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)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Volcano Flows Force Hundreds in Indonesia to Flee

Jakarta Globe, November 30, 2010

Yogyakarta. Hundreds of people in Indonesia have fled their homes to escape fast-moving mudflows streaming down the slopes of the country's most volatile volcano.

Mud flows streaming down the slopes of the country's
most  volatile volcano force hundreds of people to flee
their homes in Yogyakarta. (Antara Photo)
  
Disaster official Slamet Sugiono says those affected live along the banks of the Code River, which flows from Mount Merapi into the heart of Yogyakarta, a bustling city 20 miles (30 kilometers) away.

He says hours of incessant rains Monday triggered the flows, which raced down the slopes at speeds of up to 60 mph (100 kph) and inundated homes in knee-high black sludge.

Sugiono said Tuesday that some 400 people had fled.

At least 341 people have been killed in a series of eruptions at Merapi since Oct. 26.

Indonesia has more active volcanoes than any other country in the world.

Associated Press

Monday, November 29, 2010

Maluku planted 7,000 trees on Monday

Antara News, Monday, November 29, 2010

Ambon, Maluku (ANTARA News) - The "One Billion Indonesia Trees" program was launched in Maluku Province on Monday with the planting of 7,000 trees by regional administration officials and people simultaneously in 11 districts/cities.

"At Ambon city`s Pattimura golf course, at least 400 young trees were planted, consisting of 170 wood and 230 fruit species," the head of the Maluku forestry office, Berthy Papilaya, said here on Monday.

Papilaya said, of the 400 young trees, 65 were merbau (Intsia Palembanica), 65 linggua (Pterocarpus indicus) and 40 sengon (Albazia falcataria )saplings. The rest was made up of 40 rambutan (Nephelium lappaceum), 10 mango, 50 breadfruit and 65 petai (Parkia speciosa) and 65 durian (Durio spp) saplings.

"We expect the one billion trees target in Maluku to be achieved by the end of January 2011," he said.

According to Papilaya, the tree planting movement actually began in February 2010 and was desired to help reduce the effect of global warming, greenhouse gas emissions, and lower the risk of floods and landslides in the rainy season and droughts during the dry season.

Forestry ministry holds discussion on forest preservation

Antara News, Monday, November 29, 2010

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The forestry ministry held a national seminar to discuss forest preservation and productivity, at the Bogor Institute of Agriculture (IPB) on Monday.

The seminar dubbed "The contribution of the Research Department in Promoting Forest Preservation and Productivity" was officially opened by the forestry ministry`s director general for Forestry productivity development, a press statement of the forestry ministry said here Monday.

Participants of the seminar included forestry researchers, managers, government officials, state-owned company officials, representatives of private forestry industry and NGO activists.


Related Articles:

Alert warnings for nineteen volcanoes in Indonesia

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Mon, 11/29/2010

The warning level for 19 of Indonesia’s 68 active volcanoes now stands at “alert”- the second highest status, according to the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry

Leading the list is one of the nation’s most active volcanoes, Mount Anak Krakatau in the Sunda Strait, according to the Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation Center (PVMBG).

Other volcanoes withn ‘alert’ warning levels are Mt. Selawah Agam in Aceh; Mt. Sinabung in North Sumatra; Mt. Talang Solok in West Sumatra; Mt. Kerinci in Jambi; Mt. Kabah in Bengkulu; Mt. Papandayan in West Java; Mt. Slamet in Central Java; Mt. Bromo and Mt. Semeru in East Java; Mt. Batur in Bali; Mt. Anak Rinjani in Lombok; Mt. Rokatenda and Mt. Egon in East Nusa Tenggara; Mt. Soputan, Mt. Lokon, and Mt. Karang Etang in North Sulawesi; Mt. Dukono and Ibu on Halmahera Island; and Mt. Karang Eta and Mt. Gamalama in Maluku.



Sunday, November 28, 2010

President attends tree-planting day commemoration

Antara News, Sunday, November 28, 2010 14:35 WIB

Purwakarta, West Java (ANTARA News) - President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono attended the commemoration of national tree-planting day near the Jatiluhur dam in Purwakarta district, West Java, on Sunday.

The President also held teleconference with East Java Governor Soekarwo, South Sulawesi Governor Syahrul Yasin Limpo and South Sumatra Governor Alex Nurdin as well as with local farmer groups as part of the commemoration.

On the occasion, President Yudhoyono, First Lady Ani Yudhoyono, Vice President Boediono and his wife Herawati Boediono planted trees near the dam.

Also present at the event were a number of ministers, West Java Governor Akhmad Heryawan and Purwakarta District Head Dedi Mulyadi.

The government intends to plant one billion trees this year as part of the effort to reduce greenhouse emissions from the forestry sector.

Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan said some time ago about 500 million of the trees would be planted by the government on 500,000 hectares of land financed by the state budget and the rest by industrial forest concessionaires and private companies.

The one-billion-three-planting campaign is a follow up to President Yudhoyono`s pledge to cut greenhouse gas emissions from the energy and forestry sectors by as much as 26 percent in 2020.


Related Article:

Indonesia Villagers Poison Five Endangered Sumatran Elephants

Jakarta Globe, November 28, 2010

Indonesia. Five rare Sumatran elephants found dead in Indonesia were likely poisoned for damaging crops, an official said on Sunday.

A ship crew attempting to unload a Sumatran elephant
in Surabaya. Villagers in Riau province have poisoned
five of the endangered animals. (AFP Photo)
The elephants, aged two to four years old, were found dead in an oil-palm plantation in a village in Riau province on Sumatra island on Friday, conservation agency official Edi Susanto said.

“Preliminary medical checks indicated that the elephants could have died from sulphur poisoning. We’re still investigating,” he said.

“We suspect villagers killed them using poison for wild boars as the elephants had damaged their crops. We’re chasing the perpetrators,” he added.

Human-animal conflicts are a rising problem as people encroach on wildlife habitats in Indonesia, an archipelago with some of the world’s largest remaining tropical forests.

There are up to 3,350 Sumatran elephants remaining in the wild, according to the environmental group WWF.

Agence France-Presse

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Minister : forest preservation crucial to address climate change

Antara News, Thursday, November 25, 2010 13:34 WIB

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Indonesia`s 120-million-hectare forests, the world`s third widest expanse of tropical greenery after those of Brazil and Zaire, must be preserved to help deal with climate change, a minister said.

"The world is focusing its attention on the preservation of tropical forests including those found in Indonesia," Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan said here Thursday.

Climate change has the potential to cause food scarcities in various parts of the world, including in Indonesia, the minister said when officially opening a National Conference on Management Research at the PPM Management Institute.

"In 2011 or 2012, because of climate change, there might be food scarcities," he said.
The forestry ministry had stopped issuing licenses for new primary forest and peat forest concessions.

Deforestation was continuing in Indonesia due to illegal logging , over exploitation, industrial mismanagement, and forest area conversion.

"These facts had intensified deforestation, which is also a factor in the increase in greenhouse gas emission," Minister Zulkifli Hasan said.

The minister explained that climate change was not a made-up thing, but it is real and happening in various countries.

Due to the climate change impacts, Russia has been hit by extreme heat, while Pakistan has experienced extreme precipitation, according to him.

Related Article:


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Landslide damages four houses, kills villager

Antara News, Wednesday, November 24, 2010 17:07 WIB

Ngamprah, W Java (ANTARA News) - A landslide damaged four houses in Sariwangi village, Ngamprah subdistrict, Bandung Barat district, West Java, on Tuesday night, killing a local resident.

The dead victim was identified as Ayub Nurendah alias Endang, 25. His body was found catching on a tree on Wednesday at 06.00 AM local time, a local military officer, Captain Roedi, said.

Endang, 25,was with Dadang Jumhana inside a house that he rented from Gandi but Jumhana could rush out the house in time while Endang failed to escape when a ten-meter-high cliff behind the house suddenly collapsed on Tuesday at 08.00 PM, he said.

Shortly after being found on Wednesday morning, Endang`s body was then brought to Hasan Sadikin general hospital in Bandung city for postmortem checks, he said.

"We have been cleaning the landslide materials covering the village`s road to get access to the four damaged houses," he said.

To support the rescue and cleaning activities, Captain Roedi said about 100 people were involved.

Last February, a deadly landslide also hit a plantation area in West Java.

The natural disaster that occurred inside PT Chakra`s tea plantation area in Tenjolaya village, Pasirjambu subdistrict, killed tens of people.

Among the discovered bodies were three infants and 17 women.

Certain parts of West Java province remain vulnerable to landslides.

Last October, 50-meter-long section of Ciganea-Sukatani rail track was buried by landslide materials, paralyzing flows of Argo Parahyangan train serving Bandung-Jakarta routes.

The landslide with the height of three up to five meters hit the rail track of Pasiripis block in Mekargalih village, Jatiluhur sub-district following several hours of heavy rainfalls.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Mount Bromo`s status raised to "alert" level

Antara News, Tuesday, November 23, 2010 20:39 WIB

Mount Bromo (ANTARA/Musyawir)Pasuruan, East Java (ANTARA News) - Mount Bromo in East Java is showing signs of increasing activity prompting the authorities to raise its status to "alert" level as of 8am on Tuesday, a local official said.

Mount Bromo (ANTARA/Musyawir)
The administrations of all areas around the mountain have been informed about its mounting activity, M Yahya, head of Pasuruan district`s communal unity and safety office, said here Tuesday.

He said he had received information about the mountain`s increased activity from the East Java energy and mineral resources office.

According to the results of monitoring by the Geological Disaster Mitigation and Vulcanology Center`s monitoring post in Ngadisari, Cemorolawang, Probolinggo, deep and shallow volcanic earthquakes were happening in the mountain continuously.
Volcanic tremors had also been recorded since last November 8.

Based on data collected through instrumental and visual monitoring that were analysed, the danger status of the mountain had been raised to one notch closer to the highest level as of 8am on Tuesday.

The level would be raised or lowered depending on the activity of the mountain which was being continuously monitored.

In view of the prevailing conditions, people or visitors are prohibited to get close to the mountain`s top and may only go as far as a radius of three kilometers from the peak.

The 2329 meter high mountain is located in Probolinggo, East Java. The mountain has erupted three times in the 20th century with the biggest recorded in 1974 and the last on June 8, 2004, marked by freatic explosions producing smoke as high as 3,000 meter from the crater leaving two people dead and five wounded.

The mountain`s eruption in 2004 lasted very shortly marked by freatic explosions with unclear initial signs.

Mount Bromo is well known among both domestic and foreign tourists.


Related Article:

Govt to allocate Rp 8 billion for Merapi’s snakefruit farms

Erwida Maulia, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Tue, 11/23/2010

The government says it will spend Rp 8 billion (US$896,000) to buy snakefruit farms damaged by Mount Merapi’s ongoing eruption .

The National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) would funnel the funds to farmers, BNPB secretary Fatchul Hadi said after a Cabinet meeting at the Vice Presidential Office on disaster relief.

“We will treat each case differently…The BNPB will pay for them all to ensure quickness. About Rp 8 billion has been allocated” Fatchul told a press conference after the meeting, he told reporters after the meeting.

Indroyono Soesilo, a secretary from the Office of the Coordinating Minister for People’s Welfare, said saving snakefruit farms, one of the main sources of income for those living near Mt. Merapi, was part of the BNPB’s programs to rebuild the welfare of the people in the wake of the eruption.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

13 nations meet to try to save wild tigers

CNN News, By Diane LaPosta, CNN, November 20, 2010


Wild tiger populations have dropped from 100,000 a century ago to 3,200 today.

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • 13 nations with wild tiger populations meeting in St. Petersburg, Russia
  • Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is force behind four-day summit
  • Wild tiger population has fallen to 3,600 from 100,000 a century ago

(CNN) -- In 2010, the Year of the Tiger, about 3,600 of the majestic predators remain in the wild, their existence threatened by habitat-loss and poaching.

If there is one man who can give hope to a species whose numbers have plummeted from 100,000 only a century ago, it would be Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

Beginning Sunday, Putin and the World Bank will co-host the International Forum on Tiger Conservation, bringing together the leaders of 13 nations to discuss what could be the best and last chance to save the wild tiger. The summit will feature high level officials from every major tiger country, a first in the history of tiger conservation.

Putin, the former KGB officer, has a tough political image. But in the conservation community, he is first and foremost a champion of the tiger. For him this is personal.

In 2008 he received a female tiger cub as a birthday gift. Mashenka spent at least three days sleeping in a wicker basket at Putin's home before being given to a zoo. The pair met the Russian press and images of Putin with Mashenka flooded the media.

In the same year, Putin ventured to Siberia's conservation area where he got between a rampaging tigress and some volunteers. After tranquilizing the animal, he helped put a tracking collar on her and she is now featured on his personal website. "Does she see anything?" an official asked of the tranquilized tigress. "Yes, she does. And she'll remember you," Putin joked.

Barney Long, the head of the WWF U.S. Tiger Program said the scale of the summit is "almost solely down to Putin. It is he who is reaching out, turning this from technical meetings into a real political event."

"It's not often that heads of government do get involved to this degree," said Sabri Zain of TRAFFIC, an organization trying to halt illegal trafficking and poaching.

Putin will be joined in St. Petersburg, Russia, by the leaders of the last remaining countries where tigers exist in the wild, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Thailand, and Vietnam. That is less than 7 percent of their historic range.

Wild tiger populations
  • Bangladesh 440
  • Bhutan 75
  • Cambodia 20
  • China 45
  • India 1,411
  • Indonesia 325
  • Laos 17
  • Malaysia 500
  • Myanmar 85
  • Nepal 155
  • Russia 400
  • Thailand 200
  • Vietnam 10
  • Source: WWF estimates

"Russia is well placed to host the summit. They are already a leader in terms of taking steps to try and save their own species. The Siberian tiger is one of few success stories," Zain said.

Russia's far east is now home to roughly 400 Siberian tigers, accounting for 9 percent of wild tigers in the world.

And conservation experts agree, the world needs to know that Russia's conservation formula -- strict legislation targeting poaching and illegal trade in tiger parts -- can find success elsewhere.

But Russia too must remain vigilant, experts say. It has recently come under fire for relaxing patrol efforts against poachers.


"We know how to save tigers. What we don't know how to do is keep the political will and financial support going. We can get a large scale reaction when a population is at the brink, but when recovery starts the pressure comes off," said the WWF's Long.

India, too, has had some success in recovering wild tiger populations. A recent TRAFFIC report credits India with the most seizures of illegal tiger parts in the past decade, representing up to 533 animals poached, but numbers are increasing.

"In Russia and also southwest India we have seen that with a clear focused effort there is solid evidence of tiger numbers going up," said Steven Sanderson, president of the Wildlife Conservation Society.
But the tiger country with the richest economy, China, still fuels the market for tiger parts despite government efforts to curb the trade, experts say.

In 1993 the Beijing government banned domestic trade in tiger bone. And tiger-based remedies have officially been taken out of medicine books.

But devotees of traditional medicine linger, and demand has grown to include an array of tiger-based luxury products for China's elite.

TRAFFIC's Zain suggests that a lack of dedication from high level officials means that China is still a prime destination for poachers trying to make a quick profit.

In poorer nations like Indonesia and Myanmar, sparse resources outweigh political will, experts say.

"These countries may have the will but not the means to put the boots on the ground. Poachers drive around in SUVs with advanced satellite equipment and often police have to catch a bus," Zain said.

Conservation officials are hoping for remedies to emerge at Putin's four-day summit. If not, experts say, the wild tiger will be extinct by the next Year of the Tiger in 2022, and that won't bode well for wildlife overall, said Long.

"If we can't rally to save the world's most iconic animal, how are we going to save the rest of the planet?"

Related Articles:

Friday, November 19, 2010

Helping Hand for Merapi’s Farmers as ‘Cash for Cows’ Scheme Gets Into Gear

Jakarta Globe, Candra Malik | November 18, 2010

Soldiers burning animal carcasses in Balerante village, Klaten, Central Java, on Thursday to reduce the spread of germs. The government, which says 2,121 head of cattle have died so far as a result of Mount Merapi’s eruptions, is now buying up surviving cattle. (EPA Photo/Mohammad Ali)

Yogyakarta. The government has started to purchase livestock from residents forced to evacuate from the slopes of the erupting Mount Merapi.

Mujilan, a resident of Hargobinangun village, in the Pakem subdistrict of Sleman in Yogyakarta, on Thursday became the first cattle owner to sell his cows to the government.

“Under normal conditions, the price of a cow could reach Rp 12 million [$1,350] per head. However, with there being a disaster, I was willing to sell the cows at Rp 10 million per head,” he said.

According to Mujilan, it was better to sell than risk his life looking for grass to feed his cattle.

The scheme is part of the government’s effort to help victims of the Merapi eruption while at the same time dissuading the evacuees from returning to the danger zone to tend to their cattle.

Keeping cattle for their milk and meat is one of the primary livelihoods in the area, particularly on the southern slopes of the mountain, which began to erupt on Oct 26.

Over 330,000 people have been evacuated from Sleman and the Central Java districts of Magelang, Boyolali and Klaten.

“Now I feel relieved and I can use the money from the sale of our cattle to survive,” he said.

Mujilan said he hoped he would still have some money remaining by the time the situation returned to normal so he could buy cattle again.

Suswono, the agriculture minister, said the government was opening 54 locations across Sleman district where cattle could be sold to the government.

“On the first day in Tlogoadi, we have bought 45 cattle, made up of 26 dairy cows, 10 non-dairy cows, and 9 calves. I hope the villagers will sell their livestock even though I know that some of them will choose to continue caring for the cows as a source of income. We are not forcing them [to sell their cattle],” he said.

According to the minister, there were 84,691 head of cattle within a radius of 20 kilometers from Merapi’s summit before the eruption. Of these, 10,231 had since been evacuated to 181 shelters, and 2,121 cattle had died.

“We have received 3,807 requests from refugees to buy their cows,” Suswono said.

He said the government had earmarked Rp 100 billion for the “cash for cows” scheme and fixed the price for each head of cattle at between Rp 5 million and Rp 10 million, depending on age and type.

Calves fetch the lowest price of Rp 5 million each, while oxen and non-dairy cows were bought for Rp 22,000 and Rp 20,000 per kilogram respectively.

Dairy cows are bought for Rp 10 million, while pregnant cows sell for Rp 9 million.

Suswono said the cows purchased from the villagers would be put out to pasture outside the 20-kilometer danger zone.

He said that villagers were also free to sell their cattle to private parties.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Minister : huge mineral resource potentials in RI`s forest areas

Antara News, Wednesday, November 17, 2010 21:26 WIB

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan said the energy and mineral resource potentials contained in forest areas in Indonesia were still huge.

He said here on Tuesday if they were managed responsibly without causing environmental destruction, the potentials could support the government`s goals of improving the welfare of the people.

"There are a lot of energy and mineral resource potentials in the forest areas such as geothermal energy source, coal, iron ore, silver and others. However we must be very careful when we wish to exploit them," he said when receiving the Energy and Mining Editor Society members.

Zulkifli said coal potentials in the areas in Kalimantan, Bengkulu, Jambi, South Sumatra and Sulawesi could reach 93.4 billion tons.

"The potentials of geothermal energy source are also huge reaching 14,172 MW. So far the installed capacity has only reached 1,042 MW," he said.

He said his office supported fully the government`s program in the energy and mineral resource sector. "We would not hinder mining activities so long as they are done in line with the law," he said.

Citing an example he referred to the office`s decision to tolerate oil and gas and geothermal energy mining in the protected forests up to a 20 hectare area.

"There will never be a license for open mining in the protected or conservation forests that will require a vast land," he said.

To support the policy, the government has issued various regulations including Government Regulation Number 24 of 2010 regarding the use of forest areas and the forestry ministry`s regulation Number 43 of 2008 on references for forest area leasing.

Until the end of October 2010, the forestry ministry has issued licenses for mining activities in around 1.5 million hectares of forest.

The office has also issued licenses for surveys, explorations and general studies on 1.2 million hectares of forests and licenses in principle for the exploitation of 327,000 hectares of forests.

Zulkifli said his office had introduced a new paradigm in forest exploitation which is oriented to forest sustainability and people`s welfare.

Based on that he said his office had produced licenses for 25 cooperatives and 297 community groups covering 31,049 families to exploit 64,932 hectares of forests.

Until October 2010, the ministry has also produced licenses for 222 community groups for the exploitation of 32,791.86 hectares of forests.

In the past year, the forestry ministry has been active encouraging people to plant trees and until October 2010 a total of 1.5 million hectares of land had been reserved for the tree planting drive.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Rain forests still cleared for palm oil

RNW, by Fediya Andina and Ralph Rozema, 10 Nov. 2010 | By RNW News Desk

(photo: Wikimedia Commons/Hayden)

Tropical rain forests in South Asia are still making way for monotonous palm oil plantations. Certification for palm oil should have stopped this happening. It was introduced in 2008, but the results are patchy and the deforestation continues.

Palm oil producers and buyers are being joined by environmental organisations in Indonesia’s capital Jakarta for the annual meeting of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) on 11 November. A seal of approval logo for labelling products from 2011 onwards will be on display there for the first time.

Switch

RSPO's logo for product packaging
RSPO chairman Jan Kees Vis hopes the logo will let consumers know that the items they are buying are the result of sustainable palm oil production. Mr Vis, who works for Unilever, says sustainable palm oil is growing fast: “Many companies have said that they’ll make the switch in the next five years.”

However, opinions about the value of a RSPO certificate differ. “Many firms keep clearing forests, even though they’ve got a certificate,” says Suzanne Kröger of Greenpeace.

Production chain

Ms Kröger acknowledges that the introduction of certification in 2008 was an important step. Companies such as Unilever and Nestlé have really changed the way they operate. “Nestlé has gone through its whole production chain to check that there’s no deforestation. This makes the company a welcome exception to the rule,” she says. “But a lot of Indonesian and Malaysian producers are resisting. They are the biggest problem. A certificate without hard guarantees is no real solution.”

Congo and Liberia

Indonesia and Malaysia account for 90 percent of the international trade in palm oil. “You’re now seeing Malaysian companies clearing forests in Indonesia and even moving their operations to Congo, Liberia and other African countries. We expect the problem will spread to other countries.”

Indonesia’s palm oil plantations have led to disputes with local farmers. Norman Jiwan from the Sawit Watch group says farmers are being “driven from their smallholdings by bulldozers”, after the land has been sold to palm oil producers.

Small farmers

Certification costs companies several thousand euros per year and the expense can prove a difficulty for small farmers. Mr Vis points that funds have been made available to deal with this problem. “Membership costs 2,000, but small-time producers can join a cooperative or ask for the membership fee to be waived. There are even funds to meet the cost of certification.”

Related Article:


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Mt Merapi eruptions cause monkey exodus

Antara News, Thursday, November 11, 2010 20:33 WIB

Boyolali (ANTARA News) - A few thousand monkeys had moved from the slopes of erupting Mount Merapi to those of Mount Merbabu in Central Java Province over the past week, a villager said.

Parto told ANTARA News on Thursday that the exodus was likely triggered by the eruptions` impacts that had threatened those animals` food reserves.

This 80-year-old resident of Blumbangsari hamlet, Samiran village, Selo sub-district, Boyolali district, Central Java, said he always saw the monkeys crossing his village`s streets to the Mt Merbabu slopes.

Parto said those brown monkeys moved from their original habitat on the slopes of Mount Merapi to Mount Merbabu because they might have got problems with food reserves as a result of volcanic ash.

The monkeys were also likely unable to keep living with the heat of the smoldering Mount Merapi`s hot clouds of ash and lava, he said.

"The monkeys have been seen moving to the Mount Merbabu`s slopes over this past week. They cross the main road of Selo-Magelang route which has been part of the mountain`s areas," he said.

Another villager named Slamet Sutanto, 40, said he also saw the exodus of Mount Merapi`s monkeys on the main road. Many crossed the road on their way to the Mount Merbabu`s slopes.

Those monkeys ate remaining fruits and vegetables available on the left and right sides of the road, he said.

According to Head of Mount Merbabu National Park Dulhadi, the exodus of Mount Merapi monkeys was triggered by the running out of food stocks in their habitat.

The heat of Mount Merapi`s hot clouds also forced them to find a new habitat, he said.
Mount Merapi, located on the border between two provinces, lies geographically close to Yogyakarta but is officially part of Central Java.

The death toll of the volcano`s fatal eruptions on October 26 and November 5 had so far reached 151.

The volcano`s eruptions spewed hot clouds of ash and lava into the air and sent lava down its many slopes.

Besides killing and injuring several hundred people, the Mount Merapi eruptions had also damaged 867 hectares of forest on the volcano`s slopes in Sleman District, Yogyakarta, with the losses estimated at Rp33 billion.

The damaged forest areas consisted of Mt Merapi National Park, community forests and local people`s plantation areas

Mount Merapi is one of the most active volcanoes in Indonesia, whose eruptions have regularly been detected since 1548.

Related Articles:

Friday, November 5, 2010

Sky-High: Indonesia's Merapi Eruption the Worst Since 1872

Jakarta Globe, Dessy Sagita, Candra Malik & Amir Tejo | November 05, 2010

Jakarta. After erupting and spewing heat clouds continuously since Wednesday morning, Mount Merapi unleashed its most extreme volcanic activity yet on Thursday.

Mount Merapi on Thursday unleashed its biggest
eruption since the 1870s, according to the Volcanology
and Geological Disaster Mitigation Agency. The eruption
launched volcanic material more than seven kilometers
into the atmosphere. Merapi’s newfound restlessness
has been ominously mirrored by four other volcanoes.
(AFP Photo/Clara Prima)
The eruption, which threw volcanic material more than seven kilometers into the atmosphere, was five times stronger than the initial eruption on Oct. 26 that killed 36 people.

Merapi has erupted almost daily for 10 days, and the Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation Agency (PVMBG) is calling Thursday’s the worst since 1872.

Surono, head of the agency, said the danger zone had been extended by five kilometers to 20km from the crater.

Meanwhile, worries are growing over two other volcanoes that are showing increased activity. 

Mount Semeru in Lumajang, East Java, has been almost continuously active since 1967 and on Thursday morning it spewed smoke 100 meters into the air. In Sikka, East Nusa Tenggara, authorities have warned of increased activity at Mount Egon.

“Since Wednesday the mountain has been shrouded in a thick cloud emanating from the crater,” said Suryanto, head of the Egon observation post. 

Two other mountains in East Nusa Tenggara — Rokatenda and Lewotobi — are also reported to be exhibiting increased activity.

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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Three volcanoes in NTT showing increasing activity

Antara News, Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Kupang, E. Nusa Tenggara (ANTARA News) - Three out of 16 volcanoes in East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) are reported to be showing increasing activity since they were given "alert" status in April 2010, a volcanological official said here Wednesday.

Yoseph Suryanto, the head of a Mount Egon monitoring post, said the three volcanoes were Mount Rokatenda (875 meters) in Palue island, Mount Egon (1,703 meters) located some 40 kilometers from Maumere, and Mount Lewo Tobi (780 meters) located in East Flores district.

Mount Egon was recorded to be the most active among the three volcanoes. The increasing activity was caused by tribulations in the the volcano`s bowels and had the potential of causing e an eruption, he said.

It was also reported that white clouds were arising from the volcanoes` craters to a height of 15 to 25 meters along with weak gas pressures.

"Visual tremors are increasing from these volcanoes, and local residents have been told to be alert and we have also reported the situation to the local government," said Yoseph.

The Vulcanological and Geological Disaster Mitigation Center and the Vulcanological Agency in Bandung, West Java, had also been informed about the latest developments around the three volcanoes.
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Previously, on Tuesday, People`s Welfare Coordinating Minister Agung Laksono urged people living near volcanoes to monitor their activity.

"There are 19 increasingly active volcanoes in Indonesia that must be watched with statuses ranging from normal, warning, alert to beware," the minister said.

Among the 19 active volcanoes was Mount Anak Krakatau in the Sunda Strait.

Agung also asked Indonesian residents not to panic in emergency situations and always remain aware by following the official regulations in order to minimize casualties.



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