In brief...DTE 84, March 2010

Down to Earth No.84, March 2010 

Don't buy or invest in Indonesian pulp and paper

An open letter from Indonesian CSOs sent in March calls on consumers of, and investors in, Indonesia's pulp and paper to halt existing investments and refrain from new investments and purchases from pulp and paper companies until there is evidence of real reform in the sector.This includes a halt to using natural forests for pulp; agreement on a plan for restoring peatlands; negotiated agreements with indigenous peoples based on the right of indigenous peoples to give or withhold their free, prior and informed consent to developments that may affect their customary territories; negotiated settlements and fair compensation for non-indigenous communities' lands; and safeguards for pulpwood plantation and pulp and paper mill worker's rights.

The letter states "Attaching these conditions to your company's procurement or investment will support our efforts to protect the human rights of marginalised peoples and groups in Indonesia, to maintain biological diversity and ecological integrity, to reduce Indonesia's greenhouse gas emissions and to lay the groundwork for an equitable, sustainable and low carbon development pathway for our nation. It will also create more certainty and less risk for your company and its business with Indonesia." Source: (An Open Letter to Customers of and Investors in the Indonesian Pulp and Paper Sector, March 2010, endorsed by over 35 Indonesian NGOs).


Wood pellet agreement

In March, Indonesia's Forestry Ministry and the Korea Forestry Service signed a cooperation agreement to develop the wood pellet biomass energy industry. A Korean company, Solar Park has been working with state-owned forestry company Perum Perhutani to produce pellets from waste Sengon and Kalandra wood. Up to 2007, Indonesia produced 40,000 tonnes of wood pellets (global demand reached 10 million tonnes). (Forestry Ministry press release, S/PIK-1/2010, February 2010).


Climate change causes deaths in fishing communities

The Food and Agirculture Organisation of the UN has reported that during 2008, at least 24,000 fisherfolk died around the world due to extreme weather. In the first three months of 2009 in Indonesia 46 people died. Riza Damanik from Kiara, a CSO that works for justice for coastal communities, said that the deaths had been caused by high waves outside the usual season. Seas are usually calmer from February, but last year there were high waves up to July, meaning that fishermen who ventured out were putting their lives at risk. (Kiara, 16/Sept/10).


Small-scale Fisheries squeezed North & South

Parallel to the COP15 meetings in Copenhagen, many events were organised by civil society groups, including fisherfolk. DTE was fortunate to meet fishermen from the Danish Society for a Living Sea. It was an off-shore meeting. On board M/S Anton, a ship which also serves as an education centre, we were joined by Tiharom - a fisherman from Marunda in Jakarta Bay - fisherfolk representatives from Eritrea, and the South-east Asian fishery campaign group, Seafish for Justice Network. While cruising Copenhagen's main canal we discussed challenges faced by fisherfolk today.

Despite incomes that look much bigger nominally, the Danish fishermen share the anxiety of their colleagues from developing countries about the future of small-scale fishery. Red tape and complex regulations are killing off small-scale fisheries slowly but sure. They cannot compete with the bigger fleets, which can afford to be more cost-efficient through economies of scale. Rules - for examples those relating to reporting their return to port - discriminate against smaller boats and small-scale fisherfolk in Denmark face extortionate fines if they are back late. The bigger ships also enjoy a government subsidy on fuel. There is little incentive to stay in the small-scale and sustainable fishery business.