‘Sarawak model in peatland devt’

‘Sarawak model in peatland devt’

23 March 2016

published by www.theborneopost.com

Indonesia– Scientific research in peat soil has made Sarawak a role model in sustainable peatland development.

The research has been conducted by Tropical Peat Research Laboratory (TPRL), a unit under the Chief Minister’s Department.

Its director Dr Lulie Melling said Sarawak currently has managed to develop peat soil science which has been proven to be successful in increasing palm oil production, maintaining its sustainability and reducing peat fire, among others.

“Indonesia is now trying to learn from Sarawak on how to deal with peatland. With effective management of peatland, it is possible to reduce haze and minimise chances of fire in peatland areas.

“Reducing peat fire and haze has been of paramount importance because every time when it happens, many South East Asian countries are affected,” said Lulie to The Borneo Post yesterday at TPRL, Kota Samarahan.

Lulie said Sarawak has not been known for its scientific development but TPRL has made a start and is ever ready to share with whoever is ready to listen to what Sarawak has learnt about peat and other related issues.

“Clearly research tradition is not strong and research work is not sufficient in Sarawak. TPRL has started it and hopes to continue the research spirit and practice by passing it on to the next generation.”

To continue her effort in encouraging more Sarawakians to get involved in research work, Lulie has brought in International Peat Congress (IPC), a quadrennial meeting which for the last 60 years had been held in Europe and North America.

“It is about giving an opportunity for locals to jump start in scientific and research development by having global communities who are more advanced in research coming to our door steps and share with us their scientific findings and their concerns.

“Through the conference, Sarawakians can establish networking with research centres in the world and tap on other resources that the world may be able to provide.

“At the same time, we can show to the world that Sarawak has the best management practice of peat. It will also be a platform to show the world that we are doing the right thing.

“IPC is more than peat. It is also about science and research, sustainability of forestry, deforestation, government policies, prevention of peat fire, palm oil and oil palm industries and its environmental and social impact, so on and so forth,” said Lulie who is the congress general.

IPC which will be held in Kuching from Aug 15 to 19 has been receiving overwhelming support from local and international scientists, students, researchers, NGO members, plantation industrial players, students and agriculturists.

As of yesterday, the congress, which cost some RM2.5 million to organise, will see 200 scientific papers and 200 posters presented.

The event themed ‘Peatlands in Harmony – Agriculture, Industry & Nature’ which is organised by Malaysian Peat Society (MPS) in partnership with International Peat Society (IPS) and supported by the International Union of Soil Sciences (IUSS) and International Union of Forest Research Organisations (IUFRO) is expected to receive more than 3,000 delegates, both overseas and local.
 Every adversity is an opportunity in disguise. Today marks the International Day of Forests, a moment of global celebration to raise awareness of the importance of forests to the ecosystem and to humanity.

This day is of particular significance to Indonesia, home to the world’s third largest tropical forested area, and offers a great opportunity to highlight existing solutions to address one of the country’s most challenging issues: annual forest fires and forest-related crimes.

As part of its commitment to protect national natural resources, UNDP and UN-REDD Program, with support from Norway, have worked with the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, the National Police Forces and the Attorney General Office to pursue a new effective approach to tackle environment-related crimes in forest areas and peatlands, including forest fires.

 This approach is called the “multi-door approach” and attempts to both prevent offenders from violating Indonesia’s environmental laws and to ensure that corporate accountability, recovery of state losses and restoration of the environment are incorporated into every investigation for forest-related crimes.

This approach can be an effective tool to combat forest fires, often triggered by the clearing of land for agricultural purposes.

Illegal land clearing by burning is an example of a natural resource and environment-related crime that requires systematic investigations and mutual cooperation between various government and law enforcement agencies.

The full enforcement of these environmental protection laws are an essential step toward better protection and management of forests and peatlands in Indonesia.

The financial and environmental losses of environment-related crimes are staggering. According to the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, an average of 0.7 million hectares of forest were lost every year from 1990 to 2013, through illegal actions — that is a total of over 16 million hectares, which is nearly the size of Cambodia.

They also have a cost to State revenues; in 2015, the Corruption Eradication Commission estimated that the shortfall in State revenue due to these illegal actions amounts to US$6.47 to $8.98 billion from 2007 to 2013.

The multi-door approach has not yet been integrated into performance-based indicators of relevant institutions.

In May 2013, the national police, the Attorney General, the Ministry of Forestry, and the Ministry of Environment signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to adopt the multi-door approach when handling natural resources and environment-related crimes in forest areas and peatlands.

UNDP Indonesia has recently presented findings of an assessment — undertaken at the government’s request — on the effectiveness of the Multi-Door Approach.

The results of our assessment show that, in practice, the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) of law enforcement agencies were not yet aligned with the guidelines under multi-door approach, despite the formal agreement signed in 2013.

The UNDP assessment recommends three key elements for improved law enforcement for forest related crimes: (1) the establishment of guidelines and inter-agency coordination via the Multiple-Door Approach; (2) the need for capacity building for informed and knowledgeable enforcement personnel and (3) to ensure that all enforcement agencies explicitly incorporate the Multi-Door Approach into their daily operations to incentivize compliance.

Firstly, the handling of crimes in forest areas and peatlands require increased coordination between law enforcement agencies and government institutions mandated to investigate natural resource and environment-related crimes.

This includes civil servant investigators in the environment, forestry, taxation and plantation sectors.

If there are indications or reports of crimes such as violations of the Plantation Law and the Law on Spatial Planning, corruption or money laundering, following the multiple-door approach, the first institution that receives the report should then inform other relevant law enforcement agencies to trigger appropriate action.

Therefore, agencies can complement each other by bringing in witnesses and including experts from outside ministries or agencies, when required by the police or prosecutors investigating environmental crimes.

The second element is capacity building for informed enforcement personnel. In addition to understanding specific environmental laws, investigators must also be knowledgeable of interrelated regulations, which may be indirectly related to a forest fire case, such as the Plantation Law that regulates the scope of a plantation area.

This also includes capacity building for judges to increase their technical skills when overseeing legal proceedings for forestry-related crimes, which UNDP is addressing with the support of the European Union.

Lastly, the multi-door approach has not yet been integrated into performance-based indicators of relevant institutions.

This fact diminishes the incentives for each institution to implement the approach. It would be much more effective if the multi-door approach was incorporated as one of the performance indicators for the signatories of the MOU.

Taking action on the three aforementioned elements is expected to significantly improve law enforcement for natural resource and environment-related crimes throughout the country. Such improvement can lead to the prosecution of the relatively “untouchable masterminds”, companies and individuals who engineer the illegal actions that lead to annual burning of Indonesia’s forests.

As just last week, hotspots signifying forest fires began to reappear in the islands of Sumatra and Kalimantan. In response, the Indonesian government has pledged swifter responses to tackle the annual forest fires that cause a choking haze and blanket these two islands.

The multi-door approach offers an opportunity to make a significant breakthrough in addressing peatland and forest crimes, through increased coordination and inter agency cooperation.

What is urgently needed now is the full implementation of this approach by all relevant law enforcement and governmental agencies to prevent a reoccurrence of last year’s historic levels of ecological and economic losses, caused by Indonesia’s annual forest fires.

Strengthened cooperation and coordination will make a real difference to effectively tackle this complex issue and improve the wellbeing of Indonesia’s people, environment and economy. – See more at: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2016/03/21/multi-door-approach-address-forest-related-crimes-indonesia.html#sthash.7UIq6Xis.dpufOfficials of the Department of Game and Wildlife have called for a thorough cleaning of the environment to ward off reptiles, following preliminary investigations and assessment they conducted in Essienimpong and Kwaaso in the Ejisu municipality which have been invaded by snakes.

The team, who visited the two communities and interacted with the people, believe that the recent long drought coupled with the destruction of the natural habitat through bushfires might have forced the reptiles to invade these towns, since their habitat had been destroyed.


Regional Manager

Speaking to the Daily Graphic, the Regional Manager of the Wildlife Division for Brong Ahafo and Ashanti, Mr Charles Haizel, said preliminary assessment by his men indicated that the snakes moved to the communities and laid their eggs as a result of a bushfire in a forest in the area.

He said samples of the snakes had been taken for further studies and identification, adding that it could also be that the recent heavy rains might have washed them from where they were hatched to the communities.


The two communities were gripped with fear and panic after the invasion of their homes and shops by hundreds of the snakes.

Since last Monday, the residents have been living in great trepidation, especially when the snakes, three different types, emerged from holes in homes and street sides, usually after 7p.m. each day.

As many as 87 snakes were killed one night in a single house.

It became worse last Wednesday night when the lights went off. Most of the members of the community, especially the youth, went out on a snake-killing spree.

– See more at: http://www.graphic.com.gh/news/general-news/60481-bushfire-caused-movement-of-snakes.html#sthash.cul66mFs.dpuf

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