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REDD in the news: 24 February – 2 March 2014

REDD-Monitor’s weekly round up of the news on REDD, organised by date with short extracts (click on the title for the full article). REDD-Monitor’s news page is updated regularly. For past REDD in the news posts, click here.

Here’s some music to listen to while you click on the links and read – William Tyler playing Cadillac Desert from his 2013 album Impossible Truth:

24 February 2014

‘Imagination’ required to save UN carbon market says new chair

By Ed King, RTCC, 24 February 2014 | The UN’s carbon market requires “bold” action to get it back on track, the new chair of its governing panel has warned. Hugh Sealy, an environmental scientist from Barbados, said the Clean Development Mechanism is a “fantastic tool” but it needed “imagination” to encourage greater use. “These are challenging times for the CDM. The ship is sound, in the best shape ever after years of improvement, but there is little wind in her sails,” he said. “We need to use our imagination and be bold in looking for ways to encourage use of this mechanism.” Sealy took over as head of the CDM Executive Board last week, with Germany’s Lambert Schneider, a researcher in carbon markets, elected as his deputy. CDM credits can be used by governments and businesses to meet carbon targets, and since its launch it has generated more than $315 billion in climate finance.

Decrease in global average productivity driven by temperature-induced moisture stress

By Shijo Joseph, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 24 February 2014 | Together with two colleagues from India, Jagdish Krishnaswamy of the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment, and Robert John of the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, I have been working to assess the impact of climate change on global primary production — that is, the rate of fixation of carbon through the process of photosynthesis. Existing science says that global average productivity is on the rise due to climate change. However, most of these studies were carried out at the global scale without separating out drivers of local land-use change, such as expansion of agricultural areas. Therefore, an increase in global primary production attributed solely to climate change was not logical to us. So the first question we faced was how to separate out the impacts of local land-use drivers from the global environmental-change drivers.

[Australia] Western NSW forests to join carbon program

The Australian, 24 February 2014 | GreenCollar Group will issue the first ever Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCUS) for a Native Forest Protection project on a Western Lands lease. GreenCollar Group said it had worked closely with landholders in Western NSW for the last three years to develop forestry projects under the Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI). GreenCollar Group is working with landholders to manage over 50,000 ha of Native Forest in Western NSW for carbon whilst maintaining traditional farm activities including grazing and cropping, it said. The ACCUs generated from these projects will be sold to companies with liabilities under the Carbon Pricing Mechanism as well as the government’s new Emission Reduction Fund. “The creation of these carbon credits represents a significant new income stream to farmers on Western Lands Leases. For farmers carbon credits are now an important part of the picture when making land use planning decisions,” said James Schultz, CEO of GCS.

[Australia] Carbon credit crunch as federal government takes first step to scrap the tax

Herald Sun, 24 february 2014 | The federal government will today take the first step in scrapping the carbon tax by introducing a surprise regulation to cancel an auction of billions of dollars of carbon credits. Environment Minister Greg Hunt will block the Clean Energy Regulator from selling any more credits to businesses, which was to be conducted before June this year. In an unexpected move that will take Labor and the Greens by surprise, a regulation signed secretly last week will be tabled in both houses of parliament this morning. While saving $1 million in administrative costs alone, the move will also force Labor leader Bill Shorten to side with the Greens in the senate to veto the government. Environment Minister Greg Hunt told The Daily Telegraph: “Labor says they don’t support the carbon tax any more, yet they refuse to vote to repeal it. We’re forcing Labor to take a stand and vote in favour of a price on carbon if they want to keep it.

[Indonesia] Haze from Riau will not disperse to Singapore and Malaysia

ANTARA News, 24 February 2014 | The haze from the Riau Province in Sumatra will not disperse to Singapore and Malaysia, although a total of 1,234 hotspots have been detected in the province, according to the local Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics (BMKG). On Monday, BMKG Pekanbarus analyst, Ardhitama stated here that the smoke arising from the hotspots in the region will only pollute the air around the province. He explained that the winds blowing in the current dry season in Riau originated from the north and the east directions and were drifting towards south, which is in the opposite direction of Singapore and Malaysia.

It Would Be Cool if Indonesia Could Keep Its Trees

By Erik Meijaard, The Jakarta Globe, 24 February 2014 | In 2009 and 2012, we interviewed nearly 8,000 people in 800 villages in both Indonesian and Malaysian parts of Kalimantan. We asked respondents about the biggest impact of deforestation on their health, well-being and welfare. “Heat” is what 33 percent of our respondents answered. In fact, it was by far the most common response, with clean water supply and flooding in a distant second place. People clarified these perceived heat impacts by explaining that among others the higher temperatures resulting from deforestation increased the incidence of malaria and other diseases, caused crop failures and reduced crop yields, and made people much more tired. Being hotter significantly reduced people’s quality of life. With ongoing global climate change, the impacts of higher temperatures on economic outputs and social well-being are increasingly scrutinized by scientists.

25 February 2014

Paris 2015: Climate and the Business Imperative

By Paul Polman (Unilever) and Christiana Figueres (UNFCCC), 25 February 2014 | Scientific American recently reported that floods alone could cost the world’s cities $1 trillion annually by 2050. Anyone who wants to be in business over the coming years and decades needs to engage now on both the politics and the policy. Politically much depends on the choreography of key meetings in the run-up to COP21 in Paris in 2015, not least UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s Climate Summit in New York this September. But most of all it depends on the extent to which leaders in every sector feel empowered to lead. This is why we welcome the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, led by former Mexican President Felipe Calderon. It is examining how nations, cities and companies can achieve their core economic and social goals whilst simultaneously reducing the risk of dangerous climate change. So what action do business leaders need to take individually and collectively?

Offsetters Works With Dow to Develop International Carbon Offset Portfolio

Offsetters Climate Solutions press release, 25 February 2014 | Offsetters Climate Solutions Inc. is pleased to report that it has successfully retired a portfolio of 160,000 tonnes of carbon offsets from a selection of high-quality international offset projects on behalf of Dow Chemical Company. Dow engaged Offsetters to offset the travel footprint of spectators and media attendees prior to the Games. These carbon credits come from a portfolio of high-quality projects developed to international standards, recognized under the International Carbon Offset and Reduction Alliance (ICROA) Code of Best Practice. All offsets were retired upon delivery. The portfolio includes projects from Russia, Brazil and South Korea, in addition to a project implemented by Dow at one of its manufacturing facilities in the United States.

Ecosystem Marketplace’s Forest Carbon News

Ecosystem Marketplace, 25 February 2014 | Here in Washington DC, the Forest Carbon Portal last week covered the launch of Global Forest Watch, an exciting new Google-powered tool that combines global high-resolution satellite imagery, high-powered cloud computing, open data and human networks to give a picture of forest loss (or growth) in real time – or at least a lot closer to real time than has ever been achieved before. “You don’t need a PhD in remote sensing science to use Global Forest Watch,” said Nigel Sizer, Director of the World Resources Institute’s Global Forest Initiative that led the development of the tool. “If you can use Google Maps to find a friend’s house, then you can use Global Forest Watch to understand what is happening to the forests in your neighborhood, across your entire country or even on the other side of the world.”

Climate Change and Growth in Africa: Challenges and the Way Forward

By Alula Berhe Kidani, Sudan Vision Daily, 25 February 2014 | The second policy area is mitigation. Mitigation in Africa can be achieved through many means. The major alternatives include reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) and promoting green energy. Local and international financial sources should be tapped to assist with the reclamation of degraded lands, reforestation, afforestation and agro-forestry practices that can play the triple roles of providing adaptation, mitigation and income generation for the poor (Tannis and Henry 2012). Given the potential benefits of REDD+, policymakers should focus on tackling the political, institutional, technical, social and economic challenges associated with its implementation (Cheikh et al. 2012). Moreover, as one of the significant outcomes of COP19 in Warsaw was an agreement on a framework to financially support REDD+ in developing nations, African countries need to be prepared to benefit from this framework.

[Indonesia] Stakeholders in Jakarta map out long-term solutions to haze crisis

By Bruno Vander Velde, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 25 February 2014 | Peatland fires in eastern Sumatra, Indonesia, in recent weeks are again creating thick haze in the region, closing schools, canceling flights, and leading to the arrests of farmers accused of lighting the fires. For now, the weather is keeping the smoke away from neighboring Singapore and Malaysia, where in June 2013 wind-blown haze from Sumatran fires caused record-high levels of air pollution. Last year’s crisis produced international headlines and quick responses from governments: High-level regional talks in September led to a proposed transboundary haze monitoring system, and earlier this month, Singapore drafted a bill that would allow it to fine companies for fires that take place on Sumatran plantations. The return of fires this month, however, has illustrated the need for long-term, holistic solutions to the haze issue.

[Kenya] Forced Relocation of Sengwer People proves urgency of canceling REDD

World Rainforest Movement, 25 February 2014 | We, the No REDD in Africa Network (NRAN) together with the undersigned organizations and individuals, strongly condemn the massive evictions and forced relocation of the Sengwer Indigenous People, one of the few remaining hunter-gatherers of the world, from their ancestral home in Kenya’s Cherangany Hills. The Kenyan government calls the Sengwer People ‘squatters,’ despite the fact that they and their ancestors have lived in the Cherangany Hills since time immemorial; and that Article (63d) of the Kenyan constitution (2010) grants them inalienable rights to their ancestral lands… We are alarmed at the obvious connection between these evictions and the World Bank’s funding of the Kenyan government’s REDD+ ‘readiness’ program in the Cherangany Hills through the bank’s Natural Resource Management project (NRMP).

26 February 2014

Business is about being green, say FTSE 100 leaders

By Sophie Yeo, RTCC, 26 February 2014 | Market liberalisation and a policy certainty will allow green business to flourish, say the chief executives of Unilever, Dyson and Kingfisher. Paul Polman, James Dyson and Sir Ian Cheshire all dismiss the view that environmentalism is anti-green, arguing that it’s in a company’s best interest invest in new technologies and energy efficiency. Their views are part of a series of essays published today by the London-based Conservative Environment Network, part of an effort to engage right wing voters and politicians in the green debate.

Prostates, Prunus and policy: A remarkable tree, a contested study, and tough choices ahead

By Bruno Vander Velde, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 26 February 2014 | The source of a popular medicine for treating prostate disorders has been caught in a muddle that extends from the hills of central Africa to the halls of Brussels. At the center of this tale: tree bark. Prunus africana — more widely known as African cherry — is a remarkable tree. Related to the common rose, this large tropical tree is also called African stinkwood, on account of its pungent bark. It is found only in high-conservation value montane forests in Africa and Madagascar… Growing concerns about the sustainability of bark harvest led to P. africana being listed in Appendix-II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in 1995. Twelve years later, the European Union banned the importation of wild harvested bark from Cameroon, due to the overwhelming evidence that it was highly unsustainable. However, … the ban was lifted in 2011…

SDG focus areas document released — with great opportunities for forestry

By Peter Holmgren, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 26 February 2014 | Consider the SDGs the “slow food” of global development — a sometimes painstaking process that if “prepared” correctly could promote good, clean and fair outcomes for the environment and for people for the next 50 years. As with any complex dish or cuisine, patience will be needed in the crafting of the Sustainable Development Goals over the next 12 to 15 months. Diverse viewpoints are gradually coming together in UN meeting rooms in New York — and we are among the many who hope and believe that the final product will be worth the wait. And despite some fears, one of the key ingredients in the mix — forests — is amply represented. It is up to us to show how.

Campaign triumphs as loggers expelled from territory of ‘Earth’s most threatened tribe’

Survival International, 26 February 2014 | A global campaign by Survival International, fronted by Colin Firth, to save the Awá, Earth’s most threatened tribe, has triumphed this week, as loggers and ranchers responsible for the destruction of the tribe’s rainforest in the Brazilian Amazon are being expelled. The first deadlines for the invaders to leave voluntarily expired on Monday, February 24, 2014. According to reports by FUNAI, Brazil’s indigenous affairs department, several loggers and ranchers have left the area in the last week, and a ground squad is set to remove all remaining invaders by March 9. Watch a video by FUNAI showing the first stage of ‘Operation Awá’. Pire’i Ma’a, an Awá man says, ‘Everything [all the game] has been scared away … There are loggers everywhere. They’re cutting down the trees and we can’t hunt … We’ve been telling people that the loggers are here, and their chainsaws, machinery and trucks are screaming.’

EU plan to cut supply of carbon permits passes into law

By Ben Garside, Reuters, 26 February 2014 | A plan to prop up EU carbon prices was published in the official journal of the European Union on Wednesday, enacting into law the so-called backloading measure that keeps on track the European Commission’s aim to allow the withdrawal of a maximum 400 million permits this year. The plan involves cutting the supply of permits to be sold under the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) in an effort to incentivize more investment in low carbon technologies. Carbon traders are keenly watching the progress of the implementation of backloading, as its rules mean that a March start would allow this year’s total permit withdrawal to be 400 million, whereas an April start would allow only 300 million units to be withdrawn.

Indonesian Government May Buy Carbon Offsets from Domestic Forest Conservation

By Steve Zwick, Ecosystem Marketplace, 26 February 2014 | But Agus Sari, who is developing a REDD+ Funding Instrument for Indonesia’s REDD+ Agency, says it’s not as complicated as many believe. Last year he proposed the creation of an interim financing mechanism called Financing REDD+ in Indonesia (FREDDI) that would act as a “fund of funds” administered by under the REDD+ Agency to support forest conservation. In an interview with Ecosystem Marketplace he said those activities would include the purchase of REDD offsets voluntarily earned and certified to private carbon standards. As the first country to create a high-level REDD+ Agency, Indonesia is seen as model of sorts for other governments looking to implement similar strategies. For that reason, Sari’s proposal could have global ramifications.

[Indonesia] Pulling back the shower curtain: Find out about P&G’s dirty secret!

By Bustar Maitar, Greenpeace International, 26 February 2014 | Procter & Gamble claims that nearly 5 billion people use its products, among them the anti-dandruff shampoo Head & Shoulders. But what’s not so squeaky clean is that P&G is making those billions of consumers unknowingly part of an environmental scandal. Greenpeace today reveals the result of a yearlong investigation showing P&G is sourcing palm oil from companies connected to widespread forest devastation. Its sourcing policies also expose its supply chain to forest fires and habitat destruction that is further pushing the Sumatran tiger to the edge of extinction.

[Indonesia] Greenpeace Calls Out Procter & Gamble for Dirty Palm Oil Sourcing

By Ethan Harfenist, The Jakarta Globe, 26 February 2014 | Greenpeace accused Procter & Gamble on Wednesday of sourcing palm oil from environmentally destructive firms, finding the US consumer goods giant complicit in the encroachment of Sumatran tiger habitats, slash-and-burn clearing and the presence of an “orangutan graveyard.” The environmental NGO criticized the company for sourcing “dirty” palm oil from allegedly unscrupulous suppliers in a report titled ”Procter & Gamble’s Dirty Secret.” The report, the result of a yearlong investigation by Greenpeace International, uncovered evidence that Procter & Gamble-linked palm oil companies were involved in the destruction of orangutan and Sumatran tiger habitats and the kind of slash-and-burn land clearing methods responsible for the region’s annual haze.

Minister behind bars over massive giveaway of Liberian forests

Frost Illustrated, 26 February 2014 | Two years after learning of the massive giveaway of Liberia’s treasured forests to foreign logging companies, the Liberian government locked up the former head of the Forestry Development Authority. Moses Wogbeh, former head of the forestry authority, was arrested and charged with allegedly defrauding the country of millions of dollars by issuing bogus permits between 2006 and 2012. Whistleblowers including the Liberia-based Save My Future Foundation, U.S.-based Global Witness, and the Canadian Sustainable Development Institute first raised the red flag over questionable permits that gave rights to nearly 6.1 million acres—23 percent of Liberia’s forests—to foreign logging interests. Logs were seen leaving the country even after President Ellen Sirleaf-Johnson stepped in and ordered a halt to timber exports.

[Thailand] DNP looks to boost carbon storage in forest tracts

Bangkok Post, 26 February 2014 | The National Parks Department will seek to bolster its forest conservation projects in a bid to showcase national efforts to combat climate change and prepare for the possible launch of a UN-led forestry scheme. DNP deputy chief Theerapat Prayurasiddhi said many forest conservation projects have already been implemented nationwide that are in line with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change’s REDD+ scheme. The REDD scheme aims at reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, while the “plus” sign denotes measures to conserve forests, enhance forest carbon stocks and manage forest land sustainably. The concept was developed in 2006 as a tool for climate change mitigation. Mr Theerapat said the DNP was preparing for the implementation of the scheme in Thailand, even though the government is yet to make a final decision on whether to adopt the project.

50 people were detained for boiler-room scams throughout Spain in collaboration with UK and US police

Euro Weekly News, 26 February 2014 | More than 50 people were arrested in different points of Spain in a National Police operation against illegal investment companies. Arrests took place in Barcelona, Madrid and Malaga in the operation against boiler-room operations, in collaboration with the UK and US police. The investigation remains open and police are carrying out searches in offices and private premises. Most of the detainees are foreigners based in Barcelona, charged with misappropriation and money laundering, as they found investors abroad and offered them substantial gains through non-existent investment opportunities, from which they kept the money. The detainees are due to appear before the National Court. It is thanks to these operations that fraudsters can be removed from the Costa del Sol. Recently the Euro Weekly News reported on Nigel Goldman who was masquerading as a financial advisor, while helping himself to the hard earned savings of his victims.

27 February 2014

300 Years of Longitude

By Iain Henderson, The UN-REDD Programme blog, 27 February 2014 | Exploiting this basic response to incentives has played a tremendous role in human history and it is also one of the foundation stones of REDD+. It is this feature – the incentive – that sets REDD+ apart from decades of frustrated and often failed attempts to grapple with tropical deforestation. We are frequently reminded in venues around the world and in countless papers that ‘REDD+ is an incentive-based mechanism’. Billions of dollars have been pledged to help prepare countries for these incentives. But isn’t there a catch, and a fairly large catch at that? Isn’t the rather uncomfortable truth that this incentive doesn’t really exist at present at the scale required? Where is the long-term, predictable and credible incentive that will assist developing countries to shift their development pathways towards the nirvana of growth decoupled from resource exploitation?

We Are Not Alone. Climate Change Laws Span The World

By Mike Scott, Forbes, 27 February 2014 | I have spent much of the last three months editing a report on national climate change laws, which was launched this week in the US Senate by Senator Edward Markham. It was a big job – the study, put together by the Globe, the Global Legislators’ Organisation, and the Grantham Research Institute at the London School of Economics, weighs in at some 700 pages and is the most comprehensive analysis to date of the reach and depth of climate change laws around the world. It covers 66 nations that account for 88% of global carbon emissions, from Argentina to Vietnam via emitters of all sizes from the Federated States of Micronesia to China and the US.

Seeking ‘gray literature’ on contribution of forest ecosystem services to food production

By Samson Foli and James Reed, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 27 February 2014 | Forests and trees underpin agriculture for food production in time and space. Most smallholder food production systems — which feed half the global population — take place in mosaics of tree cover and agriculture. Current population growth and the need to match an uphill consumption trend has not only led to intensification of farming but also expansion through conversion of primary forests for food, feed and fodder production. Growing concern about the sustainability of modern farming practices calls for a re-think of how we utilize nature for our well-being. The rising problems of resource degradation and biodiversity loss are paving the way for research that investigates alternative ways of producing food to feed a rising population with minimal damage to fragile ecosystems.

Australia should cut emissions by 19 per cent to play fair role: Climate Change Authority report

By Tom Arup, Sydney Morning Herald, 27 February 2014 | Australia should reduce emissions by 19 per cent from 2000 levels by the end of the decade – a significantly stronger target than the current pledge of a 5 per cent cut – to play its part in stopping dangerous global warming, expert advice to the government says. A review by the independent Climate Change Authority has also found Australia should then dramatically ramp up its efforts in the following decade through a target to cut 40 to 60 per cent of its emissions by 2030. This would be a fair contribution to limiting climate change to relatively safe levels, it says. In what could be the last significant act of the authority– the Coalition is moving to axe it along with the carbon tax – it has declared Australia’s current unconditional pledge to cut emissions by 5 per cent by 2020 is ”inadequate”.

[Canada] Carbon credits for environmental do-gooders: Marjorie Cormier’s Big Idea

Toronto Star, 27 February 2014 | What’s the big idea: What if Toronto acquired carbon credits for every tree planted and for every car emission replaced by transit? Or any infrastructure refurbished to include solar panels, wind energy and other carbon-saving energy? Or credits for recycling? How will the big idea work: X amount of carbon saved = carbon credit and can be sold to Alberta’s oilsands production to offset carbon created by this development. How much will your big idea cost, and how would it be funded: No cost. How will you implement your big idea: Begin immediately and have the city of Toronto join a carbon exchange. Use money earned by carbon credits to build transit and to enhance quality of life for the citizens.

Back-loading: 2014 auction volume reduced by 400 million allowances

European Commission, 27 February 2014 | The number of allowances to be auctioned for the remainder of the calendar year 2014 has been reduced by 400 million to reflect the implementation of back-loading. The revised auction calendars published today by EEX and ICE take account of this reduction. The first auctions to be affected by back-loading will be ICE’s auction for the UK on 12 March, followed by EEX’s auction on 17 March for the Member States participating in the common auction platform and EEX’s auction on 21 March for Germany. Auctions held prior to these dates are not affected. From April onwards EEX will not conduct any further auctions on behalf of Poland. Polish auctions will resume in 2015. The amendment to the Auctioning Regulation implementing back-loading was published in the Official Journal yesterday.

28 February 2014

Global carbon market to reach record volumes by 2016

Climate Spectator, 28 February 2014 | In 2014, the value of the globally-traded carbon market will rise by two thirds from 2013 reach $US88bn, ($US53bn in 2013), with volume increasing by 3 per cent to 9.6 Gt CO2e, according to analysis by Thomson Reuters Point Carbon. Most of this year’s growth by value is expected to come from the 8.3 Gt EU Allowances (EUAs) that will change hands. This 3 per cent volume increase (up from 8 Gt last year) will produce value growth of 70 per cent; generating both the largest volumes and value globally. Emil Dimantchev, analyst at Thomson Reuters Point Carbon, anticipates that such significant growth will be driven by “expectations that after imminent backloading is implemented early in 2014, EUA prices could rise to €7.5/t, increasing over-the-counter and exchange traded liquidity. This would lead to an astounding increase in value, up by more than two thirds to €61bn ($US84bn) from €36bn ($US49bn) in 2013”.

BP chief: renewables won’t cut it, need carbon price

By Daniel Palmer, Climate Spectator, 28 February 2014 | The latest BP Energy Market Outlook, which looks ahead to 2035, offers a sombre outlook on man-made climate change as renewables likely fail to gain the traction needed to bring emissions down. But a carbon price could change that, according to BP’s general manager of global energy markets and US economics, Mark Finley. A rare positive is the oil giant’s view that renewable energy will be the fastest growing energy source over the next two decades, but even BP acknowledges that will do little to curb emissions. “Manifestly (we are) not on a sustainable trajectory, at least in the dimension of CO2 emissions,” Finley admitted during a speech at Columbia University in New York. “There is some positive news in the United States and in Europe, in that we expect emissions to go down. However, it is a global problem and globally emissions are going up.”

Indonesia and the Act of Forgetting

By Andreas Harsono, New York Times, 28 February 2014 | I grew up in the shadow of the Indonesian massacres exposed in Joshua Oppenheimer’s extraordinary documentary, “The Act of Killing,” which has been nominated for an Academy Award… “The Act of Killing” has now broken the official silence about the massacres. In response to the government’s unwillingness to approve the film for release in Indonesia, Mr. Oppenheimer made it available in Indonesia for free on YouTube. Despite limited Internet access outside of the cities, the film has been a distressing revelation for younger Indonesians. Indeed, it has provoked a public debate about the need for accountability for those crimes. The past two years have seen tentative steps in that direction. In July 2012, Indonesia’s human rights commission produced a report documenting the mass killings of 1965-66. The panel interviewed hundreds of witnesses to massacres, torture and rape.

[Indonesia] Riau declares emergency over haze

The Star Online, 28 February 2014 | An Indonesian province at the heart of a South-East Asian smog crisis last year has declared a state of emergency after being blanketed in thick haze from forest fires, officials said. Thousands have fallen ill, transport has been disrupted and schools closed after days of fires in Riau province on Sumatra island, where blazes are deliberately lit every year to clear land for palm oil and wood pulp plantations. More than two dozen people suspected of starting fires in rainforest and peatland have so far been arrested, national disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said yesterday. Haze from fires on Sumatra is an annual problem in South-East Asia, but last June Singapore and Malaysia were cloaked in the worst smog for more than a decade. While some haze was detected in the two neighbouring countries in recent days, the air quality was mostly good.

[Indonesia] Deforestation of Kalimantan rainforest – in pictures

The Guardian, 28 February 2014 | Huge swaths of pristine forest of Indonesia, home to the endangered orangutan and red-nose monkey, is threatened by expanding palm oil concessions.

[UK] Supercars and huge sums seized in raid on Wolf of Wall Street-style boiler-room fraud

By Sophie Hobson,, 28 February 2014 | Ferraris, Aston Martins and hundreds of thousands of pounds have been seized by police in the biggest ever crackdown on criminals who have allegedly been misleading people into buying worthless shares. The multi-million-pound international “boiler room” fraud, which gets its name from the poky rooms often used by the criminals, is similar to the scams run by Leonardo Di Caprio’s character in Wolf of Wall Street, except where the Wolf managed to balance on a tightrope of legality for many of his schemes, these gangs are accused of far over-stepping it. There have been 110 arrests as part of the massive operation, led by the City of London Police, mainly in the UK (20) and Spain (84, of whom 40 were British), the BBC reports. Victims were duped into buying worthless shares and handing over amounts between £2,000 and £500,000.

1 March 2014

[Indonesia] Fires scorch 6,000 hectares of land, forests in Riau

ANTARA News, 1 March 2014 | Six thousand hectares of land and forests were destroyed by fire in Riau province, according to a disaster mitigation agency official. “Based on data taken through aerial and land surveys, the land and forests that have been set on fire reached 6,000 hectares,” Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, the head of the data information center of the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB), said here on Saturday. The locations set on fire included the world nature preserves Biospher Giam Siak Kecil, Bukit Batu in Bengkalis District and the National Tesso Nello Park. Several fires also broke out at plantations. The fire at the Biosphere Siak Kecil Preserve caused a thick cloud to blanket Pekanbaru City, Riau. The air pollution standard index reached 375 in Bengkalis and 500 in Duri. “This has reached a dangerous level,” Sutopo stressed.

2 March 2014

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