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.

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)

Monday, December 31, 2007

Clean water, a basic necessity for everyone

The government says extreme weather events are a serious threat to water security. During the wet season floods large swaths of the country, including Jakarta, are inundated by floods. At other times droughts cause drinking water shortages for millions. Below is the final article in a series of six on climate change mitigation and adaptation.

Adianto P. Simamora, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The government said demand for clean water, particularly in Java, Bali and East Nusa Tenggara far exceeds supply, forcing people to `over-exploit' groundwater.

Demand will continue to increase in line with population growth, at a time when potable water supplies are drying up due to unpredictable changes in the weather.

Further along in the worrisome cycle, the government said, seater will further intrude into coastal areas where millions reside, severely impacting water security.

Data from the state ministry of environment said the country's annual demand for clean water would reach 8.9 billion cubic meters in 2015, almost a three-fold increase since 1990 when demand was only 3.1 billion cubic meters.

According to a written action plan, the government will build water catchment facilities such as lakes and percolation pits to harvest water during the rainy season and store it as a source of clean water during dry months.

These facilities are to be concentrated in Java, Sumatra, Sulawesi, Bali, West Nusa Tenggara and East Nusa Tenggara.

The government also plans to rehabilitate natural river drainages in an as effort to improve quality and supply of raw water.

According to the environment ministry, 62 river basins are in critical condition as of 2007, significantly more than the 22 in poor shape in 1984.

The ministry said highland deforestation in upstream areas and sweeping changes in land use have damaged natural drainage systems.

A joint study in April by World Wildlife Federation Indonesia and Bandung Institute of Technology's meteorology lab predicted less rainwater would flow through the Citarum river basin in West Java as a result of warmer temperatures and land use changes.

The Citarum River basin, Java's largest drainage, comprises 6,080 squares kilometers of land, through which the 269-kilometer river flows.

The study predicted dry and wet season temperatures in the basin would be significantly higher by 2020.

Citarum basin is the primary source of water for Jakarta and West Java.

The Jakarta administration said the capital city needed around 547 million cubic meter of water per year.

However, the two domestic use water operators -- Thames PAM Jaya and Palyja -- are able to pump no more than 295 million cubic meters of water per year.

Some of the capital's residents privately exploit groundwater which, the administration said, was speeding up land subsidence in the city.

The action plan says new technology is needed to utilize seawater as source for drinking water and for improving the function of rivers in recharging groundwater supplies.

It will also conduct campaigns aimed at increasing water conservation, including in agriculture, industry and power generation.

Data from the ministry indicated there were no rivers up to standard required to become a source of drinking water due high levels of pollution.

The World Bank has blamed unsafe drinking water and inadequate sanitation for 88 percent of total disease rates, including diarrhea and malaria.

It said that about 1.1 billion humans lack access to potable fresh water and some 2.6 billion are without adequate sanitation.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Authorities say Sumatran orangutan, believed to be world's oldest, dies in Miami zoo

The Jakarta Post

MIAMI (AP): A 55-year-old Sumatran orangutan, believed to be the world's oldest, has died, a Miami zoo spokesman said.

Nonja, who was born on the Indonesian island of Sumatra and had lived in Miami since 1983, was found dead Saturday morning, said Ron Magill, spokesman for the Miami Metro Zoo.

"Everybody's very sad, especially with an animal like an orangutan," Magill said. "You see a lot of yourself in these animals. The great apes are our closest relatives."

A necropsy is to be performed in the next few days. A typical life span for Sumatran orangutans is 40 to 50 years, Magill said.

Nonja had slowed down in recent years because of her age, Mcgill said. "She was really a grand old dame," Magill said.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Floods grow worse, search intensified

Slamet Susanto and Blontank Poer, The Jakarta Post, Surakarta

Flooding in Surakarta in Central Java and its surrounding areas worsened due to heavy rain Friday as rescuers intensified efforts to search for people still believed to be buried by Wednesday's landslide in Tawangmangu in the adjacent city of Karanganyar.

As flooding continued to widen it submerged thousands of houses, raising the number of evacuees from about 26,000 in Surakarta alone to about 31,818 on Friday afternoon.

Thousands of people are living in makeshift tents and a number of public buildings, including Solo City Hall and Manahan Sports Stadium, mosques and other buildings unaffected by the flooding, which is up to three meters deep in some areas.

Purnomo Subagyo, a spokesman for the Solo city administration, said flooding had submerged six subdistricts in Jebres district, four subdistricts in Pasar Kliwon district and one subdistrict in Serengan district.

"The flooding was caused by the overflowing of the huge Gajah Mungkur dam in Wonogiri," he said.

From the landslide location in Tawangmangu, Haru Pratama Kristianto, head of the Karanganyar natural disaster mitigation section reported Friday they had recovered 66 bodies from the thick mud, fewer than the 71 expected earlier.

On Thursday it was reported that as many as 88 people were believed to have been killed in landslides in seven districts in Karanganyar. The figure included 17 bodies recovered in the nearby city of Wonogiri.

Public Works Minister Joko Kirmanto told a press conference in Surakarta on Friday that in order to anticipate overflow from several rivers in Central and East Java, the government would build dozens of small-scale dams next year.

"The construction of the small-scale dams is expected to help reduce the rate of water flow along big rivers," Joko said.

The dams, he said, would be built near small rivers heading into major waterways. "The master plan for the dam construction has already been prepared," the minister said.

He added that the construction of the project would start next year, although he would not say how much it would cost or when it would be completed.

"This deals with a large amount of funds which cannot be set now and disbursed tomorrow," he said.

Two of the dams will be built near Pacitan and Ponorogo in East Java, said Ivan Nursyiwan, the director general of water resources.

From Cepu district in Blora regency, Central Java, it was reported that thousands of other people were also forced to evacuate due to the overflowing Bengawan Solo river, which had swamped their homes with up to two meters of water.

"This flooding is the biggest ever to hit the area since 1993. Our area floods every year, but now is really the biggest one so we are forced to flee," said Yugiono, 51, a resident of Balun hamlet in Cepu.

Budi Santoso, 29, another resident, said he was rushed to save his family has the waters rose. "The most important thing is to save ourselves first," he said.

Suherdjoko contributed to this article from Cepu, Central Java.

Floods inundated 70,000 hectares of rice fields: minister

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The floods that occurred in a number of regions in Indonesia during the past three months inundated almost 70,000 hectares of rice fields and caused harvest failures on 6,676 hectares, Agriculture Minister Anton Apriyantono said.

"The floods that have been happening since last October have inundated 68,277 hectares of rice fields, of which some 6,676 hectares failed to be harvested," the minister said after a coordination meeting on basic necessaries here on Friday.

He said the total area of flood-affected rice fields this year was wider than last year when only 66,400 hectares were flooded. "But the acreage which failed to be harvested this year was smaller," he added.

The minister said, on a national scale, the floods had not affected rice production.

The coordination meeting was also attended by Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Beodiono, Trade Minister Mari Pangestu, State Enterprises Minister Sofyan Jalil, Transportation Minister Jusman Syafi`i Jamal, State Logistics Agency (Bulog) chief Mustafa Abu Bakar, Central Bureau of Statistics (BPS) Rusman Heriawan and representatives of a number of state companies.

During the last five years, an average of 69,500 hectares of rice fields per year were affected by floods while harvest failure occurred on an average of 17,000 hectares per year.

The minister also said the total area of rice fields in Indonesia had increased from 1.14 million hectares to 2.0 million hectares.

He predicted there would be a rice deficit in January 2008 because production was estimated at 1.28 million tons while demand for rice in the same month was expected to reach 1.5-2.6 million tons.

But in the February-April 2008 period, there would be a rice surplus because production would reach 4.06 million tons in February, 5.87 million tons in March and 4.6 million tons in April.

The minister said he believed the national rice production target of 58.1 million tons of dried unhulled rice would be achieved. After all, production had reached 57.05 million tons of dried unhusked rice

Government hopes to tackle disease with sanitation

The extreme weather events of flood and drought, predicted to become more intense in the future, have been the most significant driver of outbreak of human diseases in the country. Below is the fifth article in the climate change mitigation and adaptation series.

Adianto P. Simamora, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The government has acknowledged that extreme weather is behind rising numbers of vector-borne human disease cases including malaria, dengue fever, diarrhea and cholera.

But a government mitigation effort blueprint has yet to specify strategies for coping with the outbreaks that are becoming more frequent across the archipelago.

It says the government will conduct more public campaigns to promote a healthy environment and prevent climate-linked disease.

"With a healthy sanitation system, diseases like malaria, dengue fever and diarrhea, that spread through the air, can be minimized," the action plan says.

The government plan also covers research on illness caused by warmer temperatures and development of drugs for the so-called climate-change diseases, using local raw materials.

The government also plans to improve disease surveillance and develop early warning systems for weather-related disasters so people can be prepared for the health consequences.

The state ministry of environment has predicted the outbreak of malaria, dengue fever and diarrhea diseases will worsen due to climate change.

By 2070 annual cases of malaria per 10,000 people will be 20 percent higher than in 1989 when there were 2,705 cases, a ministry report predicts.

Dengue fever, in 2070, will be at 26 cases per 10,000 people while in 1989 there were only six.

Diarrhea cases in that year are predicted to be 934, triple the 311 cases recorded in 1989.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said climate change was estimated to be responsible for approximately 2.4 percent of worldwide diarrhea, six percent of malaria and seven percent of dengue fever in some industrialized countries.

It said that cholera and other water-borne diseases are on the rise in coastal countries and may be related to declining water quality, climate and algal blooms.

Climate experts said that higher temperature would be more pronounced in large cities because of urban heat island effects.

The direct health impact of higher temperatures on human health is heat stroke mortality, especially for older age groups.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) -- the United Nation's global body for assessing scientific knowledge on climate change -- predicted that by 2100 the global temperature could rise by between 1.1 and 6.4 degrees of Celsius, compared to the 1990 level.

An IPCC report on human development launched on the sidelines of the Bali climate conference says rising temperatures and more droughts will leave up to 600 million people facing malnutrition.

A United Nations Development Program (UNDP) report says about 1.8 billion people may face serious water shortages by 2080.

It said up to 332 million people in coastal and low lying areas could be displaced by flooding and tropical storms.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Floods, landslides kill 16 in Sidoarjo, E Java

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Floods and landslides swept through Sidoarjo district, East Java, early Thursday, leaving 16 people dead and three others injured, a Health Ministry official.

Seven of the 16 bodies had been evacuated until 03.25 p.m. on Thursday, dr Rustam S Pakaya, head of the ministry`s crisis control center, said in a statement.

Rescue workers are searching for other victims buried in the mud.

He said the floods and landslides which occurred at 02.00 a.m. affected three villages in Tirtomoyo sub district.

RI aims to cut 30 percent of emissions from energy sector

December 27, 2007

Although Indonesia is not bound to emissions targets under the Kyoto Protocol, the government is looking to a 30-percent cut in greenhouse gas emissions from the energy sector by 2012 in order to help address climate change. Below is the third article on climate-change mitigation and adaptation efforts.

Adianto P. Simamora, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The government has said that urban dwellers can cut 13 million tons of emissions per year if they are ready to shift to more eco-friendly lifestyles.

By adjusting the air conditioning to 25 degrees Celsius, using less water and purchasing more eco-friendly products, an urban dweller can save a kilogram of carbon dioxide (CO2) per day.

CO2 is the main driver of global warming, which causes climate change.

It is said that people who walk one kilometer rather than riding in a vehicle can cut greenhouse gas emissions by 222 grams.

The government's mitigation plan in the energy sector stipulates that efforts to cut emissions by individuals are the fastest way of achieving that objective, as already implemented by Japan's low-carbon society.

It says the government needs to provide incentives to people using energy-saving products as they significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The plan says that about 75 percent of government offices must use energy-saving products by 2012.

The Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry has predicted that the country's energy sector could be emitting up to 1.2 billion tons of CO2 per year if no action is taken.

As of 2003, Indonesia emitted about 258.7 million tons of emissions, with the country still relying on fossil fuels as its primary source of energy, with only 0.2 percent of the energy mix being renewable energy.

A 2006 presidential decree on national energy said that the use of renewable energy should reach 17 percent by 2025.

It said that through diversifying its sources of energy, Indonesia could cut 17 percent of its CO2 emissions.

"If the country can increase the use of geothermal energy up to 8.4 percent, we can reduce 20 percent of greenhouse gas emissions by 2025," the decree stated.

It added that the application of carbon capture storage technology could slash emissions by up to 37 percent.

Carbon capture storage (CCS) is an approach to mitigating global warming that involves capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) from large sources, such as fossil-fuel power plants, and subsequently storing it in geological formations instead of releasing it into the atmosphere.

The International Energy Agency forecasts that energy demand and prices will continue to soar, with the world set to use 60 percent more energy by 2030 than at present.

Renewable energy sources, such as solar, wind, geothermal and biomass energy, are on the rise, with wind power being the fastest growing energy resource in the world.

However, incentives and investment in renewable energy continue to be insufficient to forge a fundamental overhaul of the energy sector.

The government said that it would map out potential renewable energy resources across the country and provide incentives for local governments to develop renewable energy.

The government's plan also stipulates tax cuts for greener technologies.

Sea holds climate change benefits, threats

The United Nations climate change panel says seas could rise by up to 59 centimeters by 2100 due to warmer global temperatures. Indonesia, according to the government, is experiencing a sea level rise of about 0.8 mm per year. This is the fourth article in a series on climate change adaptation and mitigation efforts.

Adianto P. Simamora, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The sea poses both a threat and opportunity for coastal communities in Indonesia -- a sprawling archipelago with some 17,000 islands -- in facing global warming.

Rising sea levels are expected to submerge smaller islands while at the same time the sea can be used as a carbon sink to help the world mitigate human-induced climate change.

The ministry of maritime and fishery affairs says Indonesia's seas have the capacity to store up to 245 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2), the main driver of climate change.

The ministry also predicts that some 61,000 square kilometers of coral reef could absorb 73.5 million tons of CO2 per year. The existing 93,000 hectares of mangrove forest could store 75.4 million tons of CO2 and phytoplankton species could handle some 11 million tons of carbon.

In addition to rising sea levels, global warming could also alter sea water's acidity and temperature, the ministry says, as well as forming more frequent weather extremes such as high sea waves and tropical storms.

The ministry predicts that a meter in sea level rises could swamp 405,000 hectares of coastal areas and 2,000 small islands while damaging coral reefs.

A plan of action on mitigation says that the government would develop more mangrove forests to help coastal communities fend off rising seas and stronger tropical storms.

Mangroves provide a habitat for shrimps and small fish, break up waves and retain silt and soil, preventing them from damaging coral reefs.

Mangroves also keep rising sea levels at bay, up to a certain extent, giving communities more time to adjust.

The action plan says the government would promote integrated coastal management to improve the quality of rivers and coastal areas as well as setting up early earning systems for extreme weather.

For fishing communities, the government intends to develop eco-friendly fishing facilities such as boats that could resist high waves.

Meanwhile, scientists have been urged to review the sea's potential to store CO2.

Six Southeast Asian and Pacific nations, including Indonesia, recently launched an initiative to save the "Coral Triangle", which contains more than half of the world's reefs, during the Bali climate change summit.

It is estimated that there are more than 600 species of coral and more than 3,000 species of plants and fish living in the waters encompassing the Philippines, Timor Leste, parts of Indonesia and Malaysia, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.

Mine says re-greening soon complete, locals fear ghost town

Nurni Sulaiman, The Jakarta Post, West Kutai

PT Kelian Equatorial Mining (KEM) has been mining and processing gold in Tutung village, Linggang Bigung district, West Kutai, East Kalimantan, since January 1992.

Since then, it has been carrying out its community empowerment program: As many as 82 percent of its 1,000 employees are locals, including a number of contractors and stakeholders.

KEM mines an area in accordance with a working contract signed together with the government in 1985 and a land use agreement, spanning 6,750 hectares, approved by the Forestry Ministry.

It halted its open pit mining operation in May 2003 and completed its gold ore processing in February 2005, producing an average of 14 tons of gold annually. It later engaged in a sustainable land restoration program, restoring more than 90 percent of the area as of December this year.

It had only exploited 1,192 hectares, or 17.66 percent of the total mining concession area for mining and processing activities, while the remaining 82.34 percent of the total area of 6,750 ha remained in the form of primary forest.

The company has been carrying out environment restoration efforts since it commenced operations in 1992. Up until the end of this year, the process has covered 1,095 ha, or 91.56 percent of the total area used for mining activities.

The remaining 96.66 ha is expected to be restored in 2008.

The restoration process includes replanting the area with endemic trees, such as benuang and agathis, and fruit trees, such as durian and rambutan.

PT KEM is currently working together with the Forest Rehabilitation Center/Tropical Forest Research Center of the Mulawarman University in Samarinda to evaluate the rehabilitation program, ecosystem and diverse fauna.

To facilitate the cessation process, PT KEM had set up the Mine Cessation Committee (KPPT) in 2001, comprising various elements and co-headed by then West Kutai regent and company president director.

Committee members include company representatives, Rio Tinto mining company, the regency, provincial and central administrations, area residents, non-governmental groups and academics. The KPPT discussed four key topics -- dam, environment, location and assets, as well as community empowerment and spatial planning.

Recommendations from the meeting were then presented in the Mine Cessation Plan (RPT), which was approved by the government in 2005.

To restore the quality of water before it is dumped in the river, PT KEM uses the wetland method to reduce dissolved iron contents in the water, such as magnesium and zinc.

"We use this method so the quality of water from the mine complies with standards regulated by law. The method, which resembles rice planting, has been tested since September 2005," said PT KEM site administration manager and spokesman Yudhi Nurcahyana.

Each cell or wet plot is covered with a variety of local fauna.

Yudhi said setting up the wetland method would be one of the company's activities prior to its closure, and it would be monitored by an evaluation team comprised of relevant state agencies.

"The team will inspect, monitor and evaluate its progress each month. So far, the team deems the program is in line with RPT goals. The cessation process is expected to end in June 2008," Yudhi said.

In accordance with the KPPT, the mining concession area will be turned into a conservation forest, which will later be managed by PT Hutan Lindung Kelian Lestari (HLKL). Yudhi said PT KEM would monitor the program until it handed over the concession area to the government in 2013. HLKL will be tasked to supervise the program from 2009 to 2013.

However, residents fear the Linggang Bigung district, where the mine is located, would become a ghost town when the mine closes. However, PT KEM has a number of strategies to anticipate this concern.

"We will empower the local community and environment. We will provide training to residents who have so far depended on the mine for their livelihoods, according to their interests, such as sewing, agriculture or fishing."

Yudhi said since it commenced operating, PT KEM had built 208 facilities for local residents, which included 72 public, 53 clean water, 12 health, 39 education, 22 religious and 10 sporting facilities at a total cost of Rp 32 billion (approximately US$3.5 million).

Since 2000, PT KEM has focussed its community development assistance program through productive and independent community-based enterprises, concentrated in 28 villages around the mining area.

Through a local foundation, it built the first agricultural vocational school in East Kalimantan, under the auspices of the education office. The school is located in Bigung Baru village, Linggang Bigung district, and was named Ave Bungen Tana, meaning beautiful princess in the local tongue.

"Funds for its operational, maintenance and facility costs will be derived from KEM's permanent funds amounting to US$1 million. The school was inaugurated by West Kutai Regent Ismael Thomas on Dec. 22 this year," Yudhi said.

PT KEM managing director Mark Hunter said the school was part of the Hutan Kita Masa Depan Kita scholarship program managed by the Tunas Bangsa Foundation under the supervision of the school committee.

"The goal of this partnership is to ensure long term forest rehabilitation and conservation and sustainable management of the Kelian forest protection program in line with the 2004 Mine Cessation Plan, as well as provide better opportunities for the younger generation in West Kutai through the scholarship program. I hope the school can provide greater benefits for people in general," Hunter said.

Hundreds of houses destroyed in West Sumatra floods

The Jakarta Post

PADANG (Antara): Some 276 houses were destroyed by floods that hit West Sumatra on Tuesday, Antara reported Thursday.

The floodwaters, which reached a height of 2.5 meters,demolished houses in Padang, Agam regency and six other regencies on the south coast of the province.

One person is reportedly missing.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

President orders emergency measure to handle Central Java landslides

The Jakarta Post

BANTEN (Antara): President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono ordered Wednesday Home Affairs Minister Mardiyanto to take emergency measure and observe the victims of landslides in Tawangmangu, Central Java.

Presidential spokesman Andi Mallarangeng said the president made the instruction after witnessing a tsunami simulation drill on Wednesday.

"The president expressed grief over the disaster and hoped that the task force in the field would be able to restore the condition soon," Andi said.

Andi said the home affairs minister was ordered to visit Tawangmangu as the social affairs minister was still in Aceh on the occasion of the third anniversary of the deadly tsunami which devastated the country's westernmost province on Dec. 26, 2004.

President Yudhoyono calls for reforestation efforts

Cilegon (ANTARA News) - President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has called on his countrymen to make reforestation efforts by planting trees in a bid to avoid flood and landslide disasters.

Witnessing a simulation on tsunami drill at Gunung Sugih subdistrict in Cilegon, Banten, on Wednesday to mark the third anniversary of the deadly Asian tsunami which hit Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam province on December 26, 2004, Yudhoyono said widespread deforestation could cause floods, landslides and land erosion.

Yudhoyono said reforestation movement by planting trees was part of an effort to save all the plants and and living creatures in a particular area of their physical environment.

Therefore, the head of state called on all public elements, as well as regional governments, to plant trees in barren land areas in an effort to save the earth from global warming and climate change.

"I ask all public elements and regional governments to take serious heed to the reforestation movement to prevent natural disaster such as flash floods and landslides from happening," Yudhoyono said.

Commenting on the tsunami drill, President Yudhoyono expressed hope that through such an exercise, the people in tsunami-prone areas would understand and know what to do in a case of an emergency.

"We do need tsunami simulation drill like this and therefore I hope it can be presented across the country," the Indonesian head of state said.

Landslides kill 61 people in Central Java

The Jakarta Post

JAKARTA (AP): Hours of heavy rain triggered landslides Wednesday that killed at least 61 people in Central Java, media reports said.

The deaths occurred in several districts on the main island of Java after more than 12 hours of nonstop rain, el-Shinta radio station reported. Metro TV put the death toll at 59. Both said additional villagers were missing.

Authorities could not immediately be reached to confirm the reports.

Metro TV reported that rescue officials were trying to reach the scene of the landslides, 500 kilometers east of the capital Jakarta.

The report said there was little chance of getting heavy lifting equipment to affected areas because of roads blocked by landslides.

No other details were immediately available.

Seasonal downpours cause dozens of landslides and flash floods each year in Indonesia, where millions of people live in mountainous regions and near fertile flood plains close to rivers.

Some environmentalists and government officials say deforestation is often a factor in the disasters, which they contend loosens soils on mountainsides.

Mudflow prompts businesses to relocate from Sidoarjo

Wahyoe Boediwardhana, The Jakarta Post, Malang, East Java

Entrepreneurs say they need assistance to relocate their businesses out of Sidoarjo regency, which has been badly affected by a mud volcano that shows no sign of drying up.

The director of the Malang branch of the central bank, Ridho Hakim, said that the enterprises, which mainly supply goods to Surabaya, are based in the towns of Malang, Pasuruan, Probolinggo and Lumajang.

Access to and from Surabaya has been cut off by the mud, and businesses have experienced huge losses. Some 12 firms are estimated to have lose about Rp 40 billion (approximately US$4.4 million)

Since Mar. 29, the mud has continued to gush from a drilling site owned by Lapindo Brantas Inc., which is partially controlled by the family of Coordinating Minister for People's Welfare Aburizal Bakrie. The mud has affected almost 13,000 families and covered 350 hectares of farmland, as well as residential areas, infrastructure, schools and commercial centers.

Considered among the worst disasters of its type, the debate continues on how far Lapindo is responsible, and on how much of the financial burden the central government should shoulder.

Most enterprises have shifted their markets from Surabaya to other parts of Central Java and West Java, such as Yogyakarta, Bogor and Jakarta.

One businessman in Malang, Unggul Abdinowo, who runs the Bakpao Telo bakery, said up to 40 percent of his customers were in Surabaya. Since the mud affected production and distribution, he said he began selling his bakpao cakes to other provinces.

The Bank Indonesia executive, Ridho, said that only bigger enterprises, with capital of more than Rp 50 million, could relocate their businesses without help.

Malang deputy regent Rendra Kresna said that the regency administration would coordinate with the East Java administration and neighboring local governments on relocating businesses.

The small firms cannot apply for loans, Ridho said, owing to their lack of land certificates.

The local administrations and the National Land Agency (BPN) should process their certificates as soon as possible, he said.

He added that Bank Indonesia was working with the BPN, state-owned Bank Rakyat Indonesia and local administrations to process residents' land certificates, including those of businesspeople.

Farmers receive seedlings after floods

TANGERANG (Jakarta Post) : Tangerang administration handed out seedlings for free to farmers whose rice fields have been flooded in the past three days due to heavy rain and tides in Patraman and Kramat Paku Haji village in Kresek district.

"We had allocated some of the budget to help farmers who failed to harvest their rice plants because of the flood," Tangerang Regent Ismet Iskandar was quoted as saying by Antara on Tuesday.

He said the agriculture and husbandry subagency had been registering farmers to receive the assistance.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Students missing in mountain found alive

JAKARTA (Jakarta Post) : 19 students who went missing Friday in a mountain in Malang, East Java have been found alive by a search and rescue team, Metro TV reported Monday.

However, they remained weak after suffering from hunger and fatigue.

The students lost direction during an orientation program held by a student organization for nature lovers.

Two earthquakes hit Bengkulu, Sumatra

Bengkulu (ANTARA News) - Two moderate earthquakes respectively measuring 5.3 and 5.1 on the Richter scale shook Bengkulu Province, Sumatra, on Tuesday morning.

The epicenter of the first 5.3-magnitude earthquake, which hit at 3.56 am Western Indonesian Time (WIB), was located at 4.44 degrees southern latitude and 100.81 degrees eastern longitude, at a depth of 10 km, around 170 km southwest of Lais subdistrict, North Bengkulu District, Coordinator of the Bengkulu meteorological and geophysics office Adjat Sudrajat said here on Tuesday.

The second earthquake at 4.21 am WIB was located 4.29 degrees southern latitude and 101.16 degrees eastern longitude, at a depth of 40 km around 130 km southwest of Lais subdistrict, he said.

Bengkulu was devastated by a 7.9-magnitude earthquake on September 12, 2007, killing at least 15 people, seriously injuring 13, and slightly wounded 38 others.

Tens of thousands of houses, a number of offices, places of worship and school buildings were damaged in the earthquake, which inflicted material losses worth around Rp3 trillions.

In the aftermath of the September earthquake, Bengkulu has continued to be shaken by at least 66 aftershocks so far.

Indonesia sits on the Pacific "Ring of Fire" where the meeting of continental plates causes high volcanic and seismic activities.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Hundreds of hectares of rice fields inundated in Central Java

Semarang, Central Java (ANTARA News) - Incessant heavy rains triggered flooding which inundated hundreds of hectares of rice fields in Grobogan District over the past few days.

Floodwaters reaching a height of between 30 and 50 centimeters submerged fields of 40-day paddy plants.

"If only the flooding was just for one day, it would have been fine. But, my rice fields have been submerged for three days, so most likely the paddy would be spoiled," Triono, a local farmer of Getasrejo village, Grobogan subdistrict, said on Monday.

Floods hit Grobogan, Brati, Klambu, Godong, Purwodadi and Penawangan subdistricts in Central Java in the current rainy season.

In Mayahan village, Tawangharjo subdistrict, floodwaters inundated houses as Lusi River overflowed.

"The water level of Lusi River has been rising since the past four days and we have reminded the people to be on alert," Subekan, a Menduran resident, Brati subdistrict, said.

A house located in the bank of Lusi River collapsed due to the bank erosion in Menduran village.

According to the US National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration (NOAA)`s National Weather Service (NWS) recently, Indonesia will continue to experience above-average precipitation under the impact of La Nina in the period December 2007 - February 2008.

Farmers told to watch the weather closely

Adianto P. Simamora, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The government has warned farmers of extreme weather events in regards to climate change. This is the second article in a series of six and focuses on the government's action plan for climate change mitigation and adaptation in the agricultural sector.

The government has told farmers to be more "creative" to grasp weather patterns that are predicted to become more extreme.

"The toughest work for our farmers now is how to adapt to unpredictable weather changes," Gatot Irianto, director of water resources at the ministry of agriculture, told The Jakarta Post.

"Long-standing traditional crop cycle systems may no longer be practicable."

However, said Gatot, without putting their income at risk, farmers can still do much to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and thus help avert disastrous climate change.

A study by London-based economist Nicholas Stern indicated agriculture was responsible for 14 percent of greenhouse gas emissions.

Through various incentives, the government plan calls for farmers to find ways to store more carbon dioxide (C02) and methane (CH4), thus releasing less of these harmful gases into the atmosphere.

According to the mitigation plan, the government is to provide financial incentives to farmers who avoid clearing land by burning, for example.

"We want zero burning as a method for clearing land."

The plan also calls for animal manure and methane to be trapped and converted to electricity for nearby farming communities. Methane gas is even more problematic than C02 when released.

To reduce methane, eco-friendly irrigation systems that use less water are called for by the plan because CH4-producing bacteria are linked to irrigation flow rates.

Meanwhile, as another alternative strategy for reducing emissions, the plans call for various forms of carbon to be "stored" both in living matter -- such as trees -- and underground, in non-productive mines.

According to the blueprint action plan, by 2025 the country's palm oil, rubber and cacao plantations would be able to store 217 million tons of C02.

Meanwhile, residue from crop harvests is to be used to produce compost and the government will work to drive up the use of organic fertilizer and eco-friendly pesticides.

The government plan categorizes adaptation goals as to whether they are short, medium or long-term efforts.

In the short term -- over the next year, until 2009 -- the adaptation effort is focused on gathering data on areas vulnerable to droughts or floods, including information on dry and wet seasons.

The information is to be distributed to farmers as a guideline to help in re-mapping weather patterns, agricultural seasons and crop cycles.

"We have finished the map for the island of Java," Gatot said.

In the medium-term -- through 2012 -- the plan will see the government create and evaluating an early warning system for drought. In the long term, the government is set to analyze weather anomalies and be able to better predict planting seasons and adjust crop cycles.

Just exactly what farmers should expect -- of course -- the government can't say. However changes in rainfall and drought, they are told, will seriously impact agriculture.

Experts have said that for every one Celsius degree increase in the average temperature, rice yields decrease by about 10 percent.

In the 1990s, the ministry of agriculture reported an average harvest failure of 100,000 tons per regency across the country due to drought.

The failure rate has been around 300,000 tons per regency since 2000.

With an estimated 60 million farmers in the country, approximately one in four Indonesians can expected to be directly impacted by statistics like these.

Gatot said his office had repeatedly urged farmers to plant crops other than rice -- such as corn and soybeans -- especially in the dry season, due to the water-intensive nature of rice farming.

Currently, most farmers plant rice in both dry and wet seasons.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

In the Age of Noah

By Thomas L. Friedman, The New York Times, December 23, 2007

A couple of weeks ago, The Times’s Jim Yardley reported from China that the world’s last known female Yangtze giant soft-shell turtle was living in one Chinese zoo, while the planet’s only undisputed, known giant soft-shell male turtle was living in another — and together this aging pair were the last hope of saving a species believed to be the largest freshwater turtles in the world.

It struck me as I read that story that our generation has entered a phase that no previous generation has ever experienced: the Noah phase. With more and more species threatened with extinction by The Flood that is today’s global economic juggernaut, we may be the first generation in human history that literally has to act like Noah — to save the last pairs of a wide range of species.

Or as God commanded Noah in Genesis: “And of every living thing of all flesh, you shall bring two of every sort into the ark, to keep them alive with you; they shall be male and female.”

Unlike Noah, though, we’re also the ones causing The Flood, as more and more forests, fisheries, rivers and fertile soils are gobbled up for development. “The loss of global biological diversity is advancing at an unprecedented pace,” Sigmar Gabriel, Germany’s environment minister, recently told the BBC. “Up to 150 species are becoming extinct every day. ... The web of life that sustains our global society is getting weaker and weaker.”

The world is rightly focused on climate change. But if we don’t have a strategy for reducing global carbon emissions and preserving biodiversity, we could end up in a very bad place, like in a crazy rush into corn ethanol, and palm oil for biodiesel, without enough regard for their impact on the natural world.

“If we don’t plan well, we could find ourselves with a healthy climate on a dead planet,” said Glenn Prickett, senior vice president of Conservation International.

I met one of our generation’s Noahs here in Indonesia: Dr. Jatna Supriatna, a conservation biologist who runs Conservation International’s Indonesia programs. One of his main projects is saving the nearly extinct Javan gibbon, a beautiful primate endemic to the Indonesian island of Java. The Javan gibbon population, decimated by deforestation, is down to an estimated 400, spread out around 20 tropical forest areas in West Java.

Mr. Supriatna helps run the Javan gibbon rehabilitation center, a collection of cages embedded in the mountains of Gunung Gede Pangrango National Park, near Jakarta, where male and female gibbons — which are known for their lengthy courtships, not one-night stands — get to know each other over months. First, they live in forest cages side by side, then together and then, if everything works, they produce a couple of babies.

But the process is so slow, and the species so endangered, we may soon be down to the last few pairs — a great loss. Watching a gibbon swing from tree limbs, ropes and bars is like watching a small ape win the Olympic gold medal in gymnastics.

The only way to head off species loss in Indonesia, the country with the most diverse combination of plants, animals and marine life in the world, is the old truism, “It takes a village.” So much of his work here, said Mr. Supriatna, is trying to build coalitions by melding businesses that have an interest in preserving the forest — the geothermal energy investor, for example, who needs trees to maintain the watershed for his power plant — with local governments, which have an interest in preventing illegal logging, with local villagers who need forests to prevent soil erosion and provide fresh water.

Environmentalists here constantly have to work against corrupt local officials, who get bought off by logging interests, and villagers who don’t understand how important the forests are to their daily lives. One of his recent projects, said Mr. Supriatna, was to pipe fresh water from the forest watershed to a nearby village so people there understood the connection. Lately, he has taken his work to the imams who run the local Muslim schools.

“We teach them that the source of the water comes from the mountain and the park,” he said. “And if the park is gone, they will not have the clean water they need for prayer rituals. If you influence the imam, he will influence all the kids.”

For so many years, Indonesians, like many of us, have been taught that life is a trade-off: healthy people with lots of jobs or healthy forests with lots of gibbons — you can’t have both. But the truth is you have to have both. If you don’t, you’ll eventually end up with neither, and then it will be too late even for Noah.

(This is my last column until April. I will be on leave, writing a book on energy and the environment. Happy holidays!)

Tree planting mandatory, cutting prohibited in RI action plan

The government has released a report on a plan of action covering the mitigation and adaptation efforts for climate change. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono officially launched the report during the recent climate conference in Bali. The plan of action on mitigation and adaptation covers the forestry, energy, agriculture, water resources, infrastructure and health sectors. Below is the first article focusing on the forestry sector.

Adianto P. Simamora, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The Forestry Ministry wants the government to issue a policy making it mandatory for each Indonesian citizen to plant a tree every year to store more carbon.

In its action plan, the ministry said anyone who wished to cut down a tree with a diameter of more than 10 centimeters had to secure a permit issued by the government.

"And anyone who fells a tree has to plant two more trees," the action plan stated.

The director general of the forestry research and development agency, Wahjudi Wardojo, said planting trees was one of the most effective ways to mitigate climate change.

"We hope local administrations set a rule requiring local citizens to plant more trees," he told The Jakarta Post on Friday.

The ministry has set five targets for its mitigation action plan until 2009.

The targets are; to combat illegal logging, rehabilitate forest land and conservation areas, restructure the forestry sector especially for industrial aims, empower local communities living near forests and improve institutions monitoring forests.

The action plan states the ministry will rehabilitate 11 million hectares of damaged forests until 2009, 4,8 million hectares until 2012 and 16 million hectares for 2025.

"The remaining will be rehabilitated until 2050," it says.

The ministry also aims to reduce the deforestation rate.

"We have targeted to reduce deforestation by 23.63 million hectares until 2009, 6.15 million hectares until 2012 and 10 million hectares until 2025," the action plan stated.

The ministry has targeted to reduce forest fires by 50 percent by 2009 and 75 percent by 2012.

Wahjudi said in order to meet the targets, the ministry needed a national and international funding mechanism.

"Without financial support from the international community, it will be difficult to reach the target," he said.

The Kyoto Protocol on climate change is an international binding treaty aimed at reducing greenhouse emissions to combat global warming.

The protocol allows developing countries to host afforestation and reforestation projects to reap cash under the Clean Development Mechanism.

The Bali climate conference agreed to adopt the reduction of emissions from deforestation in developing countries (REDD) mechanism, which is aimed at providing financial incentives for protecting forests.

Climate experts have long admitted the importance of trees in storing carbon dioxide (CO2), the main contributor to global warming, from being released into air.

The United Nations' report on climate change said deforestation contributed to around 20 percent of global emissions in the 1990s.

The report said global forests covered 4 billion hectares, or around 30 percent of the Earth's surface in 2005; containing about 638 gigatons of carbon.

Indonesia -- the world's biggest forest country after Brazil and the Republic of Congo -- has 120.35 million hectares of forest.

The ministry predicted the country's forests could stock up to 115 gigatons of carbon in 2005.

However, due to rampant illegal logging and land conversion, the country's forests have released a significant amount of carbon into the air.

The ministry estimated that with a forest degradation level of 53.9 million in 2005, the forests 'suffered a loss' of up to 2.1 gigatons of carbon stocks.

The ministry said rampant degradation was mainly due to the creation of new regions, agricultural areas, plantations, illegal logging and forest fires.

Wetlands International, an international environmental NGO, has listed Indonesia as the world's third-largest carbon emitter, due to a high level of forest degradation and the large number of forest fires in the country last year.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Strong earthquake rocks eastern Indonesia

Jakarta Post

JAKARTA (AP): A strong earthquake rocked parts of Papua province in eastern Indonesia on Saturday, causing some residents to flee their homes in panic, but there were no immediate reports of damage or injury.

The tremblor, with was initially measured at magnitude 6.4, struck 183 kilometers to the west of the coastal city of the capital city Jayapura, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

"I felt unsteady on my feet and saw people running from their homes," said a resident Robert Fanwi. He said the quake did not appear to have caused any major damage in his neighborhood.

Agung Saptaji, a local geoscientist, said he had received no reports of damage.

Quakes of 6.5 magnitude and above can cause extensive damage depending on depth and other factors.

Indonesia, the world's largest archipelago with 17,500 islands, is prone to seismic upheavals because of its location on the so-called Pacific "Ring of Fire," an arc of volcanoes and fault lines encircling the Pacific Basin.

A giant quake off Indonesia's Sumatra island in 2005 spawned the Asian tsunami and killed more than 230,000 people in 11 countries, more than half of them in Indonesia.

Earthquake hits Indonesia's Papua

BBC News

ndonesia's eastern province of Papua has been hit by a magnitude 6.4 earthquake, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) said.

The tremor, at a depth of 37 km (23 miles), had its epicentre 182 km (113 miles) west of Jayapura, USGS said.

Indonesia sits across the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, one of the world's most seismically active areas.

There were no immediate reports of damage.

France donates center to manage natural disasters

Syofiardi Bachyul Jb, The Jakarta Post, Padang

The French government on Tuesday donated a natural disaster crisis center to the West Sumatra provincial administration, Paul Delavenne of the French Embassy to Indonesia said.

Delavenne is civipol program director and he handed the center to the secretary of the West Sumatra provincial administration, Yohannes Dahlan.

It was the fourth batch of aid provided to Indonesia from France, with a total of 5.1 million Euro pledged since July, 2005.

France has also provided aid to the National Disaster Mitigation Coordination Board, Jakarta's provincial administration and Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam provincial administration.

Delavenne said the aid could be used by the Indonesian government to develop its disaster management programs.

"We do hope we can help develop other regions in Indonesia as well," he Delavenne said.

He said his government selected Bakornas and the three provinces because these regions were seriously affected by natural disasters, especially tsunamis.

Delavenne's government has provided rescue equipment and disaster management training courses to Indonesian rescue teams.

"We are very happy the three regions have accepted and supported this program well," he said.

France has allocated Rp 7 billion to establish the crisis center in West Sumatra, which would be equipped with effective tools to support the administration in better managing disasters.

"The modern tools will be useless if they are not supported by skilled persons," Delavenne said.

"That's why we hope the government will choose the right men or a special board to operate them."

The crisis center uses a computerized system to provide accurate information on natural disasters. In case of a quake or tsunami, the system would remain operational because it uses multi-layered back-up system, Delavenne said.

Information is collected from the internet and a free-of-charge telephone link.

The computerized system has two back-up modes. The first back-up system uses a Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) link, before a third and final system is relied on, which uses a satellite facility.

Yohannes Dahlan thanked the French government for the provision of funds and for the "modern and useful equipment for his region".

He said the administration would operate the facility as effectively as possible for the sake of all residents.

Yohannes also said he would establish an effective cooperation with related institutions, including local police and disaster management offices.

Tsunami rumors paralyze markets in Padang

Padang, West Sumatra (ANTARA News) - Activities at a number of traditional markets in Padang were paralyzed on Friday following widespread rumors that a powerful earthquake and subsequent tsunami will devastate the capital of West Sumatra province on Dec 23.

Only a few traders opened their kiosks and shops.

"Many traders have shut down their shops and most of them have taken refuge outside the city," chili seller Darni said.

Activities at the Pasar Raya (Grand Market) here had stagnated during the past week following the rumors, she said.

"Since the rumors spread the market has been deserted and local residents prefer to buy basic necessaries at kiosks near their homes," she said.

Housewife Kartina Dahari said she went to the market after she had run out of food stuffs.

"I want to buy a lot of food stuffs to be stored in the refigerator," she said.

"I have not evacuated but keep alert and submit to Allah," she said.

Earlier, West Sumatra Governor Gamawan Fauzi called on local residents to carry out their activities as usual and to ignore the rumors.

"So far, there is no technology that can predict the time of an earthquake. Everything happens at Allah`s will. So, let us increase our religious service and continue to pray," he said.

An earthquake with a magnitude of 7.9 rattled West Sumatra and neigboring provinces on Sept 12, killing tens of people and injuring dozens of others.