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News on Indonesia
First Resources the latest palm oil giant to announce zero-deforestation commitment
Palm oil giant First Resources has committed to eliminate deforestation and rights abuses from its supply chain, making it the first palm producer operating primarily at the grower level to do so. The policy is the latest in a wave of sustainability commitments from corporations that produce, trade and use palm oil. To realize its new commitment, First Resources will have to resolve numerous land disputes its operations are involved in with local communities in Indonesia.
Wilmar, Musim Mas supplier still destroying forest for oil palm in Indonesia's Leuser Ecosystem
A supplier of palm oil giants Wilmar and Musim Mas has continued to bulldoze valuable forest in Indonesia’s Leuser Ecosystem despite its most prominent customers’ zero-deforestation commitments and repeated exposés of its activities, according to a NGO report. Both Wilmar and Musim Mas have suspended their dealings with the company, Mopoli Raya.
Can a wild fishery be bred? Indonesia's plan to restock its oceans
The Indonesian government is planning to restock depleted marine animals in its national oceans. But restocking schemes there and abroad have had mixed results, and the government has released few details about the plan, raising questions about its sustainability.
Happy July 4th weekend: new red, white, and blue species discovered
An independent researcher has described a spectacular red, white, and blue crayfish just in time for the fourth of July. The new species, named Cherax pulcher, was first discovered in Japanese pet shops by Christian Lukhaup before he finally tracked down the animal to creeks in remote West Papua, Indonesia.
Indonesian tycoon bears responsibility for devastating mud volcano, contends new research
A mud volcano responsible for displacing more than 40,000 people in Indonesia's East Java province was caused by an oil and gas company owned by one of the country's richest tycoons, and not by an earthquake as company executives and some scientists have claimed, according to new research out of Austraila's Adelaide University that aspires to put to matter to rest.
‘Criminalization’ of local people in Indonesian province rife amid oil palm, coal booms
A coalition of local NGOs in Indonesia’s East Kalimantan province is campaigning for an end to the criminalization of residents who oppose plantation and mining projects on their land. The issue was a theme in the government's recently concluded national inquiry into land conflicts affecting indigenous peoples, and last week President Joko Widodo promised to secure the release of indigenous citizens who had been criminalized.
'Sea change' in clothing industry means more protections for forests
Sateri has become the latest major viscose producer to adopt a new wood- and pulp-sourcing policy aimed at removing deforestation from its supply chain. The company, the world's third-largest viscose producer, joins Aditya Birla and Lenzing, the two biggest, in making commitments to stop buying wood pulp from natural or endangered forests.
Corporations rush to make zero-deforestation commitments, but is it working?
Every year, more companies pledge to stop using ingredients whose production cause tropical deforestation. Retailers and brands making voluntary commitments – mostly involving palm oil – include Johnson & Johnson, Unilever, Colgate and Wilmar, the world's largest palm oil trader. Among 2014 joiners were Cargill, Krispy Kreme, Dunkin's Donuts and Baskin' Robbins, with 2015 bringing the addition of McDonald's, Archer Daniels Midland and Yum! Brands (owner of Pizza Hut, KFC, and Taco Bell).
After two decades, Indonesia publishes plan for tackling invasive species
Twenty years after ratifying a legally binding UN convention which obligates parties to deal with invasive alien species, considered to be main direct drivers of biodiversity loss across the globe, Indonesia has drawn up a national strategic plan on the matter. The plan outlines steps to mitigate invasive species through policy, institution-building, information management, research and education, capacity-building and public awareness.
NGOs, activists fret new role for Indonesia's spy agency
A mysterious new partnership between Indonesia's spy agency and Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM) to boost foreign investment has civil society wary of deepening agrarian conflict in the post-authoritarian country. While little is known about the specifics of the new arrangement, activists point to Indonesia's long history of repression by state security forces to warn that intelligence reports on local sentiment could be manipulated to stymie community opposition to development projects.
Illegal forest clearing spotted in Aceh's biggest peat swamp
Encroachers have been clearing forest at three locations in Aceh's biggest peat swamp since February, the Rawa Singkil Wildlife Reserve, analysis of Landsat satellite imagery by environmental group Greenomics-Indonesia shows. The area is home to the densest population of critically endangered Sumatran orangutans in the Leuser Ecosystem.
Indonesian president pledges to accelerate long-delayed indigenous rights law
Indonesian President Joko Widodo reiterated his commitments yesterday to a number of indigenous rights issues at a meeting in Jakarta with the Indigenous Peoples Alliance of the Archipelago (AMAN). He promised to make passing a long-delayed law on indigenous peoples rights a priority; acknowledged the importance of setting up a task force for indigenous issues; agreed to the release, in principle, of indigenous citizens who have been "criminalized," or unfairly prosecuted by the law; and pledged to encourage economic development based on indigenous models as a counterweight to big business.
Status change to come for Indonesia's partial logging moratorium?
Indonesia's Environment and Forestry Ministry might upgrade the partial logging moratorium from a presidential instruction to a government regulation, or PP, later this year, a ministry official said this week. The change would take place after the ministry completes its semiannual revision of the moratorium map for the ninth time in November, according to The Jakarta Post.
Filipino fishermen operating illegally in Indonesia's Sangihe Islands
Indonesia’s crackdown on illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing has so far focused on foreign boats weighing more than 30 gross tons that enter Indonesian waters. But the Indonesian maritime affairs and fisheries minister recently expressed her dismay that in Sangihe, a group of islands directly adjacent to the Philippines, Filipino fishermen are allowed to operate with impunity.
Indonesia's booming caged-bird trade is fueling trafficking and threatening extinction
Indonesia is a global hub for the wild bird trade, given its abundance of bird species and deep-seated tradition of bird-keeping. But while newspaper headlines regularly trumpet the most alarming examples of international smuggling, experts warn it’s the domestic pet trade that poses a bigger threat.
Indigenous Indonesians file land claim against IndoMet coal project
A few months before BHP Billiton’s Haju mine is set to begin operations in Indonesia’s Central Kalimantan province, residents of nearby Maruwei village have filed a claim for 1,000 hectares of land in the area under a new land rights scheme for indigenous peoples. The scheme, called Dayak Misik and introduced by the provincial government last year, allocates 10 hectares to each village for communal use and five hectares to each household.
Indonesia to revive controversial sugarcane plan in Aru?
The Indonesian agriculture minister's recent comments that the Aru archipelago in the country's eastern waters will be one of three sites for a major new sugarcane initiative has sparked an outcry among civil society groups, as a similar controversial plan was shelved only last year after activists waged a long battle against it.
Controversy emerges over alleged deforestation policy breach by APRIL supplier
Less than three weeks after APRIL unveiled a sustainability policy that is supposed to protect natural forests, an environmental group is alleging that one of the Indonesian forestry giant's subsidiaries is already breaching the commitment. But APRIL refuted the claim and says it continues to stand by the policy.
Bengkulu governor orders review of mining permits
The governor of Indonesia's Bengkulu province reiterated his commitment to bringing mining in the province under control, as environmentalists urge his administration to crack down on rampant illegality in the sector and the threat it poses to protected areas.
Can we save the Sumatran rhino? Indonesia holds out hope
'One percent of the world's population,' veterinarian Zulfi Arsan says as he nods towards Bina, a 714-kilogram, 30-year-old female Sumatran rhinoceros leisurely crunching branches whole. A gentle and easygoing rhino, pink-hued Bina doesn't seem to mind the two-legged hominids snapping pictures and awing at her every move at the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary.
Palm oil giants to investigate company found razing Papuan rainforest
Agribusiness giants Cargill and Golden Agri-Resources (GAR) are pledging to investigate a palm oil supplier after an Indonesian environmental group presented evidence of rainforest clearing in New Guinea.
Lack of stock data and incentives to collect it stymie Indonesian tuna fisheries on path to sustainability
Indonesia — the world's largest source of tuna — lands one-tenth of its tuna catch by means of small-scale, low impact fishing techniques. But little of it is sold under eco-labels, which earn sustainably harvested seafood a premium price in U.S. and European grocery stores. The reason is a lack of quality data on tuna stocks, which is a requirement of eco-labels.
Consumers willing to pay sharp premium for wildlife-friendly palm oil, claims study
Shoppers may be willing to pay a 15 to 56 percent premium for palm oil produced without the destruction endangered species' habitat, asserts a study published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
'Trying to follow the money': Opacity rules in Southeast Asia's land rush, finds study
As the rush for land in Southeast Asia continues at breakneck speed, often bringing with it social and environmental destruction, a new study by a major environmental research group explores how well investors really know where their money is going, and the possibilities and limits of existing data in achieving greater accountability.
Forest governance index shows Indonesia has long way to go
Weak spatial planning and law enforcement, land tenure problems and a lack of transparency in licensing are some of the issues highlighted in an annual report on forest governance the Indonesian Environment and Forestry Ministry presented to the president last week. The Forest Governance Index 2014, as it was packaged, gave Indonesia score of 35.97 on a scale of one to 100.
Rising seas, sinking peat to swamp Malaysian and Indonesian palm oil
With global sea levels going up at a rate of about 9 millimeters per year, the livelihoods of many coastal people in the world look increasingly threatened, especially in those parts of the world with limited financial or technical means to adapt. A rate of a thumb-width of water per year may not sound like much, but the half to one meter higher water levels mean that many coastal people will have to abandon their homes and fields before the end of the century.
Palm oil giant announces deforestation freeze amid NGO campaign
Palm oil giant Astra Agro Lestari has announced an immediate moratorium on land clearing, less than a month after the launch of an environmental campaign targeting one of its sister companies, the Mandarin Oriental hotel chain. The prohibition applies to Astra Agro's own plantations as well as to those of its suppliers. Astra Agro characterized the freeze as a major step toward bringing its operations into line with the standards of the Indonesia Palm Oil Pledge, a high-profile, joint sustainability commitment signed by palm giants Wilmar, Cargill, Golden Agri-Resources, Asian Agri and Musim Mas as well as the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce.
Oil palm company accused of violating RSPO, IPOP standards in Indonesia
The reputation of oil palm business group Sawit Sumbermas Sarana, a holding of one of Indonesia's richest men, has in recent days taken hits on multiple fronts, with a pair of NGOs separately accusing the firm of violating various sustainability commitments it is party to. The criticism highlights holes in both the Indonesia Palm Oil Pledge (IPOP), a high-profile sustainability pact to which palm giants Wilmar, Golden Agri-Resources, Musim Mas, Asian Agri and Cargill are signatories, and the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).
Well grounded: orangutans are more terrestrial than previously thought
For years scientists have believed that orangutans are primarily arboreal. Indeed, most photographs and videos of orangutans depict them up in the trees. But a recent study challenges that thinking with photographic evidence that orangutans spend a lot more time on the ground than previously thought.
In Sumatra, an oasis in a sea of oil palm
Sumatra is estimated to have lost 85 percent of its forests in the past half century, primarily due to widespread conversion for oil palm and pulp plantations. In the village of Tangkahan, however, residents have managed to preserve their forests and create one of Indonesia's ecotourism hotspots.