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lawsuit is pending in an Indonesian court, and a verdict due on March 4 could see the developer’s environmental permit rescinded, essentially halting the project.The protests come amid a revelation, first reported by Mongabay, that the signature of a scientist involved in the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 Change.org 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

EGC Diaspora Engagement Task Force To Give Update At Upcoming Conference

first_imgStory Highlights Under this, there were sub-initiatives that included a plan to repurpose the Jamaican Diaspora Foundation – Global Connect Jamaica (Glo-Jam) – which is the centrepiece of the sub-initiatives. Participants at the upcoming Jamaica 55 Diaspora Conference will be updated on the progress of initiatives being undertaken by the Economic Growth Council (EGC) Diaspora Engagement Task Force when they meet later this month. Chairman of the Task Force, Dr. David Panton, told JIS News that as part of the September 2016 submission made to Cabinet by the EGC, there were eight growth initiatives in their Call to Action, which included ‘harnessing the power of the Diaspora’. Participants at the upcoming Jamaica 55 Diaspora Conference will be updated on the progress of initiatives being undertaken by the Economic Growth Council (EGC) Diaspora Engagement Task Force when they meet later this month.Chairman of the Task Force, Dr. David Panton, told JIS News that as part of the September 2016 submission made to Cabinet by the EGC, there were eight growth initiatives in their Call to Action, which included ‘harnessing the power of the Diaspora’.Under this, there were sub-initiatives that included a plan to repurpose the Jamaican Diaspora Foundation – Global Connect Jamaica (Glo-Jam) – which is the centrepiece of the sub-initiatives.“The fundamental purpose of Glo-Jam is to invite successful and prominent members of the Jamaican Diaspora, as well as friends of Jamaica, to leverage their knowledge, experience, relationships and skills in assisting with the identification and implementation of specific projects that will assist in the economic growth and development of Jamaica, with a particular focus on investment,” he explained.Dr. Panton said that the Task Force is now “formalising a structure, and creating a new Glo-Jam Advisory Board comprising distinguished and successful members of the Diaspora, with the patron being the Prime Minister.”Another sub-initiative is to encourage the Jamaican Diaspora to invest and become more engaged in Jamaica, and to establish a special financing agency under Glo-Jam to issue bonds, targeting the Diaspora, and mobilising resources.“There are also plans to establish a fast-track, one-stop coordinating agency of all the major Government agencies to address all Diaspora and investors’ requests and initiatives,” he said.The final sub-initiative is to work with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade to increase Jamaica’s Honorary Consuls by more than 100 per cent worldwide, particularly in the United States (US), the United Kingdom (UK) and Canada.He said that the process of identifying additional cities has already started and they are also strategising on how to recruit additional Consuls.Dr. Panton pointed out that Jamaica now has approximately 80 Consuls, while other countries with tourism as a large part of their GDP have 300 to 400 Consuls.The Consul’s role is to assist Jamaicans abroad with their consular affairs, as well as to act as an Ambassador for the country, promoting the island to visitors and investors, and ultimately raising the profile of the country.last_img read more

Businesses Utilising COJ Electronic Registration

first_img A total of 130 entities have utilised the Companies Office of Jamaica’s (COJ) Electronic Business Registration Form (eBRF) since the online facility was piloted on April 4. Story Highlights A total of 130 entities have utilised the Companies Office of Jamaica’s (COJ) Electronic Business Registration Form (eBRF) since the online facility was piloted on April 4.Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the COJ, Judith Ramlogan, made the disclosure at a JIS Think Tank on Wednesday (June 20).She explained that eBRF allows for expedited business-name reservation and registration.She said it is designed to improve the agency’s service efficiency, making the business-registration process easier and less time-consuming for clients.“The eBRF will also cost the customer less. Those using the online registration with COJ will save approximately $3,250,” she informed.Mrs. Ramlogan said that eBRF represents the first online business-registration system in the Caribbean. The project is being undertaken at a cost of approximately $35 million through the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)-funded Public Sector Efficiency Programme (PSEP).It is a two-phased implementation, with the first phase facilitating business-name reservation and registration for the sole proprietor and partnership (individual).The second phase, expected to start in December, will involve corporate sole proprietor and partnerships as well as company incorporation (limited by shares and limited by guarantee).Mrs. Ramlogan explained that with registration of business names accounting for 77 per cent of the registration transaction, the agency decided to focus on this area first.She noted that COJ registered more than 9,000 business names last year, and the eBRF will encourage a larger number of registrations.Mrs. Ramlogan said the online form is simple, with help wizard software, and includes online payment using COJ eBank subscription.It allows for uploading of documents for processing, secret phrase verification, confirmation of registration by email data protection, and the ability to track documents.The online business-name reservation is free for up to two days, and there is a cost of $500 to have the name reserved for 30 days.For his part, Principal Director for the Modernisation Programme Implementation Unit of the Public Sector Transformation and Modernisation Division, Office of the Cabinet, Wayne Robertson, said that the eBRF is grounded in the national development plan, Vision 2030.“This Vision 2030 speaks to building the capacities of public institutions to enable them to deliver high-quality services, and the COJ is one such agency that the Cabinet Office has partnered with to achieve this,” he said.“We are making it easier for the public to do business with the government offices, including the COJ. We want to stop the conversation about improving service and start seeing tangible things in place, and the eBRF is evidence of efforts being made to improve services,” he added.Mr. Robertson pointed out that in addition to boosting service delivery, eBRF will improve trade and investment facilitation.He noted that Jamaica has made significant strides in terms of ease of starting a business, with the country ranked five out of 190 countries for that index in the latest World Bank Doing Business report.“We have surpassed Singapore, which is ranked six. We, however, would love to get to the realm of a New Zealand, who is ranked number one or Canada, which is number two. So this eBRF project will put us in that direction,” he said. Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the COJ, Judith Ramlogan, made the disclosure at a JIS Think Tank on Wednesday (June 20). She said it is designed to improve the agency’s service efficiency, making the business-registration process easier and less time-consuming for clients.last_img read more