Thursday, 31 December 2009

Indonesia to Relax Forest Protection Rules for Some Infrastructure Projects


December 30, 2009 The Jakarta Globe

Indonesia will allow some infrastructure projects deemed in the public interest such as toll roads and geothermal energy plants to operate in protected forests, the chief economics minister said on Wednesday.

Under Indonesian law it is currently forbidden to undertake any kind of activity that could impact on a forest conservation area.

But chief economics minister Hatta Rajasa told reporters that the government would issue a new rule to allow some development in forests after discussions between relevant ministers.

“For the public interest such infrastructure projects and geothermal projects can use protected forests,” Rajasa said.

The users of protected forests would have to compensate by setting aside twice as much land within another part of the province for use as forested land, he added.

The minister said the regulation would give investors certainty and denied it would disturb forest conservation.

“We know that there are many geothermal projects located in protected areas. That’s why this regulation is part of the government’s 100-day program,” he said.

The administration of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who started a second term in October, has set 100-day programs focused on removing bottlenecks that have stalled investment and infrastructure development in Southeast Asia’s biggest economy.

Overlapping regulations on the environment and resource development frequently complicate plans to develop projects in Indonesia, although green groups also complain that firms are sometimes wrongly given permission to exploit forests.

Indonesia also currently has one of the fastest rates of deforestation in the world that threatens to swiftly erode its dwindling untouched tracts of tropical forests.

At the same time, the developing nation desperately wants to speed up spending on airports, roads, ports and other infrastructure to help reduce inefficiencies and speed up economic growth in order to reduce poverty and unemployment.

On energy, Indonesia has established two crash programs to increase power generation by 10,000 megawatts (MW) in a bid to resolve chronic power shortages in the country.

The first program, which is due to be 40 percent complete by the middle of next year, relies on coal-fired power stations, while a second program, due to start next year, has nearly half, or 4,733 MW, of power slated to come from geothermal sources.

Abadi Poernomo, president director of Pertamina Geothermal Energy (PHE), said previously the company planned to increase its geothermal capacity but had been blocked by the conservation law.

PHE, which is a unit of the country’s state oil and gas firm Pertamina, planned to increase its geothermal capacity to 1,342 MW in 2014 from 272 MW currently. Pertamina already operates geothermal projects in West Java and North Sulawesi. Indonesia is hoping to tap alternative sources of energy to meet rising power demand and cut consumption of expensive crude oil as its own reserves dwindle.

The vast archipelago, with hundreds of active and extinct volcanoes, has the potential to produce an estimated 27,000 MW of electricity from geothermal sources.

However, most of the potential remains largely untapped because the high cost of geothermal energy makes the price of electricity generated this way expensive.


Government Under Fire After Dismal Year for Environment

The EU, American and the British government's own Department For International Development, all of whom pour taxpayers money into supposedly tackling Indonesian environmental problems, with little or no accountability let alone results.

These government people are either naïve, incompetent or possibly even corrupt in as much as they have in the past given away millions of pounds/dollars to the notoriously incompetent and corrupt Ministry of Forestry to save the environment described below. They should all hang their heads in shame.


December 31, 2009 The Jakarta Globe.

Fidelis E Satriastanti

Government Under Fire After Dismal Year for Environment

While the recent Copenhagen climate talks have been criticized for failing to produce a concrete agreement on emissions cuts, local activists are now turning their attention to the government for its failure to protect the environment.

Berry Nahdian Furqon, executive director of the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi), said the State Ministry for the Environment had failed to make significant progress this year, particularly in engaging the private sector and industries.

“They have a lot on their agenda, such as the Proper [Corporate Environmental Performance Ratings] list, among other things,” he said. “However, these have never been integrated into other sectors in order to cover the problems caused by development.

“The state ministry is too detached from other sectors. We can see it clearly from the condition of our forests, coastal areas, air and water, and the condition of our water catchment areas.”

Berry said the Proper list, which catalogs the country’s worst polluters and most environmentally conscious companies, has never been able to cover the bigger corporations and often passed many polluters as environmentally compliant.

This year’s annual list covered 627 companies. Fifty-six companies were put on the “black list” of worst offenders, including 10 state-owned enterprises and 12 foreign companies.

The companies on the black list operate across a range of industries, including oil and gas, coal mining, pulp and paper, textiles, fish processing, plywood and palm oil, and include an oil and gas joint venture involving PT Pertamina in South Sumatra, six state-owned plantations, nine plywood companies, 10 palm oil concerns and a leading milk producer.

Mas Achmad Santosa, an environmental law expert, said the ministry’s poor performance was illustrated by the low number of environmentally compliant companies on the list.

“We can actually see how [the ministry] did this year through the Proper list, and also from the SLHI [Indonesian State of the Environment Report], which still shows no improvement for the environment,” he said.

The 2007 SLHI said the country’s waterways had been adversely altered by human activity and spatial changes, resulting in flooding and droughts.

The latest available data from the report showed that between 2000 and 2005, 1.09 million hectares of forest were lost each year — down from 2.83 million hectares over the preceding five-year period.

The government was accused of failing to promote the national agenda to protect the country’s forests at the UN climate change talks in Copenhagen earlier this month, and criticized for accepting the resulting agreement that was neither binding nor adopted by all parties.

“There were never any concrete steps on how to deal with the impact of climate change,” Mas Achmad said. “We’ve been aggressively announcing that Indonesia is going to lead in this campaign, but look at the facts: We still can’t even manage to protect our own forests from illegal logging or forest fires.”

Mas Achmad also said there was no consistency between what the Environment Ministry had said it wanted to achieve and what was actually being implemented across the country.

“Yes, they are very eager to stop illegal logging in the country, however, they can’t do anything when big illegal logging cases are dropped,” he said, citing 13 cases of alleged illegal logging by major companies in Riau that came to nothing.

The new environment minister, Gusti Muhammad Hatta, also came under fire from Mas Achmad for having approved the operations of a gold mining company, Meares Soputan Mining, in South Sulawesi despite it having been rejected by the regional government and the previous environment minister.

However, both Berry and Mas Achmad agreed that there was still hope for progress after the 2009 Law on Environmental Protection and Management was passed in September by the House of Representatives.

“There is plenty of hope for the new law because its content is excellent, with the state ministry being given new powers and public involvement also being promoted,” Mas Achmad said. “But then again, it is still just policy on paper.”

Berry said the ministry would have no excuses for failing to advance its agenda in 2010. “There should be new breakthroughs because this new law is allowing that to happen,” he said. “There should be changes.”

KPK Leaders Turn Down Offer of Expensive New Cars From Govt Budget

Whilst begging for money from foreign governments to save their forests etc, the Indonesian government allocates cars each valued at $137,800 to its officials. Although declined by KPK we can be sure the remaining 150 officials have accepted their incredibly expensive new cars.

This is sad/bad enough, but compounding this waste of money is the stupidity of the British, Australian and American governments, not forgetting the EC/EU (the biggest wasters) who lavish ever increasing amounts of their taxpayers money on Indonesia. These officials may be foolish or/and corrupt, but it is our money they are giving away.

Do you think any foreign government would ship out fabulously expensive cars to Indonesian government officials? They would not - because it would be seen as excessive and reported on by the media. Money, on the other hand, is sent invisibly but used to subsidise these cars - amongst other things.


December 30, 2009 The Jakarta Globe

The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) leaders said they will not accept new cars valued at up to Rp 1.3 billion ($137,800) each that have been provided for state officials because they are “too expensive.”

The commission’s deputy chairman Haryono Umar said that he will keep using his old car. State secretary Sudi Silalahi said on Tuesday that the purchase of the cars had been approved by the House of Representatives as part of the 2010 budget.

“Even though (the cars) are part of the state budget the KPK leaders will not take them,” Haryono said at KPK office on Tuesday evening. Haryono suggested state officials should use Indonesian-made cars such as the Toyota Innova.

Presidential spokesman Julian Adrian Pasha refused to comment on the KPK’s decision to turn down the cars.

“I can’t say anything about it. Ask the state secretary,” Julian said.

On Monday, 150 state officials received a new Toyota Crown Royal Saloon. The state officials included ministers and parliament leaders.

Govt urged to quickly solve forest issues

Personal note: REDD money is supposed to be paid by polluting countries and companies to pay for forest protection in countries such as Indonesia. If the past is anything to go by, there is not a hope in hell of any REDD money saving forests in Indonesia. Billions of dollars will be wasted or stolen, trees will still be cut down and the pollution elsewhere will continue.

Adianto P. Simamora , The Jakarta Post , Jakarta | Wed, 12/30/2009

Indonesia should move faster to resolve contentious issues related to forestry, environmentalists say.

The comment comes after the Copenhagen accord recognized the importance of reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) to cap climate emissions.

Among the long-standing issues are forest governance, land ownership, inventory emission data, forest fires and illegal logging.

“The government should not hesitate to take strict action on contentious issues if Indonesia wants to implement the REDD,” former environment minister Sarwono Kusumaatmadja said Tuesday.

The Copenhagen accord recognized the crucial role of the forest in emission reduction through the REDD plus scheme. Developed nations agreed to mobilize financial resources to support the forest countries.

The accord stipulates developed countries will provide US$30 billion for the period between 2010 and 2012, including for forestry.

The idea behind the REDD plus is to award governments, companies and forest owners for maintaining forests.

However, the Copenhagen accord failed to set legally binding targets on emission reduction for developed nations, which many said could make the REDD scheme become ineffective.

Local activists have blasted President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his entourage for failing to do much during the conference despite having high hopes.

A legally binding treaty on emission cuts, however, was expected to be agreed in Mexico City next year.

Indonesia, the world’s third largest forestry country, with 120 million hectares, has put high hopes on the REDD to reap more money from climate funding.

Sarwono said that the government needed to focus on improving forest governance once the REDD was implemented in the country.

He said that the government should also convert forest plots with idle permits into conservation areas.

“But, the government must ensure the public that conservation is not anti-economy. Otherwise there will be strong opposition,” he said.

Director of energy and climate change at the WWF Indonesia Fitrian Ardiansyah said that the Forestry Ministry should calculate emissions in forests for a baseline if the country wanted to cut emissions in them.

“We need to know the amount of forest emissions if business is to run as usual,” he said.

Another contentious issue was sharing the financial benefits between the government, local administration and people, and project hosts.

The government earlier warned local authorities to carefully review all carbon brokerage firms offering incentives, such as huge financial benefits from the forestry sector for engaging in carbon trading.

Forestry Ministry official Wandojo Siswanto said many carbon brokers were directly approaching regents and mayors, asking them to sign memorandums of understanding to develop projects under the REDD.

Indonesia was the first country to issue a regulation on the REDD, allowing indigenous people, local authorities, private organizations and businesspeople — both local and foreign — to run REDD projects.

Under the regulation, the REDD project permits will only be granted to those who are certified to control forests.

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Logging company told to pack up and leave.

A Malaysian company involved.


Logging company told to pack up and leave.