Indonesia Cave Reveals Historic Tsunamis

Tsunamis Nothing New To Indonesia

A cave discovered near the source of Indonesia’s massive earthquake-spawned tsunami contains the footprints of past gigantic waves dating up to 7,500 years ago, a rare natural record that suggests the next disaster could be centuries away — or perhaps only decades.

The findings provide the longest and most detailed timeline for tsunamis that have occurred off the far western tip of Sumatra island in Aceh province. That’s where 30-metre waves triggered by a magnitude-9.1 earthquake on Dec. 26, 2004, killed 230,000 people in several countries, more than half of them in Indonesia.

surf Sumatra

The limestone cave, located within a couple meters of the coast near Banda Aceh, is about one meter above knee-high tide and protected from storms and wind. Only huge waves that inundate the coastal area are able to gush inside.

Researchers in 2011 uncovered seabed sand deposits that were swept into the cave over thousands of years and neatly layered between bat droppings like a geological cake. Radiocarbon analysis of materials, including clamshells and the remains of microscopic organisms, provided evidence of 11 tsunamis before 2004.

The disasters were by no means evenly spaced, said lead researcher Charles Rubin from the Earth Observatory of Singapore. The last one occurred about 2,800 years ago, but there were four others in the preceding 500 years.

Indonesia tourism

And it’s possible there were others. Researchers know, for instance, that there were two mammoth earthquakes in the region around 1393 and 1450. Rubin said a big tsunami could have carried away evidence of other events through erosion. The scientists are still working to determine the size of the waves that entered the cave.

“The take-home message is perhaps that the 2004 event doesn’t mean it won’t happen for another 500 years,” said Rubin, who added that the cave was discovered by chance and not part of planned field work. “We did see them clustered together closer in time. I wouldn’t put out a warning that we’re going to have an earthquake, but it shows that the timing is really variable.”

Sulawesi sunset

The quake that triggered the 2004 tsunami surprised scientists because the fault that unleashed the megathrust temblor had been quiet for hundreds of years. And since the last big earthquake had struck more than 500 years earlier, there was no surviving oral history that could have helped people understand the risk.

Since 2004, much research has been done to try to learn about the area’s past by examining sand deposits, uplifted coral and GPS data.

“The findings are very significant,” Katrin Monecke, a geosciences professor at Wellesley College in Massachusetts wrote in an email. She worked on tsunami sand deposits discovered in marshes in the area, but was not involved with the cave research, which was presented this month at an American Geophysical Union conference in San Francisco. “The sand sheets in the cave cover a very long time span and give an excellent idea about earthquake frequency.”

Despite the long record preserved in the cave, Rubin said it did not provide any clear clues about tsunami frequency or when events might happen in a relatively close period of time.

Indonesia beaches

Geologist Kerry Sieh, director of the Singapore group and also part of the cave investigation, has predicted that another monster quake could rock the area in the next few decades. They tend to come in cycles and the 2004 temblor heaped more pressure on the fault. However, the history is so variable, it’s impossible to make an exact forecast.

“By learning about the type of tsunamis that happened in the past, maybe we can do planning for mitigation for the next tsunami,” said Nazli Ismail, head of the physics and geophysics department at Syiah Kuala University in Banda Aceh who worked on the project.

Indonesia is an archipelago located on the so-called “Ring of Fire,” a horseshoe of fault lines and volcanoes surrounding the Pacific Basin. It is home to some of the world’s biggest and deadliest seismic activity.

Read more: http://www.ctvnews.ca/sci-tech/indonesia-cave-reveals-tsunamis-dating-back-7-500-years-at-2004-site-1.1606582#ixzz2oaq3zzBr

Indonesia tourism marketing and public relations firm

Crossbow Communications specializes in international marketing, issue management and public affairs. Indonesia is one of our regions of expertise. Our President and founder is the author of the Language and Travel Guide to Indonesia. Please contact Gary Chandler at gary@crossbow1.com. Visit Indonesia.

Language and Travel Guide To Indonesia

Orangutans Fighting For Survival

Palm Oil Plantations Destroying Indonesia’s Biodiversity

Even in the first light of dawn in the Tripa swamp forest of Sumatra it is clear that something is terribly wrong. Where there should be lush foliage stretching away towards the horizon, there are only the skeletons of trees. Smoke drifts across a scene of devastation.

Orangutan conservation Borneo

Tripa is part of the Leuser Ecosystem, one of the world’s most ecologically important rainforests and once home to its densest population of Sumatran orangutans.

As recently as 1990, there were 60,000 hectares of swamp forest in Tripa: now just 10,000 remain, the rest grubbed up to make way for palm oil plantations servicing the needs of some of the world’s biggest brands. Over the same period, the population of 2,000 orangutans has dwindled to just 200.

In the face of international protests, Indonesia banned any fresh felling of forests two years ago, but battles continue in the courts over existing plantation concessions. Here, on the edge of one of the remaining stands of forest, it is clear that the destruction is continuing. Deep trenches have been driven through the peat, draining away the water, killing the trees, which have been burnt and bulldozed. The smell of wood smoke is everywhere. But of the orangutans who once lived here, there is not a trace.

orangutan and tiger habitat Sumatra

This is the tough physical landscape in which environmental campaigners fighting to save the last of the orangutans are taking on the plantation companies, trying to keep track of what is happening on the ground so that they can intervene to rescue apes stranded by the destruction.

But physically entering the plantations is dangerous and often impractical; where the water has not been drained away, the ground is a swamp, inhabited by crocodiles. Where canals have been cut to drain away the water, the dried peat is thick and crumbly and it is easy to sink up to the knees. Walking even short distances away from the roads is physically draining and the network of wide canals has to be bridged with logs. The plantations do not welcome visitors and the Observer had to evade security guards to gain entrance.

Indonesia orangutan conservation

To overcome these problems, campaigners have turned to a technology that has become controversial for its military usage but that in this case could help to save the orangutans and their forest: drones.

Graham Usher, from the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme, produces a large flight case and starts to unpack his prized possession, a polystyrene Raptor aircraft with a two-metre wingspan and cameras facing forward and down.

The £2,000 drone can fly for more than half an hour over a range of 30-40km, controlled by a computer, recording the extent of the destruction of the forest.

“The main use of it is to get real time data on forest loss and confirm what’s going on with fires,” he says.

Sumatra tiger conservation

They can also use the drone to track animals that have been fitted with radio collars. Graham opens his computer and clicks on a video. Immediately, the screen fills with an aerial view of forest, then a cleared patch of land and then new plantation as the drone passes overhead. “We are getting very powerful images of what is going on in the field,” he says.

The footage is helping them to establish where new burning is taking place and which plantations are potentially breaking the law. Areas of forest where the peat is deeper than three metres should be protected – the peat is a carbon trap – but in practice many plantations do not measure the depth.

“They shouldn’t be developing it but the power of commerce and capital subverts all legislation in this country. There is no law enforcement or rule of law,” says Usher.

The battle to save the orangutans is not helped by the readiness of multinational corporations to use palm oil from unverified sources. Hundreds of products on UK supermarket shelves are made with palm oil or its derivatives sourced from plantations on land that was once home to Sumatran orangutans.

Indonesia forest conservation

Environmental campaigners say that the complex nature of the palm oil supply chain makes it uniquely difficult for companies to ensure that the oil they use has been produced ethically and sustainably.

“One of the big issues is that we simply don’t know where the palm oil used in products on UK supermarket shelves comes from. It may well be that it came from Tripa,” says Usher.

In October, the Rainforest Foundation UK singled out Superdrug and Procter and Gamble (particularly its Head and Shoulders, Pantene and Herbal Essences hair products) for criticism over the use of unsustainable palm oil. A traffic light system produced using the companies’ responses to questions from the Ethical Consumer group also placed Imperial Leather, Original Source and Estée Lauder hair products in the red-light category.

A separate report by Greenpeace, also issued in October into Sumatran palm oil production, accused Procter and Gamble and Mondelez International (formerly Kraft) of using “dirty” palm oil. The group called on the brands to recognize the environmental cost of “irresponsible palm oil production”. According to the Rainforest Foundation’s executive director, Simon Counsell, part of the problem is that even companies that do sign up to ethical schemes, such as the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, cannot be certain that all the oil they receive is ethically produced because of the way oil from different plantations is mixed at processing plants.

Sumatra tiger conservation

“The smaller companies sell to bigger companies and it all gets mixed. Even those companies making some effort cannot be certain that what they are getting is what they have paid for,” he said.

Driving out of Tripa, the whole area appears to have been given over to palm oil plantations; some long-established, 20-25 foot tall trees in regimented rows, others recently planted. Every now and again there is a digger, driving a new road into what little forest remains, the first stage of the process that will end with the forest burned and gone and replaced with young oil palms.

There is a steady flow of lorries loaded with palm fruits, heading for the processing plant not far from the town of Meulaboh. From there, tankers take the oil to the city of Medan for shipping onwards.

It is outside Medan that the orangutan victims of clearances are taken to recover, at the SOCP’s quarantine centre. These are the animals rescued from isolated stands of forest or from captivity. Those that can be will eventually be released back into another part of the island.

Anto, a local orangutan expert, says the spread of the plantations is fragmenting the remaining forest and isolating the orangutans.

“Then people are poaching the orangutans because it is easy to catch them,” he says. “People isolate them in a tree and then they cut the tree or they make the orangutan so afraid that it climbs down and is caught. After that they can kill it and sometimes eat it. Or they can trade it.”

This is what happened to Gokong Puntung and his mother. The one-year-old ape – now recovering with the help of SOCP – was rescued from Sidojadi village in February. He had been captured a month earlier in the Tripa forest.

A group of fishermen spotted Gokong Puntung and his mother trapped in a single tree and unable to reach the rest of the forest without coming down. The men apparently decided to try to grab the baby in the hope of selling it. One climbed the tree, forcing the mother to fall to the ground, where another man set about her and beat her with a length of timber. In the confusion, mother and baby became separated and the fishermen were able to get away. They sold the animal for less than £6 to a plantation worker.

“We got information from people who heard an orangutan crying in one house,” says SOCP vet Yenny Saraswati. “They went in the house and found the baby orangutan in a chicken cage. The owner said he had bought it from people who had taken it from the plantation.”

It was a very unusual case: more often, the mother is killed.

“They are very good mothers – better than humans,” she says. “A lot of human mothers don’t care for their babies, but I have never seen an orangutan leave its baby. They always hug them and don’t let them cry.”

That’s why poachers tend to kill the mothers, says Anto. “They hit it with sticks. One person uses a forked stick to hold its head and the others hit it and beat it to death. But the young orangutans they sell.”

The effect on Tripa’s orangutans has been disastrous. Cut off from the population on the rest of the island, they teeter on the brink of viability; experts say they really need a population of about 250 to survive long term and, because orangutans produce offspring only once every six or seven years, it takes a long time to replenish a depleted population.

Those that remain in the forest face other dangers. Some die when the forest is burned, others starve to death as their food supply is destroyed.

If the orangutans did not already have it tough, there may yet be worse to come: gold has been found in Aceh’s remaining forests and mining is starting.

“If there is no government effort to protect the remaining area, we will never know the orangutans here again,” says Anto.

“If this continues they will be gone within 10 years.”

In response to the criticism over its use of unsustainable palm oil, Superdrug said it “is aware of the complex issues surrounding palm oil and its derivatives, which are currently used in some of its own-brand products, and is committed to working with its suppliers to use sustainable alternatives when they become widely available.”

Estée Lauder Companies, which makes Aveda hair products, said: “We share the concern about the potential environmental effects of palm oil plantations, including deforestation and the destruction of biodiversity and habitats.”

The statement said that its palm oil (made from the pulped fruit) came from sustainable sources. But the company said the majority of its brands used palm kernel oil (from the crushed palm fruit kernels) and that it was working to develop sustainable supplies.

“We are committed to acting responsibly and will continue to work with our suppliers to find the best ways to encourage and support the development of sustainable palm kernel oil sources.”

PZ Cussons, which makes Original Source and Imperial Leather products, along with the Sanctuary SPA range, said it was committed to using raw materials from sustainable and environmentally friendly sources wherever possible.

The company said it had “embarked on a sustainability journey” and was working with other producers to gain a better understanding of the supply chain and “to promote the growth and use of sustainable oil palm products”. Mondelez International (formerly Kraft) said it wanted to eliminate unethical plantations from its supply chain by 2020.

“We fully share concerns about the environmental impacts of palm oil production, including deforestation. As a final buyer, engaging our supply chain is the most meaningful action we can take to ensure palm oil is grown sustainably,” said a spokesman.

“Palm oil should be produced on legally held land, protecting tropical forests and peat land, respecting human rights, including land rights, and without forced or child labour.

“We expect palm oil suppliers to provide us transparency on the proportion of their supplies traceable to plantations meeting these principles by the end of 2013 and to eliminate supplies that do not meet these criteria by 2020.”

Procter & Gamble, which makes Head and Shoulders, Herbal Essences and Pantene products, said it was “strongly opposed to irresponsible deforestation practices and our position on the sustainable sourcing of palm oil is consistent with our corporate sustainability principles and guidelines.

“We are committed to the sustainable sourcing of palm oil and have set a public target that, by 2015, we will only purchase palm oil from sources where sustainable and responsible production has been confirmed.”

Orangutans are facing extinction as their habitats are becoming fragmented and agricultural production expands.

Populations of orangutans have been broken up into groups and this is causing a problem for the survival of the species.

The WWF estimates that a century ago there were more than 230,000 orangutans living in the wild, now they think there are only 41,000 in Borneo and 7,500 in Sumatra. Others put the figures at 54,000 in Borneo and 6,600 in Sumatra.

Some conservationists predict that orangutans could disappear in as little as 20 to 30 years, others think it could happen in a few hundred years.

Orangutans share 96.4% of their genes with humans.

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/dec/15/orangutans-fight-for-survival

Indonesia tourism marketing and public relations firm

Crossbow Communications specializes in international marketing, issue management and public affairs. Indonesia is one of our regions of expertise. Our President and founder is the author of the Language and Travel Guide to Indonesia. Please contact Gary Chandler at gary@crossbow1.com. Visit Indonesia.

Language and Travel Guide To Indonesia

Sumatra On High Alert Over Volcano Activity

Indonesia Has Most Active Volcanoes

The alert status for one of Indonesia’s most active volcanoes has been raised to the highest level after it repeatedly sent hot clouds of gas down its slope following a series of eruptions.

Mount Sinabung in North Sumatra province unleashed fresh volcanic ash and gravel as high as 5000 meters and searing gas down its slope up to 2km, said a government volcanologist, Surono, who like many Indonesians uses one name.

Mt. Bromo Java Indonesia

The 2600-meter-high mountain has sporadically erupted since September after being dormant for three years.

“We are in a situation of high alert due to the danger of searing gas,” Surono said, adding that authorities had urged people to stay at least 5km away from the crater.

About 12,300 evacuees from eight villages around the mountain were packed on Sunday in crowded government camps away from the fiery crater, while more than 6000 others fled earlier to temporary shelters in 16 safe locations, said National Disaster Mitigation spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho.

Flores Indonesia

Transportation Ministry spokesman Bambang Ervan said airlines had been notified to avoid routes near the volcano.

The volcano’s last eruption, in August 2010, killed two people and forced 30,000 others to flee. It caught many scientists off guard because it had been quiet for four centuries.

Mount Sinabung is among around 129 active volcanoes in Indonesia, which is prone to seismic upheaval due to its location on the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” an arc of volcanoes and fault lines encircling the Pacific Basin.

Mt. Merapi Java Indonesia

Source: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/latest-news/indonesia-raises-volcano-alert-level/story-fn3dxix6-1226767459979#sthash.Z1kayvM2.dpuf

Indonesia tourism marketing and public relations firm

Crossbow Communications specializes in international marketing, issue management and public affairs. Indonesia is one of our regions of expertise. Our President and founder is the author of the Language and Travel Guide to Indonesia. Please contact Gary Chandler at gary@crossbow1.com. Visit Indonesia.

Language and Travel Guide To Indonesia

Volcanic Eruption Prompts Evacuation Of Sumatra Villages

Sumatra Has Many Active Volcanoes

Indonesian authorities evacuated people at four villages within 3 kilometers of Mount Sinabung, in North Sumatra, after the volcano erupted, according to the National Disaster Management Agency.

Mt. Bromo Java Indonesia

The government raised the status to stand by, the second-highest level, last night after the mountain spewed ash as high as 7,000 meters and the number of volcanic quakes increased, Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesman at the disaster agency said by phone. He didn’t provide the number of people evacuated.

Mount Sinabung is located about 40 miles southwest of Medan, the provincial capital of North Sumatra. About 13,000 people were evacuated when the volcano erupted in September.

Indonesia tourism marketing and public relations firm

Source: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-11-03/sumatra-volcano-eruption-prompts-indonesia-to-evacuate-villages.html

Crossbow Communications specializes in international marketing, issue management and public affairs. Indonesia is one of our regions of expertise. Our President and founder is the author of the Language and Travel Guide to Indonesia. Please contact Gary Chandler at gary@crossbow1.com. Visit Indonesia.

Language and Travel Guide To Indonesia

Travel Book Benefits Indonesia’s Wildlife

Language and Travel Guide Defending Endangered Species

Indonesia straddles the Asian and Australian continental plates which generates abundant diversity among plant and animal life. This location also creates a stunning contrast of topographies and ecologies from east to west. You will find mist-shrouded volcanoes, glacier-topped mountains, unexplored rain forests, thousands of miles of beaches and endless coral reefs. This diverse land also supports an abundance of wildlife, which makes Indonesia a rewarding destination for photographers.

Indonesia orangutan conservation

Indonesia has just one percent of the world’s land area, but this country is home to more than 10 percent of all mammal species and 17 percent of all birds. Indonesia has more known mammal species than any other country in the world. It also has more endangered mammals than any other country, including the endangered orangutan, Javan rhinoceros, Komodo dragon, Sumatran tiger, and Sumatran elephant.

Sumatra tiger conservation

Indonesia is home to leopards, king cobras, hornbills, proboscis monkeys, sun bears, wild boars, and hundreds of other rare and fascinating creatures. Scientists are still discovering several new species each year, especially on Borneo and in the highlands of Papua.

The large mammals of western Indonesia arrived from the north when the islands were covered with dense jungle. They remain only where lowland forest is still intact. The greatest threat to their existence, other than poaching, is the clearing of forest for agriculture and intensive logging. 

orangutan and tiger habitat Sumatra

Most visitors to Indonesia hope to see the Sumatran tiger. However, this beautiful animal rarely shows itself. Unfortunately, human development has already pushed two other tiger species in Indonesia into extinction. The Javan tiger was declared extinct in 1994 and the Balinese tiger was last seen several decades before that. Fewer than 300 Sumatran tigers are left in the wild and the number is dropping steadily.

Indonesia forest conservation

If habitat destruction and poaching across Asia are not stopped, wild tigers have just a few years to survive. Tiger bones and body parts are sold on the black market for use in traditional Chinese medicines. This demand alone is putting tremendous pressure on these beautiful animals. The conversion of pristine forest into pam oil plantations and timber estates is taking critical habitat away from all forms of biodiversity.

Way Kambas Sumatran elephants

Meanwhile, the forests where they live are being destroyed for timber, mining, and farming. Each animal needs up to 20 square miles to survive and forests are a vanishing resource in many regions.

Language and Travel Guide To Indonesia

Did you know that Sumatra is the only place in the world where you can find elephants, rhinos and tigers sharing similar habitat? Do you know that there are only about 300 tigers left on Sumatra? The tiger was exterminated from Bali and Java.

Gary R. Chandler

The author of this great travel resource is a defender of wildlife. All profits benefit wildlife conservation programs across Indonesia, including orangutans, tigers, Asian elephants and more. Please order your copy today and visit these endangered species tomorrow.

Order it from Amazon

Indonesia tourism marketing and public relations firm

Crossbow Communications specializes in international marketing, issue management and public affairs. Indonesia is one of our regions of expertise. Our President and founder is the author of the Language and Travel Guide to Indonesia. Please contact Gary Chandler at gary@crossbow1.com. Visit Indonesia.

Can Ecotourism Save The Orangutan & Sumatran Tiger

Indonesia’s Endangered Species

‘We were in Indonesia‘s rainforest for fifteen hours and spent eleven of those waist-deep in a swamp looking at orangutans’. Trekking through the swamps and rainforests of Kalimantan may not be everyone’s idea of a fun and relaxing holiday, but to an increasing number of ecotourists there is no better way to spend a couple of weeks.

After speaking with a group of ecotourists, recently returned from Tanjung Puting National Park in Central Kalimantan, their motivations for going became clear. They went in search of adventure, excitement and, most of all, orangutans. Daily treks through Tanjung Puting, in search of wild orangutans, and active involvement in data collection and habitat surveys, turned the ecotourists into willing volunteers.

Indonesia orangutan conservation

Babies

The treks were long and arduous, but the group remained determined. Some did not even get to see any wild orangutans, yet still they trekked for hours in search of them. Others saw many. Margaret, an ecotourist from Western Australia, said that her group found one orangutan with an infant within an hour of going into the jungle. ‘We were very lucky. We stood for four hours under two trees, watching them eating the fruit. It was great to see. We also took very detailed notes on the habitat and the orangutan’, she said.

The group also came into close contact with the rehabilitant orangutans at the Ministry of Forestry’s (MoF) feeding station. Although not officially permitted, holding the rehabilitant orangutans was the highlight of the trip for most of the ecotourists.

Australian ecotourist Terry likened the experience to nursing a human child. ‘We ended up carrying the babies around. They just run up and hug you and want to be carried’, he said. For Judith the experience was more profound: ‘I cried when I got to hold them. To me it was such an honour to accomplish one of my goals.’

Birutie Galdikas Camp Leakey Indonesia

Lesson

Canadian anthropologist Dr Birute Galdikas oversees the non-government Tanjung Puting tours. For her, ecotourism is not just about cuddling baby orangutans. She ensures there is a strong emphasis on raising awareness about the plight of the critically endangered orangutan. She does this by involving the ecotourists in the collection of data, and by arranging lectures and trips to see local Dayak villages and areas of deforestation. This last is a sobering lesson.

 

The deforestation they saw astounded all the ecotourists. ‘Oh, the destruction! We went up to the gold mine, just outside Tanjung Puting, and that was so important to see because there was so much destruction there’, said Australian ecotourist, Ros. ‘The river, the logging, the records we kept, all those things were reinforcing all the time about the habitat destruction and the invasion of western civilisation’.

Others began to see the futility of efforts to save the orangutan if their habitat was continuing to be destroyed. ‘People are working to rehabilitate them, but the government and companies are chopping the trees down’, said Gordon, another ecotourist from Western Australia. Gordon was involved in an orangutan rescue during his stay at Tanjung Puting. ‘It’s illegal to log in the forest where we were, but you see the rafts full of logs every day. Yes, they all want to save the orangutan’, Gordon went on, ‘but even as we left in January the papers were saying Indonesia is going to increase its export of timber to help its balance of payments. We went two thirds of the way across Kalimantan to save four orangutans and put them back into Camp Leakey. But at the other end they are chopping the trees down’.

Pay for itself

Ecotourists’ desire to see orangutans in the wild have not been lost on the Indonesian government. Nor has the possibility that ecotourism offers as a conservation tool that, theoretically at least, pays for itself. Andi Mappisammeng, Director General of Tourism, says: ‘Ecotourism can be a great ally of conservation efforts. It can encourage love of nature as more people seek solitude with nature. It can also provide a self-financing mechanism for the conservation of the natural heritage through proper management and ecological control.’

TOPSHOTS-INDONESIA-ENVIRONMENT-CONSERVATION-SPECIES-ORANGUTAN

Echoing such sentiments, the government has resolved to establish more orangutan ecotourism centres in Kalimantan. At present, Tanjung Puting is the only orangutan centre open to ecotourism. But there are plans for ecotourism centres at Sungai Wain and at Kutai National Park in East Kalimantan.

The dilemma for ecotourism planners in Indonesia, as anywhere, is to ensure that they achieve a balance of economic, social and ecological control. To date, however, a lack of political will and commitment to achieving genuine sustainable development has flawed the government’s conservation record.

Priority

Economic and political concerns take priority over ecological ones. How strong really is the government’s desire to establish an enterprise that is truly sustainable? Indonesia’s forests are among the nation’s most valuable resources, second only to oil. Business people both overseas and within Indonesia constantly lobby the government to win the right to exploit them.

Some of the wealthiest people in the country have lucrative shares in logging concessions and timber processing companies. Most are closely connected with President Suharto – his children Siti Hardiyanti, Sigit Harjojudanto and Bambang Trihatmodjo, and other well-connected people such as Bob Hasan, Liem Sioe Liong, Sukanto Tanoto and Prajogo Pangestu.

The vast wealth and power that comes from this industry results in huge rewards offered in return for political favours that see certain companies and/ or individuals granted resource concessions over other bidders.

orangutan and tiger habitat Sumatra

Kalimantan

If we examine the situation of protected areas in Kalimantan we will see how economic and political interests are favoured over conservation values. The total land area of Kalimantan is 536,150 km2. Of this, 20,338 km2 of forest has been set aside for protection. In reality, however, logging and other forms of human encroachment continue to threaten the future of many of Kalimantan’s protected areas.

For example, in South Kalimantan 60% of conservation forests and 35% of protected forests have been grossly deforested. A case in point comes from the Pleihari Wildlife Reserve, which the MoF has converted into production forest for logging. This was the last remaining habitat of the barking deer.

Another example comes from the Bukit Baka/ Bukit Raya National Park. This ecologically rich stretch of rainforest was split down the middle by the logging company Kurina Kapaus Plywood. Then-Minister of Forestry, Hasrul Harahap, granted the logging concession.

Examples can also be found in the proposed and established orangutan ecotourism areas. In and around the 3,040 km2 of Tanjung Puting National Park, mining and logging companies and human settlements have destroyed many forested areas. In fact, although the official Tanjung Puting guidebook states that it remains substantially wild and natural, the Directorate General for Forest Protection and Nature (Phpa) has argued that pressures from transmigrants and oil, gas and gold mines on the park’s border have caused extensive deforestation. In 1989 the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (Iucn) listed Tanjung Puting National Park as a protected region in danger.

Indonesia forest conservation

Kutai

At Kutai National Park the deforestation is just as alarming. Although Kutai is only 200,000 hectares it is regarded as one of the most important parks in the world, particularly in terms of its biodiversity value. Kutai is under extreme pressure, however. Mining and logging interests are literally camped at its doorstep, and local and migrant communities continue to clear vast areas of forest for crops. Approximately 100,000 hectares of the park has already been deforested.

The Sungai Wain nature reserve in East Kalimantan, the 11,000 ha release site for rehabilitated orangutans from the MoF/PHPA Wanariset Reintroduction Centre, has been subject to similar pressures. The oil company Vico has cut many lines through the forest for seismic probes and has cleared a large area for use as a helipad. Communities in the surrounding areas also use the forest regularly for their subsistence needs.

Negotiations are currently in place to have Sungai Wain upgraded to national park status so that orangutan ecotourism may begin. As we have seen, however, national park status will not automatically ensure forest protection.

Enclosure

These examples highlight another major obstacle to the success of sustainable orangutan ecotourism. That is, the use of protected areas by local communities. Obviously, to ensure forest conservation, limits need to be placed upon all forms of human access and use of these areas. However, it is the manner in which governments enforce this forest protection that will ultimately determine the success of conservation efforts.

The traditional solution to ecological protection in Indonesia has been to enclose specified areas, in the hope of limiting human activity. Ironically, if the government were to succeed in adequately protecting the forest in this way, the results would be devastating for human communities dependent upon the forest for their survival.

More often, however, the government is not successful in completely enclosing protected areas. As a result, environmental protection is limited, because disenfranchised groups continue to use forest resources illegally and unsustainably. This has certainly been the case since the enclosure of Tanjung Puting, Sungai Wain and Kutai National Park.

Whether the forest exploitation is to meet subsistence needs or for short-term commercial gains, these illegal uses further deplete the habitat of the orangutan while, in the long term, adding to human poverty as forest resources decline.

Incentives

Incentives for local communities to protect and conserve the environment are vital if the Indonesian government is serious about the promotion of orangutan ecotourism. Genuine socio-economic incentives, control over the direction and size of the ecotourism development and control over the possible impacts would empower local communities making them willing actors rather than reluctant subjects.

Planned correctly, ecotourism can help conserve the orangutan and Sumatra’s tigers. This outcome depends on appropriate levels of management, a supportive political climate and commitment to achieving conservation and social participation at the local level.

Source: http://www.insideindonesia.org/weekly-articles/ecotourism-can-it-save-the-orangutans

Indonesia tourism marketing and public relations firm

Crossbow Communications specializes in international marketing, issue management and public affairs. Indonesia is one of our regions of expertise. Our President and founder is the author of the Language and Travel Guide to Indonesia. Please contact Gary Chandler at gary@crossbow1.com. Visit Indonesia.

Language and Travel Guide To Indonesia

Sumatra’s Endangered Species and Endangered Forests

Indonesia Deforestation Taking Toll On Ecotourism

Ecotourism in Indonesia is a rapidly changing industry. In only a few years, logging and agribusiness have cut Indonesia’s vast rainforest by half. The government has renewed a moratorium on deforestation but it may already be too late for the endangered animals – and for the people whose lives lie in ruin.

Sumatra tiger conservation

Our small plane had been flying low over Sumatra for three hours but all we had seen was an industrial landscape of palm and acacia trees stretching 30 miles in every direction. A haze of blue smoke from newly cleared land drifted eastward over giant plantations. Long drainage canals dug through equatorial swamps dissected the land.

The end is in sight for the great forests of Sumatra and Borneo and the animals and people who depend on them. Thirty years ago the world’s third- and sixth-largest islands were full of tigers, elephants, rhinos, orangutan and exotic birds and plants but in a frenzy of development they have been trashed in a single generation by global agribusiness and pulp and paper industries.

Their plantations supply Britain and the world with toilet paper, biofuels and vegetable oil to make everyday foods such as margarine, cream cheese and chocolate, but distraught scientists and environmental groups this week warn that one of the 21st century’s greatest ecological disasters is rapidly unfolding.

Birutie Galdikas Camp Leakey

Official figures show more than half of Indonesia’s rainforest, the third-largest swath in the world, has been felled in a few years and permission has been granted to convert up to 70% of what remains into palm or acacia plantations. The government last week renewed a moratorium on the felling of rainforest, but nearly a million hectares are still being cut each year and the last pristine areas, in provinces such as Ache and Papua, are now prime targets for giant logging, palm and mining companies.

The toll on wildlife across an area nearly the size of Europe is vast, say scientists who warn that many of Indonesia’s species could be extinct in the wild within 20-30 years. Orangutan numbers are in precipitous decline, only 250-400 tigers remain and fewer than 100 rhino are left in the forests, said the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Indonesia forest conservation

Millions of hectares are nominally protected, but the forest is fragmented, national parks are surrounded by plantations, illegal loggers work with impunity and corruption is rife in government. “This is the fastest, most comprehensive transformation of an entire landscape that has ever taken place anywhere in the world including the Amazon. If it continues at this rate all that will be left in 20 years is a few fragmented areas of natural forest surrounded by huge manmade plantations. There will be increased floods, fires and droughts but no animals,” said Yuyun Indradi, political forest campaigner with Greenpeace south-east Asia in Jakarta.

Last night the WWF’s chief Asian tiger expert pleaded with the Indonesian government and the world to stop the growth of palm oil plantations. “Forest conversion is massive. We urgently need stronger commitment from the government and massive support from the people. We cannot tolerate any further conversion of natural forests,” said Sunarto Sunarto in Jakarta.

Sumatra tiger conservation

Indonesia’s deforestation has been accompanied by rising violence, say watchdog groups. Last year, more than 600 major land conflicts were recorded in the palm plantations. Many turned violent as communities that had lost their traditional forest fought multinational companies and security forces. More than 5,000 human rights abuses were recorded, with 22 deaths and hundreds of injuries.

“The legacy of deforestation has been conflict, increased poverty, migration to the cities and the erosion of habitat for animals. As the forests come down, social conflicts are exploding everywhere,” said Abetnego Tarigan, director of Walhi, Indonesia’s largest environment group.

Scientists fear that the end of the forest could come quickly. Conflict-wracked Aceh, which bore the brunt of the tsunami in 2004, will lose more than half its trees if a new government plan to change the land use is pushed through. A single Canadian mining company is seeking to exploit 1.77m hectares for mining, logging and palm plantations.

Large areas of central Sumatra and Kalimantan are being felled as coal, copper and gold mining companies move in. Millions of hectares of forest in west Papua are expected to be converted to palm plantations.

Dani tribe Papua

“Papuans, some of the poorest citizens in Indonesia, are being utterly exploited in legally questionable oil palm land deals that provide huge financial opportunities for international investors at the expense of the people and forests of West Papua,” said Jago Wadley, a forest campaigner with the Environment Investigation Agency.

Despite a commitment last week from the government to extend a moratorium on deforestation for two years, Indonesia is still cutting down its forests faster than any other country. Loopholes in the law mean the moratorium only covers new licences and primary forests, and excludes key peatland areas and existing concessions which are tiger and elephant habitats. “No one seems able to stop the destruction,” said Greenpeace International’s forest spokesman, Phil Aikman.

The conflicts often arise when companies are granted dubious logging or plantation permissions that overlap with community-managed traditional forests and protected areas such as national parks.

orangutan and tiger habitat Sumatra

Nine villages have been in conflict with the giant paper company April, which has permission to convert, with others, 450,000 hectares of deep peat forests on the Kampar Peninsula in central Sumatra. Because the area contains as much as 1.5bn tonnes of carbon, it has global importance in the fight against climate change.

“We would die for this [forest] if necessary. This is a matter of life and death. The forest is our life. We depend on it when we want to build our houses or boats. We protect it. The permits were handed out illegally, but now we have no option but to work for the companies or hire ourselves out for pitiful wages,” said one village leader from Teluk Meranti who feared to give his name.

They accuse corrupt local officials of illegally grabbing their land. April, which strongly denies involvement in corruption, last week announced plans to work with London-based Flora and Fauna International to restore 20,000 hectares of degraded forest land.

Fifty miles away, near the town of Rengit, villagers watched in horror last year when their community forest was burned down – they suspect by people in the pay of a large palm oil company. “Life is terrible now. We are ruined. We used to get resin, wood, timber, fuel from the forest. Now we have no option but to work for the palm oil company. The company beat us. The fire was deliberate. This forest was everything for us. We used it as our supermarket, building store, chemist shop and fuel supplier for generations of people. Now we must put plastic on our roofs,” said one man from the village of Bayesjaya who also asked not to be named.

Mursyi Ali, from the village of Kuala Cenaku in the province of Riau, has spent 10 years fighting oil plantation companies which were awarded a giant concession. “Maybe 35,000 people have been impacted by their plantations. Everyone is very upset. People have died in protests. I have not accepted defeat yet. These conflicts are going on everywhere. Before the companies came we had a lot of natural resources, like honey, rattan, fish, shrimps and wood,” he said.

“We had all we wanted. That all went when the companies came. Everything that we depended on went. Deforestation has led to pollution and health problems. We are all poorer now. I blame the companies and the government, but most of all the government,” he continued. He pleaded with the company: “Please resolve this problem and give us back the 4,100 hectares of land. We would die for this if necessary. This is a life or death,” he says.

Indonesia orangutan conservation

Greenpeace and other groups accuse the giant pulp and palm companies of trashing tens of thousands of hectares of rainforest a year but the companies respond that they are the forest defenders and without them the ecological devastation would be worse. “There has been a rampant escalation of the denuding of the landscape but it is mostly by migrant labour and palm oil growers. Poverty and illegal logging along with migrant labour have caused the deforestation,” said April’s spokesman, David Goodwin.

“What April does is not deforestation. In establishing acacia plantations in already-disturbed forest areas, it is contributing strongly to reforestation. Last year April planted more than 100 million trees. Deforestation happens because of highly organised illegal logging, slash-and-burn practices by migrant labour, unregulated timber operations. There has been a explosion of palm oil concessions.”

The company would not reveal how much rainforest it and its suppliers fell each year but internal papers seen by the Observer show that it planned to deforest 60,000 hectares of rainforest in 2012 but postponed this pending the moratorium. It admits that it has a concession of 20,000 hectares of forest that it has permission to fell and that it takes up to one-third of its timber from “mixed tropical hardwood” for its giant pulp and paper mill near Penabaru in Riau.

There are some signs of hope. The heat is now on other large palm oil and paper companies after Asia Pulp and Paper (APP), one of the world’s largest such companies, was persuaded this year by international and local Indonesian groups to end all rainforest deforestation and to rely solely on its plantations for its wood.

The company, which admits to having felled hundreds of thousands of acres of Sumatran forest in the last 20 years, had been embarrassed and financially hurt when other global firms including Adidas, Kraft, Mattel, Hasbro, Nestlé, Carrefour, Staples and Unilever dropped products made by APP that had been made with rainforest timber.

“We thought that if we adopted national laws to protect the forest that this would be enough. But it clearly was not. We realised something was not right and that we needed a much higher standard. So now we will stop the deforestation, whatever the cost. We are now convinced that the long-term benefits will be greater,” said Aida Greenbury, APP’s sustainability director. “Yes. We got it wrong. We could not have done worse.”

Indonesia Nature News via http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/may/26/sumatra-borneo-deforestation-tigers-palm-oil

Indonesia tourism marketing and public relations firm

Crossbow Communications specializes in international marketing, issue management and public affairs. Indonesia is one of our regions of expertise. Our President and founder is the author of the Language and Travel Guide to Indonesia. Please contact Gary Chandler at gary@crossbow1.com. Visit Indonesia.

Language and Travel Guide To Indonesia