Thursday, 29 January 2009

Indonesia aims to wrap up forest-carbon rules

Personal note: Interesting to see the government of Indonesia preparing to tell the rest of the world (with money to throw away) what it wants to hear - the one thing that government excels at. I am not opposed to carbon credits. My view based on what I have seen happen to a lot donors money for orangutan conservation is; large NGOs like CI, WCS and various consultants will soak up most of the money and the local people who are supposed to benefit - won't.


Indonesia aims to wrap up forest-carbon rules

Thu Jan 29, 2009

By Ed Davies

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesia hopes to lay out a clear set of regulations before June on using carbon credits to protect rainforests so the rules can be discussed in upcoming international talks, a top climate official said.

The United Nations has backed a scheme called REDD, or reduced emissions from deforestation and degradation, in which developing nations could potentially earn billions of dollars from selling carbon credits in return for saving their forests.

Investors from banks to forestry firms and NGOs are lining up to set up REDD schemes in Indonesia and elsewhere in Asia, Africa and South America.

But the scheme is in its infancy and regulations are needed guide how REDD projects will work, will ensure the forests remain intact, how much carbon they will save and sequester and how money from selling the credits will flow to local communities.

Agus Purnomo, head of Indonesia's National Council on Climate Change, told Reuters on Thursday it was crucial to manage expectations over plans to save huge swathes of forest.

"Money is not going to fall from the sky just because we have forests," said Purnomo, who heads the council set up last July under President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. The council coordinates policy and developing priorities on climate change.

REDD won backing at U.N.-led climate talks in Bali in 2007 and trial schemes are now being developed. The World Bank in Jakarta says 20 trial schemes are at various stages of development in Indonesia. Banks, including Merrill Lynch and Macquarie Group of Australia, are among the investors.

Indonesia is also under pressure to curb deforestation, particularly illegal logging.

A report sponsored by the World Bank and Britain's Department for International Development says up to 84 percent of Indonesia's carbon emissions come from deforestation, forest fires and peatland degradation.


"I am pushing to have REDD ongoing, (a) scheme (that) is clear before June, so that it will also contribute to the international negotiation process," he said, referring to a round of U.N.-led climate talks in Bonn, Germany.

The talks are part of a series in the run up to main talks in the Danish capital at the end of the year aimed at trying to agree on a broader replacement for the U.N. Kyoto Protocol climate pact.

Purnomo said one of the key unresolved issues over REDD was on taxation and the split in revenue for investors.

"The potential investors have been kicking and screaming with the proposal from the ministry of forestry but none of them are actually producing a good alternative arrangement," he said.

Some potential investors wanted to be taxed on their net profits, he said, adding this could be tricky since there would have to be an agreement on the level of costs.

He said that as well as dealing with some grumbles from potential investors the process also sometimes faced resistance from parts of Indonesia's unwieldy bureaucracy.

"That's why I need political blessing. I'm not supposed to say it that way but basically what I do is kick some butts," added Purnomo, 50, who previously headed non-governmental organizations such as the World Wildlife Fund in Indonesia.

He said a climate trust fund, aiming to pool donor commitments to direct the cash at priority areas and improve transparency, was also due to be launched before June.

He said the election of U.S. President Barack Obama had brought "fresh air" to global climate change negotiations, although it was unclear how much Washington would be able to commit itself to given the financial crisis.

"I think that they will have to resolve to a 'less now but more later' type of commitment," he said, adding that overall progress in December's U.N. climate talks in Copenhagen could hinge on the depth of the crisis.

Purnomo said he was concerned about pressure on developing countries to shoulder more of the cost of climate change.

"It's not a winning debate when you ask China, India or other make commitments to reductions when our emissions per-capita are very, very small."

(Editing by David Fogarty)

Orangutans horrific treatment at Jakarta Zoo

A personal letter submitted to the Jakarta Post, as yet unpublished.

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Dear Sir,

If anyone doubts the appalling conditions 32 orangutans are kept in at the Jakarta Zoo, I am willing to send them photographs I took just last week.

The zoo’s long-held, uncaring attitude towards these orangutans is nothing less than a national scandal. Orangutans, the most iconic of Indonesian animals, left to a 90 year old lady to care for with money from her own pension whilst the zoo squanders vast amounts of money restoring stone statues of animals at the front gate.

Despite repeated attempts over the past 12 months to persuade the zoo director and curator to remedy this disgraceful situation, neither has ever shown any interest. The Ministry of Forestry look upon these captive (though largely wild caught) orangutans much the same way as they look upon those in the rapidly disappearing forests they keep on selling; to the Ministry orangutans are nothing more than an inconvenience getting in the way of making serious money.

That the Jakarta Zoo chooses to neglect orangutans makes one wonder how the rest of the animals are treated.

Whilst writing, has anyone ever wondered how the Ministry of Forestry can be trusted to be responsible for wildlife when the Ministry itself single-handedly is responsible for selling off the forest which is the primary reason why these orangutans are in the zoo in the first place?

Is it not about time responsibility for protecting wildlife is transferred to the Ministry of the Environment? Under the Ministry of Forestry’s watch, on their own admission at least 75,000 orangutans have been killed in the past 25 years.

At this rate, left to them, soon there will only be a few orangutans in the wild, which of course may well be what the Ministry of Forestry wants. The question is, will the people of Indonesia stand by and let this happen? Watch this space.

Sean Whyte
Chief Executive
Nature Alert

Orangutans loose out to gorillas

Personal Comment re. the letter below.

I knew the late Mrs Schmutzer quite well and often toured the zoo with her identifying for urgent renovation with her money the worst enclosures. Mrs Schmutzer was particularly keen on helping the big cats and the orangutans.

Whilst alive she paid for new large cat cages to be built and the orangutans were next on the list before her regrettable death. Based on my conversations with this caring lady I know for certain she would never have wanted to see the orangutans to continue suffering all these years later. I am equally sure she would be very sad to see the current neglect of the primate centre built with her legacy, where one gorilla has already died.

Why would an Indonesian zoo, so obviously incapable of caring for this country's own large ape, want to have gorillas? What good does this do gorillas or the Indonesian people? Why would Howletts Zoo want to send gorillas 7000 miles to a country in which there is scant interest in its own wildlife, let alone African gorillas?

If Howletts and the Aspinall Foundation really cared about the conditions at the zoo, why then have they completely ignored the horrific conditions in which the orangutans are kept, whilst spending vast sums of money moving gorillas half way round the world to a country where their presence is nothing more than a public curiosity?

"The author of the letter below says: Puck Schmutzer's vision was to create an environment for captive primates from around the world that would act as a positive model for zoos in Indonesia and indeed in Asia with its cage design, husbandry and record-keeping.

She achieved this with the creation of the Schmutzer Primate Center and, with the direction of Willie Smits, helped create a network of wildlife sanctuaries around the country."

I suspect this is correct. It's just a terrible shame she has been badly let down on both counts. The enclosure design has been heavily criticised, the record keeping is very suspect, the maintenance of the enclosures poor to say the least, and the original Head Keeper who, by common agreement, was very effective and conscientious in the early days, was fired.

The 'wildlife sanctuaries built with Mrs Schmutzer's money' around the country are a disaster; most are financially broke and at one I visited last year I was shown around the very, very impressive looking enclosures full of animals and birds dying of starvation….if anyone doubts me I can send photos. The same 'sanctuary' has two orangutans and another has three, all of which they have asked BOS many times to accept, but BOS will not.

So, here we have Indonesia's most iconic of species, one which should be a flagship Ambassador for Indonesia, slaughtered in the wild, incarcerated and starved when in captivity, and all the time I see people like Howletts/Aspinall Foundation trying to put a spin on The Inconvenient Truth.

Sean Whyte

Tuesday, January 27, 2009 Gorillas at the Primate Center

Tue, 01/27/2009

In response to recent letters to The Jakarta Post by Ulrike von Mengden (Dec. 30) and Shirley McGreal (Jan. 2), which questioned the actions of The Aspinall Foundation and Howletts Wild Animal Park in sending gorillas to the Schmutzer Primate Center (SPC), I would make the following statement.

Puck Schmutzer's vision was to create an environment for captive primates from around the world that would act as a positive model for zoos in Indonesia and indeed in Asia with its cage design, husbandry and record-keeping.

She achieved this with the creation of the Schmutzer Primate Center and, with the direction of Willie Smits, helped create a network of wildlife sanctuaries around the country.

Schmutzer believed that, by building the best gorilla enclosure in the world and housing a breeding colony at the Primate Center, these iconic animals would help draw attention to the plight of all primates under threat of extinction (which should be one of the primary roles of any zoo).

The incredible number of visitors to the Primate Center validates her vision. The late John Aspinall and Puck Schmutzer were good friends and The Aspinall Foundation has been working in collaboration with SPC since the 1980s.

Through a succession of breeding loans between two facilities, the Howletts and Port Lympne, wild animal parks have built up a successfully breeding captive population of Indonesian primates such as Javan gibbons, Javan langurs and leaf monkeys. These exchanges were carried out in full accordance with international guidelines.

Here in the UK, the breeding success of these Indonesian species has helped to highlight their plight in the wild. Funds generated from the publicity regarding these Indonesian primates are now being used to help conserve other endangered International Union for Conservation of Nature red-listed primates through in-situ conservation in Java (such as the Javan Gibbon).

These projects include a comprehensive field survey of all protected Javan primates being undertaken by the Indonesian Primatological Association in cooperation with the Forestry Ministry and local NGOs in West and Central Java.

Also, partial funding of the first international Indonesian Gibbon Workshop in 2008 and majority funding of the 2008 Javan Gibbon Workshop organized by the Forestry Minsitry and the Indonesian Primatological Association.

The results of the latter workshop are to be used in preparation of the National Strategy and Action Plan for the conservation of the Javan Gibbon. The Foundation has committed itself to further funding of the priorities agreed to by stakeholders at these workshops.

The Aspinall Foundation believes that by working directly with the Schmutzer Primate Center and Ragunan, staff conditions can be improved for the other Indonesian species at the zoo, and Howletts recently hosted two keepers and a vet from Ragunan Zoo and the Schmutzer center for 2 months.

We believe, as did Puck Schmutzer, that the best way to improve conditions outside the Schmutzer Primate Center is by positive example and collaboration.

Amos Courage
The Aspinall FoundationLondon

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Orangutan suffering. One of many an orangutan charity has abandoned.

Her name is Neng. She is five years old and she has been chained like this for four of those years. A COP investigator discovered Neng last week. She's paralyzed. When COP found her, she had a high fever and her eyes were inflamed.

We want to rescue her, but are unable to do so because a famous orangutan Charity (NOT Orangutan Appeal UK who are strong supporters of COPs work) will not accept any orangutans like Neng. How do we know? Because we have being trying unsuccessfully to get them to help many other orangutans in need of help. They have the space and the money, maybe some of your money, but they refuse to help. Pleas to their major sponsor, a large UK animal welfare charity with millions of pounds, have all met with a negative response.

Neng is clearly in pain, suffering 24/7, and charities with massive sums of money specifically donated to help save orangutans, won't do so - and won't explain why. How anyone can accept public money to help save orangutans, and then refuse to do so, leaves me incredulous and angry. How do you feel? Whatever our feelings, imagine how Neng must feel. She will surely die soon, alone and in constant pain.

The chain around her neck is just one metre long - that's how far she has moved in four (4) years. I repeat, four (4) years on a one metre chain. Look at how thin she is.

Orangutan Saviour to Visit Australia

Hardi Baktaintoro - Founder of

Indonesia's Centre for Orangutan Protection will soon be giving a series of talks throughout Australia, sponsored by the Australian Orangutan Project.

This is your chance in a lifetime to meet this man - someone who faces death threats, refuses bribes, fights governmment corruption - in his passion to save orangutans.

Hardi will be talking in Perth on Tuesday 17th February at the Beazley Theatre at Murdoch University 7-30PM.

Tickets are available through the AOP web page (see below) or by calling on 0409570291. $20.00 adults $10.00 children under 15 and students

All other States please refer to this web page

Baby orangutan saved and now in safe hands

Recently recued by COP. No one else in the whole of Indonesian Borneo is now proactive in rescuing orangutans: Only the Centre for Orangutan Protection (COP) are prepared to suffer personal hardship in their passion for saving these majestic animals.

Monday, 26 January 2009

Saving orangutans and forests - COP in action

The Centre for Orangutan Protection (COP) Rapid Reaction Team in action on the trail of illegal loggers.

There's a lot involved with saving orangutans.

Saving orangutans involves making friends with and helping local villagers, using technology such as GPS to record the location of new palm oil plantations, illegal logging etc, and documenting on film the rich biodiversity of forests under threat of logging.

When Environmentalists Legitimize Plunder

When Environmentalists Legitimize Plunder

by Michael Barker

"For more than twenty years, we have empowered communities in jungles and deserts to make conservation part of their livelihoods. From early partnerships with Patagonia and Starbucks to our ground-breaking relationship with Wal-Mart, we've worked with companies large and small to make conservation part of their business model."
— Conservation International, 2008.