NEA to study disposable packaging's environmental impact

Channel NewsAsia 24 Aug 16;

SINGAPORE: A study to assess disposable packaging for takeaway food or dining in, and single-use carriers, was called by the National Environment Agency on Wednesday (Aug 24).

To better inform its policies on the use of disposable packaging, NEA will be conducting a study to analyse how different packaging materials commonly used for food compare in terms of cost and impact on the environment, it said in its press release.

The study will evaluate the environmental impact associated with all the stages of a disposable’s life cycle. This would cover the raw materials needed, as well as the manufacture, distribution, use and disposal of the disposable, the agency explained.

"The study will provide insights into whether alternatives to commonly used disposables can be less damaging on the environment," NEA said.

The tender will close on Sep 13, and the study is expected to start either in September or October this year and end by the second quarter of 2017, it added.

- CNA/kk

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Indonesia: Haze starts disrupting flights in Kalimantan

Severianus Endi The Jakarta Post 24 Aug 16;

Haze from forest fires in West Kalimantan has caused delays in morning flights at Pontianak’s Supadio Airport over the past two weeks.

A flight that was scheduled to take off at 6:15 a.m. on Wednesday was delayed until the sky cleared at 7 a.m.

PT Angkasa Pura II's Supadio branch general manager, Bayuh Iswantoro, said Wednesday that at 6 a.m. visibility at the airport was only 500 meters.

“But it was only for a brief time because at 7 a.m. visibility was 1,000 meters,” said Bayuh. He said on haze-free days visibility averaged 5,000 meters.

West Kalimantan Disaster Mitigation Agency head of emergency and logistics Bosman D. Hutahaean said that of the 14 regencies and municipalities in the province, eight had declared a haze emergency.

“Once a region declares an emergency, it can deploy personnel and financing and use infrastructure and equipment,” Bosman said.

The Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) provides real-time information on particles in the haze to enable people to plan outdoor activities. When the figure exceeds 150 micrograms per cubic meter, it means the pollution is “unhealthy”. When it is between 0 and 50 micrograms, it falls in the “good” category.

On Wednesday morning, the pollution level reached “very unhealthy” with 314 micrograms per cubic meter. The figure decreased at noon. (evi)

Riau in Danger of Being Surrounded by Forest Fires
Tempo 24 Aug 16;

TEMPO.CO, Pekanbaru - Forest and land fires have continued to surround the Province of Riau - with satellite imagery from Terra and Aqua Satellites indicating that there are 35 active hotspots that are spread across the province. According to the satellite imagery, the majority of the hotspots are localised across the regencies of Rokan Hilir and Bengkalis - with each region contributing to 11 hotspots in the region.

"As per 06:00 Western Indonesia TIme (WIB), we have received reports of newly-formed hotspots," said the Head of Pekanbaru's Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysics Agency on Wednesday, August 24, 2016.

Sugarin said that satellite imagery has shown that there five hot spots reported in Pelalawan, three in Dumai, two in Rokan Hulu, two in Siak, and one in Indragiri Hulu. "Out of the 35 hotspots observed, we can report with a significant degree of confidence that at least 15 of these hotspots may indeed turn into active fire spots," he said.

Sugarin further explained that generally speaking, the weather forecast across the province of Riau is sunny with a chance of some overcast conditions. That said, there are a significant possibility of light-to-moderate showers - followed by a chance of strong gale force winds and thunderstorms in the Riau's southern, central and northern regions. "Temperatures are expected to reach a maximum of 32.0-35.0 degrees centigrade," he said.

The fires have begun to produce haze that has caused a significant decline in air quality across several areas, including Dumai and Pelalawan - where visibility has dropped to 4 kilometres. "The haze is visible to the naked eye," said Sugarin.

The Chief Firefighter for Bengkalis Disaster Mitigation Agency, Suiswantoro said that fires have been reported in the village of Muara in Siak Kecil district - where fires have ravaged some 4 hectares of fields. "The fires were first reported three days ago," he said.

Fires on a larger scale have also been reported in the village of Tasik Serai in Pinggir District in Bengkalis, where scores of hectares have been ravaged by an ongoing fire. As of today, a joint-firefighting force - consisting of members of the Indonesian Army (TNI), the Police, and firefighters from the Ministry for the Forestry and the Environment (Manggala Agni) have continued to fight the ongoing fires in the area - aided by helicopters that are tasked to water bomb the affected areas.

Fires in Riau have been reported the dry season began - with the very first reports emerging as early as last month. Riau's Special Taskforce for Field and Forest Fires have since deployed six water bombers to fight the fires, and have begun to resort to weather modification techniques to create artificial rain - while the TNI, Police, and Manggala Agni utilised the land route to fight the fires.

The fires in Riau has claimed one casuaty - an enlisted TNI Officer from Dumai's 004 Aerial Artillery and Defence Detachment - Private 1st. Class Wahyudi - who perished during a fire fighter operation in the village of Pasir Putih in the District of Bagan Sinembag in Rokan Ilir. Prior to the discovery of Wahyudi's body, he had been reported missing from his group for a week.


Air Pollution Levels in West Kalimantan Improve
Sahat Oloan Saragih Jakarta Globe 24 Aug 16;

Jakarta. The air pollution index readings in Pontianak, West Kalimantan and its surroundings reduced slightly to the "moderate" range on Wednesday (24/08), after being marked as "unhealthy" on Tuesday following the increasing number of forest fire hotspots in the region.

An index reading between 51-100 is moderate and 101-199 is considered unhealthy.

Based on observations by the Modis satellite, 61 hotspots have been detected in West Kalimantan, scattered around the districts of Sambas, Mempawah, Sanggau, Ketapang, Sintang, Bengkayang, Sekadau, Melawi and Kubu Raya.

Sambas has the most number of hotspots reported, with 18, followed by Mempawah and Kubu Raya with 9 each.

Data from Indonesia's Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency, or BMKG said the number of hotspots spreading in West Kalimantan reached 100 last week.

“But now, it has declined to 61 [hotspots],” Dasnian, Pontianak BMKG spokesperson said on Wednesday.

There is likely to be some respite over the next few days as visibility levels have improved from 7.30 a.m. and there is a predicted forecast of rain set to arrive by the end of the week.

“If the [hotspots persist], then the city of Pontianak and its surrounding areas will be blanketed by haze,” Dasnian said.

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Singapore Offers Assistance in Anticipation of Haze Returning

Jakarta Globe 24 Aug 16;

Jakarta. Indonesian Ambassador I Gede Ngurah Swajaya said the government of Singapore has offered assistance to put out peatland and forest fires in Sumatra and Kalimantan.

"The Singaporean government has already offered to douse the fires – they have offered a plane and a helicopter," Ngurah told state-run news agency Antara in Jakarta on Wednesday (24/08).

The Indonesian government has not yet confirmed whether it would accept the offer of foreign assistance, since the forest fires this year are not as hazardous as last year.

"The hotspots this year are much fewer compared to last year. In addition to the thorough monitoring conducted by officials, the unusually wet dry season has been favorable to us," Ngurah added.

While smoke from the fires has yet to reach the city-state, the Singaporean government expressed its readiness to cooperate in anticipation of this happening.

"This is a concrete step in working together as a government, private sector and community to put out the fires," the ambassador said.

In Riau province, 35 hotspots have been detected in the districts of Rokan Hulu, Siak, Inhu, Pelalawan, Bengkalis and Dumai.

North Sumatra, West Sumatra, Lampung, Bangka Belitung, Jambi and West Kalimantan have a combined total of 43 reported hotspots.

On Sunday, Malaysia also offered to assist Indonesia by deploying aerial water bombers after detecting haze in the capital Kuala Lumpur last week.

We are prepared to send our Bombardier aircraft to Sumatra to help put out the forest fires that have been responsible for the cross-border haze," Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Shahidan Kassim said, as reported by Malaysian news outlets.

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Malaysia: Matang mangroves -- A jewel in the mud

T. AVINESHWARAN The Star 24 Aug 16;

THE MATANG Mangrove Forest is already recognised by Unesco as one of the world’s best-managed mangrove forests, and now Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar wants Guinness World Records to also recognise it as as the world’s best-managed mangrove forest.

Speaking to reporters after launching the National Mangrove Ecosystem Conservation Day at the Matang Mangrove Forest, Wan Junaidi said if Guinness recognises the forest, it will help boost eco-tourism in the country.

“This is going to be a long process and I will start discussions with the state government and other stakeholders. They’ve certainly managed this area well.”

Wan Junaidi said the authorities tasked with the care of the are are well-versed in sustainable development and are able to control the activities in the forest.

“People use the wood of mangrove trees for charcoal, but the authorities have a system and they make sure the trees for charcoal are managed well.

“This resource must be well looked after but we should also see the economic side of it. So far, we have been managing these resources well and making sure we benefit economically,” he said in a press conference after launching the event and planting some trees in the mangrove area.

National Mangrove Ecosystem Conservation Day is in line with the government’s effort to conserve and maintain mangrove forests to ensure that they can perform their role in the ecosystem as a buffer zone that provides a natural protection from the sea, and a rich economic resource for the people.

Wan Junaidi said his ministry has conducted studies on mangrove species and also conservation efforts along Malaysia’s shores since 2005, after a tsunami struck certain areas in the country in 2004.

“This effort is being carried out simultaneously around the country and we’ve involved various agencies, non-governmental organisations, universities and the public.

“The total area involved under this programme up to July this year is 1,059ha with 6.4 million trees planted,” he said to reporters.

State Energy and Water Committee Chairman Datuk Zainol Fadzi Paharudin said Malaysia is one of the twelve countries to have various kinds forests and Larut Matang area is internationally recognised by environmentalist and environmental organisations.

“Mangrove forest are vital because of their uniqueness the role they play in nature and there are various types in Malaysia.”

The Matang Mangrove Forest Reserve was gazetted as Permanent Forest Reserve in 1906 it contains rich and diverse flora and fauna that attracts nature lovers to visit and explore the wetlands.

Near the reserve the Perak State Forestry Department is cultivating the Rhizophora, Lenggadai and Seaward berus mangrove species.

The area is also the breeding ground for crustaceans like crabs, shrimps, lobsters, horseshoe crabs and prawns as well as fish and shellfish.

During his visit to the forest reserve, Wan Junaidi together with the other guests took a walk on a wooden walkway to get a closer look at the mangrove trees and the animals that live in the muddy areas of the mangrove ecosystem.

He also took the opportunity to plant some trees at the area and mingled with the Forestry Department officers to get a feel of the work they are doing in the forest reserve.

In a separate matter, Wan Junaidi acknowledged that some cities in the country have recorded moderate Air Pollutant Index readings over the last week and said the haze season is back.

Wan Junaidi said this is due to forest fires in Sumatera and Kalimantan in Indonesia.

But he said things have changed as the Indonesian authorities are taking swift action to combat forest fires though the effects of it are still being felt in Malaysia.

“It hasn’t reached a critical stage but I will write a letter to Indonesia Forestry and Environment Minister Dr Siti Nurbaya Bakar to tell her that the haze is coming here.

“We don’t want to pick a fight, but we just want to notify them that the haze is here,” he said to reporters.

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Indonesia: Vets Trained to Save Sumatran Tigers From Extinction

Ratri M. Siniwi Jakarta Globe 24 Aug 16;

Jakarta. With the constant threat of habitat degradation and poaching hanging over them, the critically endangered Sumatran tigers have been known to scour for food in residential areas around the Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park in Sumatra.

According to the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Indonesia Program (WCS-IP), there have been 113 cases of human-tiger conflicts in 23 villages between 2008 and 2015, with two human casualties reported in 2011 and one in 2015.

WCS-IP data also showed that 292 livestock, mostly goats and cattle, had been lost during tiger attacks in several villages around the outskirts of the mountainous national park, which stretches across three provinces, Lampung, Bengkulu and South Sumatra.

The wildlife organization has been offering training courses for veterinarians to drill them in emergency responses to reduce the number of tiger deaths during a conflict with humans — a vital endeavor since the critically endangered species is nearly extinct.

"We need vets to help handle clashes between tigers and humans, especially to help relocate injured tigers after a conflict like that," WCS-IP country director Noviar Andayani said in a statement on Tuesday (23/08).

"We hope to create a network of trained veterinarians in the three provinces where the national park is located," Noviar said. "That should help us immeasurably to save Sumatran tigers from extinction."

The most recent training in Lampung lasted four days and involved 17 veterinarians.

According to the wildlife organization, the severe lack of wildlife medics and government support in Indonesia has been the greatest obstacle in protecting the Sumatran tigers.

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Indonesia: Tens of thousands fish die in Kedungombo

Ganug Nugroho Adi The Jakarta Post 24 Aug 16;

Thousands of red tilapia and common carp in bamboo cages belonging to fish farmers at Kedungombo Dam, Sragen, Central Java, have died over the past two days.

The farmers suspect extreme weather was the cause.

Daryono Gundul, one fish cage owner, said the most of the dead fish were found in Ngasinan village. In the past two days, 15 to 25 tons of fish died had each day.

“Each farmer has suffered different levels of loss, starting from hundreds of thousands of rupiah to tens of millions of rupiah,” Daryono said.

Mitra Tani suffered the biggest loss, he said, because the owner moved his aquaculture cages too late.

Ngargotirto village head, whose name is also Daryono, said every year in Kedungombo fish in aquaculture cages died. Change in weather caused fungus that killed the fish. He said the fungus came from the sedimentation and residue of fish feed, which rose from the bottom of the dam in extreme weather.

Besides moving the cages to edge of the dam, farmers also supplied oxygen by creating air circulation using pumps.

Another farmer, Suharno, said some of the dead fish were cut into pieces for feed while others were buried.

Suharno said there were 81 fish farmers with 1,600 cages in Ngasinan village alone. Each day the village produced 5 to 7 tons of fish per day to meet demand from Surakarta, Yogyakarta and Bali. (evi)

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Best of our wild blogs: 24 Aug 16

Birding Hindhede Nature Park
Singapore Bird Group

Green Drinks: The Sustainable Singapore Blueprint + People’s Expedition to Experience Peat
Green Drinks Singapore

corridor closures & halus heartstoppers
Winging It

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Dengue cases rise again after two-week decline

Channel NewsAsia 24 Aug 16;

SINGAPORE: The number of new dengue cases in Singapore is on the rise again, with 222 cases reported in the week ending Aug 20, according to latest figures on the National Environment Agency’s (NEA) dengue website.

This is an increase from the previous two weeks, when 210 cases and 198 cases were reported, respectively. Another 39 cases were reported between Aug 21 and 3pm on Aug 22.

A total of 10,769 dengue cases have been reported in Singapore since the start of the year. Seven people have died of the disease so far, with the latest fatality a 79-year-old man who lived in Eastwood Drive near Upper East Coast Road. There were four dengue fatalities in the whole of 2015.

There are now 46 active dengue clusters in Singapore – up from 43 the previous week – including 11 classified as high-risk. The biggest cluster is in the area around Tampines Ave 8, Tampines Street 81, Street 83 and Street 84, where 55 cases have been reported, including two in the past fortnight.

In an advisory on its dengue website, NEA said that although the number of cases has been fluctuating within the same range for the past few weeks, it expects the figure to climb in the coming months as Singapore is in the traditional peak dengue season.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) and NEA have warned that the number of dengue cases in Singapore may exceed 30,000 this year, higher than the record of 22,170 reported in 2013.

- CNA/cy

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Singapore still among world's liveable cities

Despite ranking 46 out of 140 cities in global survey, Republic remains attractive to highly mobile top talent
Janice Heng The Straits Times 24 Aug 16;

Singapore's score in a global ranking of livable cities has stagnated since 2011, which may make a difference to highly mobile top talent.

But it remains one of the world's more liveable cities, ranking 46th out of 140 cities assessed, while Hong Kong was 43rd.

Singapore did particularly well in providing a safe and stable habitat, but scored lower in culture, environment and healthcare in the Economist Intelligence Unit's (EIU) annual Liveability Ranking. which began in 2002. In response to queries, the EIU supplied the results since 2011.

Although Singapore's overall ranking might look middling, it is not cause for alarm, said experts.

"Singapore has a high score and the EIU classifies it in the top tier of liveability," said Mr Simon Baptist, EIU chief economist and managing director for Asia.

Singapore scored 88.7 out of a possible 100, based on five areas: stability, healthcare, culture and environment, education and infrastructure.

Its score has not changed since 2011, though its ranking improved from 51st to 46th because other cities fell behind in stability - factors such as crime rate, risk of terrorism and risk of social unrest.

Singapore performed worst in the area of culture and environment, with a score of 76.6.

Not much can be done about environmental factors: humidity and temperature, and "discomfort of climate to travellers".

But its cultural score - which includes factors such as corruption, censorship, sports, the arts, and food and drink - can be improved, said Mr Baptist.

"Singapore is dragged down due to its high level of censorship, which means the local media is less diverse and interesting, and residents do not have the same possibility to engage in public debate or get involved in campaigning or NGOs."

Singapore's healthcare score also lags behind some cities despite high quality healthcare, he added. This is mainly because of a lower number of doctors and hospital beds per capita, and lower public healthcare spending as a percentage of gross domestic product.

This may affect expatriates here on local packages, but will have less impact on those with private healthcare insurance, said expat expert Yvonne McNulty.

Liveability has been a focus of the Government, from efficient transport to vibrant public spaces.

This is both to improve citizens' everyday lives and to boost competitiveness by ensuring Singapore is an attractive place to live for top talent.

OCBC economist Selena Ling said liveability may make a difference for top global talent, who can choose where to go.

But she and other economists said foreign investors' top concerns are the domestic cost environment, overall availability of talent and competitive advantages such as good corporate governance and transport links.

"Liveability is more like icing on the cake after the basics have been taken care of." Otherwise, places such as Australia and Canada, which rank high for liveability, would top competitiveness rankings - which is not the case.

DBS economist Irvin Seah agreed. "I think we've reached a certain stage of development where we can feel more confident about the standards of living in Singapore.

"If there is any ranking that we need to focus on, it'll be those pertaining to innovation and overall economic competitiveness."

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Indonesia: Disaster Agency declares six provinces in emergency of forest fires

Antara 23 Aug 16;

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB) said six of Indonesian provinces are in emergency of forest and bush fires.

"BNPB, therefore, has put into operation eight water bombing helicopters," chief spokesman of the agency Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said here on Tuesday.

The six provinces are Riau, Jambi, South Sumatra, West Kalimantan, Central Kalimantan and South Kalimantan.

Sutopo said it is feared the worst of dry season is yet to come, adding normally in September forest fires are more devastating.

Sumatra and Kalimantan always had the largest number of hot spots from August until October with the worst in September, he warned.

The West Kalimantan Governor has even extended the emergency period until November for that province, he added.

"The declaration of emergency status would give BNPB and its regional units easier access to potential sources in its efforts to mobilize fire fighting forces," he said.

Currently, BNPB already has in its disposal eight units of water bombing helicopters, two units of water bombing fixed wing aircraft and another two planes for artificially made rain.

"Three of the water bombing helicopters, two water bombing fixed planes and a a CASA plane for artificial rains would be placed in Riau," he said.

Riau has always been the most devastated by forest and peat land fires, which comes almost every year.

Sutopo said this year , preparations in dealing with the forest fire emergency situation is better than in previous years.

"In 2015, preparation and action came late in dealing with forest and bush fires resulting in greater difficulties in poutting out the fires," he said. (*)

Dry season to peak in September, aircraft prepared to tackle fires
The Jakarta Post 23 Aug 16;

The National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) is preparing water-bombing aircraft to anticipate haze problems, following the emergency status declared by at least six provinces, with the dry season predicted to peak in September.

The six provinces are Riau, Jambi, South Sumatra, West Kalimantan, Central Kalimantan and South Kalimantan. September would be the peak of the dry season this year, BNPB spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said on Tuesday. As part of preemptive actions, the provinces declared the alert status earlier than last year, when Indonesia suffered its worst forest and land fires.

"Usually September is the peak of forest and land fires when more hot spots are detected," he said as quoted by

In order to tackle worsening forest and land fires, the BNPB has prepared eight helicopters and two aircraft for water bombing and two Cassa airplanes for artificial rain across the six provinces.

"A total of 21.7 million liters of water has been used by the water-bombing aircraft to put out forest and land fires from April 1 to present," Sutopo said.

Around 2,937 hectares of forest and land fires in Riau had been put out by ground personnel, he said. The Riau Police have named 85 people as suspects for allegedly clearing land by burning, which resulted in haze problems from January through August.

Indonesia suffers annually from forest and peatland fires resulting from slash-and-burn practices for clearing land. The worst haze crisis happened last year when at least 19 people died and 500,000 people suffered acute respiratory illnesses. (rin)

Soldier missing after forest fire in Riau
Jakarta Post 23 AUg 16;

Indonesian Military (TNI) soldier Pvt. First Class Wahyudi remains missing four days after helping to extinguish a forest fire in the Riau regency of Rokan Hilir.

Wira Bima Military Command chief and Riau Land and Forest Fire Task Force commander Brig. Gen. Nurendi went to the location where Wahyudi went missing and led search efforts involving a joint team from the National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas), the TNI, the National Police and local residents.

“The search has not been fruitful yet. I have instructed the Wira Bima Military Command to hold a joint prayer at each unit pleading to Almighty God that Wahyudi will soon be found,” said Nurendi on Monday.

Apart from a conventional search, Nurendi said various methods to track Wahyudi’s whereabouts had been employed, including cell phone signal tracking technology and soothsayers, because locals believed Wahyudi had been hidden by spirits disturbed by the fires that hit the region.

Wahyudi went missing during a firefighting mission in Medan hamlet, Labuhan Tangga Besar village, Bangko district, on Friday.

At around 3 p.m. local time, Wahyudi and two of his colleagues were replacing a piece of fire-extinguishing equipment with a larger device. Wahyudi then returned to the forest to collect a small hose that had been left behind. He is believed to have become engulfed in thick smoke and to have lost his way back to his colleagues.

Fires detected again in lands owned by companies given SP3
Antara 23 Aug 16;

Photo document dated August 10, 2015 on the condition of land burned in oil palm concession company in Pelalawan, Riau, as evidence of the police in case of fires in Riau. (ANTARA/Deputi Direskrimsus Polda Riau AKBP Ari Rahman Nafarin-HO)
Pekanbaru (ANTARA News) - Environmentalist organizations said fires have been detected again in lands owned by eight companies given SP3 (order to stop investigation) over cases of forest fires in Riau by police.

Wahana Lingkungan Hidup (Walhi) and Jaringan Kerja Penyelamat Hutan Riau (Jikalahari) said almost every year fires hit land owned by plantation and forestry companies in the province.

Police have granted SP3 over last years forest fire cases of 15 companies and now fires have been detected again in lands owned by eight of the companies, deputy coordinator of Jikalahari Made Ali said here on Tuesday.

The eight companies are PT Dexter Perkasa Industri Indonesia, PT Siak Raya Timber, PT Bina Duta Laksana, PT Perawang Sukses Perkasa Industri, PT Ruas Utama Jaya, PT Huta Sola Lestari, PT Suntara Gajah Pati and PT Sumatera Riang Lestari.

Walhi executive director Riko Kurniawan said the police decision in granting SP3 was a big mistake, as proven by the repeat of wrong doing committed by the companies.

The companies dared to use fires for land clearing as they have always escaped the law, observers said.

Police said a number of individuals have been named suspects but none of the companies are named suspect.

"Yes, it was true. We have named 85 individual suspects. No corporation is among the suspects yet," Riau police spokesman Adj. Sr. Comr. Guntur Aryo Tejo said.

Earlier deputy chairman of the commission III of the House of Representatives Benny K Harman strongly demanded state police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian to give explanation of the SP3 issued by Riau police chief Brig.Gen. Supriyanto.

"The state police chief has to openly give reasons for SP3," Benny said in Jakarta.

He also asked President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) to summon the state police chief to explain the decision as the cases have national and international dimensions.

However, after a meeting later with the the Riau police chief Benny said the Commission respected the reasons given by the general in issuing order to drop forest fire cases involving the 15 companies.

"The Commission III respects and supports the Riau police in resolving the legal cases of forest fires," he said.

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Indonesia obtains developed world EU's Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade license

Suherdjoko The Jakarta Post 24 Aug 16;

Indonesia became the first country to obtain the EU's Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) as the European Parliament approved the European Commission’s proposal for the extending the FLEGT license to Indonesia on Aug. 9.

With the decision, Indonesian wood products are allowed to enter 28 EU member countries without having to pass a due diligence process, which was expensive and a lengthy procedure, as previously required by EU trade laws.

“As a follow up to the decision, on Aug.18, the European Commission issued an EU regulation, which acknowledges that Indonesia has fulfilled the requirements within the framework of the EU Trade Regulation and Voluntary Partnership Agreement signed by Indonesia and the EU in 2013,” the Environment and Forestry Ministry’s sustainable production forest management director general, Putera Parthama, said in Semarang, Central Java, on Tuesday.

With the EU regulation, he said, Indonesia left behind its competitors, which also exported wood products to the European market. They included African countries, which had signed a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) with the EU; Latin America countries; ASEAN member countries—Malaysia, Vietnam, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos—and China.

“It’s real proof that Indonesia’s timber legality system [SVLK] has been acknowledged by the 28 EU member countries as guaranteeing that Indonesian wood products do not come from illegal logging activities,” said Putera.

Since the implementation of the SVLK in 2013, Indonesia’s export value in wood products has increased from year to year. In 2015, the country’s export value increased two fold from the previous year. In July, Indonesia’s wood exports amounted to US$500 billion with the three biggest export destinations comprising China, Korea and Japan.

“The EU market accounts for 11 percent of our total wood products market. However, the EU can become a barometer in relation to environmental requirements and timber legality,” said Putera. (ebf)

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Indonesia: Hundreds of illegal birds confiscated at Surakarta airport

Ganug Nugroho Adi The Jakarta Post 23 Aug 16;

Customs officers at Adi Sumarmo Airport in Surakarta, Central Java, confiscated on Monday more than 300 birds sent from Kualanamu Airport in Medan, North Sumatra, using fake documents.

The birds, which comprise several different species, were put inside a large case and equipped with a quarantine letter. In the letter, it stated the case contained 87 birds, containing three different species, namely the oriental magpie-robin or locally known as kacer, lovebird and blue-winged leafbird or also popular known as cucak ranting.

After a thorough inspection, the officers found the cargo contained 332 birds with 10 different species. They said the cargo’s content was not a match with the documents and that they were probably falsified.

“We didn’t deliver the birds to the recipient because we considered the documents as not valid,” the airport’s agriculture quarantine coordinator, M.Farid, said at the Tarui Jurug Animal Park (TSTJ) in Surakarta, on Monday.

Improper handling: Officials find more than a half of the 332 birds they confiscated during an operation at Adi Sumarmo Airport in Surakarta, Central Java, on Monday, died due to improper handling. ( Nugroho Adi)

Farid said hundreds of birds confiscated were sent by Joko Perdana in Medan to a recipient identified only as Harno in Surakarta. The confiscation began from the customs officers’ suspicions over the large case, he went on.

“The case was very large, where it was unlikely that it only contained 87 birds. Therefore, the officers opened the case, witnessed by the recipient,” said Farid. He said 193 out of the 332 birds died due to improper handling while several of the remaining 139 birds were wounded.

Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA) Surakarta official Joko Triono said those birds were not categorized as protected species but their handling and delivery process had violated existing rules. (ebf)

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