Friday, 31 July 2009

Prince Charles Gives $2.8b To Preserve Rain Forests

Personal note: Truly extraordinary. The EU gave Indonesia €20,000,000 between 2006-2008 and what has it achieved? Who did they give most of it to, to distribute? The allegedly corrupt Ministry of Forestry whose primary reason for existing is to sell forests for logging. What has the money achieved, or more to the point, where did it go?

As we can see below the government of Indonesia blames others for the logging. They talk as though forests are disappearing as if by magic, when they know, as we do, they are selling them off the forests as fast as they can.

And now Prince Charles is going to reward the government with more money. I hope you will write and ask him why he proposes rewarding the Indonesian government for logging its own forests. Would Prince Charles suggest instead of prosecuting bank robbers, you give them more money and ask them not to rob any more banks? Here is the address of the Prince Charles Rainforest Trust -

Statement last Monday, 27th July, the Ministry of Forestry said, "….He noted that the government planned to soon release an additional 4.2 million hectares of forest for plantation development."

The government of Indonesia must think it is great how they are being constantly rewarded for logging their own forests, whilst at the same time making the EU etc look like complete idiots.

Finally, it is this same Ministry of Forestry who are directly responsible for killing tens of thousands of orangutans and millions of other animals.


July 30, 2009

Candra Malik The Jakarta Globe

Prince Charles Gives $2.8b To Preserve Rain Forests

Karanganyar, Central Java. Britain’s Prince Charles has set aside 2 billion euros ($2.8 billion) to help Indonesia and other developing countries preserve their rain forests, State Minister for the Environment Rachmat Witoelar said on Thursday.

“His representative came on Wednesday afternoon and asked Indonesia’s government to prepare to discuss the scheme further,” Witoelar said at a seminar on bank funding and environmental projects.

Aside from Indonesia, the money will also be used in other developing countries with tropical rain forests, such as Papua New Guinea, Congo, Costa Rica and Mexico.

“The amount of the aid will differ for each country based on the size of their tropical forests and the environmental problems they face,” he said.

Indonesia was included after delegates from the United Kingdom surveyed forests in Sumatra, Java and Kalimantan last year. The money is intended to be used on reforestation projects.

Witoelar did not offer an exact figure for the size of the damaged or destroyed forests in the country, but estimated it at 40 percent of the total.

“As environment minister, I can only say that Indonesia’s forests are in severe condition,” he said.

“In the next five years, we must plant two billion trees, or 400 million trees per year. Otherwise our forests will be history.”

In fact, while the fund created by Prince Charles is substantial, Witoelar said he believed it was only enough to plant a fraction of the trees needed to replenish the world’s rain forests .

However, reforestation is not the only solution in the fight against global warming. Witoelar said the world must adopt development practices that prioritize environmental protection and replace the growth-at-any-cost model that currently dominates in many developing countries.

He said a green economy would give priority to clean energy, rural energy development and reducing emissions.

“At the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate in L’Aquila, Italy, on July 9, the major global powers reconfirmed their commitment to developing environment-friendly energy. I hope Indonesia can do that, too,” he said.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009


This was Toni only three weeks earlier (see next news post below) enjoying some refreshing water melon provided by COP and Nature Alert. The zoo did not provide water for him to drink.

We made repeated offers to transfer Toni to a rescue centre only two hours away where he would receive the best possible care. All costs involved in moving Toni and his mate were to be met by COP and Nature Alert.

The Solo zoo is officially bankrupt and a disaster area for animals. Despite our offers and the zoo's obvious inability to care for orangutans, the local authorities refused all offers of help, time and again.

Three weeks later Toni died; see below.

Solo Animal Park - let this orangutan die.

Toni was a magnificent male orangutan who passed away on July 12 in Taru Jurug Animal Park (TSTJ) of Solo, Central Java. Here you see him being prepared to be stuffed and mounted and ready to be displayed alongside numerous other wild animals effectively killed at this horrendous, now bankrupt zoo. Local officials, like those in central government, don't give a damn.

Solo Animal Park - let this orangutan die.

To Create Healthy Forests, Put Them in The Hands of People Who Need Them

July 28, 2009

Ahmad Maryudi Jakarta Globe

Community forestry has widely been heralded as a way to achieve sustainable forestry, particularly in the developing world. Its introduction in Indonesia was mainly inspired by models in Nepal and India. The approach is meant as an alternative to “scientific” industrial-scale forest management, a system widely perceived to result in forest loss and degradation while failing to contribute to the economic development of local residents.

The main value of community forestry is that it should involve local forest users and inhabitants in the decision making and implementation of forestry activities. The perceived failures of industrial forestry in the developing world have often been attributed to the lack of local people’s involvement. Jack Westoby, a former director of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s forestry department and once a proponent of large-scale forestry, later said “forestry is not about trees, it is about people.”

Community forestry aims help forest dwellers out of poverty. Some of the poorest households in the country dwell in or near forests. An estimated 40 million people — nearly a quarter of the country’s population — live in forest villages, and many of them depend almost entirely on forests for subsistence. Some are from indigenous groups living traditional lifestyles. Many more use forests for essential fuel for cooking and heating.

Some current community forestry programs (HKM), such those implemented in some Indonesian islands, and colloborative forest management programs (PHBM) in almost all of Java’s forests, aim to achieve just such goals. But while such programs have been hailed for offering better benefits to forest residents, one can opine that it is the forestry officials who benefit most from these actvities. Some wonder whether these programs are truly aimed at the welfare of forest communities.

Over the years, forestry officials have failed in many of their reforestation efforts, often losing their investment in the early phases. Even if the officials were able to cultivate the stands, experience has shown that they are powerless in preventing their logging by forest residents or outsiders. The massive blight of illegal logging toward the end of the 1990s suggests that forest officials will continue to lose trees if management approaches do not involve forest dwellers.

In community-based programs, forest residents are expected to replant, cultivate and protect stands of new growth. It is rather obvious that officials benefit from these programs in two ways. First, they can reduce or even avoid the cost of “raising” the forests until they are ready for harvest. Second, they claim most of the harvest, a prize that cannot be guaranteed without the cooperation of the community. This has led some critics to refer to PHBMs as “Pengelolaan Hutan Berbiaya Murah,” or “Low-Cost Forest Management.” Such schemes are even more exploitative than previous social forestry programs, which have been said to be no more than “land for labor” deals.

To be fair, forest authorities today offer better economic incentives from the sales of forest products. In PHBM programs, Perhutani, the state forest enterprise in Java, pays a 25 percent share, while HKMs in regions such as Gunungkidul (Yogyakarta) are likely to offer 40 percent. It is an improvement on the past, when social forestry programs offered such limited economic benefits as temporary access to forestland for agricultural cropping and nontimber forest products.

However, experience tells us that proceeds from forest sales are rarely enjoyed by direct forest users. Communities have to wait for years to obtain economic benefits because it takes 40-60 years for stands to reach the harvest stage, depending on the species. Cases have shown that forest officials are reluctant to switch long-rotation species to fast-growing ones.

Even if communities have already received a share of the harvest sales, this money is rarely seen by direct forest users. Gempol, a forest village in Randublatung, Blora, has received about a billion rupiah ($100,000) from the forest authority over the past five years. Less than 5 percent of this sum has been allocated to direct forest users.

In addition, forest resource users are now facing increased difficulty in accessing the forests. In the past, they might have been allowed access for grazing, collecting wood for fuel or even cutting timber for small-scale construction, albeit illegally in the eyes of forest officials. Now, complex permit systems are being set in place that force communities to fall in line.

On the bright side, there are a few exceptional cases. Communities in Krui, Lampung, have been given access for harvesting and collecting both timber and nontimber products, mainly dammar resin. In return, the community has to maintain tree stands in the dammar agroforest area and pay tax on timber and other products that are extracted for commercial purposes. Elsewhere, a community forest in Sungai Utik, West Kalimantan, has successfully obtained a forest stainability certificate from the Indonesian Ecolabeling Institute. Still, public forest access in both cases must be officially approved, and there signs of improved livelihoods are scant.

Community forestry programs have yet to genuinely involve forest dwellers in decision making, leaving local stakeholders left out of discussions on delineating borders, deciding where to plant, choosing species, scheduling rotation cycles and so on. Instead, all decisions are dictated from the top down.

“Bottom-up” schemes tend to include ideas on using faster-growing species that would more quickly benefit users due to short harvest cycles. In addition, the needs of other agricultural spaces in forests are rarely taken into account because of the way they impinge on space for timber species. In Banyumas, Central Java, a proposal to plant coffee in a part of the forest set aside for agriculture failed. Proposals to thin the forest canopy to allow more sunlight to reach crops are often denied, as in the cases of Purworejo and Wonosobo, also in Central Java.

It remains true that programs are still heavily controlled by the state. Prior to implementation, forest dwellers are required to organize in a legally registered group, without which they are prevented from engaging in the programs.

This contradicts regulations that encourage local communities to decide what is best for them. Within forest villages, there are several social organizations that could be employed instead of establishing a new entity. Some analysts even accuse the requirement to establish such groups of being a strategy to control political dynamics within communities.

Despite the best efforts to involve communities in forestry, positive outcomes for forest dwellers have yet to be realized. Despite promising schemes to share profits with local residents, they still only enjoy limited economic benefits, far less than they deserve to compensate for their efforts in caring for the forest.

Policy makers and forest managers should explore ways to genuinely address forest dwellers’ needs and improve public access to forest resources. And the handful of successful programs should be used as models for ushering in new initiatives for forest communities around the country.

Ahmad Maryudi is a lecturer at Gadjah Mada University and the executive director of the Institute for Forest Policy and Environmental Studies.

Sinar Mas Blamed For Riau Haze

July 29, 2009

Fidelis E. Satriastanti The Jakarta Globe

As the haze from burning forests and plantations continues to choke Riau, nongovernmental organizations are pointing the finger at the Sinar Mas Group and urging it to take immediate action to deal with the disaster, an environmentalist said on Tuesday.

“[Sinar Mas] and its associated companies should take their legal responsibility as license holders seriously and prevent such fires on their concessions, regardless who caused the fires,” said Susanto Kurniawan of Jikalahari.

An analysis carried out by a local coalition of NGOs called Eyes on the Forest shows that 4,782 fire hotspots occurred in Riau in the first six months of 2009 and that nearly one-quarter of those fires were found within concessions affiliated with Sinar Mas Group’s Asia Pulp and Paper Company, including within a conservation reserve set up by the group.

The Sinar Mas and the pulp and paper company received a conservation achievement award for designating the Giam Siak Kecil-Bukit Batu forest as a Unesco Biosphere Reserve. However, data shows that of the fires originating in Sinar Mas connected concessions, many of them are actually in the original GSK forest block.

Biosphere reserves are conservation areas created to protect the biological and cultural diversity of a region while promoting sustainable economic development.

“Whether through fires, draining peatlands or forest clearance in its wood-sourcing concessions, Sinar Mas Group companies are the single biggest contributors to the destruction of natural forest and peat soil in the ecosystem where the Biosphere Reserve was established,” said Nursamsu of WWF-Indonesia.

Meanwhile, Hariansyah Usman of Walhi Riau, said the forests were often cleared without proper licensing and sometimes inside provincial protection areas.

“We call on the government to reopen the findings of the recently terminated illegal logging investigation. We also call on the government to take legal action against companies that start fires,” said Hariansyah, adding that 13 cases of illegal logging by pulp and paper companies were dropped by police in 2008.

Meanwhile, Nurul Huda, a spokesman for Sinar Mas Group, said the claims made by the NGOs were not true and needed to be proven.

“It’s absurd, we did suspect a few hotspots in our areas, however, after we checked them for real, they turned out to be nothing,” he said adding that if there were hotspots, the company’s fire fighters would have taken the necessary steps to put them out.

Concerning the conservation areas, he said that the company would never cut down trees or carry out burning in those areas because they were part of the company’s conservation efforts.