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)

Friday, November 30, 2007

Disaster management body criticized

Desy Nurhayati, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Lack of coordination among stakeholders in handling natural disasters continues despite the fact that repeated disasters have hit the country over the last several years, a two-day workshop on disaster management concluded Thursday.

Many have criticized the performance of the National Coordinating Agency for Disaster Management (Bakornas PB), which is supposed to be at the forefront of disaster relief efforts, for its sluggishness in coordinating stakeholders involved in the efforts.

As a result, groups and institutions going to affected areas to assist victims often work on their own without cooperation from others, workshop participants said in joint media conference.

Maj. Gen. Dadi Susanto, director general of defense strategy at the Defense Ministry, said although preventive measures had been taken the country still faced problems whenever a catastrophe occurred.

"Based on our experiences over the last couple of years, typical problems in disaster relief include uneven distribution of aid and slow evacuation of victims. These are caused by poor coordination among institutions," Dadi said.

"We need to improve collaboration between institutions to build more concrete and effective actions," he said.

"Also, the key is anticipation in order to minimize the risks."

He said it was important to empower and train people, especially those living in disaster-prone areas, to make them alert and well-prepared whenever disaster strikes.

In an effort to improve disaster management, in March the government enacted a new regulation. Included in the regulation is the conversion of Bakornas PB into the National Agency on Disaster Management (BNPB).

Indonesia and Australia will co-chair an international event called Disaster Relief Exercise next year. The event is one of the results from the recent ASEAN regional forum of senior officials.

The event, to be attended by participants from 27 countries, will take place in Jakarta.

Religious, traditional wisdom urged for green protection


The Jakarta Post,
Jakarta

Religious and ethnic leaders expressed concern Thursday over global warming, asserting no spiritual teachings or traditional beliefs allowed the unchecked exploitation of nature.

Environmental damage caused by human activities is against all spiritual and traditional values, which teach people to preserve and live in harmony with nature, Muhammadiyah chairman Din Syamsuddin said during a discussion here.

The event was organized by Muhammadiyah, one of Indonesia's most influential Muslim organizations, to seek a common ground among different groups prior to the UN Climate Change Conference in Bali from Dec. 3 to 14.

World representatives will convene at the UN conference to negotiate a global treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.

Religious and ethnic leaders will also be involved in the negotiations aimed at pushing developed countries to reduce carbon emissions produced by industrial activities and to shoulder the responsibility for any failure to meet reduction targets.

Present during Thursday's meeting were representatives of Indonesia's five biggest religions: Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Buddhism and Hinduism.

Ethnic tribal leaders from Banten, Sumatra, Papua, Madura and Borneo also were in attendance.

Buddhist priest Tadisa Paramita said human greed was behind the environmental degradation that has translated into natural disasters such as floods and drought.

He said humans had benefited from industrial activities at the expense of the environment, ignoring nature's protests sent through a number of disasters.

"Nature responds according to what humans do. We believe that nothing comes as a coincidence ... people reap what they sow."

Father Ismartono of the Indonesian Bishops Conference said: "Humans are not the owners of this earth and have no right to exploit nature the way they do. God is the creator of this earth and humans are the steward."

Indonesia has seen some of the worst environmental damage in the world, with some 50 million hectares of forest throughout the country heavily exploited.

The country has been cited for its rapid rate of deforestation, and has been called one of the main contributors to global warming.

Al Azhar, representing the Riau Malay tribe from Sumatra, told the audience how forests in his region were exploited by timber companies despite protests from indigenous people.

"Indigenous people will plant one tree if they cut down one tree ... but the companies come and take everything from the forest without any effort to replace it."

Leonard Imbiri from Papua said the forests in Papua had been devastated.

"People know of Papua as having amazing and wild forests ... but you can come and see now, the forests and nature there have been badly damaged. Gone are the indigenous people's efforts to preserve them," he said. (lln)

Lampung finds community solution to forest conservation

Oyos Saroso H.N., The Jakarta Post, Lampung

Lampung administration has developed a forest conservation area which involves residents.

Since 2000, 6,537 households near Rigil hill and Tangkit Tebak forest in West Lampung municipality have taken part in the "Forest Community" program, regreening the 12-hectare forest which was damaged by illegal logging.

As an incentive, the villagers -- who work in groups -- are allowed to cultivate a part of the damaged forest for a five year term.

Now, not only do they enjoy the harvests from their crops, but also benefit from the restored forest.

"We're glad we have land to work on ... so that we can support ourselves, while protecting the environment," a farmer, Erfan, said.

The team responsible for the program consists of the village chief, officials from the environmental management board and forest conservation supervision unit, environmentalists and farmer organizations.

The team supervises farmers in groups of 50 and manages land use, distribution, planning and licensing, which is required by people wishing to cultivate land in the area. The team also evaluates the performance of farmer groups each year.

"Groups who are successful in operating under the program would be given permission to cultivate the forest land for 25 years, as recently instructed by West Lampung Mayor Erwin Nizar," a team member and environmentalist from Keluarga Pecinta Lingkungan (Environmentalist Family), Rama Zakaria, said.

Farmers are not allowed to build houses or even shacks in the forest near their crops or to sell the land, or they will lose permission to use the land in the coming year.

Rama said community-based forest management was the best way to prevent the forest from being damaged.

"Farmers until now ... witness forest destruction but can do nothing. Now, with the forest management based in the community they can participate to protect it, and even bust the illegal loggers."

Rama said even though the Forest Community pilot project has gone well, there were still many obstacles in repairing damaged forests in other parts of the province, particularly in two national parks and one protected forest.

He said Lampung faces rampant illegal logging activities which have damaged 60 percent of the 125,000-ha Way Kambas national park in East Lampung, 40 percent of the 365,000-ha Bukit Barisan Selatan national park and 40 percent of the 22,000-ha Wan Abdur Rahman protected forest in Bandar Lampung.

According to environment management board data cited by Rama, 1.4 of 3.3 million ha of Lampung is forested, but 65 percent of it is now damaged.

"At first, the administration was reluctant to allow residents to manage and cultivate crops in forest areas, but after they saw how it is managed, (they) cooperated," Rama said.

World Bank data from 2007 shows Indonesia became the world's third biggest carbon dioxide emitter because of uncontrolled forest degradation.

"It is embarrassing to find the world pointing at Indonesia as one of the main contributors to global warming when once we were so proud of our forests," Rama said.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

West Sumatran coastal residents worry about imminent earthquake

Padang (ANTARA News) - Most residents of West Sumatra`s coastal areas continue to worry about a more powerful earthquake and subsequent tsunami in the days ahead following the recording of at least 16 tremors this month.

Joni, a resident of Mentawai Islands district, said on Wednesday, people on the islands continued to worry about an imminent earthquake because the epicenters of past temblors were mostly located near the islands.

He said the anxiety of the people there was worsened by local media reports that a powerful earthquake measuring 8.5 on the Richter scale was predicted to strike West Sumatran coastal areas next December.

"The people are getting more anxious following media reports that a powerful earthquake will occur in late December this year," Joni said.

Meanwhile, Siberut Selatan sub district head Paulinus said he had tried to obtain accurate information about the local media reports by asking the Meteorology and Geophysics Agency (BMG) and the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) but none of them said for sure that the feared earthquake would really happen in late December.

"However, we continue to ask the people to remain alert but not necessarily to be in deep anxiety," Paulinus said, adding that nevertheless various preparations had been made to anticipate the earthquake because the Mentawai islands are quake-prone.

In Bengkulu province, authorities at provincial, regional and municipal levels had begun taking steps to prepare the public for a powerful earthquake and tsunami predicted to happen in December by Brazilian earthquake observer Prof Jucelino Nobrega da Luz.

"We expect all districts and municipalities in Bengkulu province to take all steps necessary to prepare the people for the earthquake and tsunami. We at provincial administration level will provide whatever assistance they need," Bengkulu Governor Agusrin Maryono Najamuddin said after a coordination meeting recently.

At the meeting attended also by Bengkulu province`s police chief, Brig Gen Soedibyo, military commander, Brig Gen Amril Amir, and Bengkulu City Mayor Ahmad Kanedi it was agreed the provincial administration would provide 5,000-watt power generators, bathing, washing, toilet and other facilities in a number of designated avacuation areas.

Transmigrants to be used for green work

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The government plans to revive the transmigration program shut down 13 years ago so it can push forward with its current reforestation drive.

Forestry Minister Malam Sambat Kaban said Tuesday the ongoing forest rehabilitation and conservation efforts had met with a labor shortage and expected transmigration, organized in cooperation with the Manpower and Transmigration Ministry, to provide the human resources needed.

"Under the program, migrants and locals, will be able to benefit from the planting of commercial timber to rehabilitate land degraded by illegal logging, over-farming and other activities," Kaban told the opening of a joint meeting session with the Manpower Ministry.

The government launched its reforestation program early this year, with the aim to rehabilitate around 50 million hectares of damaged forest across Indonesia. It intends to plant the degraded land with fast growing tree species, like acacia, which can be harvested for timber after five to seven years.

The Manpower Ministry plans to send some 150,000 families to 436 locations in a number of forests in Sumatra, Kalimantan and Papua. The two-day meeting aims to ascertain the status of 39 locations from a list of areas targeted for replanting, inside conservation and productive forests.

Manpower Minister Erman Suparno said his ministry had initially listed the 39 locations as potential destinations on the basis of suggestions from local administrations, while further investigation revealed they were areas under the control of the Forestry Ministry.

"The joint meeting will discuss the land status in the 39 locations and whether to drop any of them from the destination list or to grant migrants land use concessions there, instead of land possession," he said.

He added that the status of the land should be clarified before sending any migrants to prevent possible conflicts like those which occurred previously in the transmigration program when overlapping land claims arose.

The transmigration program, which was initiated in 1950 under the Soekarno administration and escalated during Soeharto's New Order regime, aimed at producing an evenly distributed population.

Under the program, residents from densely populated provinces were relocated to sparsely settled areas. Land for farming, housing and several years of living expenses were provided by the government.

According to data from 2000, 59 percent of Indonesia's population (of around 200 million) live in Java.

The Manpower Ministry has set an annual target to send around 150,000 migrant families, mostly unemployed and poor, amid criticisms the scheme involves the mass movement of poverty from one region to another.

Minister Erman said cooperating with the Forestry Ministry would address the weaknesses in the previous resettlement programs owing to the lack of job opportunities in relocation areas.

Soeryo Adiwibowo, a researcher from the Department of Communication and Community Development at the Bogor Institute of Agriculture, said the resettlement plan was not likely to run well.

"Most migrants are used to rice farming in their hometowns and do not have skills to plant a forest," he told The Jakarta Post.

"There are a lot things to do before sending them to the forests and I think the government has failed to take these things into account. We can see from previous resettlements in which many were met with failure," he said. (lln)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Thousands stay outdoors after Indonesian quake: officials

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Thousands of Indonesians rattled by a powerful quake and a series of aftershocks remained outdoors Tuesday, local officials said, as the health ministry revised the death toll down from three to one.

The 6.7-magnitude quake struck just after midnight local time Monday on Sumbawa island in the archipelago nation's east, collapsing or badly damaging hundreds of buildings.

The health ministry initially said three people were killed, but spokesman Rustam Pakaya revised the figure down to one, saying in a brief text message that the two other people believed dead had turned up alive.

He said 90 people had been injured.

Zaenal, a rescue worker in Sumbawa's Dompu district, said people in the worst affected areas there were "still staying in temporary shelters set up along roadsides or on soccer fields.

"There are about 1,000 families who stayed overnight and are still too afraid to return to their homes," he told AFP, adding that schools remained closed.

Zaenal added that the evacuees had received food aid from the local government, including instant noodles, rice, milk and baby food.

In Dompu's coastal Kilo area, many people sought shelter in the hills, fearful of potential tsunamis if more aftershocks hit, said the chief of Melaju village, Nurdin Muchtar.

"There are about 786 families still in the hills. They might still stay there tonight. If there are no more tremors today (Tuesday), they would return back home tomorrow," he said.

"We still felt very small tremors this morning," he said, adding that food aid was also being distributed to the evacuees.

Eight people seriously injured remained in hospital in Dompu town, where most of the injured had been admitted, said a doctor there, Suryani.

She said most of the town's residents remained sheltering under plastic sheets, fearing further quakes.

The government in Jakarta dispatched two officials on Monday to Sumbawa, located about 1,200 kilometres (746 miles) east of the capital between the islands of Lombok and Flores, though a minister said it appeared local governments could handle the aftermath alone.

The Indonesian archipelago sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire, where continental plates meet and cause frequent seismic and volcanic activity.

Indonesia was the nation worst hit by the earthquake-triggered Asian tsunami in December 2004, which killed 168,000 people in westernmost Aceh province alone.

Animal shelters near collapse, government asked to take over

Wahyoe Boediwardhana, The Jakarta Post, Malang

A noted conservationist has urged the government to take over the operation of seven Animal Rescue Centers (PPS) across the country, saying they are on the brink of financial collapse.

"Most of these centers can't even generate enough money to feed the animals. Some haven't been able to pay the salaries of their employees for quite some time," Rosek Nursahid said Sunday at PPS Petungsewu in Malang, East Java.

Rosek is the founder and chairman of ProFauna International, which initiated the establishment of PPS in various regions in the country.

Currently, there are nine PPS in Indonesia, seven of which -- those in Tegal Alur in Jakarta, Gadog in Bogor, Cikananga in Sukabumi, Arjasari in Bandung, Yogyakarta, Toho in Pontianak, and Tasikoki in North Minahasa.

Rosek said the two other centers, PPS Petungsewu and PPS Tabanan in Bali, were still able to fund their operations.

He said the financial difficulties had worsened when the centers' main backer, the Gibbon Foundation, had terminated its assistance.

He added that the government was obliged under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) to set up centers to house protected animals rescued from poachers, traders and collectors. Indonesia ratified the document in 1978.

"Consequently, the funding for all PPS in Indonesia should be included in the state budget," he said.

Head of PPS Petungsewu, Iwan Kurniawan, said the government was caught off guard when the Gibbon Foundation terminated the funding for the centers.

"Actually, the government must be ready to shoulder the financial burden of each and every PPS five years after their establishment," he said.

"Compared to the funds needed for reforestation programs, the money needed to sustain these centers is minuscule," Rosek added.

Iwan said the operational cost of PPS Petungsewu, which houses 180 protected animals, is around Rp. 600 million per year.

"That means that to sustain the nine PPS the government only has to allocate Rp. 5.4 billions per year," Iwan said.

Iwan said that the government provided regular financial assistance to PPS Petungsewu but it was far from sufficiant.

"The government provides PPS Petungsewu Rp 20 millions per month. After taxes, we only receive Rp 18 million. On the other hand, our monthly operational cost is Rp 50 million," he said.

PPS Petungsewu raises money on its own through the Petungsewu Wildlife Education Center, which offers packages to Indonesian and foreign students.

Monday, November 26, 2007

2 strong earthquakes strike Indonesia

The Jakarta Post

JAKARTA (AP): Strong earthquakes shook western andeastern Indonesia on Sunday, sending panicked residents fleeing from their homes. One of the tremors shook telephone and electricity poles and forced the evacuation of a hospital.

A 6.1-magnitude earthquake struck waters off Sumatra island early Sunday and was followed 13 hours later by a quake with a preliminary strength of 6.7 on Sumbawa island, to the west, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

There were no immediate reports of injuries.

The morning temblor rattled residents in Bengkulu, a coastal town 175 kilometers from its center. The region has been hit by a series of strong earthquakes and aftershocks in recent months, putting many on edge.

"It was very strong ... even utility poles were shaking," said Dina Ramadani, adding that people started screaming after one pole toppled over and crashed into a street.

Some ran to high ground, fearing a tsunami, and officials at one hospital in Jambi province told all patients to temporarily leave the building, treating some outside.

The late-night quake struck 44 kilometers from the upheavals due to its location on the so-called Pacific "Ring of Fire," an arc of volcanos and fault lines encircling the Pacific Basin.

In December 2004, a massive earthquake struck off Sumatra and triggered a tsunami that killed more than 230,000 people in a dozen countries, including 160,000 people in Indonesia's westernmost province of Aceh.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Mahkota Dewa Tea, an herbal cure-all

Slamet Susanto, The Jakarta Post, Kulonprogo, Yogyakarta
Lamuri had a heart complaint and hypertension for some time. The woman from Kampung Bahari, North Jakarta, did not see any improvements, even after consulting specialists several times.
"I started drinking Mahkota Dewa Tea and then I regained my health," she said.
Muhidin Hasan told a different story. The father of three from Plumbon in Kulonprogo regency's Temon district, almost lost his sense of self-worth before his wife: He suffered from erectile dysfunction.
"After regularly drinking Mahkota Dewa Tea, we could resume intimacy in less than a month," he claimed.
These are only two of the numerous people enjoying the benefits of Mahkota Dewa Tea. This herbal concoction is composed of 70 percent Mahkota Dewa, also known as the Crown of God (Phaleria Papuana) fruit, 20 percent green tea (Camelia sinensis) and 10 percent tea parasites (Scurrula cetropurpurea).
The tea is also believed to cure various other diseases and ailments, including cancers and tumors, to reduce the uric acid content in the bloodstream and to burn cholesterol, because it contains the key organic compounds needed by the human body.
The tea blend has been produced as an herbal drug since 2003 by PT Salama Nusantara, which employs 150 farmers in Samigaluh, Kulonprogo. It is licensed by the Food and Drug Monitoring Agency (BPOM) and the Ministry of Health, and is certified by the Indonesian Ulema Council.
PT Salama Nusantara director Maryono said that research carried out by Sumastuti of Yogyakarta's Gadjah Mada University (UGM) had found the Mahkota Dewa fruit to contain antihistamines, flavonoids, saponin, polyohenol and other substances with analgesic, anti-bacterial and blood sugar-lowering effects.
Separately, a green tea study by Johannes Guitenburg of Germany's Mainz University indicated that the presence of active antioxidants and anti-carcinogen components in the leaves was effective for the prevention of cellular and DNA damage caused by free radicals, which are connected to cancers and heart problems.
"Tea parasites are useful for cancer prevention," added Maryono.
To maintain a product quality devoid of chemicals, the company's farmers use organic fertilizers in growing the herbs. UGM personnel, acting as advisers and supervisors, conduct regular field checks to make sure that the plants are completely free of inorganic elements.
The herbal mixture is also made according to a strict process: desiccated Mahkota Dewa fruit is blended with green tea and tea parasites at a ratio of 7:3:1; green tea is freeze-dried to maintain its medicinal properties.
"The entire blending process is overseen by pharmacists for quality control," Maryono told The Jakarta Post during a visit to his secondary production site on Jl. Tentara Pelajar in Sebokarang, Wates regency.
The blend is then packaged in ordinary 100-gram plastic pouches, each priced at Rp 20,000, and in the more fashionable 130-gram cardboard boxes, each priced Rp 35,000.
"Though the packaging and content weight are different, they have the same efficacy," Maryono assured.
Export & employment
Two thousand packs of Mahkota Dewa Tea are now manufactured daily. Their marketing is handled by agents in Jakarta and Surabaya, and in major cities across Bali.
"We expect to have more marketing agents in other cities. But we still impose strict requirements to guarantee product quality," stressed Maryono.
Since this year, Mahkota Dewa Tea has been sought by overseas consumers, and Malaysia and Suriname have each ordered 50,000 packages.
"We deliver 2,000 packages to Malaysia weekly. As there are no direct flights to Suriname, we make monthly deliveries to that country," revealed Maryono.
Aside from maintaining strict quality control, job creation is another priority of PT Salama Nusantara in its herbal drug manufacturing business.
In packaging, for instance, the company uses no machines.
"For packaging work, we employ 24 people, while only three are needed with machines. We want to provide jobs," said Maryono.
In addition, farmers are trained to mince and half-dry the Mahkota Dewa fruit, and supply the fruit in this half-processed form.
"In this way, they can enjoy greater financial benefits," said Maryono. "The fruit only costs Rp 1,000 per kilogram. We pay them Rp 10,000 for 1 kg of half-processed fruit, which requires 7 kg of raw material to make."
Maryono said that quite a number of consumers had requested the herbal medicine be produced in syrup form for easy consumption, but the constraint was the liquid tea's shelf life.
"We are studying whether a liquid blend is as effective as our dried product. Otherwise, we won't produce syrup because we use no preservatives," he said.
Maryono started his herbal medicine business because of a personal concern over the presence of various over-the-counter drugs and supplements containing substances hazardous to the health. Many medicinal products and supplements have now been found to contain harmful -- and illegal -- chemicals, preservatives, and additives.
"Consumers should be careful, as some so-called herbal drugs have a high chemical content," Maryono cautioned.
In cooperation with UGM and local farmers, Maryono set up the company in 2003, with hopes that Indonesia would regain its potential in the health market through indigenous herbal medicine production.
Indonesia was known previously for an indigenous herb called Jawa Dwipa but, said Maryono, "it was abandoned although it had already been proven to have positive health benefits".
While wondering why Indonesians relied so much on foreign health products, Maryono noted that several types of drugs and supplements from Malaysia or Singapore, sold at high prices here, were manufactured with raw materials from Indonesia.
The main challenge to Indonesia's herbal medicine industry is the existence of "herbal" drugs loaded with chemicals.
"So we are producing drugs without preservatives or additives to restore the public trust and to prompt consumers to be more selective in buying health products," said Maryono.

Earthquake triggers panic in Sumatra

JAKARTA (Jakarta Post): A strong earthquake rocked Sumatra early Sunday, forcing residents to flee their homes.

The temblor, which measured 6.2 on the Richter Scale, was centered 28 kilometers from Bengkulu, said Suhardjono, an official at the Geophysics and Meteorolgy Agency.

People in the region felt the tremor for around 30 seconds in the region, El-Shinta radio reported.

There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Monkeys invade Indonesian village: report

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Hundreds of monkeys have invaded houses and accosted villagers in Indonesia's East Java province after their habitat was cleared for commercial development, a report said Thursday.

Sudarsono, a resident of Mangliawan village, told news website Detikcom that hundreds of macaques began swarming into the village from the nearby Wendit recreational park three months ago in search of food.

"They entered my house by breaking the roof and stole food," he said, adding that the monkeys often turned violent and attacked people.

Another witness, identified as Prayitno, said between 25 and 30 macaques broke through his roof everyday to look for food.

The 10-hectare Wendit park, which is home to hundreds of macaques, has been partially cleared to make way for the construction of cottages and commercial buildings.

Local district official Bambang Istiawan told AFP that a regional administration started the construction project eight month ago.

Govt prepares to plant 79 million trees

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The government is very optimistic that its effort to present a gift to the world by planting 79 million trees next week will make a significant contribution toward curbing global warming.

The planting, to take place on Nov. 28, has been designed a national event in which people at around 79,000 locations all over Indonesia will plant trees at exactly the same time.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono will kick off the action from Jonggol, West Java, at 9 a.m., while people in the middle and eastern parts of Indonesia will carry out the planting at 10 a.m. and 11 a.m., respectively.

Forestry Minister M.S. Ka'ban said the campaign related to Indonesia's role as the host of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) talks in December.

During the Bali meetings, Indonesia will propose a scheme called Reducing Emissions from Deforestation in Developing Countries (REDD). The scheme is expected to provide an opportunity for countries willing to conserve their forests be compensated financially for each ton of carbon gas the forests absorb.

"Over the next three years, the trees can be expected to grow to around two meters high and start effectively absorbing carbon dioxide (CO2). One hectare of land packed with six-year-old trees can absorb around 200 tons of CO2 per year," Ka'ban said during a press conference at the Forestry Ministry on Friday.

He hoped the world would see the effort as a strong signal that Indonesia was serious about the REDD proposal. He added that it would be unfair if Indonesia had to bear the responsibility of preserving its forests, losing its right to benefit from them, while other countries enjoy the outcome for free.

"At least Rp 216 trillion is needed for replanting all of Indonesia's forests that have been damaged," he said.

He explained that the total cost for the 79-million-tree planting campaign would be around Rp 1.28 trillion (US$136.7 million). "The fund was generated from forestry businessmen all over Indonesia, while almost all of the seedlings come from the Forestry Ministry stockpiles."

The committee chairman for the campaign, Soetino Wibowo, explained that the target number of 79 million trees was based on the total number of state institutions throughout Indonesia that would participate.

"We have around 79,000 state institutions, the national, provincial, regental, district and sub-district and municipal levels, as well as the police and military branches. Every institution will plant at least 1,000 trees. However, we are sure that they can do more," Soetino said.

He also said that the planting campaign would be followed up by efforts to care for the trees over the next three years. "The first three years are the most critical period of growth," he said. (uwi)

Yogyakarta dry, farmers fear wet season may end before it begins

Slamet Susanto, The Jakarta Post, Yogyakarta

It has not rained in Yogyakarta for the past 10 days, and the local farmers are concerned this will lead to poor harvests.

Besides rice seedlings, thousands of hectares of side crops, including ground nuts and corn, are also facing water shortages and are at risk of failure.

"We sowed the rice seedlings as soon as the rain came, around two weeks ago. At the time we believed the rainy season had arrived. We were wrong. There hasn't been any rain since. Unfortunately, the seeds have already begun to grow and they need water badly. Now, most of them have already withered," 57-year-old Poyo said.

Poyo, a farmer from Gedangrejo village in Gunung Kidul regency, said the irrigation channel was dry because of the lack of rain.

"The seedlings, which are now around 15 days old on average, will die if it doesn't rain in the next few days," Poyo said.

Besides crop failure, farmers also face financial losses because they outlaid money for the seedlings and to plow their fields.

Another farmer, Pranoto, spent some Rp 200,000 to buy 20 kg of seedlings. The field he plowed has also dried up.

"I will have to plow the field again later when it rains, because it is parched now, even though I spent Rp 300,000 to get it plowed," he said.

Ratusna, a farmer in Srigading village in Bantul, who also sowed rice seedlings early, now is paying extra money to irrigate his field with water pumps.

"I have sowed the seedlings. If I don't water my field they will die," a farmer from Sanden, Purwanto, said.

He said he needed to irrigate fields so they could be plowed in the next three days to soften the soil.

"I have to add money to pay for gasoline to run the pump," he said.

Head of Bantul Agricultural Office, Edy Suharyanto, said there were more than 1,200 hectares of farms facing water shortages in hilly areas, growing rice as well as side crops.

"The farms are located in rain-dependent areas, different to those which can be irrigated with water pumped from rivers," he said.

Edy said crop failure would be imminent if it did not rain within seven days.

"There are currently at least 12,000 hectares of farms parched. If it doesn't rain in the next week, more farmland would be parched," Edy said.

According to the Meteorological and Geophysics Agency (BMG) in Yogyakarta, the lack of rain over the past 10 days is due to the presence of storms in various areas.

Satellite images show at least three storms north of the equator in southern China, the eastern Philippines and around Thailand, moving at a speed of 80 knots.

"Every cloud and wind is drawn to the storms," a BMG officer, Agus, said.

The three storms, Agus said, had led to a lack of rain, especially in Central and East Java, but the agency could not yet predict when the rains would return.

Elephants danger blamed on humans

Rizal Harahap, The Jakarta Post, Pekanbaru

Ongoing clashes between humans and elephants has prompted Riau province to establish a team led by Riau Deputy Governor Wan Abu Bakar whose powers will extend to drafting new ordinances.

The team was established early this week following a coordination meeting in Pekanbaru involving seven Riau city and regency administrations and Forestry Ministry officials.

There were 10 incidents there this year, in which 13 villagers were killed and another 13 injured, according to data from Riau's Natural Resources Conservation Center. So far, there have been 29 reported incidents this year, slightly lower than the 32 reported in 2006.

Forestry Ministry official Toni Suhartono said areas prone to human-elephant conflict included Kuantan Sengingi, Indragiri Hulu, Bengkalis, Rokan Hulu, Siak and Pelalawan regencies.

"The highest rate of conflict is in Pelalawan regency, where most of the reports came from," said Toni.

Meanwhile, Kampar recorded seven cases, Bengkalis six, Indragiri Hulu three, and Rokan Hulu, Siak and Kuantan Singingi one case each, all during 2007. At least 700 hectares of palm oil and 120 hectares of rubber plantation were ravaged by herds of wild elephants with more than 40,000 palm oil trees and 35 homes were destroyed.

Toni blamed conflicts on the declining habitat of wild elephants -- aggravated by too few forest rangers patrolling Tesso Nilo National Park.

"The number of forest rangers is far from adequate. Ideally, there should be 39 rangers patrolling the 38,576-hectare park, or one ranger per thousand hectares.

"However, there are only seven rangers and three administrative staffers there. So, there is a stark difference between our needs and the number of workers," said Toni.

Two years ago the provincial administration announced a plan to extend the park to 100,000 hectares, to provide more habitat for the elephants -- but it has yet to do so.

"Negotiations with two forest concession companies in the area are underway," said Toni.

Riau Conservation Center official Rachman Siddiq, however, blamed the timber companies for the delay.

"They cannot be relocated in the same simple manner as the elephants," said Rachman.

"Relocating the timber companies (currently in) the area which has been plotted for the park extension is one of the tasks for the Human-Elephant Conflict Mitigation Team."

Deputy Governor Wan Abu Bakar is in favor of removing the forest concessionaires from the conservation area.

Team leader Abu Bakar said, "We must have a strong policy so that the function of the conservation area be maintained."

Friday, November 23, 2007

Lawyers call for unity against illegal logging

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Bewildering Indonesian forestry regulations and chaotic inter-departmental coordination have contributed to the government's inability to handle illegal logging cases, experts say.

Lawyer Bambang Widjojanto said there were at least three core issues related to illegal logging; a lack of political will, unclear licensing procedures and insufficient control measures.

He said the government's political will was needed in order to harmonize the laws and coordinate the institutions related to forestry.

"The conflicting Indonesian laws on forestry should be resolved. Some of the laws on deforestation and illegal logging include the Forestry Law, the Conservation Law and the Corruption Law," Bambang said in a discussion Thursday on illegal logging cases in Indonesia.

The conflict among these laws has resulted in the controversy surrounding how a license to utilize forest areas should be issued, thus providing a loophole for illegal loggers.

"The main grounds for almost every court decision to release illegal logging suspects has been because the suspects already had licenses to manage particular forest areas, including taking timber from those areas. Or, they had already applied for licenses but had not received them," Bambang said.

He added, however, it was actually possible to indict license holders with the existing criminal laws.

"Even though they have licenses, they can still be charged under criminal laws, especially if they cause environmental damage."

Bambang said license violations were only seen as procedural or administrative breaches, not criminal acts, even though the violations caused negative impacts, such as triggering floods, landslides or other disasters.

Commenting on this issue, two other law experts -- Sulaiman Sembiring and Rudy Satrio -- agreed the inability of Indonesian law enforcers to effectively apply the law provided opportunities for illegal loggers in the country.

"No matter how many laws a country has, the conditions will never change if law enforcement is weak," said Sulaiman, an environmental law expert.

He said the factors that needed improvement included the quality of the state apparatus, the culture of society and law enforcement infrastructure.

Rudy said in this era of autonomy, it has become harder for the central government to control its apparatus in the regions, particularly those with forest-based economies.

"Thus, the Forestry Ministry needs to strengthen its local offices in the regions," said Rudy, a criminal law expert from the University of Indonesia.

Both experts agreed there was a need to categorize forestry crime as a transnational crime.

"Usually, the demand for timber comes from foreign buyers. Almost all illegal timber is sold outside of Indonesia," Bambang said.

"Still, in this case, we first need to resolve the conflicting regulations and strengthen our inter-departmental coordination. Only then will we be ready to bring this case to the international level." (uwi)

Police seize illegal logs

The Jakarta Post

JAMBI, Jambi: A team of officers from the Jambi Forestry Agency and forest rangers seized about 3,000 illegally cut logs in Petaling village in Sungaigelem district, Muarojambi regency, on Wednesday.

"We found the timber had already been loaded on rafts," said team head Agung Widodo.

He said the owners of the illegal timber likely had prior knowledge of the operation because they had left the area before the team's arrival.

Jambi Forestry Agency head Budi Daya said his officers were investigating the case and searching for the owners of the timber.

"If nobody claims the timber -- with proper ownership documents -- we will let the police auction it off," he said.

Earlier in the day, Jambi Police auctioned off 212 cubic meters of confiscated timber, raising Rp 125.5 million. JP

Mt. Kelud lava dome seen as warning sign

Indra Harsaputra, The Jakarta Post, Surabaya

Geologists from 10th November Institute of Technology (ITS) in Surabaya on Thursday say the lava dome that has formed on Mount Kelud's lake crater is not a new phenomenon, and could indicate an eruption is imminent.

They said a similar lava dome was reported before the 1919 eruption that claimed more than 5,000 lives.

They also warned the lava dome could amplify the intensity of an eruption and the damage to surrounding areas.

Geologist and head of the School for Disaster Studies at ITS, Amien Widodo, said documents from the Dutch colonial administration described the formation of a lava dome on Kelud.

"The said the lava dome, comprised of andesite lava, disintegrated and was thrown up during the eruption in the form of large rocks and pebbles, followed by a sand shower," he told The Jakarta Post on Thursday.

He added that the depth of the lake crater increased due to the magmatic pressure from the lava pocket. However, the documents did not specify the depth of the lake in detail.

The current depth of the lake crater is 38 meters, holding about 2.5 million cubic meters of water.

"The eruption in 1919 is recorded as the most fatal in the volcano's history, taking a toll of 5,160 lives," said Amien.

He said the presence of the lava dome, along with tremors and discharges of ash up to 120 meters high, must be taken as a serious warning sign.

"In theory Mount Kelud is ready to erupt. The higher the dome grows, the greater the possibility of an eruption," said Amien.

He said it was difficult to gauge the mountain's current Volcanic Explosive Index (VEI), but data from previous eruptions showed Kelud's VEI ranged from three to five.

A magnitude five VEI eruption took place in 1856. The force of that explosion was similar to explosions by the Philippines' Mount Pinatubo in 1991 and Mount St. Helens in the U.S. in 1980.

By comparison, the legendary eruption of Mount Krakatau in 1883 was a magnitude six VEI. The eruption killed more than 36,000 people.

"It's difficult to predict when Mount Kelud will erupt, but a number of theories imply that a full moon could have an influence on volcanic activity," said Amien.

Head of the Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation Center's Volcano Observation Division, Agus Budianto, said there was every possibility Mount Kelud would erupt.

The lava dome is expanding daily and now covers 90 percent of the lake crater, reaching 300 meters in diameter and a height of 120 meters.

"We will constantly monitor Mount Kelud," Amien told the Post.

Sugihwaras village administrative chief in Ngancar district, Kediri regency, Susiadi, said residents were still going about their daily activities, but there had been growing concerning since Kelud was placed on top alert status on Oct. 16.

"Residents have held a traditional jaranan ritual to appease the mountain. They were told that Mount Kelud would erupt before the end of the year," said Susiadi.

Indonesia seeks international help to protect forests


Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Indonesia's environment minister said Thursday his country needed about six billion dollars a year from rich nations to preserve dwindling forests, a key step in fighting climate change.

"We need financial assistance for the conservation of our forests. Developed countries must give their support by providing financial assistance to developing countries," Rachmat Witoelar told AFP.

Indonesia is gearing up to host a global UN summit on climate change next month in which nations will attempt to lay the groundwork for an agreement on reducing greenhouse gas emissions after the current phase of the Kyoto protocol expires in 2012.

Witoelar said that direct funding from foreign governments was a more efficient way of financing his country's climate change fight than the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) agreed under the Kyoto Protocol.

"The CDM is too complicated and bureaucratic. We need direct funding from developed countries in an effort to protect human beings from disasters caused by global warming," he said.

The CDM allows developing nations to sell carbon credits to rich countries earned through development projects that reduce carbon emissions.

The CDM lets countries earn credits by planting or restoring forests -- which are key absorbers of carbon -- but does not provide financial incentives for preserving existing forests.

Nicholas Stern, author of a key climate change report, said during a visit to the Indonesian capital Jakarta in March that the world should invest 10 billion dollars annually to halve deforestation in Indonesia, Brazil and other countries.

Rapid deforestation of Indonesia's equatorial forests, which include carbon-rich peatland swamps, has pushed the country to the unenviable rank of third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world, behind the United States and China.

Indonesia claims world`s largest melon

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - A group of Indonesian farmers from the main island of Java have grown a melon weighing more than four kilograms that the country's record house claimed Friday was the world's largest.

"The honey-globe melon weighed 4.26 kilogrammes (9.37 pounds). We claim it to be the largest in the world," director of Indonesia's Museum of Records (MURI) Paulus Pangka told AFP.

"We have carried out a survey and found no other melon with such weight," he said, clarifying that the fruit was not to be confused with a watermelon.

The melon sold at auction for eight million rupiah (850 dollars). A regular melon would normally weigh about two kilogrammes and sell in Indonesia for around 20,000 rupiah.

Powerful quake hits Aceh

The Jakarta Post

BANDA ACEH (Antara): A powerful earthquake measuring 6.0 on the Richter scale jolted the Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam provincial capital Banda Aceh and the west coast of the province around 6 a.m. Friday.

Meteorology and Geophysics Agency spokesman Nyakmu Yasir said the agency had yet to receive any reports of casualties or damages.

Nyakmu said the epicenter was located around 113 kilometers southwest of Banda Aceh, at a depth of 16 kilometers.

He said the quake was felt by people in Banda Aceh, West Aceh and Aceh Jaya districts.

Aceh has been jolted by series of temblors following a powerful undersea 8.9 magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami in December 2004, which killed at least 200,000 people and left thousands more missing.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Students make documentary film to send environmental message

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Three Jakarta junior high school students who made a five-minute documentary film on mangrove forests won a video news competition Tuesday, beating hundreds of participants from more than 200 schools across the country.

The students of Jubilee School in West Jakarta documented the story of a mangrove forest in Pulau Rambut, Kepulauan Seribu Regency, which had been seriously damaged.

Adeline Tiffanie, the scriptwriter and reporter for the documentary, said her team, which also included Sean Trianto P. Kusmuljadi and Monica Celine Triono, chose to document the mangrove forest as they were concerned about its poor condition.

"The mangrove forest is significant in protecting the coast from abrasion and serves as a habitat for many living creatures including birds, fish and seaweed," said the eleven-year-old girl.

The winning team was selected by an independent panel of professional filmmakers and public figures in the "Kids Witness News" video education competition sponsored by PT Panasonic Gobel Indonesia in cooperation with the Jakarta Arts Institute and Hope Worldwide Indonesia.

PT Panasonic Gobel Indonesia commissioner Rahmat Gobel said this year's environment theme for the competition encouraged students to identify issues relating to climate change.

"With the problem of global warming, environmental issues have become more important," he said.

The company's president director, Ichiro Suganuma, told The Jakarta Post the project was also aimed at improving media content.

"Our company has created technology including video and television, but we also think it is important to improve the content of television itself," he said, adding the competition also encouraged students to develop valuable cognitive, communication and organizational skills.

The competition attracted 236 elementary and junior high schools from different parts of the country. On Tuesday, the top 10 teams, which won video equipment and the chance to attend a cinematography course at an arts institute, presented their films at Panasonic's office in East Jakarta.

The first winner received a gold trophy and a study trip to Singapore in December. The winning team will also represent Indonesia in the world competition in Osaka, Japan.

The "Kids Witness News" contest started in the USA in 1988. Up until 2006, more than 100,000 students around the world had participated in the competition.

In Indonesia, the competition took place for the first time in 2004.

Second place in this year's competition went to SMPN 4 state junior high school from Samarinda, East Kalimantan, while SDN 11 state elementary school from Pondok Labu, South Jakarta, won third place. The fourth and fifth-placed winners were SD Al Firdaus from Surakarta, Central Java, and SD Islam Dian Didaktika from Depok, West Java, respectively.

Rizka Amalia, 11, of SMPN 4 Samarinda told the Post about the school's film on orangutan conservation.

"Orangutans have been threatened severely, mainly from natural disasters and human abuse ... this will lead to their extinction," she said.

"Through the video, we want people to understand how important it is to help save the orangutans," she added.

Rizka's teacher, Aidha, said one of the difficulties the students faced in making the video was when they had to film the orangutan babies. The babies were very sensitive because they had witnessed their parents being killed by humans, which left them traumatized and scared of people.

The best thing about the project, Aidha said, was that it prompted the students to pay more attention to orangutans and care about them.

"My students read a book that explained how orangutans were exploited in a circus, and they were so angry. To see my students' reactions and sincere attitude was the most wonderful experience for me," she said. (dia)

Brazilian psychic stands by quake alert mobilizing Indonesia

Brasilia (ANTARA News) - A Brazilian psychic who set officials in Indonesia scrambling after he predicted a huge quake would hit Sumatra island next month reaffirmed to AFP on Wednesday the disaster was indeed coming.

"The danger of this earthquake exists, there is no doubt," Jucelino Nobrega da Luz, 45, said by telephone from his home in Aguas de Lindoia in southeast Brazil.

"I'm glad to hear that the Indonesian authorities are preparing the population," he said.

A spokesman for Bengkulu province on Sumatra island, Husni Hassanuddin, on Monday told ElShinta radio that local officials were reacting to da Luz's forecast that a quake would rock the island on December 23.

"Though we call it a rumor, we take this information seriously. We don't want people to blame us if it really happens," he said, adding that evacuation drills would be held before the circled date.

No technology exists that can predict where and when earthquakes will strike.

Indonesia lies in a seismically active region, making it prone to quakes.

Da Luz, however, said in a letter sent to the Indonesian embassy in Brasilia and passed on to Sumatra officials that he was supernaturally certain the quake would hit on December 23.

One Bengkulu official, Fauzan Rahim, told the state-run Antara news agency that da Luz predicted an 8.5-magnitude quake, but did not give an exact location.

Antara reported da Luz had sent letters correctly predicting the tsunami that devastated Indonesia in 2004, and the 8.4-magnitude quake that hit Bengkulu in September, killed 23 people.

The Brazilian, who earns his living teaching English and German, told AFP his visions have been coming to him as an unbidden voice over the past four decades.

He added: "What motivates me is to help, maybe to save lives, to minimize suffering."

Da Luz said he spends much of his time sending out written warnings of his premonitions.

He also claimed to have alerted the United States to Saddam Hussein's fox-hole near his hometown of Tikrit in Iraq and said he was seeking a reward for giving that information.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Green groups want end to mining in forests

Desy Nurhayati, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Environmental groups urged the government Tuesday to stop issuing concessions for mining companies at protected forests, to avoid further forest conversions.

The groups said the government's commitment to participate in global efforts to minimize the effects of climate change, including reducing CO2 emission through reforestation, was dubious because at the same time it continued to give new concessions for mining companies in protected forests.

The groups consist of the Mining Advocacy Community Network (JATAM), the Indonesian Environmental Forum (Walhi) and Indonesian Center for Environmental Law.

"The government has neglected the fact that our country has the world's highest deforestation rate of two million hectares per year and continue to issue new concessions," Siti Maemunah of JATAM told a media conference.

"At the same time, the government tells global forums that it is committed to taking part in any efforts to handle climate change effects including through the reduction of carbon emission resulted from forest destruction."

The groups also criticized the government's plan to implement a policy on allowing forests to be converted into mining areas but obliging the companies to give compensation in form of non-tax revenue.

Torry Kuswardono of Walhi said, "the plan shows the government's weakness to uphold its commitment in environmental efforts when it comes to business interests."

The non-tax revenue policy will replace the current policy of obliging mining companies to substitute the converted areas with other land.

"If the conversion of protected forests into mining areas continues, Indonesia will be condemned by international community for failing to reduce carbon emission since mining is a major contributor of deforestation and carbon emission," Torry said.

Currently, there are 13 mining companies that have obtained operation licenses from the government through a 2004 presidential decree. It is estimated that the companies have released between 185 and 251 million tons of carbon to the atmosphere.

The 13 giant companies mostly operate in provinces across Sumatra, Kalimantan, Sulawesi and Maluku, including in conservation areas, and have received complaints from people living around the mining areas.

The groups said that as of 2001, there were 158 licenses of large-scale mining operation that converted 11.4 million hectares of protected forests out of a total 30 million hectares.

"If the government really commits to environmental efforts, it should take immediate actions to stop the conversion of protected forests into mining areas and conduct a reassessment on mining activities," Siti said.

Separately in Bogor, researchers from the World Agroforestry Center, the Center for International Forestry Research and their Indonesian partners reported the conversion of forests and peatlands had generated very little profit, despite the huge amount of emitted carbon.

The research, conducted between 1999 and 2005 in three provinces -- East Kalimantan, Jambi and Lampung, revealed the provinces emitted 400 mega-tons of CO2 per year from land conversion, but less than 2 percent of the emission resulted in profit of more than US$15 per ton CO2.

Therefore, the researchers said, it is possible to substantially reduce CO2 emission in the country without a major impact to its economy.

Plywood producers in danger: Industry body

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

With illegal logging of ever-increasing concern, the country's plywood industry has suffered an acute shortage of raw materials, threatening to close almost half of the companies involved in the business.

Chairwoman of Forest Industry Revitalization Body Soewarni said here Tuesday that almost a half of the 100 or so companies engaged in the production of plywood and other wood products had been forced to close down due to lack of raw materials.

The shortage, for which she said government efforts to curb illegal logging was responsible, began in 2005.

Wood taken from licensed forest areas was often seized. "As a result, most plywood companies close down their businesses, lay off their workers or reduce production capacity. Of around 100 companies in the plywood industry, only between 40 and 50 companies can survive," Soewarni said on the sidelines of Asean Wood Furnitechno 2007.

She said the decline of the industry was shown by the continued drop in the country's plywood exports. According to her, plywood exports in the first nine months of this year reached only about US$1 billion, as compared to $1.6 billion in 2006.

She added that woodworking exports as of September 2007 were only about $940 million, compared to $1.3 billion in 2006.

Director General for Agro and Chemical industries at the Industry Ministry Benny Wahyudi also acknowledged that the lack of raw materials posed a major blow to the industry.

He said that the volume of semi-finished wood (mostly plywood) exports fell sharply to 2.08 million tons in 2006 from as high as 4 million tons in 2002. The highest drop was suffered by plywood exports, which plunged to 1.98 million tons in 2006, from 3.58 million tons in 2002.

He said that the decline in timber production had caused the industry to suffer a raw material deficit of about 20 million cubic meters a year.

According to him, the annual demand had reached about 62 million cubic meters while the supply is only about 42 million cubic meters.

Soewarni said the soaring of international oil prices and the high-cost economy caused by red tape and legal uncertainty also posed a threat to the industry.

"With international oil prices reaching $100 per barrel, the industry is facing hard times because production costs could rise by between 4 and 10 percent."

Soewarni estimated that the limited supply of raw materials would push plywood export prices up to $480 per cubic meter from $460 and woodworking export prices to as high as $700 per cubic meter, from $500 per cubic meter now.

With the increase in production costs, it is unlikely that producers will be able to enjoy the price increase, she said. (tif)