concessions, controlling 4.5 hectares of land each, met the requirements," he said.

The audit was conducted by the Independent Verification Institute (LPI) and funded by the government. The move to revoke licenses is part of the ministry's attempts to protect Indonesia's natural forests which have been put at risk due to illegal logging and overexploitation.

Kaban said the ministry expected to audit 61 forest concessions this year. "Forestry is a very promising business if you can manage your estate sustainably. We are considering incentives for companies that preserve the forest," he said. In 2003, the government revoked 13 concession licenses that controlled a total of 1.5 million hectares of forest, for poorly maintained forest estates.

The concessionaires included PT Maraga Daya Wood, PT Artika Optima Inti I, PT Bhara Induk Maluku and PT Bhara Induk Sumut. Also on Thursday, Kaban provided a license for PT Restorasi Ekosistem Indonesia (REKI), which will be responsible for the regeneration of 52,170 hectares of production forests in Musi Banyuasin, South Sumatra.

The company promised not to cut down any trees until the forest ecosystem was stable. "We will refrain from cutting down trees -- it may take us 100 years," Reki foundation head Yusup Chayani said. He said the company would be responsible for the protection of the forest from illegal logging and fires.

The company also pledged to empower local communities living near the forest, and would encourage them to protect the forest so they did not rely purely on wood products. "We will develop ecotourism in the area," he said, adding that his company would invest US$16.193 million over 20 years.

Illegal Logs Seized in West Kalimantan

Illegal Logs Seized in West Kalimantan

Source: The Jakarta Post - February 14, 2008
BALIKPAPAN, East Kalimantan

The military in West Kalimantan has confiscated some 32,000 logs believed to be illegally looted from rainforests in Putussibau.

Ten groups of people with connections to the logs have been detained by police for further investigation. Preliminary investigations suggest the logs were stolen from rainforests in Embalok Hilir, Bunut Hilir and Sintang Hulu on Feb. 7-8 and were to be transported to Java and overseas.

In January, 2,500 illegal logs were seized in a joint police and military operation in Sintang regency. The spokesman for the Tanjungpura Military Command overseeing Kalimantan, Col. Andi Sayuti, said here Tuesday the two cases had been handed to the police in West Kalimantan for further investigation.

He added that those involved in the logging were unemployed locals who had yet to receive a disbursement of rice aid from the local government. "The aid package of 1.8 tons of rice has yet to reach the poor people in the regency," he said, saying a low-income family received 50 kilograms of rice per month from the local administration. --JP

Saturday, 16 February 2008

Campaigner of the Year


Leading the campaign to save orangutans
and stop palm oil companies
from destroying the remaining
rainforests in Borneo, is
a brave person called
Hardi Baktiantoro
- founder of
The Centre for Orangutan Protection.
http://www.orangutanprotection.com/

If, like me, you feel he deserves more
recognition then why not click on the
link below and nominate Hardi for
the Campaigner of the Year Award,
perhaps also for running the
Campaign of the Year Award as well?

This will not only recognise his good work, it will also

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Hawaii Palm Oil Press Release

Hawaii Environmental Organizations Urge Leaders to Reject
Imported Palm Oil, Seek Locally Sustainable Energy Strategies

Coalition of groups intensifies public education efforts as world leaders gather in Honolulu for Energy Security and Climate Change meetings

January 27, 2008
For Immediate Release
For more information contact:
Rob Parsons, 808-280-1369 Maui Tomorrow Foundation Inc.
robparsons@earthlink.net

MAUI—As a major climate change meeting of the world’s 16 biggest carbon-emitting nations is held in Honolulu, local environmental and cultural organizations are calling for an end to plans to open up a “palm oil pipeline” from Southeast Asia to Hawaii.

Members of several environmental, cultural, and student organizations will conduct educational demonstrations to coincide with the Major Economies Meeting on Energy Security and Climate Change (MEM), to be held at the University of Hawaii East-West Center this week.

Hawaii is the most petroleum-dependent state in terms of electrical production, with over 90 percent of the state’s energy needs coming from imported oil. Despite abundant potential for solar, wind and wave power, the Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO) has spent the past year supporting proposals to construct two huge biodiesel refineries by Imperium Renewables on Oahu, and by BlueEarth Biodiiesel LLC on Maui.

If constructed, their combined production, 220 million gallons yearly, exceeds the potential output that could be produced in Hawai`i, even if all available statewide agricultural lands were utilized solely for biofuel crops. The companies intend to import palm oil and these refineries will be among the largest palm oil refineries in the United States.

“Switching from imported petroleum to imported palm oil does nothing for Hawaii’s energy security”, said Lance Holter, Chairman of the Sierra Club-Maui Group. “We have abundant local energy resources we should be utilizing, including solar, wind, and wave technologies.”

“The world community knows that palm oil plantations in Indonesia, Malaysia, and elsewhere are an ecological disaster with immense negative climate impacts”, said Rob Parsons, Executive Vice President of Maui Tomorrow Foundation. “Palm and soy plantations are destroying biodiverse rainforests and peat swamps, creating huge carbon emissions through slash and burn clearing, threatening endangered species, and trampling on the rights of indigenous people. Why in the world would Hawaii’s leaders choose to be a partner to all of that?”

According to Kasha Ho`okili Ho of San Francisco’s Rainforest Action Network, “The world’s rainforests are our last, best defense against catastrophic climate change. Agribusiness companies are tearing down rainforests in places like Malaysia and Indonesia to produce palm oil biodiesel which they are then marketing as a solution to global warming. Their false solutions aren’t making the world safer, they are just making a corporate profit.”

According to Environmental Defense scientist Stephanie Fried, a former Fulbright Scholar who conducted research in Indonesia with East Kalimantan forest communities, “This month, Smithsonian scientists found that biofuels made from palm oil may be worse overall than fossil fuels. This comes as no surprise to anyone who has ever visited these palm oil plantations.”
Last summer, HECO held public meetings to discuss possible criteria for procurement of “sustainable palm oil”. More than fifty local and international organizations registered concerns with the draft language. Another 8,000 people sent e-mails to Governor Linda Lingle, urging her to veto a bill to provide state Special Revenue Bond Funding to support $59 million of the funding for the BlueEarth Biodiesel facility on Maui.

“We are educating our leaders to help them understand the huge difference between small, local steps towards sustainable production of biodiesel crops, and the importation of oil from huge mono-crop plantations thousands of miles from Hawaii, with a track record of deforestation and human rights exploitation”, said Annie Nelson of the Sustainable Biodiesel Alliance.

According to Kelly King of Hawaii’s homegrown company Pacific Biodiesel, which since 1996 has produced transportation fuel from used restaurant oil, “Rapid expansion is risky, and over-sizing a biodiesel refinery to accommodate mega-million gallons of imported oil discourages local efforts to plant and harvest crops. It is critical that our state move toward true sustainability with the understanding that all sustainability is local. We call on our leaders to learn the difference between green and “greenwashing.”

Renewable energy advocate Henry Curtis of Life of the Land (Hawaii) objected to the closed-door meetings held with the world’s top producing nations of carbon emissions and other greenhouse gasses. “This secret exclusive meeting includes the largest polluters on earth but excludes their devastated victims, including the vulnerable Pacific Island Nations that are most susceptible to rising sea levels from global warming.

On Wednesday afternoon, January 30 at 4:30, the Sierra Club, Hawaii Chapter is organizing Project Blue Line, as a visual demonstration of the impacts of a projected one meter sea level rise by the end of this century. For more info, contact: hawaii.chapter@sierraclub.org or call 538-6616.

“Hawai`i has a chance to show the world how sustainable energy production can be done, and that what’s sustainable can also be profitable”, said Parsons. “Let’s move away from damaging proposals such as the import of palm oil. This is our golden opportunity to influence our leaders and return the “power to the people”.

Friday, 15 February 2008

Deforestation; Prince Charles expresses concerns

BELGIUM: February 15, 2008
BRUSSELS -

Britain's Prince Charles, called on Thursday for a global fund to preserve tropical rainforests from destruction.

"In the simplest of terms, we have to find a way to make the forests worth more alive than dead," the heir to the British throne told the European Parliament in an address.

"The doomsday clock of climate change is ticking ever faster towards midnight", he said.
He called for a public-private partnership of banks, insurance companies and pension funds alongside international financial institutions to provide financial incentives to combat deforestation taking place on a massive scale.

Prince Charles said the burning of rainforests, which he called "the planet's air-conditioning system", was responsible for a big proportion of greenhouse gases, blamed for global warming as well as the loss of water and plant life.

Every year, 20 million hectares of forest, equivalent to the area of England, Wales and Scotland, was destroyed, he said.

The Prince of Wales, eldest son of Queen Elizabeth, has long campaigned on environmental causes.

He said he was encouraged some business chiefs and public opinion were now willing to consider more radical action and lifestyle changes than governments dared to propose.

In a resolutely pro-European speech, he praised last month's European Commission proposals to cut greenhouse gas emissions and promote renewable energy and biofuels, and said governments were still not moving fast enough to meet the challenge.

The fight against climate change was "clearly comparable to war. The question is whether we have the courage to wage it", he declared.

Prince Charles, accompanied by business leaders and members of his other charities, met Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and the EU's environment, energy, trade and agriculture commissioners to discuss climate change on Wednesday.

He suggested in his speech that proceeds from the planned auctioning of emissions permits under the European Union's Emissions Trading Scheme could be used to provide long-term incentives for sustainable forestry in developing countries.

The Commission proposed last month that carbon dioxide emissions allowances should be auctioned from 2013 instead of being handed out for free to power generators and industries, with all such permits to be auctioned by 2020.

However, the revenue would accrue to EU member states and Brussels has only an advisory say in how it is spent.

Environmental pressure group Friends of the Earth praised the prince's proposal that countries should be paid to protect forests and his call for immediate political action.

Friends of the Earth spokesman Tony Juniper urged the British government to "raise its game" by strengthening its proposed climate change legislation to achieve deeper cuts in carbon dioxide gas emissions.
(Editing by Matthew Jones)
Story by Paul Taylor
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE

IJM Plantations to go big in Indonesia

The Star Online. Malaysia
Monday February 11, 2008

IJM Plantations to go big in Indonesia

THE CEO INTERVIEW By HANIM ADNAN

It plans to invest RM600mil to develop newly acquired land in East Kalimantan
IJM Plantations Bhd (IJMP) has transformed into one of the fastest growing oil palm plantation companies in Malaysia with strategic oil palm-related investments in Indonesia and India.


Within a short span of two years, the group doubled its plantation hectarage to about 60,000ha and will be on the lookout for suitable land bank for oil palm cultivation, particularly in Indonesia.

IJMP is also embarking on the oil palm upstream and downstream operations with the Godrej Group in India.

Managing director and chief executive officer Velayuthan Tan told StarBiz that IJMP's immediate focus would be to develop its newly acquired 30,000ha of land in East Kalimantan with high-yield oil palm trees.

While the group is busy scouting for more land in the vicinity, he said: “We plan to invest about RM600mil within the next five years to develop the existing areas (in Indonesia) inclusive of processing facilities.”

Between Nov 2006 and June 2007, IJMP acquired three companies in East Kalimantan with a combined area of 32,634ha.

Tan said: “The acquisition of these companies is part of our long-term strategy to expand the operations in Indonesia.

“The identified sites are strategically located and fit the group's plan of enhancing its existing infrastructure in Sabah.” Currently, of IJMP's total land bank, about 27,000ha are planted.
Tan said the group's investment in Indonesia was significant as “it represents our move to continue maintaining fresh fruit bunches (FFB) production growth in IJMP through the doubling of hectarage in Indonesia.”

He said East Kalimantan was located near Sabah and has large tracts of land suitable for oil palm cultivation.

As for IJMP's foray into India, Tan said the strategic alliance between IJMP and Godrej involves the cultivation of oil palms and processing of palm oil in the states of Karnataka and Goa.

“We believe our upstream experience in plantation management can synergise with the downstream strengths of Godrej Group in India,” he added. Godrej is a well-known household brand in India.

Tan said the alliance between both parties would offer IJMP with an entry point into the lucrative palm oil trade and consumption market in the highly populated continent.
He noted that IJMP's current focus would be to smoothen the progress of cultivation of oil palms in the two states in India.

“We will subsequently set up palm oil milling facilities there to buy back and processing the FFB,” he said.

On the progress of IJMP's biodiesel plant in Sabah, Tan said: “We are in the process of setting up the first module of 30,000 tonnes per annum capacity in Sandakan.”

Despite the feedstock (CPO) for biodiesel production had risen to above RM3,000 per tonne, Tan said: “The macro scenario for biofuel is obvious as its medium- to long-term prospects continue to remain sound and intact.”

He said the demand for more environment friendly fuel, diminishing supply of fossil fuel and the projected increase in global consumption of fuel in the transportation sector were factors that will continue to sustain the development of the biofuel industry.

Furthermore, the prices of biodiesel have not moved in tandem with the feedstock prices because of the relatively young and immature trade.

Against such backdrop, Tan said IJMP's entry into biodiesel production was part of the group's business plan, which incorporates integration between both upstream and downstream activities. “Our outlook is towards a long-term business undertaking,” he added.

On the CPO outlook, he said the current bullish prices were due to lower supply of global vegetable oil and continued strong demand from consuming countries.

He said biofuel demand in the European Union and the US continued to support the bullish CPO prices against the backdrop of higher crude oil prices.

Tan stressed that the increasing global palm oil production would help the current debate on the use of vegetable oils as food versus fuel.

Monday, 11 February 2008

Indonesians being tricked out of rainforest land

Indonesians being tricked out of rainforest land

By Paul Eccleston
Last Updated: 1:01pm GMT 11/02/2008

Native peoples who depend on the rainforest for survival are being tricked out of their land by corrupt officials so they can grow lucrative biofuel crops, according to environmental groups. Forests that have supported generations of native peoples are being snatched and levelled for palm oil plantations, says Friends of the Earth

Unscrupulous companies are using force or conning families in the Indonesian rainforests into giving up their rights to the land by promising jobs and new developments.

In its report Losing Ground FoE claims people end up in poorly paid work and locked into debt while the companies profit from palm oil plantations which destroy the forest and pollute village water supplies.

It blames the rush to biofuels for fuelling demand for the huge amount of land needed to grow oil palm and calls on the EU to scrap its 10 per cent target for road transport biofuels by 2010.
The report claims that although the EU wants to use biofuels sustainably it has not addressed the problems caused by its production and this will lead to more of the types of problems seen in Indonesia.

More than 85 per cent of the worlds palm oil is produced in plantations in Indonesia and Malaysia. Indonesia alone plans a further 20m hectares of plantations by 2020 - an area the size of England, Holland and Switzerland combined.

The palm oil industry says that plantation expansion is vital for economic development and methods used are both environmentally sustainable and benefit the local people. In reality little else survives in the plantations and half the habitat of the orang-utan lost in the last decade has been linked to palm oil plantation expansion.

The deforestation and drainage of peat swamps for palm oil production has made Indonesia the third highest emitter of green house gases after the USA and China.

FoE, which worked with environment groups Sawit Watch and LifeMosaic on the report, says there is mounting evidence that biofuels cannot deliver on the reduction needed in CO2 emissions to combat climate change.

Hannah Griffiths, Friends of the Earth biofuels campaigner, said: "This report shows that as well as being bad for the environment, biofuels from palm oil are a disaster for people. MEPs should listen to the evidence and use the forthcoming debate on this in the European Parliament to reject the 10 per cent target.

"Instead of introducing targets for more biofuels the EU should insist that all new cars are designed to be super efficient. The UK Government must also take a strong position against the 10 per cent target in Europe and do its bit to reduce transport emissions by improving public transport and making it easier for people to walk and cycle."

The environment groups have been helping communities affected by palm oil plantations in Indonesia since 2005 to give an insight into the social, economic and cultural impacts of oil palm plantations.

Serge Marti from LifeMosaic said: "Indonesia is a uniquely diverse country whose communities and environment are being sacrificed for the benefit of a handful of companies and wealthy individuals.

"This report should help the Indonesian government to recognise that there is a problem, and to step up efforts to protect the rights of communities. In Europe we must realise that encouraging large fuel companies to grab community land across the developing world is no solution to climate change. The EU must play its part by abandoning its 10 per cent target for biofuels."
Abetnego Tarigan, deputy director of Sawit Watch, said: "Oil palm companies have already taken over 7.3 million hectares of land for plantations, resulting in 513 ongoing conflicts between companies and communities.

"Given the negative social and environmental impacts of oil palm, Sawit Watch demands reform of the Indonesian oil palm plantation system and a re-think of plantation expansion plans."


http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/main.jhtml?xml=/earth/2008/02/11/eaindo111.xml

World Market Fuels Deforestation

World Market Fuels Deforestation

Source: The Jakarta Post - February 8, 2008
By Adianto P. Simamora, Jakarta

Efforts to curb deforestation will not work if rich nations fail to controltheir wood consumption, forest watchdog Greenomics Indonesia has warned.Greenomics director Elfian Effendi said Thursday that high demand for woodproducts mostly from the United States, European Union and Japan had givena boost to deforestation in the world's tropical nations, includingIndonesia.

"The rich nations often blame us for the speedy deforestation rate. Theyseem unaware that their consumption contributes much to the deforestation,"Elfian said.

Greenomics was commenting on the latest report on the wood market between 2004 and 2007 from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization(FAO).

The report said the U.S., the EU and Japan were the world's threelargest importers of wood products, amounting to US$71.2 billion per year.

The U.S. alone spent $23.3 billion per year on wood products, while the EU$13.2 billion and Japan $11.8 billion.According to Elfian, China and Malaysia are the world's biggest exportersof wood products, with material coming mainly from Indonesia in the form ofillegally cut logs.

"It means deforestation in our country is linked to export-import transactions of wood products to rich nations," he said.

Indonesia is home to 120 million hectares of tropical forest, the world'sthird largest after Brazil and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Between1985 and 1997, deforestation occurred at a rate of 1.8 million hectares peryear. It rose to 2.8 million hectares per year until 2000, but slowed between 2000 and 2006 to 1.08 million hectares per year.

The government has said that carbon trading and the reduction of emissionsfrom deforestation in developing countries will significantly reduce thedeforestation rate. Elfian said, however, the schemes would not work unless rich countries tightened their control over the sources of wood products.

According to FAOdata, Malaysia is the biggest exporter of logs with 5 million cubic metersper year. "Malaysia exported about 20 million cubic meters in the period of 2004 to2007. It meant denuded forests reached 303,000 hectares," he said.

Malaysia is also the second biggest exporter of sawn wood, with 3 million cubic meters annually.

"In line with the UN data, deforestation in Malaysia should cover 730,000ha from 2004 to 2007, which is 11 times Singapore's area," he said. He said Malaysia was the main exporter of wood products, including logs, to China.

The world's most populous country is the world's top importer of logs fromtropical countries with 7 million cubic meters per year.

China also imported 2.5 millions cubic meters of sawn wood between 2004 and2007. Japan and the United State are the top importers of plywood, reaching 3.5 million cubic meters and 1.5 million respectively.

"The two countries imported about 10 million cubic meters of tropicalplywood from 2004 to 2007. Indonesia must learn from the export-importdata," he said.

New Palm Oil Report

10,000 orangutan condemmed to die by the Indonesian government.

Would you like to see a new report on this scandal?

Please visit Nature Alert http://www.naturealert.org/ to
read all about it and how you can help stop it.

Malaysia's IJM Plantations to go big in Indonesia

The Jakarta Post
February 11, 2008


Malaysia's IJM Plantations to go big in Indonesia


PETALING JAYA, Malaysia (The Star/ANN): Plantation firm IJM Plantations Bhd (IJMP) has transformed into one of the fastest growing oil palm plantation companies in Malaysia with strategic oil palm-related investments in Indonesia and India, The Star reported Monday.

Within a short span of two years, the group doubled its plantation hectarage to about 60,000 hectares and will be on the lookout for suitable land bank for oil palm cultivation, particularly in Indonesia.

IJMP is also embarking on the oil palm upstream and downstream operations with the Godrej Group in India.

Managing director and chief executive officer Velayuthan Tan said that IJMP's immediate focus would be to develop its newly acquired 30,000 ha of land in East Kalimantan with high-yield oil palm trees.

While the group is busy scouting for more land in the vicinity, he said: "We plan to invest about RM600 million within the next five years to develop the existing areas (in Indonesia) inclusive of processing facilities."

Between November 2006 and June 2007, IJMP acquired three companies in East Kalimantan with a combined area of 32,634 ha.

Tan said: "The acquisition of these companies is part of our long-term strategy to expand the operations in Indonesia.

"The identified sites are strategically located and fit the group's plan of enhancing its existing infrastructure in Sabah."

Currently, of IJMP's total land bank, about 27,000 ha are planted.

Tan said the group's investment in Indonesia was significant as "it represents our move to continue maintaining fresh fruit bunches (FFB) production growth in IJMP through the doubling of hectarage in Indonesia." (****) -->

Friday, 8 February 2008

Converting land for biofuel worsens global warming: study

Converting land for biofuel worsens global warming: study

WASHINGTON (AFP) — Clearing raw land to produce biofuels actually contributes to global warming by emitting large amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, researchers have warned.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from new croplands carved into rainforests, savannas, wetlands or grasslands would easily surpass the overall amount of CO2 emissions reduced through the use of biofuels, according to a report in the February 8 edition of Science.

"If you're trying to mitigate global warming, it simply does not make sense to convert land for biofuels production," said Joe Fargione, a founder of private environment protection agency the Nature Conservancy and co-author of the study.

"All the biofuels we use now cause habitat destruction, either directly or indirectly," he said.
"Global agriculture is already producing food for six billion people. Producing food-based biofuel, too, will require that still more land be converted to agriculture."

Converting land to grow corn, sugar cane or soy beans -- crops used in the production of biofuels -- creates a "biofuel carbon debt" by releasing 17 to 420 times as much CO2 into the atmosphere as the greenhouse gas reductions which the biofuels provide by displacing fossil fuels.

Carbon is stored in dead trees and plants as well as in the soil, and naturally seeps into the atmosphere in the form of CO2. Converting native habitats to cropland increases the release of CO2 into the air, the report said.

It would take years, and in some cases centuries, before biofuels derived from crops on converted land would lead to a net reduction of greenhouse gases, according to the report.
The researchers calculated that in Indonesia, where wetlands are being converted to grow palm oil to produce biofuels, it will take 423 years before biofuel CO2 emission savings would repay the carbon debt caused by the land conversion.

"We don't have proper incentives in place because landowners are rewarded for producing palm oil and other products but not rewarded for carbon management," said report co-author Stephen Polasky, an applied economics professor at University of Minnesota.

"This creates incentives for excessive land clearing and can result in large increases in carbon emissions."

An incentive for carbon sequestration or a penalty for carbon emissions is needed in order to slow CO2 emissions and environmental destruction, Polasky said.

The researchers noted that strong growth in the demand for corn-based ethanol in the United States has led to the increasing destruction of the Amazon rainforest in Brazil.

To address the ethanol demand, US farmers have stopped rotating corn crops with soy, leaving their Brazilian counterparts to produce more soybeans to meet rising global demand, resulting in further Amazon deforestation, they said.

The report stresses that certain biofuels do not contribute to global warming because they leave the natural ecosystem intact, and that obtaining biofuels from biomass waste or forestry products such as wood chips causes less harm to the environment and is the aim of several scientists.
http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5hOQLqH3pUlwjUEeWivsZy9LK1XEw

Biofuel crops 'increase carbon emissions'

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/main.jhtml?xml=/earth/2008/02/07/eabiofuel107.xml

Biofuel crops 'increase carbon emissions

By Paul Eccleston
Last Updated: 7:01pm GMT 07/02/2008

Ploughing up land to produce crops for biofuels won't help the fight against climate change, a major new survey claims.

Digging up valuable agricultural results in major emissions of carbon and wipes out any savings through the use of green fuels.

A palm oil factory surrounded by palm oil plantations in Riau province, Sumatra, Indonesia
The findings come in a new study - the first of its kind - by The Nature Conservancy and the University of Minnesota which will be published in Science later this month.They are set to reignite the heated scinetific debate over the effectiveness of biofuels which are produced from organic crops such as corn, sugar beet or wheat.

The study's lead author Dr Joe Fargione, a scientist for The Nature Conservancy, said: "This research examines the conversion of land for biofuels and asks the question 'Is it worth it?' Does the carbon you lose by converting forests, grasslands, and peatlands outweigh the carbon you 'save' by using biofuels instead of fossil fuels? And surprisingly, the answer is no."

"These natural areas store a lot of carbon, so converting them to croplands results in tons of carbon emitted into the atmosphere."

The race to produce biofuels has already brought warnings of a potential environmental and humanitarian catastrophe.

There are fears that vast tracts of land will be ploughed over to biofuel crops resulting in damage on a global scale. Much of the destruction of tropical rainforests - one of the biggest sources of CO2 emissions - is blamed on land being cleared for crops.

The conversion of peatlands in Indonesia for palm oil plantations and deforestation in the Amazon for soy production have resulted in carbon losses, according to the new report.
There have also been warnings that growing crops for fuel rather than food could result in food shortages and if it happens globally the world will slip from a net surplus of food to a net deficit.
Concerns about the effectiveness of biofuels resulted last month in the EU announcing a review of its policy of running vehicles on biofuels instead of petrol and diesel to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Europe had hoped that biofuels would make up 10 per cent of transport fuel by 2020 and the UK had set a target of 5 per cent biofuels in petrol and diesel by 2010.

In the study Dr Fargione says: "We analysed all the benefits of using biofuels as alternatives to oil, but we found that the benefits fall far short of the carbon losses. It's what we call 'the carbon debt.' If you're trying to mitigate global warming, it simply does not make sense to convert land for biofuels production."

"All the biofuels we use now cause habitat destruction, either directly or indirectly. Global agriculture is already producing food for 6 billion people. Producing food-based biofuel, too, will require that still more land be converted to agriculture."

The study points out that increased demand for ethanol corn crops in America is resulting in the conversion of land in the Brazilian Amazon. The switch by US farmers from traditionally rotated corn crops with soybeans to corn every year had led Brazilian farmers to plant more of the world's soybeans, resulting in deforestation of the Amazon.

They also found significant carbon 'debt' in the conversion of grasslands in the US and rainforests in Indonesia.

The conversion of peatlands for palm oil plantations in Indonesia ran up the greatest carbon debt which would require 423 years to pay off. The production of soybeans in the Amazon, which would not "pay for itself" in renewable soy biodiesel for 319 years.

Stephen Polasky, Professor of Applied Economics at the University of Minnesota, said: "We don't have proper incentives in place because landowners are rewarded for producing palm oil and other products but not rewarded for carbon management.

This creates incentives for excessive land clearing and can result in large increases in carbon emissions.

Jimmie Powell, who leads the energy team at The Nature Conservancy, said: "In finding solutions to climate change, we must ensure that the cure is not worse than the disease.
We cannot afford to ignore the consequences of converting land for biofuels. Doing so means we might unintentionally promote fuel alternatives that are worse than fossil fuels they are designed to replace. These findings should be incorporated into carbon emissions policy going forward."

The study says some biofuels do not contribute to global warming because they do not require the conversion of native habitat. These include waste from agriculture and forest lands and native grasses and woody biomass grown on marginal lands unsuitable for crop production.
The scientists urge that all fuels be fully evaluated for their impacts on global warming, including impacts on habitat conversion.

Biofuels could have an important role to play in meeting energy needs - despite widespread criticism, the National Farmers' Union said.

The President of the NFU Peter Kendall, told a farming conference in Cambridge that biofuels had become the "whipping boy of choice for the chattering classes and even some within the farming community".

While they were not a panacea for the world's renewable energy needs, much of the criticism they were coming in for over environmental destruction or competing with food for land was exaggerated or wrong and the debate needed more balance.

Proposed European ban to affect crops worldwide

Proposed European ban to affect crops worldwide
Posted on February 6th, 2008 Posted in Greenwire: COPENHAGEN —

A proposed European Commission ban on biofuels deemed environmentally unfit is likely to have a global impact on a type of renewable energy once touted as key to weaning economies from oil and curbing emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases.

The proposal — which could affect how palm oil biofuel is produced in Southeast Asia or how corn ethanol is made in the United States — was unveiled last month as part of the European Union’s ambitious plan to fight climate change. The plan forces member states to cut carbon emissions by 20 percent while making sure biofuels make up at least 10 percent of transportation fuels by 2020.

To meet renewable energy targets and be eligible for subsidies, biofuels used in Europe must emit at least 35 percent less carbon dioxide compared to oil and must not be produced in areas currently covered by forests, nature preserves, wetlands or highly biodiverse grasslands.
Biofuels that fail to meet the standards won’t be allowed on the European market.

Those that do will be rewarded with a premium, with binding targets meant to offer certainty to investors who will know they can sell environmentally sustainable biofuels at a higher price. Producers will have to prove to member states that they meet the standards, and their claims will be independently audited. The commission also pledged to designate sustainability requirements for biomass by the end of 2010.

“While biofuels are the only viable alternative transport fuel for the foreseeable future, at least until hydrogen becomes competitive, their growth requires criteria to be set for the environmental sustainability of biofuels,” Jose Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission, said last month in a speech at Lehman Brothers in London. “I think our focus should be firmly on only sustainable biofuels, that is to say only those which produce a substantial CO2 saving compared to the oil that would be consumed instead.

“I feel confident that the outcome will provide the most comprehensive and sustainable system anywhere in the world for the certification of biofuels and for domestic and imported biofuels alike,” he added. “We will continue to promote the rapid development of second generation biofuels. This is critical to attaining public confidence that the environmental benefits of using biofuels outweigh any possible disadvantages.”

Europe has encouraged the production of biofuels since 2003, when the European Parliament set a biofuels target of 5.75 percent of all transportation fuel on the market by the end of 2010, with 2 percent to be reached by 2005.

But this interim target hasn’t been achieved, with biofuels counting for 1 percent of transport fuel in 2005. The European Commission has concluded the 2010 target will also be missed, with biofuels reaching 4.2 percent of transport fuels by then.

‘A very complicated situation’
Biofuels cost more than other forms of renewable energy, and the commission expressed worries that without a separate minimum target the fuel won’t be developed. Despite mounting complaints about the technology’s true environmental effects, the commission argued that more biofuels use and increased vehicle efficiency are the only ways to make a significant impact on greenhouse-gas emissions in transportation. Moreover, biofuels can also put a dent in the transport sector’s dependence on oil, whose security of supply is a growing headache for net importer Europe.

But enthusiasm for the technology has been cooling off in many quarters. The week before the commission announced its proposed biofuels rules, Britain’s national academy of sciences, the Royal Society, warned that efforts to encourage biofuels production must deliver significant reductions in greenhouse emissions to be worthwhile.

Proponents of biofuels say they are carbon-neutral, because plants absorb CO2 as they grow, canceling out the emissions released by the consumption of the resulting fuel. But this doesn’t account for emissions produced when processing the crops into fuels or the emissions produced by fertilizers used in agriculture — factors that can vary greatly from one biofuel to another.
“Biofuels appear to be carbon-neutral, renewable and capable of being cultivated in many different environments.

The full picture, however, is much more complex as different biofuels have widely differing environmental, social and economic impacts,” the Royal Society said, warning that widespread deployment of biofuels will have major implications for land use and unintended consequences that may override expected benefits.

The report says that focusing only on supply targets for biofuels offers no direct incentive to invest in systems that would actually deliver low greenhouse gas biofuels and wider environmental, social and economic benefits.

“There’s a tremendous opportunity for biofuels. But we’ve really got to work more on rewarding the production and use of fuels that take into account potential damage to the environment and the creation of greenhouse gasses,” said John Pickett from Rothamsted Research, the chairman of the working group that produced the academy’s report.

“It’s very important when we consider biofuels that we look from the beginning of their production right until they go into the vehicle what the impacts are of the various processes involved. It’s a very complicated situation.”

Last September, a study by Paul Crutzen, a winner of the Nobel Prize in chemistry, said farm fertilizer was responsible for three to five times more greenhouse gas emissions than previously thought because it releases nitrous oxide. The study said fuels derived from rapeseed could produce up to 70 percent more greenhouse gases than regular diesel, those derived from sugar cane produced between 50 percent and 90 percent of greenhouse gases from gasoline, while those from corn range between 90 percent and 150 percent.

Then there is the effect of biofuels on food prices. As biofuels are produced from the starch, sugar and oil from crops such as wheat, corn, sugar cane, palm oil and rapeseed, any major switch to biofuels from such crops would create a direct competition with their use for food and animal feed and lead to price increases.

The week before the commission’s report, the environmental audit committee in Britain’s House of Commons called for a moratorium on biofuel targets, saying it was worried about the effect of changing land use and that biofuels may emit more greenhouse gases than fossil fuels.

“Warnings about the negative social, environmental and climate impact that this technology could have are getting louder,” said Tony Juniper, director of the advocacy group Friends of the Earth. “And some biofuels cause more climate damage than the fuels they replace. We must not rush ahead with biofuels until we can be sure that they don’t create more problems than they solve.”

Effects on production abroad
Even as some biofuel producers complained that the new European requirements amounted to protectionist trade barriers, the commission said its intention was not to limit biofuel production only to Europe. “It is both likely and desirable that these [biofuels] needs will in fact be met through a combination of domestic E.U. production and imports from third countries,” the commission wrote in its report.

The draft E.U. rules are expected to have the biggest effect on growers of palm oil in Malaysia and Indonesia.

Indonesia produced 700,000 metric tons of biodiesel using palm oil last year, and output is expected to nearly double this year. It has also been the site of recent large street protests against an increase in food prices triggered by biofuel production, as soybean oil prices skyrocketed to record highs in January as a result of U.S. soybean farmers choosing to grow more profitable corn to supply the biofuel industry.

Some European countries have already taken measures to ensure biofuels are more environmentally friendly. The Netherlands, worried about the destruction of peatforests for palm oil cultivation, stopped subsidies for palm-based biofuel until global producers meet its environmental requirements.

It said it may take two years for the world’s biggest palm-oil producers to comply if they don’t want to miss out on Dutch “green energy” subsidies that will rise from €10 million this year to €336 million by 2014. Germany and non-E.U. member Switzerland are also planning legislation to allow only biofuels certified as environmentally sustainable to count toward their own annual renewable energy targets or subsidies.

To calculate if a biofuel meets the 35 percent requirement for saving greenhouse-gas emissions, the European Commission published a list of default values for common biofuels production pathways.

The commission assigned a default greenhouse emission saving of 49 percent to corn ethanol — the main feedstock for U.S. biofuels — but only if it is produced with natural gas as process fuel in a combined heat and power plant. More than 1 million metric tons of biodiesel were exported from the United States to Europe last year, a more than 10-fold increase from 2006, as U.S. production nearly doubled in that timeframe.

Rapeseed biodiesel got a default saving of 36 percent, while palm oil biodiesel without a specified process got 16 percent. If the process does not result in methane emissions at the oil mill, palm oil biodiesel gets a default saving of 51 percent in the commission’s table.

Staples dumps Asia Pulp & Paper over its destruction of virgin rainforests

Staples dumps Asia Pulp & Paper over its destruction of virgin rainforests

Office supply giant Staples Inc. dropped Asia Pulp & Paper Co. Ltd. (APP), one of the world's largest paper companies, as a supplier due to concerns over its environmental performance, reports Tom Wright of the Wall Street Journal.
Calling APP a "great peril to our brand" for its alleged logging of wildlife-rich rainforests in Indonesia, Staples said it will now look to other suppliers for its branded photocopy and office paper. APP had accounted for roughly 9 percent of Staples-branded stock. "We decided engagement was not possible anymore," Mark Buckley, vice president for environmental issues at Staples, told the Wall Street Journal.

"We haven't seen any indication that APP has been making any positive strides" to protect the environment. Earlier Staples said it hoped that engagement with APP would prompt the firm to change its sourcing policies.

Construction of new logging corridor through dense dry lowland forest in Bukit Tigapuluh, Riau © WWF Indonesia.

The announcement comes at a difficult time for APP, which has faced widespread condemnation from green groups for its environmental record. In October, following an inquiry from the Wall Street Journal, the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), a forest certification body, rejected APP's planned use of a logo indicating its products met FSC environmental standards.

Earlier a partnership with environmental group WWF soured when it became evident that APP continued to log old growth forests for paper pulp. Still APP has "made up for lost orders from big Western buyers by selling more in the Middle East, India and Bangladesh, where environmental concerns are not such an issue," writes Wright.

In recent months, logging in Indonesia has garnered worldwide attention due to its impact on global climate. Several studies published over the past year show that emissions from forest destruction in Indonesia have made the country the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases. Politicians are now scrambling to rein in deforestation in an effort to qualify for carbon credits that could be worth billions of dollars.

Yesterday Irwandi Yusuf, governor of the province of Aceh, announced he would protect 1.9 million acres of forest in Ulu Masen in order to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 100 million tons over 30 years. Tom Wright (2008). Green-Minded Staples Ends Ties With Asia Pulp & Paper. Wall Street Journal, Feb 7, 2008

New and Damning Palm Oil Report released

9th February 2008


PRESS RELEASE

A LICENCE TO KILL

(colour report will be available to view at
www.naturealert.org
from Sunday 10th February.)

In yet another damning review of the palm oil industry, Nature Alert and Indonesia’s Centre for Orangutan Protection condemn the government of Indonesia for its complicity in the destruction of rainforests and the killing of orangutans.

Nature Alert’s Director, Sean Whyte says, “We call on President Yudhoyono to issue an immediate moratorium on the cutting down of rainforests for new palm oil plantations. He knows as well as anyone there is already plenty of previously deforested land available to grow new crops on.”

The palm oil industry and the Indonesian government already have the deaths of thousands of orangutans on their conscience. The truth is now out and they can be seen for what they are, merciless killers of orangutans as well as all other wildlife that once lived in the rainforests being cleared to this day at a breathtaking rate.

Hardi Baktiantoro, Director of Indonesia’s only specialist orangutan conservation organisation says, “I love my country but I hate what I see it doing to the rainforests and orangutans. We have to stop the destruction NOW – soon it will be too late.”

In a country once renowned through films and books as one filled with majestic trees teeming with wildlife, it is now possible to drive all day without seeing any rainforest. Instead, palm oil plantations are all one can see for mile after mile, no birds singing, no wildlife – the air is silent where once it would have been filled with the sounds of life.

Further information and contact details overleaf. High quality photos are available.


Notes:
This is the third report in three years published by Nature Alert. Previous ones have resulted in the major UK retail companies responding positively to sourcing palm oil that can truly be classed as ‘sustainable’.

Attention is now being turned to the source of the problem – the government of Indonesia.

In Indonesia, palm oil plantation companies buy forests from the government. In selling licences the government is knowingly (there is zero doubt about this) condemning thousands of orangutans to a certain death. This is despite their avowed commitment to The Kinshasa Declaration (copy attached). Last November in Bali the President declared his personal commitment to saving orangutans – but why should anyone believe him?

The figure of 10,000 has been arrived at based on information provided by a leading expert in Indonesia. One should remember for every orangutan reportedly killed, it is thought that a further four will have died or been captured.

‘Based on recent spatial analysis. Of the 8,100,000 ha of land earmarked for oil palm development in Kalimantan, 1,000,000 ha is in orang-utan forest habitat, with 210,000 ha in peat forest and with the remainder on mineral soils. This 1 million ha of orang-utan habitat is to be converted to oil palm in the next 5 years, affecting perhaps 10,000 animals. Not all of these will be killed’.

Orangutans, of which there are two species (Bornean and Sumatran) are fully protected species and listed on Appendix 1 of CITES. Latest estimates suggest 7,000 Sumatran and
53,000 Bornean orangutans remain. some 50,000 have been killed in the past 35 years.


Nature Alert is a non-profit, all-voluntary organisation based in the UK, focused entirely on saving orangutans. Sean Whyte, its Founder/Director, along with Hardi Baktiantoro (see below), returned this week from West Kalimantan (Borneo) where fresh evidence of orangutan killing in one of the more remote regions of Borneo is all too evident, and it’s getting worse.
http://www.naturealert.org/ http://www.born-to-be-wild.org/ http://naturealert.blogspot.com/
Tel: 01225 444929 07763 146677


The Centre for Orangutan Protection is the only all-Indonesian NGO dedicated to saving orangutans. Its Founder/Director, Hardi Baktiantoro, is widely recognised and respected in Indonesia as its leading campaigner for the protection of this species.
http://www.orangutanprotection.com/
Tel: (Indonesia + 7 hours from UK) +62 8139 822 9911


Further information and photos are available on request. Please see above for contact details.