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Permitting Crime: How Palm Oil Expansion Drives Illegal Logging in Indonesia

The clear-cutting of forests to make way for oil palm plantations is driving a wave of illegal logging in Indonesia, fundamentally undermining efforts to bring much-needed reform to the nation’s forestry and timber sectors.  A new report released by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), Permitting Crime: How palm oil expansion drives illegal logging in Indonesia, reveals how a widespread culture of corruption and poor law enforcement is generating a flood of illicit timber as plantations surge into frontier forests. In-depth case studies of blatant violations of licensing procedures and other laws in Central Kalimantan – a hotspot for forest crime – detailed in the report include: outright violations of plantation […]

An Untamed Wilderness

An Untamed Wilderness

An Untamed Wilderness (28 mins) is a documentary by Tristan Thompson. It takes you deep into the heart of the Peruvian Amazon rainforest to discover some of the wildlife that lives there.

The value of Papua’s rainforest – 41p a hectare

A new report has just been published by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) and their Indonesia partner Telapak makes dismal reading as palm oil companies rip off the tribal people of Papua. In one instance highlighted in the report – Clear-Cut Exploitation – a major palm oil company that is backed with funding by Norway’s sovereign fund paid just US$923 for 14.2 sq km of forest lands or the equivalent of 41 pence a hectare for land rental. [pullquote]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 […]

APP to stop natural forest clearance on 1st June

One of the world’s leading pulp and paper producers Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) has announced that it is to suspend cutting down natural forests in it pulpwood plantations and concessions from 1st June. The announcement is only for a temporary ban on forest clearance of its own company subsidiaries and its own concessions. The ban starting from 1st June will last while assessments are undertaken to ensure that future tree felling meets Indonesia’s High Conservation Value Forest policies. The ban will not affect the operations of independent pulpwood suppliers to APP. [pullquote]The Government of Indonesia has made the protection of natural forests a key element of national policy. For this to work, the private sector organisations also need […]

Is Indonesia about to get tough with loggers?

Is Indonesia about to get tough with loggers?

Could the Indonesian government be preparing to get tough with the forestry industry in the country? Recent news that the government is to sue 16 logging companies for USD225 Billion seems to indicate that muscles are being flexed. The law suit will be a first for the country and the government is going after a substantial level of compensation. The case revolves around illegal deforestation of an area in Riau Province on the island of Sumatra dating back to 2007.  16 logging companies could be sued in Indonesia. 16 logging companies (14 associated with Asia Pulp and Paper or Asian Pacific Resources International Holdings Limited)  are being sued for $225 billion but the value of the timber […]

Jump in jaguar numbers in Bolivia

A new camera trap survey and technique by the Wildlife Conservation Society has discovered record numbers of jaguars in the rainforests of Bolivia. Using the same technology and computer software used to identify tigers from their stripes researchers were able to identify individual jaguars from their spots. 19 individual jaguars recognised in new study. The new technique allowed the wildlife study to discover 19 individual jaguars (Panthera onca) – a record number for a single camera trap survey. The survey was undertaken in one of the most biodiverse regions on the planet – the Madidi National Park. [pullquote] The preliminary results of this new expedition underscore the importance of the Madidi landscape to jaguars […]

Birds return to forest fragments

One of the big questions that keep getting raised in relation to tropical forests is will species return when deforested areas are replanted. This so called secondary forest may not be as diverse as the original primary forest. With REDD programmes about to take off it’s an important question to answer. Latest research published in PLoS seems to indicate that, where understory bird species are concerned, secondary forest could bring back almost as many species as was originally lost – but not all of them. The new study looked at forest fragments left after forest clearance for agriculture. The study lasted 25 years and covered the original clearance in the […]

The wacky world of HIV and gecko spit

The poor old Tokay lizard has yet another problem to deal with. It would appear that the latest crazy wonder drug is an enzyme from it’s saliva that is reputed to be able to cure HIV. Such magical properties has seen the value of a Tokay gecko in the Asian countries go so high that people are reputedly giving up jobs and heading to the jungles on gecko hunts.

Sinar Mas cleared of virgin rainforest destruction

Sinar Mas cleared of virgin rainforest destruction

An independent report in to the activities of Indonesian company Sinar Mas has cleared it of illegal destruction of primary rain forest and has shown that the amount of tropical peat land destroyed through it’s activities is less than that claimed by Greenpeace. The study did show that palm oil plantations of Sinar Mas did encroach on secondary forests and did undertake illegal land use changes. The study was undertaken by environmental auditors Control Union Certification and BSI Group. While the audit was paid for by Sinar Mas the auditors had to be approved by the  Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) which is the industry body on attempts to make […]

Aggressive mimicry seen in wild cats

When is a cat not a cat? When it’s pretending to be a baby monkey of course! Researchers have seen for the first time wild cats using aggressive mimicry to attract prey, it is the first time during a research project  that cats have been seen doing this and confirms anecdotal evidence from local amazonian residents that relates to cats including jaguars and pumas luring their prey using sound. Aggressive mimicry is a tactic used by some species as a means of hunting for food. it actively involves some action to bring a prey towards it as part of a hunting or feeding strategy. By being active it differs from […]

Profitability of biodiversity

Properly regulated, the potential economic value of Earth’s genetic resources could fuel viable, market-driven incentives to conserve biodiversity, according to Columbia Earth Institute and Business School economist Arthur Small. In a paper published in the Journal of Political Economy, Small and co-author Gordon Rausser of the University of California at Berkeley present a mathematical model demonstrating that a market for conservation is economically plausible. Particularly as the biomedical industry recognizes that potential financial returns from new drugs discovered in nature exceed of the cost of preserving the ecosystems that supply them. “We’re not saying that bioprospecting holds the key to saving all endangered species,” Small said. “This is by no […]

The power of a tigers roar

When a tiger roars it has the power to bring other animals to a halt. The roar has powerful ultra low pitched sounds called infrasound that can be felt but not heard within the normal hearing range. This infrasound can temporarily paralyze other animals including humans. The roar though is not a weapon used by tigers but a means of communication. Infrasounds can travel vast distances, they can penetrate dense forests and allow tigers to communicate across mountain ranges. The ability for top predators like tigers to communicate over vast distances is important because they are so sparsely spread.  Understanding a tigers communication methods help to understand their behaviour – […]

New life living on the edge

It’s often thought that the most powerful driver in the creation of new species is geographical isolation. This is thought to be one of the main reasons for diversity in a tropical rain forest. A natural barrier such as a river or mountain range can lead, over time, to the separation of a single species into sub species that are clearly different from each other even though they come from a common ancestor. If there is no barrier then the chances of speciation decreases because of interbreeding. So species that live on the edge of the forest – where there are no barriers – should be much less likely to […]

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