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Archive for September, 2010

Clare Perry reports:

EIA meet with MEPs at the European Parliament last weekLast week we had a busy couple of days in Brussels. On Tuesday we spent the entire day in the European Parliament with our colleagues from CDM Watch. We met with several Members of the European Parliament and other officials working in the Parliament that look into technical and scientific issues for MEPs. At the end of the day, feet aching from walking the endless corridors of the building (getting lost more than once!) we were really happy with the progress made.

We’ve ecountered some real enthusism from MEPs to tackle the issue of HFC-23 and there are plans afoot to raise awareness of the issue and seek to swift resolution in the European Emissions Trading Scheme. We’ve been in a very interesting NGO strategy meeting with a large number of  NGOs that work on CDM/carbon market issues.

Carbon credit scam? Copyright EIAFin gave a presentation of the HFC-23 campaign to date and there were discussions on N2O, biofuels, waste and coal – all of these areas are posing serious problems in terms of attaining true emission reductions under the UN Kyoto Protocol. With the EU taking the lead on pushing for a truly sustainable climate, Brussels was definitely the place to be and we’ll no doubt be back there soon.

For further information on the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) click here and here.

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Promising Signs of Hope for Papua’s Forests

Recent news from Indonesia on revisions made to the Papua Provincial Spatial Plan, made public this month, gives rise to significant hopes that large areas of Papua’s forests may be saved from conversion to plantations and agricultural estates, at least in the short-to-medium term.

In late 2009, EIA and our Indonesian partners, Telapak, released Up for Grabs, a report and film revealing the massive scale of the threat to Papua’s last frontier forests from large scale plantations and agriculture expansion.

As the report explained, substantially different visions for land use in Papua are in competition.

On one hand, elements in the central government in Jakarta and local elites in key districts in Papua have been facilitating major investment in plantations and agriculture – with dire consequences for millions of hectares of forests and the people and biodiversity dependent on them.

On the other hand, Papua Province’s Governor Suebu, working with progressive elements locally, nationally and internationally, has been seeking a different low-carbon and pro-Papuan path to development that seeks to protect forests from the business-as-usual model that has decimated Indonesia’s forest estate over the past three decades.

This month, Papua’s government finally registered its Provincial Spatial Plan with the central government. The plan defines land use zoning and functions from 2010 – 2030, and must be incorporated into the national spatial plan.

Under the new plan, Papua’s Protected Forest area has been increased by 3 million hectares (7.4 million acres), a massive 44% increase.

More significantly, the area classified as “Conversion Forest” – the focus of big plantations companies – has been decreased by 2.85 million hectares (around 7 million acres), also a 44% decrease.

This is fantastic news, sending a clear signal to supporters of major plantations expansion in Papua that such land is no longer up for grabs. Under Indonesia’s old forest function classifications, a whopping 9 million hectares of Papua’s forests were classified as “Conversion Forest”.Copyright Mark Gudmens

The new plan also decreases the area classified as “Production Forest” (forests allocated for industrial logging) by 4.9 million hectares, or 12 million acres, a huge 60% reduction. Mush of this land is now reclassified as protected forest and as “Limited Production Forest” – placing environmental and social constraints on industrial logging that the Governor and Papuans more widely hope will translate into sustainable community forestry by Papuans themselves.

One significant area of contention these changes have effected is the Merauke Integrated Food & Energy Estate (MIFEE), a controversial central government plan to convert between 1.2 and 1.7 million hectares of Merauke District into mechanised oil palm, sugar, and industrial timber plantations, with finance from China, the Middle East, South Korea, and some of Indonesia’s most aggressive deforesters.

Copyright EIAMIFEE has been widely criticised by Indonesian campaigners, who have highlighted, amongst other issues, the serious environmental, human rights and demographic threats to Papuans from the project. The project was “launched” by the central government before the Merauke government’s Spatial Plan had been agreed. Papua’s new spatial plan now limits the scheme to just 500,000 hectares, theoretically saving at least 700,000 hectares of forest from conversion in just one project area.

How Papua’s new land classifications are respected by central government planners, and those at the district level, is yet to be seen, and the plan must still be agreed by Parliament in Jakarta. However, with Indonesia aiming to reduce carbon emissions by 26%, largely from the forestry and land use sectors, Papua’s revisions offer the country a clear route to achieving these aims. Papua embodies the largest areas of remaining forests and peatland in the entire country – a fact not lost on Governor Suebu, who has repeatedly explained that “the capacity of Papua’s 42 million hectares (104 million acres) of forests to process CO2 is equivalent to the carbon footprint of nearly all the population of Europe”.

Jago Wadley

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Copyright EIA/TelepakOther good news from Indonesia in the past month relates to timber legality and trade. On the 1st September, Indonesia’s SVLK (Timber Legality Verification System) came into force, having been passed by a Minister of Forestry Regulation in 2009 (No P.38/Menhut-II/2009). Telapak have been centrally involved in the development of this standard over the years, with our joint exposes of illegal logging and timber smuggling helping develop the political and commercial space required to enact it.

While the SVLK is mandatory for all timber producers and traders in Indonesia, it is also the basis of a timber licensing system that will be a central plank of a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) between Indonesia and the European Union, which is now expected to be signed by the end of this year. VPAs are key elements of the European Commission’s Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) initiative, the EU’s core policy on illegal logging and trade.

This follows the passage of the European Illegal Timber Regulation in June this year, which will prohibit the placement of illegal timber from countries such as Indonesia on the EU market. The EU law explicitly exempts VPA-licensed timber from the Due Diligence requirements of the regulation, presenting clear incentives for Indonesia and other countries to agree a VPA.

Such developments have been key strategic goals of EIA’s forests campaign, and are testament to the role EIA and Telapak have played in this important issue for over a decade.

But we can’t rest on our laurels.

Next week, EIA and Telapak are organising and hosting a National Indonesian Civil Society Conference on the new legality standard, in Jakarta, where we hope to facilitate the establishment a network of local and national NGOs and community groups to monitor the implementation of the standard – just in case the authorities don’t do so properly themselves.

Why not trust the authorities? One reason is that one of the recently government accredited “auditors” set to certify supply chains for compliance with the legality standard, PT Sucofindo, featured in our latest timber smuggling expose – Rogue Traders – after staff were found to have accepted bribes to allow logs to be smuggled out of the country in containers. Sometime you have to watch the watchmen, and audit the auditors…

Faith Doherty will be updating you on how the conference goes in the not too distant future, so watch this space…

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Copyright EIA

Clare Perry makes up one half of our cetaceans team, together with Jenny Lonsdale, co-founder of EIA

Since the June annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) rejected the proposal to allow Japan, Norway and Iceland IWC endorsed commercial whaling catch limits, we have been catching up on all the other work that the cetacean campaign does outside the IWC meeting.

There is a tremendous amount of work to do in the coming months and in the lead up to next year’s annual meeting if we are to ensure that the conservation agenda moves forward and aspirations for resumed commercial whaling are kept in abeyance.

Copyright EIA

The Japanese Delegation at the IWC earlier this year

World attention is usually focused on Japan’s commercial whaling, carried out under the guise of so called scientific research. However, whaling in the North Atlantic this summer boasts some shocking statistics:

Norway has killed about 464 minke whales; Iceland has already killed hundreds of fin and minke whales, while the Faroe Islands killed more than 750 pilot whales.

Catching fin whales – the second largest animal on the planet – has resulted in thousands of tonnes of whale meat being stockpiled in Iceland because there is no market. Japan doesn’t seem keen to add Icelandic fin whale to its own stockpile which reached 5,000 tonnes this August. So it seems these magnificent animals have been killed for nothing but politics.

Meanwhile the Icelandic Government is engaged in negotiations on its possible accession to the EU. It has been given a strong message that whaling is not permitted in the EU but this is a significant issue in the negotiations and we are following developments carefully.

Copyright EIA

EIA's first campaign focused on exposing the atrocious whaling that was taking place in the Faroe Islands, a Danish territory, some few 100kms of mainland Scotland. This is an image from our archive.

The hunts in the Faroe Islands are particularly shocking because the Islanders were advised 2 years ago by their own world-leading medical expert that they should not eat any pilot whale meat or blubber due to the high levels of pollutants. This frightening warning is being ignored by the Faroese Government and people.

We are gathering information on the ground to put pressure on these three Governments to end the cruel and unnecessary slaughter.

At the same time, our work continues to develop the IWC’s vital work to address other environmental threats to whales, dolphins and porpoises (cetaceans). From 21st – 24th September, we will attend the IWC’s workshop on ship strikes. Both endangered and more plentiful populations of whales are vulnerable to collisions with vessels and the IWC is working hard to quantify the problem and work with scientists and industry to find mitigating solutions. We will be bringing information on the problem of collisions between whales and sailing boats which can be catastrophic for whales, sailors and their boats – it should be an interesting meeting.

Jenny Lonsdale and Clare Perry – EIA Cetaceans TeamCopyright EIA

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Many of our members have been tackling their own exciting fundraising challenges to help EIA, such as Isobel (12) and Mark (9) who embarked on a 50-mile hike along the River Perrett trail in Somerset, with their family and dog in tow.

Isobel, Mark and family take on the Perrett Trail raising money for EIA

“On our last day we walked from Haslebury Mill to Winyards Gap,” said proud mum Nicola. “This was our hardest day of walking as we were all tired, the way was poorly marked at times, and we went quite a long way out of our way! We did make it to the pub in time to order lunch and plenty to drink and to celebrate finishing the walk.

“This was a great experience – character building, I’m sure, and we managed to raise £450 for EIA and the tigers.”

Chris pulls pints for EIA at Latitude festival

Illaria and Chris have been pulling pints at the UK’s biggest festivals this summer including Glastonbury, Latitude and Reading! Together they have raised over £450 volunteering for EIA!

The streets of Kingswood, near Bristol, will be dramatically transformed this weekend via an artistic jungle theme, complete with a parade featuring a five-foot tiger designed by the local school, with all proceeds from the weekend donated to EIA! We look forward to sharing pictures of the event soon!

Do you have what it takes to be an EIA fundraiser?

The sky’s the limit when it comes to dreaming up fundraising ideas to help EIA. Whether they’re conceiving themed events, arranging screenings of our documentary work or getting themselves sponsored for a challenge, our members are passionate and creative. If you can think up a fun way to raise much-needed funds for EIA, then do please get in touch as we’d love to help you.

Could you host an EIA screening in your area?

We have copies of our award-winning documentary available for private screenings, and if you’re interested in holding a fundraising event we’re happy to supply a copy of the film and other materials for your evening. Email sophiacheng@eia-international.org or call us at 0207 3547960.

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