Friday, November 26, 2010

Grab One Billion Dollars of Oslo Moratorium

Government of Indonesia on May 26, 2010 has signed agreement (Letter of Intent / LoI) in Oslo, Norway on a two-year moratorium on natural forest areas and peatlands in Indonesia.Ini means all permits relating to activities in natural forests will be stopped during two years. As for the affected in this regard include the forest industry, oil palm plantation industry, various mines in the woods and so forth.

Letter of Intent between the Government of Indonesia and Norway is a cooperative agreement between the two sides to decrease its greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation and forest degradation. In return, the Norwegian Government pledged one billion U.S. dollars, or about Rp 1 trillion dollars per year from this deal. It's a very tempting offer.

Campaign Director of Indonesian Forum for Environment (WALHI) Muhammad Teguh Surya in Jakarta, said Walhi moratorium on further deforestation rate is in good faith that need to be appreciated and supported by all parties, because all this deforestation continues to occur and only a few certain people who enjoy it.

According to him, better known moratorium Moratorium Oslo it will not disturb the people's economy but it is very annoying black conglomerate (black corporation), because millions of hectares of forest land has been dominated by only a few people for a period of decades.

In West Kalimantan, for example, data from West Kalimantan Plantation Office until December 2009 said that the total area of oil palm plantation under a permit issued has reached 3,592,633.66 ha and only owned by 15 groups.

Meanwhile, in East Kalimantan (Kaltim), East Kalimantan provincial government has issued a location permit as many as 311 pieces with an area of 3,345,565.69 hectares. Until early November 2010, claiming the Plantation Office Program One Million Hectare Oil Palm has been planted as much as 573,196.41 hectares.

On the other hand, the Minister of Forestry Zulkifli Hasan said the moratorium is the wish of Indonesia to give time for forest governance better. Thus, the signing of the LoI is a realization SBY's government for forest conservation in Indonesia.

"Indonesia is not under pressure or dictation Norway. Moratorium our desires, to forest governance. Indonesia was a big country, it is impossible supervised Norway, "said Zulkifli.

SBY's even set the program One Billion forests in Indonesia to reduce exhaust emissions by 26 percent to launch a man to plant a tree trunk (One Man One Tree).

This commitment is at the Kaltim by Governor dreamily Faroek add the program into one person plant the Five Trees (One Man, Five Trees). Awang well aware that forests need green Kaltim back.

The question is, if Indonesia can win the "reward" of Rp 1 trillion rupiah, whether the money for it certainly will come to the community around the forest has always been poor and disadvantaged?

That kind of money ought to give welfare to the community around the forest during their daily life is dependent on the surrounding forest.

The government should focus on the dignity and welfare peningatan forest communities by providing capital, management advisory business, providing health education and a more easy and affordable and others.

This is our duty to oversee where the money is flowing to a billion dollars. Should the benefits are truly able to provide welfare to the community around the forest in a fair and equitable. Hopefully. (Vb / yul)(Source:

East Kalimantan’s Unexplored Forest Reveals Mystery

On December 6th, 2005, a team of ecoresearchers on Earth — in East Kalimantan — found evidence of a possible new carnivore, sparking excitement among researchers around the world.
It may not have been earth-shattering news, but it was interesting to many, because it made us realize that even on Earth, Mother Nature never ceases to surprise its inhabitants.
The red carnivore, which looks a little like a civet, was spotted in the 1.3-million-hectare Kayan Mentarang protected rain forest, near the Lalut Birai research station, where a nine-strong team from non-governmental organization World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the Ministry of Forestry was compiling a biodiversity inventory.
A camera trap installed by local WWF staffers Andris Salo and Amat Uti in April 2003 captured two pictures of a creature with small ears, brownish, dark red fur throughout, large hind legs and a long thick, bushy tail.
“First, I was confused. I have never seen such a creature before,” said research team coordinator Stephan Wulffraat, who, at that time, had lived in the jungle for five years. “Later, I grew increasingly excited,” the Dutch ecologist said, sharing his feelings upon the discovery of a possible new species.
He showed the pictures to local staff and to several mammal experts from institutions like the Chicago Field Museum, U.S., where Dr. Harry Leaney, who has researched Southeast Asian mammals for 30 years, worked. He also contacted the Smithsonian, where Dr. Louise Emmons, who claims to have seen specimens of all mammals in Sabah, worked, and the Sabah Museum.
Nobody knew what kind of animal it was, Wulffraat wrote in his new book, Lalut Birai. It was definitely not a cat species, he continued. The book will be the most comprehensive flora and fauna inventory report released by the Lalut Birai research team. It contains information on thousands of flora and fauna species in the mysterious jungle.
Wulffraat said that the last carnivore found in Southeast Asia was the Borneo ferret-badger in 1895. The possible new carnivore would not be the first new species found in the Kayan Mentarang rain forest.
“Some 361 new species have been found in Kayan Mentarang over the last 10 years,” coordinator of WWF’s Heart of Borneo Program Bambang Supriyanto said on Monday in Jakarta during the press conference on the possible new species.
Of the 361 confirmed and published new species, 260 were insects, 50 plants, 30 freshwater fish, seven frogs, six lizards, five crabs and a toad.
According to a WWF report titled Borneo’s Lost World: Newly Discovered Species on Borneo, the discoveries are an underestimate as the discovery of many species has not yet been published in scientific literature or the press.
“In addition, whole groups of animals remain under-studied, including bats, which make up 40 percent to 50 percent of tropical mammal fauna and other small mammal groups, which are particularly difficult to survey due to their nocturnal habits, avoidance of possible predators or difficult-to-understand behavior,” the report said.
Such a situation made Wulffraat’s excitement at the red carnivore understandable.
Wulffraat was eager to return to Lalut Birai after spending a tough week answering a continuous stream of calls from reporters in Jakarta.
It will take two flights to East Kalimantan and an hour-long motorized canoe ride on the Bahau River for him to merge into the Kayan Mentarang rain forest once again.(Source: The Jakarta Post)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A portrait of deforestation in East Kalimantan, Indonesia

Author: Maria Monica Wihardja, CSIS

Indonesia has one of the highest rates of deforestation in the world. Illegal deforestation is currently rife, and the loss of government revenue associated with this illegality has been estimated at $US 100 million in East Kalimantan alone.

Deforestation is caused, in part, by land use changes resulting from cash-crop plantations and mining, particularly for coal in East Kalimantan. Recent increases in the rates of deforestation have occurred in three stages, and have been exacerbated by a number of policy developments and reforms.

The first stage of deforestation occurred when small-scale forest concessions were granted for collecting forest products—these grants were issued by a Forest Product Harvesting Permit (Hak Pemungutan Hasil Hutan or HPHH). Under Indonesia’s centralised government system, HPHH were issued by the Provincial Governor, whilst after decentralisation, the HPHH were issued by the head of a regency (the Regent), or the head of a city (the Mayor). The issuing of HPHH were a key driver of deforestation until 2002, when the authority of the Regent and Mayor to issue HPHH was withdrawn by the government through the Forest Ministerial Decree No. 541, 2002.

The second stage occurred from 2002 until 2005, when deforestation occurred mostly due to the expanding plantation sector, especially oil palm plantations. Recently, the multinational food corporations, NestlĂ© and Unilever, made an agreement with Greenpeace not to buy palm oil products, from the Indonesian palm oil producer PT Smart, a subsidiary of Sinar Mas—an Indonesian agribusiness conglomerate. This agreement was forged because of consumer and civil society pressure over environmental issues, such as the habitat loss of Orangutan — one of Indonesia’s most endangered and charismatic species. Greenpeace has also put pressure on Walmart to cease buying products from PT Smart, and has successfully lobbied HSBC to sell its shares in the subsidiary.

There are short-term socio-economic impacts resulting from the cancellation of palm oil contracts, such as the loss of employment in affected industries and the reduction of wealth flowing into rural communities — but these are insignificant when compared with the long-term benefits from reducing deforestation.

The third stage occurred from 2005 until present, this period has seen an increase in deforestation due to the expansion of small-scale coal mining.

This expansion has been driven by three factors.

First, changes to the land use legislation (Article 38 of National Law No. 41, 1999) allowed for mining on forested areas, including protected forests, through the issuance of a special permit (Borrowing and Using Permit) that is approved by the Minister of Forestry.

The Borrowing and Using Permit was granted to mining companies under the proviso that before the issuance of the National Law No. 41 they already held permits to mine in forest areas. Initially, there were only 13 companies eligible under this proviso, however, by May 2010, there were 54 permits issued in East Kalimantan alone. Out of the 54 permits, 53 permits were issued after the issuance of Government Regulation No.2, 2008, which set the tariff rate for exploiting non-forest products, including minerals and coal. This regulation was often perceived as an effort to ‘sell’ forest areas.

Second, the dramatic increase in the price of commodities prior to the global financial crisis increased mining in forested areas. The GFC depressed coal prices, but as of 2010, the coal price has rebounded, and this has seen an increase in investment in the mining sector. This investment has been supported by the central government, and local communities and indigenous communities have been willing to open up their land for mining.

Third, decentralising the issuance of mining concessions, combined with local direct elections gave rise to local capture and rent seeking. Mining permits became a political commodity to garner votes, and political campaigners and those who had access to the regent or mayor became brokers to interested mining investors.

Unless broad ranging policy reforms occur, and corruption is reduced, Indonesia will struggle to reduce levels of deforestation to locally and internationally acceptable levels — but these reforms will not occur overnight. For now, continued international pressure by civil society will be the most successful path of action.

Maria Monica Wihardja is an Associate Fellow at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, Jakarta.