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)

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Jakarta to subsidize cooking oil

Thu, 02/28/2008 11:29 AM , The Jakarta Post

JAKARTA: The city administration will distribute 3.6 million liters of subsidized cooking oil to meet public demand over the next six months, an official said Wednesday.

"The program is expected to help the poor facing recent increases in the cost of cooking oil following the global rise in crude palm oil prices," the head of domestic trade at the provincial industry and trade agency, Supeno, said as quoted by

Supeno said cooking oil would be subsidized by Rp 2,500 making it substantially cheaper than market prices of between Rp 10,800 and Rp 11,000 a liter.

He said distribution would be organized each week, beginning in March, at 12 traditional markets across the city.

Wood industry in Riau on brink of collapse

Rizal Harahap , The Jakarta Post , Pekanbaru, Thu, 02/28/2008 11:29

The wood processing industry in Riau, including sawmills and molding firms, is on the brink of collapse due to a scarcity of raw material supplies, said the head of Riau's Indonesian Wood Community (MPI), Hotman Butar-Butar.

Hotman said on Wednesday that wood supplies were falling because many forest concession holders were involved in rampant illegal logging practices in the province.

"The (illegal logging) cases involving a number of forest concession holders are being investigated by the Riau Police," he said.

"There is no clear information as to when the investigation will be completed. The problem is that we depend heavily on them."

Hotman said nearly half of the 150 sawmills registered at MPI had stopped operations and "similar hardships" were affecting 35 registered molding firms in the province.

Nearly 30 percent of 35,000 workers employed at the wood processing industry had been laid off, he said.

"If the log scarcity prevails until next month, more companies will go bankrupt and thousands of other workers will be jobless."

Hotman further said since January 2007 the Riau Police had frozen some 175,000 hectares of forests owned by 18 forest concessionaires.

He said the "problematic causes" that led to the forests being frozen included the extension of logging licenses, annual working plans and unlicensed machinery.

Jhony Setiawan Mundung, head of the Riau office of the Forum for the Indonesian Environment (Walhi), said he deplored the slow pace at which police investigations took place around illegal logging cases.

He rejected an opinion which said freezing forest concessions would cause an increase in unemployment in the sector.

"It was just disclosed by a man who is in need of wood in a large quantity," Mundung said.

A report by WWF conservation group released Wednesday said that Riau province had lost 65 percent of its forests in the past 25 years as companies used the land for pulpwood and palm oil plantation.

Indonesia has one of the highest rates of deforestation in the world, driven by voracious demand for commodities and weak law enforcement.

Emissions from deforestation, and in particular peatland -- which is made up of deep layers of semi-decomposed vegetation -- have made Indonesia the world's third-largest carbon emitter, behind the United States and China.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Pests destroy crops in Majalengka

CIREBON, West Java (The Jakarta Post) : A pest attack in Majalengka regency has destroyed dozens of hectares of rice paddy which will likely face harvest failure.

Data gathered on Tuesday indicated the pests have invaded at least 25 hectares of rice in Majalengka regency. Farmers fear the affected area could increase if the pests are not immediately controlled. Tajur village in Cigasong regency is reported to be the worst-hit area.

Wawan, a farmer in Tajur, one of the affected villages, said the pests had gone on a rampage over the past week. His two-month-old crops have now withered after being affected by the pests.

"My rice crops can no longer be harvested," said Wawan, who tills a one-hectare plot.

In Cirebon regency, farmers have been told to anticipate pest invasions which usually occur during the transition period between the dry and wet seasons.

"We have told farmers to be wary of an invasion because it usually happens during the weather transition period," said Cirebon Agricultural Office head Ali Effendi.

Bandung Zoo immunizes birds

BANDUNG, West Java (The Jakata Post) : The Bandung Zoo on Tuesday vaccinated some 700 various species of poultry in its collection to prevent the spread of bird flu, especially to visitors.

The zoo's animal care head Fathul Bahri said the birds were vaccinated once every four months.

"This is the eighth time we have vaccinated the birds since 2005," Bahri told reporters in Bandung on Tuesday.

Bahri said the Bandung Agricultural Office provided the H5N1 virus vaccines, adding the zoo kept 105 species of birds which were placed in 10 different enclosures.

He added that thus far the vaccination program had proven effective because none of the birds had abruptly died or been detected with the virus.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

'Food resilience council lacks coordination'

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The Food Resilience Council, working directly under President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono since late 2006, has come under fire for handling recent food shortages ineffectively.

Indonesian Farming Council head Ferry J. Julianto demanded the government revamp the council immediately to prevent further mismanagement of the nation's agricultural planning and implementation.

Speaking at a seminar on the food resilience program in Jakarta on Monday, Ferry said the umbrella organization had stumbled because it lacked a game plan for coordinating the policies of the government bodies involved.

Former president Megawati Soekarnoputri established the council in 2001 as a platform for formulating, implementing and evaluating food stock policy.

President Yudhoyono formalized the council's function in 2006 through a presidential regulation under which the president sits as council head and is assisted by 18 ministers. The council also has more than 200 representatives across the country.

Ferry pointed to a lack of teamwork. "It seems these ministries have their own agendas and work alone without coordinating with one other," Ferry said.

"The government should restructure the council and set up a clear coordination scheme."

Fachri Andi Laluasa, a Golkar lawmaker with the House of Representative's Commission IV on food production, concurred, saying said the council was no more than a showcase body, producing few results.

"The coordination among the ministries is weak, causing the implementation of recommended plans to not work as expected," he said during the seminar.

According to Ferry, the failure of the council to properly implement planning had caused food stock shortages that triggered unrest in many areas across Indonesia in the past couple of years.

"Rice production has been decreasing by 1.2 million tons since last year and we have had to import up to 60 percent of the soybeans we consume," Ferry said.

He said the government's policy of importing staple foods had caused farmers to suffer, as they could not compete with lower-priced imports.

"Local farmers have stopped planting soybeans because they are afraid of the competition and that the government will not protect them," Ferry said.

Agricultural Minister Anton Apriyantono defended the government's importation of staple foods, which he said did not necessarily indicate a food crisis.

"We've imported staple foods like rice, maize, soybeans, meat and sugar to secure our stocks, not because we lack those foods," he told the seminar.

He said the objective was to see the country's food deficits remain low in comparison with other developing countries, citing data from the Food and Agricultural Organization. (dia)

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Jakarta Green Monster protects wetlands

The Jakarta Post

The existence of wetlands in a metropolis like Jakarta is crucial to the wellbeing of the city and its residents. Wetlands nurture wildlife, absorb excess rainwater and provide a natural laboratory and a recreation area.

Jakarta's wetlands has shrunk to less than 6 percent of the city area, and will keep diminishing unless serious action is taken to stop its destruction.

Among the consequences of wetlands destruction are unseasonable droughts and floods, which claim victims and cause ailments like skin diseases and respiratory infections. Yet the continuing housing developments in the wetlands reveal that public awareness on this unique ecosystem and its social and health benefits remains low.

Realizing the seriousness of the issue, several environmentalists backed by the Fauna and Flora International-Indonesia program set up in 2006 Jakarta Green Monster (JGM), a non-governmental organization to save the wetlands of Jakarta.

The JGM aims to create a sustainable, healthy environment in the capital while promoting wetlands conservation and encouraging public participation in environmental conservation. It works closely with the local community, local authorities and relevant institutions like the Natural Resources Conservation Center (BKSDA) of Jakarta, as well as the Jakarta government.

The continuing existence of the native mangrove forests in Muara Angke is in everyone's interest.

"We encourage people to make the most of nature, develop accessibility such as the newly built bridge at Muara Angke Wildlife Reserve and launch campaigns to love nature. When people love Angke, they will care for its wellbeing," said Frank Momberg, the Asia-Pacific regional director of development at Fauna and Flora International.

JGM presently bases its activities at the Muara Angke reserve. At only 25.02 hectares, it is the smallest wildlife sanctuary in Indonesia, yet it is unique and no less important.

"Among our activities, we facilitate and educate local communities to manage their waste, monitor water birds and river water quality, and guide schoolchildren and the public to explore Muara Angke wildlife," said Hendra Aquan, a JGM volunteer.

"Waste is a big problem for Jakarta in general, and for Muara Angke in particular. Jakarta produces about 6,000 tons of waste daily; 58 percent comes from household waste, 15 percent from industries and 15 percent from other sources," Hendra said.

"Of household waste, 65 percent is organic waste. So the role of housewives in waste management is very significant. We therefore work closely with them in areas around Angke, educating and supervising them on this issue," he added.

An ideal Muara Angke -- one that is clean and lush, and where wildlife thrives and people live in harmony with nature -- is still far from reality; but the JGM is taking concrete steps towards realizing this dream for the benefit of all Jakartans.

-- Ani Suswantoro

Jakarta Green Monster

Kompleks Laboratorium Pusat
Universitas Nasional
Jl. Harsono RM No. 1
Ragunan, South Jakarta

Tel: (021) 79800981

President defends land use fees to save forests

Dessy Nurhayati and Adianto P. Simamora, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono defended Friday a new regulation to impose fees on non-forestry firms to rehabilitate the country's deteriorating forests.

The regulation would raise extra money to finance reforestation programs, he said.

"The aim is good, to save our forests," the President told reporters after a limited Cabinet meeting at the Forestry Ministry.

In attendance were Vice President Jusuf Kalla, Coordinating Minister for Economics Boediono, Coordinating Minister for People's Welfare Aburizal Bakrie, Forestry Minister Malam Sambat Kaban and Finance Minister Sri Mulyani.

Yudhoyono said many people, however, misread the regulation and accused the government of renting out the protected forests to investors.

"The idea is not a forest-renting business. This is not to rent protected forests to mining companies," he said.

The President said the forest use fees of between Rp 1.2 million and Rp 3 million per hectare per year, as set in the regulation, could still be debated.

Environmental groups have said the fees were too low compared to potential environmental losses from open-pit mining activities.

Greenomics Indonesia has proposed the government raise the fees to US$16,000 per hectare per year.

Senior forestry official Yetti Rusli said the fee had been determined without prior research, by a team comprising inter-governmental officials.

"The decision (on fees) was made merely from computer simulations," she said.

Yetti said the team had calculated the projected production cost and revenues of non-forestry companies, including mining ones, when running businesses in forests.

"Therefore the fee could be changed depending on domestic and global economic conditions," she said.

Yetti said her office could not set higher fees for forest use as it would affect the country's investment climate.

Minister Kaban insisted the government would not award new licenses for open-pit mining companies to operate in protected forests.

"The forest use fee is only for companies failing to provide lands as compensation for the forest areas they use for their business," he said.

Data from the ministry shows there are currently 334 non-forestry businesses operating in the country's 293,556 hectares of forests.

The ministry is now examining 586 business proposals for licenses.

In 2004, the government agreed to allow 13 firms to run an open-pit mining business in protected forests, mostly in the eastern part of the country.

However, none of the 13 companies have started operations.

Indonesia contains the world's third-largest forest areas after Brazil and Congo, with 120 million hectares.

President Yudhoyono said the country had 66 million hectares of production forests and 33 million hectares of protected forests. The remaining 20 million hectares are conservation forests, he said.

He said the government would work to improve community-based forests to help raise the welfare of local people.

"We are now developing community-based forests in North Sumatra, Yogyakarta, West Nusa Tenggara and Southeast Sulawesi," he said.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Lampung imports pedigree cows worth US$116.5 million

Bandarlampung (ANTARA News) - Lampung imported pedigree cows worth US$116.5 million from Australia in 2007 in an effort to increase its cow population, an industry official said.

Lampung Industry Service Head Suparmo said here on Saturday, with US$116.5 million the province imported young cows altogether weighing 67,737 tons , mainly from Australia.

In December alone, he said, Lampung imported 3,281 tons of cows worth US$6.47 million, he said.

He said, in Lampung the pedigree cows were categorized as auxiliary goods along with 59 other import commodities.

In 2007, Lampung imported a total of 761,591 tons of auxiliary goods worth US$305 million. They included young cows, crabs, cattle feed, peanuts, phosphate, plastic cups, gunny sacks, herbicides and sulfur.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Indonesia, Finland sign cooperation in environmental matters

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Indonesia and Finland here Monday signed an agreement to cooperate in the environmental field and in anticipation of climate change as a follow-up to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) which was held in Bali last year.

The agreement was signed by Indonesian Environment Minister Rachmat Witoelar and his Finnish counterpart, Paavo Vayrynen, in the presence of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono at Merdeka Palace here on Monday.

"Cooperation in environmental issues between Indonesia and Finland is a follow-up to the Bali conference on climate change last year," President Yudhoyono said at a joint press conference with his Finnish counterpart, Tarja Halonen.

Yudhoyono said Indonesia and Finland had so far been cooperating in the forestry and environment fields but with the signing of the agreement on Monday, the two countries were expected to collaborate even more closely.

Meanwhile, the Finnish president who is on a state visit from Saturday until Tuesday, said the two countries would continue to step up their cooperative relations.

"The Bali conference on climate change was a good momentum for us to forge further cooperation in sustainable development programs," Holonen said.

She said under the newly-signed agreement the two countries would make joint efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emission and global warming.

The Finnish president on Monday morning also laid a wreath at the Kalibata National Heroes` Cemetery in south Jakarta.

Following the meeting with Yudhoyono, Halonen who was accompanies by her husband, Dr Pentti Arajarvi, was scheduled to meet Indonesian House Speaker Agung Laksono at the parliament Building.

On Monday afternoon, she would meet Indonesian Vice President M Jusuf Kalla.

On Tuesday, Tarja Halonen would fly to Aceh province to observe the results of infrastructure reconstruction efforts and the province`s socio-economic recovery from the devastating 2004 tsunami.

Police seize 3,496 suspected illegal logs in Kotabaru

Kotabaru (ANTARA News) - Local police have seized around 3,496 mixed meranti logs believed to have been cut illegally by a company identified as UD BBJ, a spokesman said.

Kotabaru police spokesman Adjunct Commissioner Suhasto said here Friday the illegal logs would be moved to the Brangas Police office, Pulau Laut Timur sub district, Kotabaru.

Forming a pile measuring some 80 cubic meters, the logs had been left unattended in the compound of a saw-mill for the past two weeks.

Police have detained four suspects in the case and are currently looking for the owners of the illegal logs believed to have been cut in forests in Pulau Laut Timur.

Simeuleu returns to normalcy after quake

Apriadi Gunawan, The Jakarta Post, Medan

Activity on Simeulue Island in Aceh province reportedly began to return to normal Thursday, a day after a major earthquake killed four people, seriously injured dozens of others and destroyed infrastructure and homes.

Residents who fled to higher ground on Wednesday for fear of a tsunami have returned to their homes, said Medan Air Force base commander Col. Agus Dwi Putranto on Thursday, after visiting survivors on Simeuleu Island.

He said that based on aerial surveillance he conducted with members of the National Disaster Management Coordination Agency, the island did not suffer any substantial damage in the quake.

"We did not find any major damage during the surveillance, except in the northern part of West Simeuleu where many buildings such as the district administrative office and police station were damaged," he said.

Asked about casualty numbers, Agus said 26 people were seriously injured in West Simeuleu, with most still being treated in an open field, while three people died and five were injured in East Simeuleu.

He said relief aid had yet to arrive in Simeuleu. The Air Force has provided two Cassa planes to airlift aid to affected areas.

Simeuleu Social Office head Zulmufti was quoted as saying by Antara news agency in Banda Aceh that four people died in the quake, two in East Simeuleu and one each in South Teupah and Central Teupah.

Worst-hit areas include West Simeuleu, Alafan and Sialang, where schools, medical facilities and houses of worship were badly damaged.

Simeuleu state hospital was damaged in the quake, forcing doctors to treat patients in tents.

The Aceh provincial administration has continued efforts to dispatch humanitarian aid to the island.

The Aceh Social Office has reportedly sent four truck-loads of food and clothing to quake survivors.

The Medan Meteorological and Geophysics Agency (BMG) said residents in Simeuleu were still experiencing aftershocks but of moderate intensity.

"Aftershocks in Sinabang, Simeuleu regency, will likely continue due to pent up energy following the main tremor on Wednesday," said Medan BMG head Rifwar Kamin on Thursday.

He said the quake did not cause major damage and large numbers of casualties because its epicenter was located at a depth of some 34 kilometers.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

RI police training 40 wildlife enforcement officers

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The Indonesian Police Headquarters in cooperation with the ASEAN Wildlife Enforcement Network (ASEAN WEN)opened a 13-day training course for 40 wildlife enforcement officers in Bogor, West Java, on Tuesday.

"Some 60 percent of the partcipants come from the Indonesian Police, while the rest are forestry ministry and customs officers," deputy director for special crimes at the National Police Headquarters, Senior Commissioner Sadar Sebayang. said.

He said the officers would be trained to work in areas or locations where wildlife smuggling often occurs such as international airports, seaports and areas bordering neighboring countries.

"They will be made to understand more about criminal acts as many of them still are unable to identify or detect such acts." he added.

He said wildlife smuggling also often happened in border areas where there was little or no law enforcement.

"The sheer vastness of Indonesia`s territory is the main obstacle in efforts to fight wildlife smuggling," he said.

Some wildlife smuggling cases that were handled by police or other law enforcing agencies in the past had shown that wildlife smuggling often occurred in border regions, he said.

Citing examples, he said several scaly anteaters were some time ago smuggled to Malaysia from Medan and snakes to Hong Kong from Bali.In other cases, turtles were illegally transported to China and Taiwan, he said.

Strong earthquake strikes western Indonesia, tsunami warning in effect

The Jakarta Post

JAKARTA (AP): A powerful earthquake struck western Indonesia on Wednesday, prompting tsunami warnings from international agencies. There were no immediate reports of damage or injury.

The quake, which had a preliminary magnitude of 7.6, struck off the western coast of Sumatra island close to Simeulue island, the U.S. Geological Survey said in a posting on its Web site.

Minutes after it hit, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued a bulletin saying parts of the Sumatran coast closest to the epicenter were at risk of a possible tsunami.

Japan's meteorological agency said India's Andaman and Nicobar island chain was also at risk.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Agriculture minister approves resumption of cows exports to Malaysia

Gorontalo (ANTARA News) - The export of cows from the Gorontalo Province to Malaysia which had recently been disrupted, is now resumed following a permit issued by the Agriculture Minister.

"After long and protracted debates in Jakarta, the central government allowed the resumption of cow exports from Gorontalo to Malaysia. This is the result of a consistent struggle for the welfare of the people in Gorontalo," Gorontalo Governor Fadel Muhammad said here on Monday.

However, Fadel said that the central government banned the export of young cows.

In the meantime, Halim Usman, chairman of local state company Fitrah Mandiri said the second batch of the cow exports would soon be carried out.

"As Malaysia has placed a large order for cows with the company, and we will have to meet the order in stages," Halim said without elaborating.

Earlier the Central Government, in this case the Agriculture Minister and Trade Minister, banned cow exports on the grounds that the country was still importing these commodities.

However, Gorontalo continued exporting its cows to Malaysia under a contract with Malaysian importers.

The second cow export batch, however, may have to be cancelled, because the central government had urged the relevant Gorontalo government authorities to abide by the regulations.

Hundreds of cattle breeders some time ago staged a demonstration in front of the Provincial Legislative Assembly (DPRD) urging the government to issue a permit for cow exports to neighboring Malaysia.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Greens ask local business to cut CO2

Adianto P Simamora, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Green activists hope the local business community, which contributes to pollution, becomes involved in fighting climate change.

The ultimate objective is to keep global warming below the dangerous threshold of two degrees Celsius.

Director of WWF-Indonesia's climate change program, Fitrian Ardiansyah said the business community could play an important role in reducing release of pollutants.

"It is also a call for local (Indonesian) businesses to become involved in cutting their own emissions," he told The Jakarta Post on Saturday.

Fitrian commented on the signing Friday of the Tokyo Declaration on world climate by a dozen of companies in Japan.

The signatories are Allianz, Catalyst, Collins, Hewlett-Packard, Nike, Nokia, Novo Nordisk, Sagawa, Sony, Spitsbergen Travel, Tetra-Pak and Xanterra.

Each year the companies are to reduce by at least 10 million tons their emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), the main contributor to the greenhouse gas buildup.

"Local companies have a great opportunity to cut greenhouse gas emissions, including through energy saving, product design and the use of energy alternatives", said Fitrian, suggesting that such moves would improve business efficiency at the same time.

The Climate Savers program was introduced by WWF International to urge businesspeople to take action on climate change.

Under the program, companies commit to emissions reductions targets and agree to independent emissions verifications.

"Tokyo Declaration suggests the scope of the contribution business can make to successful action on climate change," James Leape, Director General of WWF International said in a statement.

"These companies are to be applauded, not just for the example they have set in reducing their own emissions, but also for their willingness to urge action on the part of governments, the broader business community and their customers and consumers", the statement said.

Fitrian said his office would launch the program in Indonesia this year.

"We will persuade local companies including Garuda Indonesia to help reduce their climate pollution."

Head of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Yvo de Boer said the climate problem needed economic solutions.

"The climate change needs an economic solution and the negotiations are an opportunity to find solutions that are economically viable worldwide," de Boer said in Tokyo as quoted by AFP.

Officials from 21 countries -- including the U.S., China and India, whose greenhouse gas emissions account for 70 percent of global emissions -- attended the two-day closed-door talks to help find common ground.

The talks come ahead of negotiations in Bangkok from March 31 to April 4 on reaching a deal on mutually binding climate protection obligations to follow the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.

Riau's four main rivers badly contaminated: Local authorities

Rizal Harahap, The Jakarta Post, Pekanbaru

The four main rivers in Riau province are contaminated by hazardous levels of cadmium and zinc, posing a serious threat to the health of residents, say local authorities.

According to a recent study by the Riau Environmental Impact Management Agency, the cadmium and zinc levels in the Indragiri, Siak, Rokan and Kampar rivers have exceeded the maximum limits set by the government in a 2001 regulation.

Head of the agency's contamination control division, Makruf Siregar, said here Friday the cadmium level in the Kampar River reached 0.012 mg/liter, and 0.11 mg/liter in the Indragiri River.

That is far above the government-set limit of 0.01 mg/liter.

The zinc content has reached 0.18 mg/liter in the Siak River and 0.2 mg/liter in the Rokan River, above the limit of 0.05 mg/liter.

Provincial health office chief Burhanuddin Agung said high levels of cadmium and zinc posed a danger to humans.

"A high concentration of cadmium in the human body can cause anemia, teeth discoloration, loss of smell and kidney failure. The most serious effect of chronic cadmium poisoning is lung and prostate cancer," he said.

High concentrations of zinc can cause stomach ailments, nausea, anemia and a decrease in the levels of good cholesterol. It is also reported that inhaling large amounts of zinc, in the form of dust or fumes, can cause a short-term disease called metal fume fever.

Makruf said the cadmium pollution was caused by illegal gold mining near several tributaries in Logas district, Kuantan Singingi regency. He said miners here used hazardous metals in the gold purification process.

"Contamination in the Indragiri River was detected at least three years ago. Cadmium usually is used to purify gold and is often mixed with mercury. Even though we have not tested the mercury levels in the rivers due to a lack of lab equipment, we are sure the mercury level is also high," Makruf said.

He called on residents not to use water from the rivers for cooking or cleaning.

Makruf said the high zinc levels were caused by sand mining at several rivers in the province.

He said the environmental agency had asked the Kampar and Rokan Hulu regency administrations to put a stop to the mining activities.

"However, they have failed because sand mining is the main source of livelihood for poor families in the regency," he said.

Makruf said the agency had yet to bring the case to the courts, while waiting for prompt action from local authorities to manage the river pollution.

The Kuantan Singingi regency administration is reportedly planning to legalize hundreds of illegal gold mines to increase revenue from the mining sector.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Illegal logs, ships seized in E. Kalimantan

PASER, East Kalimantan (Jakarta Post) : Police arrested Wednesday an Indonesian citizen and confiscated 720 cubic meters of illegal logs allegedly stolen from rainforest in Paser regency.

The man identified as JD was detained and the logs and three ships used to transport the logs were seized as material evidence for further investigations.

East Kalimantan Police water police chief Sr. Comr. Harris Fadillah said the arrest was made on the Kerang River on a routine patrol of the regency.

"The logs and the ships were confiscated because they had no necessary documents from local forestry and transportation authorities," he said.

Over the last two weeks, the military confiscated more than 32,000 logs allegedly stolen from rainforests in West Kalimantan.

Illegal logging is still common in Kalimantan, despite tough laws and increased surveillance from security authorities.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Govt seeks fees on forest use

Agustina Wayansari, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The government has told non-forestry companies operating in the forest to pay them compensation in a move to make those companies operate more responsibly, the Forestry Ministry said.

As mandated under a new government regulation, non-forestry firms operating in the forest are now charged with a fee of between Rp 1.2 and Rp 3 million per hectare per year, said ministry spokesperson Masyhud on Thursday.

The amount of compensation depends on their type of business and the type of land they operate and is applicable only to businesses that have entered exploitation stage, he said.

The new regulation has been effective since Feb. 4, but only appeared on the ministry's website on Thursday.

Companies in mining, oil and gas exploration, telecommunication networks, radio and television transmissions, electricity operations, water installations, and turnpike infrastructures will be among the main targets for the new regulation.

Masyhud said the government expected a total revenue of around Rp 600 billion this year from the regulation.

"It is not about how much we can get, but more to make those operating in forest land appreciate the value of the forest," Mashud said.

"We want to make businesspeople more responsible and understand that forest lands have strategic value.

"This is the first time we have asked the companies to pay.

"Besides, it is not easy to find replacement land for used forest areas," said Mayshud.

The new regulation also applies to 13 companies currently operating in protected forest, whenever they enter the exploitation stage.

Masyhud said companies carrying out open mining activities in protected areas will have to pay the highest charge, Rp 3 million per hectare per year.

The country's protected forests are supposed to be free from any exploitation and exploration activities for commercial purposes, but the 13 companies were given an exception in 2004 following a much-publicized dispute.

The companies include PT Aneka Tambang (Antam), PT Inco, PT Freeport McMoran Indonesia, PT Nusa Halmahera, PT Nataran Mining, PT Indominco Mandiri.

They were mostly operating in the eastern part of the country.

Masyhud said only three had so far entered the exploitation phase -- the Nataran Mining in Lampung, Indominco in East Kalimantan, and Antam in North Maluku.

Forest community empowered in environmental project

Wahyoe Boediwardhana, The Jakarta Post, Pasuruan

State company Perhutani, in charge of managing teak forests on Java Island, is creating a seven-hectare arboretum in East Java to help raise environmental awareness in the region.

The arboretum, in Pasuran, will be jointly developed by the Pasuruan forest management unit (KPH) of Perhutani's East Java office and the Ngudi Lestari Forest Community Group (LMDH) in Prigen.

Pasuruan KPH deputy administrative head Eka Muhamad Ruskanda said his office had provided the land for the arboretum, designed to become a center for scientific and educational purposes in Java.

"The arboretum is expected to function as an educational facility to teach elementary school students about biological diversity, conservation efforts, public education and ecotourism.

"This forest will be the first of its kind in East Java," said Eka on the sidelines of a tree-planting ceremony at the facility.

Eka said the arboretum, located on former pine production forest land at the food of Mount Arjuno, would be home to around 100 tree species by the end of the year.

As an initial step, the Pasuruan KPH and the Ngudi Lestari forest community had planted 35 endemic tree species in the arboretum.

They include the tamarind, Javan plum, yellow/Chinese magnolia, teak, breadfruit, Indonesian bayleaf, cajuput, ironwood, mahogany and pine.

Perhutani provided the land and plant seedlings, while planting, supervision and maintenance will be entrusted to LMDH Ngudi Lestari, supervised directly by the Kaliandra Sejati Foundation (YKS), operator of the Kaliandra resort area which manages an environmental education and Javanese culture training center.

The YKS will also assist in enhancing farmers' skills and provide them with Rp 25 million (approximately US$2,750) as compensation for each hectare of their land to be included in the arboretum.

The educational forest will be guarded by eight farmers. Developers guessed it would ready for public use within five years.

"The facility is aimed at raising environmental awareness of the forest community, such as sharing responsibilities in conservation efforts. It's high time for them to protect and manage the forest," said LMDH Ngudi Lestari leader Faturohman.

Farmers will be allowed to grow seasonal crops until the trees mature, he said.

Farmers will derive earnings from harvesting fruit trees such as guavas and coffee beans, and receive salaries as guides at the arboretum, said Faturohman.

They will also receive proceeds from visitor fees.

"The number of visitors to Kaliandra increases each year. Last year there were 20,000 visitors. If we set aside Rp 1,000 from each visitor, the sum collected would reach Rp 20 million per year," said YKS executive director Agus Wiyono.

He added the program was a form of community-based forest management, and aimed at encouraging the forest community to play an active role in reforestation and forest management.

In 2006, there were around 2,800 hectares of barren forest areas in East Java, but dropped to around 1,000 hectares last year.

"The educational forest is part of efforts to reforest barren areas, but the difference is that it directly involves the local community," said Eka.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Tsunami alert issued after quake in Maluku

The Jakarta Post

JAKARTA (AP): Indonesia briefly issued a tsunami alert on Thursday after a strong earthquake rocked the east of the country.

The Meteorology and Geophysics Agency said the quake had a preliminary magnitude of 6.6, while the U.S. Geological Survey put the initial magnitude at 5.9.

The quake struck 275 kilometers southwest of the Maluku island chain at a depth of 10 kilometers.

The Indonesian agency initially put out a tsunami warning but retracted it after no waves came.

An official said there were no immediate reports of damage as a result of the quake.

Indonesia, the world's largest archipelago with a population of 235 million people, is prone to seismic upheaval because of its location on the "Ring of Fire," an arc of volcanoes and fault lines encircling the Pacific Basin.

A magnitude-9 quake off Sumatra's coast in 2004 triggered a tsunami that killed more than 230,000 people in a dozen countries, most of them in Indonesia.

Reforestation planned for Mt. Ceremai

KUNINGAN, West Java (Jakarta Post) : Some 400 hectares of land on the slope of Mount Ciremai in Kuningan regency will be planted with jarak (Jathropa curcas) trees, says a reforestation activist.

Bambang Suela, coordinator of the regreening program in the regency, said the regreening program would involve 20 groups of 400 farmers from villages near the mountain.

"The farmers are invited to take part in the reforestation program to improve their income and raise awareness of environmental conservation," he said Tuesday.

The coordinator of the Mount Ciremain Conservation Program, Avo Juhartono, said the effort would help prevent floods and landslides in the area.

The environment on the mountain has been deteriorating due to illegal logging, forest fires, semi-nomadic farming and sand mining along rivers flowing from the mountain.

Illegal logs seized in West Kalimantan

BALIKPAPAN, East Kalimantan (Jakarta Post) : The military in West Kalimantan has confiscated some 32,000 logs believed to be illegally looted from rainforests in Putussibau.

Ten groups of people with connections to the logs have been detained by police for further investigation.

Preliminary investigations suggest the logs were stolen from rainforests in Embalok Hilir, Bunut Hilir and Sintang Hulu on Feb. 7-8 and were to be transported to Java and overseas.

In January, 2,500 illegal logs were seized in a joint police and military operation in Sintang regency.

The spokesman for the Tanjungpura Military Command overseeing Kalimantan, Col. Andi Sayuti, said here Tuesday the two cases had been handed to the police in West Kalimantan for further investigation.

He added that those involved in the logging were unemployed locals who had yet to receive a disbursement of rice aid from the local government.

"The aid package of 1.8 tons of rice has yet to reach the poor people in the regency," he said, saying a low-income family received 50 kilograms of rice per month from the local administration.

Quantum to invest US$250 million on biofuel developments in Sumba

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The Quantum Group of Australia will invest up to US$250 million to develop 100,000 hectares of land in East Nusa Tenggara to grow cassava, as well as set up four ethanol processing plants, employing as much as 60,000 local farmers.

The memorandum of understanding between Quantum Petroleum, a subsidiary of Quantum Group, and Southwest Sumba administration was signed Wednesday.

Quantum chief executive officer Ralph Michael told The Jakarta Post the firm would start building the first plant in the fourth quarter of this year, while construction would commence on the other three by the middle of next year.

The firm will invest around $200 million for building the four plants and $50 million for the plantations.

Michael said the 100,000 hectares could produce at least 20 million tons of cassava, or five million tons of sweet potato.

From that yield, a processing plant could produce 100,000 metric tons of bioethanol per year.

"We will employ around 60,000 local farmers to work on the plantation and spend at least $5 million for their wages each month," Michael said.

"The Sumba administration is very supportive, and they are very happy because this project will create employment for the local community," he said.

In a bid to streamline business activities in the backwater province, Quantum suggested the local administration improve infrastructure.

"We have asked the local administration to develop necessary infrastructure such as expanding the airport runway," said Yoseph Wijaya, commercial director of PT Anugrah Kurnia Abadi, Quantum's Indonesian partner.

Anugrah has only a 5 percent share in the joint venture.

Sumba regent Emanuel B. Eha said the administration would fully support the business, and pledged to improve business infrastructure.

"We will support them by providing the facilities they may need," he said.

"This project will have a positive effect on the local economy," Emanuel said.

Aside from biofuel business, Quantum is also planning to plant vegetables and breed Australian cattle.

Indonesia is the second country after Bulgaria where Quantum has invested in bioenergy development projects.

Quantum is also interested to take over palm oil plantations and oil palm processing plants from other local companies.

Quantum originally planned to invest in the bioethanol project in Malaysia six months ago. However, the company decided to shift its operations to Indonesia because of unfavorable regulations set out by the Malaysian authorities. (rff)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

RI calls for harder work to implement climate change action plan

New York (ANTARA News) - Indonesian Environment Minister Rachmat Witoelar called on all countries in the world to work harder to implement the Bali Action Plan agreed on at the Climate Change Conference in Bali last year.

"We should remember that we only have little time, namely in 2008 and 2009 to formulate the four challenges of mitigation, adaptation, transfer of technology and funding, including adaptation funding and illegal logging," Witoelar said at a United Nations General Assembly session on climate change here on Tuesday.

He said both developing and developed countries should work hard to implement the action plan because of the little time left.

The Bali Action Plan is a global plan adopted at the Bali conference to tackle global climate change.

Witoelar said the developed nations should take the lead in implementing the action plan, stressing also, however, that the efforts would only be successful if all parties, including the developing nations, private sector and the peoples of the world, took an active part.

"Developing nations will act more in conjunction with the ambitious commitment of the developed nations," he said.

Indonesia, he added, would keep on playing a role to ensure that all related parties would hand-in-hand realize the commitment to holding a meeting on climate change in 2009.

Representatives from more than 190 countries at the Bali conference managed to pave the way for the formulation of a new framework to repalce the Kyoto Protocol which would expire in 2012.

The Bali Road Map which the Bali conference also produced ackowledged the need to reduce greenhouse emission dramatically, draft a new protocol by 2009 so it could take effect in 2012.

The map obliged the developed nations to reduce their green house emission while the developing nations were asked to do likewise voluntarily.

The developed nations were also requested to transfer environment-friendly technology to the developing or poor nations to help the latter face climate change.

Witoelar also said Indonesia had launched a national action plan (RAN) on climate change in support of the global action plan.

RAN contained guidelines for all parties in Indonesia involved in efforts to cope with climate change.

Indonesia, he said, was now in the process of setting up a climate change center as a starting point to implement the national action plan, facilitate and supervise the utilization of technical assistance from, and the conduct of cooperation, with the international community in efforts to handle climate change.

Tiger skins, bones sold openly in Indonesia

The Jakarta Post

BANGKOK (AP): The critically endangered Sumatran tiger will become extinct unless Indonesia takes swift action to clamp down on the illegal sale of the big cats' body parts across the Southeast Asian country, a conservation group warned Wednesday.

TRAFFIC, a British-based international wildlife trade monitoring network, said in a report that it found tiger bones, claws, skins and whiskers being sold openly in eight cities on Indonesia's Sumatra island in 2006, despite tough laws banning such trade.

The group estimated that 23 tigers had been killed to supply the parts found for sale in souvenir, Chinese medicine and jewelry stores. Prices ranged from the equivalent of US$14 for a tiger claw to about US$116 per kilogram of tiger bones.

"Surveys continue to show that Sumatran tigers are being sold body part by body part into xtinction," said a statement issued by Susan Lieberman, director of the species program for the conservation group WWF, which contributed to the report.

The Sumatran tiger, or Panthera tigris sumatrae, is the world's most critically endangered tiger subspecies - WWF estimates fewer than 400 remain in the wild in comparison to about 1,000 in the 1970s. The tigers' diminishing population is largely blamed on poaching and the destruction of their forest habitat for palm oil and wood pulp plantations.

"This is an enforcement crisis," Lieberman's statement said, adding that Indonesia needs to demonstrate it can cope with the crisis or ask for help from the international community.

Indonesia launched a 10-year plan to protect the Sumatran tiger in December last year. But conservationists complain that Indonesian commitments to preserving wildlife are rarely supported by enforcement measures.

"There is no effective enforcement on the ground," said Chris Shepherd, senior program officer for TRAFFIC, who has been tracking the Indonesian tiger trade for nearly 15 years. "It boils down to lack of resources. Wildlife crime isn't viewed as a high priority in Indonesia or anywhere in Southeast Asia."

Tonny Soehartono, the country's director for biodiversity conservation in the Ministry of Forestry, said efforts were being made to crack down on the illegal wildlife trade. He did not elaborate.

"I believe we have made significant progress," he said.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Climate change 'hurt RI rice production'

JAKARTA (JP): Prolonged droughts and flooding across Indonesia, due in part to climate change, are likely to cost the nation up to 1.6 million tons of rice per year, an official says.

Public Works Ministry's director general of water resources, Iwan Nursyiman, said at a seminar climate change could result in the loss of some 364,500 hectares of active paddy fields, equal to 919,300 tons of rice, due to flooding.

In early January, floods inundated thousands of hectares of land in several central rice producing areas of Java, the nation's main rice growing area, and Jambi. Floods caused more than 36,000 hectares of paddy to fail.

"Nationally, droughts are likely to destroy some 350,000 hectares of rice crops, equivalent to up to 700,000 tons of rice," he said.

The government is targeting a 5 percent increase in national rice production levels, from 58.18 million tons in 2007 to 61.08 million this year.

Iwan said climate change had affected annual rainfall patterns, causing longer dry seasons and shorter rainy seasons with higher intensity rainfall.

Besides climate change, Iwan said, falls in rice production are also being caused by the conversion of irrigated farmland for other purposes, particularly for industry.

Also speaking at the seminar was Rauf Purnama, former president director of PT ASEAN Aceh Fertilizer, who said that without integrated efforts from many related sectors, Indonesia's rice imports would increase, and by 2010 the country would be among the world's largest rice importers.

Indonesia imported 1.2 million tons of rice in 2007.(ndr)

Toll from flood in Situbondo rises to 11, transportation frozen

Wahyoe Boedwardhana and Yemris Fointuna, The Jakarta Post, Situbondo, Kupang

The death toll from major flooding in the East Java city of Situbondo rose to 10 on Sunday, as authorities scrambled to assist victims and reroute traffic around the affected area.

Rain-triggered flooding has damaged Parengian Bridge in Panarukan district, about 4 kilometers from downtown Situbondo, paralyzing land transportation between the provincial capital Surabaya and Banyuwangi.

In addition to the 10 confirmed dead, one person is reported missing. About 1,700 houses have been destroyed and another 1,400 houses have suffered damage.

The dead have been identified as Akhma, 75; Amin Kholik, 55; Mahya, 65; Joyo, 70; Siya, 70; Sumo, 70; Misraya, 50; Jumadi, 65; Nasipah, 50; and Marwiyah, 50.

"The missing person has been identified as Imam, 60, Marwiyah's husband. He is said to have been swept away during the flooding," Solichin, head of the Situbondo Health Office, said.

Days of torrential rain caused the Sampeyan River, which runs through the heart of Situbondo, to burst its banks, causing massive flooding over the weekend.

The damage to Parengian Bridge, which was built in 1990, has forced officials to detour traffic between Surabaya and Banyuwangi to the south, through Probolinggo and Jember, the head of the East Java chapter of the Land Transportation Owners Association, Mustafa, said Sunday.

Mustafa said the detour forced drivers to travel an additional 80 kilometers. At least 200 buses pass through Situbondo on normal days, he said.

"The damaged sections of the bridge are being filled with sand and stone. Hopefully by tomorrow everything will be back to normal," said Yoyok Mulyadi, head of the Situbondo Public Works Office.

Most flood victims said they had yet to receive any assistance from the local administration. Many victims have been reduced to standing on the side of the road asking for handouts.

"We haven't gotten any help since yesterday. I need money to buy food as I haven't eaten since last night. All our belongings were swept away by the flood," said 9-year-old Tri Sutrisno.

In East Nusa Tenggara, four people have died in flooding caused by days of heavy rain.

Ten houses and nearly 1,000 hectares of paddy in the regencies of North Timor Tengah, Sikka, Kupang, Nagekeo and Belu have also been damaged, according to the local disaster mitigation office.

"The four victims were swept away when several nearby rivers overflowed," disaster office secretary Sentianus Medi said.

The four victims have been identified as Imelda Wea and Ros Firgina, both residents of Boawae district in Nagekeo; Marsina Bute, a resident of Tanowawo district in Sikka; and Lusia Iri, a resident of Wulanggitang district in East Flores.

Karel Yani Mbuik, a member of the East Nusa Tenggara Legislative Council, said deforestation on surrounding mountains played a role in the floods.

"The local administration has to speed up reforestation on the mountains and intensify supervision to prevent residents from illegally cutting down trees," he said.