1) Life-Preserving Mangroves in Papua
TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Ohotya village in Mimika Regency, Papua, was lively in the afternoon. Children came out to play around their stilt houses as the adults finished their daily chores. Ansalma Matnarewa, one of the villagers, just returned from the mangrove forest not far from her village. She was carrying a medium-sized noken, a traditional woven bag.
Ansalma put the bag on the floor of her kitchen and checked her catch of the day. Unprepared, she accidentally let out a large mud crab (Scylla serrata), also known as karaka in the local language. Still covered in mud, the crab walked sideways across the room, its claws up in the air ready to attack.
"Careful, those claws can hurt people badly," the 32-year-old woman told Tempo English last month.
She took her small child, who had been watching her in the kitchen, out of harm's way and grabbed a long, thin metal hook to hold down the mud crab. With ease, Ansalma held the wetland creature right in the middle of its shell and quickly tied the claws with plastic rope to incapacitate it. She did the same thing to the two other crabs in her noken, one looked smaller than the others.
"The big ones I can sell for Rp50,000. For the small one, I can probably get Rp40,000," Ansalma said.
She sold the mud crabs to collectors in the village. These collectors would gather as many crabs as possible from the villagers and transport them to Timika, the capital city of Mimika Regency. Karaka is a popular delicacy in Papua, especially in the Mimika Regency. Its large size and shell hide a lot of crab meat. Visitor can easily find karaka dishes in Timika. There are many restaurants all over the city that sell mud crabs.
Ansalma said the price of mud crabs was better now because the village chief had come up with a rule that stipulates collectors take turns in harvesting the crabs. Previously, the villagers could sell however many crabs to the 10 collectors in the village. This pushed the price of the crabs down since the collectors took a long time to gather enough crabs to transport to Timika.
"They have to make sure the crabs are alive. Dead crabs are worthless," said Lukas Harepa, 35, a villager who hunts mud crabs for a living. That is why the collectors must bring the mud crabs to the city as fast as they can.
However, the boat ride from the village to Timika takes about two hours along the river. The crab collectors will lose money over the transportation cost if they only bring a small number of mud crabs at a time.
"A villager can catch two to three mud crabs four if we're lucky," Lukas said. "We usually don't go hunting on Sundays because we go to Sunday service at church."
Around 125 families currently live in Ohotya village. With the village rule in force, the collectors can gather enough crabs within a day or two. But Ansalma is unhappy as she must work harder to catch the mud crabs in the mangrove forest.
"There used to be so many karaka around here. We didn't have to travel so far or spend too long to catch them," Ansalma said.
These days, Ansalma has to go by boat to an uninhabited island nearby because Ohotya village has no more mud crabs. The villagers had harvested mud crabs without care for sustainability.
Despite last year's marine affairs and fisheries ministerial regulation prohibiting the capture of crabs less than 15 centimeters in length and fertilized female crabs, Ansalma was getting fewer crabs this year. She admitted sometimes she would still sell the smaller or fertilized female crabs to the collectors.
"It's against the regulation, but I need to earn money for my family," Ansalma said. (*)
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5) Korean palm oil firm accused of illegal forest burning in Indonesia
Arthur Neslen Thursday 1 September 2016 20.31 AEST
Some of the world’s biggest buyers have stopped trading with Korindo after the emergence of footage claiming to show illegal burning in Papua province
The boundary between intact forest and land already cleared for palm oil plantations in Indonesia. Photograph: Yudhi Mahendra/Mighty
A Korean palm oil company has been dropped by buyers after footage emerged that allegedly shows the illegal burning of vast tracts of tropical forest on lands it holds concessions for in Indonesia.
Some of the world’s biggest palm oil trading producers including Wilmar, Musim Mas and IOI have stopped using palm oil sourced from Korindo, much of which is destined to meet European demand.
Korindo’s alleged deforestation of pristine woodland in Papua province also threatens to destroy the last sanctuary of several birds of paradise and the tree kangaroo, according to a report by a new environmental alliance called Mighty.
The group has collected evidence from drones, remote sensors, GPS satellites, and videographers and photographers on the ground, which it says proves that Korindo has flouted Indonesia’s no-burning laws and violated responsible sourcing requirements.
Bustar Maitar, Mighty’s campaign director in Papua, told the Guardian: “Korindo is clear-cutting forests and then starting fires to clear the land of remaining biomass. That is forbidden by Indonesia’s regulations but during last year’s forest fires, most of the blazes in the Papua region happened in Korindo’s concessions.”
“There are a lot of animal species and flora here that haven’t even been discovered yet,” Maitar added. “If these kinds of land clearing activities continue, they may never be.”
But Koh Gyeong Min, Korindo’s head of sustainability, denied that the firm had been responsible for any illegal forest burning. “It is not true actually,” he said. “We followed all of the Indonesian regulations and acquired all the proper licences from the government for all areas of operation within our group.”
“I also would like to ask: do the local NGOs or residents have any evidence about our company that they have brought to the Indonesian government or the local courts? As far as I know there have been no cases of that.”
The allegations come as south-east Asia’s 2016 burning season is just beginning. On 30 August, the Indonesian government warned that haze from fires on Sumatra and Kalimantan could reach Malaysia and Singapore in the days ahead.
More than 3,000 hotspots have been detected in the Indonesian archipelago in the last month, with maps released by Greenpeace of Riau and West Kalimantan showing that many are occurring on industrial plantation concessions in the same areas that burned last year.
Yuyun Indradi, Greenpeace Indonesia’s forest campaigner said: “Companies that refuse to take steps to prevent fires have not just ash, but blood on their hands.”
Wildfires in Indonesia’s tropical forests last year are thought likely to have contributed to the premature deaths of more than 100,000 people, and to have emitted more CO2 than the whole of the UK that year.
Korindo is active in Indonesia’s north Malaku region as well as Papua, holding around 620 square miles of forest concessions in total. The company, whose promotional video calls on viewers to “make the Earth green”, has already cleared around 193 square miles of forest.
Maitar said that Korindo had not responded to letters sent by the new alliance, and that the new report was aimed at putting pressure on the Indonesian government.
Several major buyers of Korindo’s palm oil acted to cut the firm out of their supply chains after hearing of the allegations.
A spokeswoman for Musim Mas told the Guardian that it wanted to see Korindo engage with civil society groups and adopt a “No Deforestation, No Peat, No Exploitation” (NDPE) policy. “During this period we will continue to stop buying the palm oil temporarily and monitor Korindo’s progress,” she said.
NDPEs have become a palm oil industry standard in south-east Asia but the Mighty campaign argues that they are not working. Glenn Hurowitz, Mighty’s US campaign director, said that Korindo had been able to deforest 113 square miles of land since 2013, despite clearly visible satellite evidence of 894 hotspots in that period.
“This investigation shows the true face of the palm oil industry in Indonesia even after No Deforestation policies,” Hurowitz said. “The current, mostly confidential company-by-company system is inadequate. We urgently need a transparent, systematic approach, as well as further action by government and prosecutors.”
One of Malaysia’s largest palm oil companies, IOI – which was itself suspended from a sustainability scheme for not doing enough to prevent deforestation - said that its third party suppliers had also “decided to temporarily stop sourcing from Korindo” after hearing the allegations.
The palm oil giant Wilmar told the Guardian that it too had contacted Korindo after a heads up about the new evidence. “Due to a lack of progress from the supplier, and in view of the serious allegations, Wilmar has ceased procuring from Korindo with effect from June 2016,” a spokeswoman said.
None of the companies would reveal how much money they spent on ensuring that third-party palm oil suppliers did not cause environmental damage.
Gyeong Min said that after a demand from Wilmar earlier this year, Korindo began a “high-carbon stock assessment” which would be published later this month. “We also announced a temporary moratorium for our remaining plantation area,” he said.
Last month, a Korindo subsidiary called PT Tunas Sawa Erma declared a three-month suspension of new forest clearings across 25,000 hectares of territory, while it developed a NDPE policy.
But Mighty says that the moratorium did not extend to all Korindo operations. “A couple of months ago we visited their concessions and the land clearing was still happening,” Maitar said. “In our experience with other companies, all activities involving the cutting down of forests should be stopped, while they are doing these sorts of assessments.”
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