Best of our wild blogs: 11 Jun 16

Mass coral bleaching on Pulau Jong
wild shores of singapore

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Indonesia peatland agency accuses Asia Pulp & Paper of lying

The pulp and paper giant says that it submitted required data to the Environment and Forestry Ministry on May 11, but Indonesia's Peatland Restoration Agency says it has "undeniable evidence that the chronology... constitutes a public lie".
Saifulbahri Ismail Channel NewsAsia 10 Jun 16;

JAKARTA: Indonesia’s Peatland Restoration Agency (BRG) has accused Asia Pulp and Paper (APP), the company blacklisted for its alleged role in fires that caused last year's haze, for lying when it said that it did submit the necessary data required as part of the agency’s restoration efforts.

The pulp and paper giant had said that it had submitted the relevant data to the Environment and Forestry Ministry on May 11.

However, the agency’s chief Nazir Foead said this was untrue.

“We have undeniable evidence that the chronology provided by APP in its public statement constitutes a public lie,” Mr Nazir told, a Jakarta based environment news portal on Wednesday (Jun 8).

When asked to comment on BRG's words, APP’s Vice-President of Corporate Affairs Jose Raymond said: “APP will support all initiatives to protect forests and peatlands in Indonesia.”

BRG was established earlier this year by President Joko Widodo to restore millions of hectares of peatland damaged by many years of forest fires.

It is preparing a map to identify priority restoration areas that will enable stakeholders to start working together in restoring land under their control.

A detailed map including concession maps from companies will avoid problems in the future as these maps often overlap with other types of land, such as those owned by the community.

Major retailers in Singapore removed APP paper products from their shelves last year, after the Singapore Environment Council (SEC) and the Consumers Association of Singapore asked retailers to declare they have not procured or used wood, paper and/or pulp materials from the companies accused of causing fires in Indonesia.

- CNA/dt

APP guilty of a bald-faced lie, says Indonesian peatland authority
BRG chief claims that the company’s timeline of events on peatland mapping data is false
Today Online 11 Jun 16;

JAKARTA — Indonesia’s Peatland Restoration Agency (BRG) has once again hit out at Asia Pulp and Paper (APP), whose products were pulled off supermarket shelves in Singapore last year over alleged links to firms responsible for the forest fires causing the transboundary haze, noting that the company had lied to the public by releasing a false chronology of events over its submission of peatland mapping data to the authorities.

“We have undeniable evidence that the chronology provided by APP in its public statement constitutes a public lie,” said BRG chief Nazir Foead to Jakarta-based environment news portal on Wednesday, referring to a public statement issued by the company on the same day declaring that it has submitted relevant mapping data to the Environment and Forestry Ministry after being rapped by BRG for being uncooperative.

APP’s version of the chronology, he added, was inconsistent with the evidence-based chronology shown to him by Mr Karliansyah (who goes by one name), the director-general for Environmental Pollution and Damage Control at the ministry.

“This clearly demonstrates that APP told a bald-faced lie in its public statement,” he said.

He further denounced the APP statement as showing a lack of respect towards certain government agencies. He revealed that the APP had suggested it may be better to submit the data only to the ministry, so that any data related to its concessions could be delivered through just one gateway. This is not in line with a presidential regulation stating that BRG is the coordination agency for all peat restoration activities.

“APP has developed a chronology that serves its own interests. They have chosen to conceal the actual chronology. It’s not only the public that they’ve lied to in their public statement, but also government agencies,” said Mr Foead.

But BRG did not specify how APP’s version of the chronology of events had deviated from government records.

When asked by TODAY for the reasons regarding the inconsistency of events, APP (Singapore) vice-president for corporate affairs Jose Raymond would only say yesterday that: “APP will support all initiatives to protect forests and peatlands in Indonesia.”

Transboundary haze caused by widespread fires in Indonesia blanketed the region from September to November last year and affected tens of millions of people.

Last year, Singapore’s National Environment Agency sent notices to six companies directing them to put out fires allegedly contributing to the haze. APP was not served a notice, but was asked to provide further information on what it is doing to put out fires on its land concessions.

Major retailers in Singapore removed APP paper products from their shelves last year, after the Singapore Environment Council and the Consumers Association of Singapore asked retailers to declare they have not procured or used wood, paper and/or pulp materials from the companies accused of causing fires in Indonesia.

According to a report by the Jakarta Post on Wednesday, APP sustainability and stakeholder management senior manager Trisia Megawati said the company had mapped its concession using light detection and ranging (Lidar) technology, and submitted the map to the ministry on May 11.

After that, the company had presented the map in front of the ministry’s Environmental Pollution and Damage Control director-general, the Geospatial Information Agency (BIG) and the BRG.

However, Ms Megawati refused to comment on why the company refused to submit its map to BRG and instead submitted it to the ministry.

In APP’s statement released on Wednesday, it claimed to be the only company operating in Indonesia that has undertaken comprehensive mapping of peatlands using Lidar.

“The Lidar data analysis was finalised in April 2016. The results have had a significant impact in promoting understanding of how to manage peatlands more responsibly,” said APP’s statement.

Following the data submission, Mr Karliansyah, the director-general, invited APP to a meeting on May 23 to present the technical details of the Lidar peatland maps.

Representatives from BIG and BRG were also invited to participate in the meeting. During the meeting, it was agreed BRG should coordinate with the director-general in accessing the data submitted by APP, added the company’s statement.


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Indonesia: Forest and land fires detected in Jambi

Jakarta Post 10 Jun 16;

The Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG), using the Terra and Aqua satellites, has detected five hot spots scattered across four regencies in the province of Jambi, Sumatra.

The hot spots, which are either forest fires or land-clearing fires, were located in the regencies of Batanghari, Sarolangun, Tanjungjabung Barat and Tebo.

Jambi’s BMKG head Nurangesti said the hot spot in the Batanghari regency was located in the Sengkati Baru village in Mersam district while the hotspot in the Sarolangun regency was in Pemuncak village, Limun district.

The hot spot in Tanjungjabung Barat was, meanwhile, in Kelagian village, Tungkal Ulu district, while two hotspots in Tebo regency were in Napal Putih and Pemayongan villages.

The local police will follow up on the findings by deploying officers to those places to investigate. An earlier investigation into the site of a hot spot in the Merangin regency showed there was a fire that had been started by the burning of bushes by local people who were clearing land.

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Indonesia: High waves hit Cilacap coast

Jakarta Post 10 Jun 16;

High tidal waves in the waters off Cilacap, a regency on the south coast of Central Java, have inundated houses and prevented local fishermen from going to sea to catch fish.

“The tides were very high. It was frightening. Residents went out to higher ground fearing a tsunami,” resident Rasiono said Thursday.

At least 300 houses belonging to fishermen in Tegalkamulyan village, South Cilacap district, were flooded. The waves also damaged fish ponds on the coast.

The Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) said the waves on Wednesday night and Thursday reached 4 to 6 meters in height.

“We issued a warning, telling local people that the condition was not safe for sailing,” Teguh Wardoyo of the BMKG said.

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Indonesia: Hopes for endangered animals revive as 25 born in one year

Hans Nicholas Jong The Jakarta Post 10 Jun 16;

The government’s effort to save species from extinction has received a boost after 25 females of endangered fauna species gave birth in Indonesia in one year, raising hopes for their future survival. The 25 protected animals were born in seven conservation institutions.

At the Indonesia Safari Park in Cisarua, Bogor, West Java for instance, one anoa, one Sumatran elephant, one Javan leopard, one pig-deer, two giraffes and three Sumatran tigers were born. Meanwhile, a Sumatran tiger gave birth to two male cubs at the Kinantan Cultural and Wildlife Park (TMBK) in Bukittinggi, West Sumatra. Two infant clouded leopards were also born in the park.

Furthermore, seven Javan rhinos, the world’s rarest rhinoceros, were born in Ujung Kulon park, the largest number of Javan rhinos born in a single year in the country.

The birth of seven Javan rhino calves is remarkable seeing how the government only aimed for a 5 percent increase in the endangered animal’s population in its five-year National Mid-Term Development Plan (RPJMN).

“If there are already seven Javan rhino calves born, we have achieved the five-year target already because there were only 57 Javan rhinos in Indonesia,” Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar said on the sidelines of an event commemorating World Environment Day at the Jakarta Convention Center on Thursday.

The government has set such an unambitious target because it realizes that breeding and protecting endangered animals is not easy.

Poaching and human encroachment have led to a dramatic population decline of endangered animals. For instance, Javan rhinos are solitary animals and it is hard for them to meet and mate.

Another critically endangered rhino species, the Sumatran rhinoceros, is also facing extinction with a population of less than 100.

“Actually, the more worrying one is the Sumatran rhino. In the past, they were spread from Myanmar to the Philippines, but they’re all gone now. There are only three Sumatran rhinos in Malaysia, which are infertile because they have ovarian cancer. The rest are in Indonesia,” said Tachrir Fathoni, the director general of natural resources and ecosystem conservation at the Environment and Forestry Ministry.

While Sumatran rhinos are facing extinction, the government estimates that there could be as many as 25 of them living in Kalimantan, four decades after scientists believed that they had become extinct there.

Recent monitoring efforts carried out by World Wildlife Fund Indonesia and the local administration have detected at least 15 more Sumatran rhinos in West Kutai forest.

The sightings prompted conservationists and the West Kutai regency administration to establish a rhinoceros sanctuary on a 200-hectare plot of land in the Kelian Lestari protected forest, a former gold mining concession area of PT Kelian Equatorial Mining (KEM).

The new sanctuary is much larger than the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary (SRS) in the Way Kambas National Park in Lampung, where one Sumatran rhino was born last year.

The establishment of sanctuaries is believed to be a crucial part of saving endangered rhinos as they provide habitat for them and reduce the chances of animal-human conflicts.

The birth of the seven Javan rhino calves, for instance, is attributed to the establishment of a sanctuary within the Ujung Kulon park that encompasses 5,100 hectares of lush rainforest and freshwater streams.

Based on its success, the government plans to make another sanctuary for Javan rhinos in the Cikepuh sanctuary in Sukabumi, West Java.

“We are worried if Javan rhinos are concentrated in one area, as all of them would die if there’s an outbreak of disease. We have to look for a second habitat and have found that Cikepuh looks promising because food is abundant and the environment is suitable,” Tachrir said.

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Paris floods made almost twice as likely by climate change, say scientists

Manmade global warming greatly increased the risk of extreme rain affecting the French capital, analysis shows
Adam Vaughan The Guardian 10 Jun 16;

The Paris floods, that saw extreme rainfall swell the river Seine to its highest level in decades, were made almost twice as likely because of the manmade emissions driving global warming, scientists have found.

A three-day period of heavy rain at the end of May saw tens of thousands of people evacuated across France, and the capital’s normally busy river closed to traffic because the water levels were so high under bridges. As artworks in the Louvre were moved to safety and Paris’s cobbled walkways were submerged, the French president, Fran├žois Hollande, blamed the floods on climate change.

Now a preliminary analysis by a group of scientists, including the Dutch weather agency and the University of Oxford, has concluded the risk of the flooding event in Paris was almost doubled – multiplied by a factor of 1.8 – by humanity’s influence on the climate.

“Hollande was right to say climate change is playing a role but at the same time it’s important to say that this event could’ve happened without climate change,” said Prof Myles Allen, a climate scientist at the University of Oxford.

“But it means what was a 1 in 200 year event is more like a 1 in 100-something year event. Is that a big change? In terms of weather events, that’s not nearly as big an increase in risk as we’ve seen in heatwave events, where we often come up with a factor of 10. But for precipitation this is kind of what we’re seeing.”

The climate science community is speeding up its efforts to draw the links – the attribution – between extreme weather events and climate change, while such events are fresh in the public and politician’s minds. Previous quick turnaround research has shown flooding in England and heatwaves in Europe were made more likely because of global warming.

“The crucial thing is decisions... they get made in the aftermath of these events, when minds are focused on the impacts,” said Allen. “Getting this information out while people are still thinking about the event is useful. Also, it guards against the risk of over-attribution [overegging climate change’s role in an extreme weather event].”

Richard Black, director of the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, an environmental thinktank, said: “The ability to analyse scientifically whether man-made climate change has played a role in specific extreme weather events is advancing at a startling pace. Until very recently, scientists weren’t able to make this sort of judgement, but that’s changing fast.”

The analysis by the World Weather Attribution project published this week used a variety of approaches to look at how much the risk of the rainfall on 29-31 May had been increased by global warming, including statistical analysis of the historical temperature model, trends in climate models and “the results of thousands of simulations of possible weather with a regional climate model”.

All the approaches agreed climate change had made the heavy rains in the Seine and Loire river basins more likely. However, the link between global warming and rainfall in Germany at the same time, which saw intense thunder storms, proved inconclusive.

While the work has not yet been peer-reviewed it is based on peer-reviewed methods, and Allen said it would be submitted in a week to a journal for peer review and publication, as similar past research has been by the group.

Almost all previous floods on the Seine and Loire have occurred during winter, the researchers said, making the summer timing very unusual. The rains saw the Seine peak at 6.1 metres above its normal height on 3 June, a 34-year high. Its record peak was in 1910, when an eight-metre rise caused the catastrophic ‘Great Flood of Paris’.

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