Wednesday, 30 April 2008

KK cops seize crude palm oil worth RM7mil

Tuesday April 29, 2008 The Star Online, Malaysia

KK cops seize crude palm oil worth RM7mil

KOTA KINABALU: Police foiled an attempt to smuggle some 1.8 million kilos of crude palm oil worth RM6.93mil into the state from neighbouring Indonesia.

A police team moved in at 11pm on Sunday as the palm oil was being transferred from a boat to a lorry at the Merbung jetty in Tungku, about 100km from Lahad Datu. More palm oil was found on board a fishing trawler.

Sabah marine police chief Asst Comm Abdul Manaf Othman said it was the first time that police had intercepted a consignment of palm oil being illegally brought in.

Apart from the boat and trawler, police also seized three lorries, and three four-wheel drive vehicles believed to be used to transport the crude palm oil to processing factories in the Tungku area, he added.

Police also arrested 13 people aged between 25 and 45 years, including the crew of the two vessels.

Sumatran orangutans study for nature's pass/perish entrance exam

Sumatran orangutans study for nature's pass/perish entrance exam
The best students are the wildest. Lesson 1: Avoid humans at all costs.

By Jerry Guo Contributor to The Christian Science Monitor
from the April 30, 2008 edition

Batu Mbelin, Indonesia - I'm struggling to make friends here. Miriam, a 9-month-old orangutan orphan who's learning how to climb a tree, almost scales past her trainer when I approach. For good measure, she starts to cry. Another orangutan signals displeasure by emulating the sound of a Harley barreling toward me.

In fact, the only one who tolerates me is 11-year-old Leuser, and not because the 42 air-rifle pellets lodged in his body have mellowed him. He's also blind.

At any zoo, these surly apes would bomb the aw-isn't-he-cute exam, but here at the world's most successful school for rescued orangutans, they're taught to get back in touch with their wild side. Even playtime is serious business. Passing, say, the test of recognizing a friend (another orangutan) versus a foe (a human logger) could spell life or death for these critically endangered icons of the old world jungle.

Everything happens here with one goal in mind: graduation day, when the shaggy students are set loose into the harsh Sumatran rain forest. But for the students to have a shot at survival, handlers must teach them to avoid humans at all costs, a tough task considering they need to be fed by humans.

"We need to take care of these confiscated animals and return them to the wild," says Ian Singleton, director of the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme. "But we need to do it scientifically."

And real science doesn't involve a line of gawky tourists dangling bananas and posing for pictures. That's why this center at the far north of Sumatra – one of the main islands of Indonesia – is closed to the public and barely known to outsiders. Even if you made it to the nearby village of Batu Mbelin – where the specialty dish is fruit-bat soup and the humid air is clouded with mosquitoes, this part of Sumatra – is definitely not for the faint of heart.

I reflexively clench the door handle of Mr. Singleton's SUV as we cross over a rushing river on a wooden bridge. Palm trees line the one-lane road to this village, and in the distance, various plantations – chocolate, banana, papaya – dot the endless green of the hills.

"Kai berita," Singleton shouts in the local Karo Batak tongue to villagers we pass. He turns to explain, "I hate to be that white guy who drives by with the windows up and air-conditioning on."

With the locals, many of whom work at the rehab center, he's gained the reputation as a man unusually obsessed with orangutans, which are found only in the lowland forests of northern Sumatra and the nearby island of Borneo. They don't understand, at least initially, why he would offer the apes a hollowed-out block of wood with honey inside to play with, rather than just chicken and rice, the customary diet of pet orangutans. Turns out, it's a useful skill for wild orangutans to learn how to scrape honey out of a tree hole.

"The handlers come here thinking an animal is an animal, that as long as you feed them, they're fine," Singleton says. "But they're not. They need behavioral enrichment." Another trick to keep the students sharp is to tie up rice sacks with the food inside (they like any sweet fruit). "Some of them rip it open," he says. "But the smart ones untie the bag."

But you could say those are elective classes. Most of the orangutans come here either completely spoiled by their former owners – almost all military officers who keep them as illegal pets – or with injuries from clashes with farmers and illegal loggers. The injured receive medical attention, and former pets are quarantined for a few weeks and then transferred into a sprawling system of socialization cages.

For the young ones, it may be the first time they've seen another of their kind. "Sometimes they don't have a clue how to take care of themselves," says Singleton. -->

The night before this jaunt, Singleton was up until 2 a.m. discussing X-rays with a Swiss surgeon who flies here for emergency surgeries.

During the socialization stage, the residents make friends – and sometimes enemies. Two 30-pound toddlers, Kevin and Irwin, are rolling around some blue oil drums when they decide to fight (it looks more like tickling). Just as quickly, they become bored and begin swinging from ropes attached to the ceiling of their metal cage. The playground bully, Prince, who's bigger by at least 25 pounds, glares at them, ready to steal their milk when the handlers bring the twice-daily bowls.

Though wild orangutans are usually solitary animals, a landmark 2003 Duke University study revealed that they have culture, the only primates besides chimps with this human characteristic. Even more surprising, they've been observed using all sorts of tools to dig for termites, scrounge for honey, and get at the seeds inside the razor-sharp neesia fruit – knowledge passed from ape to ape. After all, it's unlikely a whole troupe of orangutans simultaneously realized leaves could double as gloves or umbrellas.

"Now we know how much these animals learn socially about basic forest skills," Carel van Schaik, an anthropologist at the University of Zurich and lead author of the Duke study, explains in a phone interview. "So you can imagine, if you take naive animals and stick them into the forest, that's going to be an enormous challenge. Ian is doing a very good job of preparing these animals."

If all goes well, the students will soon leave this garden paradise – with its freshwater springs, wood gazebos, and hanging orchids – for the tiger-infested rain forest of Jambi Province. It'll be a 36-hour drive down the spine of Sumatra to a place even more hidden than Batu Mbelin.

There, they must pass their final test. Handlers will bring them into the jungle each day and teach them everything else they need to survive: what fruits to eat and where to find them, how to eat ants and build nests, and perhaps how to use a tool or two. The wilder ones may graduate in a couple weeks. Tamer ones could take months or years. And the tamest ones? Well, like human students, they don't want to get out of bed until noon and will expect food to be handed to them on a plate (and don't even ask them to build a nest anywhere off the ground).

Regardless of their survival know-how, these orangutans face poor odds. Only 6,500 remain in Sumatra and 50,000 in Borneo, down by half from two decades ago.

"Surviving in the wild is not instinct. They have to learn an enormous amount," explains Rob Shumaker, an adviser to orangutan re-introduction programs in Borneo. "I know all the players, and what [Batu Mbelin] is doing is as good as it gets," he adds in a phone interview from the Great Ape Trust in Des Moines, Iowa, where he is the director of orangutan research.

Indeed it takes stellar teaching to assure an orangutan takes to the wild. More than 90 orangutans have been released since 2003, when the reintroduction began. And it's not goodbye after graduation. Field observation of the animals suggests the survival rate may be as high as 80 percent.

As it stands, wild orangutans need all the help they can get. At current rates of growth, illegal logging, mining, and oil palm plantations, could destroy 98 percent of the orangutan's habitat by 2022, a UN report warned last year. Many conservationists predict the extinction of the orangutan within a decade or two..

Before we drive back to town, Singleton takes me to a nearby abandoned botanical garden. By this fall, he plans to turn the place into an educational center for local schoolchildren to learn about orangutans and the rehab program. It's obvious he's an educator at heart. No wonder his hairy graduates are at the top of their class.

Plantations depriving natives of their livelihood

Group: Plantations depriving natives of their livelihood

By HILARY CHIEW The StarOnline 30/04/08

KUALA LUMPUR: Soon, indigenous communities in Sarawak will not be able to feed themselves as their ability to grow their own food is severely cut by the aggressive conversion of their farmland into oil palm plantations.

The warning came from an international fact-finding mission led by five NGOs amid the current global concern over food security.

Most indigenous communities are self-sufficient entities as they farm in their semi-forested land and collect jungle produce for their own consumption and to sell them to city folks for some cash.
“With the imminent global food crisis, they will face further impoverishment and poverty.

“Besides the threat to food production, clear-felling for plantations, especially on peat soil, is contributing to carbon emission that aggravates global warming,” said the group leader Tenaganita director Irene Fernandez.

Fresh from the mission conducted last week in three major regions in the state, the group told a press conference here yesterday that the insatiable expansion of the monocrop had destroyed forests with the resultant loss of biodiversity that has even further affected the dependence of the native communities on forest for livelihood.

The group also felt that this strategy and action constitutes gross violation of indigenous peoples’ rights to Native Customary Rights land.

The group visited 70 villages and met with about 825 people and claimed that there was continued and systemic organised aggression on indigenous peoples land and rights with some cases of outright criminal intimidation.

The group, comprising both local and foreign NGOs like Tenaganita, Pesticide Action Network - Asia Pacific, Sarawak Dayak Iban Association and Rainforest Action Network of the United States called upon the state government to respect the native's customary rights as guaranteed under the Sarawak Land Code and cease the issuance of the 60-year provisional leases that is the source of all the land conflicts.

Fernandez said the mission’s report would form the basis for an international petition campaign to support the Sarawak natives struggle to protect their rights over their ancestral land.

Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Setting a good example

Tuesday April 29, 2008 The Star Online

Setting a good example
A plantation firm undergoes checks to verify that its operations are green.


HAVING palm oil production as its core business surely invites the microscope on Sime Darby Bhd’s corporate behaviour, especially now with heightened awareness of the crop’s environmental and social impacts.

However, the country’s biggest public-listed plantation company – after the merger exercise involving Sime Darby, Guthrie and Golden Hope last year – is ploughing ahead with certification of its operation under the first global initiative for sustainable palm oil, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).

With a total planted area of 329,470ha in Malaysia and 195,856ha in Indonesia, Sime Darby is aiming for 10 SOU (standard operating unit) certificates by June. (A SOU refers to one mill and its contributing estates.) Of the 10, eight will be from Malaysia and two from Indonesia. It plans to obtain certification for the remaining 55 mills, in stages, by 2010.

To obtain the green certificate, companies must adhere to the eight principles and 39 criteria set out by RSPO. The more stringent requirements include no further clearing of forests for expansion and no displacement of indigenous communities without consultation and compensation. Sime Darby hopes to be the first plantation company to be certified.

Long before RSPO came into the picture, sustainable agriculture practices had already been explored in Sime Darby plantations, especially within Golden Hope Plantation Bhd. For example, Golden Hope introduced the zero-burning technique in 1989 which was subsequently adopted as the industry standard for replanting.

Instead of torching the land, the company has the old palms shredded mechanically, placed in trenches and left to decompose. This is not only good for the environment but it makes business sense, too. Unlike the open-burning technique, young saplings can be planted immediately without having to wait for the burning to be completed. The zero-burning technique also eliminates the threat of forest fires, especially in peat swamp areas.

Sustainable agriculture
Sime Darby senior vice-president II Syed Mahdhar Syed Hussain says sustainable agriculture is carried out in two other field operations: soil management and integrated pest management.
Role model: Sime Darby senior vice-president II Syed Mahdhar Syed Hussain concedes that open burning is illegal and zero-burning is in line with the country’s laws.

To prevent soil erosion and loss of fertility, leguminous cover crop (LCC) is introduced. These crops not only improve soil structure but fixes nitrogen in the air to further enrich the soil. They also reduce the use of harmful herbicide to control weeds that flourish quickly in fallow land. Besides taking care of the soil, these plants provide nectar to insects like the rhinoceros beetles, which combat pests. For bigger pests like rats, barn owls are encouraged to propagate in estates. Owl nests, costing RM380 each, are placed on every 10 ha of land.

Sustainable practices also extend to the fleet of machines and vehicles in Sime Darby’s sprawling estates. A bio-diesel trial started in February and plans are afoot to gradually introduce bio-diesel as transport fuel. In terms of energy use, Syed Mahdhar claims that all mills are 100% energy-sufficient as they use biomass generated within the estate.

Palm oil mill effluent and empty fruit bunches, previously sources of water
pollution and the greenhouse gas methane, are now captured and converted into nutrients, generating a new source of revenue for the company. At four of its mills – two in Sabah and one each in Sarawak and Pahang – empty fruit bunches and mill effluent are composted.
“We are working towards sequestering 500,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide-equivalent emission by 2012,” Syed Mahdhar declares.

Sime Darby believes that the sustainability of its businesses is linked with the sustainability of the ecosystems surrounding its operations. Hence its sustainable initiatives go beyond the boundaries of its estates. It supports these conservation projects: RM740,000 for research and environmental educational programmes to protect the plain-pouched hornbill of Belum-Temenggor forest in Perak with the Malaysian Nature Society; RM2mil to cultivate five million seedlings of forest species with private nursery Perniagaan Tunas Harapan, to be used to create forest corridors within its estates; RM30,000 for Reef Check Malaysia’s Adopt a Reef programme; and RM25mil over 10 years for reforestation of Ulu Segama Forest Reserve in Sabah.

Monday, 28 April 2008

General Escapes Criminal Charges Over Logging

General Escapes Criminal Charges Over Logging
Source: The Jakarta Post - April 25, 2008

The recently replaced West Kalimantan Police chief will escape criminal charges even though his tenure was linked to illegal logging cases in the province, a police official says.

National Police chief Gen. Sutanto said Thursday former West Kalimantan Police chief Brig. Gen. Zainal Abidin Ishak would not face criminal charges for illegal logging and timber smuggling cases in the town of Ketapang.

Sutanto said Zainal was only blamed for negligence that had allowed illegal logging and timber smuggling to take place under his jurisdiction."There will be no criminal charges (leveled against Zainal), but we'll investigate further the involvement of other officers involved in these cases," Sutanto told reporters after installing Brig. Gen. Neta Kesuma as Zainal's successor.

"If any of them is proven to be involved, we'll charge them," Sutanto said. Zainal has been assigned as an expert staff to the National Police chief. His replacement, said Sutanto, was aimed at bringing "fresh air to theorganization".The police have named former Ketapang Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. AhmadSun'an, former Ketapang Criminal Unit chief Adj. Comr. Khadafi Marpaung and former Ketapang Water Police chief First Insp. Agung Lutfi suspects in the cases.

National Police spokesperson Insp. Gen. Abu Bakar Nataprawira said the police's investigation into Zainal had turned up no wrongdoing."There was no evidence of him playing a role in the cases," Abu Bakar said.

Illegal logging and timber smuggling in Ketapang are the latest cases being investigated by the National Police. So far, around 12,000 cubic meters of logs with an estimated value of Rp 208 billion (US$22.6 million) have been confiscated, along with 19 barges used in their transport.

The ministry of forestry reported a sharp decline in illegal logging cases from 2,039 in 2006 to 322 cases last year. Environmental group Greenpeace, however, said about 3.8 million hectares of Indonesian forests are damaged every year, mostly due to illegal logging. Neta said after his inauguration that illegal logging was one of 16 priorities mandated by Sutanto."But first of all, as a new chief, I will focus on internal consolidation,"Neta said. He promised to continue the investigations into illegal logging cases in West Kalimantan, including those involving police officers."I will uphold discipline among my personnel and hope to work with the public to oversee illegal logging cases in the province," Neta said. (dia)

Merrill Lynch's Carbon Bet

Merrill Lynch's Carbon Bet

Source: CNN Money - April 18, 2008 By Marc Gunther

Why a Wall Street firm wants to save a forest in Sumatra. The business of "carbon farming" is growing fast - and Merrill Lynch is the latest big company to bet that it will become profitable.

What's carbon farming, you ask? It's a business designed to recognize the value created when trees store carbon dioxide and prevent global warming.

So people who plant new trees or prevent existing trees from destruction can get paid for doing so.That doesn't mean that the tree in your backyard or mine will help pay college tuition or fund a 401(k). For now, the payments are going to villagers in the developing world who agree to protect endangered forests. Starbucks, Marriott and Rio Tinto, among others, have all agreed to finance projects designed to deter deforestation.

This week, Merrill Lynch announced that it will invest $9 million to helpsave a tropical forest in Aceh, Indonesia. It's the first time a Wall Street firm has invested in carbon farming, and let's be clear: this isn'tphilanthropy of public relations; it's strictly business.

In fact, the man who put the deal together to save the 1.9-million acre forest, called Ulu Masen, believes it could be a very big business. "It will be the biggest carbon project in the history of the world if we can pull it off," says Dorjee Sun, the 31-year-old founder of an Australian startup company called Carbon Conservation.

Here's how the deal will work: Merrill will pay villagers in Aceh, a province on the island of Sumatra, to stop logging their forests. Aceh, of course, is the place that was devastated by a tsunami in 2004 and, before that, wracked by civil unrest. It's also home to Sumatran tigers, clouded leopards and orangutans, and therefore of special interest to environmentalists.

The money will be used to train the villagers inalternative livelihoods, like growing coffee, cocoa or palm trees for oil. In exchange, Merrill will get carbon credits, which are also known as carbon offsets - that's the "crop" in carbon farming. The credits will meet quality standards set a group called the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Alliance, whose members include environmental groups Conservation International, The Nature Conservancy and the Rainforest Alliance, and companies as BP, Intel and SC Johnson.

The alliance functions as a regulator, albeit without legal clout. Merrill will pay about $4 per credit for 500,000 credits per year over the next four years - $8 million in all. (The other $1 million buys an option to acquire more credits.) Merrill then hopes to sell them for a profit to companies that want to voluntarily offset their carbon emissions. Currently, these voluntary credits - each one represents a ton of CO2 that is prevented from entering the atmosphere - sell from between $2 and $20 each, according to Andrew Ertel, the president and CEO of Evolution Markets, a leading broker of emissions credits.

The credits will be worth a lot more if they can be sold into regulated markets. Greenhouse gases are regulated in Europe and Japan, and laws to control them are being considered in the U.S. and Australia. So far,though, projects like this one - called "avoided deforestation" or REDD projects, for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation - have not been approved for regulated markets.

Deforestation is said to account for about 20% of all global greenhouse gas emissions."This is uncharted territory," says Abyd Karmali, global head of carbone missions at Merrill Lynch. "That's part of the risk that Merrill is taking. How much appetite will there be for credits from projects of this type?"Speaking by phone from Jakarta, Dorjee Sun says he has pitched large-scale avoided deforestation projects to more than 200 banks, hedge funds, pension funds and conservation groups. He's working with governors in Indonesia and Brazil, and came to the U.S. last fall where he pitched deforestation projects to Howard Schultz of Starbucks and investor George Soros.Sun, a former Internet entrepreneur, is frank about his motives. "The more hectares we manage, the more land we 'farm' carbon on, the more money we make," he says. "Our goal is to be the of the Amazon."

Paradise Lost For Soap And Ice Cream

Paradise Lost For Soap And Ice CreamGreenpeace

- April 25 2008

Are you a "green" consumer? Even if your intentions are good, your "Earthfriendly" soap and organic ice cream may be driving species to extinctionand heating up the planet, especially if these products contain palm oil.

Palm oil is a cheap vegetable oil used in products such as lipstick, soap,detergents, dry soups, ice cream and increasingly for so-called 'biofuels'.

Global demand for palm oil is booming, and to meet this demand, industrial agriculture giants clear vast swaths of Paradise Forests in Southeast Asia to create palm oil plantations. This deforestation results in habitat loss, harm to local people, species extinction, and global warming.

Paving ParadiseForest destruction for the development of the palm oil industry is taking place primarily in the Asia/Pacific Paradise Forests, primarily inIndonesia, Malaysia and Papua New Guinea (PNG).

When deforestation is factored in, Indonesia is among the world's largest emitters of greenhouse gases. These Asian forests represent a green wall against uncontrollable climate change. Their destruction results in irreplaceable biodiversityloss and increased global warming due to the release of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Twenty percent of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions are the result of deforestation. Forest destruction is worst where forests grow on peatlands, like in large parts of Southeast Asia. Peatlands store vast amounts of carbon, globally up to 528 billion tons (70 times the current annual global emissions from fossil fuel burning).

Emissions from current deforestation on SE Asia's peatlands alone, equals to almost 8 percent of global emissions from fossil fuel burning. Riau province in Sumatra, subject to a massive expansion of palm oil plantations, alone comprises 4 million hectares of peatland (the size of Taiwan), storing 14.6 billion tonnes of carbon. If these peatlands are destroyed, the resulting emissions would equal an entire year of mankind's global greenhouse gas emissions.

Magnificent animals now threatened by this deforestation include the Sumatran tiger, rhino, elephant, birds of paradise, and the critically endangered orang utan. Indonesia contains between 10-15 percent of all known species of plants, mammals and birds that make up the world'sbiodiversity.

Borneo and Sumatra, now host the world's remaining orangutans. They depend on the forest for food and nesting sites. According tothe Centre for Orangutan Protection, at least 1,500 orang-utans died in 2006 as a result of deliberate attacks by plantation workers.

Wolves guarding the sheep.
Nearly 75 percent of Indonesia's pristine forest areas have already been destroyed or degraded.

Meanwhile, demand for palm oil is predicted to double by 2030 and triple by 2050. To meet this demand, the industry intends to convert more Asian forests to plantations. The UN Environmental Program estimates that 98 percent of Indonesian lowland forests could begone by 2022.

To counter bad publicity about disappearing forests, the palm oil industry in Asia formed the "Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil Production" (RSPO). The word "sustainable" sounds earth-friendly, but notice that palm oil production is the enterprise to be sustained, not the forest, the animals, or the Earth's climate.

The chair of RSPO is a representative from Unilever, among the world's biggest palm oil buyers. Other corporations on the board include plantation owners, commodities traders, and buyers such as Cargill, Cadbury's, Nestle, Tesco, and Golden Hope. Together these companies control about 40 percent of the global palm oil market. The wolves are guarding the sheep.

Greenwashing and cherry picking. Earth Day once served the purpose of raising awareness about the environment. Today, few people remain unaware, so perhaps the new purpose of Earth Day is to help people distinguish between real solutions and pure"Greenwashing," making a company or industry look green for public relations purposes, without actually changing environmentally harmful practices. Corporations now realize that consumers care about the environment, so theyhave set their public relations departments loose to sell a new, "green"image.

In 2003, Co-op America selected Starbucks as one of the "Ten Worst Greenwashers" for their reluctance to reduce paper waste or purchase Fair Trade coffee. Starbucks promised to add "up to 10 percent" recycled material in their coffee cups, "within five years."Tricks of the green spin trade include "cherry-picking" data to look scientific while promoting a single point of view.

"Astroturfing" is the tactic of making industry support groups that look green. Global public relations firm Burson-Marsteller pioneered this tactic in the 1980s with"Forest Alliances," funded and controlled by the international logging industry.The Unilever-led RSPO uses some of the same Astroturfing tactics, creating an ineffective body with an environmental sounding name to obscure the continued destruction of the world's irreplaceable forests.

Unilever is a marketing company that distributes some of the world's best-known brands, including Dove soap, Vaseline skin cream, the Heartbrand ice cream, and Slim Fast diet products. Most of these products include palm oil.

We at Greenpeace are asking Unilever to live up to their promise of"sustainability," by refusing to purchase palm oil from suppliers that are destroying forests for plantations. The destruction of these forests destroys habitat for endangered species and contributes to global warming.We are asking customers, who buy Unilver products, to write to the companyand urge them to become authentic good citizens, not greenwashers.- Rex WylerTake action against Unilever visit: http:///

Sunday, 27 April 2008

Changes in forest management policies urgent

Changes in forest management policies urgent

Adianto P. Simamora, The Jakarta Post, Hanoi, 24th April

Forestry nations must change their forest management policies to help counter the effects of climate change and skyrocketing prices of food and fuel, leading forestry experts have said.

The experts, speaking at the Asia-Pacific Forestry Week conference here Tuesday, said climate change, soaring fuel prices and poverty, combined with increasing demand for forest products, would pose unprecedented challenges to the forestry sector in the Asia-Pacific region.

"Meeting the challenges requires enormous growth in skills and knowledge and reinvention of many existing forestry institutions," head of forestry for the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Jan Heino, said.

"We must change. Forestry can't continue on the same path as in past decades."
More than 600 forestry experts and government officials from across the region are attending the conference, which will run until Saturday.

The conference, organized by the FAO, aims to identify ways to resolve forestry-related problems, such as enforcing laws against illegal logging and reducing poverty among communities living in forest regions.

According to renowned ecologist and author Norman Myers, the world has not made protecting forests a priority, with only US$20 billion per year allocated to conservation.
"Globally, countries are spending at least $200 billion each year on perverse subsidies that destroy biodiversity habitats, while the entire expenditure on conservation is less than a tenth of that amount," the author of The Sinking Ark told the conference.

Indonesia, which has the world's largest amount of rainforest with 120 million hectares, has come under pressure to improve the management of its forestry sector, especially given claims illegal logging is benefiting the rich.

Norman Jiwan, a researcher at Sawit Watch and a representative of an indigenous community of Kerambai people in Sanggau district, West Kalimantan, said government policies had destroyed local communities.

"The forest and natural resources helped Kerambai people survive before Indonesia's independence but their lives have changed since the government awarded concession permits to open the forest for palm oil plantations," Norman said.

Frances Seymour of the Center for International Forestry Research said Indonesia was a globally significant source of greenhouse gas emissions because of peat fires.

"New interest in forests because of climate change provides an opportunity to shift the political economy of forests," she said.

Seymour said climate change was likely to increase the probability of high-intensity rainfall events, which would in turn increase the risk of landslides.

"Maintenance of forest vegetation can help stabilize the slope for some types of land movement," she said.

Decision makers do not care much about forest, as evident in the continuing tolerance for destructive logging practices, overinvestment in wood-processing capacity and illegal logging and trade, she said.

Asia's rainforests vanishing as timber, food demand surge: experts

Asia's rainforests vanishing as timber, food demand surge: experts

HANOI (AFP) — Asia's rainforests are being rapidly destroyed, a trend accelerated by surging timber demand in booming China and India, and record food, energy and commodity prices, forest experts warn.

The loss of these biodiversity hot spots, much of it driven by the illegal timber trade and the growth of oil palm, biofuel and rubber plantations, is worsening global warming, species loss and poverty, they said.

Globally, tropical forest destruction "is a super crisis we are facing, it's an appalling crisis," said Oxford University's Professor Norman Myers, keynote speaker at the Asia-Pacific Forestry Week conference in Hanoi.

"It's one of the worst crises since we came out of our caves 10,000 years ago," Myers said at the five-day meeting of 500 foresters, researchers, state officials and activists held last week in the Vietnamese capital.

Over-logging in Southeast Asia caused 19 percent of global rainforest loss in 2005, Myers said, compared to cattle ranching -- once a leading cause, mainly in South America -- which now caused five percent of world losses.

The rapid growth of palm oil and other plantations accounted for 22 percent, and slash-and-burn farming, unsustainable as more poor people exploit fast-shrinking forests, caused 54 percent of rainforest destruction, he said.

Asia's forest cover, including tree plantations, in fact grew by three million hectares from 2000 to 2005 -- largely because of China's 1998 logging ban and afforestation -- said the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

"In contrast, forest loss persists at a very high rate in several countries," said an FAO report. "Indonesia, Cambodia, Myanmar, Australia and Papua New Guinea and a number of other countries have seen significant losses."

Ecologists stress that new forests in China, India and Vietnam are man-made plantations lacking high varieties of plant and animal species.

"Many plantations, in terms of biodiversity, are green concrete," said Peter Walpole, head of the non-profit Asia Forest Network.

Yet what environmentalists call "tree farms" are set to grow at the expense of natural forests, especially palm plantations, which produce oil used in products such as soap, chocolate and cosmetics as well as biodiesel.

Commercial crops "will be the most important factor contributing to deforestation in Asia-Pacific countries," said the FAO report, citing record prices for food grains, energy and commodities.

Demand for forest products is also surging in Asia's boom economies.
Imports to China, now the world's top furniture exporter, increased more than tenfold from 53 billion dollars in 1990 to 561 billion dollars in 2004.

India's imports of wood products, including paper, grew from about 750 million dollars in 1990 to 3.1 billion dollars in 2005, the FAO said.

Asia's boom economies are now importing timber from as far as Central Africa and South America, said FAO forestry economist C.T.S. Nair.

"In a way, they are exporting the problem to other countries, especially those where policies and institutions are extremely weak," he said.

The illegal timber trade, fuelled by poverty and corruption, is rife in much of Asia, where 78 percent of forests are state-owned and often managed by the armed forces, not the people who live in or near them, experts said.

"The history of logging in Southeast Asia has been under the auspices of the military and of political families," Walpole said. "If you look at how Cambodia has been logged, this cannot happen without military acknowledgement.

"Burma has been logged by Thai generals. And if you look at the corruption of forestry in the Philippines, it's tied in many areas during the Marcos years to military presence and control. It's still in many military families."

Precise data is rare in the world timber trade, but spot checks by environmental monitoring groups have revealed disturbing trends.

Vietnam was named as a major hub for illegally-logged timber from neighbouring Laos in a recent report by Britain's Environmental Investigation Agency and Indonesian group Telapak -- a claim Hanoi has strenuously denied.

"Indonesia has had an export ban on sawn timber since 2004, and yet countries are still accepting sawn timber from Indonesia," said Chen Hin Keong of TRAFFIC, which monitors the illegal trade in endangered flora and fauna.

"Malaysia, Singapore, China, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, the UK, Germany, France, Italy, the US -- in big or small volumes, they are all accepting that."

Tropical timber is relatively cheap because key functions of forests -- clean air and water, and biodiversity -- are not factored into market prices, said Dr Daniel Murdiyarso of the Center for International Forestry Research.

"These services are underpriced or unpriced. It's a market failure."
Solutions are being debated -- including a universal timber certification system to rein in the illegal trade, and carbon credit schemes that would reward countries for preserving forests and offsetting pollution elsewhere.

But for now these are ideas, not realities, and the FAO report called support for forestry carbon offset schemes "disappointing" so far.

Eco-friendly timber firms want incentives

Eco-friendly timber firms want incentives

Adianto P. Simamora , The Jakarta Post , Hanoi Fri, 04/25/2008 12:15 PM Business

Forestry companies producing eco-friendly timber pleaded at the Asia-Pacific forest conference on Thursday for incentives to help with rising operating costs while demand for sustainable wood-related products remains sluggish.

The Hanoi conference is the leading regional meeting on forestry, attended by more than 600 participants including decision makers, governments, firms, foresters and activists.

Indonesian listed timber company PT Sumalindo Lestari Jaya said that operating costs for producing much-promoted sustainable timber were up about 30 percent.

Sumalindo president director Amir Sunarko told the conference, "When we started logging 16 years ago, we made a commitment to adopt sustainable forest management but during that time we never received incentives,"

Sunarko said government should reduce the burden for "eco-producers" by simplifying red tape while importing countries should reduce tariff barriers for sustainable wood products.

Sumalindo, which operates in natural tropical and plantation forest covering 448,986 hectares in East Kalimantan, has been certificated by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) for sustainable forest management of the firm's 267,000 hectares.

He said that since adopting sustainable forestry management, Sumalindo, a member of Singapore-based forestry group Samko Forest Holding, had improved market sales.

Governments in the Asia-Pacific region, which accounts for over half a billion hectares of forest, have long promoted sustainable forest management aimed at slashing poverty, particularly for communities living near forest areas.

Countries importing wood products in the region have adopted policies aimed at restricting illegal logging and promoting sustainable forestry management and eco-timber products.
However, experts said few Asian timber firms were applying for sustainable forest management certificates since local and foreign buyers continued trading in illegal timber products.

Hugh Speechly of the British Department for International Development's (DFID) Forest Governance and Trade Program said sustainable forestry management was not just an environmental goal, but raised social, political and economic issues.

"Sustainable management of forests in Asia is not just the responsibility of Asian countries but also of developed countries whose seemingly insatiable demand for timber products often drives illegal logging," he said.

"This demand impacts heavily on economies of developing countries and livelihoods of rural communities," Speechly said.

He said timber-producing nations lose more than US$15 billion a year from uncollected royalties due to illegal logging.

"Trade in illegally procured timbers is estimated to depress world prices by up to 16 percent, making it difficult for legal operators to compete," he said.

"The UK's Forest Governance and Trade Program is confronting this problem by harnessing market leverage in timber consuming countries to encourage governance reform in producing countries."

The Danish-owned timber company Dalhoff Larsen & Horneman (DHL) operating in Vietnam said that support for domestic demand for sustainable forest products was also important in promoting eco-friendly products.

Malaysia, Indonesia agree to counter anti-palm oil propaganda

Personal note: When you read this you will clearly see the palm oil industry does not accept, despite countless films and thousands of photographs, that they ARE
the cause of the problem. To them the facts are 'An Inconvenient Truth' which they will doubtless now spend vast sums of money trying to deny, instead of putting right the problems their industry has created by greed.

Malaysia, Indonesia agree to counter anti-palm oil propaganda

KUTA (Bali), April 26 (Bernama) -- Malaysia and Indonesia today agreed to carry out joint scientific research to counter anti-palm oil propaganda among Western non-governmental organisations.

Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Peter Chin Fah Kui said the findings would then be tabled at international conferences as well as to the European members of parliament.
This was aimed at correcting inaccuracy about palm oil which tainted the image of industry, he said.

"We will present accurate facts to all those who are against palm oil whether for econonic reasons, or due to concerns over global warming or because they are agents to palm oil competitors," he told Bernama here Friday.

Earlier he led the Malaysian delegation at the meeting of the Malaysia-Indonesia joint committee on palm oil, cocoa and pepper.

Chin said Malaysia and Indonesia, which produced almost 90 per cent of the world's palm oil, should not let the anti-propaganda go unchallenged.

He said even though the campaign against palm oil had not affected the industry, it was important to propagate the benefit of palm oil.

Chin said Indonesian Agriculture Minister Anton Apriyantono, who led the Indonesian delegation to the meeting, also agreed on the need to meet the European members of parliament to explain the actual situation.

Meanwhile, Anton said both the neighbours also agreed to continue research on the production of biodiesel from palm oil, with each country allocating six million tonnes of palm oil for such purposes. (Antara)

Extreme cruelty to orangutans

These two adult orangutans were spotted recently by a COP investigator.

They are being held in these terrible cages at the back of a house belonging to a wealthy businessman. He plans to put them on show at a new restaurant he intends opening soon. We have other plans for them and the authorities have been alerted.

The top photo is of Susie. The bag around her head is one she is likely to have put there herself as protection against the rain.

Just look at her expression.

The second photo is of Nafa.

This is extreme cruelty.

More palm oil misery

These two chained orangutans were discovered by an investigator last week.
In two different locations in one region. One came from a nature reserve and its current 'owner' wants to give it to the authorities; the 'owner' of the other one wants $60 for it.
Both are inside a palm oil plantation camp. Both are being reported to the authorities and we will offer to have them rescued and rehabilitated.

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

RI is "environmental superpower": US envoy

RI is "environmental superpower": US envoy

23rd April 2008
Jakarta (ANTARA News) -

In observance of Earth Day, US Ambassador to Indonesia Cameron R. Hume has written an article titled "Indonesia: Environmental Superpower". Following is his article sent to ANTARA on Tuesday:Anyone who happened to go by the U.S. Embassy over the past few days might have noticed changes.

On Saturday, a group of Indonesian children helped put the finishing touches on seven different murals depicting some of the flora and fauna of Indonesia. I am proud to have their paintings displayed outside the Embassy, and glad to see that they are thinking of the environment at a young age.

Today is Earth Day, and it is important to take stock of what we are doing to protect these children`s future environment. Indonesia was a fitting host for the recent UN Climate Change Conference in Bali, in part because its rich biodiversity and natural resources are unsurpassed.

Indonesia possesses the highest marine biodiversity on the planet, and one of the largest and most biodiverse tropical forests in the world. Indonesia is an environmental "superpower," and a natural leader in global efforts to protect the environment. Yet the country faces tremendous challenges to ensure that the next generation will inherit these vast environmental riches.

Indonesia is the world`s third largest emitter of greenhouse gases, due mainly to large-scale deforestation. Illegal logging is widespread. Energy needs and emissions from power generation and transportation are rising fast.

The destruction of coral reefs, overfishing, and other unsustainable practices threaten the livelihoods and welfare of tens of millions of Indonesians who depend on the ocean`s resources, as well as irreparable damage to Indonesia`s unique ecosystems.Indonesia is taking steps to face these challenges.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and the Government of Indonesia are cracking down on illegal logging and taking action to improve forest governance. They are in the process of implementing a new timber legality standard that will constrict trade in illegally harvested timber. They have launched a National Climate Change Action Plan and a National Action Plan for the Orangutan Protection.

Recognizing the importance of coral reefs and threats to their sustainability due to climate change and unsustainable exploitation, President Yudhoyono also launched the regional Coral Triangle Initiative (CTI) during the Bali conference.

Fittingly, 2008 is the International Year of the Reef. Much work remains. Protecting our planet is a long-term, cooperative endeavor. The United States can be Indonesia`s "super-partner", and President Yudhoyono has invited increased U.S. environmental partnership. We already collaborate on anti-illegal logging activities, and support the Heart of Borneo Initiative to protect the forest habitat in Kalimantan.

We work together to protect endangered orangutans. Our two governments are negotiating a large fund to conserve tropical forests, under the Tropical Forest Conservation Act. We already fund marine programs in Indonesia and the region, and have pledged initial support of over $4 million to the Coral Triangle Initiative.Indonesia needs electricity to grow, but it should use clean-coal and renewable energy technologies to meet its rapidly increasing energy needs.

Indonesia can retrofit existing "dirty" electricity-generating coal plants, build new, cleaner ones, and harness Indonesia`s potential 27,000 megawatt geothermal capacity. The Clean Technology Fund that President Bush announced last year, and which the United States is developing in cooperation with the World Bank, Japan, the United Kingdom, and other partners, has the potential to be an important tool in dealing with the clean energy challenge.Working together, we can protect rainforests, conserve biodiversity, avoid the collapse of global fisheries, and combat climate change. The challenges are great, but our cooperation shows great promise for the future.

On this Earth Day, let us remind ourselves that we are all connected. How Indonesia and the U.S. treat their forests and oceans will affect the rest of the world, and all of our children`s futures. (*)

Govt to starts verifying oil palm commodities shipments

Wednesday, April 23, 2008 2:21 AM

Govt to starts verifying oil palm commodities shipments

The Jakarta Post , Jakarta Wed, 04/23/2008 1:07 AM Business

The Trade Ministry will start verifying all domestic shipments of oil palm commodities on April 24, Ardiansyah Parman, the director general of domestic trade, said Tuesday.

The main purpose of the verifications is to curb the smuggling of oil palm commodities, he said, and the verification will only affect domestic shipments, not export shipments.

The verifications are being implemented as part of a regulation recently issued by the Trade Ministry on inter-island shipments of oil palm commodities and derivatives.

According to the regulation, more than 15 oil palm commodities and derivatives will be verified, including oil palm fresh fruits, oil palm kernels, crude palm oil, refined bleached deodorized palm oil, crude palm olein and any biodiesel products made from palm oil.

The financing for the verifications will come straight from the state budget, Ardiansyah said, so oil palm commodity producers will not be burdened by additional costs.

Director of market management and distribution at the Trade Ministry, Gunaryo, said the government was pursuing other objectives besides the prevention of smuggling.

"The government hopes the verifications will also be effective in monitoring the distribution of the commodities in all of Indonesia's regions. If it works, then it will provide the government with substantial data for determining its policy toward stabilizing domestic prices of oil palm commodities," he said.

He said the verifications would also help the government assure the sustainability of the domestic supply of cooking oil.

In implementing the regulation, the Trade Ministry has chosen state-owned surveyor company PT Sucofindo to conduct the verifications at all ports within Indonesia's territory.

The ministry will also coordinate with the directorate general of sea traffic at the Transportation Ministry due to a lack of resources.

Director of PT Sucofindo M. Heru Riza said the surveyor would verify the type and the amount of commodities before the ships left the ports and before the cargoes were unloaded.

To minimize the possibility of smuggling, Heru said the tolerated maximum for volume disparities -- between the first and the second verifications -- was 1 percent for liquid products and 5 percent if the products were kernels or fresh fruits.

"To request a verification, manufacturers or commodity owners need to send a notification to the surveyor at least two days before their ship's departure. They can do it by letter or email," he said.(uwi)

Greenpeace lays siege to Unilever ad agencies

Greenpeace lays siege to Unilever ad agencies

Marketing Week (UK)23-Apr-08

Greenpeace is lobbying marketing services agencies for the first time in a shift of its strategy. The environmental groups targeted Unilever agencies Ogilvy Advertising, Jackie Cooper PR and Lexis this week as part of a protest against the company’s use of palm oil.

Greenpeace says it intends to “ratchet up” activity against such agencies in the coming months. A Greenpeace spokesman says: “We are trying to persuade Unilever’s marketing services agencies that they are doing Unilever’s dirty work for it by greenwashing its brands.”

Earlier this week, protesters, some dressed as orangutans, infiltrated Unilever’s Merseyside headquarters, while others gathered at its London offices.

They created billboards parodying Unilever’s Campaign for Real Beauty, and a viral spoof of Dove’s Onslaught video has been released showing scenes of environmental destruction. It ends with the line “Talk to Dove before it’s too late”.

The action coincides with a Greenpeace report, which blames the expansion of palm oil production in Indonesia for destroying vast areas of peatland forests and bringing orangutans to the brink of extinction.

The report, Burning Up Borneo, claims that Unilever, one of the world’s largest purchasers of palm oil, continues to trade with suppliers that destroy rainforests.
Unilever chairs the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), an industry body formed in 2002 to ensure sustainable production.

The Greenpeace report claims that many of the companies accused of rainforest destruction are key members of the RSPO.

A Unilever spokesman says the company agrees that the issue of sustainable palm oil is an “important one” and that it is working on ways to address it. But he admits the work of the RSPO is “not moving as fast as Unilever would like”.

Forestry officials ignoring PNG law

The Australian newspaper

Forestry officials ignoring PNG

Greg Roberts April 23, 2008

PAPUA New Guinea has admitted its forestry sector is riddled with corruption as a high-powered delegation of Australian frontbenchers arrives in the country for talks that will focus on deforestation.

Nine Rudd government ministers and parliamentary secretaries will front the first PNG-Australia Ministerial Forum since 2005, in Madang, PNG's second city, with the new forest carbon partnership between the two nations the main topic for discussion.

The parties are expected to reach an agreement to protect the Kokoda Track at today's forum in what will be billed as recognition of the sacrifices made by Australian Diggers during World War II in PNG in the lead-up to Anzac Day.

In the first admission of its kind by a PNG Government, the country's new Forest Minister, Belden Namah, has told the PNG parliament in Port Moresby that logging companies routinely flout laws with the help of corrupt officials.

Mr Namah said "most" of his departmental officers responsible for monitoring forestry operations had ignored the laws and that many were "in the pockets" of logging companies.

"I have noticed a lot of corruption going on within the Forest Department," he said.
He said he had suspended two forestry licences and that no permits would be issued for log exports after 2010.

"Now that we are facing climate change, we must move to sustainable management of our forests," he said.

The Madang summit follows a series of high-level talks about how the PNG-Australia Forest Carbon Partnership - announced by Kevin Rudd during his visit to Port Moresby last month - will operate.

Climage Change Minister Penny Wong said protection of rainforests and a reduction in forestry were the main objectives of the partnership.

"The partnership aims to help PNG reduce its emissions from deforestation," Senator Wong told The Australian.

"An important part of this is helping PNG prepare to enter future international carbon markets. These are intended to create financial incentives to retain forests rather than deplete them."

Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs Duncan Kerr indicated that agreements under the partnership would be closely monitored.

"The robustness of a monitoring mechanism will be obviously crucial to the credibility of what is put in place," he said.

An agreement to protect the Kokoda Track, where more than 600 Australians died fighting the Japanese, would confirm Australia's support for the World Heritage listing of the trail and the surrounding Owen Stanley Range.

"We have constantly stressed to PNG how important Kokoda is to Australia because of the sacrifices of our soldiers, especially leading up to Anzac Day," Mr Kerr said.

Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said the summit showed the Australia-PNG relationship was "back on track" after being strained under the Howard government.

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Gov't agency refuses to meet NGO reps

Gov't agency refuses to meet NGO reps -

Tony Thien Apr 22, 08 3:40pm

A Sarawak government agency involved in the development of native customary rights (NCR) land for oil palm cultivation today refused to meet an international group of NGO representatives on a fact-finding mission.

The meeting scheduled at 10am had been arranged by the Sarawak Dayak Iban Association (Sadia) a forth night ago and confirmed by the agency's corporate manager Anthony Nogis in subsequent official correspondence and phone calls.

But when the fact-finding mission members turned up at the Sarawak Land Consolidation and Rehabilitation Authority (Salcra)office in Kota Padawan, about 16 km from Kuching, and shown to the conference room, the corporate manager was 'surprised' to see so many people, including representatives of NGOs from outside Sarawak.

The NGOs include the People's Coalition on Food Sovereignty (PCFS), Pesticide Action Network Asia-Pacific (PAN AP),Sustainable Development Foundation (SDF) from Thailand, Tegananita and a NGO from India, besides Sadia.

Sadia secretary-general Nicholas Mujah, who is the group's che de mission, was requested to meet privately with Salcra general manager Vasco Sibat Singkang who told the former that the understanding was that he would be meeting only representatives of Sadia to talk about the subject of Roudntable on Sustainable Palm Oin (RSPO).

Salcra is a party to RSPO which is to ensure that palm oil contributes to a better world by way of advancing the production procurement and use of sustainable oil palm products through the development, implementation and verification of credible global standards and the engagement of stakeholders along the supply chain.

More pressure to be applied
Mujah told Malaysiakini that Vasco had allegedly told him that if he were to go ahead and meet with the foreign NGO representatives and to respond to their questions, he could find himself without a job at the end of the day.

He went back to the group waiting at the conference room and told them the meeting had been called off.

The NGO group, accompanied by their local counterparts from Sadia, have travelled to different parts of Sarawak, to areas where there have been reported NCR land disputes between the native landowners and companies and state authorities regarding encroachment of NCR land and violations of human rights.

About 2.8 million hectares of NCR land are subject to NCR claims but many provisional leases issued by the state government headed by Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud cover overlapping areas, hence giving rise to conflicts and disputes on the grounds.

According to Sadia, there are presently more than 170 NCR land cases brought to court by native landowners, mainly against oil palm growers and mills.

Malaysiakini understands that upon the completion of their fact-finding mission to Sarawak there is a strong possibility that more pressure is to be applied on state authorities as well as oil palm companies to comply with court decisions on NCR and to respect the rights of the natives to their established NCR lands, among other things.

The visiting NGOs will issue a press statement before flying off to Kuala Lumpur on their way back to their respective destinations.

Illegally harvested logs discovered in Riau

Illegally harvested logs discovered in Riau

Rizal Harahap, The Jakarta Post, Pekanbaru Tue, 04/22/2008 1:08 AM

Riau Police have discovered nearly 200,000 cubic meters of logs believed to have been illegally harvested in Pelalawan regency, Riau, the largest such finding in two months.

Pelalawan Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. I Gusti Gunawa said Monday the logs were found in at least 3,872 stashes next to five canals at a timber estate project in Sungai Ara village.

The findings started two days ago when police officers spotted a number of trucks transporting logs in the area. "This aroused suspicion as there are no longer permits to harvest logs here," Gusti said.

In March the police also discovered hundreds of logs, allegedly illegally harvested, that had been buried and then exposed by major flooding.

No suspects have been named yet, but the police said they were questioning executives of two wood companies.

Gusti said that along the first canal, officers found 311 stashes of logs, each approximately 50 cubic meters in size, and another 626 stashes along the second canal, 819 along the third, 754 along the fourth and 1,217 along the fifth.

"The discovery site is located adjacent to natural peat forests," Gusti said, adding that he thought the logs were stolen from nearby protected forests.

He further said his officers had summoned several witnesses from a number of forest concession holders near the finding site.

In order to cover the thefts, he said, their owners had tried to grow Acacia mangium plants at the harvested sites. "The Acacia mangium trees are between three months and one-and-a-half years old. We're investigating the case with the assistance of a number of experts," he said.
Head of Riau's forestry office Zulkifli said that as of April 2007, his office had no longer issued permits to harvest from natural forest concession holders and other companies developing timber estates there.

"If logs continue to be transported out of the area, it means they have been harvested from illegal logging activities," he said.

Zulkifli said his office was ready to assist the police in investigating the case.
Susanto Kurniawan, coordinator of Working Networks for Salvaging Forests in Riau, said the latest findings proved illegal logging was still common in the area.

"Laymen surely know that local forest concession holders knew about the stashes of the logs. It's impossible for them to claim they knew nothing ... especially when the stashes are in such large quantity," Susanto said.

Unilever accused over rainforest destruction

Unilever accused over rainforest destruction

There are some great photos on this page.

Greenpeace wants moratorium on palm oil expansion in Indonesia

Greenpeace wants moratorium on palm oil expansion in Indonesia

21st April

JAKARTA (AFP) — Greenpeace called for a moratorium Monday on the expansion of palm oil plantations in Indonesia's rainforests and peat-lands, warning that soaring world demand is creating an environmental crisis.

It said a two-year investigation into the health of the country's rainforests and peat-lands showed "wholesale" destruction driven by demand from food, cosmetic and biofuel companies.
"Given the urgent nature of the crisis the only solution for the global climate, the regional environment, the wildlife and the forest-dependent communities ... is a moratorium on oil palm expansion into rainforest and peat-land areas," the environment watchdog said in a statement.
It accused Anglo-Dutch food group Unilever, one of the largest palm oil corporate consumers in the world, of being behind the destruction of forest and peat-land in Central Kalimantan province on Borneo island.

It said Unilever annually consumed 1.3 million tonnes of palm oil or palm oil derivatives with over half coming from Indonesia.

"Unilever has failed to use its power to lead the palm oil sector toward sustainability, either through its own palm oil purchasing or through its role as leader of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil," Greenpeace said.

Satellite data shows Unilever suppliers are behind the rapid expansion of oil palm plantations in Central Kalimantan, where orang-utans are on the brink of extinction, it said.

The destruction of Indonesia's forests is seen as a major contributor to global warming and climate change.

Indonesia is likely to overtake Malaysia as the world's top palm oil producer in 2007, due to the dramatically increased area under plantation.

Malaysia is expected to produce 15.82 million tonnes of crude palm oil in 2007 while Indonesia's production estimate for the same year stands at 16.4 million tonnes.

Malaysia and Indonesia together produce 85 percent of the world's palm oil which is enjoying a boom on the back of strong global demand and tight supply.

Unilever targeted in orang-utan protest

Unilever targeted in orang-utan protest

This article was first published on on Monday April 21 2008.

Environmental protesters dressed as orang-utans today staged demonstrations against the consumer goods giant Unilever to highlight the destruction of the Indonesian rainforest.
More than 50 Greenpeace activists staged protests at two Unilever sites – a factory in Port Sunlight, on Merseyside, and at the Anglo-Dutch conglomerate's headquarters, Unilever House, on Victoria Embankment, in London.

The protests coincided with the publication of a Greenpeace report linking Unilever to the destruction of the endangered orang-utan's habit.

The report, called Burning Up Borneo, says companies that supply Unilever with palm oil are destroying the Indonesian rainforest.

Greenpeace links the majority of the largest palm oil producers in Indonesia to Unilever, which it says is probably the largest corporate consumer of the oil in the world.

James Turner, a spokesman for Greenpeace at the Victoria Embankment protest, said eight people dressed as orang-utans had climbed ladders to reach a seven metre-high balcony above the entrance of Unilever House at 7.35am.

"It is going fairly well," he added. "We have got a lot of staff to talk to and a lot did not know about the destruction of the rainforest.

"Companies supplying palm oil are destroying the habitats of orang-utans and massively accelerating climate change."

Campaigners at the protest at the Unilever plant on Merseyside claimed to have stopped production of some of the company's products.

"This is the start of a really big campaign," Sarah Shoraka, an activist at the protest, said. "We want Unilever to stop trading with companies that destroy the rainforest to supply palm oil used to make cleaning products.

"They buy from suppliers who are trashing rainforest areas and habitats for orang-utans. These areas should really be protected.

"Some of the people here are chained to machinery and we have stopped production for some brands. We will stay here as long as possible before we are moved."

A spokeswoman for Merseyside police said officers had been called by the company at 6.45am. "We are aware of the protest and we are assessing the circumstances," she added.
Unilever said it was addressing many of the concerns Greenpeace had voiced about the expansion of palm oil production.

The company heads the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil coalition of organisations, which includes Oxfam, the World Wildlife Federation, plantation owners, manufacturers and retailers.
It has produced criteria for sustainable palm oil production.

Friday, 18 April 2008

Elephants, humans fight for land in national park

As we can see, it is not only orangutans who suffer in the name of palm oil.

Elephants, humans fight for land in national park

Rizal Harahap , The Jakarta Post , Pekanbaru Fri, 04/18/2008 10:05 AM

Since 2007, at least 13 elephants and two people have been killed in the rising conflict between the protected species and forest squatters at the Tesso Nilo National Park in Pelalawan, Riau. More intensive forest squatting has expanded into the elephants' habitat inside the shrinking park. This has been a major environmental problem for the government, despite support from the WWF and forestry-based industries in the province.

Head of the Tesso Nilo Managing Agency, Hayani Supratman, reiterated recently that the park's ecosystem and the habitat of the protected species were under threat because of illegal logging and forest squatting.

Some 5,000 hectares of the 38,576-hectare national park have been occupied by 370 families for housing and farming. Before it was converted into farmland and palm oil plantations, forest squatters supplied logs to forestry industries, Hayani said.

"The way farmers were squatting in the park has encouraged illegal logging practices. The park is no longer a virgin forest, and not only elephants, but also other rare species like Sumatran tigers, are under threat," he said, adding that Tesso Nilo was declared a national park on July 15, 2004.

He said it was difficult to remove the squatters from the park since their occupied land had been certified by local authorities.

To address the conflict, the Forestry Ministry and the provincial government have agreed to expand the park to more than 100,000 hectares by taking over 70,000 hectares of surrounding former industrial forests, mainly to turn the park into a Sumatran elephant conservation center.
"But the expansion project has faced hurdles because the initial park, located in Pelalawan and Indragiri Hulu, has also been surrounded by 22 villages with some 1,000 residents and three forestry industries," Hayani said.

The park's authorities are still facing a lawsuit filed by a farmers' group in Pontian Mekar village, which claims more than 1,000 hectares of its land has been included in the park.
"We have to stop and settle the dispute immediately because we have spent too much energy in dealing with such disputes," Hayani said.

Riau Andalan Pulp and Paper (RAPP), one of the forestry industries in the province that has actively participated in the expansion project, called on the government to settle the land dispute with the squatters, who occupy more than 11,000 of 70,000 hectares of forest allocated to expand the park.

"Communal leaders in the regencies should be involved at the negotiating table to settle the dispute while the police are intensifying their operations to halt illegal logging and forest squatting," said Joko Pranoto, head of RAPP's environmental section.

Some 2,000 families are living on former industrial forests that have been partly converted into palm oil plantations, he said

WWF Riau spokesman Syamsidar hailed the expansion project, saying the elephant population had decreased to around 80.

RAPP president Rudi Fajar said his company would hand over some 18,000 hectares of forest area bordering the park to support the expansion project.

"We are prepared to actively participate in the project," he said, adding his company was planting trees and operating two patrol posts as a fence to prevent villagers looting the park and to avoid forest fires.

The park's authorities have also enhanced cooperation with the WWF and RAPP by setting up a flying squad in Ukui subdistrict, with a patrol team supported by four trained elephants to prevent wild elephants from attacking villagers and damaging their crops.

In the past three months, the flying squad dealt with eight attacks by elephants on villages and farmland, said team member Williamson.

Dismissed police chief investigated

Dismissed police chief investigated

The Jakarta Post , Jakarta Thu, 04/17/2008 12:46 PM Headlines

The National Police will launch an internal investigation into the possible role of former West Kalimantan Police chief Brig. Gen. Zainal Abidin Ishak in several illegal logging and timber smuggling cases in the province.

"We will go ahead with the investigation, but as of this moment, we have yet to find any convincing evidence of his involvement in the cases," National Police spokesperson Insp. Gen. Abubakar Nataprawira told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.

National Police chief Gen. Sutanto on Tuesday replaced Zainal with Brig. Gen. Natakusumah, former head of operational control at National Police Headquarters in Jakarta.

Zainal was removed from his post following police investigations into illegal logging in Ketapang regency, which ended with the detention of three officers, including former Ketapang Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Akhmad Sun'an.

Zainal has been accused of negligence that allowed illegal logging and timber smuggling to flourish in the province.

"This (replacement) is punishment for Zainal. The National Police chief will not accept regional police chiefs who are unaware and have no grasp of what is happening in his or her jurisdiction," spokesman Abubakar said.

Zainal has been transferred to National Police Headquarters, where he will serve as an expert staff member.

"The replacement is expected to encourage a new monitoring system in West Kalimantan to prevent further cases of illegal logging and timber smuggling there," Abubakar said.
"The National Police chief hopes the cases in Ketapang are the last to happen in the country."
Police investigating the cases in the regency have confiscated about 12,000 cubic meters of logs with an estimated value of Rp 208 billion (US$22.6 million), along with 19 barges used to transport the logs.

Officers believe the confiscated logs were bound for Kuching in Malaysia, later to be sold in China, Taiwan and Japan.

At least 26 government officials, six from the West Kalimantan forestry agency, have been declared suspects in the cases.

RI to launch green pilot project in June

RI to launch green pilot project in June

Adianto P. Simamora , The Jakarta Post , Jakarta Wed, 04/16/2008 12:31 PM Headlines
Indonesia, the world's third largest forestry nation, will carry out its first REDD pilot project in a peatland forest in Central Kalimantan aimed at fighting global warming, a senior official said here Tuesday.

Forestry Ministry head of research and development Wahjudi Wardojo said the project, under which people will be prohibited from cutting down and burning trees, is expected to start in June.

The so-called demonstration activity to reduce emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD) will be funded by Australia, he said.

"The Australian government will provide A$30 million in grants for the project.
"Technical teams from Indonesia and Australia are now in intensive talks to prepare the REDD project," Wahjudi told The Jakarta Post.

He said the peatland forest in Central Kalimantan was selected for the project after intensive research.

"It is the most sensitive peatland for forest fires in the country. The forest also boasts great biodiversity in urgent need of protection," he said.

"The project will also revitalize the peatland forest, such as by building of canals to prevent fires in the area."

The REDD concept was adopted at last year's UN climate change conference in Bali as a way to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Trees store tons of carbon dioxide (CO2), the main contributor to global warming. Carbon is released into the atmosphere when trees are burned.

The REDD concept is expected to take effect after 2012, after the Kyoto Protocol expires.
Before 2012, developing nations with forests can propose REDD pilot projects to rich countries. In return, the host of the project will receive revenue.

Forestry Minister MS Kaban earlier said Indonesia received pledges of US$100 million from developed countries for its REDD activities.

Indonesia plans REDD projects for eight forest areas this year.
"We are still analyzing other forests areas eligible for the REDD projects," Wahjudi said.
Environmental group Greenomics Indonesia warned the implementation of REDD projects must be in line with the country's land-use regulations.

Greenomics executive director Elfian Effendi said the government and international communities should be careful in selecting eligible forests for the projects.

"In Riau, for example, there are no grounds for saying that the REDD mechanism needs to be applied as a matter of urgency since almost 70 percent of deforestation in Riau has occurred in areas designated as convertible production forests," he told the Post.

There are currently 9.5 million hectares of forests in Riau, half of which were legally designated convertible production land in 1986.

"It would be difficult to carry out REDD projects in these convertible production forest areas," he said.
Nor could the program be run in protected forests, Elfian added.

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Two Girl Scouts working to save orangutans

Well done to these girls. We can see from this how the message is reaching out and how positively some caring people will respond. Might you be able to do something more to help orangutans? Maybe write a letter to your local newspaper? Send more postcards? Ask colleagues and friends to send cards. If you are still at school, why not show your friends and teachers what you are made of and begin your own 'save the orangutans' campaign at school?

Two Girl Scouts working to save orangutans

Published: April 16, 2008 at 10:11 AM

ANN ARBOR, Mich., April 16 (UPI) -- Two Michigan Girl Scouts say they won't sell cookies after learning the production of palm oil is threatening the habitat of endangered Indonesian orangutans.

Twelve-year-olds Madison Vorva and Rhiannon Tomtishen learned while doing research for an award project that palm oil used in Girl Scout Cookies is produced in rainforests that used to be inhabited by orangutans, The Ann Arbor News reported Wednesday.

To grow the fern-like plant that produces palm oil, trees in the rainforest are cut down and then the entire area is set on fire. The girls say deforestation is spreading rapidly as the demand for fat-free palm oil rises.

Because their project is aimed at raising money to save the orangutans, the girls said it would be counterproductive to sell a product that uses palm oil."We've seen pictures of orangutans set afire and beaten," Madison told the newspaper. "You really want to reach out and do all you can to help save them."

Chinese Baby Furniture Company and Its President Indicted for Smuggling

Chinese Baby Furniture Company and Its President Indicted for Smuggling Internationally Protected Wood

WASHINGTON, April 16 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --

Danny M. Chien, aTaiwanese citizen and resident of Shanghai, China, and Style CraftFurniture Co., Ltd., were each indicted today by a federal grand jury in Newark, N.J., on one count of smuggling, announced Ronald J. Tenpas, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division and Christopher J. Christie, U.S. Attorney forthe District of New Jersey.

The company, a manufacturer of wooden baby furniture located primarily in China, imported approximately $15 million in declared value of wood furniture in 2004-2005. According to the indictment, on approximately May 23, 2005, Chien, the day-to-day manager and president of Style Craft Furniture, shipped a container of furniture from China into the United States at Port Elizabeth,N.J., containing a wood commonly called "ramin." The indictment alleges that the ramin originated from the wild in Indonesia and was imported without a valid required export permit or re-export certificate in violation of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species ofWild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

The United States, Indonesia, Malaysia, and China are, and were in 2005, signatories to the convention. CITES protects certain species of fish, wildlife, and plants againstoverexploitation by regulating trade in the species. Species listed inAppendix II are those that may become threatened with extinction unless trade is strictly regulated.

International efforts to curb the illegal harvest of ramin, used in the manufacture of baby cribs, include its listing in Appendix II of CITES. For any trade of these species, CITES requires that the country of origin must issue a valid export permit.

A permit can only be obtained ifit has been determined that the export of the species will not bedetrimental to the species' survival and that the specimen was not obtained in violation of wildlife protection laws. For any re-export, the country of re-export must issue a valid re-export certificate. The export permit or re-export certificate must be obtained prior to importation into the United States.

Ramin is a light colored tropical hardwood found in tropical forests inparts of Southeast Asia, including Indonesia and Malaysia. These forests also serve in part as habitat for endangered orangutan. Indonesia has one of the highest rates of deforestation of any county, much of it due to illegal timber harvest. As a result, the Indonesian government is attempting to combat the illegal harvest of timber, including ramin, in part to protect the remaining orangutan habitat.

They have done thisthrough a variety of means including listing ramin in CITES Appendix IIIsince 2001 and then CITES Appendix II effective Jan. 12, 2005. An indictment contains only allegations. The defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. Under U.S. law, the Endangered Species Act prohibits any person from trading in specimens in violation of CITES. The maximum penalty for a smuggling violation by an individual at the time of the alleged violationis five years imprisonment and a fine of either $250,000, or twice the pecuniary gain or loss caused by the offense.

The maximum fine for an organization is $500,000 or twice the pecuniary gain or loss caused by the offense. The investigation was conducted by Special Agents of the Office of the Inspector General, the criminal investigative arm of the U.S. Department ofAgriculture. The case is being prosecuted by the Justice Department's Environmental Crimes Section and the U.S. Attorney's Office of the District of New Jersey. SOURCE U.S. Department of Justice

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Everything must die or be killed - by palm oil companies.

This person is an investigator for COP. On the edge of a palm oil plantaion he found this Leopard cat which had been caught in a snare set by palm oil employees.

Monday, 14 April 2008

Palm oil should really be called DEATH OIL.

A close up photo of the Leopard cat snared by a palm oil worker.

Now you see it, but soon you won't.

Orangutans once lived here, along with countless other animals, birds and insects. This photo was taken a week ago and we suspect the remaining forest you see in this photo has since been cleared to - make way for a new palm oil plantation.

What forest?

Late last year Hardi helped move an orangutan from a forest that had been cleared to make way for a new palm oil plantation. This orangutan was
moved to what was then an untouched forest you now see in this photo, but is now what you see left in this photo taken last week. No forest is left and no one knows what happened to this and other orangutans.

Indonesia overtakes Malaysia as top palm oil producer: minister

Indonesia overtakes Malaysia as top palm oil producer: minister

KOTA KINABALU, Malaysia (AFP) — Indonesia likely overtook Malaysia as the world's top palm oil producer in 2007, due to dramatically increased planting there, Malaysia said Monday.

"From preliminary figures in 2007 it looks like Indonesia has already overtaken us in terms of production," Plantation and Commodities Minister Peter Chin told reporters.

Chin said Malaysia was still the world's top exporter but that Indonesia was "very close behind" and would probably claim top status in 2008.

"We do not aspire to be number one all the time," he said on the sidelines of a conference on sustainable palm oil production, in Sabah state on Malaysia's Borneo Island.

"Now Indonesia is coming up strongly, we acknowledge that they have more land, more estates and therefore they should logically be a bigger producer and bigger exporter. We will accept that," he said.

Malaysia produced 15.82 million tonnes of crude palm oil last year, and earned 45.2 billion ringgit (14.1 billion dollars) in export revenue.

Palm oil plantations account for 1.2 million hectares (2.97 million acres) of Malaysia's 4.2 million hectares of land allocated for agriculture. Some 30 percent of the country's palm oil is in Sabah.
Malaysia and Indonesia together produce 85 percent of the world's palm oil which is enjoying a boom on the back of strong global demand and tight supply.

Chin said with limited opportunities to expand agricultural land, palm oil producers will focus on increasing yield from existing crops by efficient growing techniques and replanting with better seedlings.

Malaysia's 2008 palm oil exports heading for record: report

Malaysia's 2008 palm oil exports heading for record: report

KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) — Malaysia's palm oil exports are headed for a record 50 billion ringgit (15.7 billion dollars) in 2008, boosted by strong global demand, a report said on Tuesday. Malaysian Palm Oil Board chairman Sabri Ahmad said continued tight supply and high demand for vegetable oils, as well as bad weather conditions, could see the commodity's bull run continue into 2009.

"We expect the world demand for vegetable oils and fats to increase within the next three to four years," he said according to The Star.

Malaysia, the world's top palm oil producer, saw export revenue jump 42 percent to 45.1 billion ringgit in 2007 compared with 31.8 billion ringgit in 2006, the daily said.

China is the largest buyer of Malaysian palm oil, accounting for about 28 percent of palm oil exports.

"China and India are expected to take the lead in demand for palm oil due to mushrooming domestic industries and increasing consumption," Sabri told the state Bernama news agency.
Sabri said the industry achieved a "phenomenal" performance in 2007, with the average price of crude palm oil at 2,530.50 ringgit per tonne against 1,510.50 ringgit the previous year, up by 67.5 percent.

Palm oil exports are becoming an important source of growth for Malaysia as the manufacturing sector experiences a sharp slowdown due to weaker demand from the United States.

Malaysia and Indonesia are the two leading producers of palm oil, which is typically used for cooking and soap-making, but also increasingly for producing biodiesel.

Neighbouring Indonesia had said it plans to rise from second place to become the largest palm oil producer by 2008. Malaysia and Indonesia together account for 85 percent of world production.

Conference on palm oil to draw over 400

Monday April 14, 2008 The StarOnline, Malaysia

Conference on palm oil to draw over 400

KOTA KINABALU: More than 400 delegates are expected to attend the two-day International Palm Oil Sustainability Conference that begins here today.

Organised by Malaysian Palm Oil Promotion Council (MPOC), the conference will be opened by Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Peter Chin Fah Kui.

The conference is expected to address several important issues with regard to palm oil and other edible oils.

These include providing the Malaysian perspective to sustainable palm oil production, the need for certification of the global oils and fats industry, opportunities in biomass to liquids from palm biomass, development of oil palm plantations on peat land, governments' role in wildlife and conservation care and the palm oil industry, the life cycle assessment approach to illustrate palm oil's sustainability advantages and an update on the food, fuel and energy debate.

There will also be a special session devoted to the orang utan conservation in Malaysia and its current status as well as prospects.

As part of its efforts to highlight the palm oil industry's efforts in adhering to Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and leading to sustainable production of palm oil, the MPOC had invited several foreign journalists on a familiarisation programme to Sandakan ahead of the conference here.
The journalists were also briefed on orang utan and wildlife conservation in Malaysia.

MPOC hopes that at the end of their two-day visit, they would have gained considerable understanding of the various GAP and wildlife conservation efforts being undertaken by Malaysia's palm oil industry. – Bernama

Malaysia Concerned About Negative Carbon Debt Campaigns On Palm Oil Industry, Says Peter Chin

April 14, 2008 11:56 AM

Malaysia Concerned About Negative Carbon Debt Campaigns On Palm Oil Industry, Says Peter Chin

KOTA KINABALU, April 14 (Bernama) -- Malaysia is greatly concerned by the negative campaigns targeted at the palm oil industry especially with regard to the distorting views on carbon debt, said Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities, Datuk Peter Chin Fah Kui.

He said it was not fair to arbitrarily specify a cut-off point for calculation purposes and in the process shackle developing countries to incur carbon debt through deforestration.Speaking at the two-day International Palm Oil Sustainability Conference beginning here Monday, he said biased calculations on oil palm and carbon debt leading to distorting conclusions had emerged from Europe in an attempt to tarnish the image of the industry.

Chin said carbon emissions for palm oil plantation were often calculated based on carbon stocks of pristine rain forests as the starting point.

However, he said although carbon stocks in the oil palm ecosystem were high, they had been totally ignored in these studies.As such, he said these studies had proclaimed that palm oil cultivation would create a huge carbon debt that would take many years to settle in order to make the industry carbon neutral.

"In reality, every piece of land has a carbon sink capacity. Any piece of forested land with high carbon stock, once converted to agriculture, would automatically carry a carbon debt since agricultural land use usually carries a lower carbon stock than a pristine forest.

This principle applies whenever any forested land is converted to agricultural land."If you think about it, how many farms exist today that was not a forest many, many years ago, irrespective of whether that farm is situated in a temperate or tropical country?""Whatever happened to the carbon debt the farm incurred when the forest was first felled for agricultural development?" he asked.

Chin said an oil palm plantation, as a planted forest, drew many similarities with that of a forest in the production of oxygen, absorption of carbon dioxide and served as a habitat for various forms of biodiveristy to thrive in.

Referring to the Malaysian palm oil industry, he said that contrary to the current perception that large tracts of virgin jungles were bulldozed to make way for oil palm plantations and this eventually deprived endangered specifies of their natural habitat and pushed them to the brink of extinction, this was not happening in the country.

"Oil palm cultivation is Malaysia is strictly regulated and can only be developed on legally designated agricultural land and does not encroach on protected virgin rainforests. Moreover when oil palm is planted on degraded land that was previously used for other commercial activities, the planting of oil palms rehabilitates the land and converts it to a green lung," he said.

More importantly, he said oil palm being a perennial crop could be sustainably produced for 25 years or more with minimum disturbance to the environment compared to th cultivation of other oil seeds that needed annual harvesting and large land preparation, usually with the use of machinery.

In addition, he said Malaysian plantations took serious care of their environment."The Malaysian palm oil industry adopts good agricultural practices such as zero burning in platations and the utilisation of waste -- for example fresh fruit bunches are converted to organic fertilisers.

The industry is environmentally-friendly where the waste water that flows out of the treatment ponds are not harmful to aquatic life that live downstream. All these practices ensure that the palm oil industry operates in a sustainable manner," he said.-- BERNAMA