Support Indonesia forest protection Apr 06

ACTION ALERT PLEASE FORWARD WIDELY! Indonesia's Rainforests and Orangutans Still Gravely Threatened By Rainforest Portal, a project of Ecological Internet, Inc.

April 6, 2006 TAKE ACTION Initial progress must be consolidated, and further rainforest protections established

The Indonesian government recently announced it was abandoning plans to destroy 1.8 million hectares of rainforest by establishing oil palm plantations in prime orangutan habitat. While political maneuvering continues by those supporting the project, this strategic victory is encouraging and important. We believe the Indonesian government should be taken at its word, even as we work to consolidate this initial victory and to otherwise protest the state of Indonesia's rainforests which are in dire crisis.

Ecological Internet asks that you send the Indonesian President a congratulatory email making further policy requests. It is important the project cancellation is formalized and permanently laid to rest, and the ancient rainforests that were threatened are given permanent protected status that is effectively enforced. Please also express support for the Indonesian government's recent preliminary announcement of its participation in the "Heart of Borneo" tri- country conservation initiative which aims to preserve one of the most important centers of biological diversity in the world, covering approximately 220,000 km2 of rainforests and numerous wildlife species including the critically endangered orangutan. To be maximally effective the rainforest movement must acknowledge progress, however tentative and inadequate, even as we intensify our efforts. 

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European Oil Palm Market Causing Indonesian Rainforest Loss ***********************************************
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Rainforest Portal
Rainforest Newsfeed April 13, 2006 OVERVIEW & COMMENTARY by Dr. Glen Barry, Forests.org Below is an important update on the global campaign to protect Indonesia's ancient rainforests from unfettered oil palm plantation development. It comes from WALHI (Friends of the Earth Indonesia), an important Indonesian NGO. Their new report importantly links the rapidly expanding European market for oil palm for biofuels (which Ecological Internet was amongst the first to publicize) and other products with wholesale Indonesian rainforest destruction from oil palm plantations. They are demanding - as is Ecological Internet in our recent alert - that the Indonesian government officially cancel the proposed mega oil palm plantation along the Malaysian border that threatens the orangutan and other species with extinction. Earlier loose assurances that the project will not proceed must be followed by formal government statements, and the area given permanent protected status that is enforced. Please continue to take action on this important issue. g.b. 
RELAYED TEXT STARTS HERE: Title: European hunger for palm oil triggers expansion of plantations Source: Copyright 2006, Friends of the Earth Indonesia (WALHI) Date: April 12, 2006 MEDIA ADVISORY Friends of the Earth Netherlands * Sawit Watch * Friends of the Earth Indonesia (WALHI) * Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland * INDONESIA: EUROPEAN HUNGER FOR PALM OIL AND TIMBER TRIGGERS EXPANSION OF DESTRUCTIVE PALM OIL PLANTATIONS JAKARTA (INDONESIA), LONDON (UK), AMSTERDAM (THE NETHERLANDS), 12 April 2006 -- A new report released today shows how the Indonesian government might develop up to 3 million hectares of oil palm plantations on the island of Borneo, threatening wildlife and local livelihoods to cater for international demand for cheap palm oil. [1] One of the justifications given for this huge plantation project is the increasing international demand for palm oil to be used in food, feed and biofuels. The report reveals how earlier plans to develop a 2 million hectare plantation on the Indonesian side of the border with Malaysia, are not yet off the table. Indonesia's initial proposals to develop the border area had met with international protest. The Indonesian president Yudhoyono acknowledged there were conservation concerns to be taken into account. But the Indonesian Ministry of Public Works appears to have responded to this in January 2006 by simply enlarging the area defined as the "border zone".
In this broader area, up to 3 million hectares of oil palm could be planted, according to the Ministry. The project still threatens mayhem, damaging wildlife and the livelihoods of local people in the Kalimantan region. Friends of the Earth Indonesia (WALHI) and local palm oil organisation Sawit Watch ('Oilpalm Watch') are calling on the Indonesian government to officially cancel the border mega-plantation plan. The new report reveals that the area deemed suitable for oil palm includes forests used by thousands of people who depend on them for their livelihoods. In new larger border zone, a special regulation (Presidential Decree No. 36/2005) would allow the government to take land away from communities that do not want oil palm plantations in the name of 'public interest'.
The report shows that those communities who are aware of the new proposals are strongly opposed to the plans. Evidence shows that in the last decade, many areas have been deforested supposedly to make way for oil palm plantations but have then been abandoned after the timber has been sold. In East Kalimantan alone, 3 million hectares of forest disappeared for oil palm concessions. Of those, only 300.000 hectares have actually been planted with oil palm. Sixty per cent of the forests converted into oil palm plantations in 2004-2005 were still good forests, despite the commitment made by the Indonesian government in 2000 that no more forests would be converted to palm and pulp plantations. "Communities should not be forced to change their livelihoods simply for the benefit of oil palm companies and consumers overseas. They have not been consulted on these proposals and certainly have not agreed to abandon their land," said Rudy Lumuru of Sawit Watch, in the Netherlands to present the report. 'European importing countries should not increase their imports of palm oil until environmental and social issues are solved,' added Anne Van Schaik of Friends of the Earth Netherlands. 'This also means we should be very hesitant to embrace palm oil as a biomass-solution to the current energy crisis. To start with, companies and governments should ensure that palm oil used in food and feedstock is in line with the criteria laid out by the so-called Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil as soon as possible," said Van Schaik. [1] The report "The Kalimantan Border Oil Palm Mega Project" can be downloaded as pdf from www.milieudefensie.nl/globalisering and from www.foenl.org

A more upbeat email from rainforest portal: Indonesian Rainforest Victory as Large Orangutan Habitat Safe for Now from Oil Palm Ecological Internet's Earth Action Network Spearheads Major Victory for Rainforest Movement
May 15, 2006 By Rainforest Portal, a project of Ecological Internet, Inc.,
Under intense international pressure the Indonesian government has virtually abandoned plans to convert large areas of ancient rainforests, prime habitat for the endangered Orangutan, into a massive oil palm plantation. The original plan called for 1.8 million hectares (nearly 7,000 square miles or 18,000 square kilometers) of mainly native forests to be converted into a mega oil palm plantation along over 850 kilometers of the Indonesia- Malaysia border. In an abrupt about-face, the Agriculture Minister (formerly the project's chief advocate) last week announced only 180,000 hectares are now deemed suitable for oil palm development.
Given long-standing objections by the Forestry and Environment ministries, the larger project is effectively dead for now. International protest in support of local rainforest peoples and conservationists is responsible for reducing the project's expanse by 90%. "Destruction of ancient rainforests and other habitat worldwide is now an international as well as local issue, as the Internet has globalized movements for rainforest conservation and global ecological sustainability," notes Dr. Glen Barry, President of Ecological Internet. "Those that participated in the campaign must celebrate; because of their action, millions of year old ancient rainforest treasures have been given a reprieve." While many groups are active in orangutan conservation and protection of the "Heart of Borneo", Ecological Internet was the first to launch a major Internet campaign on the matter. In Ecological Internet's largest email protest ever, their network bombarded the Indonesian government with several hundred thousand protest emails. Ecological Internet's international network grew by over 20% as the campaign surged across the Internet. Several other organizations carried out letter writing campaigns based upon their campaign strategies and information.
"Indonesia's rainforests remain critically endangered, and their continued widespread loss threatens regional ecosystem sustainability and development potential. But for the time being, a huge swathe of very special and important ancient rainforests will remain intact. Our next immediate priority is to continue protesting China's plans to log other Indonesian rainforests for Olympic construction."
The announcement does not mean vital orangutan habitat has achieved meaningful permanent protection. Ecological Internet's network will continue to protest any oil palm development there and anywhere in primary rainforests, remain vigilante against a resurrection of the project as originally conceived, and monitor logging concessions and illegal logging in the area. And Indonesia's informal commitment to fully protect the "Heart of Borneo" with Malaysia and Brunei will continue to be supported. Dr. Barry notes "this successful international protest shows what is possible when grassroots organizations seek an end to ancient forest destruction, rather than the big groups negotiating acceptable logging volumes. The age of industrial development of ancient forests is over - even governments and loggers are getting the message."