Indonesia Sustainable Development News Digest

Starling Resource produces a bi-weekly Indonesia Sustainable Development News Digest email for circulation to a broader cohort of practitioners, funders, and experts. The purpose of the digest is to present readers with a brief, easily digestible summary of significant, recent news items, reports, and papers relevant to conservation, sustainable development, and the environment in Indonesia, compiled from domestic Indonesian and international media sources. The digest is produced once every two weeks throughout the year. If you are interested in receiving the digest, please let us know by email at or subscribe here

News Digest
3rd Edition :  14 February  2018

Highlighting this week's edition is a three-part study of the Live Reef Food Fish Trade (LRFFT) by WWF and the University of Hong Kong, The Trade in Live Reef Food Fish - Going, going, gone!, warning that this unregulated trade is "steering toward a perfect storm" due to illegal trading, over-exploitation, failure to address destructive fishing practices, and the targeting of species that are highly vulnerable to overfishing.    The annual retail value of the LRFFT is estimated to be more than US$ 1.1 billion, more than the global legal trade shark fins, but could be even higher due to under-reporting of LRFFT imports into Hong Kong by sea and air. Larger numbers of juvenile fishes are being retained for grow-out to marketable size, evidence that larger fishes have already been removed and that the fishery is now entering a phase of recruitment overfishing.
High-value live reef fishes are products of "an industrial fishery with a demand going well beyond the biological levels that can be sustained with in a small-scale fishery context without management or controls," the report said.  Four LRFFT species that face intense demand are classified as facing the risk of extinction in the wild, while four more are now considered "Near Threatened". 
The report calls for improved coastal fishery management in source countries, especially for threatened species.  A key recommendation is better control over the complex LRFFT supply chain, requiring effective oversight of live fish carrier vessels and improved compliance by air and sea carriers regarding reporting and carriage of threatened species.  Destination markets, primarily Hong Kong and China, need to mainstream environmental concerns into laws, policies, and regulations to shift the LRFFT trade towards sustainability.  There is also a need for a better-informed consumer base that is educated to demand sustainably-sourced seafood.
Dr. Yvonne de Sadovy of the University of Hong Kong, one of the report's co-authors said "We are not talking about not eating fish at all, what we are talking about is not eating so many wild fish that we destroy their populations.  We need to know where seafood comes from, that it is legally sourced, safe to eat, and that it is sustainable."
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Marine & Fisheries

One third of shark species in global shark fin trade are at risk of extinction
— Andrew Fields et al, Conservation Biology 15 December 2017
The shark fin trade is a major driver of shark exploitation in fisheries all over the world.  A team of researchers randomly selected fin trimmings from retail market in Hong Kong (one of the biggest trading centers of the global shark fin trade) over 2014-2015 to assess species composition of the shark fin trade.  They identified 76 different species of sharks, rays and chimaeras, one third of which were threatened by extinction. These included the Scalloped hammerhead shark (Sphyrna lewini) and Smooth hammerhead shark (S. zygaena), Great hammerhead shark (S. mokarran), Shortfin Mako shark (Isurus oxyrinchus), and Oceanic whitetip shark (Carcharhinus longimanus), Bigeye thresher shark (Alopias superciliosus), Common thresher shark (A. vulpinus), and the Porbeagle (Lamna nasus), all classified as "Endangered" or "Vulnerable" and listed under Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

Lampung launches team to support Blue Swimming Crab Sustainable Fisheries Initiative (IPPRB)
— Harian Pilar 25 January 2018
The Lampung Provincial government has expressed its continuing commitment to Blue Swimming Crab (BSC) Sustainable Fisheries Initiative (IPPRB) by establishing an official Joint Initiative Management Team through Governor Decree.  The team includes a range of different stakeholders in this small-scale local fishery, including local government, fishers, collectors, miniplants, crab processing industries, fishery experts and academics, as well as representatives of civil society organizations in Lampung.  Mayors and regents in Lampung province are expected to support the initiative by providing guidance, facilitation and monitoring of the IPPRB program.  BSC fisheries are a key pillar of economic development in Lampung Province Lampung, supporting around 4,000 small fishermen along the east coast of Lampung Province, while the processing industry (including mini-plants and canning plants) absorbs more than 3,000 local workers, mostly women. In 2016, the value of BSC exported from Lampung to US was US$28.9 million (Rp350 billion).

Speeding the transition to eco-friendly fishing by boats using cantrang seine net gear
— Gemma Holliani Cahya, The Jakarta Post 13 February 2018
The Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries (MMAF) has established a special task force headed by former Indonesian military commander Adm. (Ret.) Widodo AS to register owners of fishing vessels equipped with cantrang seine net gear in central Java.  Cantrang and trawl nets were banned under regulations issued by the ministry in 2015 and 2016, but protests by fishers led to a decision in January to further postpone enforcement of the regulations in much of northern Java.  "We are still allowing them to use cantrang for now, but this is only for a limited time," Minister Susi Pudjiastuti said.  Information gathered by the task force indicated that most cantrang-equipped vessels operating in Rembang and Tegal in north Java are large fishing vessels of more than 30 gross tons (GT).  "Most of them have a capacity of 60-70 GT, and some are even 130 GT," Minister Susi said.  "Out of 331 vessels in Rembang 259 of them were above 40 GT."  To get a permit to continue to fish with cantrang gear, owners must register their vessels with the task force and purchase a vessel monitoring system (VMS) transponder used to monitor commercial fishing activities.

First modern fish market built in Jakarta
— The Jakarta Post 8 February 2018
Indonesia's first modern fish market following will be developed on a 22,444 m2 site in North Jakarta owned by the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries. The three-story market will have 900 wet stalls, 69 dry stalls, 18 fishing kiosks and 68 fresh-fish kiosks. Other facilities will include a chilling room, ice storage, packaging room, laboratory as well as a bank, health clinic and culinary center. Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan, who attended the ground-breaking ceremony led by Minister Susi Pudjiastuti, said he was glad that the ministry had decided to establish the modern market in Jakarta.

More fisheries improvement projects called for in tuna sector
— Undercurrent News 31 January 2018
The Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP) has called for efforts to improve tuna stocks through fisheries improvement projects to be focused on Japan, Indonesia and Sri Lanka. In a recent report on the tuna sector, the SFP assessed tuna in line with its Target 75 Initiative, a plan to see 75% of global seafood suppliers operating sustainably or moving to sustainable production by the end of 2020.  At present, only 15% of the world's fresh and frozen tuna sold meets this standard but increasing the number of fisheries improvement projects for tuna in targeted areas could help, the group said.

Forestry & Land Use

Indonesia to deal with last part of One Map Policy
— Anton Hermansyah, The Jakarta Post 5 February 2018
President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo said on Monday that the Indonesian government is now dealing with the final piece of its One Map Policy, which is designed to help resolve land disputes through a unified spatial map.  At present, land disputes frequent occur because maps developed and maintained by different government agencies are often inconsistent. "In 2018, we will focus on the maps for Papua, Maluku and Java so the One Map Policy can be expected to be completed in 2019," he said during a Cabinet meeting," the president said. The One Map program started with Kalimantan, where 4 million hectares of oil palm plantations were believed to occupy forest land. For Papua, the President issued new guidance calling for the official map to consider ancestral land, as this had frequently sparked problems over competing claims in the province. The program refers to Presidential Regulation No. 9/2016 on the acceleration for the implementation of the One Map Policy.

Indonesian agency announces winner of US$1 million peatland mapping prize
— Ally Friedman, World Resources Institute 2 February 2018
On the World's Wetlands Day, Indonesia's Geospatial Information Agency (BIG) announced that the International Peat Mapping Team, comprised of scientists from Remote Sensing Solutions GmbH (RSS), the Agency for the Assessment and Application of Technology (BPPT) and Sriwijaya University, is the winner of the US$ 1 million Indonesian Peat Prize. The two-year contest to find the best methodology for measuring the extent and depth of peat deposits in Indonesia drew 44 teams, including some of the biggest names in peat research and mapping. The Prize's Scientific Advisory Board (SAB), a group of scientists and experts who reviewed the finalists' submissions, reached a unanimous decision that the International Peat Mapping team had produced the most accurate, timely and cost-effective methodology for mapping peatlands. The Indonesian government will use the new method to protect and manage peatland areas, accelerate peatland restoration and support Indonesia's development goals.

Indonesian palm, pulp companies commit to peatland restoration
— Hans Nicholas Jong, Mongabay 4 February 2018
More than one hundred palm oil and pulp companies in Indonesia have pledged to restore a combined area of 14,000 square km (5,400 square miles) of degraded peatlands falling within their lease areas over the next eight years. Eighty of the companies are palm oil planters and 45 are pulp and paper firms, according to the Ministry of Environment and Forestry. Of these, 49 palm oil companies and 31 pulp companies have had their plans approved by the ministry. The move is part of government-driven efforts to prevent a repeat of the massive land and forest fires that flared up in 2015, largely as a result of peatlands being drained for planting and rendered highly combustible. At the heart of the rehabilitation work is blocking of illegal drainage canals, which will make it possible to recover water levels to the peat soil.

Asia Pulp and Paper's sustainability progress 'not sufficient' say NGOs
— Robin Hicks, Eco-business 7 February 2018
Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) has failed to live up to the sustainability commitments it made five years ago, a coalition of non-government organisations (NGOs) claimed on the 5th anniversary of the paper company's announcement of its Forest Conservation Policy (FCP). The firm committed to stop clearing natural forest on 5 February 2013, following years of campaigning by green groups. At the time, the announcement was seen as a sustainability milestone for the company. Up until 2013, APP had already cleared more than 2 million hectares of tropical forests over 34 years of operations in Indonesia, according to a report by Eyes on the Forest.
    To mark the five years anniversary of this promise, a group of ten NGOs, including World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), Indonesia-based Hutan Kita Institute, and British advocacy group Forest Peoples Program, issued a joint statement claiming that APP is "not yet on a sustainable track" and that the progress made so far has not been sufficient. The NGOs claim is that despite its promise to halt deforestation, APP went on to build one of the world's largest pulp mills at the start of last year without an adequate supply of plantation timber to feed it.  The company has challenged the NGOs' allegations.

Unilever, PTPN agree to accelerate sustainable palm oil production in Indonesia
— The Jakarta Post 31 January 2018
Consumer goods giant Unilever and state-owned palm oil plantation Perkebunan Nusantara, or PTPN, signed an agreement with palm oil factories and farmers in Indonesia to accelerate sustainable palm oil production under the principle of "no deforestation, no peat and no exploitation." As part of the agreement, PTPN will provide Unilever access to their factories and workforce. Unilever, meanwhile, will provide training, funding and technical guidance to farmers and factory workers to help them obtain sustainable palm oil certification. Unilever's support is intended to ensure that PTPN farmers can secure a better position within the palm oil industry and improve their capacity to produce environment-friendly sustainable palm oil.

Deforestation reduced in Indonesia's Aceh and Leuser Ecosystem, but threats remain
— Hans Nicholas Jong & Junaidi Hanafiah, Mongabay 5 February 2018 In 2017
Indonesia's Aceh Province lost 173 square km to deforestation, a reduction of 18% from the area of forest lost in both the previous two years.  Much of the slowdown occurred within the Leuser Ecosystem, one of Indonesia's last tracts of nearly intact rainforest, home to four of the country's most iconic and critically endangered species:  the Sumatran tiger, rhino, orangutan and elephant.
    Agung Dwinurcahya from the group Forest, Nature and Environment of Aceh (HAKA) attributed the slowdown in deforestation to better law enforcement and campaigns to protect the endangered ecosystem. Gunung Leuser National Park, a core part of the Leuser ecosystem, enjoys relatively strict protection, but covers just 3,210 square km, while the rest of the ecosystem, including lowland forests and peat swamps, is ostensibly open to development. The area is also threatened by plans to construct more new roads and build hydropower dams, a cement factory and a mine, Agung said.

Faith in the forest helps Dayaks in Kalimantan keep plantations and loggers at bay
— Hans Nicholas Jong, Indra Nugraha, Mongabay 8 February 2018
Indigenous Dayak tribes of Borneo have long-standing traditions of performing various rituals throughout the agricultural cycle.  The rituals keep communities united in protecting their forests and has helped the community resist pressures from mining and timber interests.  Other Dayak tribes in South Kalimantan's Meratus Mountains, face persistent threats as plantation and mining operators encroach on their lands, but the Dayak Pitap in Kambiyain have been able to stand strong.   The rituals make it less likely for them to get tempted to sell their lands.  Participation in rituals also help ensure that everyone in the community share in the natural bounty at harvest.

Carbon pricing could save millions of hectares of tropical forest
— Jonah Busch and Jens Engelmann, Environmental Research Letters 20 December 2017
Without new forest conservation policies, an estimated 289 million ha of tropical forest will be cleared between 2016 and 2050, comparable to the total area of India, which would result in the release of 169 billion tons of carbon dioxide (GtCO2).  New marginal abatement cost (MAC) curves based on the latest satellite data indicate that carbon prices in the range of US$20/tCO2 across tropical countries would reduce emissions from deforestation by 21% over 2016-2020 and 24.2% over 2016-2050.  A carbon price of US$50 would reduce deforestation emissions by 40.9% from 2016-2020 and by 45.7% from 2016-2050.  That so much more abatement is available at a given price in tropical forests compared to developed countries suggests the need for mechanisms to make it possible to find ways to pay for the relatively modest costs of reducing tropical deforestation.

Energy, Climate Change & Pollution

Jakarta is sinking to fast it could end up completely under water
— Michael Kimmelman, The New York Times 21 December 2017
Jakarta is sinking faster than any other big city on the planet, so surreally fast that rivers sometimes flow upstream, rains regularly swamp neighbourhoods, and buildings slowly disappear underground.  Researchers fear that global warming could result in a further sea level rise of as much as a meter over the coming century, which would spell disaster for the metropolis.  But Jakarta is sinking much faster than be explained by sea level rise.  The main cause is that Jakarta residents are digging too many illegal wells, which are draining the underground aquifers on which the entire city rests.  Coastal districts like Muara Baru have sunk as much as 4.3 meters over recent years.  Coastal mangroves which used to absorb the flow of excess water during monsoon storms have been replaced by apartment towers and shantytowns.  Together, climate change, a near total lack of planning, shortage of sewers and a limited network of reliable, piped-in drinking water poses an imminent threat to the city's survival.  Hydrologists say the city has only a decade to halt the sinking, or else northern Jakarta, with millions of residents, will end up underwater.

New rules restricting shipping of coal and palm oil to Indonesian vessels spook coal buyers
— Bernadette Christina Munthe, Reuters 5 February 2018
Buyers of Indonesian coal are holding back orders after the government issued new shipping rules requiring exports of coal and palm oil to be carried on Indonesian-flagged vessels and use Indonesian insurance, an industry association said. The government issued the new regulation in October in order to boost the role of the archipelago's shipping industry in its own export markets. However, guidelines on implementing the rules and possible exemptions have not yet been released, raising concerns among shippers. Indonesia is the world's top exporter of thermal coal and palm oil producer. The regulations are to take effect at the end of April.

Indonesia still in early stages of nuclear power development, 'No need to rush,' IAEA says
— The Jakarta Globe 5 February 2018
Yukiya Amano, chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said Indonesia is still in the early stages of its nuclear power development and should not rush to use nuclear energy. Speaking to reporters in Jakarta, Amano said countries planning to use nuclear power to meet energy demands must take a step-by-step approach. "You don't need to rush: consider various elements, and if you so wish, you can decide and then follow the steps," Amano said. He stressed that the IAEA does not intervene on the decision-making of any countries but will provide assistance once a decision is made. "If Indonesia decides to use nuclear power, we can help [so that it's used] safely, securely and sustainably," Amano stressed.
As part of Amano's visit to Indonesia, IAEA will also sign a bilateral cooperation agreement with the government, which will focus on improving the lives of ordinary citizens.

Conservation & Protected Area

Orangutan shot 130 times in Indonesia, in second killing reported this year
— Mongabay 7 February 2018
A second orangutan has been found killed in Indonesian Borneo in as many months, this time shot more than 100 times with a pellet gun, a conservation group reported. An X-ray on the Bornean orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus) that died in East Kalimantan province on 6 February revealed 130 pellets in its body. Authorities carrying out an autopsy managed to recover 48 of them, according to a statement from the Centre for Orangutan Protection (COP). Most of the pellets were located in the animal's head; it had also been shot multiple times in the arms, legs and torso. Wildlife conservation activists have called on the authorities to launch an investigation into the recently killings of the iconic and critically endangered endemic primate.

Indonesian police arrest Chinese nationals with 200 kg of sea turtle shells from Sorong
— Wahyu Chandru, Mongabay 12 February 2018
Police in Makassar, Sulawesi, arrested two Chinese nationals at their home in late January for illegal possession of 200 kg of turtle shells, with an estimated value of Rp180 million (US$13,200), which authorities believe was destined to be shipped to China.  The pair said they had obtained the turtle shells from Sorong, in West Papua.  Andry Indryasworo Sukmoputro, an official with the Makassar field office of the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries said that traffickers moving wild animals and their parts out of Papua and West Papua typically transit through Makassar, moving their illegal cargo by boat to avoid scrutiny by airport and quarantine officers.  Donna Briadi, head of the Makassar Police Special Crimes Unit, said one of the two men had been charged, while the other was been held as a witness.  Police are investigating whether the two men were part of a larger syndicate involved in the illegal trade in wild animals and animal parts.

Mahakam dolphins at brink of extinction
— The Jakarta Post 5 February 2018
The Mahakam River in East Kalimantan is home to a sub-population of critically endangered freshwater dolphins (Orcaella brevirostris). The conservation group Rare Aquatic Species of Indonesia (RASI) estimates their total number at only 80 individuals of all ages. Pollution from mining and logging, live captures, bycatch of dolphins in fishing gear, especially gill-net entanglement, and increased boat traffic have been blamed for the decline of the sub-population.
Danielle Kreb, a RASI senior researcher and scientific advisor, said the presence of vessels and the noise they make has greatly contributed to the endangerment of the rare dolphins. Research shows that the animals have gone through behavioral changes because of the noise pollution and deteriorating water quality arising from the dust and debris from the passing vessels. Untreated waste from industrial activities along the Mahakam and its numerous water sources has exacerbated the predicament. The busy traffic not only causes stress to aquatic life but also damages the river's ecosystem, especially in narrow creeks where fish spawn. The prolonged stress reduces the animals' immunity and contributes to ailments and premature deliveries, changes in migration patterns and avoidance of excessively busy spots like tributaries. The dolphins are also at risk of being struck by speedboats, as excessive noise confuses their sonar system.

Indonesia traffickers sold crocodiles and pythons on social media: Police
— Channel News Asia 31 January 2018
A group of suspected animal traffickers have been arrested in Indonesia for selling crocodiles, pythons and other protected species through Facebook and the messaging service WhatsApp, police said on Wednesday (Jan 31).  The case is the latest example of how social media has become a key online market place for animal traffickers as conservationists warn that tech giants have not done enough to halt the trade on their platforms. The seven suspects, arrested at separate locations in and around Jakarta, bought the animals for just Rp300,000 (US$22) each before re-selling them online for between Rp2 million and Rp5 million, authorities said. "The suspects put the animals up for sale on a Facebook page or via WhatsApp," said Jakarta police spokesman Argo Yuwono.


Indonesian preprint server takes off
— Ivy Shih, Nature 11 January 2018
The number of papers posted on INA-Rxiv reached 1,500 on 5 December, marking a milestone for the preprint server focusing exclusively on Indonesian research which was launched in August.  The server hosts papers in multiple disciplines, including the natural sciences, engineering, social and behavioural sciences, arts and humanities, accepting material written in both Bahasa Indonesian and English.  Articles posted on the server are automatically indexed on Google Scholar.  "I want people to understand that in Indonesia, we can produce original research and papers," said Bandung Institute of Technology hydrogeologist Dasapta Irawan, who helped create the server.




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