Tag Archives: Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation

UN wants to send Special Rapporteur to Indonesia to investigate MIFEE

Bintang Papua, 12 October 2011The UN Commission to Combat Racial Discrimination and Protect the Rights of Indigenous People has sent a letter to the Indonesian ambassador to Geneva, Anwar Kemal, regarding several matters.

In the first place, to agree to invite the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights to visit Indonesia in connection with MIFEE, the Merauke Integrated Energy and Food Project in West Papua. In the second place to hold talks with CERD for this matter to be discussed at the forthcoming meeting of the Committee in Geneva from 13 February – 13 March 2012. And thirdly, to to make available comprehensive information regarding all the matters contained in the afore-mentioned latter.

This was made  public following a meeting by a number of NGOs in Jayapura on 12 October which was attended among others by Foker-NGO-Papua, Sawit Watch, Greenpeace, Justuce and Peace Commission/Jayapura, Walhi and Sorpatom in Jayapura on 12 October.

The Coalition of NGOs said that the response of the UN to the MIFEE project had exerted pressure on the Indonesian government to halt all activities related to the MIFEE project and to invite the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights to investigate this project before 13 January 2012.

The coalition said that MIFEE would have a strategically significant inpact on the availability of foodstuffs and energy resources in Indonesia.

This project will cover an area of 1.6 million hectares which will be used to produce millions of tons of rice, corn, beans and sugar as well as promote cattle-rearing. Dazzled  by this massive project, they have closed their eyes to a huge problem that will confront the population of Merauke whose land will be consumed by the MIFEE.project.

The MIFEE project is a highly ambitious mega  project of the Indonesian Government based on a slogan to produce food for the whole world. They intend to take control of an area of 1.6m ha of land for agri-business purposes. The resultant food will be exported, meaning that MIFEE is directed towards the export market. Thirty-six companies have already been attracted by the MIFEE project with investment capital to the value of Rp 18.9 trillion, along with domestic capital.

Research undertaken by various organisations has identified a number of problems.

First of all, this project which will cover a total area of  altogether 2m ha of land belonging to the indigenous people will have a direct impact on the traditional rights of the these people.

Furthermore,  this expansion will cut down forests belonging to indigenous people in order to grow  palm oil and will result in the influx of a huge number of people from outside the area, threatening the local people’s livelihoods and destroying their traditional economic practices.

These developments will exert huge pressure on the Malind people and their traditions in particular, and the Papuan people in general, turning them into a minority people in their own land.

In addition, these developments which are supported by various state forces will require the protection of the Indonesian army.

Fourthly, the decisions regarding exploitation of natural resources are hugely dependent on the central government and are being developed in accordance with national laws that ignore the indigenous people, despite the adoption of the Special Autonomy law in 2001, the aim of which was to decentralise decision-making to the provincial level with regard to a number of issues, while nothing has happened regarding the introduction regulations.for the implementation of this law.

Fifthly, it is understood that most of the MIFEE area has been classified as ‘forest’ and placed under the jurisdiction of the forestry department, whose interpretation of the forestry laws impinge on the rights of the indigenous people.

Finally, there are reports that local communities have been manipulated by investors and government officials so as to secure their signatures  to provide the legal basis for certificates affirming their right to the land of the indigenous people.

Pictures: Turquoise ‘dragon’ among 1,000 new species discovered in New Guinea

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Pictures: Turquoise ‘dragon’ among 1,000 new species discovered in New Guinea
June 27, 2011

Varanus macraei © Lutz Obelgonner
Varanus macraei monitor lizard © Lutz Obelgonner

Scientists discovered more than 1,000 previously unknown species during a decade of research in New Guinea (slideshow), says a new report from WWF.

Final Frontier: Newly Discovered species of New Guinea (1998 – 2008) (PDF-4.7MB) is a tally of 10 years’ worth of discoveries by scientists working on the world’s second largest island.

While the majority of 1,060 species listed are plants and insects, the inventory includes 134 amphibians, 71 fish, 43 reptiles, 12 mammals, and 2 birds.

Among the most notable finds: a woolly giant rat, an endemic subspecies of the silky cuscus, a snub-fin dolphin, a turquoise and black ‘dragon’ or monitor lizard, and an 8-foot (2.5-m) river shark.

Final Frontier: Newly Discovered species of New Guinea (1998 – 2008)
Final Frontier: Newly Discovered species of New Guinea (1998 – 2008)
Spilocuscus wilsoni © Tim Flannery

Spilocuscus wilsoni cuscus, a type of marsupial © Tim Flannery
Litoria sauroni © Stephen Richards
Litoria sauroni tree frog © Stephen Richards
Chrysiptera cymatilis © Gerald R Allen

Chrysiptera cymatilis damselfish © Gerald R Allen

WWF released the report to showcase New Guinea’s biodiversity, which includes more than 800 species of birds and more than 25,000 species of vascular plants in New Guinea ranges. New Guinea’s rainforests — the third largest after the Amazon and the Congo — and its coral reefs are astoundingly rich, yet still poorly studied relative to other places in the tropics. The dearth of information is a concern because New Guinea, which covers less than 0.5 percent of the Earth’s landmass, but is thought to be home to 6–8 percent of the world’s species, is facing an onslaught of threats from logging, large-scale industrial agriculture, and mining.

“This report shows that New Guinea’s forests and rivers are among the richest and most biodiverse in the world,” said Neil Stronach, WWF Western Melanesia’s Program Representative, in a statement. “But it also shows us that unchecked human demand can push even the wealthiest environments to bankruptcy.”

Varanus macraei © Lutz Obelgonner
Click map to enlarge.

Ecosystems, especially forests, are threatened on both halves of New Guinea. On the western half — controlled by Indonesia — illegal logging is rampant and the government has granted, or is planning to grant, hundreds of thousands of hectares’ worth of forests for conversion to timber and oil palm plantations and large-scale rice and sugarcane operations. On the eastern part of the island, the Papua New Guinea government recently stripped communities of traditional land rights in favor of big business, especially foreign agricultural firms, which have been winning Special Agricultural and Business Leases (SABLs) to develop forest lands (a moratorium on SABLs was put in place last month). Meanwhile industrial logging has degraded large tracts of rainforest. Both sides of New Guinea have been affected by mining operations, which at times have caused pollution and exacerbated social conflict.

Chilatherina alleni © Gerald R Allen
Chilatherina alleni rainbowfish © Gerald R Allen
Melipotes carolae © Bruce Beehler

Melipotes carolae © Bruce BeehlerDelias durai © Henk van Mastrigt
Delias durai buterfly © Henk van Mastrigt

According to WWF, environmental degradation is already taking a toll in New Guinea, with the incidence of forest fires increasing, coastal erosion worsening, and depletion of forest resources for local use. Since 1972 a quarter of Papua New Guinea’s rainforests have been lost or degraded, while 99 of the island’s species are now listed on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, including 59 mammals, 34 birds and 6 frogs.

But WWF says there is still time to protect New Guinea’s flora, fauna, and incredible cultural richness (New Guinea is home to 15 percent of the world’s spoken languages). It highlights the potential to boost the capacity of local communities to use legal mechanisms to protect their lands and resources from expropriation and expresses optimism that the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) mechanism could generate revenue to support conservation activities (although the report fails to note the widespread corruption associated with early REDD efforts in Papua New Guinea). Final Frontier concludes by arguing that certification schemes for timber and agricultural commodities could help maintain New Guinea’s biodiversity in the future.

“It’s vital that New Guinea’s forests, rivers, lakes and seas are managed in a way that ensures they’ll continue to sustain economic and social development – and support the island’s fabulous wildlife,” states the report. “If we’re to safeguard this ‘final frontier’, it’ll require active partnerships between New Guinea’s communities and a wide range of stakeholders.”

New Guinea Slideshow