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)

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Quake jolts Bengkulu

Bengkulu (ANTARA News) - A tectonic earthquake measuring 5.3 on the Richter scale rattled the Indonesian province of Bengkulu on Wednesday night but there was no report of casualties.

The quake`s epicenter was 87 km southwest of Bintuhan, Kaur district, at a depth of 48 km, spokesman of the Bengkulu meteorology and geophysics Adjat Sudrajat said on Thursday.

An earthquake with a magnitude of less than 3 is common in Bengkulu following a magnitude 7.3 earthquake that struck the province in June 2000 when 92 people were killed.

Australia pledges A$200 million to reforestation program

The Jakarta Post

CANBERRA, Australia (AP): Australia on Thursday pledged 200 million Australian dollars (US$161 million) to protect and replenish Asian forests - a move Prime Minister John Howard said would do more to combat climate change than the Kyoto Protocol on global warming.

The fund, which will be spent over the next five years, will aim to halve the rate of deforestation in southeast Asia, particularly Indonesia, by planting new trees, fighting illegal logging, delivering education about forest management and supporting industries that provide an alternative to timber production.

Britain, Germany and the United States will also join the fund, which will be managed by the World Bank.

Howard said 20 percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions can be attributed to the destruction of forests, which absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Deforestation ranks second behind electricity production as a key cause of the world'scarbon dioxide levels, he said.

"What this initiative will do, in a shorter period of time, is make a greater contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions than, in fact the Kyoto Protocol," Howard told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio.

One of the world's largest per capita producers of greenhouse gas, Australia has refused to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, which calls for steep cuts in carbon dioxide emissions among industrialized nations.

Howard, siding with U.S. President George W. Bush, who has also refused to join the treaty, says the treaty would disadvantage Australia's coal-driven economy by placing caps on its emissions while allowing energy hungry developing countries like China and India to pollute freely.

But opinion polls show Australian voters are increasingly worried about global warming in the lead up to federal elections later this year.

A longtime skeptic on climate change, Howard has been softening his stance on the issue.

Last month, the prime minister said Australia should put a price on carbon emissions, saying market mechanisms would be integral to any long-term response to climate change. The announcement was a reversal of Howard's previous stance that any moves to cap or price carbon dioxide emissions would effectively be a "carbon tax" that would cripple Australia's coal industry and slow the economy.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Report advises on best forestry policy

The Jakarta Post

Kenneth M. Chomitz, senior advisor to the World Bank's Independent Evaluation Group, on Wednesday launched a report on farm expansion, poverty eradication and forestry titled In Dispute.

After the launch, Chomitz addressed 70 researchers who were taking part in a seminar on forestry management and carbon trading investment held by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) at its office in Situ Gede, Bogor.

The report, he said, would help decision makers in identifying types of forest and the most effective policies to ensure their conservation and sustainability while eradicating poverty.

According to him, for the first type of forest -- one that borders on agricultural land in dispute -- decision makers should be able to guarantee people access to the forest in order to avoid illegal logging and conflict.

For the second type, which is situated outside agricultural land such as in the basin of the Amazon, the Congo, Borneo, Papua New Guinea and Sulawesi, the government should take firm action to halt farm expansion that may damage the forest.

In the mosaic type of forest -- where people farm and live in the forest -- the report suggests the provision of incentives for people to protect the forest, a practice that has been implemented in Colombia, Costa Rica and Nicaragua.

"It is wrong to generalize that the motive of deforestation is poverty and that deforestation leads to poverty ... We found that deforestation is caused by both the rich and the poor, and that it could destroy or establish assets for the poor," Chomitz said. -- JP

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Kalla defends the purchase of 12 choppers

The Jakarta Post

JAKARTA (Antara): Vice President Jusuf Kalla Tuesday defended the government's purchase of 12 helicopters, which will be used to carry out immediate helps for victims of natural disasters.

He also denied that the procurement of the choppers did not pass through right procedures.

"There is nothing wrong with the procedure. All those stories are nonsense," he was quoted by Antara news agency as saying before leaving for his Middle East trip.

Many criticized the procurement of the choppers, which were being held by Custom Office because supplier has not paid entry taxes. There was also a report that the procurement involved Kalla's relative.

According to Kalla, the chopper purchase is for the pride of the nation and for the sake of people's interests because so far, Indonesia always borrowed choppers from neighboring countries to give immediate help to victims of natural disasters.

He also denied that the choppers will be used for commercial transports.

Earthquake hits Timor Island

JAKARTA (The Jakarta Post) : An earthquake measuring 4.8 in Richter Scale Tuesday hit Timor Island felt in several areas of Timor Tengah Utara regency, East Nusa Tenggara province.

Meteorology and Geophysics, or BMG, said that the epicenter of the tremor, occurring at 5.37 p.m. local time, was located some 145 kilometers northeast of provincial capital of Kupang.

There is no immediate report of property damage or casualty.

Indonesia sits on the seismically active Pacific Ring of Fire, and experiences frequent earthquakes - as well as tsunamis triggered by underwater earthquakes.

Last month, strong earthquake hit West Sumatra killing at least 70 people. Last year, more than 500 people died when a tsunami hit an area of the Java coast after an undersea earthquake. And in the Asian tsunami of December 2004, more than 130,000 people died on Sumatra.

Cold lava, floods hit East Java

Wahyoe Boediwardhana, The Jakarta Post, Lumajang

Heavy rains over the past week have resulted in cold lava flows on Mount Semeru, worrying Lumajang regency administration in East Java, which is now preparing for heavy floods.

Local disaster mitigation agency head Zainul Aini said the administration had set up a number of command posts in disaster-prone areas and mobilized 50 members from the disaster mitigation coordination unit.

"The officers will be assisted by 10 members from the rapid disaster anticipation unit, in addition to 15 men from each district. They are tasked with directly monitoring risky areas," said Zainal on Monday.

The administration is focusing on seven districts regarded as being at the greatest risk, encompassing the Besuk Sat, Besuk Kabokan, Besuk Kembar and Besuk Bang river delta areas, which are located in Pasrujambe, Kedungjajang, Pronojiwo, Ngadipuro, Tempeh, Pasirian and Yosowilangun districts.

Zainul said the riverflow areas were the main paths of cold lava from Mount Semeru and that volcanic material such as sand and rocks had been pouring down the mountain since March 23.

His office has advised residents living along rivers to be alert to the risk of floods and cold lava flow.

The office has also urged hundreds of traditional sand miners in those areas to be wary.

"The Lumajang administration cannot prohibit them (from working), but only urge them to be careful in carrying out their activities," said Zainul.

Earlier reports said that a cold lava flow had destroyed a 20-meter stretch of river dikes in Pasru Jambe district and a bridge in Pandansari village.

Mount Semeru's status is classified as "alert". Images in February showed thin white sulfurous gas from medium to high pressure at a height of 25 to 75 meters above its crater, while 107 eruptions have occurred, spewing gray smoke at medium to high pressure at 300 to 600 meters above the crater. Crater growth and molten lava has not been observed since February.

In Malang, Vice Regent Rendra Kresna said flash floods on March 23 stemming from the Lesti River, a tributary of the Barantas River, engulfed the Wajak, Turen, Poncokromo and Dampit districts. A resident of Sananrejo village, Sumai, 48, was killed when he was swept away by currents after being hit by a falling tree.

The floods also damaged seven bridges, three irrigation dams, hundreds of hectares of crops and water pipes.

In Yogyakarta, the Volcanology Research and Development Agency has reinstalled reflectors at Mount Merapi -- the most active volcano in the world -- that were destroyed and buried by lava during the eruption in 2006, which killed two volunteers.

"We have reinstalled 10 reflectors at the observation posts on the southern and western slopes of the mountain," said agency head Ratdomopurbo on Monday, adding their presence had accelerated observation activities accurately and rapidly, such as monitoring magma movement and crater deformation.

He said that despite a drop in volcanic activity, the volcano could still pose a risk in the form of cold lava flows. "It still contains a million cubic meters of material at its peak that could fall down," said Ratdomopurbo.

-- Slamet Susanto contributed to the story from Yogyakarta.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Cocoa Exports to Exceed US$1 Billion

Monday, 26 March, 2007 | 16:51 WIB

TEMPO Interactive, Jakarta: Cocoa producers have stated that the value of exports this year is estimated to reach US$950 million.

Head of the Indonesian Cocoa Association Halim Abdul Razak said that the growth of export this year will be between 20 percent and 30 percent.

“The increase is a result of the 30 percent rise in world cocoa price last month,” said Halim last week.

He said that the price of cocoa seeds, which were previously US$1,415 per ton, has increased by between US$500 and US$1,920 per ton since early March this year.

“Seen from the overall value, the increase can be more than between 20 percent and 30 percent. However, bearing in mind the volume, the increase will be between 5 percent and 10 percent compared to 2006,” said Halim.

Previously, the government stated that the value of cocoa exports this year would reach US$1 billion, an increase compared to last year's US$800 million.

Trade Minister Mari Elka Pangestu said that the increase in exports was caused by improvements in the sector.

“In addition to cocoa, crude palm oil and footwear have also increased,” Mari said last week.

According to Halim, the increase in exports was triggered by the exemption of value added tax on primary products.

“In addition, there were improvements in the on-farm sector,” he said.

Halim went onto to say that Indonesian cocoa seeds exported in 2006 totaled 450,000 tons, while production reached 590,000 tons.

“The remainder was absorbed by domestic industry.”

Secretary General of the Association of Cocoa Industry Sasongko stated that the exempted value added tax on the primary value of cocoa seeds has automatically boosted exports.

“The removal of cocoa import duty to China, which is the new industrial market, has helped in boosting the increase of exports,” he told Tempo.

RR ARIYANI

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Police, forestry ministry pursuing 40 illegal logging financiers

Kudus, Central Java (ANTARA News) - As many as 40 illegal logging financiers are now on the wanted lists of the National Police Headquarters and the Forestry Ministry, Forestry Minister M.S. Kaban said here Friday.

"We are now not only pursuing illegal loggers in the field but also those higher up, especially the people who finance the criminal activity," Kaban said during a working visit in Rahtawu village, Gebog, Kudus district, to observe the implementation of a forest and land rehabilitation program.

Asked about the involvement of government officials in the illegal activity, the minister admitted there were cases implicating people officially working for the government, including a major general, a government service head and clerks. Their cases were now being handled by law enforcers.

He said catching the financiers was more difficult than arresting operators in the field because the former often operated through an untraceable system or behind the scenes. "Some of them have so far not been caught because they are very cunning," he said.

However, illegal logging activity in the country as a whole had dropped sharply while in a number of regions where it used to be rife such as Jambi, Riau, East Kalimantan, Central Kalimantan and West Kalimantan, it appeared to have ceased entirely, he noted.

"But the national illegal logging eradication campaign will be continued," Kaban said, adding that the government was now protecting about 30 million hectares of virgin forests or more forests than were to be found in the Amazon region.

SBY warns of climate change fallout

M. Taufiqurrahman, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Friday warned Indonesians to brace for the adverse impacts of global climate change.

Addressing the commemoration of World Meteorology Day here, Yudhoyono said signs of climate change were already upon the world, as indicated by the high incidence of major natural disasters -- 70 incidents between November 2004 and March 2007.

"I warn everyone to be on alert for the impacts of global climate change on life, security and welfare," the President said in his speech, adding that weather conditions and crop cycles would likely be effected.

Yudhoyono said Indonesians had the ability to live with recurrent disasters, given the country's geographical position.

"I am not trying to scare (Indonesians). But what we have to do is physically and mentally prepare for the threats," he said.

The President ordered the Meteorology and Geophysics Agency (BMG) to study changes in environmental conditions and deliver accurate information to the public on possible disasters.

Indonesia has been the victim of a string of natural disasters, some of which have been said to be the result of climate change.

In January, Jakarta suffered from severe downpours and floods after a lengthy dry period in what should have been the rainy season.

Earlier this month, a landslide killed 43 people in Manggarai, East Nusa Tenggara, traditionally known as a dry province.

Most scientists now agree average global temperatures will rise by between two and six degrees Celsius by the end of the century. It is believed this process is being driven by an atmospheric build up of greenhouse gases, which are commonly released in the burning of fossil fuels for power and transportation purposes.

With a mere rise of two degrees, scientists predict a massive upsurge in species extinction and extreme weather events such as storms, droughts and floods. This could potentially threaten hundreds of millions of lives around the world. Under forecasts, polar icecaps will melt, raising sea levels by several meters.

Chairwoman of BMG, Sri Woro Harijono, said Indonesians must understand that they live in a disaster zone.

"The people here should always be prepared to face all types of disasters, be they earthquakes, floods, volcanic activities or tsunamis," Sri Woro said.

During the ceremony, the President presented awards to local administrations and the media for their contribution to informing the public on the risks posed by climate change.

The provincial governments of Central Java, Gorontalo and West Sumatra, as well as Nabire regency, all received awards.

Award recipients from the media were private TV station Metro TV, state-run TV station TVRI, Kompas, Media Indonesia and private radio stations Elshinta and Trijaya FM.

Technology brings the sea closer to home

Prodita Sabarini, The Jakarta Post

The bright side of the city's water shortages is that people are now exploring alternative sources to groundwater.

One alternative is to build water desalination plants to turn seawater into potable water.

"It is possible because the technology is available in Indonesia. For desalination plants, the technologies applied include reverse osmosis technology as well as distillation," Sakt A. Siregar, Siemens Water technologies business development manager, said Friday.

Germany-based Siemens provided the technology for Singapore's water desalination plant.

Sakti said a water desalination plant could supply a large amount of water, depending on its size. "An average sized one can supply around 100 liters of water per second."

Desalination is a process that removes dissolved minerals -- including but not limited to salt -- from seawater, brackish water or treated wastewater. A number of technologies have been developed for desalination, including reverse osmosis (RO), distillation, electrodialysis and vacuum freezing.

Currently, Jakarta's main water supply comes from raw water sources located in Bogor, Depok, Bekasi and Tangerang, as well as Jatiluhur Dam in West Java.

Haryadi Priyohutama, the director of city water company PAM Jaya, has said there is no guarantee the dam will have the capacity to supply Jakarta in the long term.

Jakarta uses 16 cubic meters of water per second, while Jatiluhur Dam, in Purwakarta, West Java, has the capacity to supply 14 cubic meters per second.

It is estimated that by 2009 the city will be using 21.6 cubic meters of water per second. By 2015, demand will have reached 42 cubic meters of water per second.

The Jakarta administration has said the city suffers a water deficit of 36 million cubic meters per year from the total demand of 400 million cubic meters a year.

Sakti said many of the country's industries, such as petrochemical industries and power plants, had already built desalination plants to meet their water needs.

He said that building municipal desalination plants might be a good alternative for the city to consider. However, he doubted that would happen in the near future considering the plan required a capital investment of millions of dollars.

"For Jakarta I think the trend will be clustered desalination plants. The plants won't be constructed by municipalities, but by industries for their own source of water."

He said the management of Ancol amusement park, which is situated on the northern coast of Jakarta, was planning to build a desalination plant for its own use.

"That's what the trend will likely be."

Mobile units capable of treating even the most turbid water

Adianto P. Simamora, The Jakarta Post

The Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB) has been working on a mobile water treatment system, which can be started up and applied on the spot, in response to the unequal access to potable water in the city.

A single mobile unit has the capacity to treat 400 cubic meters of polluted water a day.

"One unit can serve more than 4,000 people with a production cost of Rp 1,100 per cubic meter," Indratmo Soekarno, the head of the ITB's department of civil engineering, said recently.

He said the treatment units were able to purify dirty water taken from rivers, wells or lakes.

"The quality of the water is of little consequence. One of our mobile units can purify water with a turbidity of 10,000 ppm (parts per million), which cannot be treated by the state-owned water operators," he said.

The dirty water is first oscillated, spiraling heavier particles like sand and sediment away, before being filtered.

Chlorine is then used to destroy disease-causing contaminants.

Indratmo said the technology could also be applied to make seawater potable, with a production cost of Rp 9,000 per cubic meter.

"We are also developing the technology to reduce the production cost still further," he said.

The treatment units were first used in the city during the floods last month, which left millions of people without access to clean water.

The ITB, in cooperation with the Indonesian Medical Association (IDI), deployed two treatment units to Jakarta.

"We set up one unit on Jl. Sultan Agung, East Jakarta, and another in Bekasi, giving free potable water to the flood victims," Hasnah Siregar, the IDI's chief public relations officer, said.

Many of the city's poor have limited or no access to clean water.

A report issued by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) last year said Jakarta's slum dwellers paid five to 10 times more for water than people living in upscale areas.

The report said almost two in three people lacking access to clean water survive on less than US$2 a day, with one in three living on less than $1 a day.

Half of the some 10 million inhabitants of the city are believed to rely on groundwater.

The administration says groundwater supplies are steadily depleting due to overexploitation coupled with the poor rainwater catchment facilities in the city.

In low-lying North Jakarta, for example, groundwater depletion has caused serious land subsidence, making the area more vulnerable to flooding and allowing water from the Java Sea to seep into the coastal aquifers.

The administration says 80 percent of the groundwater in wells with depths of 10-20 meters is polluted.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Perhutani prepares 400 million young plants for reforestation

Magelang, Central Java (ANTARA News) - Perum Perhutani has prepared around 400 million young plants for reforestation of at least 200,000 hectares of forested land in the country this year, the state forestry company`s president director, Trastoto Handadari, said here on Monday.

The company is currently seeking cooperation with a third party to support the funding of the project, he said when launching a reforestation drive here on Monday.

He said he would also seek funds from the State Budget especially those allocated for reforestation of protected forests.

He said reforestation of protected forests was also part of public service obligation, so that it could not always be done by Perhutani. "So we are also seeking a source of funds for the program from the national budget," he said.

He said the reforestation of 200,000 hectares of forest land would absorb around one million workers.

He said the implementation of the reforestation program covering 36 hectares of protected forests would cost Rp150 billion.

He said that meanwhile he managed to establish cooperation with a third party in providing the necessary funding of the reforestation of 30,000 hectares of other forests in the country.

He said Perhutani had also developed other programs like forest education and tourism programs in the framework of the reforestation drive until 2010.

"It is hoped that under the reforestation program, Indonesia will again become green and able to improve the people`s welfare," he said.

Walhi calls for investigation of Kampar river pollution

Pekanbaru, Riau (ANTARA News) - The Indonesian Environmental Forum (Walhi) in Riau Province, has asked the provincial police to investigate pollution in Kampar River in Pelalawan District.

The Riau Police must investigate the pollution case, Director of Walhi`s Riau chapter Jhonny S. Mundung said here Tuesday.

The Indonesian environmental NGO has suspected that PT RAPP (Riau Pulp and Paper) company has polluted the river.

Some 18 residents of Sering village, Pelelawan District, were rushed to a police hospital in Pekanbaru on Monday (March 19) for being poisoned due to the river pollution.

The poisoned villagers included children between 21 months and 13 years old and some adults, he said. The villagers suffered from skin and eye irritations, respiratory problems, coughing and stomachache, he added.

Based on Walhi`s finding, Kampar River was polluted by chlorine disposed by the pulp and paper company located in Riau Province, Sumatra Island, according to Mandung.

"If the pollution continues to be ignored, it might claim lives. Therefore, the provincial police must investigate the case," Mundung said.

Walhi was preparing a report to the local police for further investigation on the alleged pollution case, he added.

Monitoring water the best way to avert crisis: Experts

Tertiani ZB Simanjuntak, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Once an ubiquitous natural resource, water has now become an overpriced commodity.

Periods of insufficient raw water supply in the city -- blamed on inappropriate development, which has reduced the number of catchment areas and polluted rivers and groundwater -- have brought the capital to the brink of a water crisis.

Some scientists say severe water shortages could occur in a decade, others project three years.

But many experts refuse to see a water crisis as inevitable, insisting precautions can be taken to ensure the city has a sustainable water system.

Alizar Anwar, a consultant to the Jakarta Water Regulatory Body, said the city administration had recently proposed a number of methods for industries and residents to save water, but had missed out the one he considered most effective.

"It is good to have percolation pits to save groundwater, but first things first ... the city administration has to establish a system to monitor both the quantity and quality of water," he told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.

In monitoring water quantity, he said, the administration should first address the problem of leaking pipes. .

He said the piped water production capacity in Jakarta should be 16 cubic meters per second. However, due to leakages -- caused by the poor condition of Dutch-era pipes and a general lack of maintenance -- the capacity had been reduced by half.

"If the leaked water was collected, Jakarta might have another Kalimalang River on its hands," Alizar said, explaining that the mean flow of water in the river, which runs across the eastern part of Greater Jakarta, was only five cubic meters per second.

He said the administration should cooperate with its business partners in piped water distribution and neighboring regions in upstream areas to ensure the good quality of raw water.

"Investment in water treatment has resulted in a higher water tariff ... consumers have been led to use more groundwater, which could cause seawater intrusion, sedimentation and land subsidence. And we don't want that to happen," Alizar argued.

Meanwhile, Sutjipto from the Jakarta-based Water and Sanitation Network (JAS) said it was important to monitor the quantity and quality of water in Jakarta to cut down on guesswork.

"Currently most of us have based our arguments on assumptions about the condition of the water in Jakarta. We could say the condition of the water in the Ciliwung River is poor because we observe riverbank dwellers and industries disposing of wastewater and garbage in the river and using it again for daily activities, even to drink."

This theme of this year's World Water Day, which falls on Thursday, is raw water scarcity in many parts of the world.

Sutjipto said that instead of worrying about the possibility of a water crisis in the near future, people should concern themselves with the quality of the city's water now.

"The water -- both inland and groundwater -- is heavily polluted. The high incidence of waterborne diseases, which kill babies and toddlers, and the fact that almost half of the Indonesian people have had diarrheal diseases should have forced regional administrations, industries and residents to be more concerned about the environment."

Mt. Batutara erupts

JAKARTA (Antara): Mount Batutara located on Lembata Island, East Nusa Tenggara (NTT), erupted as of March 17, 2007, and is declared off-limit to local fishermen used to transit on the island, a local official said.

The eruption of Mt Batutara was still going on and it would be dangerous for fishermen trying to approach the island for a transit, Head of the National Geology Agency's Volcanic and Geological Disaster Mitigation Center (PVMBG) Dr Surono saidThursday.

Mt. Batutara, which is 750 meters above the sea level, is currently on the alert status or the second level, he said.

"Lembata Island has no inhabitants, but it is often used as a transit area by local fishermen," he said.

After receiving information from local fishermen about the eruption of the volcano on March 17, 2007, volcano observation officers tried to approach the island to check the condition of the mountain, which spewed volcanic materials up to 1,500 meters high.

"However, up to now, our staffs could not approach the island at a close distance because of huge waves," he said.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Pilot and Demonstration Activities (ADB)

Appropriate Information System for Integrated Water Resources Management: An Exploratory Trial in the Cimanuk River Basin

Asian Development Bank

Any reliable information system provides a clear, concise, and up-to-date data to aid important management decision making tasks. Such a database is lacking in West Java's Cimanuk River Basin. This PDA will establish a Geographic Information System in Cimanuk as an initial step towards integrated water resources management.

Read More ....

Jakarta Water Sources Polluted by E. Coli Bacterium

Wednesday, 21 March, 2007 | 16:07 WIB

TEMPO Interactive, Jakarta: Almost all water sources in Jakarta are already polluted by Escherchia Coli bacterium, originating from organic garbage and human feces.

This has already polluted 13 rivers and 68 percent of ground water in Jakarta.

Research by the Jakarta Provincial Environment Management Agency (BPLHD) in 2006 showed that the pollution the bacterium causes in the rivers has far exceeded the limit.

The samples for the research were taken from 66 locations in the rivers.

The fact is that, “None of the rivers is appropriate to be the source of drinking water,” said Head of BPLHD Budirama Natakusumah in a discussion yesterday (03/20).

Budirama said that one of the rivers having the worst rate of pollution was the Ciliwung river.

The E. coli bacterium rate in the river reaches 1.6-3 million individuals per 100 cc, far above the standard of quality of 2,000 individuals per 100 cc.

In spite of this, the river is the source of drinking water in Jakarta.

The pollution, said Budirama, is caused by liquid waste from households.

Of the total 1,316,113 cubic meters of water waste in Jakarta, 75 percent of it is household waste.

DWI RIYANTO AGUSTIAR | REH ATEMALEM | YUDHA SETIAWAN | AGUSLIA HIDAYAH

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

TESTING THE WATERS:

The Jakarta Post

A student at the privately run YPI Bekasi High School on Sunday measures the oxygen level of water plant Hydrilla during a water conservation campaign at Lake Cibubur in South Jakarta.

The program, which is jointly run by the Coca-Cola Foundation and the
United States Agency for International Development, aims to educate teenagers about water issues. (JP/J. Adiguna)

Mt. Talang alert level raised

The Jakarta Post

PADANG, West Sumatra: The status of Mount Talang in Solok regency, West Sumatra, was raised one level following increased smoke and tremors, a volcanologist said Monday.

"We were forced to raise the status by one level Saturday due to increased activity at the mountain," said Dalipa Marjsi of the Mt. Talang Volcanology Monitoring Office.

On Saturday the mountain spewed thick smoke 800 meters above its crater, he said, adding that the activity was followed by two small-scale earthquakes.

On Sunday the volcano spewed smoke 400 meters above the crater accompanied by small explosions.

He said local Solok district authorities were immediately notified of the increased activity. A coordination meeting was held Sunday night with district authorities to prepare for a possible eruption if the alert level reaches four.

Solok district chief Gusmal told AFP that some 41,000 people may need to be evacuated from the slope of the mountain should an eruption prove imminent.

"There is no plan to evacuate them yet, but we are preparing now in case the alert status is raised," Gusmal said.

More than 25,000 residents were evacuated in April 2005 from the slopes of Mount Talang when the volcano spewed an increasing amount of volcanic ash.

Indonesia sits on the so-called "Pacific Ring of Fire", where continental plates meet and cause frequent volcanic and seismic activity.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Two earthquakes hit eastern Indonesia

ABC Radio Australia

Two earthquakes have hit eastern Indonesian regions, but there are no reports of casualties or damage.

A meteorological official says a moderate earthquake measuring 5.4 on the Richter scale struck Papua province at 11.30 local time, and a a 5.9 magnitude quake jolted Ternate on the Moluccas islands, nine hours earlier.

Earthquakes are frequent in Indonesia, the world's fourth most populous country.

Government, House discuss bill on transboundary haze

Ridwan Max Sijabat, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The government and the House of Representatives began discussions Monday evening on whether to ratify the ASEAN agreement on trans boundary haze pollution.

A working committee consisting of 40 legislators from three commissions overseeing defense and foreign affairs, agriculture and forestry affairs and environment affairs presented their views on the agreement.

The government was represented by State Minister for the Environment Rachmat Witoelar, State Minister for Research and Technology Kusmayanto Kadiman, Forestry Minister M.S. Kaban, Agriculture Minister Anton Apriantono and Foreign Minister Hassan Wirayuda.

Witoelar called on the House to ratify the agreement, saying it would have more positive than negative affects on the country.

"Ratifying the agreement will have a more positive impact on Indonesia because trans boundary haze pollution has affected not only locals and the domestic economy but also foreign countries. It will also help preserve the environment," he told the meeting.

"Otherwise, the government will remain the subject of blame, not only by foreign countries but also by locals affected by the annual haze pollution."

He also said that by ratifying the agreement, Indonesia was obliged to mitigate the haze and set up an institution to monitor the agreement's implementation.

Other legislators warned against ratifying the agreement, saying it would have negative implications for the country.

Agusman Effendi, who chairs the environment commission, said his commission had agreed to deliberate the bill to ratify the agreement on trans boundary haze pollution after consulting forest concession holders, plantation owners and informal leaders in Sumatra and Kalimantan, where much of the annual haze originates.

Sabam Sirait and Soeripto of the House's defense and foreign affairs commission condemned the agreement, which they said placed all responsibility for the haze on Indonesia.

They said that Indonesia should only ratify the agreement with reservations.

"Other countries have signed the agreement because they have no forests or only a few forest areas. To be consistent, Singapore and Malaysia should also be committed to fight illegal logging in Indonesia by stopping their use of illegal logs," said Sabam.

While all 10 ASEAN countries signed the agreement in 2002, Indonesia and the Philippines are yet to ratify it.

Bomer Pasaribu of the agriculture and forestry commission called on the government to be cautious of the legal consequences of ratifying the agreement.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Mandiri sets aside Rp 11t for plantations

Urip Hudiono, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Bank Mandiri will provide up to Rp 11 trillion (US$1.2 billion) in new loans to the small holder plantation sector over the next three years, says a senior Madiri executive.

The loans are intended to finance the development of up to 321,268 hectares of plantations by some 80,000 growers, and will be disbursed in stages between 2007 and 2010, Mandiri's micro and retail banking director, Budi Gunadi Sadikin, said at an agricultural expo Friday.

"The plantations concerned consist of those producing such commodities as palm oil, cocoa and rubber," he said.

The loans to small-scale plantation growers would be channeled through large-scale plantation companies, which would guarantee the loans, and provide advice and guidance to the growers.

Budi said that the new loans would increase the value of Mandiri's total outstanding loans to the plantation sector to Rp 14.39 trillion, consisting of Rp 11.3 trillion to industrial plantation firms and Rp 3.09 trillion to small-scale plantation cooperatives and growers. The bank has also provided Rp 7.14 trillion in loans to associated processing enterprises, he added

Mandiri's outstanding loans to the plantation sector account for 36 percent of the Rp 39.5 trillion in total borrowing by the sector, according to central bank figures.

Mandiri president Agus D. Martowardojo said the additional lending would support the government's program to revitalize the country's agricultural sector, develop the biofuel sector, and grow small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

A consortium of five state and local government banks recently banded together to provide Rp 25.56 trillion in loans for the development of the plantation sector, including plantations producing biofuel feedstock.

Besides Mandiri, which will provide Rp 11.08 trillion of the Rp 25.56 trillion, Bank Rakyat Indonesia (BRI) will stump up Rp 12 trillion, Bank Bukopin Rp 1 trillion, the West Sumatra provincial bank Rp 980 billion, and the North Sumatra provincial bank Rp 500 billion.

Indonesia is the world's largest palm oil producer. Palm oil, along with jatropha oil, can be processed into biodiesel, and is also used in the production of cooking oil, soap and detergent.

The country also has vast tracts of rubber plantations, most of which are owned and managed by small farmers or cooperatives operating as SMEs.

Palm oil and rubber, whose production and prices grew strongly last year, provided the backbone for Indonesia's strong 2006 export performance, bringing in more than $100 billion in foreign exchange earnings.

Agus said he expected the increased lending to the plantation sector to help Mandiri achieve its 20 percent lending growth target for this year.

Mandiri, Indonesia's largest lender by assets, saw lending grow by 10 percent to Rp 117.7 trillion last year.

S. Sumatra records 30 pollution cases

The Jakarta Post

PALEMBANG, South Sumatra: More than 30 cases of environmental destruction, mostly in the form of pollution created by the oil and gas industries, were recorded over the past three years across South Sumatra.

The data was revealed by the director of the South Sumatran chapter of the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi), Sri Lestari Kadariah, on Friday, who said the cases involved oil and gas pipe leaks, pipe explosions and oil well gushes. Three incidents have already occurred in the first three months of this year.

"The latest incident was a leak from state oil company Pertamina's processing unit tank, which polluted Rebo and Komering rivers on March 8, which so far has not been restored," Sri said.

She said Walhi investigated the case and found that Pertamina could only clean the oil sludge floating on the rivers by hiring villagers to conduct the manual labor.

The provincial Environmental Impact Control Agency sent a warning letter to Pertamina calling for the company to immediately remedy the situation and report the matter to the governor through the agency. -- JP

This drink isn't so safe, says group

The Jakarta Post

JAKARTA: A senior executive at the Indonesian Consumers Foundation (YLKI) said Friday that the Food and Drug Monitoring Agency had allowed a beverage company to mislead consumers and provide distorted product information.

Indah Suksmanigsih said that a beverage marketed under the slogan "Safe to be consumed" still contained preservatives.

"As consumers, we are left with misleading information. According to the 1999 Consumer Protection Law, the use of the word 'safe' in marketing is a violation of consumer rights if accompanied without full content information," she told The Jakarta Post.

She added that there should be a warning on labels indicating the recommended intake per day of a beverage.

"Preservative content in the product can still damage one's health if consumed in excess," she added.

The YLKI has asked the regulatory body to revise its policy and ban the marketing slogan.--JP

Ozone 'preserves food for longer'

Alvin Darlanika Soedarjo, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

A local scientist has invented a cheap and simple food preservation technology that works by coating food in ozonated water.

"Vegetables, fruit and even fish can stay fresh longer if they are soaked with ozonated water, which is produced by a special machine," said Anto Tri Sugiharto, an engineer from the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), on Friday.

Anto has already patented the ozone water reactor.

"It's a safe method as long as the products are not processed products, such as dried fish or meatballs," Anto said in a press conference here.

The simple technology could replace the use of preservative formaldehyde, which is widely used despite its health effects, Anto said.

Ozonated water is better than formaldehyde, says Anto, because ozone dries into oxygen so there are no chemicals left on the food.

Other methods of preservation, such as high temperatures, require the tools to be sterilized with alcohol.

Preserving food by utilizing high temperatures is also more expensive than ozonated water, which sterilizes the washing tools and food containers.

"Ozonated water is useful for farmers or food retailers. However, it is intended to be used by many farmers instead of individuals," said Anto, who has spent more than a decade studying and researching in Japan.

After food is washed in ozonated water, it is vacuum-wrapped.

The ozonated water also removes bacteria and pesticides from the product, although over use can result in discoloration and a reduction in the natural smell of the food.

LIPI has tested the reactor on tomatoes at the Agricultural Ministry research center in Lembang, West Java.

"The Agricultural Ministry had problem with its vegetables as they were contaminated with pesticides and quickly decayed," Anto said.

The inventor said that LIPI would collaborate with the Agricultural Ministry in order to produce and distribute the machine.

"The ministry can also subsidize the machines for farmers because farmers may not have enough money to make the purchase," he said of reactor, which costs about Rp 7 million (US$765) to assemble.

The machines are now being prepared to be distributed in West Java.

Indah Suksmaningsih, a senior executive from the Indonesian Consumers Foundation, told The Jakarta Post that the usage of ozone might have a bad effect on the climate.

"If not used properly, the ozone might affect global warming," she said.

Lombok entrepreneur helps environment and turns a profit

Panca Nugraha, The Jakarta Post, Mataram

Hundreds of fishing boats bob in the waters off Ampenan Beach in Mataram, West Nusa Tenggara. It is a classic sight, one little changed over the years. These boats also serve as a reminder of the relationship between fishermen and the forest; their dependence on the forest for the raw ingredients for the boats on which they depend to earn a living.

To produce a fishing boat measuring 10 meters in length and one meter in width, workers need trees that are at least 120 centimeters in diameter and 15 meters in length. The truth is, it takes a tree dozens of years, at the least, to reach such a size.

With old boats having to be replaced every several years, and with more and more boats being made as more people turn to fishing to earn a living, a lot of trees are being cut down for fishing boats.

Chaerudin, 52, from Ireng village, Gunungsari district in West Lombok, considered this problem and decided the best solution was to find some other material that could be used to make the boats, thus helping to preserve the country's forests.

Though Chaerudin comes from a fishing family, he was working for a furniture company in Ampenan in the 1980s when he hit upon his idea and began making his first boats from fiberglass.

"It's hard to find timber to make boats now because most of our forests have been over-logged. It is especially difficult to find the bae and suren trees that are most suitable for boats," he said.

Using the skills he picked up watching and helping his fisherman father over the years, Chaerudin being repairing fishing boats using fiberglass.

A wooden boat can only last four or five years before the hull starts to rot and spring leaks. Chaerudin repaired the leaks with fiberglass, but that was only a stopgap measure because more leaks would eventually pop up along the rotting hull.

"I thought then about what would become of fishing families if there were no more boats because there was no more timber to make them with. That was when I started experimenting, using a process of trial and error, with making boats from fiberglass," he said.

Chaerudin already had the boat making skills from his father, but what he needed was the capital to purchase the raw materials to get his business started.

With his savings from his job at the furniture company and his earnings from repairing boats, he managed to buy a mold and fiberglass materials.

A year later, in 1981, Chaerudin had made his first fiberglass boat.

"Even after completing the boat, I found it very hard to market it. The fishing community here is used to wooden boats, and I knew it would be very difficult to break the tradition," he said.

But Chaerudin was determined. So while he repaired wooden boats to earn extra money, he continued making his fiberglass boats, fine-tuning his design to perfection.

His efforts eventually bore fruit. A fiberglass boat which he left moored on Meninting River behind his house attracted someone's attention.

A foreign tourist, crossing Meninting Bridge toward the Senggigi resort area, happened to notice the boat. He approached Chaerudin and expressed his interest in the boat, which was enough encouragement for Chaerudin to continue pursuing his dream.

Chaerudin may now be considered established. He owns a fiberglass workshop, in which 20 employees build boats, from simple fishing boats to trawlers and express ferries.

"We were able to build an express ferry measuring 27 meters long and six meters wide in 2000, which is licensed to serve the Lombok-Bali route. But due to the drop in tourist arrivals, it is no longer in service," he said.

He also builds boats for pearl farmers in Lombok and tour agencies in Bali and East Nusa Tenggara. He also receives orders for fiberglass bathtubs and other household goods.

His efforts have allowed Chaerudin to provide for his family, including sending all seven of his children through school, with four of them currently at university. When the Post recently visited his workshop near Meninting Bridge, a number of employees were working on a boat ordered by a Dutch tourist.

There were also three fiberglass fishing boats nearby, ordered by the West Nusa Tenggara Fisheries Office.

Chaerudin is proof that you can make a good living without tearing down the environment in the process.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Water contract may be revised in city's favor

Adisti Sukma Sawitri, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The city administration is set to evaluate its water concession contracts with its two operators -- PT Thames PAM Jaya (TPJ) and PT PAM Lyonnaise Jaya (Palyja) -- this year.

Although it is a routine evaluation conducted every five years, it is hoped it will lead to a decision to revise the 1997 concession agreement and amendments, which were aimed at delivering better water services.

The evaluation talks are scheduled to begin after July.

"Indonesia has a steadier economy now, which puts the administration in a better bargaining position to revise the contract," said Wijanto Hadipuro, an economist with nonprofit group the Amrta Institute for Water Literacy, during a seminar on the city's water concession.

The water rate, currently Rp 6,525 per cubic meter, has long been an issue among activists.

Palyja's commissioner Bernard Lafrogne, however, said it was too early to say whether the contract would be amended.

"All of the stakeholders must sit together to determine the charges for water service," he said.

Antiprivatization groups have alleged the provision of water services is driven by profit, despite access to clean water being a basic human right. But private water companies insist the periodic rate increase is part of the agreed concession.

The companies, however, have other issues to contend with, such as the lack of support from the central and city administrations in improving infrastructure.

The 1997 contract awarded water concessions to the two private operators. Palyja operates in the western part of the city while TPJ operates in the eastern part.

As of this year, Palyja has 352,311 connections while TPJ has 372,000.

Both water operators underwent "internal reorganization" following the bonds sale two years ago.

Wijanto from Amrta pointed out that Palyja's move to sell bonds on the Surabaya Stock Exchange two years ago should eliminate currency risk as a factor in justifying water charges as they no longer calculated their cash flow in U.S. dollars.

According to Palyja's financial report in 2005, the company earned Rp 644.7 billion in fixed assets, whereas it obtained Rp 646.2 billion from the bonds sale to finance its investment.

"Palyja is financing its investment from the domestic capital market and using rupiah. The administration does not need to increase consumer charges for the reason of financing the currency risk of its foreign investment," Wijanto said.

The water contracts in 1997 with the two operators used currency risk as the basis for determining water rates since Indonesia was entering a financial crisis, during which the exchange rate dropped from Rp 2,000 to 17,000 against the U.S. dollar.

The two operators, which borrowed capital in their countries in dollars, proposed the option to avoid losing money due to the currency risk.

Now as the rupiah steadies and the inflation rate stands at 6.6 percent, Wijadi said there was no reason to factor the currency risk in when calculating the rate increase.

TPJ, which has new owners Singaporean Acuatico Ltd and Alberta Utilities Ltd, is facing a similar situation.

Acuatico, which was put to the test prior to taking over TPJ early this year, is owned mostly by Indonesian investment bank PT Recapital Advisors.

The administration may encourage TPJ to convert its investment into rupiah considering the presence of a local parent company.

Another clause in the contract that may be amended is the high rate of investment return at 22 percent.

Acuatico's agreement to adjust the rate of investment return during the acquisition process may cause the two operators to reconsider the rate during the contract evaluation.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Shark with webbed feet



Has anyone ever seen a baby shark with webbed feet? A worker of the Malaysian Fisheries Development Board (LKIM) in Batu Maung, Penang, made this unusual find when she was given the 1.7kg fish by a fisherman at the jetty recently.


Mary Looi, 48, said she only realised the shark was different when she wanted to cook tomyam fish for lunch for her family.

"It was only when I was about to cut the shark the day after I received it that I found two webbed feet sticking out from the lower part of the body.

“The shark is one-metre long,” she said.

Looi said she dared not cook the fish after consulting her husband Gooi Man Kaw, 57, who told her that according to Chinese belief, eating fish with unusual features could bring disaster or ill luck.

“Immediately, I returned the fish to the fisherman that night at about 10pm.

“He threw it back into the sea,” said Looi.

Looi, who has been working at LKIM for 10 years, said this was the first time she had stumbled upon such an unusual find.

When contacted, Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) Muka Head marine research station head Prof Dr Zulfigar Yasin said this is the first time he had heard of fish with legs found in the Malaysian waters.

“There is a possibility that the fish could have swum from other waters into Malaysian waters.

“As far as I am concerned, fish species with legs or bony fins can only be discovered in the waters of North Sulawesi in Indonesia or South Africa,” he said.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

President holds dialog with farmers, fishermen in NTT

West Maggarai, East Nusa Tenggara (ANTARA News) - President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono held a dialog with East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) farmer and fisherman groups and provided them with working capital, equipment and seaweed seedlings here on Wednesday.

On arrival at West Manggarai District`s Labuan Bajo airport, the president and his party were welcomed by NTT Governor Piet A Tallo and regional government officials.

The head of state was accompanied by Agriculture Minister Anton Apriyantono, Maritime Affaris and Fisheries Minister Freddy Numberi, Social Affairs Minister Bachtiar Chamsyah, Health Minister Siti Fadila Supari and Presidential Spokesman Andi Mallarangeng.

Yudhoyono held the dialogs with the farmers and fishermen at the fish auction center of Labuan Bajo seaport.

In the afternoon the president would be briefed by Manggarai district head Christian Rotok on the handling of the recent landslides in Manggarai.

At least 41 people were killed and 34 others went missing in the landslides which took place in the district earlier this month.

The landslides and flash floods that occurred in Manggarai district from March 1 to 3, 2007, forced some 5,231 people to evacuate to safer places.

The disaster also damaged 67 houses, school buildings and farming areas. "Downpours and fog covering the area have hampered rescue efforts. I am pessimistic about the possibility of evacuating them as the bad weather continues," Manggarai District Head Christian Rotok said.

U.S. lawmakers bid to keep out ill-gotten timber

Tue Mar 13, 2007 2:19PM EDT

By Missy Ryan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers on Tuesday pushed for new rules to stop American companies from buying illegally logged timber plundered from fragile forests around the world.

Illegal logging is not only is a death knell for forest preserves and rich ecosystems, according to Rep. Earl Blumenauer, an Oregon Democrat, but it also cost the U.S. timber industry $1 billion a year in lost sales.

Up to 30 percent of hardwood lumber and plywood traded around the world may now come from world forest preserves or other fragile areas in the Peruvian Amazon or Indonesia, Blumenauer and other lawmakers say.

Read More ....

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Three earthquakes rattle eastern Indonesia, no report of damage

The Jakarta Post

JAKARTA (JP): Meteorology and Geophysics (BMG) Tuesday reported three earthquakes measuring between 5.3 to 5.6 at the Richter Scale in different places in eastern Indonesia.

There is no immediate report of casualty or property damage.

The first quake occurred at 8.03 a.m. western Indonesian time measuring 5.3 at the Richter Scale with epicenter some 199 kilometers from North Maluku's city of Ternate.

A similar scale quake occurred at 12.50 p.m. western Indonesian time with epicenter at the sea some 396 kilometers east of Bitung sea.

Meanwhile, the 5.6 magnitude quake occurred at 4.05 p.m., which was centered in the land some 55 kilometers from Sumbawa sea.

Indonesia, the world's largest archipelago, is prone to seismic upheaval due to its location on the so-called Pacific "Ring of Fire," an arc of volcanoes and fault lines encircling the Pacific Basin.

In December 2004, a massive earthquake off Indonesia's Sumatra island triggered a tsunami that battered much of the Indian Ocean coastline and killed more than 230,000 people - 131,000 of themin Indonesia's Aceh province alone.

A tsunami off Java island last year killed nearly 5,000.