Archive | November 2012

PT. Kallista Alam suing Aceh Government in regard to revoking permit

Original Article in Bahasa Indonesia is available here Free translation by Adji Darsoyo

Banda Aceh – Legal Councelors of PT. Kalista Alam, Alfian C. Sarumaha assisted with his colleagues from Luhut Marihot Parulian Pangaribuan (LMPP) law firm,  Rebecca F. Elizabeth, stated that this is still the first phase, which is the inspection of the preparation. “It’s not yet open for public,” said Alfian. He explained that PT. Kalista Alam filed law suit against the Governor of Aceh, Zaini Abdullah, upon the Decree of the Withdrawal of PT. Kalista Alam’s permit in Tripa. “We questioned the Governor on the issuance of the particular Decree,” added Alfian.

The agenda on the next court session still waits for the schedule from the Judge of the Administrative Court Banda Aceh. “Indeed, being the litigants, we are requested to improve the law suit,” said Alfian to The Globe Journal on Thursday (29-11-2012) at the court in Banda Aceh.

Head of the Legal Division and PR of the Government of Aceh, Makmur, met at the court said that his team are ready to challenge the law suit. “The object of the dispute is the Decree of Kalista Alam’s Permit Withdrawal for Tripa,” he said.

According to Makmur, the objective of the withdrawal of Kalista Alam’s permit upon 1,605 ha are explicitly addressed within the Decree based on the decision of the Administrative High Court of Medan upon WALHI Aceh’s appeal.

“We are ready to challenge the law suit, we have prepared 6 legal advisors,” emphasized Makmur stating that it is still in the phase of inspection of preparation.

Base on The Globe Journal’s observation, the inspection session preparing both litigant and plaintiff have been conducted in a closed session in the office room of the Vice Chairman of the Judge of the Administrative Court of Banda Aceh, Yusri Arbi. The case is registered under the number  18/G/2012/PTUN BNA. The litigant is Subianto Rusid and the plaintif is the Governor of Aceh.

PT Kalista Alam’s permit withdrawal is contained in the Decree of the Governor of Aceh No 525/BP2T/5078/2012 dated on 27 September 2012. The decree also revoked the previous decree of the former governor (Irwandi Yusuf) with the number 525/BP2T/5322//2011 re Plantation Permit for PT Kalista Alam covering 1.605 ha.

According to Makmur, the withdrawal was based on the decision of the Administration High Court of Medan through a document No. 89/B/2012/PT TUN-MDN dated on August 30, 2012. Amongst the decisions is to grant the litigant (WALHI Aceh) and to order the plaintif (the Governor of Aceh) to withdraw the challenged decision of Administrative Court granting the Plantation Permit for PT Kalista Alam.

More over, the Article 45 A point 2C of the Law No. 5/2004 on the Amendment of the Law No. 14/1985 on the Supreme Court declared that any dispute on state administrative procedure, which challenged the decision of a regioanal officials, than this particular case does not fulfil any single requirement for casation. (The Globe Journal)

 

Palm Oil company PT Kallista Alam fails to show in court case filed by Indonesia’s Ministry of Environment over destruction of world renowned Sumatran Orangutan stronghold, the Tripa Peat Swamp Forest.

Press Release – 27/11/2012 – For International Distribution

Palm Oil company PT Kallista Alam fails to show in court case filed by Indonesia’s Ministry of Environment  over destruction of world renowned Sumatran Orangutan stronghold, the Tripa Peat Swamp Forest.

[Meulaboh] Today the Court of Meulaboh, in Aceh Province, Indonesia, held its first hearing of a civil case brought by Indonesia’s Ministry of Environment and Attorney General’s Office vs the palm oil company, PT Kallista Alam, for crimes conducted in the Tripa Peat Swamp Forest.

The Indonesian Ministry of the Environment was represented by prosecutors from the Attorney General’s Office of the Republic of Indonesia. PT Kallista Alam, on the other hand, did not appear, causing the trial to be postponed since the judges were unable to address both parties.

One of the prosecution team, Lawyer Ryan Palasi, expressed disappointment over the company’s absence, “it suggests the defendant is not taking the proceedings seriously and not committed to settling the case,” he said after the hearing.

Conservation Director for the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme said “We very much welcome this landmark action by the Ministry of Environment and will be monitoring the case closely, There continues to be a huge amount of international interest in the events in Tripa, building the momentum for multiple investigations and  this case to proceed. Earlier this year, the Administrational Court of Medan found that at least one concession owned by PT Kallista Alam in Tripa was illegal, resulting in Aceh Governor Zaini Abdullah immediately showing strong leadership towards conservation by revoking the highly controversial permit. Tripa is indeed a high profile case  with considerable international interest in how the Indonesian Government’s current prosecutions progress” he added.

Chairman of Friends of the Earth Indonesia’s Aceh office (WALHI Aceh), TM Zulfikar, concurred, “Walhi Aceh applauds the determination shown by the Ministry of Environment in bringing this case to the law court in Meulaboh. We hope this case will help strengthen land use planning and illustrate consistency in natural resource management within the province. Improved governance and accountability of law breakers is urgently needed to ensure Aceh’s natural resources can be managed more sustainably in future for the numerous benefits they provide for Aceh’s people.  We would advice business operating in Aceh to disengage with environmentally destructive activities, much of the destruction of the Tripa ecosystem has be done illegally, and now its time to redress the balance and bring those responsible to account.”

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The Tripa Peat Swamp Forest comprises 61,000 hectares, within the larger 2.6 million hectare protected Leuser Ecosystem; one of South East Asia’s most important biodiversity hotspots and the only place on earth where the Sumatran Tiger, Rhino, Elephant and Orangutan can all be found living side by side.

The start of legal proceedings in this case coincides with a visit to Indonesia by the Crown Prince of Norway, Haakon Magnus, and his wife, Crown Princess Mette-Marit, who according to press reports are interested in discussing environmental issues with President SBY whilst they are here. The Scandinavian country pledged a $1 billion assistance package to help protect Indonesian forests in 2010, on the condition that there is a verifiable reduction in deforestation and deforestation in Indonesia. Before the current wave of destruction by oil palm companies began in Tripa, these swamps provided abundant fresh clean water for local communities, and even today is a carbon store of global importance in the battle against climate change.  In fact, large tracts of Tripa are also off limits to new plantation developments under a moratorium on new plantations in primary forests and peat swamps established by President SBY as part of the Government’s commitment under its 1 billion dollar agreement with Norway.

“Satellite imagery and community reports identify at least three companies operating in Tripa that have clearly breached the moratorium and other government legislation. These include concessions claimed by PT Kallista Alam, PT Surya Panen Subur 2 and PT Dua Perkasa Lestari,” said Deddy Ratih, Spatial Planning Advocacy Manager for WAHLI Indonesia. “We would like to invite Crown Prince Magnus and Indonesian President SBY to visit Tripa so they can see first hand the continuing deforestation, including those areas clearly off limits under the agreement between the two countries, to alert them to the realities on the ground and the fact that forest clearance and drainage of the peatlands is still continuing despite the legal processes now ongoing. All the palm oil companies in Tripa need to be reviewed to ensure they abide by the permits, and if the permits do not follow the law, they should be immediately revoked, the law of Indonesia needs to be followed”  he added.

These sentiments were echoed by a local community member who wished to remain anonymous, due to fears of retribution from the companies concerned.  “We are happy to see the Government’s efforts to help us save and restore Tripa, but are also concerned as the destruction of Tripa is still continuing on the ground, even today. These companies keep setting new fires to clear the forest, new canals are still being dug to drain the swamps, and the area is still dying as a result. Even though this case has now been brought to court something urgently needs to be done to stop activities on the ground immediately, or we will still lose Tripa forever,” he continued.

“Perhaps the biggest crime”, concluded an impassioned Dr Singleton, “is that despite all the

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investigations, the court proceedings, and some successes so far, we may well end up with justice in the courts, but still lose the unique Tripa peat swamp forest ecosystem and its globally important Sumatran Orangutan population. Time is running out, and stopping illegal activities in the field and closing the drainage canals in Tripa has to be the number one priority. For the companies representatives to not even appear before the court when summoned today shows an all time low to the respect to courts, law and Government of Indonesia by the palm oil companies who operate in Tripa, they really must just believe the rules do not apply”.

The next hearing in this high profile environmental case is scheduled to be held in the district court of Meulaboh, Aceh Province, on 12th December.

ENDS

For further comment please contact:

Dr. Ian Singleton

Director of Conservation, Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Program

Email: mokko123@gmail.com

Deddy Ratih

Spatial Planning Advocacy Manager, WALHI (Friends of the Earth) Indonesia

Email: ube.hitar@gmail.com

Yuyun Indradi

Political Campaigner, Greenpeace Indonesia

Email: yuyun.indradi@greenpeace.org

Tomorrow, The Civil Trial for Tripa Case Will Be Held In Meulaboh

Free Translation by Adji Darsoyo
Banda Aceh – The process of civil trial on the violation in Tripa Peat Swamp of the District of Nagan Raya by plantation company will be Proses persidangan kasus perdata terheld at the district court of Meulaboh on Tuesday, (27/11).

The Deputy V of the Ministry of Environment (MoE), Sudaryono, stated that the ministry has prepared its legal counselors, the State Attorney Lawyers, to accompany the civil process.
He explained that there are two companies filed for law suit by the MoE, PT. KA and PT. SPS-2.
But only one is processed in Meulaboh, PT. KA, while the case of PT. SPS-2 is filed in Jakarta Timur. “We refered to the addressed listed in the deeds of each company,” said Sudaryono mentioning that the first court session will be held on NOvember 27, 2012 in Meulaoboh District Court.
We hope to have the outcome of the trial as expected within the MoE’s lawsuit document. “The MoE filed a civil case. The crime case is still being evaluated by the Attorney General,” he said.
Still according to Sudaryono, the documents for the criminal lawsuit has been handed over to the Attorney General, so once it is considered for being complete, the Attorney General’s office will send P-21 to the District Court of Meulaboh.” He added, “This means that the whole court process will be held at the District Court of Meulaboh.”
The civil lawsuit has been filed by the State Attorney Lawyer on behalf of the MoE at the District Court of Meulaboh on November 8, 2012 under the case number 12/Pdt/2012/PN-MBO.

 

Zoos and wildlife parks are no way to treat an animal

The idea that a zoo is the sole or even best repository for learning is risible

Stop monkeying about: Damian Aspinall says the Foundation that bears his name is committed to changing the way people think about animals in captivity Photo: Eddie Mulholland, Source: Telegraph UK

By Damian Aspinall

Telegraph UK

Over the past century, thousands of species have disappeared from our planet, and many more are on the critically endangered list. Yet even as we wantonly destroy nature’s great habitats, and hunt species to extinction, we console ourselves with the thought that we are preserving many species in zoos and wildlife parks.

As the owner and operator of two such parks – Howletts and Port Lympne in Kent – you would expect the Aspinall Foundation, founded by my late father John, to argue that it is sometimes right to keep animals in captivity. Although we do agree that there are times when the interests of the species can be best served by animals being kept in captivity, we believe that it is scandalous that so many zoos around the world remain packed with often miserable animals, kept in unnatural conditions where they remain incapable of breeding, despite frequently being paired biblically, two by two.

In these zoos, lions, tigers, elephants, rhinos and other wonderful creatures exist in these conditions largely, if not solely, for humans to gawp at, on the pretext that they and their children are being educated about the wonders of the natural world. This view may have been partially justified up to the advent of the digital age, and the spread of information via television. Today, the idea that zoos provide the sole – or even the best – repository of learning is risible.

At the Aspinall Foundation, we believe that mankind owes it to nature to re-evaluate the role of zoological institutions in the 21st century and to change the way we think about animals in captivity. The ultimate aim should be to render zoos and wildlife parks obsolete – including our own.

The continuing presence of animals in captivity is, we believe, a sign of mankind’s failure. Of course, we are not anarchists or Luddites. There is certainly a role for such animal collections for at least the next two or three decades. But it can no longer be for the simple collection and display of animals.

Rather, the beating heart of any such institution, anywhere in the world, must be true conservation. This means that the rationale for maintaining collections of wild animals – always, preferably, in wildlife parks with large open spaces – has to be the protection of endangered species, coupled with sustainable breeding programmes and projects to reintroduce them to the wild. The ultimate aim should, wherever possible, be the return of the captive and captive-bred creatures with whom mankind is privileged to share the planet.

The Aspinall Foundation has worked tirelessly to become a world leader in the captive breeding of endangered species. Our animal parks have seen the births of 135 gorillas, 33 black rhinos, 123 clouded leopards, 33 Javan gibbons, 104 Javan langurs and 20 African elephants. Our charity manages conservation projects in Congo, Gabon, Indonesia and Madagascar, as well as providing financial support to partner projects around the world. We are dedicated to helping prevent some of the most endangered species on the planet from becoming extinct.

We do this through restoring, wherever possible, animals to their natural habitats and by protecting those habitats. Between 1996 and 2006, we released 51 gorillas in the Congo and Gabon – into an area of some million acres which had been the first large wilderness area to see gorillas hunted to extinction. In the coming year, the foundation is planning to release from its parks an entire family of 11 lowland gorillas, six Javan gibbons and eight Javan langurs. Three black rhinos have already been released this year, and are all doing well.

The work is not easy, and requires dedication and resources. But it offers a possible blueprint for the future of animal conservation, away from the confines of crowded zoos – which serve better to illustrate the arrogance of man than the glory of the animal world he has done so much to destroy. We believe in the right of animals to coexist on our planet, and that the wilderness is Earth’s greatest treasure. We must all act now to save it.

 

Indonesia’s forests under renewed threat – experts

By Thin Lei Win  Trust.org

BANGKOK (AlertNet Climate) – Indonesia’s dwindling forests and an ambitious plan by the country’s president to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the world’s third largest emitter are under threat due to the struggle between national and local governments for authority over precious forest land, environmental activists told AlertNet.

In February, Indonesia’s Constitution Court struck down a controversial clause of the Forestry Law, saying it was unconstitutional for the central government to designate forest zones without proper mapping, after six plaintiffs, including five district heads (known as “bupatis”) from Central Kalimantan, a province in the Indonesian portion of Borneo, asked for a review of the law.

This has left everyone wondering what would happen to millions of hectares of land that have been designated as forest zone but have not been mapped. Currently, only 14.2 million of some 130 million hectares are adequately mapped.

Among the questions being asked are: Are these areas now considered non-forest zones and will local governments be able to issue licenses at will to companies to turn them into mines and palm oil plantations?

Would that lead to further degradation of forests and increased social conflict in a sector not noted for its transparency as the government busies itself trying to map millions of hectares of land?

Is this another nail in the coffin for Indonesia’s tropical rainforests, the world’s third-largest, which President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has vowed to save in order to cut greenhouse gas emissions, which drive climate change?

“There are concerns that (the decision) inherently weakens controls on deforestation across the country by further liberalising permit allocation in the provinces and districts,” said Jago Wadley, a senior forest campaigner for the London-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA).

Indonesia’s forestry and plantations sectors “are riddled with systemic corruption at all levels” and law enforcement is also weak, he said. That presents fundamental barriers to the goals of reducing deforestation and associated emissions, he said.

A number of the provinces are planning to or have already made requests to the Ministry of Forestry to re-adjust their forest lands although it’s unclear how this would affect forest cover, said Philip Wells, director at Indonesia-based Daemeter Consulting and co-author of a policy brief on the court decision.

GOVERNANCE AND DEFORESTATION

The bupatis had argued that large portions of their administrative districts, in which hundreds of thousands of people lived, had been designated as forest lands, leaving them dependent upon the Ministry of Forestry for permission to develop their districts, including giving out lucrative licenses for palm oil plantations or mining.

Prior to the court decision, they could go to jail for licensing plantations in what the national government considers a forest zone. Environmentalists say many bupatis, who became powerful after Indonesia’s decentralisation, allow widespread illegal deforestation in Southeast Asia’s biggest economy.

According to a report by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), “At the local level, district timber permits became an important form of patronage for bupatis, who often used them to secure political loyalties among key constituencies and to finance election campaigns and other initiatives.”

Abu Meridian, from the Indonesian environmental organisation Telapak, confirmed the problem.

“The regulation comes from the central government but the decision to give the permit is done in provincial or district levels. Even though the government asks a certain areas not to be released for palm oil, the bupatis still do it,” he said.

“The statement from the President (about cutting emissions) is good but the problem is the reality in the field,” where communities are rarely consulted about projects that would significantly affect the forests and lands they depend on for their livelihoods, he said.

The government says deforestation on a national basis has fallen to around 500,000 hectares annually, and in May 2011, Yudhoyono announced a two-year moratorium on forest concessions. Environmental activists, however, believe the annual deforestation figure is higher than reported.

ENORMOUS TASK AHEAD

Indonesia’s government has tried to address the concerns over the court’s decision but there is much disquiet over an amendment issued in July that offers companies working without permits on land still classified as forests the chance to apply for permits retroactively.

“(The amendment) is an exercise in legalising crime in the oil palm plantations and mining sectors in exchange for maintaining a veneer of central government control over land allocation,” said EIA’s Wadley.

“The government has traded the rule of law for political expediency, likely at the expense of forests, local communities and indigenous peoples,” setting a dangerous precedent, he added.

The government has announced it intends to finish mapping forest areas by the end of 2014.

Although it says 80 percent of the job has already been done, “it is still an enormous task,” Daemeter’s Wells said. “The number of kilometres that have to be mapped is still huge.”

“If you try and do it too fast, mistakes could be made and indigenous land rights not recognised, leading to problems later down the line,” he warned.

CHANCE TO DO THINGS RIGHT?

Still, Wells believes the court decision provides an opportunity to do things right.

“The provinces, the central government and the Ministry of Forestry – they all potentially have quite a lot to lose,” especially if they get entangled in more court cases, he said. “The best solution for all parties is… to reach a compromise.”

In what he calls the “best-case” scenario, the Constitutional Court’s decision would “create a new opportunity for a rational, consensus-based approach to spatial planning that maximises positive outcomes for forests, peatlands, economic development, and community rights,” said the consultancy.

The “worst-case” scenario would be a protracted disagreement between the Ministry and regional authorities over land allocation, leading to continued delays in setting borders and creating sensible land use plans and leading to worsening deforestation and climate-changing emissions.

“In my opinion, the real key to success would be for the spatial plans to be reviewed in light of targets for low carbon emissions. But that really isn’t going to work unless the provinces and the Ministry could work together,” said Wells.

Activists and researcher warn that time for getting forest mapping right may be running out.

Yudhoyono, who has said he wants to leave a green legacy of his time in power, leaves office in 2014, and many of the new presidential hopefuls are not known for their interest in environmental protection.

 

Dead and dying: our great mammal crisis

 

Extinct: the pipistrelle.
source: The Age

THE AGE

Tim Flannery

IN LATE August 2009, a tiny, solitary bat fluttered about in the rainforest near Australia’s infamous Christmas Island detention camp. We don’t know precisely what happened to it. Perhaps it landed on a leaf at dawn after a night feeding on moths and mosquitoes and was torn to pieces by fire ants; perhaps it succumbed to a mounting toxic burden placed on its tiny body by insecticide spraying. Or maybe it was simply worn out with age and ceaseless activity, and died quietly in its tree-hollow. But there is one important thing we do know: it was the last Christmas Island pipistrelle (Pipistrellus murrayi). With its passing, an entire species winked out of existence.

Two decades earlier, the island’s population of pipistrelles had been healthy. A few scientists had watched the species’ decline with concern until, after the million or more years that it had played a part in keeping the ecological balance of the island, they could see that without action its demise was imminent. They had done their best to warn the federal government about the looming catastrophe, but they might as well have been talking to a brick wall. The bureaucrats and politicians prevaricated for three years, until it was too late.

While Australians argued about the fate of the asylum seekers who shared the pipistrelles’ home, nothing effective was done to help the bats. Indeed, except for those watching scientists, few seemed to give a thought to the passing of the species, nor what it might mean for Christmas Island or our country.

The pipistrelles’ extinction was painful for me. In an attempt to avert it I met Peter Garrett, then the environment minister, and warned him of the impending loss. I had brought offers of assistance and expertise from the Australian Mammal Society to his attention. The society was confident the species could be saved – at a cost of perhaps only a few hundred thousand dollars. But Garrett was convinced by the orthodoxy that ecosystems rather than species should be the focus of the national conservation effort, and I got the message that nothing would be done. Saving the bat wasn’t an impossible mission: it’s just that the government and the people of Australia, one of the richest countries on earth, decided it wasn’t worth doing.

What really shook me was that it was the first extinction of a mammal in Australia for 60 years, and the first in my lifetime. My original professional expertise lies in mammalogy and palaeontology, and before the pipistrelles’ demise I believed the worst of Australia’s extinction crisis was behind us – that somehow my generation was wiser and more caring, and would not tolerate any more losses of Australia’s unique mammals. It’s now clear that those 60 years were a lull in the storm, and that the pipistrelles’ demise marked the beginning of a new extinction wave.

Australia’s first extinction wave began almost as soon as the First Fleeters stepped ashore, and by the 1940s it had carried away 10 per cent of the continent’s mammal species. In 1791, a convict wrote about the white-footed rabbit rat, saying that it was a pest in the colony’s food stores. The soft-furred, grey-and-white kitten-sized creature was arguably the most beautiful of Australia’s 70-odd native rodent species, yet it was destined to be one of the earliest victims of European settlement. Two hundred years ago it could be found in woodlands from near Brisbane to Adelaide, but the last record of it dates to the 1850s.

The thylacine and the toolache wallaby were the largest creatures to succumb in the first extinction wave. These extinctions were, however, atypical: indeed, one of the most astonishing aspects of the first extinction wave was that its victims included what had been the most abundant and seemingly secure mammals in Australia.

The causes of these extraordinary extinctions were varied. The cessation of Aboriginal burning doubtless had its effect, and until the 1930s bounties were paid by many state governments for the scalps of now-extinct creatures. But the depredations of foxes (which were spreading quickly by the early 20th century) and feral cats, and the wholesale destruction of native vegetation by livestock and rabbits, must have been important causes.

While the causes are disputed, the effect of the first extinction wave is clear: it gutted the biodiversity of the drier parts of the continent, and very few native mammals larger than a rat and smaller than a kangaroo can be found on Australia’s inland plains today. It’s the absence of such species – the so-called critical-weight-range mammals (they weigh between 500 grams and 5 kilograms), which were once among the most abundant of creatures – that has led me to characterise the national parks of Australia’s southern inland as ”marsupial ghost towns”.

The gathering second extinction wave is now mopping up the few surviving medium-size mammals in Australia’s south and inland. It’s not difficult to predict which will be the next to become extinct, for, like the pipistrelles, their decline has been charted for years. There are 15 frogs, 16 reptiles, 44 birds, 35 mammals and 531 plants on Australia’s endangered species list, and among those closest to the brink are three mammals: the central rock rat, the bridled nailtail wallaby and the numbat.

All hang by a thread, and next to nothing effective is being done to halt their slide into oblivion.

The second extinction wave is emptying vast swaths of the continent untouched by the first wave. Australia’s Top End and Kimberley were, until recently, a paradise for medium-size mammals, among them a close relative of the white-footed rabbit rat. The past two decades have seen this fauna all but exterminated in the Top End, even in our most valued and best-resourced national parks.

Perhaps it is excusable that Australians are unaware of the extinctions occurring in distant places such as Arnhem Land and other regions of our far north. But astonishingly, we also seem blind to the perils facing species much closer to home – for example, the sand flathead of Port Phillip Bay. A fish familiar to every Melburnian who has ever dangled a line, its population has declined by 97 per cent over the past decade.

Why should the extinction of Australian organisms concern us? The answer, I think, is almost precisely the same as to the question of why human rights are important, even when they concern people we’ll never meet. First and foremost, it is a matter of values. The demise of a bat may not weigh greatly in the balance of human wellbeing, but it speaks volumes about the human soul.

As with human rights, extinctions raise the question of where we draw the line. If we can stand by as a species of bat is snuffed out, then why not other species as well? Can we really expect poor Indian villagers to heed our pleas to conserve the tigers that menace their livestock if we do nothing to prevent the extinction of Australian species?

At the heart of this nation’s efforts to save its endangered species is a register of subspecies, species and ecological communities that are threatened with extinction. By law, each entity included on the list should have a detailed recovery plan written for it, which when implemented should save it from extinction. These plans classify species on a sliding scale – from vulnerable to critically endangered or extinct. The federal legislation governing these plans states: ”Recovery plans are binding on the Australian government – once a recovery plan is in place, Australian government agencies must act in accordance with that plan.”

What a wonderful reassurance! It’s a pity, then, that the system underpinning the promise is as rotten as Miss Havisham’s wedding cake. By their fruit ye shall know them: since the legislation mandating action plans was enacted in 1992, only a single vertebrate species has become so abundant as to merit being taken off the threatened species register. But saltwater crocs are atypical of Australia’s endangered species in that the threat they faced was simple: when the shooting for skins was stopped, the species recovered.

Why are we failing so abjectly in protecting our threatened species? The pitifully slow rate at which recovery plans are being drafted is one factor. In New South Wales, for example, in the past 20 years recovery plans have been completed for only about 10 per cent of all species listed as vulnerable to extinction.

Things get worse. In 2006 the federal government excused itself from the obligation to draft plans for species listed as vulnerable to extinction. As a result, if the environment minister decides for whatever reason not to draft a plan, then it simply isn’t done. And even if a plan is completed, there’s no guarantee that it will receive funding.

Why are action plans so often failing to help species recover? The glacially slow development of the plans, along with the lack of obligation to fund and report back on them, are clearly major impediments. But there are other problems. Some plans do not describe how species might be saved. Instead, they often state that more money is required for research before appropriate action is taken.

Such is the depth of public ignorance about Australia’s extinction crisis that most people are unaware it is occurring, while those who do know of it commonly believe that our national parks and reserves are safe places for threatened species. In fact, the second extinction wave is in full swing and it’s emptying our national parks and wildlife reserves as ruthlessly as other landscapes. This is disturbing: national parks exist explicitly to conserve biodiversity, and their failure to do so is a failure both of government policy and our collective will to protect our natural heritage.

The problem lies not with the parks’ staff, who are often dedicated and skilled at their work. Nor does it lie solely with budgets, although more funding rather than more cuts would always be welcome. Instead, the difficulties are at least threefold. First and foremost, the problem stems from the delusion that the simple act of proclaiming a national park or nature reserve will result in the protection of biodiversity. Parks must be proclaimed and effectively managed if biodiversity is to be protected.

Second, the various government agencies responsible for biodiversity protection have allowed their scientific capacity to erode to the point where it’s hard to be sure how many individuals of most endangered species survive; and third, the attempt to save endangered species involves risks that bureaucracies are increasingly unwilling to take.

The first duty of the bureaucrats these days seems to be to protect their minister from criticism: thus it often seems preferable to let a species die out quietly, seemingly a victim of natural change, than to institute a recovery program that carries a risk of failure.

Australian politics, and the bureaucracy that supports it, is failing in one of its most fundamental obligations: the conservation of our natural heritage. The times also suit cynical self-interest: cash-starved state governments, ever more desperate for income and political support, are rolling back even the inadequate present protections, and economic pressures are making it difficult for not-for-profit organisations that focus on nature protection to make ends meet.

What to do? As this saga of ignorance, folly and malice unfolds, it has become clear that those working outside government have a crucial role to play in conserving our biodiversity. Indeed, I believe that it is action by the private and not-for-profit sectors, working with government, that holds the key to protecting our endangered species in a competent and affordable manner. Australians need to take a look at ourselves.

This is an edited extract from Quarterly Essay 48After the Future: Australia’s New Extinction Crisis by Tim Flannery, published on Monday by Black Inc

 

 

PETA offers reward over killing of 3 elephants in Indonesia

Fox News Latino

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, offered Tuesday a $1,000 reward for information leading to the identification of those who killed three elephants on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, media reports said.

The three pachyerm specimens – two adult females and a 1-year-old baby elephant – were found dead over the weekend in Tesso Nilo National Park, a wildlife preserve surrounded by oil palm plantations in central Sumatra, The Jakarta Globe reported.

What is most probable is that the elephants were poisoned as an act of revenge for the destruction of the huts of workers producing palm oil, park director Kupin Simbolon said.

“Those cowardly killers should be arrested and put on trial,” the vice president of PETA in Asia, Jasin Baker, said in a statement.

The World Wildlife Fund, or WWF, said early this year that the Sumatran elephant is at risk of extinction during the next 30 years, its classification having gone from “endangered” to “critically endangered” due to deforestation.

The population of Sumatran elephants grows smaller every year in Indonesia due to illegal logging, oil palm plantations and other threats to their habitat. EFE

 

Norway’s $650B pension fund to require deforestation disclosure among portfolio companies

mongabay.com

Norway’s $650 billion sovereign wealth fund will ask companies in which it invests to disclose their impacts on tropical forests, as part of its effort to reduce deforestation, reports Reuters. The move could usher in broader reporting on the forest footprint of operations and boost eco-certification initiatives.

In a policy posted on its web site in September, Norway’s Pension Fund said it now expects portfolio “to manage risk associated with the causes and impacts of climate change resulting from greenhouse gas emissions and tropical deforestation.” The fund has investments in some 7,000 companies but the policy is initially directed at “companies with operations or value chains in sectors and regions materially exposed” to deforestation risk.

The move came after campaigners targeted the fund for continuing to invest in companies associated with deforestation — especially timber, palm oil, mineral, and wood pulp production — at a time when the Norwegian government has committed 3 billion krone per year ($522 million) toward protecting forests, making it the world’s biggest patron of rainforest conservation.
The fund’s new policy was welcomed Rainforest Foundation Norway, one of the groups that pushed for stronger investment criteria.

“This decision is a turnaround from the Norwegian government and an important step forward in the battle to save the world’s rainforests. Companies responsible for deforestation now get a message from one of the world’s largest investors that it is unacceptable to continue destroying rainforests for profit,” said Lars Løvold, director of Rainforest Foundation Norway, in a statement.

“This decision strengthens Norway’s reputation as an advocate of rainforest protection. What remains now is to make this policy operational and demonstrate to the world that Norway is able to follow up on its high profile commitment to save the tropical forests.”

As a first step, the fund will engage in an “ownership dialogue” on climate and forest issues with companies in its portfolio. The fund lists several questions it will consider in assessing deforestation risk.

  • Does the company disclose information on its tropical forest footprint, how it monitors its impact on tropical forests over time, and its assessment of whether it poses a risk to its business operations?
  • Has the company, or its suppliers, committed to achieve compliance with international standards for sustainable production of agricultural commodities, or sustainable forest management?
  • Does the company report on the implementation of its commitments to reduce tropical deforestation?

The new policy doesn’t state the implications for non-compliance, but in recent years the fund has divested from six companies involved in especially egregious deforestation.

Norway’s Pension Fund is thought to be the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund. Launched in 1990, the fund is a product of Norway’s oil revenue.

Read more at http://news.mongabay.com/2012/1113-norway-pension-fund.html#m2ui8WpUT9FwLxAT.99

VOLCOM® ANNOUNCES PUBLIC RELEASE OF THE LAST ORANGUTANS DOCUMENTARY

5% of sales go towards Sumatran Orangutan Society

Presented by Volcomunity + V.Co-Logical in partnership with Sumatran Orangutan Society Filmed and Edited by Mark Samuels

Costa Mesa, CA. – November 7th, 2012 –Volcom announced today, the public premiere of the 15-minute, eco-themed documentary. It will be shown on Volcom Facebook on Thursday, November 8, 2012 at 10 AM PST and held onVolcom YouTube’s page for viewing after initial public Facebook debut.

The Last Orangutans documentary is presented by Volcomunity + Volcom V.Co-Logical in partnership with Sumatran Orangutan Society (SOS), and was filmed, edited and directed by Mark Samuels. This film stemmed from a product collaboration with Volcom V.Co-Logical Series and SOS for the Fall 2012 year, where 5% of sales from select Volcom products (by way of its 1% for the Planet membership) we’re given directly to the UK based SOS organization in efforts to support their conservation and educational work revolving around the critically endangered Sumatran Orangutan. This film was seen at select global film festivals during the 2012 summer film festival circuit where it gained nominations in best short film documentary and best director amongst other accolades.

In December of 2011 a small group traveled to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, to experience firsthand, the plight of the near extinct orangutans in one of their last strongholds.

“Amazingly, we found that a majority of Indonesians were uninformed about the severity of the problems and others, including government officials, lack any true resolve to confront the issues facing the orangutans and the forest itself,” said Mark Samuels, the film’s director.

The documentary compels the viewer to examine the causes of the rainforest destruction occurring in Indonesia and the effects an average citizen has on the destruction and the impending extinction facing the orangutans. Through interviews with government officials, villagers, and NGOs as well as breathtaking footage from Leuser National Park and the animals themselves, the film offers a compelling look into the problems and solutions that will decide the fate of the last orangutans.

For more information and the film’s trailer please view:http://www.volcomunity.com/2012/05/the-last-orangutang/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N0zOMpdCw-w&feature=player_embedded

Behind the scenes of ‘The Last Orangutans’ filming Part Ihttp://www.volcomunity.com/2012/01/sumatra-orangutans-part-i/

Behind the scenes of ‘The Last Orangutans’ filming Part IIhttp://www.volcomunity.com/2012/01/sumatra-orangutans-part-ii/

About Volcom, Inc.
Volcom is a modern global lifestyle brand that embodies the creative spirit of youth culture. The company was founded on the principles of liberation, innovation and experimentation, and this is uniquely expressed in premium quality clothing, accessories, sunglasses, goggles and related products under the Volcom and Electric brand names. For more information, please visitwww.volcom.com . Volcom is a wholly owned subsidiary of PPR S.A., www.ppr.com.

About Sumatran Orangutan Society
The Sumatran Orangutan Society (SOS) is dedicated to protecting orangutans, their forests and their future. This is done through:

  1. Raising awareness about the importance of protecting orangutans and their habitat.
  2. Supporting grassroots projects that empower local people to become guardians of the rainforests, and restoring damaged orangutan habitat through tree planting programs.
  3. Campaigning on issues threatening the survival of orangutans in the wild.

For more information please visitwww.orangutans-sos.org

Contact:
Volcom, Inc. 
Derek Sabori
(949) 646-2175
dsabori@volcom.com

State Attorney Lawyers Officially Filed Legal Suit Against PT Kalista Alam

atjehpost

MEULABOH – Indonesian Ministry of Environment (MoE), represented by a team of State Attorney Lawyers, has filed a lawsuit against PT Kalista Alam at the District Court of Meulaboh under the registry number 12/pdt.G/2012/PN.

The lawsuit filed by the MoE at the District Court of Meulaboh relates to the clearing by burning conducted by PT Kalista Alam in Tripa Peat Swamp.

Meulaboh’s Court Comittee Member, Munizar, confirmed that the State Attorney Lawyers has filed the lawsuit against PT Kalista Alam on Thursday, November 8, 2012.

“That is correct that the legal representative of the MoE filed a crime and civil lawsuit, so we have received it including the supporting documents,” said Munizar.

Meanwhile, team member from the MoE filing the lawsuit did not give any further comment, since it is the domain of the MoE in Jakarta to clarify.

Commenting the action, the Director of WALHI Aceh over the phone to ATJEHPOST said that WALHI strongly support the legal lawsuit filed by the Government against PT Kalista Alam. He urge all parties to also support the decision.

Further, TM Zulfikar explained that the involvement of NGOs integrated advocacy team is mainly to save the environment, specifically Tripa Peat Swamp.

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