Robber fly - Nature photographer Thomas Shahan specializes in amazing portraits of tiny insects. It isn't easy. Shahan says that this Robber Fly (Holcocephala fusca), for instance, is "skittish" and doesn't like its picture taken.

Eye-popping bug photos

Nature by Numbers (Video)

"The Greater Akashic System" – July 15, 2012 (Kryon Channelling by Lee Caroll) (Subjects: Lightworkers, Intent, To meet God, Past lives, Universe/Galaxy, Earth, Pleiadians, Souls Reincarnate, Invention: Measure Quantum state in 3D, Recalibrates, Multi-Dimensional/Divine, Akashic System to change to new system, Before religion changed the system, DNA, Old system react to Karma, New system react to intent now for next life, Animals (around humans) reincarnate again, This Animal want to come back to the same human, Akashic Inheritance, Reincarnate as Family, Other Planets, Global Unity … etc.)

Question: Dear Kryon: I live in Spain. I am sorry if I will ask you a question you might have already answered, but the translations of your books are very slow and I might not have gathered all information you have already given. I am quite concerned about abandoned animals. It seems that many people buy animals for their children and as soon as they grow, they set them out somewhere. Recently I had the occasion to see a small kitten in the middle of the street. I did not immediately react, since I could have stopped and taken it, without getting out of the car. So, I went on and at the first occasion I could turn, I went back to see if I could take the kitten, but it was to late, somebody had already killed it. This happened some month ago, but I still feel very sorry for that kitten. I just would like to know, what kind of entity are these animals and how does this fit in our world. Are these entities which choose this kind of life, like we do choose our kind of Human life? I see so many abandoned animals and every time I see one, my heart aches... I would like to know more about them.

Answer: Dear one, indeed the answer has been given, but let us give it again so you all understand. Animals are here on earth for three (3) reasons.

(1) The balance of biological life. . . the circle of energy that is needed for you to exist in what you call "nature."

(2) To be harvested. Yes, it's true. Many exist for your sustenance, and this is appropriate. It is a harmony between Human and animal, and always has. Remember the buffalo that willingly came into the indigenous tribes to be sacrificed when called? These are stories that you should examine again. The inappropriateness of today's culture is how these precious creatures are treated. Did you know that if there was an honoring ceremony at their death, they would nourish you better? Did you know that there is ceremony that could benefit all of humanity in this way. Perhaps it's time you saw it.

(3) To be loved and to love. For many cultures, animals serve as surrogate children, loved and taken care of. It gives Humans a chance to show compassion when they need it, and to have unconditional love when they need it. This is extremely important to many, and provides balance and centering for many.

Do animals know all this? At a basic level, they do. Not in the way you "know," but in a cellular awareness they understand that they are here in service to planet earth. If you honor them in all three instances, then balance will be the result. Your feelings about their treatment is important. Temper your reactions with the spiritual logic of their appropriateness and their service to humanity. Honor them in all three cases.

Dian Fossey's birthday celebrated with a Google doodle

Dian Fossey's birthday celebrated with a Google doodle
American zoologist played by Sigourney Weaver in the film Gorillas in the Mist would have been 82 on Thursday (16 January 2014)

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Malaysia to ride commodities sector boom in 2007

Kuala Lumpur (ANTARA News) - Malaysia will ride a commodities boom in the year ahead, with soaring prices for palm oil, rubber, tin and timber providing a boost to the economy, analysts say.

Palm oil has been a star performer in 2006, buoyed by the bright future for biofuels which Malaysia is aggressively pursuing. Palm oil futures contracts recently surged to their highest levels since 1999.

In a move to cement Malaysia's status as a top producer amid growing regional competition, three of the nation's leading plantation firms have begun moves to combine into the world's largest listed palm oil company.

A deal on the 8.86 billion dollar merger is expected to be signed in January.

Rubber prices, which reached 20-year highs earlier this year, are also expected to rise thanks to growing demand from the booming automotive sectors in China and India.

The price of tin reached an all-time high of 11,600 dollars per tonne on the Kuala Lumpur market in the closing days of 2006, reportedly on concerns of tight supply as Indonesia cracks down on illegal mining operations.

"As long as the mining sector does well, and the resources sector -- rubber, palm oil and timber -- continues to do well, that should be quite supportive of spending and income in the rural sector," GK Goh economist Song Seng Wan told AFP.

"There's still some question mark over recent floods and low consumption, but at this point I think it still looks like Malaysia can achieve GDP growth of 5-6 percent on the basis that the export-oriented sector stays on an even keel."

The government has given a robust picture on Malaysia's economic prospects recently, saying it expects growth to exceed its projection of 5.8 percent for 2006, and reach 6.0 percent in 2007.

A leading Malaysian forecaster in December raised its 2006 economic growth projection to 5.9 percent from 5.6 percent and its 2007 forecast to 5.2 percent from 4.8 percent on the back of improved business and consumer confidence.

The influential Malaysian Institute of Economic Research said that "goodies and incentives" under a national development plan to boost the economy -- and the agriculture sector in particular -- had contributed to a better business environment.

Malaysia's palm oil products contributed some 27 billion ringgit (7.7 billion dollars) in exports in 2005.

It is currently the world's biggest palm oil producer, but Indonesia -- which has a much larger area for plantations -- has said it aims to snatch the title by 2008. The two countries account for 85 percent of world production.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Ferry Carrying Hundreds Sinks Near Java

By NINIEK KARMINI / AP 12.30.06, 6:33 AM ET

A crowded Indonesian ferry broke apart and sank in the Java Sea during a violent storm that sent towering waves over its deck, and the vast majority of the 600 passengers were still missing a day later, officials said Saturday.

Raging seas have hampered rescue efforts and about 14 hours after the disaster, just 66 survivors had been found, many drifting in lifeboats, officials said. No bodies had been found, leaving more than 500 passengers unaccounted for.

"We all just prayed as the waves got higher," said Cholid, a passenger who survived by clinging to some wooden planks but who lost his 18-year-old daughter.

People fought over lifejackets as the boat capsized, sending cars crashing into one another in the cargo hold, he said.

"I was going upstairs to try to help my daughter, but the ship suddenly broke up and I was thrown out. I lost her," said Cholid, who like many Indonesians uses one name.

Waves of up to 16 feet crashed over the deck of the ship around midnight Friday during the final leg of a 48-hour journey from the island of Borneo to the main island of Java, said Slamet Bustam, an official at Semarang port, the ferry's destination, where hundreds of distraught relatives and friends waited for news about their loved ones.

"We're afraid many have died," Bustam said.

Two naval ships were searching the area, but poor visibility was hindering their search.

Authorities struggled to come up with an accurate number of those on board. Earlier, Bustam said there 850 passengers, but later lowered the number to 600. Local media said that between 500 and 800 were on board.

Transport Minister Hatta Radjasa put the number of passengers at 542, citing the passenger manifest. Ships in Indonesia, however, often carry far more passengers than recorded, making it hard for authorities to say with accuracy how many people were on board.

In a final radio contact, the captain informed port authorities that the ship was severely damaged and capsizing, said local navy commander Col. Yan Simamora.

Worried family members gathered at the main office of ferry operator PT Prima Fista, weeping and demanding details about the fate of their loved ones.

"I am waiting for my mother, auntie, sister and nephew who were on their way to celebrate New Year's Eve at my house," said Yulis, 25.

The ferry ran into trouble 24 miles off Mandalika island, some 190 miles northeast of the capital, Jakarta, while en route to Semarang on Central Java from the port of Kumai on Borneo island.

Seasonal storms have wreaked havoc across Indonesia in recent days, unleashing flash floods and landslides that have killed more than 145 people and driven hundreds of thousands from their homes on Sumatra.

Earlier Friday, a different vessel carrying around 100 people capsized in bad weather off the coast of northwestern Sumatra, killing three and leaving 26 missing, Radjasa said.

Ferries are a main source of transportation in Indonesia, a vast archipelago of more than 17,000 islands with a population of 220 million.

VP launches forest and land rehabilitation program

ANTARA News - 2006-12-28 14:30:03

Jakarta, December 28, 2006 (ANTARA News) - Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla is scheduled to launch a national forest and land rehabilitation program in a ceremony held at Empol village, Sekotong, West Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara (NTB) on Thursday.

Kalla during the ceremony is also expected to present awards to eight governors, 15 district heads and mayors as well as 12 farmers` groups for their achievement in conducting forest and land rehabilitation programs in their respective regions.

Information from the Vice President`s Secretariat office said here on Thursday that among those receiving the awards would include Gorontalo Governor Fadel Muhammad.

During his stay in NTB, Jusuf Kalla is accompanied by Deputy Chairman of the People`s Consultative Assembly (MPR) Aksa Mahmud, Agriculture Minister Anton Apriyantono, Research and Technology Minister Kusmayanto Kadiman, Environmental Affairs Minister Rachmad Witoelar, Golkar Party Secretary General Sumarsono, and two legislators, namely Enggartiasto Lukito an and Rully Chairul Azwar.

Meanwhile, Mme. Mufidah Kalla is scheduled to visit a seaweed and cashew nut processing factory, PT Phonix Mas Persada, at Abian Tubuh, and a Lombok Pottery industry at Cakra Negara, Mataram city.

The Vice President and his entourage left Jakarta on Thursday by The Indonesian Air Force`s Boeing 737 presidential plane from the Halim Perdana Kusuma air force base.

An official reported earlier that the deforestation rate in Indonesia reached two million hectares annually while its reforestation rate was only around 600,000 hectares per year.

The deforestation rate has tended to increase from year to year, Dr. Harri Santosa, secretary of the organizing committee of the National Forest and Land Rehabilitation Program, said in Mataram, NTB Province on Wednesday.

Santosa said the deforestation rate in Indonesia was around 900,000 hectares in 1990 and it increased to 1.8 million hectares in 2004.

In 2006, the deforestation rate was recorded at 2.8 million hectares, he said, adding that the rate was two million hectares per year on the average.

The country`s total deforested areas were about 60 million hectares, he added.

Three Indonesian provinces, namely East Nusa Tenggara (NTT), Southeast Sulawesi and NTB, were currently being threatened by desertification, he added.

RI seeks ties in fisheries field with Mideast

Abdul Khalik, The Jakarta Post - 2006-12-29 15:56:48

Jakarta, December 29, 2006 (The Jakarta Post) - Indonesia will start building a fish canning center in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, early next year, in an attempt to push its marine and fisheries products into the Middle Eastern market, an official says.

Marine Affairs and Fisheries Ministry secretary general Widi A. Pratikto said that the Middle Eastern markets had huge potential for Indonesian food and fish products and could become alternatives to traditional markets in the U.S., Europe and Japan.

"Jeddah is a city close to countries in both the Middle East and North Africa. It can become an entry point for our products to many countries there," he told The Jakarta Post during a workshop on developing cooperation in the marine and fisheries sector between Indonesia and the Middle East here Thursday.

"We hope that Indonesian businesspeople can seize this golden opportunity. We will help them if they are serious," he added.

Several companies, he said, had expressed interest in being involved in the construction of the canning center as well as becoming fish suppliers to the center.

Trade relations, including fish exports and imports, between Indonesia and the Middle East are still relatively minor compared to other regions. Indonesia's fish exports to Middle Eastern countries, for instance, constitute less than 5 percent of its total fish exports, US$2 billion this year.

"80 percent of our fish exports go to Japan, Europe and the U.S. That's why we're trying to open the market in the Middle East, to diversify our markets as well as lessen our dependence on the three markets," the ministry's director at the data, statistics and information center, Saut P. Hutagalung, said.

So far, he said, Indonesia had already signed memorandums of understanding on marine and fisheries cooperation with Algeria and Iran.

"We hope we can immediately sign bilateral memorandums of understanding in marine and fisheries with Egypt and other countries in Africa, such Somalia and Mozambique. Many of our businesspeople have expressed interests in catching fish in African waters," Saut said.

Palm oil producers facing more demanding costumers

Kornelius Purba, The Jakarta Post

The fourth Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) session, which was held recently in Singapore, clearly shows that while the demand for crude palm oil, including for bio-diesel fuel, will continue to increase in coming years, it is just a matter of time for CPO producers to face more demanding consumers. Of course they want cheaper price but better quality.

For Indonesia and Malaysia, which produced about 85 percent of world's total production, the consumers' demand, including on environment, the rights of small farmers and indigenous people, need to be anticipated as early possible, because the imbalance of supply and demand will force consumers to strengthen their bargaining power.

Private sector which has related with this industry -- starting from oil palm growers, palm oil processors and traders, consumer goods manufacturers, retailers, banks and investors, and nature conservation NGOs -- has taken anticipative measures by actively participate in the RSPO sessions.

Big names like Unilever, Rabobank, Standard Chartered Bank, Bayer and WWF are active members of the RSPO, because they want to be involved in the movement from the very beginning that they can influence the RSPO decision making process and to counter the civil society movements which focus their activities in protecting environment, small farmers and indigenous people.

"This (RSPO) is the forum for all stake holders to meet, exchanged views and explained their position on palm oil issue," said Rudy Ready Lumuru, chairman of non-governmental organization Sawit Watch which also played major role in the RSPO sessions.

During the forum in Singapore, small farmers from Kalimantan and from Sumatra disclosed their bitter experiences in facing major palm oil companies which occupied their customary land by force or cheated the uneducated farmers. But representatives of big companies also had the chance in the forum to deny accusations of the farmers. An international chemical company quickly denied the claim of Malaysian farmers that its product was very harmful for the plantation workers.

"Confrontational approaches are often not effective now," Rudy answered when asked about the purpose of the RSPO sessions.

Indonesian government apparently paid little attention to the sessions. Indonesian government apparently has not learned from its repeated failures to anticipate civil society movements because it still sticks to old paradigm that the NGOs are just anti-government organizations who depend on foreign fundings.

Indonesia tends to ignore the protests if its neighbors over the rampant forest burnings during dry seasons Indonesia although the haze has affected not just their environment but also their economy. Just a matter of time the haze issue will affect oil palm marketing, because consumers can use this issue to pressure oil palm producers for lower prices.

Vice President Jusuf Kalla has strong reason to expect that Indonesia will become world's largest crude palm oil (CPO) producer in 2008, replacing Malaysia, because the difference of production between the two countries last year was quite small while Indonesia has an advantage for having more land for plantation.

To reach the target, the government said Kalla, would accelerate the development of more infrastructures, like roads, special seaports for CPO export, and processing factories close to oil palm centers.

"I am confident the target (to be World No. 1), can be achieved," said the Vice President when opening national seminar on palm oil and the establishment of Indonesian Palm Oil Board(DMSI) in Bali earlier this month.

Citing official figures, a business newspaper recently reported Malaysia produced 43 percent of world's crude palm oil production, while Indonesia 43.6 percent in 2005.

According to Kompas daily however last year Malaysia produced 13.3 tons of CPO while Malaysia about 15 million tons. This year, Indonesia is expected to produce 15.2 million tons, while Malaysia 15.1 million tons. Until last year, Indonesia has 5.6 hectares oil palm plantations, including 1.98 million hectares own by small-scale farmers, 2.9 million hectares major private companies, while state-owned companies only controlled 676,204 hectares.

However as Sawit Watch studies show, the government is facing mounting problems in the palm oil industry, from the illegal land seizures, the destruction of forests for palm oil plantations and the failure to protect smallholders to get fair price and cheap credit.

The government is very confident that it will control world market in 2008. So far it pays little attention on the consumers' movement, especially the European Union, one of the largest CPO importers from Indonesia.

It needs to humiliate itself to be more willing to work together with civil organizations which operate in palm oil sector, if it does not want to lose the market or to find itself in a much weaker position in facing the consumers.

52 new species discovered on Borneo Island

By Eliane Engeler, Associated Press

Over 400 species have been newly identified on the island since 1996

GENEVA, Dec. 18, 2006 () - Scientists have discovered at least 52 new species of animals and plants on the southeast Asian island of Borneo since 2005, including a catfish with protruding teeth and suction cups on its belly to help it stick to rocks, World Wildlife Fund for Nature International said Tuesday.

“The more we look the more we find,” said Stuart Chapman, WWF International coordinator for the study of the “Heart of Borneo,” a 85,000-square-mile rain forest in the center of the island where several of the new species were found. “These discoveries reaffirm Borneo’s position as one of the most important centers of biodiversity in the world.”

Much of Borneo, which is shared by Indonesia, Malaysia and the sultanate of Brunei, is covered by one of the world’s last remaining rain forests. However, half of the forest cover has been lost due to widespread logging, down from 75 percent in the mid-1980s.

The discoveries bring the total number of species newly identified on the island to more than 400 since 1996, according to WWF, known in North America as the World Wildlife Fund.

Other creatures discovered between July 2005 and September 2006 were six Siamese fighting fish, whose unique colors and markings distinguish them from close relatives, and a tree frog with bright green eyes.

The catfish, which can be identified by its pretty color pattern, is named glyptothorax exodon, a reference to the teeth that can be seen even when the its mouth is closed. The suction cups on its belly enable it to stick to smooth stones while facing the current of Indonesia’s turbulent Kapuas River system.

On the Malaysian part of the island, slow-flowing blackwater streams and peat swamps are home to the paedocypris micromegethes, which is 0.35 inch long.

The creature, which gets its name from the Greek words for children and small, is tinier than all other vertebrate species on Earth except for its slightly more minuscule cousin, a 0.31-inch-long fish found on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, according to WWF.

The discoveries further highlight the need to conserve the habitat and species of Borneo, where the rain forest continues to be threatened by rubber, palm oil and pulp production, WWF said.

“The remote and inaccessible forests in the Heart of Borneo are one of the world’s final frontiers for science, and many new species continue to be discovered here,” said Chapman.

He added that the forests were also vital because they were the source the island’s major rivers acting as a natural break to fires burning in the lowlands this year.

Jane Smart, who heads the World Conservation Union’s species program, said the discovery of 52 species within a year in Borneo was a “realistic” number given that scientists guess there are about 15 million species on Earth. “There are still many more species that remain to be discovered there,” she said.

Borneo is particularly important for biodiversity because the island has a high number of endemic species, creatures which only occur in that one place, she told The Associated Press. “So if you wipe out a small area, you’re going to wipe out a lot of the species’ habitat,” she said, adding that once these creatures are destroyed, they are gone forever.

“This is a real concern when forests are ripped out for rubber plantations or oil palm plantations,” Smart said.

Earthquakes rattle North and Southeast Sulawesi

MANADO, North Sulawesi (JP): Earthquakes rattled North and Southeast Sulawesi provinces early Wednesday, but there was no immediate report both property damage or casualty.

Epicenter of the 5.6 Richter scale quake in North Sulawesi was located some 196 kilometers East of the provincial capital of Manado, said the Meteorology and Geophysics Agency (BMG) Wednesday.

Meanwhile, a 5.8 Richter scale tremor in Southeast Sulawesi was centered some 41 kilometers southeast of Kolaka regency in the province.

Head of BMG office in Manado Subardjo told Antara news agency that the earthquakes did not spark tsunami.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

False Hopes and Natural Disasters

By ANDREW BAIRD, Townsville, Australia

Published: December 26, 2006

The New York Times

SINCE the Indian Ocean tsunami two years ago today that killed more than 200,000 people, governments, donors and experts have embraced the idea that healthy mangrove forests and coral reefs could reduce the death toll from a giant wave. Former President Bill Clinton, in his role as the United Nations special envoy for tsunami recovery, recently endorsed a program that will allocate $62 million to preserve such natural barriers in 12 Asian and African countries.

But the $62 million question is, will these barriers work?

Research suggests that the level of protection offered by greenbelts has been exaggerated. And by diverting resources from more effective measures like education campaigns and evacuation plans to well-meaning but misguided reforestation, we may even contribute to a greater loss of life in future tsunamis.

There have been few scientific studies about the protective role of coastal vegetation. And while one study did suggest that a shield of mangrove forest managed to reduce tsunami damage in three villages in Tamil Nadu State in India, the forest was not the only difference between these coastal villages and those nearby that suffered major destruction.

Indeed, when my colleagues and I re-analyzed the data, we found no relationship between the death toll in each village and the area of forest in front of each one.

What actually saved these villages was being further from the coast or built on relatively high land. It was only a coincidence that they also had more forest between themselves and the ocean (of course, the further a village is from the coast, the greater potential area of forest).

Indeed, a recent paper in the journal Natural Hazards that surveyed more than 50 sites in affected regions found that coastal vegetation did not reduce tsunami damage, and that damage was actually greater in areas fronted by coral reefs.

Similarly, my colleagues and I, working in Aceh, Indonesia, found that neither reefs nor coastal forest reduced the damage caused by the tsunami. The distance the tsunami traveled inland was largely determined by the height of the tsunami and the slope of the land. In other words, where the tsunami was 30 feet high, it flooded all land lower than 30 feet above sea level, whether this reached 200 yards inland, or two miles.

Mangrove forests are, to be fair, very effective at dissipating the energy of storm waves, but a tsunami is a very different beast. Tsunamis, produced by earthquakes, have wavelengths of miles, compared to that of a few yards for typical wind-generated waves. The tsunami, for instance, that hit the Acehnese coast was eight miles thick; this wall of water rolled in for nearly an hour.

Of course, coastal forests at some point do begin to reduce tsunami damage, but we can’t expect them to offer meaningful protection against the sheer amount of energy involved in a tsunami. In 2004, the energy released by the Indian Ocean earthquake is estimated to have been the equivalent of 23,000 Hiroshima-sized atomic bombs: that’s nearly three Hiroshimas for every mile of affected coastline. Another significant concern is the enforcement of buffer zones in the name of tsunami protection. Buffer zones, to have any real effect, would need to be many miles wide and thus impossible to institute without prohibitively high social and economic costs.

Perhaps it is unsurprising then that local governments have begun to regulate these barriers in a way that is not only insufficient, but grossly unfair: luxury hotels escape enforcement while tens of thousands of impoverished fishing families in India, Sri Lanka and Thailand are prevented, in the name of tsunami protection, from rebuilding their homes in areas that have been designated buffer zones.

A more recent tsunami, on July 17, demonstrated the tragic consequences of inadequate planning. More than 18 months after the 2004 catastrophe, the Indonesian government had yet to deploy an early warning system on the island of Java. Tremors from a major earthquake were felt and the tsunami was preceded by a telltale withdrawal of the sea — yet amazingly, people did not know to seek high ground. Government officials failed to act despite precise warnings, and more than 600 people died. Clearly, education efforts in Indonesia have been inadequate.

But we can take heart in the example set by Japan. On Nov. 15, an undersea earthquake with a magnitude of 8.1 set off that nation’s tsunami early warning system. Thousands were evacuated.

While the resulting tsunami was luckily too small to cause damage, Japan’s sophisticated early warning system, intensive education campaigns, annual evacuation drills and loudspeakers for nearly every kilometer of coastline might have saved thousands of lives if the tsunami had been larger. Similarly effective measures in the Indian Ocean have yet to be developed, in part because efforts and resources remain focused on these questionable schemes to build mangrove barriers.

Certainly, coastal vegetation can provide communities with many valuable resources, and the rehabilitation of these ecosystems should be encouraged. But if the aim is to protect people from tsunamis, the science indicates that money would better be spent on early warning systems, education and evacuation planning.

Andrew Baird is a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Coral Reef Biodiversity at James Cook University.

Related Story : Ministry to build tsunami escape buildings

Ministry allocates Rp 4.2t for forest restoration

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The government has announced a Rp 4.2 trillion program aimed at encouraging people to participate in efforts to restore the country's forests and revitalize the forestry industry.

"Up to now, the public has been relegated to the role of spectator, but now communities will be able to actively participate in both forest conservation and the revitalization of the forestry industry," Forestry Minister MS Kaban said last week.

Indonesia has approximately 141 million hectares of forest, of which an estimated 95 million hectares have been set aside as production forests and conversion areas. The country is currently the ninth biggest pulp producer in the world.

The government plans to encourage people living near pulp factories to help develop production forests that will support the expansion of local pulp production, while discouraging the felling of trees in natural forests.

Currently, only two of the seven pulp firms in Indonesia, PT Musi Hutan Persada and PT Tanjung Enim Lestari, both in Sumatra, use their own production plantations to provide timber for pulp processing. All of the other companies use natural forest timber.

"People living within a maximum radius of 200 kilometers from a factory site will be trained to plant for forestry plantations," said Kaban.

The Forestry Ministry and Finance Ministry are in the process of establishing a general services body to support the implementation of the forestry plantation program among local communities.

Kaban said he expected Indonesia to become at least the third largest pulp producer in the world by 2009, through the expansion of forestry plantations from the current two to three million hectares to five million hectares.

The Forestry Ministry is targeting the establishment of one million hectares of new forestry plantations in 2007 alone. Kaban predicted that nine million hectares of forestry plantations would be available by 2014 if this new program was properly implemented.

Total pulp production for 2006 is expected to come in at 5.8 million tons, an increase of 7.4 percent from last year's 5.4 million tons.

As much as 45 percent of pulp produced in Indonesia and 35 percent of paper is exported.

Last year, Indonesia supplied 2.7 percent of the total global demand of 200 million tons of pulp and 2.5 percent of total global demand of 350 million tons of paper.

Global paper consumption is expected to rise to 490 million tons by 2020.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Five Indonesian banks pledge US$2.84 bln to develop biofuel

Source: ANTARA News/Asia Pulse - 2006-12-21 16:44

Jakarta, December 21, 2006 (ANTARA News/Asia Pulse) - Five state banks have promised to provide loans totaling Rp25.56 trillion (US$2.84 billion) to finance the development of bio energy and revitalize Indonesia's plantation sector.

The banks signed a memorandum of understanding on Wednesday for the loan scheme with Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Infrawati and the chief economics Minister Boediono.

B
ank Rakyat Indonesia (BRI) (JSX:BBRI) made a loan commitment of Rp12 trillion; Bank Mandiri (JSX:BMRI) pledged Rp11.08 trillion; Bank Bukopin, Rp1 trillion; while West Sumatra BPD and North Sumatra BPD both agreed to loan Rp500 billion.

The banks will provide loans carrying a 10 per cent fixed interest rate to small plantation owners growing oil palm, cocoa and rubber.

USAID to help agribusiness to tune of $13.75m

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) will provide aid worth US$13.75 million over three years in the form of equipment and technical assistance to help the government develop the agribusiness sector, it was announced Thursday.


The scheme, called the Agribusiness Market and Support Activities
(AMARTA) program, will be implemented through USAID's main office in Jakarta, as well as its regional offices in Medan, Makassar and Denpasar, in partnership with the U.S.-based development consulting firm, Development Alternatives Inc.

"USAID has awarded a contract to Development Alternatives Inc., of the state of Maryland, to implement the AMARTA project. So, these funds will be disbursed via Development Alternatives Inc," David J. Anderson, chief of party of AMARTA, said Thursday during the launch of the program in Jakarta.

Each office will forge cooperation with the private sector, industry associations, the government, NGOs, chambers of commerce and industry and other stakeholders for the purpose of jointly developing the agribusiness sector in Indonesia, said David.

Under the program, eight sectors would be prioritized: cocoa, coffee, high-value horticultural products (fruit and vegetables), fishing, spices, biofuels and livestock.

"The ultimate goal is to improve productivity and the quality of products so as to ensure better market access," said William M. Frej, USAID's mission director.

Qualitywise, Indonesia's cocoa, for instance, is between 60 and 70 percent below international market standards.

"One of the aims of this project is to improve the quality of the cocoa exported to the U.S. so that we can secure incentive bonuses, rather than a 10 percent reduction from the normal price," said Syukur Iwantoro, head of the Agricultural Quarantine Unit at the Agriculture Ministry.

"After finishing our assessments, we will have identified the primary interventions for the program in collaboration with the stakeholders by the end of 2007," said Anderson.

In general, the AMARTA program will provide assistance such as training, capacity-building, consultation, promotion and facilitation in the agribusiness sector.

Floods, landslides kill at least 80 in northern Indonesia

Reuters, 25 Dec 2006 05:43:32 GMT

JAKARTA, Dec 25 (Reuters) - Floods and landslides in Indonesia's Aceh and North Sumatra provinces have killed at least 80 people and forced tens of thousands to flee to higher ground, authorities in the region said on Monday.

Aceh, still feeling the devastating effects of the 2004 tsunami, was hardest hit. Ridwan Sulaiman, head of social affairs in the province, said the death toll was now 42, although the figure could go higher as rescuers reach more remote villages.

Authorities said an estimated 42,000 residents had been driven from their homes by the floodwaters. Most of the damage was in Aceh's Tamiang district, on the northern tip of Sumatra island.

Floods killed 17 people, with almost 50,000 made homeless, in neighbouring North Sumatra province, officials said.

Landslides triggered by the rains killed another 21 in the province's Muarasipongi district, Hashim Nasution, deputy mayor of Mandailing Natal, North Sumatra, told Elshinta radio.

Nasution said local residents had just returned to their homes after fleeing last week's earthquake. "We are still trying to locate more people. We received a report that at least four people are still missing in the area," he said.

Authorities have blamed heavy rains as well as the effects of deforestation for the destruction. Lack of adequate forest cover leaves the ground less able to absorb excess water.

Sulaiman said some of the waters in Aceh had begun to recede, leaving behind thick mud that complicated rescue and aid efforts. The Bener Meriah regency was cut off and authorities were awaiting a helicopter to survey the damage, he said.

He said the government and aid organisations had sufficient supplies of food, tents and medicine but transport capable of reaching remote areas remained a problem.

Almost exactly two years ago, on Dec. 26, 2004, Aceh was hit by the Indian Ocean tsunami, which left some 170,000 dead or missing in the province.

Quakes rock Indonesia and Papua New Guinea

Xinhua, 24 December 2006

Moderate quakes hit eastern part of Indonesia and its neighboring Papua New Guinea Sunday and there is no immediate report on casualty or tsunami, Indonesian Meteorology and Geophysics Agency said.

A 5.7-magnitude quake jolted Papua New Guinea's island shared with Indonesia's Papua province with epicenter 53 kilometers under seabed at 530 kilometers northwest Port Moresby, capital city of the country, said an official of the agency named only Nurpujiono.

The quake struck at 16:46 Jakarta time, he said.

Earlier at 15:01 Jakarta time, a 5.9-magnitude quake hit Indonesia's West Nusa Tenggara province at 523 kilometers under seabed and 195 kilometers northeast of Mataram, capital city of the province, he said.