- Haze control and oil palm smallholders by Khor, Saravanamuttu & Augustin - article published by The Habibie Center http://khoryuleng.blogspot.my/2015/11/haze-control-and-oil-palm-smallholders.html;
- Smallholders need more credit along with tougher regulations says farmer group http://uk.reuters.com/article/2015/11/12/us-indonesia-palm-idUKKCN0T11K320151112
14 Feb 2017: Symbolic removal of acacia marks new era of peat related law enforcement by Foresthints - video
- Second video reemphasizes untrue claims unhelpful in preventing peat fires Pulang Pisau by Foresthints News https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y8m0QdnG6Kg
- Video reveals threat of peat fires in 2017 - Pulang Pisau (Indonesian Borneo) by Foresthints News https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YlYLlXMny8Q&t=124sF
10 Feb 2017: Indonesia wins cases against companies but none have paid fines / compensation
7 Feb 2017: Indonesia's legal regularisation push - draft bill, 1.7 million hectares of smallholders, Eyes on the Forest on 1.6 million hectares converted and 26 companies using the wrong permits
16 Dec 2016: NGO reactions to Indonesia's new peatland regulations - 30% protection is not good enough, APRIL-RGE in spotlight; Malaysian state says no palm in swampy areas for fear of drying up land
7 Dec 2016: Indonesia expands protection for peatland, Government Taskforce To Legalise HCV Guidelines, Destruction of the Amazon is speeding up
29 Sep 2016: Strengthening ISPO - InPOP's National Action Plan for Sustainable Palm Oil, strict liability for fires and MOEF and BRG halt APRIL Group’s (PT RAPP unit) developmentInPOP UPDATE September 2016 -- InPOP's National Action Plan for Sustainable Palm Oil.... The first draft of the National Action Plan will be presented to stakeholders next month and released for public consultation in the coming weeks..... Suggestions for the National Action Plan, related to strengthening ISPO, include: prioritising the resolution of disputed land legality status for smallholders and companies, centralising licensing and permit procedures, socialising ISPO and its principles on sustainability in schools and community groups, preparing a trade negotiation strategy to gain international recognition of ISPO and increasing the capacity of the ISPO secretariat. Specific laws and regulations related to the palm oil standard will be reviewed by a task-force headed by the Coordinating Ministry of Economic Affairs and open to multi-stakeholder input.
Strict liability for fires?
Editor's note: Indonesia Environment and Forestry Ministry (MOEF) is set to file civil lawsuits after Riau police dropped several cases. In four lawsuits, the concept of strict liability will be used in two cases. Peat and plantations policies has been publicly contested in Indonesia. Operations specialists point out that better implementation is needed. Also, Indonesian laws and regulations may be disjointed, for example, a concessionaire prosecuted under criminal and civil suits (for fire on peat) was ordered to hand over the land, but the agency involved had not prepared this mechanism.
More firms to be on lawsuit list by Hans Nicholas Jong, The Jakarta Post Jakarta | Sat, August 13 2016 http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2016/08/13/more-firms-be-lawsuit-list.html... Companies can be held responsible for fires in their concessions, even if there is no proof that the fires were caused by them or their negligence. Strict liability was used by judges in their verdict against PT National Sago Prima (a subsidiary of PT Sampoerna Agro), ordered to pay a record fine of Rp 1.07 trillion (US$81 million); the government used the unlawful misconduct concept, accusing the company of violating Forestry Ministerial Regulation No. 12/2009, which states that concession holders are responsible for fires on their concessions.... A fire expert from the Bogor Institute of Agriculture reported that PT NSP was among 17 companies audited by the now defunct presidential working unit for the supervision and management of development (UKP4) in 2014. The audit found that none of the companies had passed the compliance test against Indonesian environmental regulations. Most of them lacked adequate facilities and the infrastructure needed to prevent forest fires.
BRG/Peat Restoration Agency stops development
RAPP vows to resolve Pulau Padang Peatland issue 12 Sep 2016
21 Sep 2016: Indonesia fatwa against forest burning to reinforce laws against it, study estimates 100,000 premature deaths from Indonesia fire-haze, financing deforestation
FORESTS & FINANCE - The banks and investors exposed to deforestation risks in Southeast Asia -
See more at: http://forestsandfinance.org/#sthash.3NvDn2U8.dpuf
Forest-burning is a sin, says Indonesian fatwa, 14 September 2016 -- Government officials said they hoped the moral impact of the fatwa would help reinforce laws against it. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-37358253
Study Estimates 100,000 Premature Deaths From Indonesia Haze THE ASSOCIATED PRESS (STEPHEN WRIGHT) September 19, 2016 — The study finds there is a high statistical probability that premature deaths ranged between 26,300 and 174,300. Its main estimate of 100,300 deaths is the average of those two figures. It predicts 91,600 deaths in Indonesia, another 6,500 in Malaysia and 2,200 in Singapore. The researchers involved in the study say the model they developed can be combined with satellite observations to analyze the haze in close to real time. ....... ....http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-09-19/study-estimates-100-000-premature-deaths-from-indonesia-haze
Study claiming 6,500 deaths in Malaysia due to haze refuted BY NICHOLAS CHENG 19 September 2016 -- Malaysia has refuted a Harvard and Columbia University study, claiming that the 2015 South-East Asian haze had caused 6,500 deaths in the country. The study, which is expected to be published in the Environmental Research Letters (ERL) journal, also claims that there have been 100,300 premature deaths in the region from the haze; 91,600 in Indonesia and 2,200 in Singapore. ... Deputy Health director-general Datuk Dr S. Jeyaindran was sceptical of the findings of the study. “No such thing!” he said when contacted Monday about the paper. “We had no deaths last year directly related to the haze,” he added. The numbers vastly contradict the official count, which only reported 19 deaths in Indonesia and none in Malaysia and Singapore. ... http://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2016/09/19/deaths-in-malaysia-due-to-haze-refuted/
5 Sept 2016: Environment Minister Condemns Hostage Situation Involving Palm Oil Company, WALHI to File New Police Reports Against Riau Forest Burners
Malaysia challenges the world over palm oil on peatland by Bambang Nurbianto, The Jakarta Post -- Malaysia is a “lone ranger” in Southeast Asia as it fights more or less solo against the majority of environmentalists’ views that palm oil trees should not be planted on tropical peatland as it is believed to severely affect the local environment and exacerbate global warming. Malaysia, the second biggest palm oil producer after Indonesia, is a home to 2.43 million hectares of peatland, 27.5 percent of which has been developed into palm oil plantation, while Indonesia with production of 23 million tons last year is a home to 16 million hectares of peatland with 1.6 million hectares of it developed.... Unlike Indonesia which prefers to follow the mainstream views of the environmentalists and has decided to launch a moratorium on new development on peatland since 2011, Malaysia fully supports its palm oil industry who have tried to prove that peatland cannot be classified as “sacred land”.... The Malaysian government established the Tropical Peat Research Laboratory (TPRL) in Serawak state to facilitate its scientists to conduct research on the economic and environmental aspects of peatland development. They claimed that they have managed to eradicate the negative impacts of peatland exploitation. However, their arguments were nearly unheard as they were inundated by the mainstream opinion of the environmentalists.... http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2016/08/24/malaysia-challenges-the-world-over-palm-oil-on-peatland.html
10 August 2016: WWF SVP on inability/unwillingness of local and national authorities
8 August 2016: Riau focus - strategies post-haze
27 July 2016: Some cases are dropped, Indonesia focus on smallholder, Riau's new national park, policy tussle over moratorium with corporate sector, Singapore view post-IPOP
Note: Pak Bayu says the moratorium decision of President Jokowi (if it comes into regulation) will be respected. Bayu, notes there are many estates that level of production is only one ton per hectare against a potential fo seven tons, blaming bad planting materials (seeds) in large part. Also, trees over 30 years old must be replanted. Bayu said for Jan-June 2016 the oil fund has raised to Rp 5.6 trillion, against this year's target of Rp 11 trillion. The realized oil fund levy for 1H2016 was lower than 2H2016's (July to December 2015) Rp 6.9 trillion likely because of oil exports have dropped slightly.
Indonesia suspends land-clearing licences of 27 firms over forest fires July 11, 2016 By Samhati Bhattacharjya -- Indonesia government has suspended land-clearing licences of 27 companies, which were found responsible for the land and forest fires, leading to the haze crisis last year. The Environment and Forest Ministry officials said that the decision was taken after the companies failed to prevent fires in their concession lands, which resulted in one of the worst environmental crises for South-east Asia in recent history. Apart from the sanctions, the ministry has also filed civil law suits against five oil palm companies allegedly responsible for some of last year's fires.... http://www.ibtimes.sg/indonesia-suspends-land-clearing-licences-27-firms-over-forest-fires-2292
Dirjen Kementan: moratorium sawit harus dibarengi peremajaan tanaman 26 Juli 2016 -- Menurut dia, luas lahan yang dimiliki pengusaha sudah cukup besar karena selama ini terus ekspansi, sementara milik BUMN justru memprihatinkan karena sampai sekarang masih stagnan produksinya. Sedangkan kebun kelapa sawit rakyat harus ditingkatkan produktivitasnya.. Kondisi petani kelapa sawit, lanjutnya, kalau dibandingkan dengan petani kelapa sawit Malaysia yang bergabung dalam Felda masih jauh sehingga harus diperjuangkan lagi.
17 July 2016: What is Singapore government's agenda?
7 July 2016: Of 2.6 million ha of peat restoration 50% responsibility of concessionaires, Indonesia Haze Crisis 2015 account for 97% of 1.2 billion tons CO2 equivalent emissions for the region that year
Singapore to pursue firms over fires, despite Indonesian ire AFP | Sunday, Jul 3, 2016 - See more at: http://news.asiaone.com/news/singapore/singapore-pursue-firms-over-fires-despite-indonesian-ire#sthash.nevBhYqh.dpuf
Indonesia taking steps to prevent cross-border haze this year Source: Bernama -- JAKARTA, 27 June 2016: This year, the air pollution crisis caused by the haze may not recur. This is based on Indonesia’s confidence that forest and oil palm plantation fires will be controlled, beginning this year, while it tackles at the same time the spectre of the haze haunting neighbouring countries annually. Indonesian Palm Oil Producers Association (GAPKI) chairman Joko Supriyono said the confidence was based on preparations being made by all parties – including the government, plantation companies and villagers in the oil palm plantation areas. “As fire is our common problem, GAPKI members have been asked to proactively assist the government to overcome the problem and villagers, advised to refrain from large-scale open burning.” In addition, he said Gapki would cooperate with the Indonesian government to monitor all hotspots, adding that GAPKI members were reminded not to resort to open burning..... He said, as an organisation representing palm oil entrepreneurs, GAPKI welcomed the directive of Indonesian president Joko Widodo (Jokowi) for the authorities to take stern action against any company carrying out open burning. Joko said GAPKI had also urged the authorities to take action against perpetrators of forest fires. “The forest and peat fires have been taking place for many years and recur every year, even before the growth of the palm oil industry. There are also laws that allow open burning to clear fields, all this has to be reviewed.” Recently, Jokowi ordered all authorities to carry out works to prevent the burning of forests and farms in the country, adding that they (the authorities) should be prepared to face the catastrophic forest fires in advance and make prevention a priority. The republic has set up a Peat Restoration Agency to carry out activities to preserve forests and ensure forest and farm fires do not recur this year. In addition, the Indonesian president has instructed all district-level authorities, including the army and police to monitor the fields.....http://www.therakyatpost.com/world/2016/06/27/indonesia-taking-steps-to-prevent-cross-border-haze-this-year/
"A Lost Opportunity for Indonesia" RAN Responds to Dissolution of the Indonesian Palm Oil Pledge. San Francisco. Today, Rainforest Action Network responded to the announcement made by six of the world’s largest palm oil companies to dissolve the Indonesian Palm Oil Pledge (IPOP) group, an innovative platform designed to advance the environmental and human rights reforms needed to address the international controversy surrounding the rainforest destruction and labor exploitation associated with Indonesia’s palm oil industry. Gemma Tillack, Agribusiness Campaign Director for Rainforest Action Network issued the following statement. “IPOP was an important mechanism for Indonesian companies to differentiate themselves from their competitors by taking real steps to halt the rampant destruction of forests and peatlands, to end the widespread abuse of workers and address the long-standing conflicts resulting from the displacement of local communities from their lands for industrial scale plantations. IPOP’s dissolution is a disappointing step backward in the urgent fight to achieve truly responsible palm oil and is a major lost opportunity for Indonesia’s palm oil industry to maintain its stake in the global market. “IPOP’s former members, Wilmar, Golden Agri-Resources, Musim Mas, Astra Agro Lestari, Asian Agri and Cargill, must now meet their responsible palm oil promises independently and demonstrate that they intend to follow through on the commitments made to smallholders, local communities, workers and customers across the globe that are demanding fundamental changes in the way the palm oil is produced.... http://www.ran.org/a_lost_opportunity_for_indonesia_ran_responds_to_dissolution_of_the_indonesian_palm_oil_pledge
Read more here: http://khorreports-palmoil.blogspot.my/2016/07/indonesia-peatland-restoration-news.html
Measuring carbon emissions
THESE FIRES ARE HUGE, HIDDEN AND HARMFUL. WHAT CAN WE DO? Smoldering peat gives off massive quantities of carbon dioxide and other pollutants, but the search for solutions is on. By XiaoZhi Lim, freelance science reporter based in Singapore. June 28, 2016 -- June 28, 2016 — As forest fires devastated Fort McMurray, Alberta, last month, a different sort of fire may have started beneath the ground. Peat, a carbon-rich soil created from partially decomposed, waterlogged vegetation accumulated over several millennia and the stuff that fueled Indonesia’s megafires last fall, also appears in the boreal forests that span Canada, Alaska and Siberia. With the intense heat from the Fort McMurray fires, “there’s a good chance the soil in the area could have been ignited,” says Adam Watts, a fire ecologist at Desert Research Institute in Nevada. Unlike the dramatic wildfires near Fort McMurray, peat fires smolder slowly at a low temperature and spread underground, making them difficult to detect, locate and extinguish. ey produce little flame and much smoke, which can become a threat to public health as the smoke creeps along the land and chokes nearby villages and cities. Although they look nothing like it, peat fires are the “largest fires on earth.”And although they look nothing like it, peat fires are the “largest fires on earth,” says Guillermo Rein, a peat fire researcher at Imperial College in the United Kingdom....The boreal forests are thought to contain some 30 times more peat than Indonesia. Because they can smolder for weeks and months, sometimes even staying active underground throughout cold northern winters, peat fires emit on average the equivalent of 15 percent of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions per year, according to Rein — carbon that took thousands of years to sequester.... Rein recently received a five-year, €2 million grant from the European Research Council to develop a peat fire early warning system. He is trying to characterize the heat fingerprints of peat fires by replicating small peat fires in the laboratory and using infrared cameras to record the heat emitted. He hopes to use his findings to calibrate satellites specifically for peat fires, just as some motion sensors are calibrated to detect infrared radiation unique to humans.....Rein is also collecting the gases produced from his experiments and analyzing them for patterns that could become telltale warning signs of a growing peat fire. For example, the ratios of carbon monoxide or volatile organic compounds to carbon dioxide can be used to tell the difference between emissions from peat fires and those from combustion engines or power plants. These patterns could then be applied to handheld gas sensors or gas analyzers placed in drones, airplanes or buildings in nearby villages and cities to help detect peat fires....Once found, one problem to putting out peat fires is that peat soil repels water when it gets very dry, says Watts.... Adding a fire retardant to the water might help make water more effective at this. One example is Peat FireX, a plant-based powder developed in 2012 by Steve Sinunu, CEO of Texas-based EnvironX Solutions. When dissolved in water, it disrupts the strong hydrogen bonds between water molecules, making it easier for the water to penetrate soil. As the solution moves into the soil, it coats the peat to protect it from fire....Earlier this year, the Indonesian government adopted Peat FireX as a weapon against peat fires, according to Steve Sinunu and an independent company in Singapore who helped connect EnvironX with the Indonesian government.... http://ensia.com/features/these-fires-are-huge-hidden-and-harmful-what-can-we-do/
Indonesia Moving Toward Tougher Stance On Contested South China Sea JUN 15, 2016 -- Indonesian President Joko Widodo called a strategically important meeting with his security and political affairs minister this week over how the normally neutral Asian archipelago should handle increasing foreign pressure on its maritime claims. The minister, Luhut Binsar Panjaitan, learned from the Monday meeting that government leaders will “formulate an Indonesia stance on the conflict” in the widely disputed South China Sea while avoiding any statements that show disunity, Indonesia’s Antara News reported.... Those goals most likely mean Widodo’s administration will stiffen its stance on the South China Sea, a 3.5 million-square-kilometer ocean north of the vast group of islands. That’s because Chinese fishing and coast guard vessels increasingly turn up in Indonesian-claimed waters. Indonesia, like Malaysia, has tried to stay neutral toward China’s aggressive maritime claims because it depends on Chinese investment in infrastructure and orders for palm oil, a key agricultural product. Beijing rewards Beijing’s restraint by not getting publicly angry about upsets at sea.....http://www.forbes.com/sites/ralphjennings/2016/06/15/indonesia-moving-toward-harder-stance-on-contested-south-china-sea/#2716084f5b35
29 June 2016: 5 palm oil firms face lawsuit over forest fires, moratorium on firms with idle concessions
West Papua - Sorong SEZ for processing palm and other resources
15 June 2016: APP apologises for not handing over maps, Singapore cannot enter Indonesia's legal domain
VP Kalla: Indonesians will not be prosecuted by Singapore over haze By Reuters June 13, 2016 http://jakarta.coconuts.co/2016/06/13/vp-kalla-indonesians-will-not-be-prosecuted-singapore-over-haze
Singapore cannot enter Indonesia's legal domain
14 June 2016: Indonesia Peat Restoration Agency talks details about process
Peat expert dies from cancer after fighting Indonesian fires 12th June 2016 / Indra Nugraha... He died “because of the smoke,” added Kunin, a former student of Limin’s who later became his colleague. “Whenever there were fires, he was active in the field.” Half a million Indonesians suffered from respiratory ailments during the 2015 crisis, according to the government, which said last October that 19 people had died from the haze. The long-term health effects of exposure to the toxic fumes remain poorly understood, but scientists in Palangkaraya measured “extremely hazardous” levels of ozone, carbon monoxide, cyanide, ammonia and formaldehyde in the city where the haze turned the air a noxious orange color.https://news.mongabay.com/2016/06/peat-expert-dies-from-cancer-after-fighting-indonesian-fires/
Note: Readers who know Limin also note that he was "very very heavy smoker" too. He spent time in his career in NGO sector advocacy, and he was a forester by training.
12 May 2016: Min Env For stops forest conversion nationwide, Norway helps on peatland-friendly agriculture, Indonesia-Malaysia G2G on haze issue (not on province basis)
Entire process for new palm oil permit issuance ends: Minister - Environment and Forestry Ministry - nationwide extension of current moratorium area removes Papua and other areas from conversion - http://khorreports-palmoil.blogspot.co.uk/2016/02/ipop-in-disfavour-is-problem-for-rspo.html
Norway to develop peatland-friendly agriculture in Indonesia, MOEF 50 boreholes, US$67 million in grants for peat lands restoration - http://khorreports-palmoil.blogspot.co.uk/2015/05/sarawak-to-host-15th-international-peat.html
- Malaysia, Indonesia to sign new MoU to tackle trans-boundary haze September 12, 2015 http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/malaysia-indonesia-to-sign-new-mou-to-tackle-trans-boundary-haze
Pressure Builds on Snack Food Giant PepsiCo to Drop Conflict Palm Oil April 29, 2016 Rainforest Action Network and SumOfUs help rally 100,000’s of people calling on PepsiCo to take meaningful action to halt deforestation and human rights abuses in its supply chain http://www.ran.org/pressure_builds_on_snack_food_giant_pepsico_to_drop_conflict_palm_oil
How effective will Indonesia’s palm oil permit freeze really be? 4 May 2016 / Mongabay Haze Beat Observers question the extent to which the newly declared moratorium, which also applies to mining licenses, can actually be enforced. https://news.mongabay.com/2016/05/effective-will-indonesias-palm-oil-permit-freeze-really/
25 April 2016: Reactions to Jokowi's palm oil moratorium, BPDP invests in Asian Agri smallholder replanting, EU Legal Timber System, call for coconut export moratorium
16 April 2016: Jokowi reportedly will order moratorium on new oil palm concessions, IPOP members alleged cartel behaviour, Eyes on the Forest report accuses large processor-traders of missing pledges
Editor's note: Implementation has been issue in many areas, due to illegal planting. An improved image for palm oil, will depend on how well the moratorium is fulfilled. Illegal product is featured in the April 2016 Eyes on the Forest report (by Friends of the Earth -Walhi Riau, Jikalahari and WWF Indonesia) that discusses the problem of non-certification traceability, where investigative research (tracking FFB trucks and CPO tankers) has apparently shown illegal / "tainted" product has entered the pledged high sustainability traceable supply-chain of key processor-trader groups in Riau (a core haze zone).
'Zero chance of last year's haze happening again this year': Indonesian agency - The head of Indonesia's Peatland Restoration Agency says determination from the government, palm oil and pulp and paper companies, as well as the community will see that fires do not break out on peatlands this year. By Liyana Othman 15 Apr 2016 http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/zero-chance-of-last-year/2698558.html
DBS: Plantation Companies: Indonesia to issue moratorium on new palm oil concession
Reports on illegal FFB bought in 2012-2015 via investigative research
10 Mar 2016: Indonesia peatland agency depends on donations, Infospot by APRIL Group on its 150,000 ha Riau peat forest project, where's KL haze from?
3 March 2016: Financial Times on the Indonesia "great land rush" and problems implementing the Norway-Indonesia $1 billion anti-deforestation deal
2 February 2016: Ex-WWF activist Nazir Foead heads BRG, announces four districts for peat restoration effort focus, sanctions against companies will be firm
Editor's note - missed this economic calculus from World Bank, thanks to reader for pointing it out:
World Bank environmental specialist Ann Jeannette Glauber also speculates on the economic calculus, if every hectare burned in 2015 were converted to palm oil: “So on the one hand US$16bil cost to the public, on the other hand, US$8bil– lots of money – to a handful of individuals.“ http://www.thestar.com.my/news/regional/2015/12/16/forest-fires-cost-indonesia-rm68bil-world-bank-amount-is-more-than-double-the-2004-aceh-tsunami-bill/
PEAT RESTORATION WILL FOCUS ON 4 DISTRICT 01 February 2016 by Infosawit; Nazir Foead, Head of BRG (Peat Restoration Agency; former WWF conservation director, was sworn in 20 Jan 2016 by President Jokowi), announces that peat restoration efforts will focus on 4 districts:
- Pulang Pisau, Kalimantan Tengah
- Meranti, Riau
- Ogan Komering Ilir (OKI), Sumatera Selatan
- Musi Banyuasin, Sumatera Selatan
Regarding sanctions on companies that have been involved in forest fires, he stated... that law enforcement should be firm. "There should be a half-and-half, no bargaining" ..... Presidential Decree No. 1 dated 6 January 2016 sets out priority areas: South Sumatra, Jambi, Riau, Central Kalimantan , South Kalimantan and Papua*. *BRG notes that peat here is not as deep as in Sumatra and Kalimantan.... http://www.infosawit.com/news/4043/restorasi-gambut-bakal-fokus-di-4-kabupaten
Nazir Foead, Mantan Direktur WWF, Ditunjuk Sebagai Kepala Badan Restorasi Gambut by Qayuum Amri http://sawitindonesia.com/rubrikasi-majalah/berita-terbaru/nazir-foead-mantan-direktur-wwf-ditunjuk-sebagai-kepala-badan-restorasi-gambut
25 January 2016: RGE's Tanoto writes on Indonesia fires at Davos WEF
4 January 2016: Indonesia punishes 23 companies and 33 companies in process. Jokowi's Push for 2016 Tax Amnesty Plan seen as harmful for long-term compliance; World Bank reports "a few hundred businesses and a few thousand farmers seek to profit" from forest and peat fires to detriment of 10 millions. Greenpeace worries about tainted chain-of-custody and says "little evidence that corporate ‘No Deforestation’ commitments are yet having any effect on the ground."
Editor's note: Reports by World Bank and Greenpeace underline chain-of-custody and corporate interest concerns- a few hundred businesses. Greenpeace's report highlights the role on commodity traders and FFB trading (palm fruit ending up at major group's mills). Indonesian government's unprecedented move to revoke or freeze company licenses - 23 sanctioned and 33 in process at end December. Notable moves against companies, and likely new harder-line shift of NGOs and pressure on financial institutions against the fire-haze product supply-chain. The 2015 fire-haze episode was very bad and points to need for the existing NGO-corporate sustainability nexus to evolve. Also worth watching out for policy shifts at Greenpeace, as Kumi Naidoo stepped down in Dec 2015, http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/news/Blogs/Kumi-Naidoo/.
Jokowi's Push for 2016 Tax Amnesty Plan Kick-Off Seen as Flawed by Chris Brummitt January 4, 2016 http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-01-03/jokowi-seeks-2016-kick-off-for-tax-amnesty-plan-seen-as-flawed
; ... Indonesian President Joko Widodo. Jokowi, as the president is known, is under pressure to increase government spending on public works and boost faltering growth, which languished below 5 percent for much of his first year in office.... Indonesia had originally planned to implement amnesty in 2015. OECD: Amnesty will be harmful for long-term compliance... Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s government will start 2016 trying to get lawmakers to approve the country’s fourth tax amnesty since independence, a plan it says will lure back money stashed overseas to net an extra $4.4 billion of revenue this year... Bad move, say tax analysts, anti-corruption activists and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. The quest for a short-term budget boost risks missing its mark and exacerbating the country’s perennial tax evasion, they say.
World Bank's "INDONESIA ECONOMIC QUARTERLY: Reforming amid uncertainty," December 2015: "According to the government, 2.6 million hectares of land burned between June and October 2015, an area four and half times the size of Bali. Man-made fires – more than 100,000 of them – were used to prepare land for agriculture and to gain access to land cheaply. The absence of controlled burning measures or sufficient law enforcement meant that the fires grew out of control, fed by drought and exacerbated by the effects of El Niño. This vast economic and environmental crisis is repeated year after year, as a few hundred businesses and a few thousand farmers seek to profit from land and plantation speculation practices, while tens of millions of Indonesians suffer health costs and economic disruptions. In 2015, fires cost Indonesia an estimated IDR 221 trillion (USD 16.1 billion)..." Page 18.
Greenpeace's "INDONESIA’S FORESTS: UNDER FIRE, Indonesia’s fire crisis is a test of corporate commitment to forest protection," some excerpts: Massive deforestation: Since 1990, one-fourth of Indonesia’s forest has been lost – 31 million ha... Fires: About 20% of fire hotspots detected during 2015 (to 26 October) occurred within pulpwood plantation concessions and a further 16% within oil palm concessions... From cleared and burnt rainforest, the tainted chain-of-custody....While commodity traders with ‘No Deforestation’ policies ... monitor risks around the mills in their supply chains, it is not until civil society organisations bring public exposure to problematic cases that real action seems to be taken to cut suppliers off....There is therefore little evidence that corporate ‘No Deforestation’ commitments are yet having any effect on the ground. In 2014 and 2015 (to 10 June) oil palm concessions accounted for about a fifth of FORMA deforestation alerts, similar to their share of 2011-13 deforestation..... In addition, unlicensed development for palm oil production is widespread and a major cause of illegal deforestation in some areas, with past evidence of palm fruit from illegal plantations ending up at major groups’ mills....
Indonesia punishes 23 companies for causing forest fires Associated Press, Jakarta, Indonesia | National | Wed, December 23 2015 - See more at: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2015/12/23/indonesia-punishes-23-companies-causing-forest-fires.html#sthash.lmvocjRA.dpuf
Companies Found Guilty of Causing the Indonesian Haze to Face Consequences by Joanna Plucinska @joannaplucinska Dec. 22, 2015; ...In an unprecedented move, the Indonesian government will either revoke or freeze company licenses if they are found to be directly involved. Three companies implicated in starting forest fires have already had their licenses revoked, causing them to permanently shut down.. “We have sanctioned 23 companies in total, ranging from administrative sanctions to license revocation, while 33 others are still in the process, they could have their licenses revoked too if they are found guilty,” Environment Ministry official Kemal Amas told AFP.
18 December 2015: RSPO press release - Indonesia concession maps to go online in 2Q2016 via WRI's Global Forest Watch website
RSPO press release - PALM OIL CONCESSION MAPS OF RSPO MEMBERS TO BECOME PUBLICLY AVAILABLE KUALA LUMPUR, December 18, 2015: In response to the devastating land and forest fires affecting Indonesia every year, and in order to improve the monitoring and enforcement of its Principles & Criteria (P&C), the RSPO will publish its member's oil palm concession maps. This commitment stems from an RSPO General Assembly resolution of November 2013 which required RSPO members to submit maps for all their palm oil concessions, however the legality of this resolution has since been under challenge in Indonesia and Malaysia, which led to a freeze in implementation. After taking legal advice and extensive discussions with the key stakeholder in Indonesia and Malaysia, the RSPO can now confirm that it will publish all digital maps of its members oil palm concessions worldwide, except for Malaysia, where the legality of the public disclosure of concession maps continues to be ambiguous within the laws of the country. The RSPO will make this information publically available during the 2nd quarter of 2016 via the Global Forest Watch platform....
12 December 2015: Smallholders and CIFOR on restoration, Jokowi to oversee Indonesia peat restoration agency, Rp50 trillion over next five years to lay the groundwork for rehabilitation, photos of large-scale clearance of peatland forests, community dam activism in Central Kal. WALHI uses Wilmar data.
Smallholders at the heart of Indonesia’s zero-deforestation dispute - Government and business may find common ground in supporting small-scale oil palm farmers. by Thomas Hubert http://blog.cifor.org/38596/smallholders-at-the-heart-of-indonesias-zero-deforestation-dispute?fnl=en
Restoration as a local solution with global benefits - Forest landscape restoration should be at the core of climate change strategies, Global Landscapes Forum hears. by John Cannon 9 Dec 2015 http://blog.cifor.org/38554/restoration-as-a-local-solution-with-global-benefits?fnl=en
Restoration: Developing countries are doing it for themselves - Developing countries will end up paying for most of their landscape restoration, says Nigeria's former finance minister. Center for International Forestry Research 7 Dec 2015 http://blog.cifor.org/38492/restoration-developing-countries-are-doing-it-for-themselves?fnl=en
Jokowi to oversee Indonesia peat restoration agency but details thin on the ground 26th November 2015 / Mongabay Haze Beat http://news.mongabay.com/2015/11/jokowi-to-oversee-indonesia-peat-restoration-agency-but-details-thin-on-the-ground-2/
Malaysia, Indonesia to harmonise palm oil certification By OOI TEE CHING - 27 November 2015; .... Last week, at the Asean Summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and Indonesia President Joko Widodo announced each country will contribute an initial US$5 million to kickstart CPOPC’s operations.... Yesterday, Indonesia Vice President Muhammad Jusuf Kalla in addressing an international business gathering of 1,200 at the Indonesian Palm Oil Conference (IPOC) 2015, announced Indonesia will be restoring damaged forest and peatland ecosystem. Jusuf announced the government is setting aside Rp50 trillion, for the next five years, to lay the groundwork for rehabilitation. The first phase of restoration will cover two million hectares of forest and peatland. Fadhil acknowledged Jusuf’s remarks that the allocation is equivalent to the annual tax contributed by plantation companies to the government. In preparation for climate change talks beginning November 30 in Paris, Indonesia and Mal aysia will highlight CPOPC’s long term plans in tackling the region’s haze problem. This will include better dissemination of facts and figures of oil palm planting on peat soil. CPOPC membership, under government-to- government framework, is open to all oil palm cultivating countries such as Brazil, Colombia, Thailand, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines and Uganda.... http://www.nst.com.my/news/2015/11/114069/malaysia-indonesia-harmonise-palm-oil-certification
The Indonesian cost of Chinese palm oil Venkatachalam Anbumozhi, Jakarta | Opinion | Thu, November 19 2015.... Medical costs are difficult to calculate at this point. But in 1997, another year of major haze, forest fires in Indonesia exacted a short-term economic impact across the three countries of around $1.4 billion from air-pollution-related health costs. Deforestation today plants the economic blight of tomorrow. From 2000 to 2010, Indonesia saw its forests diminish by 500,000 hectares each year. 41 percent of Indonesia’s remaining forest land is considered degraded....Seeming to honor its agreement, the Indonesian government has opened 244 cases against illegal peat-burnings; is investigating 16 palm oil companies for their involvement; and recently extended its moratorium on forestry ministry licensing of peatland areas.But the Jokowi administration has acted ambivalently with regards to peat-for-palm arson in the past, and there’s reason to doubt its present investigations will reach their conclusions.In May 2011 the Norwegian moratorium was brought into effect. However, it contained numerous exemptions as a result of business lobbying. Projects whose applications were received prior to the presidential instruction can still proceed, as can projects related to mining.In 2013 the Indonesian government proposed six million hectares of degraded land (an area larger than the Indonesian province of Aceh) that could be used for oil palm expansion — enough to achieve the country’s national target of doubling palm oil production by 2020 without additional deforestation.In August the signees of the Indonesia Palm Oil Pledge (IPOP), which committed producers to industry-leading sustainability practices, were advised by the government to exempt small stakeholders from greener standards. - See more at: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2015/11/19/the-indonesian-cost-chinese-palm-oil.html#sthash.l3UNap1V.dpuf
Indonesia's Forests Up in Smoke - By : Ulet Ifansasti December 07, 2015 Fires on drained peatlands are a disaster, and have made Indonesia into a major greenhouse emitter. Indonesia’s fire crisis, the result of decades of wholesale forest and peatland destruction, has put Indonesia’s plantation industries in the global spotlight. Global consumer companies and traders must face up to their role in fuelling this disaster. Existing ‘No Deforestation’ policies and Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) membership are not enough. ... The use of fire in agriculture is still common in Indonesia, particularly among palm oil producers that clear vast stretches of peatlands annually to make way for their plantations. These practices have spurred residents from Paduran village, Central Kalimantan, to take action as they team up with Greenpeace, several NGOs and the University of Palangkaraya to shine a spotlight on rapidly receding water levels of the region's peatlands. http://jakartaglobe.beritasatu.com/eyewitness/indonesias-forests-smoke/; Note: photos include those on plantation highlighted here, http://www.redd-monitor.org/2012/07/13/carbon-crime-and-impunity-in-indonesias-plantation-sector/
CIFOR DG’s Column - Climate isn’t everything … so welcome to the Global Landscapes Forum - Many solutions for a sustainable future are tied to landscapes and must meet local needs, while building on global talks....Landscapes, therefore, are places where many of our solutions for a more sustainable future must happen... The recent fire and haze crisis in Indonesia demonstrates why we need to take a broader landscape approach and a longer-term perspective. The mainstream media tend to characterize the fires as primarily issues of greenhouse gas emissions and nature conservation. While these are indeed critical, the fires really go way beyond. Health, poverty, food, rights, land tenure, law and order, and economic growth are all issues that come into play. Framing the haze crisis mainly around climate concerns is simply not accurate, especially for those closest to the scene that depend on these landscapes... http://blog.cifor.org/38307/climate-isnt-everything-so-welcome-to-the-global-landscapes-forum?fnl=en
Meet the Indonesians taking climate action into their own hands Blogpost by Yuyun Indradi - 2 December, 2015 at 4:29 5 comments Just over a year ago, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo of Indonesia - one of the biggest emitters along with the US, China and India - visited a local community affected by the forest fires and vowed to tackle the devastating crisis. But with parts of the country being blanketed in toxic smoke over the past few months, local communities, volunteers and activists can't damn stand it anymore! So they're taking action into their own hands.... Local villagers, NGO activists and volunteers build a community dam to block a canal that is draining peatlands for plantations in Paduran Village, Central Kalimantan province, Indonesia. The province has been the epicentre of Indonesia's 2015 forest fires disaster...http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/news/Blogs/makingwaves/indonesia-climate-action-forests-peatland/blog/54939/
Indonesia is burning - but how responsible is the palm oil industry? By Niamh Michail+, 24-Nov-2015 Indonesia’s forests are being ravaged by forest and peatland fires that are sparking a public health and environmental crisis – but how responsible is the palm oil industry? http://www.foodnavigator.com/Policy/Indonesia-is-burning-but-how-responsible-is-the-palm-oil-industry
GAPKI Wants Palm Oil to be Listed as a Strategic Commodity TEMPO.CO, 26 November, 2015 Jakarta - The Head of Indonesia's Palm Oil Producers Association (Gapki), Joko Supriyono, has asked Vice President Jusuf Kalla to list palm oil as a strategic commodity. According to Supriyono, the palm oil industry is a significant contributor to Indonesia's economic growth - for it provides jobs and livelihoods for at least four million Indonesians. Furthermore, continued Supriyono, the palm oil industry has played a significant role in helping the government to eradicate poverty and develop rural areas. Supriyono said that Indonesia's palm oil industry generates some US$21 billion in foreign exchange, and forms 13,4 percent of Indonesia's total exports - making it the second largest source of foreign exchange, only behind oil-and-gas exports... http://en.tempo.co/read/news/2015/11/26/056722592/GAPKI-Wants-Palm-Oil-to-be-Listed-as-a-Strategic-Commodity
Indonesian Paper Giants Commit Over $100M Towards Forest, Peatland Restoration December 8, 2015 by Hannah Furlong .... Amidst the bustle of COP21, Indonesian forests have received some pretty good news. After weeks of devastating fires, APRIL Group and Asia Pulp and Paper (APP), two of the world’s largest pulp and paper companies, have made strong reforestation commitments.... APRIL Group — which just this summer announced an end to deforestation as part of a new Sustainable Forest Management Plan — announced this week it would enhance its Riau Ecosystem Restoration (RER) project by doubling its size to include 150,000 hectares and investing $100 million over 10 years in peat conservation and restoration activities. The company claims it is the largest investment by a private sector company in a single eco-restoration project in Indonesia. ... http://www.sustainablebrands.com/news_and_views/business_models/hannah_furlong/indonesian_paper_giants_commit_over_100m_towards_fores and http://www.straitstimes.com/world/indonesian-firm-pledges-s141m-to-restore-peatlands
Palm Oil Giant Commits to Help Indonesia Through Peatland Rehabilitation, Traceability November 17, 2015 by Hannah Furlong... On Monday, Golden Agri-Resources (GAR), the world’s second-largest palm oil producer, launched a peatland rehabilitation project in Indonesia and committed to 100 percent traceability to mill by the end of 2015. GAR’s Peat Ecosystem Rehabilitation Project will help develop fire prevention measures and long-term protection of one of the company’s concessions in West Kalimantan. This is the first time a project of this kind has been attempted by a palm oil company. GAR — which in 2014 pledged that all of the palm oil it produces, sources and trades would be deforestation-free — says this new project is an effort to demonstrate how businesses can combine conservation and economic development in practice. ... http://www.sustainablebrands.com/news_and_views/business_models/hannah_furlong/palm_oil_giant_commits_help_indonesia_through_peatland
World’s second largest palm oil producer makes sustainability pledge By Simon Pitman+, 18-Nov-2015 Golden Agri-Resources, the world’s second biggest producer of palm oil, has agreed to re-engage with The Forest Trust in an effort to improve its sustainability profile. http://www.cosmeticsdesign-asia.com/Formulation-Science/World-s-second-largest-palm-oil-producer-makes-sustainability-pledge
Palm oil producer launches peatland protection project in Indonesia By Michael HURLEY, 23-Nov-2015 A palm oil producer’s pledge to rehabilitate peatland in Indonesia will provide momentum for industry-wide change, it says. http://www.foodnavigator.com/Market-Trends/Palm-oil-producer-launches-peatland-protection-project
Sign of optimism as Jakarta talks aim to stop smoke from forest fires BY JENNIFER GOMEZ Published: 23 November 2015 - See more at: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/sigh-of-optimism-as-jakarta-talks-aim-to-stop-smoke-from-forest-fires#sthash.g0nnVAVM.dpuf
Illegally planted palm oil already growing on burnt land in Indonesia by Kate Lamb 6 November 2015 Saplings growing on slash and burn land in central Kalimantan in an area public maps suggest has no palm oil concession, say Greenpeace. Burned peatland and forest remains, planted with oil palm seedlings Indonesian police designates a crime scene: Burned peatland and forest remains, planted with oil palm seedlings, near the Nyaru Menteng Orangutan Sanctuary west of Palangkaraya, Central Kalimantan. Photograph: Ardiles Rante/Greenpeace http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/nov/06/illegally-planted-palm-oil-already-growing-on-burnt-land-in-indonesia
NZ linked to destruction in SE Asia, Greenpeace says 12 November 2015 by Kate Gudsell - environment reporter Greenpeace says a company which intends to use Otago fertiliser on its palm oil plantations is "very much linked" to destructive fires in south east Asia - a claim the company disputes http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/regional/289457/nz-linked-to-destruction-in-se-asia,-greenpeace-says
Malaysia Govt has chosen new company to provide PM2.5 technology By: Rajina Dhillon; ... “What we will have later is a machine that can measure sea water pollution and river water pollution in addition to air pollution,” he told reporters at a press conference at Sime Darby Convention Centre here today. The appointment of a new company comes following the expiry of current contract holder, Progressive Impact Corporation Berhad (Picorp) in 2016. Picorp recently said that it brought the PM2.5 technology from the United States and owned three of these units, which were currently in use. It added that the PM2.5 technology had been available in Malaysia for the past three years now. When asked to comment on this and why Picorp’s technology was not used, Wan Junaidi said the government already made its decision on a company. ... http://www.therakyatpost.com/news/2015/11/02/govt-has-chosen-new-company-to-provide-pm2-5-technology/
Smear campaign against Indonesian palm oil underway: GAPKI Thejakartapost.com, Jakarta | National | Mon, October 26 2015 - See more at: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2015/10/26/smear-campaign-against-indonesian-palm-oil-underway-gapki.html#sthash.na3QryPB.dpuf
Data on Land Burning Based on Wilmar`s Presentation: Walhi 18 October, 2015 TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Zenzi Suhadi, a forest campaign manager at the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi), said that Walhi’s data showing 27 companies that were allegedly involved in forest fires in Sumatra and Kalimantan was based on Wilmar Group’s presentation in Riau on July 2015. “So, it wasn’t a wild accusation. The data contains the list of subsidiary companies and CPO suppliers introduced by Wilmar that we verified on the field,” Zenzi told Tempo in a telephone conversation on Saturday, October 17, 2015. According to Zenzi, as one of the largest CPO companies in Indonesia, Wilmar should have been transparent in running its business and verifying its subsidiary companies and suppliers involved in production activities. Zenzi billed Wilmar’s commitment announced in 2013 that the company would not be involved in land and forest burning. Therefore, Zenzi questioned Wilmar’s commitment when the company denied its involvement with the suppliers as hotspots occurred Riau, Jambi, Central Kalimantan and South Sumatra. “As a go public company, Wilmar clearly has become a part of the suppliers. Therefore, we declared that Wilmar was involved,” Zenzi added... http://en.tempo.co/read/news/2015/10/18/055710668/Data-on-Land-Burning-Based-on-Wilmars-Presentation-Walhi
Why India and China Are Key to Ending Asia's Haze by Adam Minter, Bloomberg | Updated: October 17, 2015 http://www.ndtv.com/world-news/why-india-and-china-are-key-to-ending-asias-haze-1233171
'It's not just haze, it's noxious smoke' 30.10.2015 - A look at Indonesia's forest fires - As Southeast Asia's haze crisis makes global headlines, DW speaks to CIFOR scientist Louis Verchot about the health and environmental impact of some of the worst fires Indonesia has seen in two decades. ... http://www.dw.com/en/its-not-just-haze-its-noxious-smoke-a-look-at-indonesias-forest-fires/a-18817061
- Work to avoid further fires starts now. Indonesia risks another round of forest and land fires, but they can be prevented with long-term solutions and political will. By Suzanna Anderson 13 Nov 2015 http://blog.cifor.org/37674/work-to-avoid-further-fires-starts-now?fnl=en
- Indonesia on fire - Join scientists as they visit the burning peatland in Central Kalimantan and describe the causes and effects. By Center for International Forestry Research @cifor 30 Oct 2015
- Photo Essay - Life amid the fires and haze of Central Kalimantan 27 Oct 2015 http://blog.cifor.org/36564/up-in-smoke-life-amid-the-fires-and-haze-of-central-kalimantan?fnl=en
- Indonesia on fire again … and again? The fires in Indonesia have made global headlines—but this is a decades-old, recurring problem that needs long-term solutions. by Suzanna Anderson 29 Oct 2015 http://blog.cifor.org/36991/indonesia-on-fire-again-and-again?fnl=en
- Preventing fire & haze: sustainable solutions for Indonesian peatlands. What can we do to break the cycle of the haze over the long term? How might we address the underlying drivers and achieve sustainable solutions? by Peter Holmgren http://blog.cifor.org/36585/preventing-fire-and-haze-sustainable-solutions-for-indonesias-peatlands?fnl=en
- REDD-I partnership celebrates five years with handover to FORDA 26 Oct 2015 http://www.cifor.org/corporate-news/redd-i-partnership-celebrates-five-years-with-handover-to-forda/
- Impact from Indonesia’s toxic smoke outweighs agriculture benefits, say scientists Published: 24 October 2015 2:00 PM - See more at: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/impact-from-indonesias-toxic-smoke-outweighs-agriculture-benefits-say-scien#sthash.tGrP9vOz.dpuf
30 November 2015: Poll by YouGov - most Asians blame Indonesian government and palm oil producers for haze, WWF ‘You breathe what you buy’ campaign targets regional consumers, The Jakarta Post on the "test of palm oil dominance"Most Asians blame Indonesian government and palm oil producers for haze, less companies that use palm oil in their products, Nov 2015; .... In poll by YouGov of 7,536 people across the region from 17 to 23 November, 18 per cent said they thought palm oil-using companies, which include the likes of Unilever, Procter & Gamble, Mondelez and Kellogg’s, that produce household names such as Oreo’s cookies, Lays crisps and Lifebuoy soap, are responsible for the haze. Most people (63 per cent) said palm oil companies and the Indonesian government (62 per cent) are to blame. The survey did not ask respondents if they felt themselves responsible as consumers of brands containing palm oil. When asked who was to blame for starting the fires, 58 per cent said the palm oil companies, 48 per cent said farmers and 44 per cent suggested they were caused by the dry weather.... Green groups launched a campaign to pressure palm-oil using brands into switching to sustainably sourced palm oil just before the annual burning started in July. The ‘You breathe what you buy’ campaign asked Singaporeans to sign a petition pledging their support for companies that used haze-free palm oil. The campaign aimed for 50,000 signatures, and has of today has reached just over the 13,200 mark.... http://www.mumbrella.asia/2015/11/most-asians-blame-indonesian-government-and-palm-oil-producers-for-the-haze-not-companies-that-use-palm-oil-finds-yougov-survey/
Forest fires and smoke, a test of palm oil dominance by Adisti Sukma Sawitri, The Jakarta Post Published: 25 November 2015 7:35 AM The forest fire predicament has receded as rain started to fall in many regions in recent weeks. Will the government’s sense of urgency in tackling the annual problem also recede? One may fear so. Despite months of serious efforts to address the fires, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s administration hasn’t established concrete measures to stop the expansion of oil palm plantations through slash-and-burn practices, the main cause of the problem. It is not rocket science to understand why that is.... Indonesia is home to the world’s greatest extent of oil palm plantations, covering 11 million hectares of land and producing more than 33 million tons of palm oil last year, and generating jobs for millions of people. But as the industry grows, it has become too large to allow arbitrary expansion; damaging business practices, such as the burning method, contribute heavily to the smoke that has brought suffering to entire provinces and neighbouring countries. Consumer countries are stepping up action to encourage palm oil producers, including Indonesia, to address the environmental concerns of expansion, and the European Union has pledged to stop buying palm oil resulting from deforestation by 2020. The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, a global body of plantation companies, refiners, consumers and environmental groups, has also set higher sustainability standards, including requirements of no deforestation, no peatland development and guarantees of indigenous people’s rights. There have been attempts to resist this pressure. The newly established Council of Palm Oil Producing Countries, which the Indonesian government initiated along with its Malaysian counterpart, aims to regulate production and prices and create standards that take into account the economic goals of producers. As its first move, the council has demanded that palm oil companies cancel their no-deforestation pledge, also known as the Indonesian Palm Oil Pledge. But for how long can Indonesia and Malaysia exclude themselves from the global trade?.... In the case of our forest fires, it will take more than social programs to ensure the welfare of local people; it takes better planning, a revolution in expansion practices to assure that the industry can support welfare in the short and long terms. Smoke is a test for Indonesia as a palm oil producer, a test to see whether it can take a leading position and boost the welfare of its citizens, who currently bear the brunt of environmental degradation and poor living conditions. With all the controls that the country has as a producing giant, the question is whether it wants to pass that test. – The Jakarta Post, November 25, 2015. - See more at: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/sideviews/article/forest-fires-and-smoke-a-test-of-palm-oil-dominance-adisti-sukma-sawitri#sthash.ILoRXmKS.dpuf
Felda puts US$680 million Eagle High stake deal on hold 30 November 2015 1:58 PM; .....Felda Global Ventures Holdings Bhd, the world's No. 3 palm plantation operator, has put on hold a planned US$680 million (RM2.8 billion) purchase in Indonesia after shareholders criticised the deal as too expensive and market conditions deteriorated, sources directly involved with the matter said. - See more at: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/felda-puts-us680-million-eagle-high-stake-deal-on-hold#sthash.R9Us5sXk.dpuf
Editor: Some observers point to Felda/FGV - Eagle High being prominently part of the CPOPC announcement. So, the question is whether the new apparent "on hold" status of the deal will impact on any aspect of CPOPC.
26 November 2015: Haze control and oil palm smallholders by Khor, Saravanamuttu & Augustin - The Habibie CenterHaze control and oil palm smallholders by Khor, Saravanamuttu & Augustin - article published by The Habibie Center http://khoryuleng.blogspot.my/2015/11/haze-control-and-oil-palm-smallholders.html; In view of the tragedy of the Sumatra-Kalimantan fire haze-smoke crisis of 2015 we have collected our thoughts on this complex issue by focusing tightly on the issues at origin: poverty and development policy, extension services (and limited applied knowledge on peat development and management methods) and supply-chains in the fire zones.
14 November 2015: Smallholders need more credit along with tougher regulations says farmer group
Indonesia's action on haze won't stop burning: palm farmers group Nov 12, 2015 By Bernadette Christina and Michael Taylor; Green groups and palm oil plantation firms say a 2009 law that allows smallholder farmers to use slash-and-burn practices to clear land for agricultural purposes is a key cause of the annual fires when the burning gets out of control. "Burning will still happen because the government hasn't changed the regulations," Mansuetus Darto, secretariat at the Indonesian Oil Palm Smallholders Union told Reuters on Thursday.... Jakarta has said it would review laws that allow farmers to burn up to two hectares (five acres), and last week sent letters to plantation firms and provincial governments demanding peatland conversion is immediately halted.... Previously, the government ordered four companies to suspend operations for allegedly causing forest fires and revoked the land licenses of three other firms.... Darto, however, said the government needed to implement stricter regulations o stop burning and give smallholders, who account for 40 percent of Indonesian palm oil output, better access to credit so they could afford to clear land using best practices. His group has 48,000 members, mostly in Sumatra and Kalimantan. Using tractors, chainsaws or hand tools is the most environmentally friendly way to clear forest areas approved for development, say forestry groups, but these methods are more expensive and time-consuming than fires...Smallholder farmers have also been hit hard by a drop in palm oil benchmark prices, which touched a near six-and-a-half year low earlier this year. To help, the Indonesian government wants major palm oil companies to row back on their historic "no deforestation" pledges made last year. The government says the pledges hurt smallholder producers who cannot afford to adopt sustainable forestry practices and are blocked from the supply chain.... Darto rejected this and said that the real reason why larger companies were not buying from smallholders was due to weak palm prices, not the Indonesian Palm Oil Pledge (IPOP). The IPOP pledges made by major firms would in fact limit expansion to help bolster palm prices, while strengthening the relationship between his members and big plantations, he said. "IPOP will benefit the farmers," Darto added. "Companies won't expand their areas and this means they will instead increase cooperation with farmers to increase productivity." http://uk.reuters.com/article/2015/11/12/us-indonesia-palm-idUKKCN0T11K320151112
Palm Oil from Freshly-Burned Land: Coming to a Grocery Store Near You by Nithin Coca on Friday, Nov 13th, 2015 http://www.triplepundit.com/2015/11/palm-oil-freshly-burned-land-coming-grocery-store-near/
3 November 2015: Looking back at Haze 2013 that triggered off Singapore actionGreat haze II - the karmic winds of change? [report] http://khorreports-palmoil.blogspot.my/2013/06/great-haze-ii-karmic-winds-of-change.html
2 November 2015: Rains dousing forest fires, 2 million hectares burnt, 1/2 million Indonesians suffer respiratory illnesses, impacts and policy implications, and CIFOR articles. Some recommend re-wet of peat zones and restore to original vegetation, but how feasible is this on funding and socio-political front?
Rains Douse Indonesia Forest Fires to Curb Southeast Asia Haze by Fitri Wulandari and Yudith Ho October 30, 2015 http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-10-30/rains-douse-indonesia-forest-fires-to-curb-southeast-asia-haze
Haze From Indonesian Fires Spreads - President Widodo cuts short his U.S. visit to manage environmental crisis that has enveloped the capital, Jakarta; By Ben Otto Updated Oct. 27, 2015 6:18 a.m. ET JAKARTA—Indonesia’s leader cut short his U.S. trip Tuesday, opting to skip meeting Silicon Valley executives to help manage an environmental crisis at home caused by the worst agricultural fires in years. President Joko Widodo’s decision underscored the gravity of the growing disaster, as haze from the weeks-old fires spread in recent days to cover three-quarters of Indonesia’s territory, including the capital. It also has led to flight cancellations in Thailand and health warnings in the Philippines. Mr. Widodo, who on Monday in Washington signaled his country’s intent to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact, was to travel to California to meet with executives from Apple, Google and other companies. His office said that instead he would depart for Sumatra or Borneo, the two hardest-hit islands at home.... More than 40 million people on Sumatra and Borneo alone were exposed to the toxic haze, the government said. More than 500,000 people in Indonesia have sought treatment for respiratory problems since the fires began in September....“This is an amazing crime against humanity,” said Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesman for Indonesia’s national disaster agency. He said it was unlikely the fires could be put out in the next two weeks.... Philippines President Benigno Aquino III said on Tuesday that there was little to be gained in castigating Indonesia for the pollution. He said he would rather help them address the problem “rather than concentrate on apportioning blame.”.... Scientists at the Indonesia-based Center for International Forestry Research said the cost could reach about $14 billion in environmental damage, health costs, lost business and other factors. http://www.wsj.com/articles/haze-from-indonesian-fires-spreads-1445938379
Prolonged haze tortures kids Hasyim Widhiarto, Apriadi Gunawan and Syofiardi Bachyul Jb, The Jakarta Post, Palangkaraya/Medan/Padang | Headlines | Tue, October 27 2015, 6:08 PM; Children are the most vulnerable in the midst of Indonesia’s ongoing haze crisis, which has severely disrupted their education and threatened their health.In Palangkaraya, Central Kalimantan, the local administration’s decision to close down schools for almost five weeks over the past two months has received a mixed reaction from teachers and parents.Susiati, who teaches first grade students at SDN 6 Pahandut state elementary school, said she had received complaints from several parents who considered the policy, aimed at minimizing negative health impacts from the thickening haze in the city, ineffective and detrimental to their children’s development. - See more at: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2015/10/27/prolonged-haze-tortures-kids.html#sthash.5tKCy6tx.dpuf
Ambank news review: .... About 20% of the fires occurred in timber forests while another 20% occurred on plantation land. Indonesia expects improving rainfall to douse the fires by end-November or early-December. Indonesia may reclaim unused land concessions from forest fire areas.... Jakarta Globe quoted an Indonesian minister as saying that although revisions to the environmental law must be made, a designated taskforce on haze is unnecessary... Under the 2009 Law on Environmental Protection and Management in Indonesia, companies are allowed to burn two hectares of land to clear land.
Indonesia May Take Up to a Decade to Curb Annual Land Fires by Sterling Wong October 27, 2015; Laws created at the local level needed to tackle issue. Widodo cuts short U.S. visit as haze engulfs Indonesia; Indonesia may take as long as a decade to permanently curb the plantation land-burning that sends choking smog across swathes of Southeast Asia each year, according to a research fellow at Nanyang Technological University. Although Indonesia has ratified a regional agreement committing it to act to reduce the smoke “haze” caused by the land fires, the law has yet to be enacted locally in its districts, said Jonatan Anderias Lassa, a research fellow at the Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies at the Singapore university. “They need to bring down that law into local legislative processes,” Lassa told reporters in Singapore on Monday, adding that a division of resources between central and local governments was also required. “It hasn’t been done, and it takes five to 10 years to do that.”...Lassa estimates that an initial investment of $10 to $20 million could help the Indonesian government kick start the enactment of locally relevant legislation in the 211 affected districts on the islands of Sumatra and Kalimantan....http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-10-26/indonesia-may-take-up-to-a-decade-to-curb-annual-land-fires
Indonesia's Widodo Talks Climate With Obama as Peat Fires Rage by Angela Greiling Keane and Toluse Olorunnipa October 27, 2015; ... The fires have challenged Jokowi’s government and brought the issue of climate change to the forefront less than two months before a United Nations conference in Paris intended to conclude an agreement on global warming. Obama said Monday that large nations such as the U.S. and Indonesia must work toward the strongest possible emissions targets. Jokowi said Friday he would freeze new permits for development of palm oil on peat lands. Jokowi was to tout that action along with other steps he has taken to curb carbon pollution during his meeting with Obama, said Wimar Witoelar, a climate consultant. At the same time, the Widodo government has been avoiding using the term “climate change,” which is seen by many Indonesians as a “product of the West,” Witoelar told reporters.... http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-10-26/indonesia-s-widodo-talks-climate-with-obama-as-peat-fires-rage
Jokowi calls for peatland moratorium after 10 killed by haze Dandy Koswaraputra, thejakartapost.com | National | Fri, October 23 2015, 1:39 PM - See more at: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2015/10/23/jokowi-calls-peatland-moratorium-after-10-killed-haze.html#sthash.tv9R4waI.dpuf
On partners to help on haze
US, RI partner to address forest fires, haze thejakartapost.com, Jakarta | National | Mon, October 26 2015, 6:37 PM; The $2.75 million assistance package from the US includes United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) funding to help the Indonesian government to expand their health care centers' ability to respond to haze-related respiratory illnesses. The funding will also be used to support Indonesia’s efforts to raise public awareness of hazards associated with haze in the country. - See more at: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2015/10/26/us-ri-partner-address-forest-fires-haze.html#sthash.B5ycu02M.dpuf
Indonesia brings in Russian aircraft to tackle haze Edna Tarigan, thejakartapost.com, Jakarta | National | Tue, October 20 2015, 9:24 PM; Malaysia and Australia's aid to Indonesia in lending water bombing aircraft ended on Monday. So, Indonesia turned to Russia for more help to tackle the haze crisis.Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, the spokesman of the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) said on Tuesday that Bombardier aircraft from Malaysia and Hercules aircraft from Australia had returned to their respective countries."They have ended their five-day mission. There is only Chinook Mustang helicopter conducting water bombing in South Sumatra,” Sutopo said in a statement sent to thejakartapost.com on Tuesday.He said there are currently 11 helicopters and airplanes, ten from Indonesia and one from Singapore for water bombing and cloud seeding."To increase the water bombing efforts, the government brought in two units of amphibi aircraft Beriev Be-200 along with 20 crew from Russia. They will land on Wednesday morning in Palembang," he said, adding that Russian Embassy officials have arrived in Palembang.Sutopo explained that the the Be-200 plane is a legendary amphibious water bombing aircraft with a 12,000 liter capacity. Its ability includes taking water from rivers, lakes and the sea."Indonesia used this type of aircraft in the 2007 forest and land fires," he said. - See more at: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2015/10/20/indonesia-brings-russian-aircraft-tackle-haze.html#sthash.9OrYBd3O.dpuf
DG’s Column, Preventing fire & haze: sustainable solutions for Indonesian peatlands - What can we do to break the cycle of the haze over the long term? How might we address the underlying drivers and achieve sustainable solutions? by Peter Holmgren @pholmgren 1 November 2015 about 10 hours ago; From a solutions perspective, we may set ourselves up for failure if we start by trying to answer the environmental concerns. It may be more constructive to view reduced impact on climate and environment as a great and much-needed co-benefit to solutions to health, poverty, food and governance issues....Solving the underlying factors will take time. Now is the time to decide on proper actions for the long term, before the haze and attention blows over.... At the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), we are discussing ways forward, together with partners. We have come to a few starting points with a common denominator that fire and haze need to be raised to a higher level and address development more broadly.... Going forward, we identify a range of essential direct outcomes we should strive for, including: •Drastically reduced conversion of forests into agriculture •Reduced use of fire in agriculture •Overall reduction of cultivation on peatlands •Improved opportunities for rural livelihoods and income •Improved markets and value chains for sustainable products •Restoration of degraded peatlands... http://blog.cifor.org/36585/preventing-fire-and-haze-sustainable-solutions-for-indonesias-peatlands?fnl=en
Indonesia on fire again … and again? The fires in Indonesia have made global headlines—but this is a decades-old, recurring problem that needs long-term solutions. by Suzanna Anderson 29 Oct 2015; The fires in Indonesia have been raging for more than two months, creating a toxic haze that has blanketed much of the country and spread across neighboring regions. Rains in the past week have provided a little welcome relief, but the crisis is far from over. Most of the fires in Central Kalimantan are blazing in former peatland forests, which have been drained, cleared and burned for oil palm and agriculture, at large and small scales. The dried-out peat ignites easily and burns underground; the fire then creeps along under the surface. Peatlands are made up of decomposed forest debris. They have been around for thousands of years and are home to thousands of plants and animals, including endangered keystone species such as the orangutan.... http://blog.cifor.org/36991/indonesia-on-fire-again-and-again?fnl=en
Video - Indonesia on fire. Join scientists as they visit the burning peatland in Central Kalimantan and describe the causes and effects. by Center for International Forestry Research @cifor 30 Oct 2015 http://blog.cifor.org/37012/watch-indonesia-on-fire?fnl=en
Life amid the fires and haze of Central Kalimantan - A visual journey through smoke-covered landscapes and villages by Center for International Forestry Research @cifor 27 Oct 2015 In Central Kalimantan, schoolchildren are missing classes, farmers are losing their harvests, and orangutans are losing their homes. The effects of the fires and smoke – among the worst seen in Southeast Asia in years – are far-reaching and devastating. During a trip to Palangka Raya in Central Kalimantan in mid-October 2015, scientists from the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and their partners saw and documented just some of the ways that communities, wildlife, the environment and the economy are being affected. For the full album, visit our Flickr page: Fire and Haze, Central Kalimantan: https://www.flickr.com/photos/cifor/sets/72157660141979565
31 October 2015: Protecting peatland, Gapki - smear campaign against palm oil industry, pictures showing young palm trees planted on the newly burned forest are viral on social media
Protecting peatland – The Jakarta Post Published: 31 October 2015 8:02 AM President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s special instruction to the environment and forestry minister last week to stop issuing new licenses for peatland cultivation and to conduct an overall review of all peatland-use permits is a strategic part of the effort to prevent forest and land fires and the hazardous air pollution they cause. He also stated at the Cabinet meeting last Friday that damaged peatland must be rehabilitated, virgin peatland must not be opened for any purpose and all involved in the fight against forest and land fires must use the same map to prevent overlaps. To put it bluntly, companies can no longer convert active forests or peatland areas into monoculture plantations such as acacia for pulp and oil palm plantations... Recent research by forestry scientists at the Bogor-based Center for International Forestry Research (Cifor) found that the main cause of hazardous haze in Riau came from burning dried and deforested peatland, and not just the slashing-and-burning of forested areas, as commonly thought. The study found that peat swamps in their natural state were resistant to fire because they are damp underground, but can be highly flammable when they dry out and become degraded. Research by Greenpeace has also revealed that left in its natural waterlogged condition, peatland rarely burns. Untouched tropical rainforest is similarly fire-resistant. However, two decades of forest and peatland destruction by the plantation sector have turned parts of Indonesia into a giant tinderbox. - See more at: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/sideviews/article/protecting-peatland-the-jakarta-post#sthash.74xfmmRC.dpuf
A smear campaign against the national palm-oil industry is underway, the Indonesian Palm Oil Producers Association (GAPKI) has claimed, as pictures went viral on social media showing young palm trees planted on the newly burned forest. GAPKI’s head of land and spatial division Eddy Martono said that the smear campaign had been launched against the palm oil industry as it was the most profitable and economical vegetable-oil, with productivity level of six tons per hectare, far beyond the soy bean's productivity at one ton per hectare. "The smoke is still rising, but the palm trees have already been planted. This is very strange. Based on cultivation techniques, it is not possible to plant the young palm trees [on such land], as they would wither. Something is hidden, and I have no idea what it is," he said as quoted by kompas.com on Sunday. -
See more at: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2015/10/26/smear-campaign-against-indonesian-palm-oil-underway-gapki.html#sthash.7yp5pFsw.dpuf
Haze: 3-day downpour clears the air over Kalimantan and Sumatra Oct 30, 2015 by Francis Chan and Wahyudi Soeriaatmadja; Three consecutive days of rainfall over Kalimantan and Sumatra starting on Tuesday (Oct 27) have resulted in clear skies and cleaner air in the two regions.... A week ago, South Sumatra had 703 hot spots and Kalimantan had 905. The improved visibility was a relief for the local aviation industry which had to deal with thousands of flight cancellations and delays due to the haze.... Palangkaraya, for most of the day, remained under the 116 PSI level, the moderate range. It was a vast improvement from the four-digit readings that for weeks were the norm for the city in Central Kalimantan. http://www.straitstimes.com/asia/haze-3-day-downpour-clears-the-air-over-kalimantan-and-Sumatra
28 October 2015: Rains arrive (they were due end Oct / early Nov) and haze abatesRain in Indonesia Dampens Forest Fires That Spread Toxic Haze By JOE COCHRANEOCT. 28, 2015; Torrential rains overnight on Tuesday in the regions of Sumatra and Kalimantan — where forest fires have been raging for weeks, sickening hundreds of thousands of people — have significantly reduced the size and number of fires, said Luhut B. Pandjaitan, Indonesia’s coordinating minister for political, legal and security affairs. “I hope we have turned the corner,” he said in an interview. “If the rain continues over the next five days, we are past this.”...He said the number of “hot spots,” areas where satellite imagery shows heavy forest fires, had dropped to 291 on Wednesday from 1,578 on Monday because of the heavy rains...Seventeen Indonesian civilians have died from respiratory illnesses caused by the haze, as well as one firefighter in an operational accident, Mr. Luhut said....http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/29/world/asia/indonesia-forest-fire-toxic-haze.html?smid=li-share&_r=0
Widespread shower activities in the region have helped to subdue the land fires in Kalimantan. However, some smoke haze was still observed in parts of Sumatra. Updated 7:46 PM 29 Oct
25 October 2015: Protests in Medan and Riau - calling for arrest of big investors, Indonesia estimates 43 million people breathing in haze toxic fumes, Kalimantan residents plan class action suit, Jokowi calls peatland moratorium and hints at company crackdown, Singapore minister says "moral need to act decisively on haze," plantations talk about their effort to battle fires to Mongabay, legal considerations prevent state of emergency says Luhut
Protests against land, forest fires increase as haze worsens Apriadi Gunawan and Rizal Harahap, The Jakarta Post, Medan/Pekanbaru | Archipelago | Sat, October 24 2015, 3:37 PM; ....Kristin Matondang of the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency’s (BMKG) Medan branch said the haze blanketing Medan and surrounding regions came from Riau, Jambi and South Sumatra as no hot spots had been detected in North Sumatra.“At 1 p.m. the concentration of particulate matter [PM10] in Medan was 549.12 µg/m³, much higher than the normal concentration of 150 µg/m³,” Kristin said on Friday.The conditions moved some community groups to stage protests across Medan.The Alliance of North Sumatra People Against Haze, for example, staged a rally at Bundaran Majestik by conducting a theatrical performance entitled Burned Forest People.A similar rally was staged by dozens of activists from Satria Hijau (Green Knights) at Merdeka Square, demanding the government get rid of the haze.“We have been suffering for months because of the thickening haze,” said Fitri, a protester.Protests were also widespread in neighboring Riau province as thousands of university students, teachers and lecturers staged a rally at the governor’s office demanding an end to the haze problems. They urged the government to arrest owners of big companies operating in Riau alleged to be involved in forest and land fires in the region. “They are big investors that have destroyed forests in Riau. They have caused the haze in Riau,” Hendri Marhadi, a protester, said at the rally.Meanwhile, some 3,000 teachers in Pekanbaru grouped under the Teachers’ Forum Against Haze urged the government to declare the haze a national disaster as it had claimed lives. - See more at: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2015/10/24/protests-against-land-forest-fires-increase-haze-worsens.html#sthash.lv73fhmH.dpuf
EvakuasiKami / Evacuate Us on Twitter
Indonesia haze: Child evacuation plan prepared 23 October 2015 http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-34612922
Jokowi calls for peatland moratorium after 10 killed by haze Dandy Koswaraputra, thejakartapost.com | National | Fri, October 23 2015, 1:39 PM; ...The president said that a one-map policy must be implemented to overcome the disaster as soon as possible, and at the same time reviewing concessions in all peatland areas.....“The government should fully protect peatland, including restoring degraded peatland,” Bustar Maitar, the global head for the Indonesia Forest Campaign in Greenpeace International, told thejakartapost.com.Similar to Greenpeace, the managing director at Sustainability and Stakeholder Engagement Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) Aida Greenbury said that the moratorium alone would not be a solution.According to Aida, the solution is a landscape approach, which use science to determine hydrology management and to ensure green growth while mitigating environmental risks and engaging and embracing the community in the supply chain, such as in agroforestry programs. - See more at: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2015/10/23/jokowi-calls-peatland-moratorium-after-10-killed-haze.html#sthash.aVqbIGFs.dpuf
Plantation companies challenged by haze-causing fires in Indonesia, 14th October 2015 / Rhett A. Butler, Six major plantation companies spoke with Mongabay about their efforts to battle haze-causing fires in Sumatra and Kalimantan...... (Mongabay notes that) Fire is a hugely complex issue and it involves the rights of local communities, illegal activity by small enterprises often with political links and fundamental complexities over land use rights, maps, ownership and protection.... (Wilmar says) While we are committed to No Burning, we recognize that slash-and-burn practices remain rampant among small-scale farmers and local communities. According to Global Forest Watch, research has found that majority of fires on agricultural land occur outside of oil palm concessions, and these are often managed by small companies and small-scale farmers. Clearing land by mechanical means cost significantly more, compared to using fire which is the most cost-effective way of clearing land for them. This often leads to uncontrolled fires that may inevitably spread to our plantations or those of our suppliers."
Is Indonesia's fire crisis connected to the palm oil in our snack food? by Lindsey Allen is the Executive Director of Rainforest Action Network; ....Companies like APP are quick to accuse small farmers and villagers of lighting many of the fires. Even if that is true, the displacement of communities and the drainage of peatlands by large scale plantation companies is ultimately responsible for the allowing these fires to take place. Communities whose forest-dependent subsistence livelihoods have been disrupted by plantation development often turn to clearing what land they can find, using the only cost-effective method available to them: fire. Solving this crisis is not about fighting fires. Extinguishing thousands of peat blazes across thousands of square miles of remote tropical landscape is hugely expensive and ultimately unfeasible. The only real solution is to prevent them from occurring in the first place. The first and most basic change needed is a total halt to plantation development on peatlands and remaining natural forests. Peat swamp soil is the result of thousands of years of accumulation of organic material. Left alone, it is one of the most effective landscapes on earth for sequestering carbon. But when drained and ignited, it releases a carbon bomb into the atmosphere....http://www.theguardian.com/profile/lindsey-allen
Luhut Pandjaitan: Kabut Asap Belum Jadi Bencana Nasional Jumat, 23 Oktober 2015 09:34 WIB; “Kita tidak mau membicarakan tentang bencana nasional karena ini menyangkut masalah hukum. Tapi bisa kami pastikan penanganannya `all out`, mengerahkan segala sumber daya, sesuai perintah Presiden Joko Widodo” http://www.antarakalteng.com/berita/246608/luhut-pandjaitan-kabut-asap-belum-jadi-bencana-nasional?utm_source=topnews&utm_medium=home&utm_campaign=news
Jokowi hints at company crackdown as Kalimantan residents prepare haze class action suit 21st October 2015 / Mongabay Haze Beat • Residents in West Kalimantan have banded together to file a lawsuit against the government over pollution. • Jokowi has said companies need to take "greater responsibility." • An Indonesian resort plans to offer "more underwater activities" to manage the impact of annual pollution from fires and hotspots. ...Singapore’s education ministry is working with the health ministry and environment agency on revised education guidelines amid haze following a petition by a parent. The petition calls on the education ministry to ensure adequate filtration in classrooms, educate children in the correct use of N95 face masks and conduct non-essential lessons via e-learning..... The Association of Indonesian Forest Concessionaires (APHI) said on Tuesday it had lobbied the government to provide assistance to the Indonesian companies being sued under Singapore’s transboundary pollution law. “This should be helped by diplomacy,” APHI’s vice chairman said. “Don’t let the companies be subjected to this alone.”... http://news.mongabay.com/2015/10/jokowi-hints-at-company-crackdown-as-kalimantan-residents-prepare-haze-class-action-suit/
Moral need to act decisively on haze, says Ng Eng Hen Published Oct 25, 2015, 5:00 am SGT; ...The strongest motivation to resolve this year's transboundary haze crisis - statistically proven to be the worst in a decade - must be a moral one, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen has said. And those who own or use the land for commercial purposes must bear responsibility for the fires raging over them, Dr Ng added yesterday, as he welcomed the Singapore firefighting assistance team that returned home after a two-week mission to Indonesia. ... Indonesia's Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency estimates that more than 43 million people in the country are breathing in the toxic fumes from the fires, http://www.straitstimes.com/asia/moral-need-to-act-decisively-on-haze-says-eng-hen
The Trouble with Indonesia-Singapore Relations - Bilateral ties continue to face some familiar challenges. By Barry Desker October 21, 2015 http://thediplomat.com/2015/10/the-trouble-with-indonesia-singapore-relations/
21 October 2015: South Sumatra residents $3.5 billion class action suit against plantation giants and world dominant palm oil trader Wilmar to come
Editor's note: Media has extensive coverage of haze including review of causes immediate and long-term. Public opinion in KL and Singapore is pretty poorly against the haze into the second month of high air pollution and locals disturbed by recent predictions this can last into early 2016. I had a quick look at found an official cited figure of 1.7 million hectares burning around 10 October. Question arises of whether palm oil sustainability spending has been poorly directed all these years.
South Sumatra residents to file class action suit against firms causing haze - The companies suspected of burning land and causing transboundary haze are Asia Agri, Golden Agri Resources, Wilmar, Sime Darby, and Asia Pulp and Paper. By Saifulbahri Ismail POSTED: 06 Oct 2015 19:39 UPDATED: 09 Oct 2015 10:26; JAKARTA: A group of Indonesian residents in Jambi, South Sumatra are in the final stages of preparing a class action lawsuit against five companies responsible for the forest fires that have caused massive air pollution in Indonesia and across the region. They are expected to serve notice to these companies this month....According to reports, thousands of people living in Jambi have developed respiratory infections after breathing the acrid air, while others have suffered lost income.... They are claiming a total of 51 trillion rupiah (US$3.5 billion) in losses."There are two kinds of losses: Firstly, losses that can be calculated to around 7 trillion rupiah, the companies have to compensate that. There is also the cost of recovering the land which has been destroyed, and we have calculated that to be 44 trillion rupiah," said Mr Musri.The Indonesian Forum for the Environment or Walhi, is helping the plaintiffs with their lawsuit. Walhi has conducted its own legal battle against companies and acknowledges it faces a challenge ahead...."Walhi won its claim during the forest fires which destroyed some 11.6 million hectares in 1998, and one more in 2000 in South Kalimantan,” said Mr Mukri Fatriani, an ecology disaster campaigner from Walhi. “From then on, 14 years have passed and we have not won any other claims." Walhi said that even though there are clear laws, these have not been enforced. Those taking the companies to court are confident of getting a positive result..... "The 2015 incident is different from earlier incidents. This year is extraordinary,” said Mr Musri. “Indonesia and our neighbours Malaysia and Singapore are directly affected. It wasn’t as bad before. So, this is what gives us energy to fight.... “Secondly, I’m confident that because this claim is from the desire of the community, we will try. If you ask what our chances are, the law has to improve to answer the haze problem objectively, and I'm confident we can win this legal battle.".... http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asiapacific/south-sumatra-residents/2173634.html
19 October 2015: Step-down on smallholder interest, illegal palm oil mills in Indonesia, Indon-Malaysia cooperation, Singapore haze clampdown (update)
Editor's note: Discussion in palm oil circles on the Indonesia-Malaysia cooperation intention and the call to water down IPOP and ISPO to accommodate smallholders (a significant portion without legal land tenure; and thus to regularize the independent mills and FFB dealers serving the smallholders).
The origins of the push is pointed out as the President of Indonesia's office and specialists agree that the traditional bureaucracies of Indonesia and Malaysia are not at the forefront of this new effort. What's different is that it comes with Indonesia impetus, whereas previous bilateral efforts petered out on lack of Indonesia interest. Unusually, it also came along with a corporate presence - FGV and Eagle High deal. Interesting in news reports is the Coordinating Maritime Minister of Indonesia being a prominent spokesperson of the palm oil G2G deal. The harmonization of ISPO and MSPO would not be an easy feat - one being mandatory and the other voluntary. And this seems quite mixed up in the apparent pressure on the giant plantations groups at IPOP assuring on buying from smallholders. Also, noteworthy is that Pak Dr. Herdradjat (ex Director of Estate Crops at Ministry of Agriculture) takes over Ibu Dr. Rosediana Suharto's role at ISPO quite suddenly.
Notable too is the issue "illegal palm oil mills" in Indonesia - notably 70 in Riau according to a news report. Question: While the big plantations slow under the sustainability spotlight, who is funding the smallholder push? Illegal mils (by definition independent mills are illegal in Indonesia) and FFB dealers (currently not regulated)? Jakarta experts say that these mills may have a license issued by provincial politicians or Bupati, but lack a national level license. It is notable in ISPO's presentation at PIPOC that it refers to this sector of independent/"illegal" mills. Critics of non-certification traceability have been asking what if they trace to illegal sources and what is the basis of their verification?
Singapore is moving very vocally to "haze-free" products in pulp and paper and also mulling how to resolve issues in palm oil certification of its products with active local NGOs moving on it. Banks are also being questioned on their role in funding palm oil expansion in Indonesia - notably a financing link to a plantation company caught up in the haze fires was disclosed. Singapore's very middle class population is becoming increasingly sensitized to palm oil on nutrition and air pollution worries.
This posting is a big review of one month's of headlines.
Cloud hangs over enforcement of anti-haze law Published Sep 18, 2015, 5:00 am SGT; Inadequate policing in Indonesia, lack of data on land ownership and usage cited as factors http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/environment/cloud-hangs-over-enforcement-of-anti-haze-law
16 October 2015: REDD and peatland burningCan REDD save Indonesia’s peatlands from burning? By Chris Lang 14 October 2015 http://www.redd-monitor.org/2015/10/14/can-redd-save-indonesias-peatlands-from-burning/
14 October 2015: Singapore moves on "haze-free" products - apart from wood, paper makers, SEC plans to work with others such as palm oil industry
4 October 2015: Zahid - Jokowi Indonesia’s 3-year plan to combat haze deemed too long, need to improve haze pollution measure, haze kills millions of chickens reduces vegetable production in Malaysia, haze reaching Philippines?
Editor's note: Solutions unlikely to be rapid; note the intractable haze problems also noted in northern ASEAN haze belts too.
Southeast Asia's Haze Explained 1:16 - with Greenpeace footage, http://www.wsj.com/public/page/videoEmailThisScrim.html?url=http://on.wsj.com/1Qdpbrn&guid=4DD522A1EC6F4C5AB9315B96983BD7EB&title=Southeast%20Asia's%20Haze%20Explained
source: http://aqicn.org, accessed 2.55pm, 4 October 2015. Note: Basis of reporting in Malaysia is PM10 and Singapore and Indonesia uses PM2.5. Also the headline measure use different lagged averages of hourly data. The differing Singapore and Malaysia measures can result in different headline data for very close neighbours, thus northern Singapore is rated dangerous while across the Causeway it is rated moderate (Aqicn website, accessed 5.53pm):
API reading in Palangkaraya over 2,000 - Bernama, Updated: Sunday October 4, 2015 MYT 5:05:17 PM; JAKARTA: The residents in Palangkaraya, capital city of Central Kalimantan now may not be able to breathe easily as the Air Pollutant Index (API) reading in the province has exceeded 2,000.... Meanwhile in Jambi, the API reading is still at hazardous level although it has decreased from 800 this Sunday morning to 400 this afternoon. - Bernama.. http://www.thestar.com.my/News/Regional/2015/10/04/API-Indonesia-2000/
Ahmad Zahid: Indonesia’s plan to combat haze deemed too long by nadirah h. rodzi Updated: Sunday October 4, 2015 MYT 12:23:41 PM....Last Tuesday, BBC reported Indonesian president Joko Widodo said he needed time to tackle the forest burning, and that his citizens were also victims of the haze that is affecting the region. In the report, Joko said it would take three years for results to be seen from efforts to end the huge annual fires, as it is "not a problem that you can solve quickly"...
Malaysia should follow Singapore in use of technology to measure haze pollution, Zahid says By Ida Lim Sunday October 4, 201512:19 PM GMT+8 - See more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/malaysia-should-follow-singapore-in-use-of-technology-to-measure-haze-pollu#sthash.fRJsMSF2.dpuf
Malaysia can follow Singapore method to measure air quality, says Zahid BY RAM ANAND Published: 4 October 2015 12:08 PM It is not wrong to adopt Singapore's method in reading the air quality, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said today, adding that egos must be set aside as the situation caused by forest fires worsens. "We could get the new equipment. But until we implement the reading with the new equipment, we can at least follow their (Singapore) guidelines," he told reporters today after an event at the Al-Hijrah TV station in Kuala Lumpur today....
- See more at: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/malaysia-can-follow-singapore-method-to-measure-air-quality-says-zahid#sthash.lc3VC7qB.dpuf
Haze choking Malaysian farms as chickens, vegetable production affected, Oct 2, 2015, 8:51 am SGT... PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The haze in Malaysia is affecting business at farms that rear poultry and produce vegetables as chickens die by the millions in a month and farm produce dwindle, with consumers set to be the biggest losers....He added that this was a big issue every year and that at times the mortality rate could rise up to four million of the 50 million that are produced in a month in peninsular Malaysia.... "Chickens are more sensitive to the haze than humans. They have respiratory problems and become weak. We have to give them vitamins. When they are weak, they are slow to grow and that is not good," said Loo, who is also a farmer.... "Many farmers try and keep the breeder chickens that are meant for culling alive so they can lay more eggs. But even hens become weak during the haze and lay fewer eggs," said Loo.... Sarawak Livestock Breeders Association chairman Lee Jin Chiaw said that egg production has dropped by about 2 per cent. In Johor, the owner of Lew Brothers Poultry Farm Sdn Bhd, Lew Kim Huat said that egg production at its two farms in Ulu Tiram and Layang had declined to about 5 per cent since the start of the haze. "Our hens are becoming restless and weak,'' he said adding that about 28,000 of the 700,000 birds also died due to suffocation, about twice the usual number of deaths..... http://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/haze-choking-malaysian-farms-as-chickens-vegetable-production-affected
Philippines’ week-long haze suspected from Indonesia Updated: Sunday October 4, 2015 MYT 8:23:23 AM; MANILA: The Philippine island of Cebu suffered its seventh straight day of haze, the weather bureau said, as South-East Asian countries battle pollution suspected to emanate from illegal fires on Indonesian plantations. Monsoon winds blowing northeast from the Indonesian blazes towards the direction of the central Philippines could have carried the smog, state weather forecaster Romeo Aguirre said.... http://www.thestar.com.my/News/Regional/2015/10/04/Philippines-weeklong-haze-suspected-from-Indonesia/
28 September 2015: Kalla: no more new land, no more peat. Luhut assures it takes haze seriously but Kalla said no need to apologise, Singapore clamps down on five companies, oil palm planters point to good practices, but CIFOR reports on lucrative illegal market for pulpwood and oil palm areas to small investors, the Tesso Nilo case
Editor's note: CIFOR's report on illegal clearance for smaller-scale crop land deals is rather reminiscent of the Malaysia Kelantan flooding problem. Forestry specialists report that rather than offering a large concession to one company (with more patient capital) to do a sustainable timber project (with long rotation cycle for selective timber harvest); policy makers decided on very small scale land allocations. We hear that this resulted in rapid land clearance with slow or low investment to replant. When adverse weather hit (very heavy rains) the upland damage contributed to rather devastating flooding. This sounds rather similar to the illegal peat zone clearance mentioned by CIFOR below done on a small scale. The large plantation concessions do not have reason to burn, especially with many under major voluntary pledges. The difference in fire hotspot occurrences in the different zones points to the difference. Specialists also note the major problem of apparently unchecked small-scale encroachments on the Tesso Nilo forest reserve (In 2005, just over 70,000 ha forest now down to just under 22,000 ha forest in 2014 and blanketed in hot spots during the 2014 season. Who's operating the Tesso Nilo reserve?*). Clearly, the report of the uptick in deforestation for Brazil and Indonesia point to problematic issues. In conversation with another analyst, we reckoned on income targets under lower commodity prices likely pointing to the need for larger small farm areas (for many crops).
*The Tesso Nilo case (it's creation reported here, http://web.archive.org/web/20071110094411/http://www.cepf.net/xp/cepf/news/newsletter/2004/august_topstory.xml_ and exemplifies the unexpected complexities of the Sumatran haze and its blame game. WWF is involved in Tesso Nilo but says the ultimate authority is the Ministry of Forestry. Here, WWF blames companies; http://www.wwf.or.id/en/?28680/Addressing-the-encroachment-problem--in-Tesso-Nilo-National-Park. But maps show rapid deforestation and haze hotspots rampant in Tesso Nilo reserve zone. This article discusses the issue, "As massive deforestation continues in Sumatra’s Tesso Nilo, Indonesian lawmakers pin blame on ‘foreign’ NGOs," 25th March 2013 by Diana Parker ... Indonesian lawmakers criticized the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) for its inability to stop deforestation in Sumatra, accusing the group of trying to destroy Indonesia’s reputation abroad and hurting the country’s......In addition to an insufficient response from the government to tackle the problem, WWF data showed that the lack of protection against encroachment by former permit holders before the area became a national park adds to the problem of rapid deforestation in Tesso Nilo. Corruption among local government officials and traditional leaders also contributes to deforestation and encroachment in the park.... http://news.mongabay.com/2013/03/as-massive-deforestation-continues-in-sumatras-tesso-nilo-indonesian-lawmakers-pin-blame-on-foreign-ngos/
Planters under fire over haze;.... "Oil palm planters who carry out proper peatland development and water management at their estates should be given a pat on the back for preventing the spread of peat fire. Instead, what we see is a stab in the back of planters. Such false allegations are sinful," Daud said. "Do you know that professional planters practising modern agriculture invest a lot of money in heavy machinery to clear the land, compact the peat soil and dig up a maze of trenches? "This is to compress the peat soil and keep it moist so that the oil palms can grow properly and yield to their potential. Incidentally, this process makes the soil less flammable and retards fire from spreading underground," he said.Most of the oil palm estates in Riau are matured and bearing fruits. "So, why would planters want to set fire and destroy their oil palms?" asked Daud, adding the maze of trenches filled with water at peat area, which are transportation routes in the estates is doubling up as fire barriers, too. When asked to comment on satellite pictures showing many hotspots across Sumatera and Kalimantan as indicative of fiery blaze within plantation concessions, Daud replied, "we must take note that in Indonesia, 20 per cent of the land bank is under the plasma scheme, of which smallholders occupy scattered enclaves within the estates." He noted that one must not discount the possibility that fire-causing haze could have been started by the local communities for shifting cultivation of cash crops in these enclaves.... http://mypalmoil.blogspot.my/2015/09/planters-under-fire-over-haze.html
Lucrative illegal market for crop land a key cause of fires: Researcher CIFOR Published 5 hours ago by David Fogarty Assistant Foreign Editor; Dr Purnomo said there is a well- established market for abandoned or conflict land, with land cleared by burning fetching a premium. Using excavators and other heavy equipment to clear the land is costly and time- consuming. "You need to understand that the fire and haze create a lot of money. Quite a lot of money. There is a market for burned land and also it is a way for cheap and quick land preparation for HTI (pulpwood) and oil palm," he told The Straits Times in an interview last week. "Because if you grab the land, the forest - it can be concession land or state land - you can sell it. My research shows that the price is around eight million rupiah (S$800) per hectare. But if you burn that land, the price will increase," he said. "Some people can claim that land and can sell to the network of people. And the buyers can be someone in Jakarta, Bogor, everywhere... It can be 10ha, 20 or even 100ha." Data shows mid-level investors can come from places outside Indonesia, such as Malaysia, he added. According to Dr Purnomo, the price per hectare is US$665 (S$950) after the land is slashed and cut. If the land is burned, the price goes up about US$200 per hectare: a more or less 30 per cent rise. "There is a market for people who mostly prepare for oil palm. You can imagine if they grow the oil palm, after three years, then the price of that land can reach US$3,077 per ha," he said, basing his research on land prices in Sumatra's Riau province. http://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/lucrative-illegal-market-for-crop-land-a-key-cause-of-fires-researcher
George Monbiot is wrong to suggest small farms are best for humans and nature - Monbiot has criticised ecomodernism for endorsing agricultural modernisation, but this is the way to feed a growing urban population and free up land for rewilding by Ted Nordhaus, Michael Shellenberger and Linus Blomqvist Friday 25 September 2015 13.25 BST http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/sep/25/george-monbiot-is-wrong-to-suggest-small-farms-are-best-for-humans-and-nature
Singapore clamps down on five firms over haze - Legal action started; govt leaders also speak out against Indonesian officials' comments by Chang Ai-Lien and Audrey Tan, Published Sep 26, 2015, 5:00 am SGT; ...Naming the firms for the first time yesterday, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan stressed that the haze was a man-made problem that should not be tolerated. "Ultimately, errant companies must know that there is a price to be paid for damaging our health, environment and economy," he said...yesterday served Singapore-listed firm Asia Pulp and Paper a legal notice to supply information on its subsidiaries in Singapore and Indonesia, as well as measures taken by its suppliers in Indonesia to put out fires in their concessions. Four Indonesian companies - Rimba Hutani Mas, Sebangun Bumi Andalas Wood Industries, Bumi Sriwijaya Sentosa and Wachyuni Mandira - have been told to take measures to extinguish fires on their land, not to start new ones, and submit action plans on how they will prevent future fires.
Indonesia gives assurance that it takes haze very seriously: DPM Teo Chee Hean Published Sep 27, 2015, 8:21 pm SGT by Lee Min Kok; SINGAPORE - Indonesia's Coordinating Minister Luhut Panjaitan has assured Singapore that the country is taking the haze very seriously and will be deploying more troops to deal with forest fires. In a Facebook post on Sunday (Sept 27) evening, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said he had received a phone call from Mr Luhut earlier in the day to discuss the matter.... http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/environment/indonesia-gives-assurance-that-it-takes-haze-very-seriously-dpm-teo
Indonesia VP Kalla reiterates that Indonesia does not need to apologise to neighbours over haze Published Sep 25, 2015, 8:02 pm SGT http://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/kalla-reiterates-that-indonesia-does-not-need-to-apologise-to-neighbours-over-haze
How you can trade Southeast Asia's haze by Nyshka Chandran Wednesday, 23 Sep 2015 | 9:57 PM ET; ....The price of palm oil has rallied 7 percent in the past fortnight as a cloak of smog, combined with unusually dry weather, disrupts supply in key Southeast Asian producing countries, and analysts say the gains are set to continue....http://www.cnbc.com/2015/09/23/palm-oil-price-to-rally-as-haze-envelops-southeast-asia.html
Something from a reader, from a different perspective... This is what happens when Harrison Ford meet Indonesian Minister of Forestry by notfoundher https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oZnzZxumGcw&feature=em-share_video_user
25 September 2015: Haze smog spike up, health concerns and studies, severe El Nino to worsen regional haze woes to mid 2016?Editor's note: Have been in Singapore in recent days, to see the headline measure go over 350. A specialist told me it went over 1,400 in Indonesia. Singapore shops selling masks, discussions of which type is better and more comfortable. Two days ago, I was at MPOC's El Nino talk. We're in severe El Nino expected to last to mid 2016. That does not bode well for the haze problem.
Singapore schools close for first time as haze hits hazardous levels by joanna seow AND lester hio http://www.thestar.com.my/News/Regional/2015/09/25/Singapore-schools-close-1st-time-haze/
Don't judge the haze by sight or smell by Linette Lai Friday, Sep 25, 2015; one of the best ways to determine how unhealthy the air is in real time is to look at the one-hour PM2.5 levels published by the National Environment Agency (NEA), say experts.Understanding the hazeTypically, two types of particles make up the haze.There are the coarser ones, which the human body is mostly equipped to filter out. These particles are large enough to be trapped by the nasal passages or end up being passed directly through the body.The bigger worry is the PM2.5 pollutants - so called because they are no larger than 2.5 microns, or one-thirtieth the diameter of a human hair.These can become trapped deep in the lungs and are tiny enough to pass through linings into the bloodstream.Long-term exposure to these particles on a regular basis has been linked to increased risk of death from heart and lung complications such as lung cancer or heart disease. - See more at: http://news.asiaone.com/news/asian-opinions/dont-judge-haze-sight-or-smell#sthash.zPZOwfml.dpuf
Fast food chains suspend delivery service in Singapore due to haze Updated: Thursday September 24, 2015 MYT 9:08:34 PM http://www.thestar.com.my/News/Regional/2015/09/24/SIngapore-hase-fast-food-chain/
Singapore air quality 'very unhealthy' over Indonesia fires Updated: Thursday September 24, 2015 MYT 6:03:32 PM; The city-state, which prides itself for its clean environment, has been cloaked in the haze in varying degrees for about three weeks, the worst such episode since mid-2013. But Southeast Asia's worst bout with haze was in 1997-1998 when the smog caused an estimated $9 billion in losses in economic activity across the region. The haze situation has been made worse this year by an El Nino weather system, which produces tinder-dry conditions in Indonesia and increases the risk of fires. Under pressure from its neighbours to stop the annual haze, Indonesian President Joko Widodo has pledged to crack down on companies and individuals behind the burnings, which are a cheap but harmful way of clearing vast tracts of land for plantations. During a visit to the haze-affected islands of Borneo and Sumatra this week, Widodo called on local communities to do their part in helping contain the scourge. .... Indonesia's National Disaster Management Agency told AFP that 2,081 fire "hotspots" were recorded in the worst-affected region of Indonesia's Kalimantan and 290 in Sumatra on Thursday....http://www.thestar.com.my/News/Regional/2015/09/24/Singapore-air-quality-very-unhealthy-over-Indonesia-fires/
22 September 2015: Reuters - Indonesia starts legal action against 4 companies linked to South-east Asia hazeReuters - Indonesia starts legal action against 4 companies linked to South-east Asia haze - Updated: 3:01 PM, September 22, 2015; JAKARTA — Indonesia has ordered four companies to suspend operations for causing forest fires which have sent smoke across a swathe of South-east Asia, an environment ministry official said today (Sept 22).... http://www.todayonline.com/world/asia/indonesia-starts-legal-action-against-4-companies-linked-south-east-asia-haze
20 September 2015: In recent one week 3% hot spots on palm oil (48% on pulpwood plantations, 48% outside of concession areas). Giant companies plan for more community efforts, point to need for One Map approach and points to problem of government "dishing out licences"
Editor's note: Industry people are keeping an eye for this on reporting - Global Forest Watch link http://fires.globalforestwatch.org/#v=map&x=103.99&y=-1.79&l=8&lyrs=Active_Fires%3ALand_Use%2F1&dirty=true
Haze puts Indonesia pulpwood plantations in a hot spot By Andrea Soh Sep 18, 20155:50 AM Singapore; Only 3 per cent of the hot spots between Sept 7 and Sept 14 were seen on oil palm concessions, according to data from the Global Forest Watch (GFW) programme by Washington-based advocacy group World Resources Institute (WRI); no such data was available in 2013, but palm oil firms had been widely blamed by the Indonesian government and non-governmental organisations..... But while palm oil firms have gotten off relatively easily this time round, paper and pulp companies have come under heavy fire as 48 per cent of fire alerts were found to be on pulpwood plantations by GFW in its recent analysis....What has emerged thanks to GFW's data is that smallholder farmers are behind many of the fire spots - 48 per cent of fire alerts were seen outside pulpwood, logging and palm oil concessions. And even when they are in concessions, these are sometimes carried by wind and topography from outside the concession areas, said plantation firms.... for APP, which manages concessions covering 2.6 million hectares - or almost 35 times the size of Singapore - in Indonesia. "The fires are usually started by illegal activity by individuals, whether inside or outside of our concession areas, usually to open land in order to claim the area. These practices are unfortunately very common, and occur not only in areas managed by companies but also in various protected forests managed by the government," she said. The root problem, said the unnamed plantation firm executive, is rural poverty. "It is much easier for them to set fire to clear land than to use other mechanical means ... it's a way of life."..Recognising this, many companies have started community engagement programmes - on top of placing fire-fighting brigades, some numbering in the hundreds, and infrastructure in their concessions.... Golden Agri plans to start involving the community in several concessions in jointly managed conservation plans in the near future. "This will involve a holistic approach on managing the land and conserving forests which will also help mitigate fire incidents," said the spokesman....There are efforts being made toward a One Map initiative. Golden Agri, which supports the initiative together with WRI and other palm oil majors, said this is scheduled to begin in the near future in Riau, and that consultations with multi-stakeholders are currently ongoing as a preparatory step. But some doubt that it will be completed any time soon, given the lack of political will. "It should have been done a few years ago," said the senior plantation executive. "If Indonesia had a comprehensive One Map of the whole country, detailing exactly where the peat areas, the protected areas, and the high biodiversity areas are - and they can do it if they want - then the government can simply not give out peatland and high conservation value areas (to plantation companies)." "But the government keeps dishing out licences like that," he added, "perhaps because they want to earn money." http://www.businesstimes.com.sg/energy-commodities/haze-puts-indonesia-pulpwood-plantations-in-a-hot-spot
18 September 2015: 7 Firms, 133 People Named Suspects in Indonesia Forest Fires - Associated Press, Record fines against concessionaires on the rise? House asks for budget revision to combat hazeEditor's note: Sadly, the peatsmog haze has been an annual occurrence (sometimes more than one episode) and the question is whether anything can be done about stopping it before it hits its 20th anniversary in a couple of years. For palm oil, despite studies that show a lesser (although still significant at around 20%) cause than other types of concession (timber, pulp & paper) and ex-concession areas i.e. smallholders and others, its association remains high in the public perception. The blame game is heightening. As expected, the onus for companies shifted a while back to responsibility in stopping fires. We broadly expect companies not to be fire starters given the dangers to their business assets. Indonesia news also indicates heightened attention to studying economic losses as well human tragedies (including death of children and fire fighters). From the tone of Indonesia news and policy maker comments, it seems likely that corporate business present in these zones will have to face increased regulatory and legal exposure. For all the corporate money spent on sustainability (HCV, HCS consultants, IT systems for traceability, stakeholder relations more focused on individual companies), one has to take a step back and wonder at the "what if" of a more strategic collective resource effort to effectively address the peatsmog crisis that still continues to have its grip on palm oil. The "it's not me" approach to crisis management has severe limitations and we daresay has little influence on policy makers in countries increasingly deciding on how much palm oil they want their permit in their food system. By all accounts, trade experts fear that nutrition decisions may be influenced by other considerations - and the annual peat smog crisis may cloud many decisions.
7 Firms, 133 People Named Suspects in Indonesia Forest Fires By The Associated Press ·JAKARTA, Indonesia — Sep 17, 2015, 11:12 AM ET; Indonesian police said Thursday they have identified seven companies and 133 individuals suspected of causing forest fires that are spreading choking smoke and polluted air across parts of western Indonesia and neighboring Malaysia and Singapore. National Police spokesman Col. Suharsono said 27 more companies and 85 individuals are still under investigation by police in six provinces in Sumatra and Kalimantan on the Indonesian part of Borneo. President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has ordered law enforcement agencies to take "stern actions" including revoking forest concessions and blacklisting those responsible for the fires so the haze does not occur again. "We are ashamed because we should be able to prevent it easily by using all our efforts and ability," he said. Slash-and-burn practices destroy huge areas of Indonesian forest every summer during the dry season, creating haze that angers surrounding countries. The fires are set to clear land for farming, corporate development or oil palm plantations. Suharsono, who uses a single name, said the suspects include general managers and operational managers of companies. He said some suspects had been arrested but did not say how many. In Pekanbaru, the capital of peat-rich Riau province, police arrested the general manager of PT Langam Inti Hibrido, a palm oil plantation company. Suharsono said the suspects will be charged with violating the Environment Law and Forestry Law, which carry maximum penalties of 15 years in prison and a fine of about $700,000. Minister of Environment and Forestry Siti Nurbaya said her office is preparing civil actions and administrative sanctions against nine corporations. The sanctions include termination of activities and suspension or revocation of licenses.... http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/firms-133-people-named-suspects-indonesia-forest-fires-33826239
Malaysian company investigated over forest fires, says Indonesia Published: 17 September 2015 7:26 AM - See more at: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/malaysian-company-investigated-over-forest-fires-says-indonesia?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter#sthash.vBhXgeV3.dpuf
Why oppose zero deforestation? Agus P. Sari, jakarta | Opinion | Tue, September 15 2015, 3:36 PM; There are two remarkable characteristics of the current IPOP. First, it is indigenous to Indonesia, and second, it was developed by the private sector in the absence of government regulation. The critics apparently missed those points. First, the IPOP was accused of submitting to pressure from foreign companies. Yet it is a voluntary commitment that is above and beyond market expectations.Our palm oil industry used to be criticized, sometimes boycotted, by overseas buyers. To unlock critical markets, the industry must respond directly to the sustainability challenge.One way for private companies to respond is through employing sustainability standards. The Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), a standard developed through a multi-stakeholder process, was considered a breakthrough. A domestically-created standard was seen as more tenable to the government’s Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil (ISPO). Largely a certification for legal compliance, ISPO was immediately embraced by the industry. Yet until today only a few companies in Indonesia are ISPO-certified. All signatories of IPOP are also signatories of ISPO.The Consumer Goods Forum and the Tropical Forests Alliance 2020 lobbied for a better standard. Fortunately, they gained political support from the highest levels; then president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono opened their first conference in Jakarta in July 2013. Indeed, pressure from the palm oil market has been real. But instead of only responding to (overseas) market pressure, IPOP went further than that.The critics also say the industry still needs to be expanded and that a zero deforestation commitment may hinder such an expansion. This is simplistic and unfounded. First, with better landscape and industrial management, the plantations can deliver annual palm oil growth to 40 million tons by 2020 without expanding existing plantations, as shown by a World Bank study....The writer is an observer of environmental and sustainability issues. He was formerly deputy chair of the REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) Management Agency. - See more at: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2015/09/15/why-oppose-zero-deforestation.html#sthash.yPTKrGFL.dpuf
Record fine against plantation company upheld Hans Nicholas Jong, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Headlines | Sun, September 13 2015, 1:32 PM;... The Supreme Court has rejected an appeal by palm oil company PT Kallista Alam and ordered the company to pay fines totalling Rp 366 billion (US$25.6 million) for illegally burning large swathes of the Tripa forest in Aceh, a verdict that many hope could set a precedent for future law enforcement against agro-forestry companies.The Environment and Forestry Ministry, which filed the lawsuit against PT Kallista Alam back in 2012, said the ruling was unprecedented, especially the size of the fine ordered in an environmental case. “As far as I know, nothing has been as big as this,” the ministry’s law enforcement director-general Rasio Ridho Sani, told The Jakarta Post... “We hope it becomes a reference for judges hearing cases in Palembang against PT Bumi Mekar Hijau and North Jakarta in the case of PT Jatim Jaya Perkasa,” said Rasio.With regard to PT Jatim Jaya Perkasa, the ministry has filed a civil lawsuit at the North Jakarta District Court against the company, demanding Rp 119.88 billion in fines for damaging the environment and Rp 371.12 billion for the recovery of the area. In a bigger case, the ministry has also filed civil lawsuits with the Palembang District Court in South Sumatra against PT Bumi Mekar Hijau for allegedly causing fires in 20,000 hectares in Ogan Komering Ilir, South Sumatra. It has demanded the company pay a fine of Rp 2.6 trillion for damaging the environment and Rp 5.2 trillion for its recovery. Both trials are currently ongoing.“It’s the biggest lawsuit we’ve ever filed,” Rasio said, adding that the lawsuit would reimburse the state Rp 7.8 trillion if it was successful. “So, I hope the judges handling these cases can learn from the Supreme Court’s verdict [on PT Kallista Alam].”PT Bumi Mekar Hijau is a subsidiary of Asia Pulp and Paper. It has concessions amounting to 250,370 hectares in Ogan Komering Ilir. Based on data from the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi), most of the locations of fires in the province are on the company’s concessions.The ministry has been actively suing plantation companies for causing forest fires since 2013. The companies use the slash-and-burn method to open up forest areas as it is so cheap. “We are preparing to file civil lawsuits against five other companies. Maybe next week we will do so,” Rasio said. - See more at: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2015/09/13/record-fine-against-plantation-company-upheld.html#sthash.doAIDiHM.dpuf
House asks for budget revision to combat haze Dandy Koswaraputra, thejakartapost.com | National | Thu, September 17 2015, 3:31 PM; The House of Representatives urged the Indonesian government to review next year's state budget to get extra funds, up to Rp 10 trillion (US$714 million), in order to combat forest fires. House member Herman Khaeron said that the state budget for the Environment and Forestry Ministry was quite insignificant, Rp 6.7 trillion in 2015, and decreasing to Rp 6.3 trillion in the 2016 state budget. “We need extra funding, at least Rp 10 trillion, to cope with forest fire disasters alone,” Herman told thejakartapost.com on Thursday.He said the funds aimed to build infrastructure and public awareness through holding training sessions in which local people fully understood how to handle such disasters instead of deploying military or police troops to extinguish forest fires. “I regret that the government does not seem proactive in preparing for the situation,” Herman asserted, adding that he appreciates the forestry ministry's efforts to provide fire extinguishing equipment.According to Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar, around 52,000 hectares of land in Sumatra were ravaged by fire, while 138,000 ha in Kalimantan were scorched....Herry Purnomo, a scientist at CIFOR and professor at Bogor Agricultural University, said that Indonesia would likely suffer $4 billion in losses this year, relating to agriculture production, destruction of forests, health, transportation, tourism and other economic endeavors.A 2013 World Bank report shows the total financial loss from forest fires in Riau province at Rp 20 trillion ($1.4 billion).Herry added that Malaysia and Singapore, as smog-affected countries, should be more responsible in dealing with forest fires by issuing regulations and law enforcement for their citizens’ companies operating in Indonesia. - See more at: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2015/09/17/House-parliament-asks-budget-revision-combat-disaster.html#sthash.CpFzKSBs.dpuf
Punish forest fire starters: The Jakarta Post; ....Two children in Jambi died last week of respiratory infection, almost certainly due to constant exposure to smoke from forest fires. Haze from the fires has also prevented thousands of children from attending school, delayed or cancelled flights and dragged economic and social activities to a halt in Sumatra and Kalimantan. In Sukabumi, West Java, a fire fighter died of exhaustion and smoke inhalation while battling a wildfire in Cikepuh sanctuary last week..... http://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/punish-forest-starters-the-jakarta-post
Ecocriticism and the haze crisis Donny Syofyan, Padang, West Sumatra | Opinion | Thu, September 17 2015, 3:36 PM, The writer is a lecturer at the School of Cultural Sciences at Andalas University, Padang. - See more at: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2015/09/17/ecocriticism-and-haze-crisis.html#sthash.SKVAS4eE.dpuf
Sumatra, the suffering paradise Delita Sartika, Victoria | Opinion | Thu, September 17 2015, 4:25 PM, The writer is a lecturer at Jambi University studying at Monash University in Victoria, Australia. - See more at: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2015/09/17/sumatra-suffering-paradise.html#sthash.G5QZN4Zn.dpuf
16 September 2015: 40 individuals and Provident Agro unit charged for fires in Riau, Malaysia affected schools closed until further notice, 13 airports closed in Sumatra and Kalimantan13 airports closed in Sumatra and Kalimantan Thejakartapost.com, Jakarta | Archipelago | Wed, September 16 2015, 12:20 PM - See more at: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2015/09/16/13-airports-closed-sumatra-and-kalimantan.html#sthash.EChsKXry.dpuf
Provident Agro unit - Police Charge Oil Palm Company Over Sumatra Forest Fire By : Jakarta Globe | on 16:39 PM September 14, 2015; The company has been identified as Langgam Inti Hibrida, an joins 40 individuals charged with setting 37 forest fires in Riau province, according to Adj. Sr. Comr. Guntur Aryo Tedjo, a spokesman for the provincial police....Established in 1998, LIH is based in Riau’s Pelalawan district and is 99.8 percent owned by publicly lited Provident Agro. The company was also cited earlier this year by district environmental officials for improper waste management. http://jakartaglobe.beritasatu.com/news/police-charge-oil-palm-company-sumatra-forest-fire/
Malaysia - Ministry orders schools to remain closed until further notice http://english.astroawani.com/malaysia-news/ministry-orders-schools-remain-closed-until-further-notice-73351
15 September 2015: 3 Peninsular Malaysia states close schools on haze, Indonesia to share names of companies, Malaysia and Singapore companies blame game, three studies on fire causes point to complex picture and smallholders role
Unhealthy API in 33 areas nationwide, schools closed in 3 states, KL, Putrajaya Published: 15 September 2015 8:15 AM - See more at: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/unhealthy-api-in-33-areas-nationwide-schools-closed-in-3-states-kl-putrajay#sthash.8UK6bkdU.dpuf
Indonesia to share names of companies causing forest fires Published: 15 September 2015 8:31 AM - See more at: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/indonesia-to-share-names-of-companies-causing-forest-fires#sthash.Pb9HspWC.dpuf
Malaysia, Singapore should take responsibility for fires too, says Indonesian expert Published: 15 September 2015 9:06 AM - See more at: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/malaysia-singapore-should-take-responsibility-for-fires-too-says-indonesian#sthash.2nZWyIv3.dpuf
Jokowi wants land clearing by burning of forests to stop from next year Published: 7 September 2015 10:03 PM - See more at: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/jokowi-wants-land-clearing-by-burning-of-forests-to-stop-from-next-year#sthash.DMayxx8b.fBTZfU49.dpuf
Erik Meijaard: Get Your Facts Right on Indonesia's Haze Problem, By : Erik Meijaard | on 18:52 PM September 07, 2015 Category : Opinion, Columns, Front Page ... So I say it again, just in case there is someone out there willing to listen. Studies of fire and haze in Kalimantan and Sumatra firmly point towards small-scale farmers and other under-the-radar, mid-scale land-owners, rather than large companies as the main cause of fires and haze.... A study published in August 2015 in the journal Environmental Research Letters clearly shows that on Sumatra 59 percent of fire emissions originate from outside timber and oil-palm concession boundaries. These non-concession-related fires generated 62 percent of smoke exposure in equatorial Southeast Asia (primarily Singapore and Malaysia). In Kalimantan, non-concession fires play an even bigger role. Fires outside concessions generated 73 percent of all emissions and 76 percent of smoke affecting equatorial Southeast Asia.... These findings are in line with similar results based on more detailed studies in Riau and published in Nature in 2014. In Riau, 52 percent of the total burned area in 2013 was within concessions. However, 60 percent of these burned areas were occupied and used by small-and medium-landholders.... And another scientific publication on the causes of Indonesian forest fires showed that, even 15 years ago, when oil-palm companies were involved a lot more frequently than now in land-clearing with fire, rural communities were a dominant cause of fires in both Sumatra and Kalimantan.... The key point is that the fire and haze problem in Indonesia is complex, with multiple actors playing a role. Focusing on large concessions alone, which the Indonesian government and also non-government organizations seem to do, is not going to do much to reduce the problem.... If the president wants “no more forest fires next year,” his government needs to get realistic about real causes and think about how to address these effectively. Anyone who has ever spent time in Kalimantan or Sumatra during the dry season knows that burning land for agriculture, for hunting, or just for fun is a favorite pastime of many. Most districts have laws in place that prohibit this kind of burning, but the big issue is that no one pays any heed to these laws and consequently they are largely ignored.....http://jakartaglobe.beritasatu.com/opinion/erik-meijaard-get-facts-right-indonesias-haze-problem/
- Human Ecology August 2005, Volume 33, Issue 4, pp 465-504 - Fire, People and Pixels: Linking Social Science and Remote Sensing to Understand Underlying Causes and Impacts of Fires in Indonesia by Rona A. Dennis et al. http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10745-005-5156-z
- Major atmospheric emissions from peat fires in Southeast Asia during non-drought years: evidence from the 2013 Sumatran fires by David L. A. Gaveau et al. Scientific Reports 4, Article number: 6112 (2014) http://www.nature.com/articles/srep06112
- Fire emissions and regional air quality impacts from fires in oil palm, timber, and logging concessions in Indonesia by Miriam E Marlier et al. Published 12 August 2015 http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/10/8/085005
13 September 2015: Haze back with vengeance, Indonesia accepts Singapore's offer to fight forest fires
Indonesia accepts Singapore's offer to fight forest fires POSTED: 11 Sep 2015 16:45; Indonesia has accepted Singapore's offer to fight the ongoing forest fires in Sumatra. http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/indonesia-accepts/2119608.html?cid=fbsg
The haze is back with a vengeance - The air quality in Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia tipped into the unhealthy and hazardous ranges this week, as the haze from Indonesia's forest fires worsened. Why does this issue persist, despite the many high-profile forest protection pledges made by companies and governments? By Vaidehi Shah Thursday 10 September 2015 http://www.eco-business.com/
Red tape hampering efforts to deal with forest fires The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | National | Mon, August 31 2015, 3:47 PM; The government knows how to solve the problem of forest fires but has yet to implement the solution, a senior Environment and Forestry Ministry official has said.Nur Masripatin, the director general for climate change with the ministry said that the government would continue conducting feasibility studies before taking action.... CIFOR recommends the government allocate a higher proportion of the national budget for fire prevention. Currently the budget for forest fires reserves 90 percent for fire fighting and preparedness and 10 percent for prevention. The institution suggests the government also allocate more toward peat land restoration.CIFOR found in research conducted in 2014 and 2015 that 70 percent of forest fires in Indonesia are caused by the draining of peat lands for agriculture use. “Allocate a large part of the national budget to restore peat lands to hydrological equilibrium. The government may use rehabilitation funds or the commodities export tax to pay for peat land restoration on a large scale,” David Gaveau, a landscape scientist of CIFOR said.Nur said that she agreed with the proposal, but added that, at least in the next two years, the government should still allocate more for fire fighting effort. “For example in Jambi, we still need Air Tractors,” she said. - See more at: http://www.thejakartapost.com/
Political economy of fire and haze: Moving to long-term solutions By Herry Purnomo Wednesday 2 September 2015; CIFOR scientist Herry Purnomo outlines a multi-pronged strategy for tackling deforestation and forest fires in Indonesia; Between 1980 and 2000 – a timber logging boom. Illegal logging followed – so, another boom in the 10 years from 2000, and then the palm oil boom came after that. Pristine forest was severely logged and turned into degraded forest. What was left was slashed and burned, made ready for oil palm and wood plantations of different scales. This landscape transformation provided benefits and costs to various actors. But fire and haze were also part of the landscape transformation. Under President Joko Widodo, the Government of Indonesia has committed to reducing – or even zeroing – fire incidences in Indonesia. And although some improvements have been made, fire and haze continue.... http://www.eco-business.com/