#Indonesia – NGO urges Jokowi to issue moratorium on oil palm plantations.

Environmental group Sawit Watch is urging President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo to fulfill his pledge to declare a moratorium on the issuance of new permits for oil palm plantations, arguing that a moratorium will provide the necessary momentum to reorganize Indonesia’s palm oil industry.

The group said no progress had been made to follow up on Jokowi’s moratorium pledged in April last year, when he also promised to halt the issuance of new permits for coal mining operations.

Sawit Watch deputy director Achmad Surambo said in a press briefing on Friday that an oil palm moratorium was badly needed to stop environmental destruction in the form of land clearing for plantations.

Moreover, there was no sign that the government would revise Presidential Instruction (Inpres) No. 8/2015 on a moratorium of new permits for primary forest and peatland areas, which was due to expire on Saturday, he added.

Achmad said Inpres No. 8 and the promised oil palm moratorium were both important to ensure there would be no more land clearing for oil palm plantations. Land clearing was the prime driver of the annual land and forest fires across Indonesia.

“It will be better if Indonesia has a moratorium, as stipulated in Inpres No. 8 and another moratorium for oil palm plantations. They will complement each other,” said Achmad.

“During the moratorium, the government could revisit and then reform the management of the forests and the palm oil industry,” he went on.

Source – The JakartaPost


Top 10 most attractive Chinese cities for foreigners

Shanghai ranked as the “most attractive” city for foreign residents due to its international atmosphere and multicultural environment, according to an annual survey.

Beijing remained second, thanks to its advantages in healthcare and educational resources, while Hangzhou also held onto third place.

The rankings, released on April 15, are based on a survey of about 25,000 expatriates nationwide in December and January.

The criteria ranged from living environment and local culture to administrative services and favorable policies for foreign residents.

The China Society for Research on International Professional Personnel Exchange and Development launched the annual survey in partnership with International Talent magazine in 2010 as a way to promote the nation’s cities.

Let’s take a look at the top 10 cities for foreigners.


  1. Shanghai
  2. Beijing
  3. Hangzhou
  4. Qingdao
  5. Tianjin
  6. Shenzhen
  7. Suzhou
  8. Guangzhou
  9. Nanjing
  10. Changchun

This article appeared on the China Daily newspaper

Divers clean up Bali reefs

Forty-four divers cleaned up the underwater area around Nusa Dua and Tanjung Benoa, two of the most popular destinations for snorkeling and watersports in Bali.

The divers from the Nusa Dua Reef Foundation (NDRF), divers associations and watersports operators collected 25 sacks of plastic and other non-organic trash from the area, which is rich in species of coral and fish.

“Non-organic trash is a serious problem that has threatened the health and beauty of the marine ecosystem in Nusa Dua and Tanjung Benoa. They are popular destinations for marine tourism, which heavily relies on the beauty of the coral reefs,” said Pariama Hutasoit of the NDRF on Friday.

Every year, she said, 8 tons of plastic trash ended up in the sea in the area, threatening marine life, harming seabirds, sea mammals and killing fish and coral reefs. The trash was often carried away by currents, polluting beaches and disrupting tourist activities along the coastline.

During the World Ocean Summit in Bali last month, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) declared war on plastic trash in the ocean through its worldwide campaign of #CleanSeas.  The Indonesian government has also made a commitment to reduce plastic trash by 70 percent by 2025.

Since 2014, the NDRF has teamed up with Conrad Bali to clean up underwater areas.

“This time, we are focusing the underwater clean-up on areas around Nusa Dua and Tanjung Benoa. We aim to clear non-organic trash and raise public awareness on the importance of coral reefs and to support the #CleanSeas campaign,” Pariama said.

Source – TheJakartaPost

Editorial: EU policy unjustifiable

Indonesia is now the world’s largest palm oil producer supplying over 26 million tons of palm oil-based products to the global market annually.

We find it mind-boggling trying to understand the European Union’s stubborn policy to maintain the 2013 anti-dumping duties on the importation of Indonesian biodiesel, despite a court ruling last year that annulled the duties. The court ruled last September that Indonesian domestic palm oil prices were not regulated.

The dumping complaint only validates our suspicion that the seemingly endless attacks on palm oil by green NGOs and consumer organizations since the late 1990s have partly been prompted by strong lobbying by the EU vegetable oil industry to weaken the competitiveness of Indonesian palm oil. Hence, the government’s decision to file next week a complaint at the Geneva-based World Trade Organization against the EU anti-dumping duties is imperative.

Palm oil, which now accounts for almost 50 percent of global vegetable oil consumption, has increasingly been leading the market as a result of its high competitiveness. The yield of oil palm trees per hectare is nine times higher than soybeans, five times that of rapeseed and eight times that of sunflowers.

Indonesia is now the world’s largest palm oil producer supplying over 26 million tons of palm oil-based products to the global market annually. In fact, the EU has been one of the largest importers, taking up to 15 percent of Indonesian exports, although the palm oil industry has constantly been the target of international green NGOs and consumer organizations.

Even though significant improvements have been made in the environmental and social and labor management of the industry under the Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil (ISPO) scheme, the industry remains stigmatized as a “sinner.” Its latest sin is the alleged dumping practiced by Indonesian biodiesel exporters, which prompted the EU in November 2013 to slap anti-dumping duties of between 8.8 percent and 20.5 percent. Indonesian exports slumped from US$983 million in 2012 to $30 million in 2016 as a result.

The General Court of the EU annulled last September the anti-dumping duties, saying that palm oil prices were not regulated in Indonesia, but the EU Council appealed the decision. Export taxes have indeed been imposed on CPO to move up the raw commodity on the value-added ladder and to enhance the development of biofuels like biodiesel in a bid to curb fossil fuel use and consequently reduce carbon emissions.

As palm oil has developed as one of the biggest nonoil exports from Indonesia and since 40 percent of the estimated 11 million hectares of oil palm estates is owned by smallholders, it is high time for Indonesia and the EU to resolve the social, environmental and economic issues surrounding the industry.

A solution model similar to the supply-chain verification system that is applied to the certification of Indonesian wood-based products under the EU Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) licensing scheme deserves consideration. This scheme audits the entire supply chain from the source of timber to the point of export to ensure social and environmental sustainability.

Sourse – TheJakartaPost

Cambodia – Gov’t gets heat for ivory decision

Officers from Cambodian customs display some of the 1.3 tonnes of African elephant tusks seized from containers shipped from Mozambique to Phnom Penh last year. Wildlife Alliance

Prime Minister Hun Sen on Friday endorsed a Ministry of Environment recommendation to keep the ivory for “scientific research” and exhibitions.

Environment Minister Say Samal yesterday said there were recent requests from the NGO Wildlife Alliance, USAID and the US Embassy to burn the ivory, but he rejected them.

“We don’t believe in burning [it], and as a sovereign country, we should make our own decision,” he said. “Why should it be burned?”

Samal said the Kingdom believes in using the ivory for educational purposes, such as for scientific research and for display at museums.

“We will be working with domestic museums to see if they are interested, but we don’t share the view that the display promotes the killing of elephants,” he said.

While the research on the effectiveness of destroying ivory as a deterrent is not universally accepted, numerous African countries where ivory is poached and many countries that intercept illegal shipments routinely destroy their stockpiles.

Prime Minister Hun Sen on Friday during a Ministry of Interior event also questioned why the country should destroy the confiscated ivory.

“I heard that America wanted us to destroy it. No. America has no right to order [the] Khmer administration,” he said, adding that he had agreed to keep it for exhibitions “so that people know it’s from South Africa and was busted in Cambodia”.

Rhinoceros horns would also be displayed, he said, adding that some of the endangered items from Africa are almost extinct, which is why the Kingdom prefers to “take care of” the ivory.

He said that other countries would be allowed to borrow the ivory for their own exhibitions, if the request was made.

Suwanna Gauntlett, CEO for Wildlife Alliance, confirmed that her organisation has made several requests to the Cambodian government and to the US Embassy to destroy the confiscated ivory, but declined to further comment on the issue.

Jay Raman, spokesman for the US Embassy, said he couldn’t provide information on the topic yesterday as the embassy was closed.

Several leaders with other wildlife NGOs declined to comment or referred questions to other people.

Sarah Brook, a technical adviser with the Wildlife Conservation Society, said that she would be “more concerned” about the security of keeping the ivory.

“I would doubt that museums would be able to keep it secure and prevent it from returning to the trade,” she said.

Usual practice in handling illegal ivory is to destroy it or send it back to the country of origin, she said.

“A large number of countries are destroying it to send a message that this is an illegal activity that won’t be tolerated and prevent it from returning to the trade,” she said.

Meanwhile, an official from the Department of Customs and Excise, who declined to be named, yesterday said authorities are still searching for Nguyen Tien Chuong, 31, the suspect believed to be behind a massive 1.3-tonne ivory bust in December.

“We are hunting for him,” he said.

“The ministries of environment and interior had a meeting about this matter to [take] further measures.”

Source: PhnomPenhPost
Authors: Yesenia Amaro and Phak Seangly


Six people arrested for alleged poaching of Sumatran tigers

The Environment and Forestry Ministry has arrested six people for the alleged poaching of Sumatran tigers in Solok, West Sumatra.

The ministry’s team received information from forest police officers in Jambi province about the illegal operation, the ministry’s law enforcement director-general, Rasio Ridho Sani, said.

“The finding comprises bones and teeth from Sumatran tigers suspected to be brought by the perpetrators from the Kerinci Seblat National Park in Jambi,” the ministry’s spokesman, Djati Witjaksono Hadi, said on Monday.

The six people were being questioned by the West Sumatra Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA).

In Riau, approximately three to four Sumatran tigers die as a result of either poaching or human-animal conflicts every year. It is estimated there are only 300 Sumatran tigers left in the wild.

Last year, law enforcers arrested three members of an alleged Sumatran tiger poaching group in protected forests within the national park in Marike subdistrict, Langkat, North Sumatra. Groups of poachers of rare and endangered Sumatran tigers are believed to have long been operating in the protected forests.

Poaching of endangered Sumatran tigers is rampant in the national park. Sumatran tigers are hunted and killed not only for their skins but also their organs. (trw)

Source” TheJakataPost

Asia’s first vertical forest to be built in China

One of Stefano Boeri’s vertical forest projects in Milan, Italy.

Italian architect Stefano Boeri has revolutionized green architecture through his design of two vegetation-filled towers, known as Bosco Verticale (Vertical Forest), in Milan, Italy.

Such a structure will be built in the Pukou district of Nanjing, China, and consist of “1100 trees from 23 local species, as well as 2500 cascading plants and shrubs that will cover a 6000-square-meter area” according to Lonely Planet

More than just an aesthetic marvel, the construction will serve as a means to curb air pollution, which is highly prevalent in the area, while reinjecting biodiversity into the environment. The greenery enveloping the towers will both absorb surrounding carbon dioxide and provide oxygen.

It has been predicted that the two buildings will convert 25 tons of CO2 annually and produce 60 kilograms of oxygen a day. 

The taller tower will carry a green lantern at its tip and shelter a museum, a rooftop bar, as well as an architecture school. The smaller tower will serve as accommodation for Hyatt hotel, housing around 247 rooms.

Unique to the Asian region, the towers will be inaugurated some time in 2018 and will even aim to open in other Chinese cities, such as Shijiazhuang, Liuzhou, Guizhou, Shanghai and Chongqing. (nik/kes)

Source: TheJakartaPost

Thailand – Nan’s famous Phasing tree tunnel ruined by ignorance and lust for money: academic

#Thailand – NAN’S famous tree tunnel was damaged as people do not understand its value, an academic stated while emphasizing that in order to save the country’s beautiful tree tunnels people have to appreciate their worth and protect them.

Trees along the 800-metre-long Pha Sing tree tunnel on Highway 1080 from Nan to Chloem Phra Kiat had their crowns cut off during a highway extension, leaving the once beautiful tree tunnel without its unique silvan shade and leading to tree deaths since April last year. As a result it is feared the tree tunnel may cause road accidents if branches fall on the road.

On a field visit to the urban forest at Nan, Pracha Koonnathamdee, a lecturer at the Faculty of Economics at Thammasart University, said even though the Pha Sing tree tunnel had survived the highway extension, it had been defaced.

Pracha stated that the motive was the financial benefits the related agencies received while there was a lack of awareness of the real value of the tree tunnel.

“As we can see, despite an agreement being reached to save a small portion of the tree tunnel by constructing a new parallel road so the highway department could expand the highway without harming the existed tree tunnel, in the end the summer storm last year gave the final push and provided a good reason to cite road safety for those who want to cut the trees,” he said.

He explained that it was normal for authorities being uninterested in saving the trees, as in many other countries, because they could get a budget for expansion and the timber could be sold.

Nan mayor Surapol Teinsoot explained that the tree tunnel needed to be saved for transporters, as the road at the tree tunnel was an accident black spot.

“Everyone agreed to save this tree tunnel because it is beautiful and can be the tourist spot of Nan. However, we have to ensure road safety too and it is the duty of Highways Department to make the road safer,” Surapol said.

He stated that the road was an international highway running from China down to Laos, Thailand and Myanmar, so the road expansion was necessary to make transportation more convenient and to boost Thailand’s economy.

“I think conservation and road safety can coexist and most of the trees in this tree tunnel are still alive and can regrow their tree crowns soon,” he added.

However, Pracha insisted that if the people still did not see the value of tree tunnels, similar incidents would continue to happen.

“We can see in many cases from many countries that if the trees are sacred or the people understand the true value of the trees, they will be dearly protected. For instance, |the trees at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo are well preserved, as each tree represents one Japanese soldier who died during World War II,” he said.

“However, raising the people’s awareness of the true value of the trees is hard work and it will take time to get people to realize the trees provide them many benefits such as clean air, a good environment and so on.”

Source: TheNation