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News Article | November 10, 2015
Site: www.treehugger.com

Palm oil and its derivatives can appear under many names. For consumers concerned about the catastrophic ill effects of the palm industry, here’s what to look for. Palm oil is the most popularly used vegetable oil in the world. It is remarkably versatile and is used in everything from snack food and shampoo to biofuel. It is so prevalent that it can be found in around half of packaged items in most supermarkets. It comes from the fruit of the oil palm tree (Elaeis guineensis) which is native to West Africa. It was once used for basic things like food and fiber, but with a yield greater than other vegetable oil crops, and with low labor costs, it has become the go-to oil. While trees were once planted in small-scale, sustainable systems, the high demand has created a need for large-scale plantations. Moses Ceaser for Center for International Forestry Research/CIFOR/flickr/CC BY 2.0 To make room for palm crops, huge areas of tropical forests and other ecosystems where conservation is important are being stripped bare. Critical habitat for orangutans and many endangered species – including rhinos, elephants and tigers – has been destroyed. Forest-dwelling people lose their land, local communities are negatively affected. The catastrophic fires in Indonesia are due to plantation slash-and-burn clearing that has run amok. Global production of palm oil has doubled over the last 10 years and is expected to double again by 2050. While the demand for palm oil may be hard to stem, by supporting sustainably produced palm oil, consumers can play a role in decreasing the destruction brought on by corporate interests. Palm oil and its derivatives can appear under more names than just “palm oil.” While some of these ingredients listed by WWF – like vegetable oil – aren’t always made from palm oil, they can be: If you see these ingredients on a label you can call the company and enquire as to whether or not they include palm oil and/or if they source palm oil from sustainable enterprises. © WWF Also, WWF advises consumers to look for the RSPO label to ensure that certified sustainable palm oil, produced in socially and environmentally responsible ways, was used. Next best, WWF notes, is the Green Palm label which indicates products in support of the transition to certified palm oil and helps growers transition to sustainable crops. The Rainforest Alliance has a certification label as well, read more about that here: What does Rainforest Alliance certification mean for palm oil?


Gomez-Aparicio L.,CSIC - Institute of Natural Resources and Agriculture Biology of Seville | Garcia-Valdes R.,CIFOR | Ruiz-Benito P.,CIFOR | Ruiz-Benito P.,University of Alcalá | And 2 more authors.
Global Change Biology | Year: 2011

Most large-scale multispecies studies of tree growth have been conducted in tropical and cool temperate forests, whereas Mediterranean water-limited ecosystems have received much less attention. This limits our understanding of how growth of coexisting tree species varies along environmental gradients in these forests, and the implications for species interactions and community assembly under current and future climatic conditions. Here, we quantify the absolute effect and relative importance of climate, tree size and competition as determinants of tree growth patterns in Iberian forests, and explore interspecific differences in the two components of competitive ability (competitive response and effect) along climatic and size gradients. Spatially explicit neighborhood models were developed to predict tree growth for the 15 most abundant Iberian tree species using permanent-plot data from the Spanish Second and Third National Forest Inventory (IFN). Our neighborhood analyses showed a climatic and size effect on tree growth, but also revealed that competition from neighbors has a comparatively much larger impact on growth in Iberian forests. Moreover, the sensitivity to competition (i.e. competitive response) of target trees varied markedly along climatic gradients causing significant rank reversals in species performance, particularly under xeric conditions. We also found compelling evidence for strong species-specific competitive effects in these forests. Altogether, these results constitute critical new information which not only furthers our understanding of important theoretical questions about the assembly of Mediterranean forests, but will also be of help in developing new guidelines for adapting forests in this climatic boundary to global change. If we consider the climatic gradients of this study as a surrogate for future climatic conditions, then we should expect absolute growth rates to decrease and sensitivity to competition to increase in most forests of the Iberian Peninsula (in all but the northern Atlantic forests), making these management considerations even more important in the future. © 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.


News Article | November 10, 2015
Site: news.yahoo.com

Thick smoke rises as a fire burns in a forest at Ogan Komering Ilir Regency, Indonesia's South Sumatra province October 20, 2015 in this picture taken by Antara Foto. REUTERS/Nova Wahyudi/Antara Foto/Files More BANGKOK (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Toxic fumes from the Indonesian fires that have spread a chohttp://cdn.pictures.reuters.com/Doc/RTR/Media/TR3_UNWATERMARKED/8/5/6/6/RTS58G8.jpgking haze across Southeast Asia may be doing more harm to human and plant health than officials have indicated, scientists measuring the pollution say. Farmers are expecting a poor harvest because plants have too little sunlight for normal photosynthesis, while government figures of half a million sickened by the smoke are only the "tip of the iceberg", said Louis Verchot, a scientist with the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR). Meanwhile, the fires are converting carbon stored in burning peatlands into greenhouse gases, contributing to climate change. "When the sun goes up, the whole world is yellow. On the worst day, the visibility was less than 100 metres (328 ft)," said Verchot, who led a workshop on the crisis in Central Kalimantan province last month with about 20 scientists from Indonesia, the United States and Britain. While taking measurements on a burning 5,000-hectare (12,000-acre) plot, the scientists - equipped with gas masks and a drone - trod carefully across the ash-covered peatland to avoid calf-deep holes, hot from the smouldering underground. They are still analysing their data, but Verchot said they had found harmful gases in the air including ozone, carbon monoxide, cyanide, ammonia, formaldehyde, nitric oxide and methane. "It irritates your eyes, it irritates your throat. Without a mask, I don't know how people live in this stuff," he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by telephone from Jakarta. Many people wear simple masks that are ineffective at filtering the dangerous compounds, or no masks at all, he added. The smoke from the fires on Borneo, Sumatra and elsewhere in Indonesia has spread to neighbouring Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand. Local media reported that schools in Central Kalimantan had closed for almost five weeks over the past two months, while the haze killed at least 10 people and sickened 504,000 on Borneo and Sumatra - though Verchot believes the figure is much higher. "People in rural areas seek medical attention when it's really bad. I'm pretty sure it's an underestimate. This must be the people who are seriously affected," he said. Daytime flights to Central Kalimantan have been postponed to night when winds blow the all-permeating smoke in a direction that improves visibility for landing, Verchot said. Martin Wooster, a professor at King's College London who joined Verchot on the trip, tested his equipment in his hotel room, several kilometres from the fires, and found 30 molecules of carbon monoxide per million molecules of air - enough to trigger a household carbon monoxide detector. Outside near the burning peatlands, Wooster's preliminary data indicates more than 1,000 microgrammes of particulate matter per cubic metre of air, and sometimes up to 2,000. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency considers any amount over 300 microgrammes per cubic metre hazardous. "I'd never seen anything like that ... I thought it was catastrophic for the local population, having to live with that level of air pollution for such an extended period of time," said Wooster, who has studied burning biomass in Mexico, Canada, South Africa and Britain. "The geographic coverage of the smoke was enormous. You could drive for many tens of kilometres and still be in thick smoke. And it is persisting for weeks, even months," he said by telephone from London. The smokiest burn sites in Indonesia are the tropical peatlands that large companies and small-scale farmers have deforested and drained for agriculture, palm oil and wood products such as pulp and paper. Lacking a forest canopy, the dried-out peatlands are prone to fire. Once considered a problem mainly in drought years, the smouldering fires on these "forest cemeteries" of dried peat and wood debris are now occurring annually. This year has been particularly bad due to lower rainfall linked to the El Niño weather phenomenon, although recent downpours have doused some of the fires and reduced the haze.


News Article | March 29, 2016
Site: www.theenergycollective.com

Happy International Day of Forests! March 21st marked the International Day of Forests (IDF). The United Nations General Assembly established  IDF on November 28, 2012 as a means of raising awareness of the beauty, importance and plight of the world’s forests. The history of IDF stretches back to 1971 when the 16th session of the Conference for Food and Agriculture voted to establish an annual “World Forestry Day” every March 21. From 2007 to 2012 the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) convened a series of six Forest Days coinciding with the annual gatherings of the UNFCCC climate conference. After the International Year of Forests in 2011, the United Nations passed the resolution calling for the International Day of Forests, observed every March 21. The tradition stretches back decades, but today marks the the fourth annual IDF. Trees are fundamental One tree can absorb up to 40 pounds of CO2 per year. By the time that tree reaches 40 years old, it could sequester as much as one ton of carbon dioxide. As it takes in the CO2 a large tree provides the daily supply of oxygen for four people. Trees are an essential component of the earth’s hydrological cycle. That same large tree can lift up to 100 gallons of water out of the ground in a single day and disperse  it into the air. We depend on trees for everything from fruit, nuts and coffee to food additives for items such as ice cream, chewing gum and much, much more. When you have a headache, take an aspirin, made from Salicylic acid extract from the bark of many types of trees (especially Willows). In total, more than 5000 products are made from trees. Whether you live in a treeless desert or sprawling urban center; are a wealthy financier working from atop a towering skyscraper or a subsistence farmer working your small plot to eke out a living for your family, or somewhere in between, we are all utterly dependent on healthy forests. Our modern civilization wouldn’t be possible without the benefit and service of forests, but too often we can’t see the forest for the trees. As J.P. Kimmins writes in his book Forest Ecology: “Forests are the evolutionary vessel in which were distilled the origins of the most remarkable of all animals: Homo sapiens. Forests were the habitat of our earliest evolutionary ancestors and have remained an important part of the environment of … the human family tree. The rise and fall of empires, the conquest of nations, and the political, economic, and military power of human societies have been intimately related to the accessibility of forests and/or forest products for most of recent history. Modern humans … still are – and always will remain – dependent on forests for a wide variety of the necessities and pleasures of life as we know it.” -J.P. Kimmins 2004 Forests cover one-third of the global land mass, are home to more than 80 percent of terrestrial species of plants, animals, and insects. Estimates vary, but there are at least 23,000 varieties of trees in the world, many of which are threatened by deforestation, climate change, expanding wildfire (both in intensity and length of burn season). In a recent blog post, the Global Trees Campaign stated that half the world’s magnolia species arethreatened with extinction in the wild. Temperate forests across North America suffer from bark beetle infestations exacerbated by warmer winters. Forests and water The theme chosen by the UN for IDF this year is forests and water. We’ve already seen how a single tree acts as an essential part of the hydrological cycle. Forests and water work as an elegant, beautiful system distributing the vital ingredients for life on earth. The official UN page for the International Day of Forests lists but few of the many different interconnections between forests: Forested watersheds and wetlands supply 75 percent of the world’s accessible freshwater About one-third of the world’s largest cities obtain a significant proportion of their drinking water directly from forested protected areas Nearly 80 percent of the world’s population – 8 out of 10 people – is exposed to high levels of threat to water security Improved water resource management can show considerable economic gains Forests act as natural water filters Climate change is altering forests role in water flows and the availability of water resources Forests have a crucial role in building and strengthening resilience As we look forward to the coming decades and consider how to create a prosperous economy that provides opportunity for all yet maintains a healthy and thriving global environment, it is important to consider what we cherish and protect for future generations. “In this first year of implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the International Day of Forests focuses on their role in supporting water systems… Investing in forests is an insurance policy for the planet.” -Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon How much do you know about forests and water? Take the quiz and find out! Featured image credit: seth m, courtesy flickr under creative commons license  This post first published on our parent site TDS Environmental Media The post Hug a Tree: International Day of Forests appeared first on Global Warming is Real. Original article


News Article | November 24, 2015
Site: phys.org

The study by the wildlife trade monitoring network, TRAFFIC, and the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) is based on research by Lancaster University's Dr Jacob Phelps. Conservative trade figures documented during the study suggest that tens of thousands of orchids are illegally traded across Thailand's borders every year, without either domestic harvest permits or Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) permits, violating range State and international restrictions on wild orchid harvest. Surveys during 2011–2012 in four of the largest wild plant markets in Thailand, including along the country's borders with Myanmar and Lao PDR, recorded 348 species of orchid for sale, representing 13 to 22 percent of the target countries' known orchid flora. The survey even found significant trade of species from the genus Paphiopedilum, all of which are listed in Appendix I of CITES, which bans the international trade of wild-collected specimens. At least 16 percent of the orchid species observed could be classified under some category of threat or were species found only in small or specific areas. The threat, however, is likely much higher since conservation status assessments have not been conducted for most of the species encountered. Several of the orchids first found in the markets were new to science. 'A Blooming Trade: Illegal trade of ornamental orchids in mainland Southeast Asia' identified Bangkok's Chatuchak market as a regional centre of botanical trade, hosting a large and unique richness of wild plant species, many of them illegally harvested. "The Chatuchak market has long been notorious as a major hub for the illegal trade in a wide variety of plants and animals—everything from orchids to tortoises, from ivory to eagles," said Dr Chris R. Shepherd, Regional Director for TRAFFIC in Southeast Asia. "We strongly urge the authorities in Thailand to shut down the illegal trade in this market for good." Report author Dr Phelps said: "The commercial trade of wild-collected ornamental plants in Southeast Asia is part of a global horticultural trade in beautiful, fragrant and unusual plant species but it has been almost completely overlooked. Despite being among the most protected group of plants in the world, we found clear evidence of an open, illegal trade. It is time to take botanical trade and conservation seriously - alongside efforts to reduce the illegal trades in elephant ivory, rhinoceros horn and pangolin scales. This is no different." Interviews with plant harvesters, traders and middlemen identified significant illegal international trade from Lao PDR and Myanmar into Thailand, highlighting demand for wild ornamental plants from local and regional sources. It also revealed complex trade chains involving highly organized middlemen specialized in the orchid and ornamental plant trade. Growing internet based trade and laundering of wild plants via registered commercial greenhouses was observed, as was a medicinal trade in orchids for consumption in Viet Nam and China. The report calls on Thai government agencies, CITES parties, the ASEAN Wildlife Enforcement Network and conservation organizations to formally recognize the phenomenon, and urgently improve monitoring of not only the trade in charismatic animals species, but also of wild plants. The author also argues that the considerable implications of the illegal trade warrant far greater attention from Thailand's CITES management authority for plants, as well as the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation and the Royal Forest Department. More information: A blooming trade: Illegal trade of ornamental orchids in mainland Southeast Asia (Thailand, Lao PDR, Myanmar). static1.1.sqspcdn.com/static/f/157301/26694012/1448362157923/A+blooming+trade+Report+_+17th+Nov_FINAL.pdf?token=YeQt5ctv%2FbPNaRO8QJECOl%2BYPNQ%3D


Pattanayak S.K.,Duke University | Wunder S.,CIFOR | Ferraro P.J.,Georgia State University
Review of Environmental Economics and Policy | Year: 2010

Many of the services supplied by nature are externalities. Economic theory suggests that some form of subsidy or contracting between the beneficiaries and the providers could result in an optimal supply of environmental services. Moreover, if the poor own resources that give them a comparative advantage in the supply of environmental services, then payments for environmental services (PES) can improve environmental and poverty outcomes. While the theory is relatively straightforward, the practice is not, particularly in developing countries where institutions are weak. This article reviews the empirical literature on PES additionality by asking, "Do payments deliver environmental services, everything else being equal, or, at least, the land-use changes believed to generate environmental services We examine both qualitative case studies and rigorous econometric quasi-experimental analyses. We find that government-coordinated PES have caused modest or no reversal of deforestation. Case studies of smaller-scale, user-financed PES schemes claim more substantial impacts, but few of these studies eliminate rival explanations for the positive effects. We conclude by discussing how the dearth of evidence about PES impacts, and unanswered questions about institutional preconditions and motivational "crowding out," limit the prospects for using international carbon payments to reduce emissions from deforestation and degradation. © The Author 2010. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists. All rights reserved.


The Guinean rain forest (GRF) of West Africa, identified over 20 years ago as a global biodiversity hotspot, had reduced to 113,000 km 2 at the start of the new millennium which was 18% of its original area. The principal driver of this environmental change has been the expansion of extensive smallholder agriculture. From 1988 to 2007, the area harvested in the GRF by smallholders of cocoa, cassava, and oil palm increased by 68,000 km 2. Field results suggest a high potential for significantly increasing crop yields through increased application of seed-fertilizer technologies. Analyzing land-use change scenarios, it was estimated that had intensified cocoa technology, already developed in the 1960s, been pursued in Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria and Cameroon that over 21,000 km 2 of deforestation and forest degradation could have been avoided along with the emission of nearly 1.4 billion t of CO 2. Addressing the low productivity of agriculture in the GRF should be one of the principal objectives of REDD climate mitigation programs. © 2010 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.


News Article | December 20, 2016
Site: news.yahoo.com

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Palm oil and pulp wood companies are responsible for more than half of the rapid deforestation in the Malaysian part of Borneo island, an environmental scientist said in an interview. David Gaveau, of the Indonesia-based Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), used satellite images and data on concessions from more than four decades to determine how fast deforested land was converted into industrial plantations on Borneo. "The faster the conversion, the more likely that the lands were cleared by plantation companies," Gaveau told Reuters in an interview on Monday. Just half of Borneo - which is shared by Brunei, Malaysia and Indonesia - is now covered by forests compared with 76 percent in 1973, Gaveau said. The findings by Gaveau and his group are likely to compound criticism of the palm oil industry in particular, which has faced condemnation for its land-clearing by burning and resulting smoke across Southeast Asia every year. Malaysia and neighboring Indonesia are the world's top two producers of palm oil, a widely used edible oil found in everything from cookies to soaps. Both countries are also major producers of timber and timber products. Plantations operating on both the Malaysian and Indonesian parts of Borneo have come under scrutiny over the clearing of forest, which has also resulted in a dramatic loss of habitat for wildlife including orangutans. "By and large, we can say that the oil palm industry has always been the major driver of deforestation," Gaveau said. But the link between plantations and deforestation was much more stark in Malaysian Borneo, Gaveau said. Malaysia lost 4.2 million hectares, or 28 percent, of its original forest cover on Borneo between 1973 and 2015, and up to 60 percent of the cleared land was rapidly converted to plantations, Gaveau said. At the end of 2015, Malaysia had about 10.8 million hectares still covered by forest on Borneo, he said. But in Kalimantan, on the Indonesian side of Borneo, only about 16 percent of cleared land was rapidly turned into plantations, he said. "Most of the plantations in Kalimantan were developed either on land that were cleared much earlier, or in forest areas that had been degraded by recurring fires brought on by droughts," Gaveau said. "But plantations on the Malaysian side have always expanded into forested areas and this has been constant over the past forty years." However, he said, Indonesian palm oil plantations were rapidly catching up with Malaysia, clearing swathes of Borneo forest from 2005, following a palm-oil market boom.


News Article | February 15, 2017
Site: news.yahoo.com

A critically endangered Javan leopard photographed on October 24, 2012 by a camera trap installed in the forest of Mount Halimun-Salak National Park located in Indonesia's western Java island (AFP Photo/CIFOR) Jakarta (AFP) - Four Javan leopards have been spotted in an Indonesian national park where they were previously thought to have died out, raising hopes for the future of the rare big cat. The leopards were filmed in Cikepuh wildlife sanctuary on Java island by hidden cameras installed after reports the creatures' dung and footprints had been spotted in the area, the environment ministry said Thursday. Several sets of cameras scanned the area for 28 days in July and August, and filmed three leopards with yellow fur and black spots, and one that was entirely black. Another eight leopards were believed to be roaming the sanctuary, the ministry said, basing their estimate on studies of the animals' footprints and scratches found on trees. "The return of this species indicates that the sanctuary has been successfully restored," said environment ministry spokesman Djati Witjaksono Hadi. The Javan leopard was previously believed to have died out in Cikepuh in the early 2000s due to rampant illegal logging that has devastated the area's forests, the big cat's natural habitat. Environmental group Conservation International estimated in 2015 there were only around 500 Javan leopards left in the wild, most in forests in western Java. Leopards are the smallest members of the big cat family, and can grow to around six feet (1.8 metres) in length. Different leopard subspecies are found across the world, from Africa to India and Russia.


News Article | March 1, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

To conduct the analysis, the UFZ researchers used standardised data from the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR- PEN project), based on surveys of village communities in 233 representatively selected villages in tropical regions of Africa, Asia and South America between 2005 and 2010. The interviewees were inhabitants from mostly small rural communities who depend in various forms on firewood, timber, food resources, animal feed or medications from nearby forests, mostly on a subsistence basis. Villagers were asked, for example, what natural resources from the forests they used and how their availability had changed in recent years. In 209 of all the analysed communities, or about 90%, interviewees reported that the availability of at least one forest resource had declined. One example is timber for construction purposes. In more than 75% of villages in Africa and South America in which people were interviewed, they reported a decrease in this resource. In Asia the percentage was almost 60%. In around 75% of the villages studied in Africa and more than 50% in Asia, local populations reported declining availability of firewood. In village communities in Asia and Africa, all other forest products such as food, medications and animal feed were also reported to be scarcer. "In some places forest resources are not being used very sustainably," says Dr. Kathleen Hermans, the first author of the study and a social geographer in the UFZ's Department of Landscape Ecology. That this situation was so clearly in evidence was surprising, she adds. However, there are exceptions, especially in South America. Here, interviewees in many communities reported that resources such as firewood, medicinal plants and animal food had somewhat increased or remained stable over the last five years. With the aid of statistical analyses, the researchers were able to demonstrate that excessive consumption of forest products is one of the main reasons why these resources are becoming scarcer. "Usage has increased in many places," says Hermans. This could be due to the fact that in more than 90% of the villages the population has grown over the past decade, partly due to immigration. However, Hermans points out that more detailed analysis would be required at local level to determine whether population growth had actually triggered higher demand for forest products. It would also be interesting to investigate what factors triggered migration to the villages. Another important factor in the depletion of forest products, according to the study, is the clearance carried out by large companies and local populations. By contrast, the ownership situation and the governmental and non-governmental regulations which existed at national, regional or local level did not play a significant role in the decline of forest resources in tropical regions. In 89 of the villages surveyed, inhabitants reported that the availability of at least one forest resource was increasing more than it was decreasing or remaining stable. The researchers ascribe this mainly to changes in management measures, the reduction of logging and reduced utilisation of forest products. They also noted that the greatest increase in forest resources occurs in communities where the population experienced only a slight increase or actually fell. Currently there is little global standardised information from villages on the use of forests because the information is so time-consuming to collect. This is what makes this study so exceptional. However, the CIFOR data is based on surveys of local populations and therefore on their perceptions. "The data doesn't consist of objective measurements, so it isn't free from biased perceptions," says Hermans. She therefore wants to compare the household data with objective data, such as satellite data on forest coverage near the surveyed villages. She also intends to analyse whether there are certain patterns of resource usage and migration in village communities. Hermans will be able to take these research approaches further in a new working group which she leads and which started work at the UFZ at the beginning of January. Under the title "MigSoKo - Human migration and global environmental change: A vicious cycle?", the team is studying the relationships between environmental change, population pressure and migration and their impact on the environment in tropical drylands, taking Ethiopia as an example. The €1.5 million project will last five years and is being funded 50-50 by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research as part of its socio-ecological research programme and by the UFZ.

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