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)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Gamalama Eruption Leaves Bitter Taste, Dead Crops in Spice Islands

Jakarta Globe, Antara, December 27, 2011

Mount Gamalama spews thick ashes and gas as seen from Ternate,
 Indonesia, on Dec. 5. The mud and ash left from the explosion have
 decimated local farmers' crops, leaving many with little hope of making
ends meet. (EPA Photo)
Related articles

Muhammad Kasim, a 35-year-old clove farmer, has had to delay his plan to go on the Hajj pilgrimage next year because of damage to his crops on the slopes of Mount Gamalama following an eruption earlier this month.

The clove fields surrounding Moya subdistrict in Ternate, North Maluku, have been blanketed in volcanic ash since the Dec. 5 eruption.

“The crops are damaged and the harvest this year will not bring in anything significant,” Kasim said.

He said he had been counting on receiving Rp 70 million ($7,705) for his crops, Rp 32 million of which he would have set aside to fund his pilgrimage.

Kasim, however, can count himself more fortunate than many of his neighbors, as he also runs a small store close to his home that brings him Rp 2 million a month.

Kirman, a nutmeg farmer, said he had initially planned on using the proceeds from the harvest to build a house, but the eruption has put an end to such prospects.

The volcanic ash has destroyed most of his mangosteen and durian crops as well.

“I don’t know how I’ll make ends meet,” he said. “I don’t have any other source of income.”

Thousands of farmers in Ternate face similarly bleak prospects, but they are not the only victims of the disaster. The lahar — mudflow of volcanic debris deposited in rivers and streams — has destroyed more than 100 houses along riverbanks, the municipal administration reports.

“We estimate the cost of the damage due to the eruption at Rp 15 billion,” said Jemmy D. Brifing, head of the local Regional Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD).

Members of the Ternate legislative council called on the Ternate and North Maluku administrations, as well as the central government, to send aid to farmers and other affected residents .

Local councilor Asgar Saleh said that people in the area were struggling to pull through.

“I’ve asked Ternate officials to gather data on the affected people so any assistance we can offer them can be included in the administration’s budget,” he said.

If funds from the Ternate budget are insufficient, Asgar added, he will seek funds from the provincial and central governments. He also called on large businesses in the province to step in and aid the relief effort.

Marlison Hakim, the central bank representative in Ternate, said there was a need for farmers to manage their finances better.

Clove and nutmeg farmers in the area reap tens of millions of rupiah, and sometimes hundreds of millions, during each harvest. However, the money is quickly spent on consumer goods, he said, adding that if a certain amount were put in a savings account after each harvest, the farmers would have a financial safety net.

Ternate Mayor Burhan Abdurrahman said the city and provincial administrations were committed to helping the victims of the eruption rebuild.

Mt. Gamalama’s most recent eruptions were in 1980, 1992 and 2003. The largest eruption on record took place in 1712. Debris from that eruption can today be seen throughout Ternate.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Yudhoyono Criticizes Foreign Environmental NGOs

Jakarta Globe, Arientha Primanita, December 22, 2011

A heavy machine clearing up forest in Tripa swamp forest, Nagan Raya,
 Aceh province, Indonesia. Villagers who live around the forest filed a
 law suit against Aceh's charismatic governor Irwandi Yusuf for giving a
private company a permit to convert it into a palm oil plantation. (AP Photo)
Related articles

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Thursday criticized foreign environmental organizations that he claimed overly attacked Indonesian forestry policy.

“Don’t mess with Indonesia as if our nation has no government, no people and as if Indonesia doesn’t want to save its environment,” he said during a speech at a Mother’s Day celebration.

He said criticism is constructive, but Indonesia has been overly criticized.

While it is positive to maintain forests, he said that it was equally important to increase people’s welfare by creating forestry businesses, such as palm oil plantations.

“But if Indonesia is requested to close down all palm oil plantations, it will destroy Indonesia’s economy and millions of people will lose their jobs,” he said. “This is overwhelming.”

Indonesia has made several international media headlines recently after a controversial permit was issued by Aceh Governor Irwandi Yusuf for a pristine, wildlife-rich forest to be razed and replaced by a palm oil plantation.

Yudhoyono said all nations in the world have a moral obligation to contribute to the effort to save the environment, especially advanced nations where he claimed forests have almost disappeared.

“Indonesia plants a billion trees a year, and it should also be done by other nations for the sake of humanity worldwide.”

German village generates 321 percent more renewable energy than it needs, earns millions selling it back to national power grid

Natural News, Monday, December 19, 2011 by: Ethan A. Huff, staff writer

German village of Wildpoldsried generates 321 percent more renewable
energy than it needs

(NaturalNews) Developing a renewable energy system that creates energy independence and even a considerable new source of revenue is not some sort of sci-fi pipe dream. BioCycle reports that the German village of Wildpoldsried, population 2,600, has had such incredible success in building its renewable energy system. Wildpoldsried generates 321 percent more renewable energy than it uses, and it now sells the excess back to the national power grid for roughly $5.7 million in additional revenue every single year.

By utilizing a unique combination of solar panels, "biogas" generators, natural wastewater treatment plants, and wind turbines, Wildpoldsried has effectively eliminated its need to be attached to a centralized power grid, and created a thriving renewable energy sector in the town that is self-sustaining and abundantly beneficial for the local economy, the environment, and the public.

You can view some amazing pictures of the Wildpoldsried village at: (

Possessing admirable vision for the town and strong motivation to see the project as a whole succeed, Mayor Arno Zengerie has led the way for many years in making Wildpoldsried's energy independence efforts a success. As far back as 1997, the village has been investing in building and promoting new industries, maintaining a strong local economy, generating new forms of revenue, and ultimately staying out of debt. And the best way it saw fit to accomplish much of this was through the implementation of self-sustaining, renewable energy technologies.

Not only did Wildpoldsried successfully reduce the amount of time expected to generate the necessary funds to build local treasures like a sports hall, theater stage, pub, and retirement home with the revenue generated by its thriving renewable energy sector -- the village has already successfully built nine community buildings, with more on the way -- but it also achieved all this and more without going into debt.

"We often spend a lot of time talking to our visitors about how to motivate the village council (and Mayor) to start thinking differently," said Mayor Zengerle, who now gives talks around the world about the successes of his award-winning village. "We show them a best practices model in motion and many see the benefits immediately. From the tour we give, our guests understand how well things can operate when you have the enthusiasm and conviction of the people.

Be sure to read the full, inspiring account of Wildpoldsried's history of, and successes in, renewable energy at: (

  (Photo: RNW)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Two ministers to facilitate geothermal projects in forest areas

Antara News, Mon, December 19 2011

Jero Wacik (right) and Zulkifli Hasan (left).
(ANTARA/Prasetyo Utomo)

Related News

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Jero Wacik and Forestry Minister Zukfili Hassan on Monday inked an agreement to facilitate implementation of geothermal energy projects in production and protected and development of the same energy sources in conservation forest areas.

Under the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed by the two ministers, the two parties would coordinate with each other on and speed up the issuance of licences for geothermal development projects in production, protected and conservation forest areas in the country.

Jero Wacik said on the occasion the country`s need for energy was increasing continuously and therefore development of alternative energy sources including geothermal had become an absolute need.

"We will from now on more seriously encourage development of geothermal energy sources," Wacik said, noting that 40 percent of the world`s geothermal energy potentials was to be found in Indonesia.

Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hassan for his part said the agreement with the energy and mineral resources minister was made in line with a presidential instruction to speed up development of geothermal energy resources.

"This MoU will support the government`s program to build a 10,000-MW power production capacity," he said.

Jero said in the MoU the two sides had set the time required to issue a license for the initiation of a geothermal development project in a protected forest area at 1 to 7 months and to speed up the issuance of permits for 28 such projects across the country.

The 28 peojects were located at Lumit Balai, Sarulla, Karaha, Telaga Ngebel, Bedugul, Gunung Ungaran, Gunung Rajabasa, Rauntau Dedap, Gunung Tampomas, Hu`u Daha, Sorik Merapi., Sokaria.

Also at Tangkuban Perahu, Balwen Ijen, Baturaden, , Wayang Windu, Patuha, Dieng, Kaldera Danau Banten, Cisolok Sukarame, Lili Panangawan, Sungai Penuh, Hululais, Kamojang 5 and 6, Sibayak, Iyang Argopuro, Kotamobagu and Darajat.

"The stipulation of a maximum period for the issuance of a license is meant to give the developer certainty in applying for a license and to minimize the possibility of overlaps in the designation of the frest areas concerned," Jero said.

Editor: Priyambodo RH

Friday, December 16, 2011

Carrots in the car park. Radishes on the roundabout. The deliciously eccentric story of the town growing ALL its own veg

Daily Mail, by Vincent Graff, 10th December 2011

Admittedly, it sounds like the most foolhardy of criminal capers, and one of the cheekiest, too.

Outside the police station in the small Victorian mill town of Todmorden, West Yorkshire, there are three large raised flower beds.

If you’d visited a few months ago, you’d have found them overflowing with curly kale, carrot plants, lettuces, spring onions — all manner of vegetables and salad leaves.

Today the beds are bare. Why? Because people have been wandering up to the police station forecourt in broad daylight and digging up the vegetables. And what are the cops doing about this brazen theft from right under their noses? Nothing.

Food for thought: Todmorden resident Estelle Brown, a former interior
designer, with a basket of home-grown veg

Well, that’s not quite correct.

‘I watch ’em on camera as they come up and pick them,’ says desk officer Janet Scott, with a huge grin. It’s the smile that explains everything.

For the vegetable-swipers are not thieves. The police station carrots — and thousands of vegetables in 70 large beds around the town — are there for the taking. Locals are encouraged to help themselves. A few tomatoes here, a handful of broccoli there. If they’re in season, they’re yours. Free.

So there are (or were) raspberries, apricots and apples on the canal towpath; blackcurrants, redcurrants and strawberries beside the doctor’s surgery; beans and peas outside the college; cherries in the supermarket car park; and mint, rosemary, thyme and fennel by the health centre.

The vegetable plots are the most visible sign of an amazing plan: to make Todmorden the first town in the country that is self-sufficient in food.

‘And we want to do it by 2018,’ says Mary Clear, 56, a grandmother of ten and co-founder of Incredible Edible, as the scheme is called.

‘It’s a very ambitious aim. But if you don’t aim high, you might as well stay in bed, mightn’t you?’


So what’s to stop me turning up with a huge carrier bag and grabbing all the rosemary in the town?

‘Nothing,’ says Mary.

What’s to stop me nabbing all the apples?


All your raspberries?


It just doesn’t happen like that, she says. ‘We trust people. We truly believe — we are witness to it — that people are decent.’

When she sees the Big Issue seller gathering fruit for his lunch, she feels only pleasure. What does it matter, argues Mary, if once in a while she turns up with her margarine tub to find that all the strawberries are gone?

‘This is a revolution,’ she says. ‘But we are gentle revolutionaries. Everything we do is underpinned by kindness.’

The idea came about after she and co-founder Pam Warhurst, the former owner of the town’s Bear Cafe, began fretting about the state of the world and wondered what they could do.

They reasoned that all they could do is start locally, so they got a group of people, mostly women, together in the cafe.

Incredible Edible is about more than plots of veg. It's about educating people
about food, and stimulating the local economy (pictured Vincent Graff and Estelle)

‘Wars come about by men having drinks in bars, good things come about when women drink coffee together,’ says Mary.

‘Our thinking was: there’s so much blame in the world — blame local government, blame politicians, blame bankers, blame technology — we thought, let’s just do something positive instead.’

We’re standing by a car park in the town centre. Mary points to a housing estate up the hill. Her face lights up.

‘The children walk past here on the way to school. We’ve filled the flower beds with fennel and they’ve all been taught that if you bite fennel, it tastes like a liquorice gobstopper. When I see the children popping little bits of herb into their mouths, I just think it’s brilliant.’

She takes me over to the front garden of her own house, a few yards away.

Three years ago, when Incredible Edible was launched, she did a very unusual thing: she lowered her front wall, in order to encourage passers-by to walk into her garden and help themselves to whatever vegetables took their fancy.

There were signs asking people to take something but it took six months for folk to ‘get it’, she says.

They get it now. Obviously a few town-centre vegetable plants — even thousands of them — are not going to feed a community of 15,000 by themselves.

But the police station potatoes act as a recruiting sergeant — to encourage residents to grow their own food at home.

Today, hundreds of townspeople who began by helping themselves to the communal veg are now well on the way to self-sufficiency.

But out on the street, what gets planted where? There’s kindness even in that.

‘The ticket man at the railway station, who was very much loved, was unwell. Before he died, we asked him: “What’s your favourite vegetable, Reg?” It was broccoli. So we planted memorial beds with broccoli at the station. One stop up the line, at Hebden Bridge, they loved Reg, too — and they’ve also planted broccoli in his memory.’

Not that all the plots are — how does one put this delicately? — ‘official’.

Take the herb bushes by the canal. Owners British Waterways had no idea locals had been sowing plants there until an official inspected the area ahead of a visit by the Prince of Wales last year (Charles is a huge Incredible Edible fan).

Estelle Brown, a 67-year-old former interior designer who tended the plot, received an email from British Waterways.

‘I was a bit worried to open it,’ she says. ‘But it said: “How do you build a raised bed? Because my boss wants one outside his office window.”’

Incredible Edible is also about much more than plots of veg. It’s about educating people about food, and stimulating the local economy.

There are lessons in pickling and preserving fruits, courses on bread-making, and the local college is to offer a BTEC in horticulture. The thinking is that young people who have grown up among the street veg may make a career in food.

Crucially, the scheme is also about helping local businesses. The Bear, a wonderful shop and cafe with a magnificent original Victorian frontage, sources all its ingredients from farmers within a 30-mile radius.

There’s a brilliant daily market. People here can eat well on local produce, and thousands now do.

Meanwhile, the local school was recently awarded a £500,000 Lottery grant to set up a fish farm in order to provide food for the locals and to teach useful skills to young people.

Jenny Coleman, 62, who retired here from London, explains: ‘We need something for our young people to do. If you’re an 18-year-old, there’s got to be a good answer to the question: why would I want to stay in Todmorden?’

The day I visit, the town is battered by a bitterly-cold rain storm.  Yet the place radiates warmth. People speak to each other in the street, wave as neighbours drive past, smile.

If the phrase hadn’t been hijacked, the words ‘we’re all in this together’ would spring to mind.

So what sort of place is Todmorden (known locally, without exception, as ‘Tod’)? If you’re assuming it’s largely peopled by middle-class grandmothers, think again. Nor is this place a mecca for the gin-and-Jag golf club set.

Set in a Pennine valley — once, the road through the town served as the border between Yorkshire and Lancashire — it is a vibrant mix of age, class and ethnicity.

A third of households do not own a car; a fifth do not have central heating.

You can snap up a terrace house for £50,000 — or spend close to £1 million on a handsome stone villa with seven bedrooms.

And the scheme has brought this varied community closer together, according to Pam Warhurst.

Take one example. ‘The police have told us that, year on year, there has been a reduction in vandalism since we started,’ she says. ‘We weren’t expecting this.’

So why has it happened?

Pam says: ‘If you take a grass verge that was used as a litter bin and a dog toilet and turn it into a place full of herbs and fruit trees, people won’t vandalise it. I think we are hard-wired not to damage food.’

Pam reckons a project like Incredible Edible could thrive in all sorts of places. ‘If the population is very transient, it’s difficult. But if you’ve got schools, shops, back gardens and verges, you can do it.’

Similar schemes are being piloted in 21 other towns in the UK, and there’s been interest shown from as far afield as Spain, Germany, Hong Kong and Canada. And, this week, Mary Clear gave a talk to an all-party group of MPs at Westminster.

Todmorden was visited by a planner from New Zealand, working on the rebuilding of his country after February’s earthquake.

Mary says: ‘He went back saying: “Why wouldn’t we rebuild the railway station with pick-your-own herbs? Why wouldn’t we rebuild the health centre with apple trees?”

‘What we’ve done is not clever. It just wasn’t being done.’

The final word goes to an outsider. Joe Strachan is a wealthy U.S. former sales director who decided to settle in Tod with his Scottish wife, after many years in California.

He is 61 but looks 41. He became active with Incredible Edible six months ago, and couldn’t be happier digging, sowing and juicing fruit.

I find myself next to him, sheltering from the driving rain. Why, I ask, would someone forsake the sunshine of California for all this?

His answer sums up what the people around here have achieved.

‘There’s a nobility to growing food and allowing people to share it. There’s a feeling we’re doing something significant rather than just moaning that the state can’t take care of us.

‘Maybe we all need to learn to take care of ourselves.’

Related Article:

Thursday, December 15, 2011

PLN ready to build Jatigede hydro power plant

Antara News, Thu, December 15 2011

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - State electricity company PT PLN is planning to build a hydro power plant with a capacity of 2x25 megawatts in Jatigede, Sumedang district, West Java province.

The plan would soon be realized following an agreement between PLN and the Directorate General of Water Resources at the Public Works Ministry, PLN senior corporate communication manager Bambang Dwiyanto said here on Thursday.

Under the agreement, the Public Works Ministry will develop and manage a dam needed to operate the power plant, while PLN will build and manage the power plant.

The construction of Jatigede hydro power plant will cover a power house, along with water ways, surge tank, penstock, tailrace, transformer yard and switch yard, transmission line and other supporting facilities.

"The electrical power produced by the Jatigede power plant will be incorporated to the Java-Bali 150 kV transmission system," Bambang said.

The construction of the dam is designed not only to generate electricity but also to irrigate 90 hectares of rice field and control floods in West Java`s northern coastal areas, particularly between Cirebon and Indramayu.

The construction of the hydro power plant will cost an estimated US$224.4 million.

Bambang said PLN was in the process of preparing a tender for the construction of the 2x25 megawatt-capacity power plant. "We hope that the Jatigede power plant will be able to supply electrical power to the Java-Bali transmission system as early as in 2015," he said.

Editor: Heru

Friday, December 9, 2011

Prime Indonesian jungle to be cleared for palm oil

The Jakarta Post, Fakhrurradzie Gade, Associated Press, Aceh | Fri, 12/09/2011

The man known as Indonesia's "green governor" chases the roar of illegal chainsaws through plush jungles in his own Jeep. He goes door-to-door to tell families it's in their interest to keep trees standing.

That's why 5,000 villagers living the edge of a rich, biodiverse peat swamp in his tsunami-ravaged Aceh province feel so betrayed.

Their former hero recently gave a palm oil company a permit to develop land in one of the few places on earth where orangutans, tigers and bears still can be found living side-by-side - violating Indonesia's new moratorium on concessions in primary forests and peatlands.

"Why would he agree to this?" said Ibduh, a 50-year village chief, days after filing a criminal complaint against Aceh Gov. Irwandi Yusuf.

"It's not just about the animals," he said, men around him nodding. "Us too. Our lives are ruined if this goes through."

Irwandi - a former rebel whose life story is worthy of a Hollywood film - maintains the palm oil concession is by the book and that he would never do anything to harm his province.

But critics say there is little doubt he broke the law.

The charges against him illustrate the challenges facing countries like Indonesia in their efforts to fight climate change by protecting the world's tropical jungles - which would spit more carbon when burned than planes, automobiles and factories combined.

Despite government promises, what happens on the ground is often a different story. Murky laws, graft and mismanagement in the forestry sector and shady dealings with local officials means that business often continues as usual for many companies.

"This is really a test case," said Chik Rini, a World Wildlife Fund campaigner, noting that while it's not uncommon for timber, pulp, paper and palm oil companies to raze trees in protected areas, few developments occur in areas that seem so obviously off limits.

"If they get away with it here, well, then no forests are safe."

Ibduh, the village chief, sits on the floor of a house rolling a cigarette as he and other men try to understand why - after years of stalling - Irwandi agreed on Aug. 25 to give PT Kallista Alam a permit to convert 4,000 acres of peat swamp forest in the heart of the renowned Leuser Ecosytem.

In addition to being home to almost every large animal found in Disney's adaptation of "The Jungle Book," it's teeming with thousands of plant and insect species, many yet to be identified.

Irwandi says there's nothing amiss with the concession. "I know what I have to do for the people of Aceh," the 51-year-old says, alleging that political opponents in coming provincial elections are trying to turn the tide against him.

But Ahmad Fauzi Mas'ud, spokesman for the Forestry Ministry, agrees with critics that things don't sound right.

"We haven't received the documents for this license yet," he said by telephone as he boarded a plane in the capital Jakarta.

"But if it's inside peatland, it can't be converted."

A copy of the map of the new concession, obtained by The Associated Press, has it sitting squarely on a parcel of peatland forest identified as off limits under President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's moratorium enacted in May.

For environmentalists, it's an all too familiar story.

Fifty years ago in Indonesia, more than three-quarters of the archipelagic nation of 240 million people was blanketed in tropical rain forest. But half those trees have since disappeared.

Aceh offered a uniquely clean slate when its separatist insurgency came to an end after the devastating 2004 tsunami. The decades-long conflict had kept illegal logging at bay.

Irwandi, well-educated with a laid-back style and quick wit, made protecting Aceh's forests one of his first goals when he surprised the pundits and won the governorship in 2006.

He was a former rebel, but not the fighting kind. For years, he'd led the propaganda campaign for the insurgents who saw the government in Jakarta as self-serving and corrupt.

He was serving a nine-year sentence for treason when the tsunami hit, crashing down the walls of the prison.

"I didn't escape from prison," the rebel-turned-politician likes to say. "It escaped from me."

Irwandi fled to Jakarta, then Malaysia and finally Finland where he ended up joining exiled leaders of the Free Aceh Movement in negotiating an end to fighting after the tsunami - with both sides eager to end the suffering.

After his return and election win, Irwandi immediately banned logging in Aceh. To this day, he can often be seen pulling over on the side of the road when spotting a pile of recently felled trees. He also makes spot checks at old logging camps and saw mills.

Which is why his turnabout on the Tripa swamp forest - home to the world's densest population of critically endangered Sumatran orangutans - has left Ibduh and other villagers so confused and angry.

Already excavators have started knocking down trees and churning up soil.

Drainage canals also have been built and villagers' drinking wells are already noticeably drier as result, they say. Security forces are deployed by the palm oil company along the perimeter of the forest, guns raised when anyone tries to enter.

Ibduh and other other, older men recall happier times when they could still earn money collecting rattan, honey and herbs for traditional medicine. Not long ago, they say proudly, pristine swamps and the Tripa river were teeming with catfish so large that many of them were able to earn enough at the local market to go to Mecca for the hajj pilgrimage.

Even now, gliding in a small wooden boat down the broad river that slices through the spectacular Tripa forests, saltwater crocodiles can be seen slipping silently from view. A rhinoceros hornbill lifts off with a gentle helicoptorish whoosh.

And as skies darken, troops of monkeys clamor in the branches above to settle in for the night.

"But for how long?" asks Safari, 32, one of the men. "When that forest is cleared, these animals will all be gone, every last one of them."

Related Article:

Jakarta to issue improved moratorium map

Antara News, Fri, December 9 2011

Related News

Durban (ANTARA News/CIFOR) - The Chair of Indonesia`s REDD+ task force said that the Ministry of Forestry will this week release an updated moratorium map to display which areas are protected under a two-year ban on new concessions in primary forests and peatlands.

"The Ministry of Forestry will upload the maps to their website and hold workshops to get public input, starting next week," Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, the task force chief, said on the sidelines of the UN climate summit in Durban, South Africa, Thursday, as reported by CIFOR (Center for International Forestry Research) on its website.

This is the first update of the Indicative Moratorium Map (IMM) which is required to be reviewed and revised every six months.

The Indonesian Government`s announcement of the moratorium in May was greeted with dismay by elements of the business community, who expressed fears that a curtailment of economic growth would result from the moratorium`s limitations on forest-based development opportunities. Meanwhile, environmentalists were disappointed by the narrow scope of the moratorium and its many exclusions and exceptions.

A recent study by CIFOR found that the additional area given protection under the moratorium is at most 22.5 million hectares (Mha), which consists of 7.2 Mha of primary forests, 11.2 Mha of peatlands and 4.1 Mha that fall into neither of these categories.

A continually updated indicative map will be an important tool for public scrutiny and a mechanism to further secure and possibly increase the area covered by the moratorium, the study said further.

The Ministry of Agriculture is taking the lead in checking the location of the peatlands on the ground, said Heru Prasetyo, a member of the REDD+ task force. The task is about 80 percent completed, with some results included in the first revision of the map and the rest in the next one, he added.

The moratorium`s application to peatlands is likely to generate the most significant environmental benefits because of their large carbon storage capacity, according to the CIFOR study. Carbon from peatlands contributes 74 percent to the total forest soil pool in Indonesia, according to a study published in the journal Global Change Biology earlier this year.

The two-year moratorium, which started 20 May 2011, is part of an agreement that could see Norway provide up to US$1 billion to Indonesia under the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+) scheme to help it meet a pledge by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to cut its climate change emissions by up to 41 percent by 2020.

Indonesia plans to use the two-year period to consolidate various maps used by different ministries to produce a single map for future reference, said Mangkusubroto.

Editor: Jafar M Sidik

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Thursday, December 1, 2011

Norway, Indonesia $1 Billion Forest Pact Broken, Group Says

Bloomberg, by Catherine Airlie - Nov 30, 2011

Norway and Indonesia’s $1 billion deal to halt the destruction of peatland and forests for two years in Aceh, a province of the Southeast Asian country, has been broken, according to the Ecosystems Climate Alliance.

Aceh’s governor Irwandi Yusuf has agreed to let a palm oil company called PT Kallista Alam convert protected peat swamp forest into plantations, the alliance said today in an e-mail.

“We often see this sort of contravention of law from the usual suspects such as disreputable logging corporations and oil palm interests, but this time the highest authority in the province appears to be breaking the moratorium,” Peg Putt, a senior consultant at Global Witness, a member group of the alliance, said in the e-mail.

Officials that grant such permissions are breaking an agreement with Norway that came into effect in January to protect forests. According to the deal agreed in May 2010, Indonesia would suspend new concessions to companies seeking to convert forest and peatland into plantations for two years.

Climate talks are under way in Durban, South Africa to carve out a treaty to extend or replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. That’s the linchpin of efforts to limit fossil-fuel emissions blamed for damaging the atmosphere. Forest destruction is responsible for about 17 percent of global emissions and the talks may negotiate a deal to protect them.

To contact the reporter on this story: Catherine Airlie in London at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephen Voss at

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Companies Not Buying Enough ‘Green’ Palm Oil: WWF

Jakarta Globe, November 22, 2011

A worker collects oil palm fruits at the state-owned palm oil plantation in Luwu,
 Indonesia's South Sulawesi province in this file photo. Major retailers and
manufacturers  are not doing enough to honor commitments to use sustainable
palm oil to help protect virgin rainforests from destruction, WWF said on Tuesday.
(Reuters Photo/Yusuf Ahmad)
Related articles 

Kuala Lumpur. Major retailers and manufacturers are not doing enough to honor commitments to use sustainable palm oil to help protect virgin rainforests from destruction, WWF said on Tuesday.

The conservation group’s latest report on palm oil use, released for this week’s annual meeting of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), shows only half of palm oil used by surveyed companies came from sustainable sources.

The report said companies in Europe, Australia and Japan were buying more sustainable palm oil than ever before and noted that 87 of the 132 companies surveyed have pledged to use only eco-friendly oil by 2015.

But it said 17 of the 43 retailers and 15 out of the 89 manufacturers assessed scored poorly in the survey.

Palm plantations are considered one of the biggest threats to rainforests in countries like Malaysia and Indonesia — the source of 85 percent of world palm oil supply — as virgin forests are typically cleared to make way for them.

“It’s never been easier for companies to be responsible about the palm oil they use,” Adam Harrison, an agriculture policy specialist with WWF, said in a statement accompanying the Palm Oil Buyers Scorecard for 2011.

“So it is clear that some manufacturers and retailers have fallen behind on their commitments to 100 percent sustainable palm oil, while others haven’t even started at all.”

The scorecard focuses on major companies in Europe, Australia and Japan, the world’s biggest palm oil markets.

About 5.2 million tonnes of certified sustainable palm oil was produced last year — roughly 10 percent of world supply — but only 56 percent was purchased, the WWF said.

Growers must meet numerous criteria like refraining from clearing virgin forests and adhering to fair land acquisition policies to gain the “sustainable” label.

But higher production costs, weak demand for eco-friendly palm oil, and other factors discourage farmers from going green, environmentalists say.

The WWF singled out major companies like Nestle, Unilever, IKEA, Cadbury and Carrefour for praise, saying they scored highly in the survey.

Palm oil represents about 35 percent of the global vegetable oil market but its production is expected to soar due to its versatility, relatively high oil yields, and economic importance to local communities.

Launched in 2004, the RSPO brought together producers, manufacturers and other stakeholders to create global standards for sustainable palm oil. Its meeting is being held this week in the Malaysian city of Kota Kinabalu.

Agence France-Presse