Protests flare as pressure mounts on dam project in orangutan habitat

first_imgAnimals, Biodiversity, Critically Endangered Species, Dams, Deforestation, Endangered, Endangered Species, Environment, Forests, Hydroelectric Power, Hydropower, Orangutans, Rainforest Animals, Rainforest Destruction, Rainforests, Tropical Forests Activists in Jakarta and cities around the world staged protests outside Bank of China branches and Chinese diplomatic missions on March 1.They called on state-owned BOC to end its funding for a hydroelectric project in Sumatra that threatens the only known habitat of the Tapanuli orangutan, the world’s rarest great ape.A lawsuit is pending in an Indonesian court, and a verdict due on March 4 could see the developer’s environmental permit rescinded, essentially halting the project.The protests come amid a revelation, first reported by Mongabay, that the signature of a scientist involved in the environmental impact analysis was forged to obtain the permit. JAKARTA — Activists in Indonesia and abroad staged a coordinated protest on March 1 to draw attention to a controversial hydroelectric project in Sumatra funded by China that threatens the world’s rarest great ape, the Tapanuli orangutan.The activists protested out Chinese diplomatic missions and branches of state-owned Bank of China, which is funding the planned dam through loans, in cities including Jakarta, New York, Hong Kong, Manila and Johannesburg.Ghana activists delivered an open letter to the Chinese Embassy in Ghana to protest against the Batang Toru hydropower project. Image by Walhi.In Indonesia, where the $1.6 billion project is the subject of an ongoing lawsuit, activists from the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) and other NGOs called on BOC to rescind its loans, saying that allowing the project to proceed would devastate the Batang Toru ecosystem, the only known habitat of the Tapanuli orangutan (Pongo tapanuliensis).Dwi Sawung, the chief campaigner for energy issues at Walhi, said BOC had acknowledged last May receiving an open letter from Walhi, which called on it to withdraw from the project, and said it would investigate on the matter.“But there hasn’t been any news from them since then,” Dwi told Mongabay at the demonstration in Jakarta.He said that prompted Walhi to stage the latest series of protests and send another open letter to BOC branches and Chinese embassies and consulates.“Despite many attempts to convey our concerns since May 2018, we still have not received a meaningful response from Bank of China,” the new letter says. “If built, the dam will likely doom the newly discovered Tapanuli orangutan species to extinction. Less than 800 of them are left.”Walhi also launched an online petition at to call BOC to stop funding the project.Activists from Walhi staged a protest outside the Bank of China office in Jakarta, Indonesia. Image by Hans Nicholas Jong/Mongabay.Forest fragmentationThe project to build the 510-megawatt hydropower plant has been controversial from the outset because of concerns about its environmental impact. Key among them is the fate of the Tapanuli orangutan, a species only described in 2017, yet already declared critically endangered and the world’s rarest great ape.Gabriella Fredriksson, a wildlife biologist with the Sumatran Orangutan Conversation Programme (SOCP), said there were so few Tapanuli orangutans that “this species can’t afford even an offtake of a few individuals.”But the project developer, PT North Sumatra Hydro Energy (NSHE), says the impact on the ape and its habitat will be minimal. It says building the reservoir for the power plant will flood just 90 hectares (220 acres) of its total 6,500-hectare (16,000-acre) concession in the Batang Toru ecosystem. The total area taken up by the project, once complete, will be 122 hectares (300 acres), says NHSE spokesman Firman Taufick.William F. Laurance, a professor at James Cook University in Australia who led a major study of the Tapanuli orangutan, said while the area occupied by the dam might not seem all that large, its supporting infrastructure, especially service roads, would still threaten the survival of the orangutans by splitting the already disjointed orangutan populations into smaller and smaller pieces.That would increase the chances of problems like inbreeding, accelerating the species’ slide toward extinction. The roads will also create openings into previously inaccessible parts of the forest that will be prone to exploitation by farmers and poachers.“Using NSHE’s logic, someone could cut off your head and there would be only minor damage, because far less than 1 percent of your tissue would be destroyed,” Laurance said. (Editor’s note: Laurance is a member of Mongabay’s advisory board.)Agus Djoko Ismanto, NSHE’s senior environmental adviser, said the company planned to minimize the fragmentation problem by building its service roads along riverbanks in Batang Toru. “So these roads won’t splice up the forest,” he said at a media briefing in Jakarta the day before the protests.An adult female Tapanuli orangutan. Image by Tim Laman/Wikimedia Commons.Questionable study, permitThe developer has also called into question the presence of orangutans in its project area, citing a study by a local government agency. The study says orangutans had largely left that part of the forest before construction of the project began because of the spread of farms and settlements in the area.Laurance has rebutted the study, saying that “field research by my colleagues in Sumatra has shown their findings to be woefully inaccurate.”Fredriksson of the SOCP said her team had carried out an extensive biodiversity study of the hydropower project area in 2015, under contracted by a consultancy, ERM.“The nest surveys showed that the lowland area along the Batang Toru River has the highest density of orangutans compared to any of the other locations in the Batang Toru Ecosystem that we have surveyed since 2003,” she told Mongabay.Laurance and Fredriksson have also questioned the credibility of Aek Nauli, the government agency that issued the study.Laurance said it was “notorious for producing unreliable research to aid industry,” while Fredriksson said “they have gone commercial on various fronts and are indeed hired by NSHE to counter any data from other sources on the importance of the area for orangutans or other wildlife.”NSHE’s Firman has rebutted the accusation, saying the company didn’t fund the study done by Aek Nauli.Even major development funders such as the World Bank have steered clear of the project because of the environmental concerns. Fredriksson said it might have been her team’s findings that spooked them. She said the findings were used by ERM for an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA), a standard widely applied internationally to identify and mitigate impacts of major projects on biodiversity.“This report probably scared the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation [IFC] and the Asian Development Bank [ADB] away,” Fredriksson said.NSHE, though, said it had never approached the IFC or the ADB to seek funding for the project.WALHI’s Sawung said it was critically important, for a project in such a biodiverse area, to undergo a strict environmental impact assessment before construction. But that doesn’t appear to be the case for the locally conducted assessment, known as an Amdal, for which NHSE received its environmental permit to start building.Map of the Batang Toru ecosystem, home to the Tapanuli orangutan (Pongo tapanuliensis) in Sumatra.Lawsuit verdict dueOne of the independent scientists employed to catalog the biodiversity of the ecosystem told Mongabay recently that his findings were omitted from the Amdal submitted to regulators, and that his signature on the document was forged.Onrizal Onrizal, a forestry researcher at North Sumatra University, said he worked on the Amdal in 2013, but that the final version was issued in 2016. He said he wasn’t even aware that the 2016 version existed until late last year.The revelation casts doubt on the integrity of the licensing process for a project already mired in controversy. Sawung said he hoped it would be the determining factor in Walhi’s lawsuit seeking to revoke the environmental permit for NSHE, which was issued by the North Sumatra provincial government based on the Amdal.Sawung said the only rational outcome would be for the court to rule in Walhi’s favor, given that a forged signature would render the Amdal, and by extension the environmental permit, invalid.The court is scheduled to deliver its verdict March 4.Besides the alleged forgery of Onrizal’s signature, environmentalists have also questioned the Amdal’s omission of eight endangered species from the list of wildlife found in the Batang Toru forest.The previous version compiled by Onrizal listed 23 species, while the final one has 15. Those missing include the Tapanuli orangutan, Sumatran tiger, sun bear, and Sumatran lar gibbon.NSHE’s Agus said the list was changed because the location of the project’s quarry was also changed in the revised Amdal. As a result, the new document only listed species found in the location of the new quarry. Agus said the company would ensure that no species, whether named on the list or not, would be harmed in the process of building the hydropower plant.Sawung rejected this explanation, saying all species from throughout the project site, and not just the quarry, should have been listed.“The whole project entails other infrastructure, not only the quarry,” he said. “Maybe they limited the scope to just the quarry, but we’re talking about a whole ecosystem here.” Article published by Hans Nicholas Jong Banner image: Indonesian activists staged a protest outside the Bank of China office in Jakarta, Indonesia. Image by Hans Nicholas Jong/Mongabay. Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsoredlast_img read more

Scotland 1-1 Canada: Naismith scores in Slovenia warm-up

first_imgRight-back Ikechi Anya won his 25th cap while Charlie Mulgrew returned to partner Christophe Berra in the centre of defence with Chris Martin leading the line. However, the poor crowd inside Easter Road on a freezing, wet night revealed the lack of appetite for the fixture.The home side, captained by Darren Fletcher, started with some assurance on a sodden pitch, with Anya causing early problems down the right-hand side.However, the Scots were stunned in the 11th minute when defenders Lee Wallace and Mulgrew failed to deal with a Maxim Tissot cross from the left and when the ball fell kindly to Aird. The former Rangers player dispatched his shot from 12 yards past Scotland keeper Allan McGregor.Moments later, amid the stunned silence of the Tartan Army, Scotland attacker Robert Snodgrass’s hopeful cross into the box evaded everybody and came off the post. Midway through the first half Canada keeper Simon Thomas blocked a close-range shot from Martin after Scotland had played their way behind the increasingly confident visiting defence.But there was almost more trouble for the home side in the 26th minute when Aird drifted all too easily into the Scotland penalty area – this time his left-footed shot from 14 yards went wide -before a Simeon Jackson shot was deflected over for a corner which came to nothing.Scotland picked up the pace. Midfielder Oliver Burke blasted a shot straight at Thomas in the 31st minute but three minutes later the hosts were level, when, following pressure on the Canada defence, Naismith redirected a drive from Cairney over the line from 12 yards.If the Scots thought they had gained control of the game they were disabused of that notion two minutes from the break when another dangerous Canada attack ended with Marco Bustos curling a shot from the edge of the box just past the post.Canada replaced keeper Thomas with Jayson Leutwiler of Shrewsbury for the start of the second half while Barry Bannan and Andrew Robertson came on for Burke and Wallace respectively.Cairney looked the part in the Scotland engine rooom as the home side went left, right and down the middle in search of some joy.Strikers Leigh Griffiths and Jordan Rhodes replaced Naismith and Martin just after the hour mark.Leutwiler made a decent save from Bannan, who fired the rebound over.Scotland explored a more direct route as the second half progressed but with no more success.Hibs player John McGinn was given a rousing cheer when he replaced Cairney, before McGregor tipped a powerful Aird drive over the bar for a corner which posed no danger to the Hull City keeper.The home side kept pushing but play was disjointed and Canada held out with a degree of comfort. Scotland had to come from behind against lowly Canada to grab a draw in their friendly at a sodden Easter Road.Falkirk midfielder Fraser Aird fired the visitors into a shock lead, but Steven Naismith equalised in the 35th minute when he turned a wayward shot by debutant Tom Cairney into the net.The visitors, ranked 117th in the world, merited a draw in game which served as a warm-up for Scotland’s World Cup qualifier against Slovenia at Hampden Park on Sunday.Cairney, the 26-year-old Fulham midfielder, was the only new face in Gordon Strachan’s below par side. They could have done with a few more, for it was a sobering night for the Scots.last_img read more

Future of long-range flying – no economy seats?

first_imgIs the future of long-range flying no economy seats. That is the question when Singapore Airlines re-launches its Singapore to New York non-stop this Thursday as there are no economy seats on the world’s longest non-stop commercial flight.And on many other airlines, economy seats are being reduced on long-range aircraft as more premium economy seats are added with passengers demanding more comfort as fares drop relative to earnings.The cost of an economy fare in 2000 now buys premium economy with all its comforts and frills.And more and more airlines are installing Economy X or Economy plus to cater for travelers desires for more comfort.Airbus specially developed its A350-900 for the Singapore to New York route, and it is fitted with a luxurious interior with only 67 business class seats and 94 premium economy seats.The A350-900ULR will cover the 16,700km from Changi Airport to Newark Liberty International airport in New Jersey in 18hr 45 minutes.READ more on the future of flyingSEE our video “Dispelling the myths of flying.”LEARN about 747’s 50 wonderful yearsThat flight is 2,230km longer than the Qantas Perth to London non-stop route launched in March this year.The first flight, SQ 22 takes off on October 11 at 11.35pm and arrives in New Jersey at 6am Friday morning.The route will initially be served three times a week, departing Singapore on Monday, Thursday, and Saturday.FutureSingapore Airlines premium economy on the A380Daily operations will commence a week later after an additional A350-900ULR aircraft enters service.Travel agents are reporting that the service is popular, which follows on from Qantas’s experience on the Perth to London non-stop which is 92 percent full and 94 percent in the premium cabins.Singapore Airlines has teamed up with Canyon Ranch, one of the world’s premier integrative wellness brands, to create special cuisines and rest and relaxation programs, to enhance the long flight.Canyon Ranch has developed science-based strategies for improved sleep, exercise and stretching, as well as new, nutrition-focused menus for the ultra-long flight.The A350 is similar to the Boeing 787 used by Qantas is being made of a composite structure which enables a lower cabin altitude and higher humidity to reduce the impact of jet lag.For the long flight there are two sets of pilots and after the arrival in the US, they have three days off before the return flight. And before the A350 sets off from Singapore they must have had 48 hours off.Looking after the passengers will be 13 cabin crew and these crews get four hours off during the flight.And to ensure everyone is entertained Singapore Airlines has added 200 hours of movies and TV content to its over 1000 hours of content.In premium economy, passengers will get three meals during the flight, while business class will get two larger meals and a non-stop refreshment menu throughout the flight.last_img read more

Climate researchers press Trudeau to renew Canadian Arctic research program

first_imgEureka Sound off Ellesmere Island in the Canadian Arctic. Climate researchers press Trudeau to renew Canadian Arctic research program By Brian OwensJan. 22, 2018 , 11:45 AM The Canadian government should renew funding for a soon-to-end Arctic climate and atmospheric research program, a group of more than 250 international climate scientists is arguing in an open letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.“There is a crisis looming for Canadian climate and atmospheric research that will be felt far beyond Canada’s borders,” the letter states. Extending funding for the 6-year-old Climate Change and Atmospheric Research (CCAR) program, which is set to end this year, would help maintain the country’s scientific and political leadership in the field, the authors say.CCAR, launched in 2012, provides CA$7 million per year for seven research networks studying the physical processes underlying climate and atmospheric behavior. Among other activities, the networks monitor and model tiny particles known as aerosols, biogeochemical trace elements in the Arctic Ocean, and atmospheric temperatures in the high Arctic.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)center_img So far, the Trudeau government has been mostly silent on CCAR’s future, frustrating scientists concerned about the program’s fate. It has given one part of the program a temporary reprieve; In November 2017, the government announced CA$1.6 million in funding for the Polar Environment Atmospheric Research Laboratory, located on the remote Ellesmere Island in Canada, to keep it running until 2019.CCAR is an important program not just for Canadian researchers, but for those around the world, says Benjamin Santer, a climate scientist at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, California, who signed the letter. “I have a rich history of collaboration with scientists in Canada. Anything that jeopardizes … that work is a concern to me,” he says. (Santer spoke in a personal capacity, not representing his employer.)CCAR is one of the only sources of public funding for this kind of science in Canada, says Dan Weaver, an atmospheric physicist at the University of Toronto in Canada and a member of the scientific campaign group Evidence for Democracy. Given the Trudeau government’s public commitments to climate action, the pending end of the program comes as something of a surprise. “To lose this under this government is unexpected, and will be very damaging,” Weaver says. “If we don’t act, we’re going to start losing people, facilities, and data sets.”Santer says international climate researchers are looking to Canada to provide leadership as climate science is sidelined in the United States. “The scientific understanding of the nature and causes of climate change are under concerted attack [in the United States], and our work is being dismissed as a hoax and conspiracy,” he says. “So we look to other countries like Canada for leadership—both political leadership, which Trudeau has said he will provide in this leadership vacuum, and scientific leadership.”Canada recently opened a new Arctic research lab, the Canadian High Arctic Research Station, in Cambridge Bay. But it is not equipped for atmospheric research, Weaver says, and despite its name is not located far enough north to replicate the work of the CCAR networks.Any announcement of new CCAR funding will likely have to wait until the federal government releases its next budget in March. Canadian researchers have been lobbying hard for an increase in basic research funding, and say they have had a positive reception from government ministers.Matt Jeneroux, a member of Parliament and the Shadow Minister for Science of the opposition Conservative Party, reacted to today’s letter with a statement affirming his party’s support for continuing CCAR. The Conservative administration of former Prime Minister Stephen Harper “created this fund in the 2011 budget,” he noted. “This government has had over two years in power, and plenty of advanced warning, to come up with a solution when CCAR sunsets this year.” The Trudeau government’s silence on the issue, he added,  “is disappointing from a government that claims to put a high value on both science and climate change.” NASA/Michael Studinger/Flickr (CC BY 2.0) last_img read more