What can save the majestic rainforests of West Kalimantan?

One of the most depressing articles I’ve read in a while is Borneo’s majestic rainforest is being killed by the timber mafia recently in The Guardian. This comes on top TV programs on of what seem like futile attempts to save the Orangutan. Wikipedia tells us:

The total number of Bornean orangutans is estimated to be less than 14 percent of what it was in the recent past (from around 10,000 years ago until the middle of the twentieth century) and this sharp decline has occurred mostly over the past few decades due to human activities and development.

The IPCC AR4 report put the net emissions from forestry at 17.4% of the total:

IPCC AR4 emissions pie chart

When we looked at the outcomes of climate talks in Tianjin, China in preparation for the Cancún talks in a month’s time the Guardian report included this statement:

China and the US are not the only nations holding back progress. Hopes for an advance on the crucial issue of forests – which help to absorb carbon dioxide – have come to nothing. Although this was an area where agreement seemed possible last year, conservation groups say Saudi Arabia and Papua New Guinea have pushed the process into reverse.

“It now looks like there might not be a deal on this at Cancún,” said Peg Putt of the Wilderness Society. “This was supposed to have been a confidence-building exercise but discussions this week have been shatteringly awful.”

Yesterday I heard on Radio National that most of our imported timber comes from suspect sources. “Most” meaning not just a majority but almost all.

It’s an area that I don’t know much about, so I’m wondering whether we can pool our information. What exactly are Saudi Arabia and PNG up to? Are the prospects of progress at Cancún as grim as Peg Putt of TWS indicated? Are most of our imported timbers suss? Is there any hope that the timber mafia can be defeated?

Before 2050 we need to get to the position where our forests are a net carbon sink, IMHO, if my grandchildren’s grandchildren are going to have a reasonably friendly planet to live on.

19 thoughts on “What can save the majestic rainforests of West Kalimantan?”

  1. Difficult problem.And I will keep up my usual response which is technical rather than ecological,although that is what the intention actually is.Every production facility in Borneo or where ever acts as a economic stimulator along the production throughput of forests.What needs to be considered regularly is, can these production systems do something else besides timber processing and then product from timber processing!?Nearly all production technology have similar or near similar mechanical and electrical electronic components scaled to carry different sized weight volume measurement inputs to throughput output.Then there is the capacity of the buildings themselves to do other storage matters besides that which is timber.Rainfall collection,relationships to population centres.Even emergency housing.Carrying capacity for food drying from roofs beams and walls.Sawdust use for food production,herbs, and anything else.A saw in a mill sense,is a highly evolved tool capable of long sustained cutting of materials.If the quality of the materials had the similar features of the timber cut,the saws work would be approximately the same.Sandstone for example,if that was got under good environmental guidance.Materials could be watered down whilst going through mill.The spin of a saw,is easily seen as a very fast potential coiler mechanism operation ,where its spin potential was used safely,or uncoiling as the case maybe.Thus even the spin produced utilised at a horizontal 90 degrees from the spinning saw as force gives then the potentialised spin to angle throughput of the combinations in any form.A bit like creating threaded material if more than one extension from the saw spins threaded material around each inputted threaded material..In other words weaving..and material from bamboo strips to synthesized materials are then capable of this .Roller type approaches to saw or whatever the mechanism surfaces pre -cutting are obviously capable of separating different materials.The output thrust force of a saw may have its similar productive capacity in some other setting.Saws are used in meat cutting,but saws can also grind split crack shape.Mechanical lifting in mills also means mechanical things with wheels can be lifted,thus, how smart these insights are is solely dependent on how they can be used.Forklifts are both a great tool and often dangerous,but safe practices with forklifts means the possibility to use them in social circumstances which then may mean improved economic oppurtunity.So what I would strive to see what should happen,is initially get all tools involved in forestry to be readied for other uses,either as a voluntary concern by corporates or by government decree.Thus at least some other human purposes for equipment takes place besides timber forestry milling.There are then potentials for permacultured based forestry,because maybe the corporates can see the good reason for adapting this stuff design wise immediately.I would push for insect research.The Japanese love beetles,perhaps there are markets for such insects,artificially grown by locals until forest regrowth allows such.Once again,the idea of strawbale production may mean longer hardier housing for locals.As some areas could already grow this ,the result of growing it may mean less mudslide activity,can be mulched,thus cooler ground cooler ground may mean,ground fruit growing. Eg.berries etc.With say some breeds of rice.The problem of protecting orang utans must not come from guilt but concern.And when that concern happens, then human activity explores more options for the utans and humans.Getting the right attitude steps in place is the real direction changer.The rest are then the challenges of work,and design of that.I am sure both management owners and workers love high quality food grown locally.Well.What then is the stepped problems back to orang utan conservation!?Conservation can be a rallying cry for individuals who already have got good skill sets,but haven’t explored what they can do with them.The millers may in fact want to be part of the new deal,rather than Greenwash,which doesn’t solve the problem.Take them there.Australians and Americans and probably others have found many other uses for chainsaws.Encouraging other uses for chainsaws that are not related to timber use seems logical,although fuel use may inhibit,cost wise such practices.Chain saws could be used as of now to cut agricultural production by modifications if need be.Getting valid uses for alternative chainsaw use optimises a resilience in workers,once they own such.Resilience then insures greater care,greater oppurtunity better conservation activity.Machines should never be seen as the problem,it will always be humans using them.Chainsaws should be able to pump water effectively.To do this requires a chain driven type pumping action.Thus then air,possibly other liquids.And if other liquids then maybe crushing capacity.As the mill mechanisms obviously able to do,often called compacted eg, soils.Chainsaws can break up compaction,till cultivate,seed ground.Well,maybe not right now.But say, next week!

  2. http://www.greenpeace.org/australia/news-and-events/media/releases/de-forestation/greenpeace-welcomes-proposed-l

    This article indicates that the Labor Government promised sustainable timber legislation before the 2007 election and it is still ‘proposed legislation’ here in 2010.

    I remember a ruckus years ago, probably during ratty’s reign, when sustainable timber legislation was backed away from in favour of some sort of voluntary scheme/industry guidlines thing but I can’t find any reference to it.

    Sustainable timber and palm oil legislation as well as clear labeling laws are only a small start towards saving these forests. The rich countries are driving this sort of destruction, as usual, with rampant population and economic growth.

  3. “if my grandchildren’s grandchildren are going to have a reasonably friendly planet to live on”

    I have moved from being an active environmentalist, including one of the original Al Gore trained climate messengers to being jaded about the whole cause and pessimistic about the prospects for our planet.

    You and me changing our light bulbs and “saving the planet one plastic bag at a time” (thanks for more patronising glibness Coles) is not going to make the slightest difference.

    After spending some time in SE Asia last year I saw that our efforts a like pissing in the wind.

    Too bad, the place has served humans pretty well for 15,000 years. Shame the last few generations failed to appreciate it.

  4. “Saudi Arabia and New Guinea…”.
    Been nothing in the newspapers about any of this.
    Must try to find out more, re Arabia (and Malaysia?).
    Michael Somare doing a Noel Peason, backed by big offshore money after New Guinea timber, doesn’t sound implausible.

  5. Lefty E
    Tha 5000MW solar plant is a step in the right direction.
    It is equivalent to a about 700MW of coal fired generation due to its annual capacity factor. (This is about half the size of one coal fired plant).
    I was at a conference on Monday, specially called to deal with the problems caused by rooftop solar in OZ.
    We have 240 MW installed (50MW coal fired equivalent), it has cost us well over 1 billion dollars and it is starting to degrade the network so badly in places that it has to be shut down.
    Confidently predict that the present middle class welfare PV scheme/s will be shut down within a year.

  6. Sustainable timber legislation, or otherwise, got me thinking about this Sydney demolition company principal who is alleged to have dumped asbestos waste to future housing landfill, rather than to expensive specific asbestos burial. This case is being prosecuted based on log book entries of hazardous waste and its destination.
    Time to apply the same logic to sustainable timber. Too much recyclable timber from home or commercial reburbishments is going to landfill. Builders and waste collectors should be accountable to some government agency for the useful disposal of quality timber, much of it capable of re-use. A credible market ought to be possible to establish for this perfectly good resource.

  7. And an after thought that would apply to the Indonesians and timber…is Australia still disposing/burning asylum boats after they have reached our shores?
    With more than 100 arriving since the 2007 election, their replacement within the Indonesian maritime economy must be consuming a quantity of local timber. A change of policy on Australia’s part could be helpful toward sustaining tropical timber resources.

  8. Even though my last effort was long winded,and I was hoping someone with a technical mind would respond caringly,because there are attempts going on,I see the usual over loaded,non-stepped reality of it all being stated as too late.Well,with all the problems of Indonesia not caused by de -afforestation as in the recent events that included earthquakes,tsunami and volcanic eruptions.It then becomes easier to see,that Indonesia gets a raw deal from Australians as attitude often.I admire their tenacity having those matters,plus floods in their back yards.I think maybe both Government in all its forms and peoples, maybe as open to new ideas and approaches in a practical sense, as anyone, anywhere else.Maybe a bit of confidence in them,will go a long way,where there are reasons valid to ourselves that make that a not easy option of an attitude.I personally couldn’t visit another country I assumed it was a lost cause,when I would be the lost cause being not even expressive in that language.Indonesians do a wonderful job of English.Correcting the Japanese would take some confidence,and maybe some good ideas too.Is it too hard to aspire to thinking on some matters, maybe, a slight attitude change could get more results!?

  9. Pablo puts a person in mind of the drivel we preach to developing countries about conserving their forests for the enviro, given Gunns in Tasmania and forestry influence over the Vic government, also (slightly different issue) Australian companies creating messes for poorer countries, thru slap-dash mining projects like Ok Tedi.

  10. You know what p!55es me off (sorry it’s late & I’m grumphy) is that timber will be imported from such poor practice as outlined in this post & forests here in Australia are being completely shut up after over 100 years of forest practice because of high conservation values.
    Before you jump down my throat the Western Hardwood forests in Qld are a completely different situation to Vic & Tas.

    Brian do you mind hooking out the link to your Barakula postings. I’m logging out before you have to moderate me.

  11. It is a bit rude for an affluent country with such a high per capita emissions to lecture a very poor country about their emissions. Australia has to get on with serious action if it wants to pressure he rest of the world.

    The other issue in Kalimantan is the drainage of peat bogs to give barge access to timber and coal resources. Once the bogs are drained the fossil carbon in the bogs oxidizes to CO2 as well as releasing methane.

  12. still@downfall @ 14, my post on Barakula of last year is here and that of forester Peter Lear is here.

    When we moved to our present home all the images got lost. I’ll try to replace them later tonight.

    I gather from what you say that forestry in Barakula is stuffed and what we said shouldn’t happen has happened. We now await the thickening and inevitable big burn later, in which case the conservation values of the area will be completely rooted.

  13. still@downfall, I’ve been googling to see what’s going on. The DERM site lists Barakula as a working forest. The entry was last updated on 2 November last year.

    This ABC news item from last week suggests that a cypress management plan to “lock up” significant areas of cypress forest is actively being considered right now.

    Under the Qld Statewide Forests Process (updated 18 October 2010) it says under Cypress forests of southern and central Queensland:

    Future conservation and timber supply options are currently being considered through the SFP.

    Do you have any further information?

  14. I had a distant relationship with the proposal to stop illegal timber imports to Australia. Everybody was for it, the timber industry, the retailers, the state governments, DAFF. What stopped it reportedly was DFAT and Treasury being all market purist and stating, without real justification, that it would be an illegal anti-free trade measure.

    Australia is a major net importer of timber products, to the tune of $4bn a year. ($2bn exports, mostly low value chips, vs $6bn imports, mostly higher value sawnwood and furniture.) This is madness. Why can’t we add value here, and have a world class and world scale pulp and paper mill?

    Re emissions, that not ‘forestry’, that’s deforestation. This is an important distinction. Australia’s forests are a net carbon sink, every year there isn’t a major bushfire.

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