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)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Floods inundate 30,000 ha of rice fields in Lebak

Antara News, Sunday, November 29, 2009 22:31 WIB

Lebak, Banten (ANTARA News) - A total of 30,000 hectares of rice fields in Lebak district, Banten province are inundated by flood water as a result of three days of rain on Tuesday trough Thursday this week.

"The floods damaged paddy fields and caused an estimated loss of hundreds of millions to the local people," natural disaster mitigation task force chief for Lebak, Kaprawi, said over the weekend.

The floods that hit Lebak regency affected 10 subdistricts, namely Manasalam, Malingping, Banjarsari, Cijaku, Celeles, Leuwidamar, Cimarga, Rangkasbitung, Cibada and Kalanganyar.

Greenpeace ends dramatic direct action in Riau

Antara News, Saturday, November 28, 2009 18:18 WIB

Chained protest: Employees from Indah Kiat Pupl and Paper try to force two Greenpeace activists to end their protest against deforestation. The activists chained themselves to cranes at the paper company's port in Siak, Riau, on Wednesday. The police broke up the protest on Thursday. Antara/FB Anggoro

Kampar Peninsula, Riau, (ANTARA News) - Greenpeace Thursday ended a 26-hour dramatic non-violent direct action at the loading facility of Sinar Mas subsidiary of the Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) mill in Riau.

"Ten days ahead of the critical climate summit in Copenhagen, President Yudhoyono has a unique chance to make history by declaring an immediate moratorium on all deforestation and exhibiting the kind of leadership that even the Nobel Prize winning Obama has so far failed to show," said Von Hernandez, Executive Director of Greenpeace Southeast Asia, as reported on the official website of Greenpeace Southeast.

Sinar Mas has been tagged by the group as a leading forest and climate destroyer in Indonesia.

The activity, undertaken by activists from 11 different nationalities, including Indonesia and the USA successfully focused international attention on the critical role that President Yudhoyono and other world Heads of State can play in ending tropical deforestation to avert climate chaos.

Vowing to keep taking their message directly to President Yudhoyono and other world leaders, the group said that thousands of people worldwide have sent petitions and letters to the Indonesian leader urging him to take immediate steps to halt deforestation and peatland destruction in the country, which accounts for the vast majority of Indonesia`s emissions.

"Our non-violent activities in Sumatra over last five weeks have shown world leaders that forest protection is an important piece of the solution if the world is to avert climate chaos. The world cannot afford to lose any more forests and world leaders cannot afford to lose any more time to deliver a fair, ambitious and legally binding climate deal in December," he said.

Such a deal must include a commitment to set up a global fund to end deforestation in countries like Indonesia.

"We will continue to press our demands until our leaders are roused from their denial and inertia on this issue," he added.

On November 12, Greenpeace took action against Sinar Mas owned APP`s rival company APRIL to expose the continued destruction of fragile peatlands of Kampar peninsula on the Island of Sumatra.

Last week, the Indonesia`s Forest Minister Zulkifli Hasan, suspended APRIL from destroying about 56,000 hectares of concession area pending a review of the company`s permits.

Following the non-violent action, eighteen international and Indonesian Greenpeace activists have now been detained by the police. Twelve activists blocked cranes at the company`s port Wednesday (Nov. 25) to stop pulp exports, and displayed banners reading: "Forest Destruction: You can stop this".

Four climbers remained locked onto one of the loading cranes for 26 hours, until removed by the police. Activists were from Indonesia, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India, Switzerland, Belgium, Germany, the Philippines and the Netherlands.

"Once again, we have to say to President Obama, `Right city, wrong date.`

Greenpeace is calling on President Obama to attend on December 18th, commit the US to climate policy the world needs, and earn the Nobel Peace Prize that he is on his way to accept. So far, President Obama has given the world nothing but rhetoric on this issue. We urge him to seize the opportunity to lead his peers towards an urgently needed breakthrough in Copenhagen beginning with a commitment to provide international financing for adaptation, mitigation and forest protection - all necessary components to get agreement from developing nations," said Stephanie Hillman, an American activist detained in Riau.

Related Articles:

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Indonesian President ‘Risks Humiliation’ in Copenhagen

Tree Harvester Offers to Save Indonesian Forest

Commonwealth leaders back climate change fund

Five S. Kalimantan firms ignore environmentally conscious practice : official

Indonesia loses 1.1 mln hectares of forest each year: minister

Environmental damage in S Kalimantan alarming : minister

Greenpeace hails minister for actions against RAPP

Paper giant to withdraw from Indonesia rainforest destruction

Deforestation is a disaster for the environment

Experts to talk in climate change workshop in E Kalimantan

Antara News, Saturday, November 28, 2009 23:59 WIB

Balikpapan, E Kalimantan (ANTARA News) - Several environmental experts including Prof Emil Salim will speak in a workshop on climate change which will be held here on Tuesday (December 1/2009).

"Several governors and environmental experts will attend this workshop," head of Balikpapan environmental agency, Syahrumsyah said here on Saturday.

The workshop carries a theme dubbed "Regional initiatives in anticipation of Global Warming and Climate Change Mitigation".

Speakers in the workshop will include a member of the Presidential Advisory Council (Watimpres) for Environmental Affairs, Emil Salim, Environment Minister Gusti Muhammad Hatta and Chairman of the Climate Change Board, Rahmat Witoelar, Syahrumsyah said.

Several governors who will participate in the workshop are among others from Central Kalimantan, Teras Narang, from Jakarta, Fauzi Bowo, from West Kalimantan, Cornelis Lay, from Papua, Barnabas Suebu, from North Sulawesi, Sinyo Sarundayan, from Aceh, Irwandi Yusuf and from East Kalimantan, Awang Faroek as the host.

The workshop is aimed to give understanding about the latest condition on climate and its impact either globally, nationally and locally, he said.

In addition, it is also aimed at seeking initiatives or efforts for both mitigation and adaptation purposes that have been, are and will be done by the stakeholders in the region and building commitment on policy, funding and integrated action strategies in emission reduction efforts, Syahrumsyah said.

The most important outcome of this workshop will be formulation of the "Balikpapan Declaration" to be submitted in the Conference of Parties (COP) 15 UNCCC (United Nations Climate Change Conference) in Copenhagen in early December 2009," Syahrumsyah added.

Related Articles:

Commonwealth leaders back climate change fund

Int'l forest experts to meet in Bali to discuss sustainable forest system

RI asked to draw up national strategy for UN-REDD

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Environment Group Urges Moratorium on Forest Exploration

Tempo Interactive, Friday, 27 November, 2009 | 21:36 WIB

TEMPO Interactive, Jakarta: Environment group Indonesia Friends of the Earth (Wahana Lingkungan Hidup - Walhi) has urged the government to suspend expansion of forest exploration, stressing that forest recovery program will not do enough without moratorium on forest exploitation.

Director Executive Berry Nahdian Forqan said on Friday Rehabilitation is not enough without moratorium. he said there should be no expansion on forest exploitation during forest recovery.

Walhi urged the government to create comprehensive recovery program which involved local governments and review then revoke all forest exploitation license which have been used for other purposes unspecified in the original license.

Berry confirmed the statement made by the new Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan that forest area in the country has decreased to only around 20 percent.


Environmental damage in S Kalimantan alarming : minister

Antara News, Saturday, November 28, 2009 00:59 WIB | Environment

Banjarmasin (ANTARA News) - Environmental damage in South Kalimatan has reached an alarming level, Environment Minister Gusti Muhammad Hatta said here on Friday.

He said South Kalimantan, known as the "province of one thousand rivers", would some day be hit by big floods if the serious environmental problem was not addressed properly.

"Uncontrolled deforestation, air pollution, and water pollution over the past 15 years are major problems in the province," the environment minister said.

The minister said fires and illegal logging activities in the 2003-2007 period alone had destroyed more than 1.7 million hectares of forest in the province.

He said the extensive forest damage in the province had diminished the water flows in river basins and therefore floods and landslides frequently happened.

In 2007 alone floods hit the province 32 times and in 2008 and 2009 the number continued to increase because of silting up of rivers and illegal logging activities.

Such a condition, according to environment minister, was worsened by the malfunctioning of rivers as a result of domestic and industrial activities.

To overcome the problems, the local government would launch clean-water and blue-sky programs, in addition to the construction of waste water management systems, and rehabilitation of degraded forests.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Whirlwind destroys hundreds of houses in East Java

Antara News, Thursday, November 26, 2009 19:00 WIB

Sidoarjo, E Java (ANTARA News) - A Whirlwind destroyed hundreds of residents` houses in three villages of Kesamben and Wunut, Porong subdistrict and Kalisampurno of Tanggulangin subdistrict, East Java, on Thursday.

Sudarmaji of Wunut village said that some of the houses were flattened while some others had their roofs blown off by the whirlwind. "It happened so quickly. The whirlwind lasted for only about 15 minutes but the damage it caused is massive," he said.

He said that the whirlwind began at 4 pm and lasted for about 15 minutes during which it was able to blow down houses and blow off their roofs.

"Some of the houses were flattened while the walls of some others collapsed," he said adding it was drizzling before the whirlwind hit the villages all of a sudden.

Related Articles:

Immorality has caused disasters : Minister

RI to expand research for sustainable development

The Jakarta Post , Jakarta | Thu, 11/26/2009 1:30 PM

Indonesia aims to increase its scientific research capacity through the establishment an international research center that fosters cooperation between local and foreign universities.

The Indonesian Institute of Science (LIPI) launched Wednesday the International Center for Interdisciplinary and Advanced Research (ICIAR), as part of an initiative to promote preservation of the environment and to advance food security.

The center was established through cooperation between the institute and the the State Research and Technology Ministry, as well as the National Education Ministry.

The center is going to work with the United Nations Universities in Japan and New York, the Wageningen University in the Netherlands, the Kyoto University in Japan and the Swiss German University in Serpong, Banten.

Swiss German University is the first international university offering a double degree from both Indonesia and Europe for local students.

State Minister for Research and Technology Suharna Surapranata said in his speech that the center would propel scientific research in the country.

The center's chairman, Jan Sopaheluwakan, said he expected the center to become a melting pot of advanced studies from various scientific fields and to influence decision makers in the country through its research results.

Jan, who is also LIPI's deputy chairman for scientific studies, said the center would focus on developing research on biogeodynamics, sustainable environmental practices, climate change and disaster mitigation, coastal community resilience and conflict and crisis management, as well as food, health, biomedical and intercultural studies.

He said this would be made possible through networking with foreign partner universities.

"United Nations University, for example, has extensive networks in UN member countries," he said during the center's launching ceremony.

"This will help Indonesia catch up with other nations' achievements, which address environmental and human security problems."

Associate Director of the Institute for Environment and Human Security at the United Nations University, Fabrice Renaud, said the new center would extend the role of his institute in promoting solutions related to the environmental dimension of human security.

"We are putting the individual, social groups and their livelihoods at the center of debate, analysis and policy," he said.

"Our university has acted as a bridge between the UN and the academic world since 1973."

Senior Researcher at Wageningen University, A. Schrevel, said his university would work together with the center on low-land management projects in Sumatra and Kalimantan for two to three years.

"Significant peatland losses on the islands have increasingly contributed to the release of emissions," he said.

Jan said this center would change the old paradigm of local universities.

"Most local universities have not yet prioritized research programs. Lecturers help their students research certain topics only to help them fulfill their academic requirements," he said.

He called such universities as "teaching universities", which had yet to improve their research functions due to limited facilities. (nia)

Govt plans to rehabilitate 2.5 million hectares of forest

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Thu, 11/26/2009 6:24 PM

Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan says the government will rehabilitate 2.5 million hectares of critical forest area over the next five years through a program that involves local residents

Under the community forest program, a family will be granted the right to manage up to 15 hectares of forest area for a maximum 35 years. The family will be allowed to cultivate plants of their choice, including rubber trees.

“In the past a resident could control millions of hectare of forest, which certainly defies the sense of justice,” Zulkilfi said as quoted by Antara.

The government will also provide forest rehabilitation fund to help the residents manage the forest, Zulkifli said.

“Through the program we aim to rehabilitate forest and improve the welfare of people living near the forest,” he added.

The government estimates about 16,000 families live near forest areas across the country.

104 Tourism Villages in Indonesia by 2010


High-school students on excursion to Tanjung tourism village, Donoharjo, Ngaglik District, Sleman Regency, Yogyakarta.

JAKARTA, - The Minister of Culture and Tourism, Jero Wacik aims at developing 104 tourism villages by 2010. "The tourism village development program has been in progress for two years, and last year 10 villages have been set as the pilot project" he said, in Jakarta, Wednesday.

The tourism village program is considered as an effective way to increase the people's welfare by developing the tourism character of the village. The program is funded by PNPM Mandiri, a government funding program from small-scale businesses, and arranged by the Coordinating Minister for People's Welfare.

"Last year, for instance, we developed a piloting project on a village in Yogyakarta. Stores to support the tourism sector were built in the village."

The tourism village project is included in the Department of Culture and Tourism's 100-day program, thus it's a promise of performance to the president. The ministry has received suggestions of various villages with the potential for tourism.

The Department of Culture and Tourism has screened the suggestions and set 104 villages as the places that will be developed with the PNPM Mandiri. Aside from that, the ministry will also work hand-in-hand with the Coordinating Minister for People's Welfare and the relevant Regency or Municipality government to achieve the target.

Tourism villages are very potential to be developed, considering that for the last few years agrotourism and ecotourism have been great interests for tourists. Wacik hopes that with the tourism villages the target for international and national tourists will be achieved. This year his ministry expects 6.4 million international tourists and 227 million domestic ones until the end of 2010. (MBK/C17-09)

Editor: jimbon

Indonesia's loggers scrutinized ahead of climate summit

Reuters, Wed Nov 25, 2009 8:30pm EST

Burnt trees in a peatland area of Teluk Meranti village in Pelalawan, in Indonesia's Riau province November 10, 2009. Home to about 10 percent of the world's rainforests, deforestation in Indonesia occurred at an average rate of 1.08 million hectares a year between 2000 and 2005, according to the Ministry of Forestry. (REUTERS/Beawiharta)

TELUK MERANTI, Indonesia (Reuters) - Logging in Indonesia can be a murky business involving navigating government bureaucracy to get permits and land concessions in one of the world's most corrupt countries, to winning the hearts and minds of villagers living near the rainforests.

As the issue of deforestation gets set to take center-stage at a global climate change conference in Copenhagen next month, the rapid decline of Indonesia's rainforests has come into the spotlight following heated protests by Greenpeace at the site of a carbon-rich rainforest in Sumatra that is slated for logging.

Indonesia's government has pledged to slow down deforestation, but the process of granting concessions is far from transparent in a country where bribe-taking by officials is common and local governments actively seek investment by logging firms, as well as palm oil plantations on cleared forests.

"There's a long legacy of concerns about the integrity of decision-making in the zoning process and the concession-granting process," said Frances Seymour, director general of the Indonesia-based Center for International Forestry Research.

Home to about 10 percent of the world's rainforests, deforestation in Indonesia occurred at an average rate of 1.08 million hectares a year between 2000 and 2005, according to the Ministry of Forestry. A 2007 World Bank report found Indonesia to be the world's third largest emitter of greenhouse gases behind the United States and China, largely due to massive fires to clear peatland forests. The government rejected the report.

Aside from the risk of corruption tainting the permit granting process, conservationists say that a lack of a coherent government policy on logging rights has led to the granting of concessions in some of the country's most fragile forests.

The Forestry Ministry last week temporarily suspended operations by Asia Pacific Resources International Holdings Limited (APRIL) in Kampar Peninsula, a stretch of rainforest with a rich and rare flora and fauna, including the endangered Sumatran tiger.

The ministry issued the three-month permit review to "see whether it was appropriate to grant this permit," according to Wandojo Siswanto, a senior adviser to the Forestry Minister.

"We in the Ministry of Forestry have a program to examine permits being given on peatland areas to determine optimal management of these areas," he said.

Given that APRIL's logging camps were set up months ago, some conservationists wonder why this process was not done before APRIL was awarded the 56,000 hectare government peatland concession. Peatlands are 50 to 60 percent carbon and when they are exposed from logging or dredging, they release massive amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

The permit review followed a high profile campaign by Greenpeace activists who camped outside APRIL's concession in dengue-infested rainforest. Protestors chained themselves to APRIL's bulldozers, leading to the arrest and deportation of several activists and foreign journalists.

The process in which logging permits are granted in Indonesia is far from transparent. To obtain a permit, a company must have its application documents, including recommendations from local government officials and environmental reports, processed by the Ministry of Forestry.

"Corruption can happen at any stage of the process. You can pay for any report or letter you need and there often is falsification of documents," said Bambang Setiono, director of the Environmental and Natural Resources Economic Institute and one Indonesia's foremost experts on money laundering in the forestry sector.

"It would be very easy for the Minister or the department to check that the documents match conditions on the ground but often they do not."

Indonesia's Corruption Eradication Commission has launched several probes relating to the Forestry Ministry which processes permit applications, but, so far, no major heads have rolled.


After the permits are obtained, the logging companies all too frequently turn their sights on winning the hearts and minds of villagers living near their concession, offering them gifts and assistance for their support.

"I don't think these activities are just for the sake of the local people. If they don't do this, the local people will not cooperate. They are buying the support of the local people," said Setiono.

Often the logging companies bring services and infrastructure to sorely neglected villages such as Teluk Meranti, an 800-family fishing hamlet on the fringe of APRIL's Kampar concession, which suffers daily power cuts and has just a mudslick of a main road.

"Really, the government should be fixing our road and mosque, not APRIL," said Hendrizal, a 23-year-old unemployed villager. "Of course APRIL wants something from us! That's why they are helping us. But if they don't help us, who will?"

He was among thousands of locals who were courted by APRIL after it received its Riau concession.

The company sent social workers to Hendrizal's village to woo the locals with promises of jobs, scholarships, free circumcisions for boys in keeping with Islamic law, and a renovation of the local mosque -- all in exchange for co-operation and permission to log their forest.

"If a paper company wants to give us money and compensation, they can take our forest, as far as I am concerned. Global warming is not our business. The most important thing for us is having enough to get by," said Hendrizal.


There are over 500 logging companies operating in Indonesia. APRIL and Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) are the biggest. Other firms include Kiani Lestari, Kiani Kertas, Tanjung Enim Lestari Pulp and Paper and Sumalindo Lestari Jaya.

In the wake of the Greenpeace protests at APRIL's Riau concession, Finland's UPM-Kymmene, the world's third largest paper manufacturer, ended its pulp purchase contract with APRIL in November. It cited better access to pulp thanks to its raised stake in a mill in Uruguay.

The Finnish firm stressed in a press release its commitment to "forest management and forest harvesting practices based on the principles of sustainable development," and said this also applied to its use of external pulp suppliers, but declined to comment on whether its decision to drop APRIL was also triggered by the firm's forest management practices.

APRIL says it always acts within the law and takes a sustainable approach to logging, including by declaring part of its concession a protected area.

"APRIL is committed to ethical business practices and does not condone any action that is against this principle," the company said in an official statement to Reuters.

Meanwhile, APRIL's efforts to win support by Teluk Meranti villagers for its operation have caused a split in the community, with half the village tempted to support the logging and the other half fighting to protect their trees.

"This forest belongs to the people. What would happen to our grandchildren if there was no forest? Where would they get wood for the houses?" said Muhamad Nasir, 54, a farmer who makes about 34.8 million rupiah ($3,696) a year from his 13 hectares of farmland, where he grows corn and palm oil.

Nasir said he fears that if APRIL gets access to the forest, the wild pigs and monkeys driven out by the logging will eat his crops. His neighbor, Hariyono, 38, worries that if the peatbogs are drained to make way for acacia trees, the water that leaks into the river will kill the fish stocks.

For its part, faced with vocal and unwanted publicity from Greenpeace's protest, APRIL is ready with its own campaign.

"We have spent more than a million euro ($1.49 million) on research on how we manage the peatland concession to reduce carbon emissions," said APRIL's Sustainability Director, Neil Franklin, who added that 15,000 hectares of the firm's concession will be protected and another 5,300 hectares set aside for community use.

"We want to maintain, to manage Kampar properly."

Franklin also said that the peatbogs would not be drained and that the firm would actually reduce greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 55 percent by repairing peatlands damaged by previous farming practices.

Bustar Maitar, a Greenpeace forest campaigner involved in the protests at Kampar, is skeptical of APRIL's efforts to present its logging plan as environmentally friendly.

"It's clearly green-washing," he said. "What they really must do is to stop their expansion right now, which will destroy natural forest and peat."

($1 = 9,415 Rupiah)

(Additional reporting by Aloysius Bhui in Jakarta; Editing by Sara Webb and Megan Goldin)

Related Article:

Deforestation is a disaster for the environment

Riau police stop Greenpeace forest protest

Chained protest: Employees from Indah Kiat Pupl and Paper try to force two Greenpeace activists to end their protest against deforestation. The activists chained themselves to cranes at the paper company's port in Siak, Riau, on Wednesday. The police broke up the protest on Thursday. Antara/FB Anggoro

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Floods inundate thousands of houses in Banten

Antara News, Wednesday, November 25, 2009 17:57 WIB

Lebak (ANTARA News) - Floods have inundated thousands of houses and rice fields with the water reaching a height of up to two meters in two sub districts, Lebak District, Banten Province.

There were no reports of casualties in the disaster so far, said Alkadri, a spokesman of the Lebak District administration, here on Wednesday.

The floods affected seven villages at Wanasalam sub district and nine villages at Banjarsari sub district, he said.

Incessant heavy rains which had fallen since Tuesday evening, triggered local rivers to overflow, he said.

Local authorities were making efforts to evacuate flood victims and to distribute relief aid, especially food and medicines, he said.

"These two sub districts are prone to floods when rains fall," he said.

Cikeusik River overflew and flooded villages, Banjarsari Sub District Head Pardi, said.

Last Saturday (Nov. 21), hundreds of houses and rice fields were inundated as the Ciliman, Cilemer, and Cisanggoma rivers in Pendeglang District, Banten, overflowed.

The floods put eight villages under 70-cm-to-100-cm of water, Patia Sub District Head Maman, said on Saturday.

The sub district is located between the Ciliman and Cilemer rivers and prone to floods, he said.

At least 720 houses and hectares or rice fields were inundated, he said.

On Sumatra Island, floods triggered by incessant heavy rains over the past two days, also inundated a number of villages in Julok sub district, East Aceh, on Saturday (Nov. 21).

Tens of houses had been invaded by the floodwaters since the wee hours of Saturday, according to Tgk Safri Akbari, a local resident of Julok sub district.

Among villages affected by the floods were Medeung Ara, Julok, Blang Mideuen and Blang Jambe.

Hectares of rice fields were also inundated in East Aceh District which has a population of 4.6 million and experiences annual flooding. Indonesia is currently entering rainy season.

Herbal remedy with a modern touch

I.D. Nugroho , The Jakarta Post , Surabaya | Wed, 11/25/2009 10:43 AM

Just as ginseng is synonymous with Korea, temulawak or Java turmeric is a natural medical treasure native to Indonesia.

As part of Indonesia’s centuries-old traditional healing practices, temulawak has long been used as an anti-inflammatory and antibacterial agent in treating many ailments, including swelling, gastric and digestive problems, stiff muscles, coughs and runny nose.

“As far as we know, temulawak can only be found in Indonesia,” says Gunawan T., managing director of Helmigs Prima Sejahtera, a pharmaceutical and curcumin products manufacturer.

“There are some individuals in several countries, like Malaysia, who have done research on their own varieties of temulawak at Yonsei University in South Korea, but the results show these plants are nothing like temulawak.”

So even if the Java turmeric exists elsewhere, Gunawan says, “I can confidently say the best temulawak comes from Indonesia.”

Having the best variety is one thing, but Indonesia can also churn out the stuff by the truckload.

Central Java and East Java, for instance, are just two of several provinces that farm temulawak on a large scale.

East Java alone produces up to 9 million kilograms of ready-to-sell temulawak each year. Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s hometown of Pacitan in the province is the country’s temulawak hub, recording harvests of 5 million kilograms of the tuber each year.

Other East Java towns, such as Trenggalek, Malang and Pasuruan, are also major producers.

The head of the Pacitan horticulture agency, Budiwahyuningsih, says the geographical conditions in the west of the province, where Pacitan is located, are perfect for growing temulawak. She points out the dry, hillside soil is ideal for the plant as well as for ginger and turmeric, which don’t really require water.

“There’s no special trick to growing temulawak,” Budiwahyuningsih says.

“Just plant them like normal in between teak or clove trees.”

She says temulawak plants grow to an average height of 1 meter, and are ready for harvest within seven to 12 months. The best time to harvest temulawak is toward the 10th to 12th months, when the leaves start dying.

“Temulawak is a unique because the plant has a long life cycle,” she says.

“So even if you don’t harvest it now, you can still do so at the next harvest season.”

After harvest, the rhizomes or tubers are cleaned and diced up into thin slices. They are then dried in an oven before being packed for the distributors who in turn sell them to manufacturers of temulawak-based products.

Gunawan’s company, Helmigs Prima Sejahtera, in the East Java capital Surabaya, is one of a handful of such manufacturers. Established in 1993, the company markets a range of products, including curcumin sugar-free effervescent, curcumin tablets, curcumin candy with Xylitol, and curcumin health drinks.

Factory manager Sutarko Tantra says the company processes several tons of temulawak extract into ready-to-consume products each day, combining traditional and modern methods.

The modern methods include the measurement of the properties contained in temulawak and the packaging of the curcumin extract into tablets and sachets using a machine imported from China.

“We follow high standards with high quality control because we don’t only market our products in Indonesia, but also overseas,” Sutarko says, adding the export markets include Singapore, the Philippines, Thailand, Hong Kong, Canada, the Netherlands, South Korea and the United Arab Emirates.

He says most of the company’s products are exported, because based on their studies, foreigners are more aware of the health benefits of temulawak.

“The biggest demand for our products comes from Korea, for instance,” Sutarko says, adding most Indonesians are far less aware about the wonder herb.

In 2007, for instance, when the government launched the National Campaign for the Temulawak Drink, business such as hotels did not embrace the plan to serve the herb as a welcome drink. The opposite holds true in Malaysia and Korea, Sutarko says.

“In Malaysia, the government is endorsing the Tongkat Ali drink in really attractive promotional ways,” he points out.

Former Indonesian research and technology minister Kusmayanto Kadiman said in September that the government was working on making temulawak a part of Indonesians’ daily lives – in food, cosmetics, medicine and dietary supplements.

In efforts to promote temulawak to the world, Indonesian researchers and producers have shown their support for the government, as demonstrated through the first international symposium on temulawak in Bogor last year.

“The Indonesian government must work to promote temulawak among local residents and the world before any other country stakes a claim to temulawak,” Gunawan says.

Dian Kuswandini contributed to this story from Jakarta.

A Climate Threat Rising from Indonesia’s Peatlands

The Jakarta Globe, Andrew Higgins

Freshly hydrated peat from fields near Taruna Jaya, Indonesia. Dry and disintegrating peat is releasing massive quantities of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere when it burns. (Photo: Linda Davidson, WP)

Across a patch of pineapples shrouded in smoke in Taruna Jaya, Idris Hadrianyani battled a menace that has left his family sleepless and sick — and has wrought as much damage on the planet as has exhaust from all the cars and trucks in the United States. Against the advancing flames, he waved a hose with a handmade nozzle confected from a plastic soda bottle.

The lopsided struggle is part of a battle against one of the biggest, and most overlooked, causes of global climate change: a vast and often smoldering layer of coal-black peat that has made Indonesia the world’s third-biggest emitter of greenhouse gases after China and the United States.

Unlike the noxious gases pumped into the atmosphere by gas-guzzling sport-utility vehicles in the United States and smoke-belching factories in China, danger here in the heart of Borneo rises from the ground itself.

Peat, formed over thousands of years from decomposed trees, grass and scrub, contains gigantic quantities of carbon dioxide, which used to stay locked in the ground. It is now drying and disintegrating, as once-soggy swamps are shorn of trees and drained by canals, and when it burns, carbon dioxide gushes into the atmosphere.

Amid often acrimonious debate over how to curb global warming ahead of a critical UN conference next month in Copenhagen, “peat is the big elephant in the room,” said Agus Purnomo, head of Indonesia’s National Council on Climate Change. Dealing with it, he said, requires that the world answer a vexing question: How to make protection of the environment as economically rewarding as its often lucrative destruction?

Carbon trading was meant to do just that by allowing developing countries that cut their emissions to sell carbon credits. But this, and other incentives for conservation ,developed since a UN conference in Kyoto, Japan, in 1997, have done nothing to protect Indonesia’s abused peatlands.

Less than a quarter of a century ago, 75 percent of Kalimantan — which comprises three Indonesian regions on the island of Borneo — was covered in thick forests.

Gnawed away since by loggers, oil palm plantations and grandiose state projects, the forests have since shrunk by about half. Each year, Indonesia loses forest area roughly the size of Connecticut.

Fires, meanwhile, have grown more frequent and serious. Since centuries, Kalimantan locals have burned forestland to create plots for farming. But what used to be small, controlled fires have become fearsome conflagrations as dry and degraded peat goes up in smoke.

Even when not burning, dried peat leaks a slow but steady stream of carbon dioxide and other gases. Once it catches fire, the stream becomes a torrent.

In 2006, according to Wetlands International, a Dutch research and lobbying group, Indonesia’s peatlands released roughly 1.9 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide — equal to the combined emissions that year of Germany, Britain and Canada, and more than US emissions from road and air travel.

How dirt became so dangerous — and why reversing the damage is so difficult — is on grim display here in Central Kalimantan, inhabited by about two million people and a rapidly dwindling population of orangutans. Economic logic here is firmly on the side of those wrecking the environment.

For example, Hadrianyani, the firefighter in Taruna Jaya, also has another job: He clears peatland of trees and scrub for cultivation, a task done most easily by burning. That work earns him about $8 a day, twice what he gets for putting out fires.

Across Kalimantan, logging and palm oil companies deploy formidable economic, and real, firepower against environmental activists trying to protect the fragile peat. On a recent afternoon in Lamunti, a desolate Central Kalimantan settlement crisscrossed with fetid canals, the rival camps faced off.

On one side of a wooden barrier at the entrance to PT Globalindo Agung Lestari, an oil palm estate, stood a dozen or so out-of-town environmental activists with a bullhorn. On the other side stood company security guards, local police officers and Indonesian soldiers with automatic weapons.

Villagers, though angry at the plantation, stayed away: They didn’t want to lose their jobs tending oil palm. The pay is about $3 a day and the work backbreaking, but “when you don’t have anything, you have to support the company,” said Budi, 21.

Interviewed away from the company’s compound, villagers accused its managers of stealing their land.

The village chief, Syahrani, said he was trying to get compensation but didn’t hold out much hope. Globalindo’s bosses “have all the power. They control everything,” he said.

Of the 600 working-age people in his village, 75 percent work at Globalindo. Acting estate manager Karel Yoseph Rauy declined to comment on allegations that his company had pilfered land.

The uneven match of reality and good intentions has put Central Kalimantan’s government in a bind.

“The carbon here is huge. It should be safeguarded like Fort Knox,” said Humda Pontas, the Maine-educated head of the economics department at the regional planning board.

The deforestation of Kalimantan began with loggers. Then, in 1995, Indonesia’s authoritarian ruler, Suharto, launched a plan to turn nearly 2.5 million acres of peatland into a rice farm.

Suwido Limin, a local scientist, protested that the plan would never work. The government dismissed him as a communist.

Suharto’s “mega rice” project turned out to be a disastrous flop. “It was supposed to produce rice. It just produced haze,” said Limin, who runs a peat research center and has joined with American bank JP Morgan to develop a project to fight peatland fires — and earn money from carbon credits.

A year after Suharto fell from power in 1998, Jakarta pulled the plug on his rice folly. Since then, Indonesian and foreign experts have struggled to figure out how to repair the damage. An Indonesian-Dutch plan to rehabilitate the area put the price tag at about $700 million.

The hope is that a big chunk of this might come from carbon trading if delegates at next month’s Copenhagen conference agree to expand the system of conservation incentives to cover peatlands. The Indonesian-Dutch plan calculates that emissions reductions in the former mega-rice zone could fetch $50 million to $100 million a year on the carbon market.

Agustin Teras Narang, governor of Central Kalimantan, likes the idea of earning big money from his region’s vast peatland vault of carbon dioxide.

But, with no sign of peat turning into a profit center anytime soon, the governor’s big concern is getting Jakarta to let him turn more of Central Kalimantan’s forests over to production — primarily rubber and oil palm plantations.

When fires raced across his territory in September, Narang had seven firetrucks to cover an area bigger than Virginia and Maryland combined.

Schools shut down, the airport closed, and hospitals struggled to cope with thousands of patients suffering from respiratory problems.

The fires also delivered a devastating blow to Limin, the peat researcher. Flames reduced his research camp to charcoal.

Before the fires started, Limin was working on a big experimental project to reduce fire risk and thus carbon emissions. Financing was to come largely from JP Morgan’s ClimateCare unit, headed by British engineer Mike Mason, an Oxford-based climate entrepreneur. Mason took the project to a UN climate committee in Germany that decides whether they might qualify to earn carbon credits.

In June, the committee rejected the proposal, arguing that peat fires are a natural phenomenon and, therefore, not eligible. (Most experts disagree and say the fires are not natural.) Limin put his ambitious firefighting plans on hold.

When flames advanced on his forest encampment in September, he had just a couple of dozen men to battle them. After days of struggle, they retreated.

After his camp was gobbled up, Limin stood near a table on which a police-band radio crackled with reports from the forest of yet more flames.

He groaned. Saving peat and the planet, Limin said, requires that people get paid: “Who will work without pay? Nobody.”

The Washington Post